The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of October 5, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of October 5, 2013
Published on Saturday, October 5, 2013 by
Mark Waid pens “an open letter to young freelancers,” Marvel gets shut out of the BookScan Top 20 rankings (again) while Attack on Titan, The Walking Dead, and Saga dominate; Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit finds herself the target of a lawsuit filed by employees, and more.

Mark Waid’s open letter to young freelancers

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Mark Waid giving a talk at the Tools of Change for Publishing 2013 symposium.

Insufferable and Daredevil writer Mark Waid recently wrote “an open letter to young freelancers” on the Thrillbent Comics blog, which is really just the latest in a string of public statements by high-profile comics creators pushing back against what they see as unfair practices in the work-for-hire sector of the comics industry. Last month, Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson alleged that creators were being “bullied” at the Big Two while Batwoman writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman quit the title because of eleventh hour changes foisted upon them by editors that left them “frustrated and angry.” Earlier this year, Paul Jenkins launched a detailed and blistering criticism of DC’s editorial practices on the eve of his signing a contract with BOOM! Studios. And the list of writers and artists who’ve left DC Comics over disagreements with their editors keeps growing. In a way, none of this is particularly new—remember The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s “video manifesto” from 2008, posted upon his departure from Marvel Comics?

Anyway, here are some excerpts from Waid’s post:

What I see a lot of freelancers going through today in the work-for-hire arena is just unreal, and the horror stories of personal and professional abuse I’m hearing from the trenches on a regular, almost-daily basis are mind-blowing to me–not only because I’m sympathetic, but because every single one of their experiences is utterly antithetical to the creative process.

 

Your time is valuable.  If you’re not being compensated for redo after redo after redo on that has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with editorial whim, that’s unprofessional and unacceptable and you’re being taken advantage of.

 

There are some really good reasons to do work-for-hire. It’s a valuable way to build a reputation. It’s probably not wise to devote 100% of your time to it, but only you know what your priorities and appetites are, and no one else has a right to judge them. And, yes, every job has its drawbacks and moments where it’s better to be flexible than absolute. I truly, truly understand having to take work you don’t love, or work with folks you don’t love, in order to make the rent. And early on, there are things I put up with that I now regret, and there are opportunities I lost because I pushed back, and there are still things I do sometimes to be a get-along guy that aren’t always in my best interests. Everyone’s threshold is unique, and sometimes you let someone take undue advantage because the cupboards are bare or because you’re dealing with a friend who’ll get yelled at if you don’t toe the line. I get that. Circumstances are circumstances. But if you never listen to another word I say, and I talk a lot, please know this: the only one watching out for your future is you.

 

The quality of your work is all that matters. That’s what buys you longevity. You’re sweating the future because you had one disagreement with your editor? Neal Adams helped get Superman’s creators money and recognition by shaming Warner Bros. in The New York Times, dude. Neal’s not selling cars for a living today. You’re being given an absurd deadline and you think you’re better off turning in crap than being late? We used to literally stand over the fax machine at the DC offices while Neil Gaiman sent in his Sandman scripts in batches of exactly one page. Not admirable, but twenty years on, no one remembers how slow Neil could be, just how phenomenal the stories were.

 

A quick favor for a good editor here, incorporating a pointless note to keep the peace there…yes. Be flexible, not overtly defiant. Don’t be what a reasonable, uninvolved party would define as “difficult.” But be good above all else. Stand up for your work, and whenever push comes to shove (as it will), never let anything get in the way of you doing your very best, every time. In the long run, the quality of your work is all that matters. That is your only resumé.

Rich Johnston has compiled industry reactions to Waid’s open letter here.

September’s bookstore numbers: Attack on Titan, The Walking Dead, Saga continue to dominate

ICv2 has the latest Nielsen BookScan Top 20 figures for the month of September and the results are striking, if not exactly surprising. Five of the top twenty titles (a full 25%) are volumes of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan series. Other comics creators with multiple books in the top twenty are Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn (with The Walking Dead, Book 9 at #2 and The Walking Dead, Vol. 18 at #12); Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (with Saga, Vol. 2 at #8 and Saga, Vol. 1 at #10), and Alan Moore (Watchmen at #11 and Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition at #20). No Marvel titles cracked the top 20 at all, although DK Publishing’s Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide coffeetable/reference book did make it out of the month at the #5 slot. It’s also worth noting that, as has been the trend these past few months, no new DC titles made it to the top 20, with the publisher only being represented by “evergreen” reprints of 20+ year old classics from Alan Moore and Frank Miller. It’s all pretty much manga, Image Comics, and other indie books, really, once you take out the Moore and Miller titles. Below is the complete list:

