The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of April 12, 2014

NEWS Round-up | Week of April 12, 2014
Published on Saturday, April 12, 2014 by
We cut past the hype and work out the important issues surrounding Amazon.com’s acquisition of comiXology, as well as share the latest comics news from around the world, in this week’s extra-hefty edition of the News Round-up.
Amazon.com buys comiXology

As Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston first broke last month, online retail behemoth Amazon.com has indeed acquired industry-leading digital comics distributor ComiXology. Below is the full text of the press release announcing the completion of the deal:

Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire comiXology, the company that revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology and makes discovering, buying, and reading comic books and graphic novels easier and more fun than ever before.

‘ComiXology’s mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms,’ said David Steinberger, co-founder and CEO of comiXology. ‘There is no better home for comiXology than Amazon to see this vision through. Working together, we look to accelerate a new age for comic books and graphic novels.’

‘Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world,’ said David Naggar, Amazon Vice President, Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing. ‘We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels. We look forward to investing in the business, growing the team, and together, bringing comics and graphic novels to even more readers.’

Founded in 2007, comiXology offers a broad library of digital comic book content from over 75 of the top publishers as well as top independent creators. Following the acquisition, comiXology’s headquarters will remain in New York.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

comixology_logo

The comiXology app is one of the top-grossing apps for iOS devices and is among the most popular non-gaming apps on both the iOS and Android platforms.

In an open letter posted on the comiXology website, company co-founder and CEO David Steinberger maintained that “[c]omiXology will retain its identity as an Amazon subsidiary” and that “the best is yet to come.” Speaking to Publishers Weekly, Steinberger stated that comiXology would remain in New York and that no staffing changes or layoffs are expected to accompany the shift in ownership.

While the tenor of the immediate public reaction to the news could be characterized as generally positive based on blog and social media responses—with many observers seeing the added exposure provided by Amazon.com’s dominance in online retail as being ultimately good for comiXology’s business standing and the continued relevance of comics in the face of competing New Media—ComicsPRO, the professional trade organization for comics retailers in North America, was none too happy with the announcement, as evidenced in a statement released a day after the deal was officially revealed (via The Beat):

There’s always a concern when a huge corporation that shows little need to turn a profit tries to convert a niche market into a commodity. Fortunately there is a tactile element to comics that no deep-discounting web entity will ever be able to replicate. So as long as there continues to be fans for the real thing, there will be comics and comic book stores.

comicsprologo

The Comics Professional Retail Organization (ComicsPRO) did not take the news of Amazon.com’s acquisition of comiXology well.

ComicsPRO’s unquestionably negative public reaction to the deal is understandable given the contentious relationship between Amazon.com and “brick-and-mortar” retail stores, if a little surprising in its raw emotion and eagerness to dismiss all digital comics as not being “the real thing.”

A number of brick-and-mortar comics retailers in the United States do participate in comiXology’s retail subscription service—a program that allows comics shops to sell comiXology subscriptions over the counter and earn a percentage in the process, an ideal compromise for customers who want to read digital comics and still support their local comics retailer—but with this new deal, comics retailers enlisted in comiXology’s retail subscription service may feel that they’ve been recruited, perhaps against their best commercial interests, into directly supporting Amazon.com. Some observers also think it unlikely that Amazon.com will maintain the retail subscription service given the company’s history of aggressive moves against its brick-and-mortar competition.

And while comiXology assures existing customers that their comics “are safe” in the wake of the company’s acquisition by Amazon.com, the company declined to comment when asked if it can guarantee that previously purchased comics will always be available for customers to read moving forward from the acquisition. If some customers are wary, they can hardly be blamed, especially with fiascoes such as JManga’s closure still somewhat fresh in the comics community’s memory and the very real possibility that a change in ownership may eventually lead to a change in comiXology’s Terms of Service that might impact users’ future access to comics purchased prior to the Amazon.com takeover. (Note the language of section 10 of comiXology’s Terms of Service as of January 3, 2014: “Your use of the Service after a change is effective will be governed by the Agreement as changed.”)

