The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of March 29, 2014

NEWS Round-up | Week of March 29, 2014
Published on Saturday, March 29, 2014 by
A superhero TV pioneer passes away, Yen Press and Square Enix sign a landmark digital distribution deal, Jeff Lemire reveals Equinox, and more.
R.I.P. Lorenzo Semple, Jr., Batman TV series developer, writer, story editor

Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who developed the 1966 Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward and was responsible for its satirical, camp comedy tone, passed away a day after celebrating his 91st birthday on Thursday. Besides writing the first four episodes of the show and serving as the series’ story editor, his other comics-related credits include the 1966 Batman movie [the one with the shark repellent bat-spray!—ed.], a two-part episode of The Green Hornet, and the 1980 Flash Gordon movie.

Semple on Nolan's The Dark Knight: "It's not very difficult to put a dark lens on our society." (Image credit: Petr Novák, Wikipedia)

Semple on Nolan’s The Dark Knight: “It’s not very difficult to put a dark lens on our society.” (Image credit: Petr Novák, Wikipedia)

Outside of comics-related television and film, Semple’s most high-profile screenwriting credits include 1973’s Papillon, 1975’s Three Days of the Condor (for which Semple would share with co-screenwriter David Rayfiel the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Motion Picture Screenplay), and the 1983 James Bond movie Never Say Never Again.

In recent years, Semple took to posting movie review videos on YouTube alongside retired studio executive Marcia Nastir under the “Reel Geezers” name. The reviews would occasionally offer rare insight into the world of screenwriting and movie production owing to the duo’s extensive experience in the film and television industry, and would sometimes feature anecdotes of their time in Hollywood as well as the rare helping of profanity and spontaneous comedy, both intentional and unintentional. Below is a video of Semple and Nastir reviewing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which really highlights the difference between Semple’s ideal of Batman and Nolan’s grim and gritty take:

Jem creator Christy Marx left out of Jem film production

jem 3In a truly, truly outrageous development, Christy Marx, creator of 1980s cartoon Jem, was left out of the recently announced Jem film production, a fact that did not sit too well with the long-time comics and animation writer and game designer, who took to Facebook to post her disappointment. Marx is quick to point out, however, that this isn’t entirely unexpected from a Hasbro “franchise IP.” She also decries the production’s lack of “a female voice” (the production has two male producers, a male director, and a male screenwriter).

Regardless of her feelings about the way Hasbro went about staffing the film production, she had nothing but good things to say about Jem film adaptation director Jon Chu, whom she described as “sincere, passionate, and filled with a desire to make the best Jem movie he can make.” The A.V. Club has the obligatory piece spotlighting the social media reaction to this story. [For more Jem-related reading, check out our 2011 article on comics artist Romeo Tanghal, who served as the model designer and storyboard director on the 1980s cartoon—ed.]

New Justice League character Equinox revealed

In an exclusive for the CBC, Jeff Lemire recently revealed Equinox, a 16 year-old Cree teen with elemental powers named Miyahbin and the much-anticipated First Nations character he developed for his upcoming five-issue “Justice League Canada” run on Justice League United. In the exclusive article, the Eisner Award-winning comics creator talks about the research he conducted in the James Bay communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory in Ontario and asking residents how they wanted to see a Cree and First Nations superhero represented in comics. Lemire, who hails from southwestern Ontario, also candidly confesses that he realizes the potential controversy in having “a white guy from Toronto” tell the story of a First Nations character but says that if it inspires children from James Bay to read, and eventually write and draw their own comics, then it will have been worth it.

As we’ve previously noted, the character is partially inspired by the story of the late First Nations youth advocate Shannen Koostachin, who was nominated in 2009 for the International Children’s Peace Prize for her work in campaigning for the funding of a school for the Attawapiskat First Nation on James Bay. The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society’s Shannen’s Dream program was named in honor of Shannen.

Pictured: The late First Nations youth education campaigner Shannen Koostachin (left); one of Lemire's concept sketches for Equinox (center); and Equinox as she appears on the cover of the upcoming "Justice League Canada" issue of Justice League Unlimited (right).

Pictured: The late First Nations youth education campaigner Shannen Koostachin (left); one of Lemire’s concept sketches for Equinox (center); and Equinox as she appears on the cover of the upcoming “Justice League Canada” issue of Justice League United (right).

Yen Press, Square Enix, sign huge digital distribution deal

souleater_v1North American manga publisher Yen Press and Japanese video game company and manga publisher Square Enix have entered into a deal that will eventually see the same-day-as-print release of 175 English-language eBook manga titles in 200 countries and territories via Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo. Square Enix previously distributed its digital manga through its own service, but that venture closed down last year.

