The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of Nov. 2, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of Nov. 2, 2013
Published on Saturday, November 2, 2013 by
Crunchyroll steps up with a revolutionary tiered comics-streaming service featuring Kodansha Comics titles, DC schedules a move to Burbank, Kelly Sue DeConnick talks Pretty Deadly and superhero comics, bookstore graphic novel sales are looking up, and more in this week’s News Round-up. 
DeConnick: “Don’t confuse the industry with the medium or the genre”

USA Today‘s Brian Truitt has a great interview with Pretty Deadly and Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick that covers a range of topics. Here’s a great quote that every comic book reader should print out and tape to their fridge:

Pretty-DeadlyComics are something I love. I don’t feel like superhero comics are slumming it.

I know there are people who turn up their nose at it, but there are good superhero comics and there are bad superhero comics. The train’s gotta leave the station every 30 days and you don’t always hit your mark, but when the stuff is done well, it is as powerful as opera. It is as powerful as Greek mythology. It is as powerful as commedia dell’arte or theater of the absurd. It is the stuff that gets into that lizard brain and produces that emotional connection. That is the purpose of fiction: to make us feel like we are not alone in the world, to make us feel something, and it does it in a way that is often more powerful that strict naturalism. I think you’re small-minded to turn your nose up at that.

There are a lot of things about the industry that are worth turning your nose up at, or certain fingers or whatever else you might like to turn up. I get that. Believe me, I get that. There are a lot of things about the history of the industry that are very, very ugly, but don’t confuse the industry with the medium or the genre.

Related article: Click here to read our review of Pretty Deadly #1.

Crunchyroll launches two-tiered comics-streaming service: free tier allows users to read the latest Kodansha Comics titles absolutely free, paid option removes ads and provides access to back-issues

Crunchyroll, the popular anime-streaming service made waves in the comics industry this past week: On October 28, Publisher Weekly‘s Deb Aoki reported that the company will launch a subscription-based manga-streaming service that will offer Kodansha Comics titles in 170 countries and territories. The launch titles include Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan (one of the best-selling serial graphic novels in North America with over 500,000 volumes currently in print) and popular ongoing titles such as Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail and Riichi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X. Below is the full list of series initially available on the service’s October 30 premiere:

What distinguishes Crunchyroll’s comics’ business model from that of something like Marvel’s Marvel Unlimited is that it will be a tiered service: Readers can choose a free, ad-supported service plan (this free service does not provide access to back issues, however, and only allows readers access to the newest chapters), or they can choose to pay a monthly $4.99 fee that will allow them to read the comics without ads and provide access to back issues.

The new comics will be available online the same day as they are launched in Japan, in what is a clear effort to compete with “scanlations” (fan-translated illegal scans of the manga) available on any number of websites. Normally, it takes anywhere from 3 to 12 months for Kodansha Comics titles to be translated and printed in English.

Also, in related news, the Chernin Group recently announced its purchase of a controlling stake in Crunchyroll.

Bookstore graphic novel sales trending upwards

demonlovespellvol2Graphic novel sales in bookstores are registering their first major and sustained uptick since the global financial crisis of 2008 according to an ICv2 article. The article credits the growth of the market on the strength of the sales performance of hit titles like Kodansha’s Attack on Titan (described by ICv2 as a “mega-hit”) and VIZ Media’s Demon Love Spell and the return of fan-favorites like Kodansha’s Sailor Moon and Fairy Tail. Also worth noting is the success of DC’s Superman graphic novel publishing program that was timed to launch so as to benefit from the publicity generated by the premiere of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel film.

Earlier this year, Nielsen Holdings reported that bookstore unit-sales in the graphic novel category were up 10% year-over-year for 2013,  with trade paperback and hardcover volumes of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead (Image Comics) selling over 1 million copies in the 18 months before June 2013 and Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto (VIZ Media) and Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon (Kodansha Comics) selling over 100,000 copies and over 80,000 copies, respectively, in the first five months of 2013.

Brian Michael Bendis on Miles Morales’ continued popularity

Brian Michael Bendis talked to the Washington Post about the motivation behind his creation of Miles Morales, the mixed-race Ultimate Comics version of Spider-Man who has continued to grow in popularity with fans. An excerpt:

spider-menI was just craving a Spider-Man that I thought more reflected the world that we live in, vs. the world that Peter Parker was invented in. A lot of the icon characters from Marvel and DC [Comics] were created in the early ’60s by straight white men, as far as we know. And that’s the world that they reflected.

The world that we live in now is much more colorful and diverse and open. It just seems that we should reflect that whenever possible, without doing it for stunts. When you [depict] Brooklyn or Queens, there’s a tone that I didn’t think we had properly reflected in the books. I see more of a reflection of our society than a reflection of his race. [Morales] is not a character that reflects all things to all people.

Related article: Leaving Proof 191 | Living Color: The changing discourse on race in superhero comics

DC Comics to move its offices to Burbank, California by 2015

In a memo issued to staffers, DC Comics revealed that it is set to move its base of operations from New York City, where it has been headquartered since 1935 (when it went by the name National Allied Publications), to Burbank, California to be closer to the corporate hub of parent company Warner Bros. The relocation is to be completed by 2015.

Marvel’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada had this to say on the news of their rival heading to the West coast:

We all know that the first character to put his underwear on over his pants was created in Cleveland, but it was New York City that gave him his start. It was New York City that provided the spotlight and it was here that he and all those that followed in his footsteps became famous. So to see a piece of that publishing tradition shift to the West coast saddens me, because it’s the end of an era and yes, while I’ve always loved to tweak our crosstown pals, New York City will admittedly be a little diminished by DC’s absence.