One other thing that remains unaddressed in detail at this early juncture is the status of the creator-owned comics digitally published under comiXology’s Submit program. Does the acquisition confer to Amazon.com their exclusive publication rights, perhaps with conditions similar to those for submissions to the company’s Kindle Direct Publishing program? Asked about the future of comiXology Submit, Amazon.com VP for Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing David Naggar replied that “Amazon doesn’t make a lot of plans before it makes an acquisition, so we’ll have to figure it all out over time.”

Placing Q1 2014′s sales numbers in context
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ICv2 notes that newer volumes of Image Comics’ The Walking Dead haven’t been selling as well as previous volumes, although total graphic novel sales across publishers, titles, and sales outlets continue to grow. Overall comics sales, however, have taken a notable dip compared to the last quarter of 2013.

ICv2 paints a somewhat bleak picture of comics retail moving forward in its analysis of recent sales trends, with the article’s author finding caveats even in the recent uptick in graphic novel sales, noting that even perennial favorite The Walking Dead may not be selling as many of its newer volumes as its earlier installments, which can be interpreted as a slackening in reader interest, even among long-time fans of the series.

On the other hand, former Comics Buyer’s Guide editor John Jackson Miller sees all sorts of encouraging signs among the dips in sales numbers in his analysis on Comichron. Miller also notes that comics sales during the winter months are almost always worse than sales during the fall, and that historically, sales rebound enough in April to wipe out any losses incurred during the first three months of the year.

Want some international context? The Tsukuru magazine (via Anime News Network) has listed the top 15 largest tankōbon (trade paperback collection) print runs for each of the three major manga publishers in Japan for the sales period spanning April 2013 to March 2014. Kodansha is led by Attack on Titan, Vol. 13 (2.25 million copies), Shogakukan is paced by Silver Spoon, Vol. 11 (1.2 million copies), and Shueisha is topped by One Piece, Vol. 73 (4 million copies). By contrast, the best-selling non-manga comic (either “floppy” or trade/hardcover) in North America for the same time period, Image Comics’ The Walking Dead #115, moved 310,584 copies (based on Comichron data) and only one title, DC’s Batman, has sold more than 100,000 copies a month since January 2014.

International comic convention news and updates

• Zenescope Entertainment will be at next week’s Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience (April 17–19, 2014; Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT) exhibiting at booth #1924, where it will offer its newest trade paperback releases, high end art prints, hardcover collections, and exclusive comics. Convention exclusive variants available at the show will be Robyn Hood: Legend #1 Cover E (SLCC-exclusive variant cover by Jamie Tyndall, limited to 500 copies), Grimm Fairy Tales #96 Cover D (SLCC-exclusive variant cover by Abhishek Malsuni and Shashank Mishura, limited to 500 copies), and Grimm Fairy Tales #96 Cover E (SLCC-exclusive variant cover by Abhishek Malsuni and Shashank Mishura, limited to 250 copies). Attendees who purchase the Robyn Hood: Legend #1 Cover E variant will be entered into a draw to win a limited edition art print.

In addition, artist Elias Chatzoudis will be signing at the Zenescope booth from 1 PM to 2 PM on all three days of the convention.

Zenescope will also be in attendance at Wondercon Anaheim 2014 (April 18–20, 2014; Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA) at booth #705. The publisher’s booth will have models dressed as Zenescope characters giving away free comics and taking pictures with fans all weekend long, as well as a con-exclusive variant of Quest #5, featuring a cover by Martin Abel (limited to 350 copies). Attendees who purchase the variant will be entered into a draw to win a limited edition art print.

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Dark Horse will also be at Wondercon Anaheim at booth #519, where it will offer an all-new Wondercon-exclusive variant for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #1 with a cover by Brian Horton (senior art director on the acclaimed 2013 Tomb Raider game) and a similarly exclusive variant for Angel & Faith Season Ten #1 by Buffy cover artist Steve Morris. Both issues will be limited to 1,000 copies each, and are priced at $5 (limit five per person).

