- Posted by Johanna on March 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Wow. What a story of a snake eating its tail.
The original author of The Vampire Diaries, L.J. Smith, doesn’t own the copyright. The publisher, Alloy Entertainment, does. The company, now a part of Warner Bros. Television, “produces books and creates other properties for pre-teen and teen-age markets”; Gossip Girl is another of their successes. Which means they had the right to replace Smith, which they did. Other people then wrote further books in the series.
However, Vampire Diaries is one of the properties included in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, an officially licensed way for fans to write and publish fanfiction. And Smith is now, under that program, writing her continuation of the story she started. Which means that the property’s original writer is now writing fanfic for it.
Since it’s official, “fanfic” isn’t quite the right word for it. Perhaps “licensed universe tie-in”?
I don’t have a good feeling for whether anyone’s making money off of Kindle Worlds. There are plenty of free outlets where one can read a wide variety of fanfic, and you don’t have to be restricted to a limited approved list of properties, so I don’t know how many people are willing to pay from a dollar to four dollars per story. (And Kindle only, which means using Amazon’s programs to access the material.) Writers get 35% of net revenue for longer stories (20% for shorter works) and must follow the rules: no porn, nothing offensive, no crossovers, and no “excessive use of brand names”. No one’s going to make a career on this, but for people writing out of love, any money is a bonus. However, note that, as John Scalzi points out, if you invent a great character or come up with a terrific idea, the property owner can take it and reuse it without any further compensation to you.
- Posted by Johanna on March 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm
- Category: Movies/TV
Maybe they should find another name than “super fans”, given the companies involved… anyway, to promote The Amazing Spider-Man 2, out May 2, five regional events are being held to find “five knowledgeable and enthusiastic Spider-Man super fans”. Those selected at these casting company auditions will be flown to either Los Angeles or New York the first week in April to be filmed as part of a national promotional campaign.
The regional events begin Wednesday in New York, with other locations in LA, Columbus (OH), Chicago, and Minneapolis. Ideal fans are apparently, based on the examples given, either kids or 20-30 years old, so be aware that appearance and age will likely be taken into consideration. Find out more at the fan information site.
(Note: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a Sony movie. I work for a different branch of Sony.)
- Posted by Johanna on March 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm
- Category: Archie Comics
I guested this week on the Riverdale Podcast (at that link, click the image to access the mp3) to discuss the recent news about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa being named Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics and Lena Dunham working on writing a title for the company.
The segment about these announcements starts at 9:55, with separate discussion segments with me (11:50) talking about Hollywood/comic connections and Chris Sims (25:14), who’s spoken with Aguirre-Sacasa about his love of the characters.
- Posted by Johanna on March 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm
- Category: Manga Reviews
- CREDITS: story by Yuma Ando; art by Yuki Sato
- PUBLISHER: Kodansha Comics; $10.99 US
Nothing has changed about this series — Sherdog and Takeru are still solving mysteries based on the puppy’s observations — which means if you liked the previous volumes, you should like Sherlock Bones Book 4. (Although pace yourself. Too much at once makes the repetition even more obvious. This might be one of those rare manga that read better as chapters than collected volumes, since there aren’t a lot of complicated plot twists or deep revelations.)
We open with the conclusion to a mystery from Book 3, about a school election marred by a faked naughty photo to try and knock one of the candidates out of the race. This mystery was a pleasant change, since it didn’t require Sherdog seeing the crime done to know what happened, and it nicely took into consideration modern technology.
Similar to the last book, this volume ends on a cliffhanger, as we only get the first chapter of a case about a lady mayor killing her blackmailer. In between, there’s a one-chapter story about finding a quickly hidden stolen wallet. It’s more notable for the introduction of Meowriarity, an evil-looking cat that we’re hinted will return as Sherdog’s reincarnated rival.
Two other full cases show Takeru learning to make deductions on his own. The first features a plagiarizing manga writer who steals a mystery plot from his apprentice, a classmate of Takeru’s and Miki’s who’s killed to avoid revealing the theft. I found the details intriguing, but the pacing rushed, in part to shove in a dramatic change where Sherdog temporarily gets amnesia and acts like a regular dog. The second is more of a logic puzzle, figuring out which of three men on a subway car pushed a girl in front of the train.
