Super-Fan Builds Makes a Groot Swing

The folks behind the Man at Arms YouTube video series have just launched Super-Fan Builds. It’s a similar show, only a bit less violent, as they expand creative vision beyond weapons.

In this first episode, the team builds a backyard swing based on Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s an amazing piece, although I found myself wondering just who was paying for the almost two weeks of time it took and how much the whole thing cost. Plus, there’s a cute kid to enthuse over the end result.

Groot Swing

Win the First Manga Dogs Book

I enjoyed the humor of Manga Dogs, and I hope you will, too. To win a copy of the first volume in this contest, simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite manga or comic about making comics or manga. A winner will be picked randomly from all entries on Thursday, December 11.

(U.S. addresses only, please. Winners will be emailed to confirm address. If email is not answered within 24 hours or a valid email address is not provided, a replacement winner will be selected. Your email won’t be used for any other purpose.)

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Details Announced

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released more details on the next original DC universe animated movie. The 75-minute Justice League: Throne of Atlantis will be out January 27. It’s Aquaman’s origin story, as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League help him “prevent a war between the inhabitants of land and sea”. The Blu-ray Combo Pack (which includes a DVD and an UltraViolet copy) is list-priced at $24.98, with a DVD version for $19.98. The movie will be available earlier, on January 13, from digital retailers.

The voice cast is as follows:

* Aquaman – Matt Lanter
* Superman – Jerry O’Connell
* Batman – Jason O’Mara
* Wonder Woman – Rosario Dawson
* Flash – Christopher Gorham
* Green Lantern – Nathan Fillion
* Cyborg – Shemar Moore
* Shazam – Sean Astin
* Orm – Sam Witwer
* Mera – Sumalee Montano
* Queen Atlanna – Sirena Irwin
* Manta – Harry Lennix

Special Features on the Blu-ray will be:

* Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep – Every great film needs a great musical score. Filled with emotion, music takes us on a dynamic journey as we adventure with the hero. Throne of Atlantis takes us on that quest through the eyes of Arthur Curry.
* Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence – Producer James Tucker provides video commentary for this exciting bonus sequence where Robin and Nightwing join forces.
* Throne of Atlantis: 2014 New York Comic Con Panel – The entire, lively one-hour panel discussion between actor Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa, and dialogue director Andrea Romano.
* Villains of the Deep – From Ocean Master to Black Manta to King Shark, each villain operates from his own deep sense of conviction, presenting an incredible challenge for the hero in Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. This documentary goes into the biographical details of the villains.
* A Sneak Peak at Batman vs. Robin – An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie with the creators and cast.
* Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault

The DVD contains the Batman vs. Robin sneak peek and the bonus cartoons. Here’s the trailer:

Doctor Who Comics Celebrate Holiday With Exclusive Triptych

The WHO Shop in London, “the premier retailer of Doctor Who products and related merchandise”, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in conjunction with Titan Comics with a trio of exclusive comic variant covers with a holiday theme. The covers below, left to right, are by Lee Sullivan and for Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #5, Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #5, and Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3​.

The comics are 4.99 pounds each, but since the store has a minimum order of ten pounds, you might as well get all three. They’re currently listed as pre-orders, but there’s no release date specified. The regular cover of Tenth Doctor #5 comes out December 17, and Twelfth Doctor #3 is due on December 24, so it might be tricky to get them all as a Christmas present. Since many of us won’t go through the trouble (and extra shipping charge — I assume, since there weren’t any specifics I could find without opening an account and placing an order), go ahead and enjoy the art here. (Click to make larger.)

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #5 Who Shop variant coverDoctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #5 Who Shop variant coverDoctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #3 Who Shop variant cover

Peggy Carter Comic Something to Watch For in 2015

Good premise, good creators, good characters… let’s hope this title lives up to its promise!

Operation S.I.N. #1 is available January 7 (the day after the show debuts). It’s the first part of a five-issue miniseries written by Kathryn Immonen and drawn by Rich Ellis, the story of secret agent Peggy Carter and Howard Stark trying to capture “a supremely powerful alien energy source” that’s found in Russia during the 1950s Cold War. Of course, since she’s got a TV series and thus ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s also promise of her going up against Hydra, who are “seeking the alien technology for their own sinister purposes.”

