Comics Worth Reading » Comic News Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Thu, 05 Mar 2015 15:04:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 They Wrote a Press Release Just for Me! Retailers Order Giant Days Today Mon, 23 Feb 2015 21:53:28 +0000 Giant Days #1 cover

Today’s the comic shop retailer deadline for orders for comics from the January Previews catalog. One of those items is a new miniseries from Boom! Box, Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman. I don’t know much about it, and I haven’t seen any sneak peeks, but I am in love with the way the publisher is describing it:

Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird. Combining the humor of Lumberjanes, the sharp wit of Scott Pilgrim, and the positive power of relationships present in Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys, Giant Days is a quirky coming-of-age adventure.

A good college-set comic series would be welcome, and I have enjoyed reading all three of those comparison books. Giant Days #1 will be available on March 18 for $3.99. The preorder code is JAN15 1155 for the cover shown above, by series artist Lissa Treiman. There’s also a “retailer incentive” by Meredith Gran, shown below:

Giant Days #1 variant cover by Meredith Gran

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Doctor Who Photo Covers Create New Companions Sat, 21 Feb 2015 18:07:36 +0000 The Doctor Who comics, like so many these days, are available with multiple covers. There’s usually a main art cover, possibly a painted variant, but there’s also been a lot of photo covers. These are easy enough to make with clip art, since there are likely tons of images of the previous Doctors in costume, striking poses, but what I’ve found particularly interesting is when they do photo covers with the new companions.

The Eleventh Doctor, for example, doesn’t travel with Amy and Rory in the comics, since that story has long ended. Instead, he’s palling around with a new character, Alice Obiefune, a librarian coping with the recent death of her mother, in the comics written by Al Ewing and Rob Williams and drawn by Simon Fraser. I like her a lot, since she’s got a good, down-to-earth mien that reminds me of Martha Jones. She’s clever and determined, and the doctor provides a kind of grief treatment. She’s appeared on photo covers for Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor issue #5 and issue #7, as shown here:

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #5 photo coverDoctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #7 photo cover

So I suppose Titan and/or the BBC hired a model to do a few shots to use to play a character that’s never appeared on screen or in person before? I’m not entirely certain that they’re using the same person every time, though.

The same applies to Gabriella “Gabby” Gonzalez, who’s now hanging out with the Tenth Doctor. As written by Nick Abadzis and drawn by Elena Casagrande, she’s an aspiring art student struggling with family expectations. She’s appeared on photo covers for Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor issue #3 and the upcoming issue #14 (due out June 8), as shown here:

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #3 photo coverDoctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #14 photo cover

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Usagi Yojimbo Returns After Three-Year Hiatus Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:56:42 +0000 Usagi Yojimbo #145 cover

It’s an unfortunate quirk of human nature that long-running quality projects are easy to overlook. A consistent good read doesn’t get the kind of press or attention a hot artist (who will do three issues) or a plot twist (reversed next year) or a crossover (a lot of sound and fury with no long-lasting results) or movie tie-in (because comics loves Hollywood validation) does.

Which is my excuse for not noticing that it’s been three years since we’ve seen an issue of Stan Sakai’s rabbit samurai. Usagi Yojimbo #144 came out at the end of February 2012. There was mention of a pause in the series at the end of 2012 so Sakai could draw 47 Ronin. Then, last year, his wife unfortunately passed away.

Now, Dark Horse has announced that issue #145 will be out in May at the usual 24 pages for $3.50. A new story is described as “Usagi finds himself caught up in a fight between his thief friend Kitsune and a ninja intent on getting the mysterious scroll Kitsune’s stolen, at any cost!” I’ll eagerly welcome him back.

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Wizard World Madison to Return Sun, 08 Feb 2015 21:05:43 +0000 Wizard World Madison logo

Looks like the good traffic at Friday’s Wizard World Madison bodes well for the future of the show — according to spokesman Jerry Milani, the show “will be back, dates pending.” “Thousands of fans” attended over the show’s three days. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get back, having caught a cold on Friday that kept me home the rest of the weekend.