1. Sailor Moon Short Stories, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) by Naoko Takeuchi

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2. The Walking Dead, Book 9 (Image Comics) by Robert Kirkman (writer) with Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn (artists)

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3. Naruto, Vol. 62 (VIZ Media) by Masashi Kishimoto

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4. Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics) by Hajime Isayama

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5. Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide (DK Publishing) by Alan Cowsill

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6. One Piece, Vol. 68 (VIZ Media) by Eiichiro Oda

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7. Attack on Titan, Vol. 2 (Kodansha Comics) by Hajime Isayama

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8. Saga, Vol. 2 (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)

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9. Attack on Titan, Vol. 6 (Kodansha Comics) by Hajime Isayama

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10. Saga, Vol. 1 (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)

Saga, Vol. 1
11. Watchmen (DC Comics) by Alan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (artist)

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12. The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After (Image Comics) by Robert Kirkman (writer) with Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn (artists)

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13. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 3—Ramba Ral (Vertical) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

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14. American Born Chinese (Square Fish) by Gene Luen Yang

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15. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC Comics) by Frank Miller

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16. Attack on Titan, Vol. 3 (Kodansha Comics) by Hajime Isayama

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17. Garfield—Caution: Wide Load (Ballantine Books) by Jim Davis

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18. Attack on Titan, Vol. 7 (Kodansha Comics) by Hajime Isayama

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19. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Mariner Books) by Alison Bechdel

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20. Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition (DC Comics) by Alan Moore (writer) and Brian Bolland (artist)

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Will Marvel’s recently-released Avengers: Endless Wartime, touted as the no. 1 North American comics publisher’s first salvo in a campaign to reclaim ground it has conceded to its competitors over the years in the bookstore graphic novel sales arena, change the status quo? We’ll just have to wait for the October Nielsen BookScan results to find out, but our review of the book—coming next week—should give you some idea of what to expect.

BOOM!’s landmark movie deal

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Steven Grant’s 2 Guns, published by BOOM! Studios in 2007, was recently adapted as a major motion picture released by Universal Studios.

BOOM! Studios and 20th Century Fox have signed an agreement that will see the former receive first-dollar gross points from films developed from its creator-owned comics. BOOM! will then split that money equally with the comic’s creators, in what is being hailed in certain sectors as an innovative, lucrative deal unlike any seen before in the comics publishing industry.

The deal also gives BOOM! Studios the option to develop and “reboot” properties from 20th Century Fox’s back-catalogue and develop them as comic book projects which can then be used as the basis for a film remakes, with BOOM! being credited as a producer.

Archaia Entertainment, recently acquired by BOOM Studios, already has a number of its comics in development for film adaptations at Fox, including Royden Lepp’s Rust.

In a day and age where a film like The Avengers can gross over $1.5 billion worldwide while Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Loki co-creator Jack Kirby (or more appropriately, his estate, given that Kirby died in 1994) has no significant legal leverage to profit monetarily from the film’s success, this is interesting and potentially game-changing news indeed.

All your NYCC signing, panel, and exclusive news in one place

Here are links to our latest posts on NYCC signings, panels, exclusives, and product launches from BOOM!, Dark Horse, Image Comics, Oni Press, Valiant Entertainment, and Wayward Raven Media:

Archie employees file suit against co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit

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Silberkleit in 2012.

Six Archie employees, one among them Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick, recently filed a $32.5 million lawsuit against eccentric Archie Comics co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit to get her ejected from the company. Among the more striking allegations in the suit include charges of Silberkleit hiring a Hell’s Angel biker to intimidate staffers, accusing a cancer-stricken child visiting the Archie Comics offices of stealing a Betty Cooper costume prop wig when the wig was actually a gift given by Archie staffers to the young girl whose hair had fallen out because of cancer treatments, and instructing her former assistant to spy on employees. The former assistant, Jim Paget, was recently hired by Archie Comics as an archivist and has joined the lawsuit against Silberkleit, saying that “[Silberkleit] is trying to kill [Archie Comics] for her own purposes.”