The first three titles to be published under this program will be Atsushi Ohkubo’s Soul Eater, Yana Toboso’s Black Butler, and Yoshiki Tonogai’s Doubt with Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist, Jun Mochizuki’s Pandora Hearts, Ryukishi07’s Higurashi: When They Cry, Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S’s Until Death Do Us Part coming in April.

Besides publishing previously published titles, Yen Press and Square Enix’ new service will also release new chapters of two currently ongoing series—Ohkubo’s Soul Eater Not! and Yoshiki Tonigai’s Secret—beginning next month.

International comic convention news and updates

• Long-time ECCC-goer Mark Rahner discusses proper etiquette, as well as the history of the convention and where it’s headed. (Seattle Weekly) Tickets for the event are sold-out, and an estimated 75,000 people are expected to attend the event.

• Rob Salkowitz, author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture and a Seattle native, discusses why the Emerald City Comicon represents “the future of geek culture,” describing it as “supportive of creators and celebrities alike, embracing the broadest conception of styles and subjects from indie work to mainstream superheroes, self-consciously diverse and inclusive in its conception of fandom.” (ICv2)

• Just a few of hours north of Seattle is Vancouver, which will host Fan Expo Vancouver (April 18–20, 2014; Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC) next month. Recently confirmed comics guests include artists Mark Bagley (Thunderbolts, Ultimate Spider-Man), Clayton Crain (Carnage, Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears), and Stephen Platt (Prophet, Wolverine/Cable). (Fan Expo Vancouver)

Zenescope Entertainment will be attending Wizard World St. Louis 2014 (April 4–6, 2014; Americas Center in St. Louis, MO). The publisher will be stationed at booth #309 where it will offer its newest trade paperback releases, high end art prints, hardcover collections, and exclusive comics, including the Wizard World Louisville/St. Louis-exclusive variant of Wonderland #21 (cover by Chris Ehnot):

WONDERLAND #21 WW Louisville/St. Louis-exclusive cover by Chris Ehnot

A screening of the Grimm Fairy Tales animated series pilot will be held on Saturday, April 5, from 5:30 PM–6:15 PM in panel room 144. In addition to the full episode, behind-the-scenes footage of voice actors Lena Headey and Chris Hardwick will be shown.

Odds and Sods

More news links from around the world of comics and related media:

English_Poster-for-The-Wind-RisesAnime adaptations of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan comic and Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises graphic novel win big at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival. The former won the Grand Prix award in the television category while the latter received the film category version of the plum. Attack on Titan and/or The Wind Rises creative team personnel also won in six of the seven Personal Award categories, including Tetsuro Araki (Best Director for Attack on Titan), Hayao Miyazaki and Attack on Titan teleplay writer Yasuko Kobayashi (who shared the Best Screenplay award with Girls und Panzer‘s Reiko Yoshida), and Kitaro Kousaka (Best Animator for The Wind Rises). (Oricon, via Anime News Network)

Shannon Haugland writes about Shuster Award-winning Filipino-Canadian comics creator J. Torres (Alison Dare, Lola: A Ghost Story, Teen Titans Go!), who recently visited schools, libraries, and youth centers in Sitka, Juneau, Unalaska, and Anchorage as part of the Alaska Association of School Librarians’ Alaska Spirit of Reading program. (Daily Sitka Sentinel/The News Tribune)

• Heidi McDonald has a succinct op-ed piece about “the state of comics retailing—and what it says about the Big Two” that brings up some very interesting points. And don’t skip the comments section, as it also provide a number of salient observations from retailers, readers, and former Comics Buyer’s Guide managing editor John Jackson Miller. (The Beat) [While we think it’s a bit too early in the year to be talking about what the past two months’ sales trends mean on a larger scale, McDonald’s opinions do reflect the tenor of some of the internal discussions we’ve had at the Comixverse about the state of Marvel and DC’s current output—ed.]

msmarvel02• Marvel editor Sana Amanat, co-creator of the new Ms. Marvel character alongside series writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona, talks about growing up as “a big book nerd” and getting into comics through Archie, the value of comics as educational tools, and more. (The School Library Journal)

• Rumors of acquisitions and mergers have been rampant in past weeks as sluggish comics sales in the direct market over the first two months of the year has everyone feeling a little uneasy. The rumors have gotten a bit out of hand—The Beat’s Heidi McDonald ended up posting a tongue-in-cheek article debunking them last week. Well, here’s the biggest rumor yet: Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston is reporting that Amazon MIGHT be in talks to buy comiXology, possibly within the next three to six weeks. Again, we emphasize that this is rumor and speculation at this point, but if there is some substance behind the story, well, that’s a pretty huge deal with major implications on the digital publishing marketplace, given how dominant Amazon already is in sales of prose eBooks.