An article in today’s paper expands on the experience: “It’s been everything we were hoping for and more,” Milani said. “The crowds have been great and we know that thousands of fans are here and having a great time. That’s our mantra: Give the fans a good time and everything else takes care of itself.”

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Wizard World Madison Busier Than I Expected on First Day Sat, 07 Feb 2015 04:51:11 +0000 KC and I went down to Wizard World Madison this afternoon, and there were more people than I thought there’d be. I wasn’t sure Madison was yet a town for a three-day show, but it seems a number of people came to the event, with more showing up as we got closer to after school and after work.

This is clearly a first-year show. Registration was disorganized, taking place in a separate building from the actual show floor (except for press, something that wasn’t explained to us until we’d already hiked back and forth once). Given that space was available in the exhibition building, I thought it was a bad choice, given how cold it was, with snow still piled on the ground, to make people walk around outside. A couple of cosplayers we saw in short sleeves with no coat, I worried for — although there was, as I hoped, a coat check in the main building.

Press and three-day attendees were given wristbands instead of badges or lanyards, a choice I always find tacky. Nothing puts me in the mood for attending a comic show like feeling like a hospital patient! These are all things that can be addressed in future years, though — I’m hopeful that this does well enough to continue.

There were only three main aisles of artists alley, and given how few people there were making comics — typically of these kinds of shows these days, most were selling prints, some with extraordinarily large display walls — it was possible to see everything there I was interested in in under an hour. (Fighting a cold, I also wasn’t inclined to linger.) Not many people, other than listed guests, traveled in for this show, which makes sense. There are so many options these days that people often want to see how something goes the first time around before investing time and money in attending.

The show floor/exhibition area was diverse, with relatively few (we estimated about ten) comic dealers. Instead, you could buy lots of toys (many of which were Funko), various swords and other weapons, different types of jewelry, various other gewgaws, or a picture of yourself in the Batmobile or the car from Back to the Future. We weren’t shopping for much of anything, instead concentrating on visiting with a few friends, such as Jeff Butler and Maggie Thompson.

Jeff Butler and Maggie Thompson at Wizard World Madison 2015

I got to meet Barbara Kaalberg, who has had a long career inking. She shared some information on the Charlton anthology revamps she’s been working on along with a great number of well-known names.

Barbara Kaalberg at Wizard World Madison 2015

It was a pleasure to meet Jai Nitz and speak with him about Dream Thief, which I should talk about more often, since it’s a neat concept, well-executed. Check it out from Dark Horse.

Jai Nitz at Wizard World Madison 2015

KC even bumped into an old college friend and former roommate!

Kevin and KC at Wizard World Madison 2015

We got there before the autograph/photo area was really rolling, but that’s really more of a Saturday thing. All in all, although a small event, I thought it was a promising start. And of course there was cosplay! While the Harley Quinn pushing a toddler Joker in his stroller was cute, my favorite was this highly impressive Groot.

Groot at Wizard World Madison 2015

We left early, although we want to return for panels tomorrow, and went for the classic Wisconsin Friday night dinner, the fish fry. Where we found that a local brewpub chain had gotten into the spirit of things with this table standee:

Comic Con Cocktails flyerComic Con Cocktails

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Wizard World Madison Starts Today, More Local Coverage, Panel Schedule Fri, 06 Feb 2015 13:48:01 +0000 Following from Tuesday’s post, here’s more information on how the local media are covering the show.

Wednesday’s paper has the Capital Times tabloid-format insert. The CapTimes used to be a separate publication, but now it’s a political/entertainment-focused addition. The back page looked like this:

Wizard World Madison ad

As you’ll notice, there are no women here. Although since the most-promoted female guests are the wrestling-associated Bella Twins, maybe that’s a good thing. There was also a full-page William Shatner interview in this section.

Elsewhere in the paper, everyone got a copy of the Wizard World Madison program guide, which does NOT include the panel schedule. Of those, the most interesting to me are the ones actually talking about comics history, without being an obvious promotional attempt. Here are three with local connections that stood out.