In addition to the two Wondercon-exclusive comics, there will be three other limited edition comics available at the booth while supplies last: The Witcher #1 Stan Sakai cover variant that originally debuted at last month’s ECCC (all proceeds from the sale of this limited edition variant will benefit Stan and Sharon Sakai), a limited-edition hardcover of Itty Bitty Hellboy ($20), and a limited-edition hardcover collection of The Last of Us: American Dreams (this will first be available at PAX East this weekend, and then in very limited quantities at WonderCon for $24.99).

Below are the details of Dark Horse Comics’ signing and panel schedules for Wondercon Anaheim:

SIGNING SCHEDULE

Friday, April 18

  • 1:00 PM – Gene Yang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
  • 3:00 PM – Dan Parsons (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi)

Saturday, April 19

  • 11:00 PM – Sara Ryan (Bad Houses)
  • 12:00 PM – Gene Yang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
  • 3:00 PM – Gail Simone (Tomb Raider)
  • 4:00 PM – D. J. Kirkbride and Robert Love (Never Ending)
  • 5:00 PM – Vivek J. Tiwary and Andrew C. Robinson (The Fifth Beatle)

Sunday, April 20

  • 11:30 AM – Christos Gage (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10)
  • 1:00 PM – Mike Mayhew (The Star Wars)
  • 3:00 PM – Zack Whedon, Georges Jeanty (Serenity: Leaves on the Wind) [Ticketed event. A set number of tickets will be distributed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings by drawing—ed.]

PANEL SCHEDULE

Friday, April 18

  • 5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Room 203 The Making of Star Wars
    • WonderCon Anaheim special guest artist Mike Mayhew (Avengers) goes behind the scenes of the Diamond Gem Award–winning series The Star Wars, from Dark Horse Comics. Mike will take you on a tour of the universe that was never meant to be, from its mysterious origins to a sneak peek at the collected volumes coming this summer.

Saturday, April 19

  • 5:30 PM–6:30 PM, Room 213 Dark Horse Presents Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Dark Horse’s growing line of books following up on the original Nickelodeon hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender have achieved bestseller status! Working directly with the show’s creators, Gene Yang (American Born ChineseBoxers and Saints) penned the first three-book series, The Promise, to universal acclaim, and followed it with The Search. Now, Yang tackles the events directly following The Search in The Rift. Join Gene Yang for an exclusive look at what’s to come in what is sure to be one of the year’s most talked about series!

Sunday, April 20

  • 1:30 PM–2:30 PM, Room 213 Dark Horse Presents Whedonversity
    • Dark Horse’s continuations of Joss Whedon’s cult favorites (SerenityBuffyAngel & Faith) remain some of the most-talked-about comics in today’s market. Dark Horse and WonderCon Anaheim are giving you an exclusive chance to hear all there is to tell about the upcoming arcs of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity from the creative teams themselves! Join Dark Horse, along with Buffy Season 10 writer Christos Gage, Serenity writer Zack Whedon, and artist Georges Jeanty, for what is guaranteed to be one panel you don’t wanna miss!

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The program, floor map, and schedule for Fan Expo Vancouver (April 18–20, 2014; Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC) is now available to view and download (PDF). Below are some of the comics-themed highlights for the three-day celebration of all things geeky:

SKETCH DUEL SCHEDULE

Friday, April 18

  • 7:00 PM–8:00 PM, Room 118: Philip Tan (Uncanny X-Men, Spawn) vs. David Finch (Moon Knight, New Avengers)
  • 8:00 PM–9:00 PM, Room 118: Mike McKone (Fantastic Four, Avengers Academy) vs. Tony Moore (The Walking Dead, Fear Agent)

Saturday, April 19

  • 2:00 PM–3:00 PM, Room 118: Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-ManNew Warriors) vs. Kaare Andrews (Iron Fist: The Living Weapon, Spider-Man: Reign)
  • 6:00 PM–7:00 PM, Room 118: Stephen Platt (ProphetWolverine/Cable: Guts and Glory) vs. Clayton Crain (Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation, Venom vs. Carnage)

Sunday, April 20

  • 2:00 PM–3:00 PM, Room 118: Dave Johnson (2002 Eisner Award winner for Best Cover Artist) vs. Mike Del Mundo (2013 Shuster Award winner for Best Cover Artist)
  • 4:00 PM–5:00 PM, Room 118: Tony Moore (The Walking DeadFear Agent) vs. Bill Sienciewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Black Widow: Homecoming)
Shuster Award-winning artist Mike Del Mundo will be on hand to sign copies of the Fan Expo Vancouver-exclusive variant of Hulk #1.

