Read about the latest bookstore graphic novel sales charts, Swamp Thing artist Yanick Paquette’s challenge to DC Comics, reviews of Noah and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the latest comic convention news, and more in the News Round-up for the week ending April 5.
Image Comics, Kodansha, VIZ Media dominate March bookstore graphic novel sales
In a virtual repeat of February’s Nielsen BookScan Top 20 rankings for graphic novel sales in bookstores, multiple volumes of consistently best-selling titles The Walking Dead (Image Comics), Attack on Titan (Kodansha Comics), and Saga (Image Comics) took the majority of spots in the March 2014 edition of the sales report. Leading North American manga publisher VIZ Media also had a strong and diverse showing, with the latest volumes of Naruto, Blue Exorcist, Black Bird, and One Piece all charting. As in February, not a single Marvel or DC title managed to crack the top 20 (although for what it’s worth, an Avengers character guide from DK Publishing did make it).
Also making appearances in the list were a trio of publications featuring licensed properties: The latest Avatar: The Last Airbender serial graphic novel from Dark Horse Books, an Adventure Time trade collection from BOOM! Studios imprint kaBOOM!, and a graphic novel adaptation of A Game of Thrones from Bantam Books.
For a detailed breakdown of the March 2014 Nielsen BookScan top 20, head on over to ICv2.
Artist Yanick Paquette challenges DC Comics to up its creator recognition, royalties game
Swamp Thing artist Yanick Paquette, in a message posted on Bleeding Cool, writes that
For me, above anything else, the quality of my work is imperative. The level of sacrifice required to do this job can only be justified by being proud of its final result. Yet, all my effort as the artist would be insignificant without the care and talent of my most pivotal collaborator; the colorist.
By resisting to align its royalties and recognition policy on Marvel, it has become excessively difficult to secure the best colorists for DC projects. In this digital day and age, where often the entire comic visual is a two person operation, it seem aberrant that one of the two won’t receive the Royalties or exposure respect they fully deserve.
It’s about time we revisit that royalty pie split. And if we find the courage to slaps some annoying last minute advertisement banner on the cover, certainly adding the colorist name there shouldn’t be that challenging.
Besides Marvel, other publishers that provide colorists prominent billing alongside writers and illustrators on covers and in promotional materials include Image Comics, which lists both illustrators and colorists under the umbrella term “artist” in solicitation and website materials.
We are uncertain at this time if Image Comics has instituted a similar line-wide policy of giving colorists a share of the royalties—as opposed to a fixed, contracted page rate—but given the company’s general laissez-faire approach to the administration of its books, it’s perhaps fair to assume that it is left to the creators on a particular book to decide the royalties split. (For what it’s worth, former Image Comics prez Erik Larsen got in a bit of an online dust-up with a number of other industry professionals several years ago when he publicly opposed the idea of giving colorists a share of royalties, although it should be noted that he was all for raising colorists’ pay rates.)
Don’t tell Alan Moore about this…
Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston has the latest on the self-censorship of Marvel’s reprints of Alan Moore and Garry Leach’s Miracleman (or Marvelman, if you prefer). While we can certainly understand the reasoning behind why a certain racial slur was scrubbed out from the comic, it does nothing to ameliorate the concern we raised in our review of Marvel’s Miracleman #1 that readers who have been waiting for the long out-of-print and highly influential superhero comic to see a modern release may be getting a bowdlerized version of the original that was, from the outset, intended for older readers.
Noah floats to the top of the domestic box-office despite somewhat mixed reviews
The reviews are in for Noah, the Darren Aronofsky-directed film adaptation of the graphic novel of the same title by Aronofsky, Ari Handel, and Niko Henrichon. Opinions seems to be somewhat mixed, although they’re largely on the positive end of the spectrum, all told—as of this writing, Noah has a critic’s score of 67 (out of 100) and a user score of 5.4 (out of 10) on the review aggregator site Metacritic. Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris writes:
Noah wants to be taken seriously, but it’s not a serious movie. It’s a mishmash of kitsch and science fiction and political defensiveness, barely held together by Aronofsky’s hubristic talents.
The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd, while giving a generally positive review of the film, nonetheless described it as
… a monolithic slab of Biblical fan fiction, at once deeply serious and seriously silly. It’s a mess, but at least it’s the mess its creators wanted.
NPR’s Bob Mondello was more charitable, stating on his review podcast that the film was
… unpredictably suspenseful, which is dramatically the most welcome thing you could ask of a biblical epic.