There is one very strange thing about this book that I must mention. Some pages have wide margins on the outside edge while words and art almost disappear into the spine. It’s as though the whole book is off by one, with the odd pages supposed to be even and vice versa. One spacer page, and this book would have been much easier, physically, to read. (The publisher provided a review copy.)
- Posted by Johanna on March 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Charles Schulz
- PUBLISHER: About Comics; $14.95 US
Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, had another comic strip running from 1957-1959. It’s Only a Game focused on sports and games — often golf, bridge, and bowling, pastimes of the suburban 50s.
The strip was offered in two formats. There was a single gag panel, run three times a week, in black and white. Those comics were reprinted in 2004 in a compact paperback. As Schulz found that his workload became heavier, Jim Sasseville came on to finish the art for the comic. Sasseville provided commentary for the book (shortly before he passed).
The strip was also available, back in the day, as a three-panel color Sunday comic with the same content. That version of the formatting has been reprinted as It’s Only a Game: The Complete Color Collection. Although the book is roughly magazine-sized, it reads with the spine on top. You flip pages as though changing the month on a wall calendar.
The three-panel color comics are simply groups of three separate gags, with no connection. However, while art fans will want the black-and-white version, to avoid visual distraction from Schulz’s linework, many casual readers will enjoy seeing the comics in color. Sasseville’s comments about working on the strip have also been reprinted from the previous book.
These are time capsules at this point, since no one has a construction worker bowling league any more or bridge parties with the neighbors or coworkers who play cards over the lunch hour at work. I found it charming, a vision of a simpler life with more specifically designated roles. The figures are mostly adults, but their faces are where they look like the Peanuts gang, particularly when worrying over a call or a deal. Other topics of the gags include croquet, ping-pong, pool, football, tennis, fishing, darts, chess, and desert island horseshoes. There’s even a curling joke! (The publisher provided a review copy.)
- Posted by Johanna on March 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm
- Category: Animation
Following the trail of Warner Archive’s Blu-ray releases of Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Beware the Batman, they’ve announced that Green Lantern: The Complete Animated Series will be coming on March 18.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray will have all 26 episodes of the computer-generated animated series. Josh Keaton plays Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, with Kevin Michael Richardson as Kilowog, Grey DeLisle as Aya, and Jason Spisak as Razer. Guest cast includes Robert Englund, Ron Perlman, Clancy Brown, Wayne Knight, Juliet Landau, Kurtwood Smith, Phil Morris, and many more. Even though it’s from Warner’s made-on-demand video arm, you can also order the series through Amazon, as I’ve linked here.
- Posted by Johanna on March 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm
- Category: Manga News
The retailer-focused site ICv2 has posted an interview with Carl Horn, manga editor at Dark Horse. In it, he discusses my favorite manga title of theirs, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. Unfortunately, the references aren’t encouraging.
It’s brought up in the context of titles that don’t have anime or live-action spin-offs, and as a result, it’s implied, it has “critical acclaim but sold very poorly.” Manga sells better if there’s an entertainment tie-in, which builds awareness and may even be seen as a sign of quality. Horn goes on:
If you only release a few volumes of series like that, you can make it profitable. You’ll still be in the black on a few volumes, but if you keep going, most series get gradual sales declines, and eventually the entire project gets into the red. So you start to lose money on the entire thing. There’s only so far you can go with that as a publisher. You can lose money for a little while if you really care about the book and it’s high quality, but after a while it gets to be a little ridiculous. You can do things like space out the releases so you don’t lose too much blood at one time, but that’s also a difficult way to keep readers’ attention.
I articulate these things because they illustrate one aspect of the ongoing challenges that I face. I won’t be satisfied as a manga editor until I can find ways to make books like that more successful. We’re hoping that with our new relationship with Random House that we’ll be able to reach a wider audience.
That explains why we haven’t seen a volume of Kurosagi CDS since December 2012. I second the hopes that more readers find the series.
- Posted by Johanna on March 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Visit ComiXology’s Geekstage Giveaway page to get codes for free digital comics and graphic novels this weekend. One is being announced every hour, and the eight titles today — with two, Lego: Ninjago Volume 1 and Injustice: Gods Among Us #1, announced so far — are available until tomorrow at midnight. Keep checking back to find out more.