I hope the show does well, and it’s a good idea to have a kind of tie-in comic available (although I wish they would have named it after her). Here’s the cover art by Michael Komark:

Operation S.I.N. cover by Michael Komark

The variant covers by Gabriel Hardman (left) and Skottie Young (right):

Operation S.I.N. cover by Gabriel HardmanOperation S.I.N. cover by Skottie Young

And some action-packed interior pages:

Operation S.I.N. #1 page by Rich EllisOperation S.I.N. #1 page by Rich EllisOperation S.I.N. #1 page by Rich EllisOperation S.I.N. #1 page by Rich Ellis

Digital Manga Adds Exclusivity to Kickstarters

This interview with Hikaru Sasahara, president of Digital Manga, the company struggling with how to publish more works by Osamu Tezuka after their massive Kickstarter failed, has some new information I found surprising and troubling. Near the end come these paragraphs:

Digital Manga logo

The failure of DMP’s ambitious Kickstarter does not mean the end of DMP’s Tezuka program. Sasahara has planned all along to publish some Tezuka titles digitally via DMP’s Digital Manga Guild. In that system, the publisher, licensor, and localizing team (usually a translator, editor, and letterer) all defer payment until the book is published and then take a share of the revenue.

Oh, good. Let’s have fans handle translation for these most-important books. That’ll make for quality, consistent releases.

There’s one more twist: DMP’s Kickstarter funded books will only be available to purchase directly from DMP. However, once books are in print, Sasahara told PW, DMP will look to find a distributor to get the books into the library market.

“Outside of the library, we are thinking to limit Tezuka books only to our direct-to-customer channel, [meaning] all the backers of the Kickstarter campaign would be the first ones to get the book,” he said. DMP has excluded the Tezuka titles from its usual distribution contracts; Sasahara said they will not be distributed to retail stores or to Amazon but will only be available directly from the publisher.

This is stupid, short-term thinking, although I can see where it would seem desirable to blackmail fans to get those Kickstarter pledges up. If Tezuka works are so important to share in English, making the books available for purchase only through them is counter-productive. Avoiding the usual retail channels means that Digital Manga makes a lot more per book, but it makes these books seem like specialty products, not suitable for a general audience. Maybe that’s the right way to go, but it seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And one bound to create declining audiences, as the same few customers eventually get tapped out.

Marketing to a wider group increases potential for sales, but it is another cost associated with the product. If a publisher can’t afford to market a major new line of releases, though, then the question once again arises: how much of a real publisher are they?

And if you try to keep books from Amazon, here’s what will happen. Someone will start buying books from Digital Manga and then reselling them on Amazon at a higher price to catch the customers who would rather shop there, from a known quantity that meets its deadlines.

By the way, the latest Digital Manga Kickstarter is about halfway there, and scheduled to end right around Christmas, so they likely won’t get a big last day bump. If this one fails, I don’t know what will happen.

Ito’s Fragments of Horror, Gyo Re-Release Coming Next Year From Viz Signature

I’m not a big fan of horror comics, but I’ve been tempted by Junji Ito’s Uzumaki, because that surreal story of a town overtaken by spirals is less gory, more suspenseful and creepy.

So I’m excited to hear that Viz will be bringing out a short story collection from Ito next summer. Fragments of Horror will be published as a deluxe hardcover under the Viz Signature imprint (and I’m glad to see that’s continuing as well). Here’s the publisher’s description:

Fragments of Horror is the brand-new collection of delightfully macabre tales from the celebrated master of Japanese horror. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

According to Amazon, Viz will also re-release out Ito’s Gyo as a single volume in April 2015.

Jessica Jones Casting Sounds Like a Good Idea

Krysten Ritter

Photo of Krysten Ritter from her Facebook page

The Netflix Marvel TV shows announced a year ago — short series featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage — have begun casting for their debut in 2015. First up, Krysten Ritter will play Jessica Jones in Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones. Ritter was most recently on TV as the lead in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and is also well-known for roles in Breaking Bad and Veronica Mars. I like watching her, and I think her sardonic style will suit the character. Jones is a former superhero who becomes a private investigator after suffering post-traumatic stress (in the comic series titled Alias).

Not as solid is the rumor that Luke Cage is to be played by Mike Colter (The Following, The Good Wife), but I hope it turns out to be true, since he’s good-looking and would be great casting.

Mike Colter




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