Click through to learn about the latest publisher to open its own DRM-free digital comics storefront, read an early press-exclusive preview of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1, and more in this week’s News Round-up.
Top Shelf Productions, Digital Manga, Inc., announce new DRM-free digital comics offerings
We haven’t exactly made a secret of our dislike of overly-restrictive DRM (digital rights management) in our digital comics here at the Comixverse. If you need a refresher as to why we think it’s hurting the industry and the comics community more than it helps, here are links to two articles where we present the major arguments against DRM (e.g., it doesn’t really curb piracy, it actually hurts sales, it makes for bad customer relations, it’s easy enough to circumvent in the case of comics, etc.):
- Leaving Proof 176 | The comiXology server crash reminds us why DRM is more trouble than it’s worth
- NEWS Round-up | Week of March 15, 2013 (Where we cover JManga’s abrupt closure and its effect on its customers)
In the past year, forward-thinking publishers like Image Comics and the Mark Waid-led Thrillbent have launched DRM-free digital storefronts (in the case of the former, it co-exists with the company’s DRM-saddled digital comics distribution deal with comiXology). We can now add Top Shelf Productions to the growing list of publishers offering DRM-free digital comics as an alternative to the comiXology model. On Wednesday, the publisher of critically-acclaimed titles such as The Underwater Welder and March: Book One announced that it would begin offering PDF, ePub, and CBZ-formatted “direct downloads” of select titles on its online store, whilst still maintaining its distribution partnership with comiXology.
Also on Wednesday, Digital Manga, Inc. (DMI) announced that it had entered a deal with Tezuka Productions granting it the publishing rights to some 250 properties created by “The Godfather of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. The Tezuka works will be made available on comiXology, Amazon’s Kindle store, and on DMI’s eManga website, where the publisher has been offering a number of titles for purchase in multiple DRM-free formats—including PDF, ePub, MOBI, and CBZ—since 2008.
International comic convention news and updates
‣ Fan Expo Vancouver (April 18-20, 2014; Vancouver, BC, Canada) tickets on sale now. Confirmed guests so far include comics artists Mike McKone (Exiles, Amazing Spider-Man), Kaare Andrews (Astonishing X-Men, Spider-Man: Reign), Tony Moore (Fear Agent, The Walking Dead), and Philip Tan (Uncanny X-Men, The Outsiders); anime voice talent Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Transformers: Prime), Monica Rial (Dragon Ball Z Kai, Soul Eater), and Colleen Clinkenbeard (Wolf Children, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood); and actors Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, Blades of Glory), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street, V), and Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bring It On). (Fan Expo Vancouver)
‣ Organizers of the Thought Bubble Festival (Nov. 15–16, 2014; Leeds, UK) recently revealed the event’s guest line-up, which includes Natasha Allegri (Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake), Danielle Corsetto (Adventure Time: Playing with Fire, Crazy Papers), Jeff Lemire (The Underwater Welder, Justice League Dark), Scott Snyder (American Vampire, Batman), and Becky Cloonan (Demeter, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys). (The Comics Beat)
Odds and Sods
More news links from around the world of comics and related media:
‣ Kodansha to publish Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition, a “premium quality” 1000+ page compilation of the first five volumes of the best-selling manga by Hajime Isayama. Price is set at $59.99 and release is scheduled for May 27, 2014. (Kodansha Comics tumblr)
‣ Yoko Sanri’s adorable Rakunou Milk! (“Milk on the Farm!”) yonkoma-format comic strip, among others, added to DeNA’s free Manga Box app. (Anime News Network)
‣ Faith Erin Hicks shares some of her designs for the Avatar: The Last Airbender story appearing in Dark Horse’s FCBD 2014 offering (This Nonsense)
‣ Kickstarter hacked, all users advised to change passwords. (Kickstarter)
‣ Cartoonist Al Jaffee, who at 92 years old is still going strong as one of MAD magazine’s artists, reveals the one back cover fold-in he drew that MAD refused to print. (Yahoo!)
‣ Alex Segura returns to Archie Comics as publicist and editor. (The Comics Beat)
‣ Steve Rude’s 2014 Sketchbook Kickstarter campaign needs some love with 12 days to go! (Kickstarter)
‣ Graphic novel finalists revealed for the L.A. Times Book prize. (The Comics Beat)
‣ You’ve probably already seen it at least half a dozen times since it hit the interwebs, but here’s the first, full-length, official Guardians of the Galaxy movie trailer anyway. (YouTube) [Speaking of the Guardians of the Galaxy, have you read our article on Star-Lord co-creator Steve Gan?—ed.]