Shuster Award-winning artist Mike Del Mundo will be on hand to sign copies of the Fan Expo Vancouver-exclusive variant of Hulk #1.

FAN EXPO VANCOUVER EXCLUSIVES SIGNING SCHEDULE

Saturday, April 19

  • 5:00 PM onwards, Booth 101, Hall C (Fan Expo Vancouver Store): Mark Bagley and Mike Del Mundo

COMICS PANEL SCHEDULE

Saturday, April 19

  • 1:00 PM–2:00 PM, Room 118: Image Comics Creators Chat
  • 4:00 PM–5:00 PM, Room 118: Spotlight on Mark Bagley

Sunday, April 20

  • 12:00 PM–1:00 PM, Room 118: Spotlight on Bill Sienciewicz

Besides the above-listed events, attendees will also be able to chat with the Expo’s extensive list of comics special guests at their tables and interact with and buy original art from the Expo’s Artist Alley section. Comics pros attending the Expo include Steve Rolston (Queen & Country, Ghost Projekt), Ed Brisson (Sheltered, Sons of Anarchy), Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man, Doctor Who: The Forgotten), Ian Boothby (Simpsons Comics, Futurama Comics), and Ken Steacy (Alien Worlds, Astro Boy).

Odds and Sods

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

Brave_Story_Novel• Art director and logo, packaging, prose volume, and graphic novel-designer Courtney Utt recently passed away at the age of 37 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Utt worked primarily with independent publisher PM Press and leading North American manga publisher VIZ Media. Among the most notable of Utt’s works include providing art direction and cover and interior designs for VIZ Media’s US edition of Miyuke Miyabe’s Brave Story, which was awarded the 2008 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a foreign language and designing the logo and packaging for VIZ Media’s US edition of Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster, which was nominated in 2009 for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

• Canadian web cartoonist Dakota McFadzean (The Dailies) breaks through to the print comics world with a new regular strip in Mad magazine entitled Almost Perfect Universe. (CBC)

• The nominees for the 2014 Glyph Awards, honoring the best  African-American comics creators and comics featuring African-American characters, have been announced. (ECBACC, via The Beat)

Crunchyroll enters into a deal with Fuji TV to stream 21 live-action shows, including two series that will have their newest episodes simulcast on Crunchyroll. Among the shows Crunchyroll will be streaming are live-action adaptations of the Gokuako Ganbo, Iryu: Team Medical Dragon, Liar Game, Switch Girl!!, Future Diary, and GTO manga. (BusinessWire)

LifeWithArchie_36_Magazine• Archie Comics announces that it will end the long-running Life with Archie series—which takes a look at parallel futures where the eponymous character has settled down with either Betty or Veronica—with a “Death of Archie” storyline. The final issue of the magazine edition of Life with Archie, issue #36, will feature variant covers by Francesco Francavilla, Fiona Staples, Ramon Perez, Walt Simonson, Jill Thompson, Mike Allred, Cliff Chiang, Adam Hughes, Tommy Lee Edwards and Alex Ross. (The Beat)

• Industry observers won’t find word of new developments in Rob Salkowitz’s latest article on creators rights, which mostly goes over established cases, but we like his insight that the comics community champions creators rights because “comic fans are an idealistic and sentimental lot; that’s part of what keeps grown men and women coming back to see good conquer evil month after month. It’s hard to cheer for Goliath wiping the floor with one hapless David after another even if you can appreciate, on an intellectual level, the merits of the legal arguments.” (ICv2)

• Facebook takes ham-fisted approach in censoring political cartoon. (CBLDF)

bladesofhopepromo• Sohaib Awan, writer and creator of IDW’s Jinnrise and host of the Philadelphia-based radio talk show and podcast Fictional Frontiers, talks about Blades of Hope, an upcoming young adult graphic novel announced at the recent Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) in Dubai, to be published by Awan’s Jabal Entertainment. Co-created and co-written by Paige Hartman, Blades of Hope features a female protagonist intended to capitalize on the growing demand for strong, authentic female protagonists in popular entertainment. (The National)