Today, Friday, at 4 PM — “Everything & the Kitchen Sink: Wisconsin’s Underground Comix Scene”
Underground comix, the offshoot of the implementation of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, marked itself as rebellious, as the “X” denotes mature content not allowed by the code. This panel explores Wisconsin as a major epicenter of underground comix and women’s discourse in the 1960s-1970s, with particular focus on the creative outgrowth that spawned the talents of Kitchen, Mitchell, Robbins, and Crumb. [Note: I would have liked to know who’s on the panel, and I think the “Comix with an X means adult” is a myth.]

Saturday at 3 PM — “The Incredible Story of Wisconsin and Comics”
From the Undergrounds to the mainstream, Wisconsin and comics have an intimately interwoven history. Here to talk about that history are people who made it, including George Hagenauer (Kenosha Festival of Cartooning), Milton Griepp (, Maggie Thompson (Comic Buyers Guide), Paul Buhle (Studs Terkel’s Working), and Michael Schumacher (Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics). Danny Fingeroth (The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels) moderates. [Fingeroth also helped put the programming schedule together, I’m told.]

Saturday at 5 PM — “1940: World War II and Comics: The Joker, Robin, the Flash, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and the Spirit!”
75 years ago, in 1940, as the Nazi conquest of Europe continued and the Battle of Britain raged, the United States watched from the sidelines while instituting the first peacetime draft. At the same time, the world of comics was experiencing an incredible sustained period of invention, as The Joker, Robin, Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Spirit, Catwoman, and Captains America and Marvel all debuted! Showing and discussing historical and cultural factors that made that year so important is a panel including Michael Schumacher (Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics), Paul Buhle (Studs Terkel’s Working), Maggie Thompson (Comic Buyers Guide), George Hagenauer (Men’s Adventure Magazines), and Danny Fingeroth (Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero). [Fans of Agent Carter — and if you aren’t, you should be — check it out!]

The local morning TV show reported yesterday that three-day passes are sold out, although single-day tickets are still available, and they’re expecting “tens of thousands” of people over the weekend. Lou Ferrigno was on-air today, although I missed seeing it. (It aired at 6:10 AM or something like that.)

The weather for the weekend will have highs in the low 30s, with a slight chance of snow/freezing drizzle Saturday night into Sunday, so I hope attendees bundle up. And that the show has a coat check.

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Wizard World Madison Gets Local Press Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:24:27 +0000 The Wizard World Madison convention launches its first show this coming weekend. It’s already getting a good amount of local press, like this two-page spread in the local free weekly, Isthmus, emphasizing how geek-friendly our city is.

Wizard World Madison coverage in Isthmus

The numbers cited are a little out of date, since I believe the New York Comic-Con has surpassed Wizard Chicago as the second largest after San Diego, but I hope this prediction is true:

Wizard World Madison is expected to bring in more than $1 million in economic benefit to the city. Even though Wizard World events are scheduled later this year in Midwestern cities like Chicago, Des Moines, and Minneapolis, fans from those areas are expected to trek here, too.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a second Wizard World Madison, since the company hasn’t committed, sensibly waiting to see how this weekend’s show goes. Isthmus is also running a contest for the next two days to win VIP tickets to the show.

Another article was on the front page in last Sunday’s local paper, the State Journal. The comic store photo with it is my local store, Westfield Comics. And I’m glad to see that article go beyond the usual superhero/zombie mentions.

Wizard World in Wisconsin State Journal

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It’s Con Season Already! Enter Now for SPX Table Lottery Sun, 01 Feb 2015 19:25:08 +0000 SPX 2015

I’m not ready, but then, I rarely am. My convention season starts next weekend with Wizard World Madison, and with more great shows coming up in the spring (TCAF, MoCCA Fest), I’m already checking vacation schedules and travel plans.

If you want to table at a show, you have to plan even further in advance. SPX, for example, has just opened their lottery registration for the roughly 110 tables available this way (half the total). If you want to exhibit there (and you haven’t already been invited), then you have until February 15 to enter. Winners will be announced in mid-March, with payment due April 15. SPX 2015 will be held September 19-20 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Which shows are you looking forward to this year?