• Toy retail giant Toys Я Us posts a loss of $1 billion in its annual fiscal report for 2013. (ICv2)

sandmanoverture-coverNeil Gaiman talks about his return to Sandman, why writing for comics is different from writing a novel, and his future plans, including revisiting prior works and film and TV adaptations. (CNN)

• All-ages comics publisher Papercutz revealed its plans for 2014, including a host of new licensed comics such as a new LEGO: Legends of Chima graphic novel and series featuring characters from the Toto Trouble animated series, the Power Rangers, and the WWE. (ICv2) Papercutz has had a lot of success with its licensed comics—its LEGO: Ninjago graphic novels sold over 2 million copies and its Nancy Drew line of graphic novels received an iParenting Media Award in 2009.

• Production I.G has put up the five live-action short films of the Ghost in the Shell Arise border:less project on YouTube. The films are (click on the titles to view the films in a new tab/window): Foreseeing 2027 from director Yoshihito Sasaguchi, memory from director Junta Yamaguchi, Color from director Shintarō Ono, Shimamura Yuki wa Tanaka Kenji o Wasurenai from director Daisuke Yamaoka, and Working High from director Kaori Umewaki. (Production I.G, via Anime News Network)

A compilation of the week’s press releases

Straight from our inbox to your eyeballs, here’s a list summarizing the week’s notable e-mail press releases and assorted notes from our friends at BOOM! Studios and ShiftyLook:

• Day Men #3 sells out, heads to second printing with new cover by Brian Stelfreeze

From the press release:

BOOM! Studios is pleased to announce that DAY MEN #3, the critically acclaimed vampire noir series from writers Matt Gagnon (FREELANCERS) and Michael Alan Nelson (SUPERGIRL, HEXED) and featuring Brian Stelfreeze’s (WEDNESDAY COMICS) first sequential storytelling work since 2005, has sold out at the distributor level. This follows the trend of the first two issues selling out, and the publisher has rushed to a second printing for issue #3.

DayMen_03_CVR

• Namco/Bandai releases new Wonder Momo game by Wayforward

From the press release:

NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc., a subsidiary of NAMCO BANDAI Holdings Inc. (TYO: 7832), announced today the release of WONDER MOMO: TYPHOON BOOSTER, a brand-new side-scrolling beat ‘em up game developed by platformer genre leader WayForward. The game releases onto NVIDIA SHIELD and soon the Mad Catz M.O.J.O., devices powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 4 mobile processor, and builds off of the popular 200-page webcomic released by NAMCO BANDAI Games’ ShiftyLook project with UDON Entertainment. Players can follow the adventures of Momoko, schoolgirl bikini idol turned powersuit hero, as she fights to save Earth from the evil forces of the Waru across five action-packed stages in Tokyo and beyond this world. As featured in TegraZone – NVIDIA’s free app that showcases the best games optimized for the Tegra processor – WONDER MOMO: TYPHOON BOOSTER retails for US$14.99 and is debuting initially on SHIELD and soon the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. For the latest information, visit wondermomo.jp. or download now at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.namcobandaigames.wondermomo

Developed with the Unity game engine, WONDER MOMO: TYPHOON BOOSTER is available now on NVIDIA SHIELD and soon on the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. The game is coming to additional Tegra 4-powered devices in the future. A PC version of WONDER MOMO: TYPHOON BOOSTER is currently in development, but no release date has been set.

The Android version of the game features a special enhanced transformation sequence that won’t be seen on the later PC version, as well as access to 26 Wonder Momocomic strips that tell her origin story.

Also from NAMCO BANDAI Games is a five-episode Wonder Momo anime mini-series streaming for free worldwide at Crunchyroll. The anime stars Yuka Fujiwara, Misaki Komatsu, and Halko Momoi, who all reprise their roles in the game. A Wonder Momotrade paperback comic book will be released by UDON Entertainment this spring, andWonder Momo apparel is currently available at WeLoveFine.com.

In case you missed them…

• Don’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers.

• Looking for a trade or hardcover to read? Check out Zedric’s reviews of Noah (Image Comics), City in the Desert, Vol. 2: The Serpent Crown (BOOM!/Archaia), Bad Machinery, Vol. 2: The Case of the Good Boy (Oni Press), andIsland of Memory (Floating World Comics) for some ideas.

Join Troy as he takes a walk down memory lane on the occasion of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero hitting its landmark 200th issue.

• A reading of the first five issues of Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn’s Alex + Ada leads Zedric to an examination of some of the issues surrounding the relationship between humans and artificially intelligent machines.

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