• It’s worth it to take the time to check out this short interview with former Marvel editor and Daredevil writer and current Catwoman writer Ann Nocenti, if only to read about her time working as an editor on High Times and to see her “super editor” portrait, as drawn by Art Adams. (13th Dimension)

New teaser trailer confirms that Disney Infinity, the House of Mouse’s take on the NFC-enabled collectible figure/video game product category popularized by Activision’s Skylanders, will add Marvel Comics superheroes in the game’s “2.0 edition.”

City_in_the_Desert_v2_Cover• Moro Rogers talks about her City in the Desert graphic novels. (The Mary Sue) [Click here to check out our recent review of City in the Desert, Vol. 2: The Serpent Crown—ed.]

• Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor of the New Yorker, talks about how provocative and thought-provoking cartoons need to be “the right amount of wrong.” (BBC)

• Manga publisher Vertical, Inc. set to announce new license acquisition at either the Anime Central convention (May 16–18, Rosemont, IL) or at AnimeNEXT (June 6–8, Somerset, NJ). (The Diagonal) Let the speculation commence!

Friends and colleagues of the late The Familiar of Zero author Noburo Yamaguchi create an online memorial on the first anniversary of his death due to cancer. (Anime News Network)

• Screening of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah canceled after movie theater hit by flood. (UPI) [Click here to check out our recent review of the Noah graphic novel—ed.]

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, BOOM! Studios, Oni Press, Zenescope Entertainment, and Alaxis Press:

• Dark Horse opens the Nightmare Carnival

From the press release:

NightmareCarnival_CVRHugo and Bram Stoker Award–winning editor Ellen Datlow (Supernatural Noir, Lovecraft Unbound, Omni magazine, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror) presents a new collection of insidious and shocking tales in the horrific and irresistible Nightmare Carnival!

Dark Horse is proud to bring you this masterwork of terror from such incredible creative talents as Terry Dowling, Priya Sharma, Dennis Danvers, and Nick Mamatas, featuring cover artwork by E. M. Gist (The Strain, Creepy)!

A washed-up wrestler goes toe to toe with a strange new foe. A young lad’s eleventh birthday heralds the arrival of his bizarre new entourage. A suicidal diva just can’t seem to die. All of these queer marvels and more can be found at the Nightmare Carnival!

For fans of horror, noir, fantasy, crime, and the short fiction format, sixteen stories for $19.99! Nightmare Carnival is on sale September 24, 2014, in comic shops and October 7 in bookstores everywhere! Preorder your copy today!

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1 early press-exclusive preview

From the solicitation:

A young Rebel meets one of the Alliance’s best for his first mission. But the young man’s hero worship is crushed by the reality of Han Solo. A botched escape, a ship that doesn’t work—could it be that Solo is just a lucky bumbler whose luck has run out?

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1 (of 4) hits stores on April 30, 2014 with a cover price of $3.50 and features a story by Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Marvel Knights: Spider-Man), art by Marco Castiello (HALO: Initiation, Star Wars: Knight Errant—Escape) and Dan Parsons (Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi—Force War, Cthulhu Tales: Tainted), and covers by Matt Kindt and Adam Hughes.

Dark Horse to produce art book tie-in to Guillermo del Toro and Jorge R. Gutierrez upcoming animated feature film, The Book of Life

In September 2014, Dark Horse will release The Art of The Book of Life, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 20th Century Fox Film The Book of Life from producer Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) and director Jorge R. Gutierrez (El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera).

ArtofBoLSOLCVR

The Art of The Book of Life will feature production art, stills, and more, and arrives on sale on September 3, 2014.

Oni Press brings Double Fine Productions’ Costume Quest to comics

From the press release:

CQ_IotCS_CoverHalloween is awesome. It’s pretty much the apex of human achievement and that’s science, buddy.  It can’t be disproven, so don’t even try.