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MoCCA Arts Festival Has New Location Fri, 23 Jan 2015 02:40:31 +0000 MoCCA Arts Festival 2015

The beloved MoCCA Arts Festival, to be held this year on April 11 and 12, is moving to a new location. Center 548 is located on West 22nd Street near 11th Avenue and the Chelsea Piers. Programming will be held in two rooms at the High Line Hotel on West 20th Street and 10th Avenue, “a mere two blocks away”. The event will include three exhibit floors, a gallery of original art showcasing the work of special guests, and a rooftop café. Although there will be fewer tables in the new space, admission remains $5 a day.

The Guests of Honor are Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Scott McCloud, Raina Telgemeier, and J.H. Williams, an excellent selection. I had a blast at last year’s show, where they exhibited the Charlie Brown parade balloon — I’m curious to see what they come up with this year.

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Would You Wear a Bombshells Robe? Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:21:11 +0000 Diamond Comic Distributors would like you to know that there’s still time to order DC Comics Bombshell robes, as shown in the January Previews catalog. Images and codes are below, to use at your local comic shop, where the robes are exclusively available. They’ll be shipping in mid-February (but too late for Valentine’s Day).

“The satin robes feature some of the leading ladies of DC Comics such as Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, and more in a collection of colors representing each character.” The imagery comes from the faux-40s art by Ant Lucia originally used as comic variant covers last June. Each robe is $48 and comes in either Small/Medium or Large/X-Large.

I think it’s a neat idea to have some women-centered merchandise, but I suspect these are most likely to wind up as gifts from fanboy to girlfriend (or fangirl to girlfriend, for that matter). I like the Wonder Woman best because of the starred trim.

  • Wonder Woman Red Robe Small/Medium (JAN15 2069)
  • Wonder Woman Red Robe Large/Extra Large (JAN15 2070)
  • Poison Ivy Green Robe Small/Medium (JAN15 2071)
  • Poison Ivy Green Robe Large/Extra Large (JAN15 2072)
  • Catwoman Black Robe Small/Medium (JAN15 2073)
  • Catwoman Black Robe Large/ Extra Large (JAN15 2074)
  • Blue Supergirl Robe Small/Medium (JAN15 2075)
  • Blue Supergirl Robe Large/ Extra Large (JAN15 2076)
  • Purple Batgirl Robe Small/Medium (JAN15 2077)
  • Purple Batgirl Robe Large/ Extra Large (JAN15 2078)

Wonder Woman Red RobePoison Ivy Green RobeCatwoman Black RobeBlue Supergirl RobePurple Batgirl Robe

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Titan Adds Another Doctor Who Title Mon, 19 Jan 2015 16:49:10 +0000 Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor cover by Alice X. Zhang

Cover by Alice X. Zhang

To go along with their comic series featuring the Tenth Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor, and now the Twelfth Doctor, Titan Comics has announced a five-issue Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor miniseries.

The Ninth Doctor, played by ​C​hristopher ​E​ccleston, is the one who returned Doctor Who to television ten years ago. The comic will be available on March 11 at a cover price of $3.99 US and can be pre-ordered from your local comic shop with Diamond code JAN15 1599​. Typically, there are also alternate covers: one by the internal artist and a couple of photo options.

It’s written by C​avan ​S​cott​ and illustrated by Blair Shedd. Promised to appear are favorite characters Rose and Captain Jack. This is one instance where the comics can provide something the show can’t, since Eccleston hasn’t participated in various anniversary efforts in the past. The miniseries, titled “Weapons of Past Destruction”, is described as follows:

Leaving World War II behind, The Ninth Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack discover that Time Lord technology, lost in the wake of the Time War, is being sold on the intergalactic black market! Now the threat of a NEW temporal war brews on the horizon. Can the Doctor stop history repeating itself?

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The Con Job Set at Old-School Comic Conventions Mon, 19 Jan 2015 02:59:59 +0000 I thought the premise of The Con Job, coming in March from Boom! Studios (four-issue miniseries, order code for issue #1 JAN15 1104, $3.99), was interesting, if a tad self-referential.