The film reviews are perhaps not all that surprising, given the Comixverse’s Zedric Dimalanta’s review of the Noah original graphic novel published by Image Comics. Zedric found it to be “a particularly joyless exercise” and “confused in its themes, intent, and execution.”
Reviews aside and despite (or perhaps because of) the controversy that preceded its domestic premiere, Noah managed to debut as a strong number one at the US box office, taking in $44 million during opening weekend and knocking YA novel adaptation Divergent off its perch. The film also earned $51.5 million in international markets over the same time period, even as it was banned in many territories in the Middle East.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Great comic book movie, fight scenes could be better
North American reviews of Captain America: The Winter Soldier are coming in. The film comes out this weekend in the United States and Canada but it has been out since last week in many international markets (where it pulled in over $75 million last weekend). Opinions seem generally positive (it has a 70 metascore and an 8.8 user score on Metacritic as of this writing), and Grantland film critic Wesley Morris was particularly effusive in his praise of actor Chris Evans’ performance as the Star-Spangled Avenger:
… being Captain America is working for him. A role that should be a prison has actually given Evans’s charisma something to push back against. Steve’s antique status neutralizes the smirking jock he seems to be born to play. Squareness becomes him. The character’s earnestness is a tonic to the smarmy backhanded heroism Robert Downey Jr. uses for the Iron Man movies. Downey’s Tony Stark saves the world because it flatters his ego. Steve Rogers saves the world because it’s right.
[We would like to point out, however, that Morris is in error in his review in writing that the Falcon is the first “major black superhero” to appear in comics—the Black Panther appeared in 1966, some three years before Falcon was introduced. The Falcon is the first major African-American superhero, though, and it’s likely this was what Morris meant to write—ed.]
The A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd writes that the film
… delivers the requisite pyrotechnics, brightly comic banter, and future-sequel groundwork without breaking a sweat, while still finding room to fold a throwback trust-no-one thriller into its design.
Katherine Monk, writing for the Vancouver Sun, says that the film “transcends patriotism” with its willingness to explore themes that one might not normally associate with the lead character and the genre:
It doesn’t just wave the flag in our face and ask us to be awed. It forces [Captain America], and everyone around him, to question what freedom really means: Is it the core of a democratic ideal worth dying for, or a word fascists use as camouflage to exploit the public trust?
There are some hiccups, though. Morris notes that the film suffers from the chaotic, overly flashy, difficult-to-track fight scenes that seem to be a common affliction among modern big-budget action films:
It’s possible both to like the comic-book movie they’ve made and to be driven nuts by how terrible it looks. It’s the sort of thing you notice only when people are fighting. That, of course, is a problem. People are often fighting, and the fights have been shot in the chaotic manner of bad action movies. The camera jitters and jumps and cranes and whips. What it never seems to do is sit still. That hostage rescue on the ship occurs at night, and, in 3-D, the drabness of the ship and exterior darkness turn that sequence into murk. The editing grinds up motion into meaningless bits. The shots don’t match and the images come at us so hectically that the editing can barely keep up with itself…
… So much money and time and planning has gone into creating effects and staging these sequences. During the climactic finale, set amid skyscrapers and sky, Mackie has to run across an entire floor as a ship crashes behind him and then leap out of a window. The stress of that moment was compounded by the number of cuts required to pull it off. There’s a very good fight on a Washington, D.C., highway that’s equally unattractive. Is all this formal chaos meant to disguise the use of stunt doubles or the directors’ lack of confidence?
International comic convention news and updates
• Corey Blake lists the six best things from last weekend’s Emerald City Comicon. (Robot 6@CBR)
• CRIME ALERT! Two comics with one-of-a-kind custom sketch covers were stolen from the Emerald City Comicon table of artist Mico Suayan (Moon Knight, Werewolf by Night: In the Blood). The comics are Superman/Batman #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #648. The custom sketch covers are pictured below:
If you see these being sold on eBay, Craigslist, or anywhere else, please get in touch with Suayan.
• Heidi McDonald has the exclusive on the complete C2E2 panel schedule. Besides the usual comics creator and publisher panels and “how-to-break-into-the-industry”-style discussions, other highlights include talks on how to use comics and graphic novels as tools for specific educational initiatives, a martial arts demonstration(!) from Red Power Ranger actor Steve Cardenas, a Q&A with international cosplay idol and costume designer Yaya Han, a panel on how digital comics might be impinging on readers’ data privacy, teaching panels for amateur, professional, and potential comics creators on the subjects of comics storytelling, comics editing, how to create and sell a comics pitch, and comics branding/marketing.