But let’s face facts. Humanity isn’t content to rest on its collective duff. We crave accomplishment, we settle for nothing less than domination, and we demand to be apex predators in every possible arena.  Halloween might be the best thing we’ve ever done, but we can rebuild it, we can make it cooler, we have the candy.

That’s why when Double Fine Productions released Costume Quest in 2010, gamers and fans of radness the world over lost their minds. Not only had the sugar-fueled exhilaration of Halloween been captured in a game that could be played all year long, but the stakes had been raised and the true wishes that fuel every October 31st were finally realized.

In Costume Quest, a night of capricious gallivanting transformed into an epic, heroic mission; and earnest, handmade costumes became super-powered alter egos, catapulting intrepid trick-or-treaters into a magical world. Now Double Fine is returning to that world with Costume Quest 2, and Oni Press is bringing daring trick-or-treaters even deeper with Zac Gorman’s Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy snatchers!

Invasion of the Candy Snatchers tells the story of Klem, a misunderstood misfit member of the menacing Grubbins from the first game. While his fellow Grubbins live to snatch trick-or-treaters from our world, Klem is an adorable outcast who only cares about one thing: CANDY! Will Klem be able to make his way amongst the Grubbins while staying true to his sugar-loving soul? There’s only one way to find out!

Rather than being a blatant grab for more of fans’ hard-earned dough, Invasion is a lush, deluxe, oversized hardcover that tells a story from the Costume Quest world that isn’t seen in the games, expanding the overall experience through Zac’s incredible comics. As anyone who’s read Magical Game Time and played any of Double Fine’s collection of amazing games can attest, this is a real chocolate and peanut butter situation, folks.

That’s science, too.  Look it up.

Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy snatchers will hit stores this October, in time for Halloween and the release of Costume Quest 2!

With an arsenal like that, every other holiday is gonna be super bummed out.

• Zenescope to bring back Charmed this fall with Charmed: Season 10

From the press release:

Zenescope Entertainment and CBS Consumer Products are bringing the fan-favorite series CHARMED back to comic book and graphic novel formats this Fall. Zenescope published the first 24 issues of the bestselling series from June 2010 through September 2012.

Charmed2_GregHorn

Constance M. Burge  created the popular TV series, which starred Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Shannen Doherty. Charmed aired from 1998 through 2006, and found a new life  as original comics when Zenescope began publishing “Season 9” four years ago. Now, Zenescope will release a brand new  “Season 10”  in an on-going monthly comic book  series  with trade paperback collections released twice each year.

The first issue of Season 10 will debut at New York Comic Con the weekend of October 9, 2014. Original comic book series writer Paul Ruditis will edit the series and Zenescope writer Pat Shand (Angel, Robyn Hood) takes the helm penning the new arc. The art team will be announced next month.

The Leaning Girl finally arrives in America

From the press release:

After over a decade, the world-renowned, multi award-winning graphic novel series, Les Cités Obscures (The Obscure Cities) returns to the United States with The Leaning Girl, a classic story translated into English for the first time.

LeaningGirl_CVROriginally published in French as L’enfant Penchée by Editions Casterman in 1996, The Leaning Girl is now available in English thanks to the efforts of author and translator Stephen D. Smith who secured the rights to, translated, and published the book under the watchful eyes of author Benoît Peeters and artist François Schuiten, the creative team behind the The Obscure Cities series.

Following the successes of Pulitzer prize winner, Maus by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, the graphic novel has become an accepted literary form. The Obscure Cities features captivating Kafka-esque storytelling by internationally acclaimed author and biographer, Benoît Peeters, and stunning artwork by François Schuiten, whose visual sensibilities contributed to the looks of such films as Taxandria, The Golden Compass, and the 2012 science fiction cult smash, Mars & April.

The book, printed in Italy at the same facility responsible for printing the original French edition, measures an oversized 9.25″ x 11.625″ and has a 176-page count including 5 pages of never-before-seen sketches and layouts. The standard edition of the book is the trade softcover featuring deluxe cover flaps proving a more sturdy and durable package. In addition, there is a deluxe hardcover edition of the book, limited to 500 numbered copies, signed by Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten on a bound-in color bookplate. This edition, over half sold-out, is only available through the store on the obscurecities.com website.