Neil Gaiman’s Rolling Stone interview

Neil Gaiman talks about his (limited) return to DC/Vertigo’s Sandman, being married to Amanda Palmer, and more in a new interview with Rolling Stone. An excerpt:

… for most of my writing career, I was ignored. Nobody was looking. There was only one article in the mainstream that was ever written about Sandman while it was still going on, and it was Mikal Gilmore writing in Rolling Stone in the Hot Issue in about 1990. So Sandman wasn’t made by critics. Nobody gathered around and went, ‘This is the thing you should be reading.’ It was never imposed from above. It was this thing that came up from below.

Nelvana of the Northern Lights hardcover reprint is a go!

Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey’s Kickstarter campaign to reprint the classic (and very rare) Golden Age Nelvana of the Northern Lights comics closed on Friday, Nov. 1, with a pledge total of over CDN$54,000, more than double their original CDN$25,000 target. Nelvana of the Northern Lights, created by Canadian artist Adrian Dingle (with contributions by Franz Johnston), is one of the earliest female superheroes to appear in comics, with her first appearance in print, Triumph-Adventure Comics #1 (Aug. 1941), pre-dating Wonder Woman’s by about 16 months.

Bonus trivia: The mother of Snowbird (from Marvel’s Alpha Flight) was named by John Byrne as “Nelvanna of the Northern Lights,” in what is a clear homage to Dingle’s creation.

Odds and Sods

More news from around the world of comics and related entertainment:

  • Bill Willingham ending the multi-Eisner winning Fables with issue #150. (CBR)
  • RegularShowSkips_01_CVRA_copyRegular Show: Skips by Mad Rupert to launch in November under BOOM!’s all-ages kaBOOM! imprint. (Comixverse)
  • Akira and Domu: A Child’s Dream creator Katsuhiro Otomo to receive the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon by the Japanese government. (Asahi Shimbun, translation via Crunchyroll)  The award is given  to individuals who have made significant contributions in the academic and artistic fields. Previously, Otomo was inducted into the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005 and into The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Scotland-based Black-Hearted Press’ new comic Royal Descent debuts amid controversy over its portrayal of thinly-veiled analogues of the members of the royal family engaged in a Battle Royale-inspired fight to the death (The Daily Mail)
  • Jon B. Cooke, the man behind Twomorrows Publishing’s popular comics industry trade magazine Comic Book Artist is launching a new magazine called Comic Book Creator. (Providence Journal)
  • Eric Spitznagel takes a look at the practical investment reality of comic books and concludes that apart from a handful of ultra-rare landmark issues like Action Comics #1 and Batman #1, classic comics are poor investments. Speaking to Spitznagel, business analyst and author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture Rob Salkowitz describes the back-issue market as “a Ponzi scheme.” (Business Week)
  • Deadpool director Tim Miller on the status of the film: “Deadpool is still alive and we’re just waiting for the studio to embrace what a fucking awesome film this would be. [Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds] is ready, I am ready. And the fans are more than ready. We just need that elusive green light.” (Clevver Movies)

  • Five year-old boy with leukemia to become Batman for a day (Yahoo! News)
  • Trade paperback collections for Cullen Bunn and Joëlle Jones’ Helheim: The Witch War, Rick Spears and Chuck BB’s Black Metal, Vol. 3, due out March 2014. (Comixverse)
  • Rick Remender talks about the upcoming Winter Soldier: The Bitter March miniseries. (Marvel) 
  • Latest “visual press release” from BOOM! Studios reveals a new Bee and PuppyCat comic, based on Natasha Allegri’s popular animated web short, due out in 2014. (Comixverse)
  • Mattel, current maker of the Scrabble board game, loses its trademark suit against mobile game developer Zynga alleging infringement by its Scramble with Friends game, although Zynga will have to change the game’s logo. Mattel, of course, plans to appeal the decision. (BBC)
  • Robert Kirkman might have to change the title name of his upcoming Image Comics series Outcast because of a trademark conflict with Valiant Entertainment. (CBR)
  • Steve Rude completes his “31 Sketches 31 Days” challenge, closes out with a sketch of Thundarr the Barbarian‘s Ookla the Mok. (Comixverse)
  • Released earlier this week was the first trailer for the direct-to-video Justice League: War animated feature, an adaptation of the first six issues of the “New 52″ Justice League series by Geoff John and Jim Lee. Note that Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel) has been inserted into the cast in place of Aquaman. [What’s up with that terribly generic-sounding “mall-core nu-metal” backing music? When did they make this, 1998?—ed.]

In case you missed them…

planetoidv1-digital-cov-1f_copyDon’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. This week, we added sneak peeks of ten titles including previews for Samurai Jack Classics, Vol. 1 (IDW), Planetoid, Vol. 1 (Image Comics), and Bandette, Vol. 1: Presto! (Dark Horse). We also have covers and issue descriptions of Image Comics’ January 2014 releases.

On the topic of reviews, we check out Samurai Jack #1 (IDW), Velvet #1 (Image Comics), S.H.O.O.T. First #1 (Dark Horse), IMAGINE Agents #1 (BOOM! Studios), Multiple Warheads: Down Fall (Image Comics), Danger Girl: The Chase #1 (IDW), Pretty Deadly #1 (Image Comics), Sex Criminals #1 (Image Comics), Hinterkind #1 (DC/Vertigo), Three #1 (Image Comics), Rocket Girl #1 (Image Comics), Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #1 (Dark Horse), and more in this month’s First Impressions review feature.

In our latest Roundtable discussion, we get into the spirit of the Day of the Dead by talking about the comic book character deaths that have ingrained themselves in our memory.

We leave you now with the first official trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past, featuring many returning cast members from the first four X-Men films as well as the first film appearances of the characters Bishop, Blink, Warpath, and Sunspot. The film is scheduled for a May 23, 2014 release date.

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