The paucity of news from Marvel over the last new months has been made up for at the Diamond Retail Summit taking place in Baltimore. Those present last night got a nice side order of dish with their crabcakes, as Marvel made a number of big announcements:
â¢ Joss Whedon and artist Michael Ryan are taking over RUNAWAYS from departing Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Aphona. What’s of note about this is that RUNAWAYS, the story of kids who have to deal with the fact their parents are evil supervillains, is the sole survivor of a bunch of new books spawned during the NÃ¼ Marvel era, and a rare example of a brand new franchise cut from nearly whole cloth. (There will even be a spin-off book. ) Whedon’s involvement, of course, puts this on the fast track for filmic opportunities, even if the schedule now becomes a matter of some…interest.
â¢Marvel also pacted with the Dabel Brothers who have been licensing and packaging books based on best-selling fantasy authors like George R. R. Martin and Laurel K. Hamilton for some time. While this certainly plays to Marvel’s recent strength’s crossing over between books and comics — Stephen King, James Dickey, etc etc etc — the Dabel Bros. have pacted with many comics publishers in the past — including Image, Alias and Devil’s Due — with somewhat erratic results. Marvel publisher Dan Buckley addresses this directly in his CBR interview:
Since their inception, the Dabel Brothers have made noise by signing agreements to publish comics based on high profile properties, but at the same time the company has been plagued by numerous production problems and delays, keeping the company off the radar of most comic fans. “Yes, this announcement is probably a bit of a surprise to everyone, but I think that you will find that most everyone will see how logical this relationship is when they sit back and look at the respective strengths and resources of Marvel and the Dabel Brothers,” explained Buckley. “The plan that we have developed with the Dabels allows each party to focus on their respective strengths, which will in turn stabilize the publishing schedule for the Dabel Brothers. They will be allowed to focus on developing their product and we will deal with all the hassles that come with marketing, sales and distribution.”
Since the Dabels are retaining the rights to all their books, Marvel is just soliciting and distributing them–this would definitely seem to be a move for bookstore market share. Joe Q has more to say:
We feel that a partner ship with the Bros, as I like to refer to them [laughs], will be mutually beneficial to all parties.
Theyâve done some amazing work getting the rights to some amazing modern novels and authors and adapting the work in comicsâ form and weâve been floored with what theyâve been able to do. So with that in mind, the skyâs the limit we feel for their product once we put the Marvel marketing machinery behind it and for us it seems incredibly synergistic with out mainstream outreach programs.
[snip]Marvel and the Dabel Bros. are all in new and completely uncharted territory and thatâs what makes this deal one of the most exciting publishing initiatives in many years. When you look at their library of titles and authors, The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Red Prophet: The Tales of Alvin Maker, Magicianâs Apprentice, Ptoulus: City by the Spire, and Hedge Knight to name but a few, itâs really amazing. Iâm predicting big things here!
Meanwhile, Les Dabel speaks for DBPro at CSN:
âWeâre so happy that this deal has gone through,â? DBPro publisher Les Dabel said. âWeâve been talking to Marvel for a while, and weâve known for a couple of months that everyone had agreed in principle, but it takes a while for contracts to be ironed out and everything finalized.
âFans have been asking us where books like Laurell K. Hamiltonâs Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter were, and we couldnât tell anyone that all of our books were on hold while everything was being finalized with this Marvel deal. We hated to make everyone wait, but we knew that this would be good news for us, for Marvel, and for our readers. Now our books will get far wider circulation and far more attention than they ever could have gotten when we were doing everything on our own.
âMarvel has a great marketing department, and theyâre going to work with us to make sure that everyone knows about our books. And we will bring a lot of readers to Marvel who donât normally look at comics, but who like the mixture of best-selling authors and award-winning properties that we offer in our comics line.â?
â¢ But the news we are most excited about is a new line of Classics Illustrated, called Marvel Illustrated which will start out with LAST OF THE MOHICANS by Roy Thomas and Steve Yeowell. Some art came with the PR, but no artist was ID’d. Oh well. Can you guess???
In even MORE bizarre news, Marvel will be tieing in with THE GUIDING LIGHT, the long running soap opera that we had no idea was still even running!
A single eight-page story written by Jim McCann with art by Alex Chung will appear in a number of Marvel comics, much like the “Masked Marvel” back-up seen in numerous Marvel titles recently. This will be promoted on Marvel.com, CBS.com and in the Marvel flip magazine. The story finds some of Marvel’s greatest heroes and villains descending on the fictional town of Springfield to see if a new character there is friend or foe and will tie into events happening in an upcoming episode of “Guiding Light.” Readers may recall it was “Guiding Light” costume designer Shawn Dudley who designed Storm’s wedding gown for the marriage between her and Black Panther, signifying a further development in the relationship between CBR, “Guiding Light” owners Procter & Gamble and Marvel Comics.
In contrast, DC’s announcements were more modest:
Monday evening at their Diamond Retail Summit presentation, DC announced a handful of new collections coming out in 2007, including an Absolute version of Wildcats, as well as a two volume Showcase collection of Whoâs Who from the late â80s and a four-volume, color hardcover project entitled New Gods Omnibus, which will collect Jack Kirbyâs entire Fourth World saga between twoâ¦er, eight covers.
We spoke with DCâs Collected Editions editor Georg Brewer for more on the latter two projects.
âItâs a two volume Showcase collection, featuring all the original 26 issues of Whoâs Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe issues as well as the 5 issues of updates that came out after, in 1987,â? Brewer said. âIâve been trying to find a way to do this for a long time, because I love that stuff â I actually have a bound set of the originals in my office from the library because itâs just a great reference tool, and was a nice moment in time for a lot of this stuff, and having this format is a perfect one for it.â?