‣ Take a look at Marvel’s new streetracing-inspired Ghost Rider redesign. (The Comics Beat)
‣ G.I. Joe added to Kindle Worlds. (Kindle blog) [It's an interesting development, especially when viewed in light of Hasbro's prior history of threatening litigation against fans co-opting the G.I. Joe IP for personal, non-profit, multimedia projects. Has the success of fan-created projects based on Hasbro IPs like the Fighting is Magic video game opened the toymaker's eyes to the creative, commercial, and social capital potential of letting fans of its properties have a direct say in Hasbro IP media development?—ed.]
‣ Speaking of Hasbro’s “movable fighting man,” here’s an article by business reporter Kim Gittleson, writing from the New York Toy Fair, recounts the history of G.I. Joe, its rise to unprecedented “boys’ toy” success in the 1980s, and its current diminished standing among Hasbro’s properties and its somewhat uncertain future, more dependent on appealing to adult collectors than the boys it was originally made for. (BBC)
A compilation of the week’s press releases
Straight from our inbox to your eyeballs, here’s a list summarizing notable e-mail press releases of the week from our friends at BOOM! Studios, Comixology, and Dark Horse Comics:
‣ BOOM! Studios announces debut of Clockwork Angels, the comics miniseries tie-in to the eponymous concept album by Rush
From the press release:
BOOM! Studios is pleased to announce the March debut of CLOCKWORK ANGELS, a new limited series based on author Kevin J. Anderson’s New York Times bestselling novel and legendary rock band Rush’s concept album of the same name. Rush lyricist and drummer Neil Peart and Anderson, along with interior artist Nick Robles and cover artist Hugh Syme, create the steampunk world of Albion in comic book form for the first time.
‘Rush is one of our all-time favorite rock bands here in the office, so we immediately jumped at the chance to work on CLOCKWORK ANGELS,’ said BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. ‘The icing on the cake is that author Kevin J. Anderson is somebody we’ve always wanted to work with, so this is an all-around thrill. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Peart have brought us a breathtaking story that illustrator Nick Robles has beautifully visualized.’
WHY WE LOVE IT: Rush’s CLOCKWORK ANGELS is a testament to the band’s creative versatility—it has been successful as a concept album, novel, and international tour. Now, Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart and New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson are bringing the story of CLOCKWORK ANGELS to comics, where newcomer artist Nick Robles will bring the journey of Owen Hardy to visual life!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Die-hard Rush fans have longed for Peart’s narrative songwriting to be adapted into comic book form for decades, but fans of steampunk fantasy will enjoy journeying into the world of Albion thanks to Anderson’s skilled storytelling.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Owen Hardy, like all the people of Albion, has lived his whole life under the rule of The Watchmaker. His entire life has been planned down to the exact second. But what happens when a young boy decides that things should not always goes as planned?
CLOCKWORK ANGELS #1 arrives in comic shops on March 19th, the four-year anniversary of the album’s initial announcement by the band members, with a cover price of $3.99 under Diamond order code JAN140981. The first issue will ship with two variant covers including a subscription cover and a retailer incentive.
‣ Comixology to offer historical graphic novels from Zenith Press
Industry-leading digital comics distributor Comixology and specialty graphic novel publisher Zenith Press have entered into a deal that will see the former offer the latter’s books on its digital platforms. The initial roll-out includes the following military history and military aviation-themed titles, all written and illustrated by Vietnam War veteran Wayne Vansant (The ‘Nam, Savage Tales, The New Two-Fisted Tales):
- Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America’s Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of The Civil War (AVAILABLE NOW)
- Grant vs. Lee: The Graphic History of the Civil War’s Greatest Rivals During the Last Year of the War (AVAILABLE NOW)
- The Red Baron: The Graphic History of Richthofen’s Flying Circus and the Air War in WWI (AVAILABLE MAY 2014)
- Bombing Nazi Germany: The Graphic History of the Allied Air Campaign That Defeated Hitler in World War II (AVAILABLE NOW)
- Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day, The Allied Invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe (AVAILABLE NOW)
‣ A press-exclusive early preview of Dark Horse Comics’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 goes on sale on 19 March 2014 with a cover price of $3.50
‣ Dark Horse to produce merchandise based on Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra
From the press release:
Dark Horse Comics and Nickelodeon are expanding their incredibly successful publishing partnership to include a wide range of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra collectable items. These brand-new products ranging from figures to plush will debut at International Toy Fair in New York February 2014, and will be released in May.
This new program extends the success of the certified best-selling Dark Horse art books and graphic novels, based on the work of series creators and executive producers Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, into the realm of collectable products.
A full list of products in development include: limited-edition statues, figurines, and busts, as well as, featured plush, drinking glasses, cups, coffee mugs, coaster sets, magnets, playing cards, badges, pins, lunch boxes, sculptural pins, among other items.