There will also be film screenings, live stage shows, cosplay competitions, sporting events, music-themed events, trivia contests, a treasure hunt, a kids’ costume parade, and more.
C2E2 is scheduled to run from April 25–27 at the South Building at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL and comics guests include Stan Lee, Neal Adams, Adam Hughes, Gail Simone, Scott Snyder, Dan Jurgens, Mark Bagley, Olivier Coipel, and many more.
• Tickets to the exclusive Fan Expo Vancouver after-party are now on sale. This 19+ event will feature appearances from the convention’s celebrity, anime, comics, video game, and literary guests and is limited to 200 attendees (no autograph-seekers, please). The party will be held on Saturday, April 19, 9 PM at Vistas 360 at the top of the Renaissance Harbourside Hotel. Fan Expo Vancouver is scheduled for April 18–20, 2014 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC. Confirmed comics guests include Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Black Widow: Homecoming), Ed Brisson (Sheltered, RoboCop: Beta), Mark Bagley (Thunderbolts, Ultimate Spider-Man), Philip Tan (Uncanny X-Men, Spawn), Kaare Andrews (Spider-Man: Reign, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis), Tony Moore (The Walking Dead, Fear Agent), Mike Del Mundo (Elektra, Superior Spider-Man Team-up), Clayton Crain (Carnage, Ghost Rider: Trail of Tears), Mike McKone (Justice League United, Fantastic Four).
Odds and Sods
More news links from around the world of comics and related media:
• Kaoru Mori’s Otoyomegatari (A Bride’s Story) wins this year’s Manga Taishō (Cartoon Grand Prix) award. The honor is given annually to the best manga with eight or less collected volumes. A Bride’s Story, which features a story set in a 19th century Central Asia town near the Caspian Sea, was previously nominated for the award last year. The English edition of the manga’s first volume made the 2012 YALSA list of “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” and received the Intergénérations prize for best all-ages comic during the 2012 Angoulême International Comics Festival. The first five volumes are available in English from Yen Press.
• Jack Kirby’s heirs file a Supreme Court petition asserting their ownership rights to the artist’s Marvel Comics creations, including Captain America and the X-Men. (Deadline)
• Grant Morrison (Animal Man, All-Star Superman) and Rian Hughes (2000 AD) debut their free comic The Key, as part of the BBC’s Freedom 2014 media event. Click here to read the story behind the comic.
• New volumes of Knights of Sidonia and Cardfight!! Vanguard dominate manga publisher Vertical, Inc.’s list of print and ebook releases for April. (The Diagonal)
• Tyrone Beason takes a look at Seattle’s alt comics scene. (Seattle Times)
• The list of the nominees for the Diamond Comic Distributors Spring 2014 Best Practice Awards for comics retailers is out. (Bleeding Cool) Is your local comics shop among them?
• The National Cartoonists Society has announced the divisional award nominees for the 68th Annual Reuben Awards. Chris Samnee (for Daredevil), Sergio Aragonés (for Sergio Aragonés Funnies), and Jay Fosgitt (for Bodie Troll) are nominated in the comics category while Dan E. Burr (for On the Ropes), Rick Geary (for Madison Square Tragedy), and Andrew C. Robinson (for The Fifth Beatle) are up for the plum in the graphic novel category. (Reuben.org, via The Beat)
• An Amazon.com customer reviewer points out the numerous production errors in Dynamite Entertainment’s Vampirella: The Best of the Warren Years trade paperback. (Bleeding Cool) A real shame, as the Warren-era comics had some of the best Vampirella art.
• Creators of The Walking Dead: The Prison board game cancel the Kickstarter campaign for the project after they sign an exclusive distribution deal with Diamond Comics Distributors and Alliance Game Distributors. Given the security offered by the agreement with Diamond and Alliance, the game’s creators “[no longer felt] comfortable continuing to ask for funding money through Kickstarter.” (ICv2)
• VIZ Media has recently completed the relaunch of its Neon Alley service as a free, ad-supported, Hulu-based anime streaming service. (Toon Zone) The move to Hulu means it is no longer available in Canada, however, although VIZ Media assures its Canadian customers that an announcement will soon be coming regarding how they can access Neon Alley.