This isn’t the first time Silberkleit has been at the center of a legal imbroglio involving the company her father-in-law Louis Silberkleit co-founded in 1939 with Maurice Coyne and John L. Goldwater, grandfather of current co-CEO Jon Goldwater. (Nancy Silberkleit replaced her husband Michael Silberkleit as co-CEO after his death in 2009). In January 2012, a court order was enacted barring Silberkleit from entering the Archie Comics offices in Mamaroneck, NY after numerous complaints of bizarre antics and sexual harassment from employees, some of which include:

  • Shouting “Penis, penis, penis, penis!” at four male employees during a meeting.
  • Complaining that her “balls hurt” and she needed to “adjust my balls because they are irritating me” during another meeting.
  • Shouting, “All you penises think you can run me out,” and telling a new employee to “stand up and pull down your pants” at another meeting.
  • Telling a female worker that the only reason anyone in the company liked her was because she had “big boobies.”
  • Hiring a former professional football player to intimidate employees.

Despite the court order preventing her from interacting with Archie Comics employees, Silberkleit managed to keep her role as co-CEO, hiring friend and confidante Sam Levitin to be her representative and go-between in Mamaroneck. Silberkleit and Levitin’s professional and personal relationship soon turned toxic, however, with the latter filing court papers in December 2012 seeking to have the former removed as an Archie Comics trustee because of what he had observed firsthand as her “venomous and destructive effect” on the company.

betty_and_veronica_v2__260In June 2013 however, Silberkelit came out with counter-allegations claiming that she was in fact the true victim of sexual harassment at the Archie Comics offices and that Levitin had subjected her to “unwanted and improper sexual advances” while in her employ as Archie Comics liaison, accusations that Levitin vehemently denied.

Levitin also revealed in an affidavit that Silberkleit planned to “tart up” the all-ages comics publisher’s Betty and Veronica characters, which prompted him to warn her that “[Archie Comics] is not Penthouse or Playboy.” In a sworn statement, Levitin contended that Silberkleit is “incapable of working with anyone” and that “she lacks functional communication skills and has an unstable temperament.”

Last month, Silberkleit announced her intention to run for mayor of Rye, NY.

Steve Rude’s “31 Sketches 31 Days” challenge

Eisner Award-winning artist and co-creator of Nexus Steve Rude is on a mission to draw and put up for auction one sketch a day for every day of October. Each sketch will be available for bid only for the 24 hours after it is posted on the Official Steve Rude the Dude Store on eBay. Below is a gallery of the pieces he’s finished so far:

While the first four images above have already been auctioned off, it’s not too late to get in on the bidding action. New sketches will be added daily at or around noon every day until October 31.

IDW’s Virginia Comicon exclusive covers revealed

The Virginia Comicon exclusive variant cover of IDW’s upcoming Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 will feature art by Rob Liefeld, inspired by his cover to The New Mutants #87 which featured the first appearance of signature Liefeld creation and time-lost, big-gun-shoulderpads-and-pouches-enthusiast Cable.

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Liefeld is listed as one of the convention’s headlining guests.

Other Virginia Comicon exclusive variants from IDW include a variant cover to G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #196 by regular artist S. L. Gallant and a variant cover to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #12 by convention guest and 2013 GLAAD Media Award recipient Dan Parent (Betty & Veronica, Kevin Keller).

The Virginia Comicon is a two-day affair scheduled for November 23–24, 2013 at the Old Dominion Building at the Richmond International Raceway, 600 East Laburnum Ave., Richmond, VA.

Kickstarter plugs

Action Lab Comics founder Jeremy Whitley recently called to our attention two Kickstarter comics campaigns being run by two of his Princeless collaborators which could very well be worth your support.

The first is Nutmeg, by artist Jackie Crofts (Princeless: Tales of Girls Who Rock) and writer James Wright, a “coming-of-age culinary crime comic about a pair of teenage girls who rise to power thanks to their criminally delicious brownies.” The comic has already reached its modest baseline crowdfunding goal of $1,800 as of this writing, and is now looking to hit its stretch goals. Check out the campaign video below:

The Nutmeg Kickstarter campaign runs until October 30, 1:04 PM EDT.