The Con Job #1 cover by Amanda Conner

The Con Job #1 cover by Amanda Conner

But then, I would expect a lot of comic knowledge from long-time creator Jimmy Palmiotti and co-writer Matt Brady (formerly of Newsarama). What I didn’t expect was that their comic convention heist story would seem so old-fashioned — by which I mean, the character design page in Previews features, out of eight characters, one woman, and she’s an overly busty blonde in a low-cut top.

The story is described as “a character-driven, comic book convention crime caper… a Galaxy Quest meets Ocean’s 11-style crime story set in the larger-than-life backdrop of the modern convention circuit… a group of flabby action heroes, aging sex symbols, and sci-fi bit players have become close friends as they watch their lines get shorter and their autographs get cheaper. That is, until they hire a cocky new booking agent who offers them their only chance at a comfortable retirement by robbing one of the largest cons in the country!”

There’s nothing to that description that assumes most everyone has to be male. Women have been action heroes and sci-fi bit players in real life, even leaving alone how imagination shouldn’t constrain writers in that fashion. (Of course, most people do assume that an “aging sex symbol” is a woman.) I hope that the promotional page isn’t representative of the entire cast, because a truly “modern” con has a lot more women involved. And artist Dominike “Domo” Stanton draws with a nice sense of character, so I’d like to enjoy this title without feeling like it’s too old-fashioned in its approach.

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Nutmeg Goes From Kickstarter to Action Lab Mon, 19 Jan 2015 02:00:05 +0000 I enjoyed Nutmeg when I sampled #1 a year and a half ago, when they launched their Kickstarter. Now, it’s in the Previews comic catalog for pre-ordering.

Nutmeg #1 promo art

New publisher Action Lab bills it as “Betty and Veronica” and Heathers meets Breaking Bad — I enjoyed it because it’s got a retro setting (60s girls’ school) and revolves around a bake-off. The first issue is premise setup with promise, and I liked the distinctive art style. The creators, James F. Wright and Jackie Crofts, describe it as a “culinary coming-of-age crime comic”.

You can order issue #1, priced at $3.99 for 32 pages, from your local comic shop with Diamond code JAN15 0927. For more information, visit the book’s Tumblr.

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Diamond Releases List of Best-Selling Comics of 2014 Sun, 11 Jan 2015 14:00:39 +0000 Marvel is far and away the most popular publisher in comic shops, both through sales and unit market share quantities. (Those are different because someone could sell a lot of, say, $2.50 comics (if those still existed) and not make as much money as someone who sold fewer $5.99 comics.) While DC sells in the same range of quantity, they’re making less money, perhaps because they offered more $2.99 comics. I expect to see prices continue to rise based on this, as DC seeks to close the gap (which is going to be difficult until they get their now-West-Coast-located house in order).

Diamond Comic Distribution logo

Top Comic Publishers
MARVEL COMICS34.38%36.78%
DC COMICS28.86%32.47%
IMAGE COMICS9.23%10.41%
BOOM! STUDIOS2.23%2.16%
AVATAR PRESS0.97%0.83%
RANDOM HOUSE0.95%0.30%
OTHER NON-TOP 108.75%5.75%

Otherwise, this list is not particularly surprising. The top five publishers are those that get front-of-Diamond-catalog placement. Eaglemoss puts out Fact Files and character guides that come with pretty nifty figures and/or chess pieces — I wouldn’t consider them a proper comic publisher, but they’re popular in comic shops since they have cool toys. Random House is also Kodansha, with the popular Attack on Titan manga, as well as Vertical.

Top Comic Books
2WALKING DEAD #132$2.99
6THOR #1$3.99

Marvel had nine of the ten top comics in 2014. (The tenth was an issue of The Walking Dead. Bad year for DC, with no top titles.) Death of Wolverine was very popular, with everything else a #1 or, in place #10, the last issue of a series which returned Peter Parker as Spider-Man. (Dr. Octopus had previously taken over as the superhero personality in an “only in comics” storyline.) It continued into Amazing Spider-Man, the top-selling comic, written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Ramon K. Perez.

I am stunned to see how many of these comics are $4.99. I hadn’t realized how much Marvel was depending on that price point for event books, and that helps explain the bigger gap between them and DC on dollar share. For the longer list, Marvel had 53 of the top 100 best-selling comics of 2014.