• Carly Tribull, a PhD student in entomology at the American Museum of Natural History, also happens to be a seriously good artist (check out the insect-themed illustrations on her art site). She is also a big, big fan of comics, and her explanation for why she loves the medium in a guest article for Scientific American (written in comics form, naturally) is something any adult fan of comics as entertainment, hobby, art form, and educational tool will surely appreciate. Click on the image below to read the full strip:
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 Dark Horse Comics, AudioComics, and Visionbooks:
• Dark Horse’s Emerald City Comicon announcements
- Dark Horse reveals ElfQuest: The Original Quest Gallery Edition and The Complete ElfQuest, Vol. 1: The Original Quest: In 1978, Wendy and Richard Pini first published what would become one of the most revered classic-fantasy epics in comics. Today, ElfQuest continues to capture the imaginations of readers of all ages, as Chief Cutter and his Wolfriders battle savage humans, forge lasting alliances, and discover strange new lands in this ultimate fantasy adventure! Dark Horse proudly presents ElfQuest: The Original Quest Gallery Edition, a one-of-a-kind edition, which collects the first five issues of The Original Quest (“Fire and Flight”) in their gorgeous original glory. Each page is carefully scanned from Wendy Pini’s original art to capture every stroke and detail. At 12 1/8″ by 17″, it’s as close to holding Pini’s original art as a fan can get. For readers looking to explore ElfQuest for the first time, there’s no better place than The Complete ElfQuest Volume 1: The Original Quest! This edition boasts 720 pages, collecting the entirety of what is now known as The Original Quest in stunning black and white, including an extensive gallery of concept art, pinups, and covers, with commentary from series creators Wendy and Richard Pini. ElfQuest: The Original Quest Gallery Edition is in comic shops October 8 and bookstores October 21. The Complete ElfQuest Volume 1: The Original Quest is on sale August 6. Preorder your copy today!
- Curt Pires and Jason Copland launch Pop: What if the world’s pop stars and celebrities were literally products, grown by the world’s wealthiest (and most depraved) minds—and one of them escaped? Dark Horse presents the new four-issue miniseries Pop! Smart and savage! Sexy and scathing! Writer Curt Pires (Theremin, LP) and artist Jason Copland (Daredevil, RoboCop, Kill All Monsters) deliver a series that’s original, exciting, and sure to draw attention! As unique as it is entertaining, Pop is a white-knuckled thrill ride through the marketing-mastered, technologically tethered tragicomedy we call life. Pop #1 is on comic shelves August 27! Preorder your copy today!
- Dark Horse announces Deep Gravity, a four-part miniseries from Mike Richardson and the creative team of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko (Star Wars: Legacy, Planet of the Apes): Welcome to Poseidon! Gilise MG452, a.k.a. “Poseidon,” is Earth’s deadly sister planet. A planet similar to ours, yet utterly alien, it circles a red dwarf just three years from Earth. Maelstrom Science and Technology Corp. has the lone contract to mine the planet’s resources. But what once was a scientific expedition has become a beast of profit… with no room for failure. Deep Gravity will keep readers coming back for more! Deep Gravity #1 is on comic shelves July 30! Preorder your copy today!
- Peter Bergting debuts in the Mignolaverse with Baltimore: The Witch of Harju: Eisner Award–winning horror master Mike Mignola and #1 New York Times best-selling author Christopher Golden present a new comics series featuring the world’s greatest monster hunter, Lord Henry Baltimore, in Baltimore: The Witch of Harju. In his newest adventure, fresh off a showdown in London, Baltimore shelters a woman on the run from a possessed dead man and the witch playing his puppet master. This three-issue miniseries from writers Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, with Eisner Award–winning colorist Dave Stewart, will feature the artwork of Peter Bergting (The Portent: Ashes, Domovoi). Writer/artist Bergting has written young adult novels in both Swedish and English, and numerous short stories, reviews, and editorials. He has been published in the US, Sweden, Norway, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, and Italy.
• New The Strain series to debut alongside the upcoming TV series adaptation on FX
From the press release:
As the world gears up for the premiere of the new FX television program adapting the original novel trilogy The Strain, Dark Horse announces The Night Eternal, the third comics chapter of this ongoing vampire epic, adapted by David Lapham and Mike Huddleston. Following the first two comics series, The Strain and the recently wrapped The Fall, The Night Eternal will begin on August 20, just after The Strain’s television debut on FX!
