The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of March 8, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of March 8, 2013
Published on Friday, March 8, 2013 by
This week, we say goodbye to an industry pioneer in Toren Smith, highlight some upcoming Will Eisner Week events, share the latest news on the Adventures of Superman debacle that just won’t die down, and more.

On our lack of ECCC coverage

As most Comixverse readers probably know, last weekend saw the Emerald City Comic Convention in Seattle, which has grown to become one of the most important comics events in North America in recent years. So where was our coverage?

Well, unfortunately, your correspondent was hit by a particularly nasty bug last week that necessitated some extended bed rest, hence the lack of updates. We’ll make up for it next year, guys.

R.I.P., Toren Smith (April 12, 1960–March 5, 2013)

toren_smithIt was with much sadness that we learned earlier this week of the passing of Studio Proteus founder, manga translator, and comics writer Toren Smith at the age of 52 from an as-yet undisclosed cause.

Jonathan Clements has written an obituary over at Manga UK that everybody should read: It’s funny, touching, and quite informative, giving rare insight into the character of the private Smith, the struggles he had to endure to bring translated manga into the North American market, and the birth of the modern manga import/translation industry. Here are the opening paragraphs:

It was a 7-11 like any other, one of thousands of corner stores in Japan. The manager looked up with his half-hearted ‘Irasshaimase…’ but his voice tailed away as a hulking foreigner strode purposefully into the store. Oh shit, a gaijin. Whatever they do, it’s going to be unpredictable, and probably messy. The manager swallowed nervously as the silent brute advanced straight for the counter, not picking up any items for sale, but instead marching straight towards him. The man was a giant, as so many gaijin were, but also B-I-G, portly and bearded, with intense eyes peering out from behind his gold-rimmed spectacles.

The foreigner reached the counter and reached into his jacket. The manager’s hand snaked carefully towards the panic button under the cash register, but the foreigner pulled out nothing more dangerous than a wallet.

‘My name is Toren Smith,’ he said slowly, in Japanese that still bore a heavy North American accent. ‘I used to live in this neighbourhood many years ago, when I was a kid with nothing to my name. One day, I was so hungry that, I am sorry to say, I came to this store, and I stole a packet of noodles. Now I am a rich man, I want to pay you back.’ And with that, he pulled out enough money to buy a whole crate of ramen.

That was the Toren Smith I remember. A man with a crazy, hectic past that he was always trying to fix… (more)

Few people have made as much of an impact on the landscape of the modern North American comics industry, indeed, in the modern international comics scene, as Toren Smith did with his visionary ideas about bringing translated Japanese comics into the North American direct market. And he did it all with class. When Eclipse Comics went bankrupt in 1995, Smith stepped in and paid the Japanese licensors and creators what they were owed by the publisher out of his own pocket. Smith paid Studio Proteus translators and letterers a solid page rate, and in an unprecedented move, he also ensured that translators and letterers received royalties from the sale of translated manga. Every translated manga trade paperback sitting in your local comic book shop and chain bookstore today is part of his legacy as a comics writer, translator, and importer.

Oh, it’s on now…

Writer Chris Roberson flashed his trash talk game at the ECCC Dynamite Entertainment panel moderated by publisher Nick Barrucci.

Will Eisner Week calendar

One other effect of your correspondent falling ill last week was that we missed out on informing you guys about Will Eisner Week (March 1–10, 2013), a nationwide ten-day event promoting graphic novels, literacy, free speech awareness, and the legacy of the one-and-only Will Eisner. Still, it’s not too late to get into the celebration if you live in one of the following cities:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

At The Toonseum: Various celebratory events during Will Eisner Week including a screening of the feature length documentary Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist by Andrew and Jon Cooke. Free admission. March 8th, 6:00 PM

Savannah, Georgia

At The Savannah College of Art and Design: Multiple events run by Professor David Duncan, including a screening of Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist and Eisner-themed Art Shows and Sessions.  All Events at Norris Hall. Free admission. Runs until March 10

Minneapolis, Minnesota

At The Minneapolis College of Art and Design: A Graphic Novel Read-In at the MCAD Library, including a screening of Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist. Free admission. March 10th, 1:00 PM

New York, New York

At the New School/Parsons: Comics & Picture-Story Symposium. Jeremy Dauber and Danny Fingeroth discuss Eisner’s work in the context of Jewish-American literature. At the New School/Parsons, 2 West 13th Street, Room 1104. Free admission. March 11th at 7:00 PM

White River Junction, Vermont 

At The Center for Cartoon Studies: A Lecture on The Amazing Legacy of Will Eisner by Stephen R. Bissette. For registered students only. March 12th

Los Angeles, California

At The Animation Guild in Burbank: A special meeting of CAPS, The Comic Art Professional Society, devoted to Will Eisner and hosted by Scott! Shaw. Free admission for members, $5 for guests of members, $10 for other professionals. March 14th, 7:30 PM

And if you can’t make it out to any of those events? Then hit up the latest Leaving Proof for a look at Eisner’s Last Day in Vietnam and some scans of his comic strip work for Army Motors and PS, the Preventative Maintenance Monthly.


The truth will soon be out there… 

IDW Publishing recently announced that X-Files TV show producer/writer Chris Carter will “executive produce” the licensed X-Files comic book the publisher announced last month. Taking a page from Dark Horse Comics’  handling of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer license, IDW’s comic will pick up right where the TV series left off. X-Files: Season 10 #1 is set to go on sale on 19 June 2013 and will feature Joe Harris (Spontaneous, Bishop: The Last X-Man) on scripting duties, Michael Walsh (Comeback, Murder Book) on line art, and Jordie Bellaire (The Manhattan Projects, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser) on colors.