DC’s top comic was Batman #32 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, which came in at #14; overall, DC had 43 of the top 100 comics for the year. That’s 96 total out of 100, demonstrating a continuing duopoly in comic shop comics.

In good news for comic shop, annual sales rose 4.39% over the previous year. Comic book sales were up 4.03%, while graphic novel sales rose by 5.18%. It would be helpful to have some idea of the actual numbers, but that’s not done in the industry, so we can’t tell for sure whether the top-selling book was 100,000, 500,000, or in the millions.

The graphic novel chart looks very different from the periodical listing, with clear dominance by Image Comics, and more, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga.

Top Graphic Novels and Trade Paperbacks
1SAGA VOL 03$14.99
2SAGA VOL 01$9.99
4SAGA VOL 02$14.99
10SAGA VOL 04$14.99

All of these are marked for Mature Readers except for Walking Dead Volume 1 (probably an oversight, given how the series progresses) and the Batman book, demonstrating a division in the comic market as adults buy books. It’s also interesting to note that Walking Dead placed both the newest volumes and the starting point.

Note that they’re all also collections of continuing series, not original works or stand-alone stories — the serialization builds up audience awareness, and that it’s continuing gives people something to want to be part of.

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Retailers Select Diamond Gem Awards to Recognize Publisher Sales Fri, 09 Jan 2015 14:01:54 +0000 Diamond Comic Distributors has announced the winners of the 2014 Gem Awards, prizes “selected by comic book specialty retailers” to recognize “sales achievement”. That last helps explain some of the award divisions. I think it’s interesting to look at what comic book retailers think helped them most last year — these decisions might explain some of what you see stocked in their stores.

Diamond Gem Awards logo

“We established the Gem Awards to give retailers an opportunity to recognize the suppliers, titles, and products that have been instrumental in helping their businesses grow over the past year,” said Diamond President & CEO Steve Geppi. Nominees are chosen “by a panel of Diamond product specialists based on their overall impact on the industry, while comics and related merchandise were chosen on the merits of their sales performance and quality from 2014.” Retailers then vote for the winners.

Publishers of the Year were Image (Over 4% Market Share) and BOOM! Studios (Under 4% Market Share), both good choices. DC Entertainment got the most awards, with seven, including Backlist Publisher of the Year and Best Original Graphic Novel of the Year for Batman: Earth One (presumably the softcover version, since the hardcover came out in 2012). Best Indie Graphic Novel of the Year was Andre the Giant: Life & Legend from First Second.

Other DC awards were

Manga Publisher of the Year was Viz Media, although the “Manga TP of the Year” came from Kodansha, Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Volume 1.

Marvel Comics was declared the Top Dollar Comic Book Publisher of the Year (which is an award I suspect may exist just so all the big pubs get some kind of Pub of the Year recognition) and got both the Comic Book of the Year Under $3.00 for Ms. Marvel #1 and Comic Book of the Year Over $3.00 for Thor #1. (What a weird division! But a good way to recognize more product.) Their other two awards were for Amazing Spider-Man #1 as Top Dollar Comic of the Year, and their Guardians of the Galaxy reprint was Best Free Comic Book Day Book.

The remaining comic awards went to

  • IDW for Best All-Ages Comics: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • Dark Horse for Best Anthology (Dark Horse Presents); Licensed Comic of the Year (Serenity: Leaves on the Wind); and Licensed TP/HC of the Year (Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search Library Edition hardcover)
  • Image for Best New Comic Book Series: Outcast

The Trade Book of the Year was The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 44 from Gemstone Publishing, recognizing a way to value comics for ways other than content.

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Today’s the Last Day to Submit a C2E2 Panel Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:35:16 +0000 C2E2 logo

Convention season will be here faster than we expect, and deadlines are already popping up. For instance, C2E2, the Chicago show to be held April 24-26 this year, has announced that today is the last day to apply to present a panel. Responses to the submissions will be sent January 28. From the request page:

C2E2 is looking for programs that are original, interesting, and creative. Most importantly, think about the value that your Panel will provide to Fans and what sets it apart from others.