It’s been two years since the Master’s plan succeeded and a near apocalypse coated the world in darkness. Now able to roam freely, the Master’s legion of vampires rule the world—a horrifying police state where humans are harvested for blood. As humanity despairs, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and an unlikely team of heroes continue their fight against extinction, all the while hoping to unlock the secret to the Master’s demise. The final chapter in the Strain Trilogy, the series that put a terrifying twist on the vampire genre, begins here.
Dark Horse is giving readers a chance to catch up on what they’ve been missing with a one-dollar reprint of the first issue of The Strain. This horrifying first chapter of the original Strain saga takes readers back to the beginning of an outbreak of diabolical proportions. On shelves June 18.
It doesn’t stop there! July will see the reprint of the entire first series of The Strain in a deluxe hardcover. This all-new edition will collect the first eleven issues in 272 full-color pages for only $29.99! On sale July 9 in comic shops everywhere. July will also see the release of The Strain Volume 4: The Fall, wrapping up the second series. This collection arrives at your local comic shop on July 2 for $19.99
• AudioComics launches Kickstarter campaign for its adaptation of Josh Finney’s Utopiates featuring actress Denise Poirier (MTV’s Æon Flux) and cyberpunk novelist John Shirley
From the press release:
AudioComics is excited to announce the launch of its new Kickstarter to help fund UTOPIATES, its latest full-cast audio production. Based on the award-winning graphic novel by Josh Finney (Titanium Rain, Star Trek: Enterprise) and Kat Rocha (Giant-Sized Batman #1), the production will star Denise Poirier, the voice and soul of MTV’s Æon Flux. Poirier will voice the Prophet, a shadowy figure who deals in the most illicit of bio-engineered drugs in a futuristic Los Angeles.
“I’m so thrilled about this,” says Poirier. “I can already see how I’m going to be able to slip into her skin.” According to author Josh Finney, “It’s Denise’s character who ties the narrative together. She’s a force of nature. When the Prophet enters the scene, people’s lives change forever.”
A merging of the words utopia and opiate, UTOPIATES follows the lives of four individuals whose paths intersect by way of the drug. The drug’s appeal is that it allows uers to inject the memories, dreams, and most importantly, the personalities, of others. Every user has his own reasons for seeking this chemical escape, but all learn the high price of “soul swapping.”
The UTOPIATES will be a full-cast production, voiced by veteran actors, with state-of-the-art sound effects and an original score by BBC soundtrack composer, Jonathan Sharp. Also featured will be choice songs from bands Bio-Tek, New Mind and Slingshot Venus. Helming the project is Audie Award-winning director Bill Dufris.”Our aim is to bring the art form of radio drama into the 21st Century,” says Dufris. “Just like our prior success with Titanium Rain, this will not be another classic radio play of old. Utopiates will have the same immersive depth, effects and intensity we’ve come to expect from a high-budget film.”
If AudioComics meets all its Kickstarter goals, UTOPIATES will be a two-disc set. The first disc will be an adaptation of Finney & Rocha’s graphic novel. The second will offer three new stories set in the UTOPIATES universe; one scripted by Finney, one by an author to be announced, and the third by sci-fi legend John Shirley. Screenwriter of the The Crow, starring the late Brandon Lee, and one of the godfathers of cyberpunk, elements of Shirley’s novels have found their way into properties such as Dark Angel, Max Headroom, and most notably, The Matrix Trilogy.
• Digital comics distributor/tech developer Visionbooks has added Vanquish Studios’ Telikos Protocol to its growing line of digital publications. Visionbooks’ digital comics offerings incorporate animated and interactive elements while preserving the original narrative and layout found in print comics. Other titles available from Visionbooks include Arcana’s The Steam Engines of Oz, Asylum Press’ Fearless Dawn and Zombie Terror, as well as APNG’s New-Gen.
In case you missed them…
• Don’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers.
• Troy, Joe, and Zedric share share reviews and multi-page previews of All-New Ghost Rider #1, Empowered Special: Internal Medicine, Real Heroes #1, Sovereign #1, Monster & Madman #1, and Silver Surfer #1 in the latest First Impressions feature.
• Did an obscure, unsanctioned 1984 “non-crossover” between Eclipse Comics’ DNAgents and DC’s Tales of the Teen Titans influence the creation of Image Comics’ Youngblood? Zedric doesn’t have any firm answers in the latest Leaving Proof, but it makes for some interesting speculation, anyway.