The second campaign is Misfortune High, by Princeless: Short Stories for Warrior Women, No. 2 illustrator Jules Rivera. Here’s the summary from the campaign page: “Rich kid Biscuit gets expelled from his fancy magic school and sent to a magic school on the bad side of town. Mayhem ensues.” As of today, the project is just a little under $800 short of reaching its baseline crowdfunding goal of $3,000. Watch the campaign video below:

The Misfortune High Kickstarter campaign runs until October 26, 2:59 AM EDT.

Odds and sods

More news from around the world of comics:

  • Discounted pre-orders for the AudioComics adaptation of Action Lab’s all-ages superhero comic Molly Danger now available. Molly Danger creator Jamal Igle (Firestorm, Supergirl) and AudioComics co-founder Elaine Lee (Starstruck, Vamps) to make special voice cast appearances. (Comixverse)
  • Jeff Smith (Bone, RASL) appointed to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Board of Directors. (ICv2)
  • BOOM! Studios’ kaBOOM! imprint announces a Halloween-themed, standalone Herobear and the Kid 2013 Annual. (Comixverse)
  • Dark Horse, game developer/publisher CD Projekt Red to collaborate on a mystery project to be revealed on October 11’s “Full Color Fantasy: Fantasy Comics Past, Present, and Future!” panel at NYCC. (GameSpot)

  • ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD sheds 34% of its premiere ratings with its second episode, despite Samuel Jackson-as-Nick Fury cameo. (TV by the Numbers)
  • Industrial music innovator and Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen to launch 13-issue comic series in 2014. (Bleeding Cool)
  • Edmonton Comic Expo attracts 25,000 fans in second year. (Edmonton Journal)
  • Diamond Select releases new Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars figures and merchandise. (Comixverse)
  • Amazing Spider-Man 2 writers to come back for three-quel. (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • Director Edgar Wright teases image from Ant-Man movie set. (IGN)

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  • Motion comics company Madefire secures $5.2 million in additional funding. (Publishers Weekly)
  • Random House Publishers Services (RHPS) to distribute Dark Horse trade paperbacks, graphic novels, manga, and art books to bookstores worldwide beginning June, 2014. (Comixverse)
  • MLP_v1-pr-001IDW’s My Little Pony licensed comics hit the 1 million sales mark. (ICv2)
  • Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil, The Last Stand) confirmed as the director for Coward, the film adaptation of the first Criminal miniseries by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips published under Marvel’s Icon imprint. (Variety)
  • Comics spin-off of the cult-hit Boondock Saints films directed by Troy Duffy now on comiXology. (Comixverse)
  • Marvel finally takes the wraps off of the long-gestating comics project being written by zombie film pioneer George Romero: the 15-part limited series will be titled Empire of the Dead (based on a 300-page screenplay written by Romero) and will feature Alex Maleev on art. The book is set to launch in January 2014. (Comic Book Therapy)
  • Hayley Atwell, who played Agent Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, open to reprising the role for a planned Peggy Carter TV series. (Digital Spy)
  • AP’s Melissa Rayworth looks into an interesting—if disheartening—phenomenon: Movies and TV shows based on comics are big business, but the actual comics themselves don’t seem to be growing an audience and comics are still considered in many circles as “kids’ entertainment.” (Associated Press/ABC News)
  • NECA announces the release of Pacific Rim Series 2, The Avengers quarter-scale Battle-Damaged Iron Man, and Predators Series 10 action figures. (Comixverse)

In case you missed them…

colderDon’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. This week, we’ve got sneak peeks of 18 titles including previews of Steve Niles and Fiona Staples’ Mystery Society (IDW), the third volume of the Eisner and Shuster-nominated Spera, the long awaited trade collection of Carbon Grey, Vol. 2: Daughters of Stone, and a 17-page preview of Colder, the bone-chilling horror-fantasy from Eisner Award winner Paul Tobin (Bandette) and Kiss Me, Satan!‘s Juan Ferreyra.

On the Leaving Proof front, Zedric takes a look at Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals and comments on the current state of sex in mainstream American comics. Troy plays the speculation game in the first of a series of articles looking at the All-New Marvel NOW! teasers Marvel has released in the lead-up to NYCC.

We leave you now with a trailer video for the animated series adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s best-selling manga Attack on Titan, which is currently lording it over the Nielsen BookScan charts:

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