It ain’t over ’til it’s over…


As we surmised in this very space two months ago, it seems apparent that the ruling that granted Warner Bros. commercial control of the Superman property over the Siegel estate only served as a temporary respite from a protracted legal battle with no definite end in sight. Siegel estate attorney Marc Toberoff, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, claims that he and his team have new arguments against the most recent ruling in a case that has already spanned eight years.

Artist Chris Sprouse leaves Adventures of Superman

And speaking of Superman news, artist Chris Sprouse, previously announced as the artist on the Orson Scott Card-penned inaugural storyline on the digital-first Adventures of Superman, has stepped down from the book, citing the difficulty of working on a title that has been the subject of a huge media firestorm due to Card’s previously-stated public statements critical of same-sex relationships and the rights of gays and lesbians to marry.

In a statement first carried by USA Today, Sprouse wrote that

It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story. The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.

DC Comics voiced its support of Sprouse’s decision in a subsequent statement. Because of this development, Card’s story will no longer be scheduled to appear in the print edition of Adventures of Superman scheduled to hit stores on May 29 although whether a replacement story will be slotted into its place as well as what effect this will have on the other stories featured in the issue is unknown at this time.

Fantagraphics Books co-publisher Kim Thompson has cancer

Over at the Fantagraphics blog, vice-president co-publisher Kim Thompson recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Here are the contents of the post, presented without further comment:


Kim Thompson has been my partner at Fantagraphics Books for 35 years. He’s contributed vastly and selflessly to this company and to the comics medium and worked closely with countless fine artists over that time. This is a tough announcement to make, but everyone who knows Kim knows he’s a fighter and we remain optimistic that he’ll get through this and report back to work, where he belongs, doing what he loves.

– Gary Groth


I’m sure that by now a number of people in the comics field who deal with me on a regular or semi-regular basis have noticed that I’ve been responding more spottily. This is because of ongoing health issues for the past month, which earlier this week resolved themselves in a diagnosis of lung cancer.

This is still very early in the diagnosis, so I have no way of knowing the severity of my condition. I’m relatively young and (otherwise) in good health, and my hospital is top-flight, so I’m hopeful and confident that we will soon have the specifics narrowed down, set me up with a course of treatment, proceed, and lick this thing.

It is quite possible that as treatment gets underway I’ll be able to come back in and pick up some aspects of my job, maybe even quite soon. However, in the interests of keeping things rolling as smoothly as I can, I’ve transferred all my ongoing projects onto other members of the Fantagraphics team. So if you’re expecting something from me, contact Gary Groth, Eric Reyolds, or Jason Miles and they can hook you up with whoever you need. If there are things that only I know and can deal with, lay it out for them and they’ll contact me.


On behalf of Kim, we would like to encourage anyone who would like to reach out to him to feel free to send mail to him c/o Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, or email.

The Marvel Comics News sub-Round-up

Marvel had a bunch of major announcements the past week, so let’s just get through them in one go, shall we?

  • Marvel to make a major announcement regarding its newest line-wide project this Sunday at SXSW 2013 (an announcement for an announcement… how about that?)
  • Marvel’s FCBD comic cover finally revealed

ComiXology throws its hat in the indie comics publishing ring

Digital comics distributor comixology recently announced that it would be offering a new digital self-publishing platform for independent comics creators. From the press release:

Starting now, independent comic book and graphic novel creators can build a worldwide following and profit from their work. Through a portal called comiXology Submit, from comiXology, the revolutionary digital comics platform, independent creators simply need to upload their comic book and graphic novels for approval at no cost. ComiXology does the rest, from transforming the work with comiXology’s Guided View™ reading technology, to making it available on comiXology’s buy once, read anywhere digital comics platform, which includes an iTunes top 10-grossing iPad app, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows 8 apps, and a web store and reader at Creators and comiXology equally split all profits, with creators maintaining full ownership of their work.

ComiXology Submit enables independent comics creators, from promising new talent to established veterans, to reach a global audience of comic book fans for whom comiXology already created the first viable digital marketplace for leading publishers. At the same time, comiXology Submit bolsters comiXology’s commitment to bringing its customers the best and most diverse content available.

Independent creators’ works will be transformed into Guided View™ , comiXology’s groundbreaking technology that turns reading comics into an immersive, cinematic experience. Works from Shannon Wheeler (“Too Much Coffee Man” cartoons), Jake Parker (“The Antler Boy and Other Stories”), Becky Cloonan (“Wolves,” ”The Mire”), Richard Stevens (“Diesel Sweeties”) and other top independent creators are available today, with many more to follow now that the platform is open.

It will be interesting to see what the industry reaction will be to comiXology’s move, particularly with regards to the 50/50 profit split with creators. As Skullkickers creator Jim Zubkavich revealed in his blog last year, even with a creator-friendly publisher like Image Comics, the profit margins for a creator-owned print comic book are ridiculously razor-thin and digital comics sales, while offering a larger share of profits to the creators, gross only a fraction of what their print counterparts do (for now, at least).

Will we see an exodus of creators to comiXology’s Submit platform? Will other creator-owned comics publishers that sell through comiXology, such as the aforementioned Image Comics, view it as an unfair attempt by the digital comics distributor to poach their talent?

Just so we can end this Round-up on an upbeat note… 

Peter David, making significant rehabilitation progress after his stroke: 10 Weeks Later (Kathleen David, via

That’s your NEWS Round-up for this week. Until next time, don’t forget to READ BETWEEN THE HYPE!
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