The Leaning Girl is the first graphic novel to be produced under Smith’s new imprint, Alaxis Press, and is available now through the obscurecities.com website and select comic shops and booksellers.

In conjunction with this publishing milestone, San Diego Comic Con has announced that the author, Benoît Peeters, and the artist, François Schuiten, will be international guests of honor at the 2014 summer convention.

For more information, visit www.theobscurecities.com and www.facebook.com/alaxispress

To order online, the link is: www.theobscurecities.com/store/

Stores interested in carrying the book should visit the following link: www.theobscurecities.com/retailers/

Dead Letters #1 sells out initial print run at the distributor level, goes to second printing with new cover

From the press release:

Dead_Letters_001_2nd_PrintBOOM! Studios is pleased to announce that the debut issue of DEAD LETTERS, the supernatural noir series from breakout writer Christopher Sebela (Ghost, High Crimes) and dazzling newcomer artist Chris Visions, has sold out at the distributor level. The publisher has rushed to a second printing.

Comic book fans should bear in mind that first printings of DEAD LETTERS #1 may still be found at the local comic shop nearest you.

DEAD LETTERS #1 second print ships with a new cover by Artyom Trakhanov and carries a retail price of $3.99. It is anticipated to be on sale May 7.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Sam Whistler wakes up in an unfamiliar motel room, dressed in hospital scrubs and his arms wrapped in bandages. He remembers nothing—not how he got here, not where here is…not even his own name. But the goons knocking down his door sure do, and it’s going to take every single move in Sam’s forgotten repertoire to outrun and outsmart the gang war he’s just stumbled into.

BOOM! reveals Day Men: Pen & Ink Edition #1, and it’s huge

From the press release:

Award-winning publisher BOOM! Studios is pleased to announce the May release of the inaugural issue in its new program to spotlight comics artists who are at the top of their craft. DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 is an oversized, 11” x 17”, prestige format book that contains the first two issues of the hit vampire noir series from writers Matt Gagnon (FREELANCERS) and Michael Alan Nelson (Supergirl, HEXED), and shines the spotlight on critically acclaimed master artist Brian Stelfreeze’s (Wednesday Comics) original line art. Every page contains annotations from the entire creative team, giving a unique behind-the-scenes look at the creative process.

BOOM_Day_Men_PenInk_001_WEB.1

DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 is bigger than four regular-sized comics!

DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 is bigger than four regular-sized comics!

‘We have the good fortune to be working with some of the best comics artists in the industry, so what better way to spotlight their work than to present their art in its purest form, complete with insightful commentary that peels the curtain back on their creative process,’ said BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. ‘Brian Stelfreeze is an industry luminary and this Pen & Ink edition features his first monthly comics work since 2005. Kicking things off with his breathtaking work was a no-brainer. Future editions will go behind the scenes with more master artists like Humberto Ramos and George Pérez, and upcoming breakthrough artists like HIT’s Vanesa R. Del Rey.’

In DAY MEN, for thousands of years, the world has been controlled by the ’50 Families’—a secret network of vampire covens engaged in a timeless struggle for power. But when the sun rises, the vampires are forced to employ the services of a human who acts as their daytime fixer and protector. Trained for centuries to be the mortal soldiers of their vampire employers, the Day Men go forth at sunrise, alone into the world, to do the bidding of their sleeping benefactors.

DAY MEN: PEN & INK #1 arrives in comic shops on May 7th with an introductory cover price of $9.99 under Diamond order code OCT131001. Not sure where to find your nearest comic retailer? Use comicshoplocator.com or findacomicshop.com to find one! It’s also available for order directly from boom-studios.com.

In case you missed them…

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

• Guest reviewer Jamie Owen is back with pictures and a review of DC Collectibles’ Killer Croc action figure, based on the character’s appearance in Warner Bros. Games Montréal’s Batman: Arkham Origins game.

• In the latest Leaving Proof, Zedric examines how the “Heartbleed” server security bug mirrors the catastrophic private data exposure depicted in Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye. Not sure what Heartbleed is? Let xkcd‘s Randall Munroe explain it to you in comic strip form.

• On Tumblr, Troy has a change of heart regarding ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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