I like their list of topics, which range from the expected Comics and Video Games to also include Chicago, Diversity, and Women in Comics.

Tickets for C2E2 are $60 for the weekend, $30 (one-day Friday or Sunday), or $35 (Saturday) plus taxes and fees. Entertainment guests announced so far are David Ramsey (Arrow), Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow), Jewel Staite (Firefly), and Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who)! Comic artists will include Amanda Conner, Dan Slott, David Finch, Humberto Ramos, Mark Waid, Babs Tarr, and Chip Zdarsky.

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Wizard World Madison Features William Shatner, Exclusive Beer Tue, 06 Jan 2015 22:20:50 +0000 The first-ever Wizard World Madison Comic Con will be coming to Wisconsin on February 6-8. That’s only a month away! I’m eager to see how it goes, now that I live here.

Wizard World Madison logo

The guests announced so far are the usual media names: William Shatner, Adam West, Burt Ward, Brett Dalton (Agent Beefcake, as we call him, from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), a couple of Walking Dead people, Eliza Dushku, James Marsters, Billy Dee Williams, Ernie Hudson, and George Wendt.

I mention that last one because Wizard World Madison will have its own beer! They’re working with MobCraft to “develop a beer exclusive to Wizard World Madison Comic Con” called “Con Elixir”. How very Wisconsin! Sampling will be available. “MobCraft, founded in 2012, creates custom craft beer based on crowdsourced (user-submitted) recipes. Customers cast their vote by placing a pre-order of beer they want brewed, and MobCraft produces the beer with the most votes.”

Comic special guests at the show include Rob Liefeld, Neal Adams, Tom DeFalco, Michael Golden, and Mike Grell. It’s $75 in advance, $85 at the door for the weekend. One-day tickets are $35 for Friday (3-8 PM), $40 for Sunday (11-5), or $45 for Saturday (10-7). (All are plus fees ranging from $6-9.)

It’s gonna be cold, so I hope the cosplayers plan ahead and admission line space is set up indoors. Average daily temperatures in Madison in February range from 11-36 degrees Fahrenheit. I hope there’s a coat check!

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End of an Era: IDW Acquires Top Shelf Tue, 06 Jan 2015 13:43:22 +0000 Wow, this was some “holy s***” news to wake up to.

Top Shelf logo

Leading comic book and graphic novel publisher IDW Publishing announced today that it has acquired Top Shelf Productions, the award-winning independent publisher of graphic novels, including the #1 New York Times and Washington Post bestseller March by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Kevin O’Neill) and From Hell (with Eddie Campbell), Craig Thompson’s Blankets, Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole, and Jeff Lemire’s Essex County.

“The acquisition of Top Shelf is a milestone for IDW,” said Ted Adams, IDW CEO and publisher. “We looked a very long time for a company that would complement our own publishing line-up, and in Top Shelf we found the ideal match. The addition of Top Shelf’s library further positions IDW’s leadership role among the top powerhouses in comics.”

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW and co-founder Chris Staros will join the company as Editor-in-Chief, Top Shelf Productions. Top Shelf’s fans can expect the same independent editorial approach that has garnered industry-wide awards and made it an envy among its peers.

“IDW is committed to preserving and growing the Top Shelf brand, which we’ve long admired” said IDW president and COO Greg Goldstein. “Chris and his team have built a great working relationship with creators, fans, and retailers alike, and IDW will work diligently to expand Top Shelf’s publishing capabilities and market reach while further developing those relationships.”

Founded in 1997, Top Shelf Productions offers a broad library of comic books and graphic novels from dozens of the industry’s top independent creators. Following the acquisition, Top Shelf’s headquarters will remain in Marietta, GA.

“Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly,” said Top Shelf Productions co-founder and publisher Chris Staros. “We both started around the same time, and when I would watch IDW over the years, as a fellow publisher, I’d see them making smart move after smart move. Now I’m extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf’s award-winning literary approach to comics. And believe it or not, the idea to join forces hit us both at exactly the same time. Last year, as I was about to pitch Ted and Greg this ‘crazy’ idea, they approached me to suggest the same thing! How’s that for a good omen? Together, we’re going to be able to publish some incredible work. I’m really looking forward to this.”