‣ EVE: True Stories #1 now available for free from Dark Horse Digital
From the press release:
CCP Games, the world’s leading independent developer of massively multiplayer games and creators of EVE Online, along with Dark Horse, are pleased to announce that the first issue of EVE: True Stories, “Thieves Among Us,” is now available as a free download from Dark Horse Digital or via the Dark Horse Android and iOS apps.
Issue #1 of the EVE: True Stories graphic novel dramatizes the opening throes of one of the greatest gaming stories of the last decade – the fall of the player alliance known as the Band of Brothers. Filled with action and intrigue, “Thieves Among Us” is inspired by actual player-driven events. Issue #1 is written by legendary writer Daniel Way (Wolverine: Origins, Deadpool) and features the artwork of Tomm Coker (Daredevil Noir, Near Death) with cover art by David Palumbo (ALIENS, Heavy Metal).
Future instalments of EVE: True Stories will arrive digitally on March 5, March 19, and April 2, 2014, via Dark Horse Digital.
The hardback prestige collected edition of EVE: True Stories, containing all four comics, will go on sale in book and comic book stores, June 4, 2014.
‣ Team Ninja and Dark Horse launch part 2 of the free Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z digital comic
From the press release:
Team NINJA and Dark Horse Comics [launched on Feb. 19] part two of the three-part YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z digital comic series continuing the saga of the cyborg ninja’s legendary sword named “Heartless”. Part two finds Yaiba continuing on his quest to attain the mystical “Heartless” sword, encountering a new ally along his way. With different motivations, but both ultimately in the name of revenge, the two must work together in unexpected ways to conquer “the River of Three Crossings” and reach the Storm Temple.
The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z game is published by Tecmo Koei and is being jointly developed by Team Ninja, Comcept (the company founded by Megaman creator Keiji Inafune), and Spark Unlimited. It will ship with a print copy of the Dark Horse comic and will hit retail on 18 March, 2014. It is rated M for Mature by the ESRB and has been provisionally rated PEGI 18 in Europe, Quebec, and Israel.
‣ Dark Horse announces two new editions of RoboCop versus The Terminator by Frank Miller and Walt Simonson
From the press release:
Nearly twenty years after its first publication, the classic four-issue miniseries that teamed two great characters with two great creators, Frank Miller and Walter Simonson’s RoboCop versus The Terminator, returns to print in two formats: a hardcover graphic novel and a gallery edition!
Comics’ greatest creators pit the supreme machine killer against the ultimate cybernetic cop in one of the most celebrated crossovers ever! When fate reveals that the technology that built RoboCop will lead to the creation of Skynet, Alex Murphy must engage in time-twisting battle against both the murderous computer network and the human resistance fighters out to destroy him! This newly restored collection features remastered colors from Steve Oliff and an introduction by 2 Guns writer Steven Grant!
The super deluxe RoboCop verus The Terminator Gallery Edition ushers in Dark Horse’s new gallery series format—reprinting Walter Simonson’s original art at full size, exactly as it appeared on his drawing table! Relive Simonson and writer Frank Miller’s seamless blend of the RoboCop and Terminator worlds while marveling at the sheer virtuosity of Simonson’s draftsmanship in all its original glory.
In addition to the full story, the gallery edition provides the greatest insight available into Simonson’s process, with pages of his original pencils and promotional art faithfully reproduced, along with a revealing foreword by the artist himself!
The RoboCop versus The Terminator hardcover graphic novel collection arrives on sale at finer comic shops everywhere on July 2, 2014, for $24.99. The gallery edition will be available on July 9 for $125.00.
‣ The Nicolle brothers return with a new Axe Cop miniseries from Dark Horse
From the press release:
Fresh off their television debut on FOX’s Animation Domination High-Def, Ethan and Malachai Nicolle return with a three-part miniseries chock full of action in Axe Cop: American Choppers!
‘Axe Cop is comics taken straight back to their source — to a child’s unharnessed imagination. And there’s also axes.’ said Axe Cop voice actor Patton Oswalt.
President of the World Axe Cop reunites with Super Axe (an old friend from college), and the two decide to start a superteam of axe-wielding heroes to defend America—the American Choppers. They are joined by Captain Axe, Axe Girl, Axe Woman, Axe Dog, and other axe-wielding heroes. The only problem is that there are no bad guys left, but that all changes when mysterious giant creatures attack the city!
Watch episodes of Axe Cop on Animation Domination High-Def!
In case you missed them…
‣ Don’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers.
‣ On the latest Leaving Proof, Zedric memorializes the late Dwayne McDuffie—who passed away three years ago this week—with a brief retrospective on his work on Justice League and Justice League Unlimited and a detailed breakdown of the fan-favorite Justice League episode (and unofficial Defenders cartoon) “The Terror Beyond.”
‣ Toy coverage: Joe reviews Playmates Toys’ Casey Jones figure.