It’s good to see that the goodwill and customer awareness Top Shelf has built up over the years will remain, as they’re going to maintain the brand as a separate imprint. Co-founder Brett Warnock, it was announced, “has decided to retire from the world of comics and explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog,” while Leigh Walton will stay on as publicist and marketing director.

IDW is promising that deals in place will stay the same but that IDW will help make sure the backlist stays in print and royalties are paid on time. Those are great things to assist with.

With this and Boom!’s acquisition of Archaia, this suggests to me that it’s a lot easier to be a critically acclaimed, boutique publisher of graphic novels if you also have an arm of the company that brings in eyeballs and shelf space with licensed titles, whether Adventure Time or Transformers or My Little Pony. Then again, that’s not new news — Fantagraphics, decades ago, funded their artistic works with a porn line. I guess branded titles are today’s porn? Nah, that’s just being silly.

After holding regular sales and fundraisers, I’m glad to see Top Shelf make a deal that will presumably provide more stable business underpinnings, because many of the works they published should be readily available at all times to readers and retailers. Since the company’s founding in 1997, they’ve been a trailblazer in putting out works that go far beyond the stereotypical assumption of what American comics are. They were one of the first non-superhero publishers I found and followed when I was looking for more in reading comics. Thank you, Top Shelf.

I realized that my title may sound a little apocalyptic, but an era ending isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the participants may go on to new and better heights. Here’s hoping for the best for both companies and all employees and creators affected.

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Jem and the Holograms Comic Debuts in March Sun, 04 Jan 2015 20:44:21 +0000 I never watched the Jem and the Holograms cartoon, but I’m definitely going to be checking out the upcoming comic, because the premise seems well-suited for the format, given its adventure and light science fiction roots.

Kelly Thompson writes and Ross Campbell (Wet Moon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) draws the ongoing series about a rock group. The plan is to update the classic storylines about music and celebrity with modern attitudes. In this revamp, for example, Jerrica needs her alter ego Jem because although she’s already in the band, she has stage fright.

IDW is very good with media tie-ins. In this case, there’s also a Jem and the Holograms movie planned for October starring Aubrey Peeples. Original show creator Christy Marx wasn’t mentioned in connection with this comic release, which is being handled with property owner Hasbro.

There are five covers for the first issue, shipped in even ratio. This group shot is by Campbell.

Jem and the Holograms cover by Ross Campbell

With four individual cover images by Amy Mebberson.

Jem and the Holograms covers by Amy Mebberson

The cover by Campbell for issue #2, featuring the rival band The Misfits, has also been released.

Jem and the Holograms #2 cover by Ross Campbell

You can pre-order the first issue at your local comic shop with code JAN15 0430.

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New Magazine ACE Wants to Bring Back the Price Guide Sun, 04 Jan 2015 19:58:58 +0000 ACE magazine cover

In the latest Previews catalog, there’s a new magazine announced. ACE stands for All Comics Evaluated, and the two folks behind the projectComic Book Artist editor Jon B. Cooke and retailer Robert Yeremian (oddly, both names are left out of the catalog ad) — are promising “a thorough and accurate price guide” that will be “amazingly comprehensive and real-world”.

It’s not just about the money, though. They promise to cover the “aesthetic and critical” as well as financial worth of comics, with reviews and interviews on contemporary comics plus coverage of comic-related media projects.

Now I remember the days of Wizard and Hero magazines and how crazy people were to see how much their collection was “worth” — not realizing that those were the prices they’d be asked to buy at, not sell for, since retailers expected to turn a profit by buying lower than guide. Nowadays, I find it more useful to simply do an eBay search on completed sales to see what items are really selling for. As you can see from some of the inflated prices from Amazon third-party sellers in that marketplace, just because someone’s asking $XXX for a graphic novel doesn’t mean anyone’s willing to pay that.

Anyway, the first issue of ACE will be on sale March 18 with it planned to be monthly afterwards. I’m curious to see whether it draws enough of an audience

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