Thursday, July 24, 2014

Latest Analysis: Positive News! The Comic Market is Growing!

From the official press release . . . . .


Comics and Graphic Novel Market Reaches $870 Million
According to New Estimate by Comichron and ICv2



"The market for comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada reached $870 million at retail last year, according to a new estimate prepared jointly by ICv2's Milton Griepp and Comichron's John Jackson Miller.

"I've been networking with Milton on questions of the numbers underlying the business since he was at Capital City Distribution and I was editing Comics Retailer magazine back in the 1990s," Miller said. "It's been great to formally collaborate on these estimates for the first time, and I think the result is the most inclusive and accurate picture of the market either of us has ever been able to produce."



"I'm very excited about the market model this collaboration with John has produced," Griepp said. "I've always had great respect for John's work in the area of comic sales, and putting our heads together has enabled us to build a model that all can use to analyze and understand the market."

As presented in the accompanying infographic, the 2013 analysis by ICv2 and Comichron was divided up between periodical comics (what some call "floppies" or "pamphlets"), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. Graphic novels contributed the largest portion ($415 million) and comic books nearly as much ($365 million), and digital (based on numbers released yesterday by ICv2) continued to grow faster than the market at $90 million. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup.

According to the report by Comichron and ICv2, comics periodical sales occur primarily in the comics store channel ($340 million) and to a declining degree in the "newsstand" channel ($25 million). For book format products, well over half of all graphic novel sales ($245 million) occur in the book channel, with a smaller share ($170 million) in the comics store channel.

ICv2 and Comichron also collaborated on market estimates for 2011 and 2012, revising earlier estimates by both. According to the new report, comics periodical sales grew from $300 million in 2011 to $335 million in 2012; graphic novel sales grew from $390 million in 2011 to $400 million in 2012; and combined comics and graphic novel sales grew from $690 million in 2011 to $735 million in 2012.

Incorporating ICv2 digital comic market size estimates ($25 million in 2011 and $70 million in 2012), the total market grew from $715 million in 2011 to $805 million in 2012.

"It's great that the comics market has found new ways to grow even as the over-all book and magazine markets remain challenged," Griepp said. "It's proof of the fundamental entertainment and literary value of the comics medium."

"According to our records here at Comichron, without adjusting for inflation, this is the highest dollar value the market has reached since 1993," Miller said. "That's great for the business, and we're excited to see what comes next."

Comichron Comichron is the world's largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, featuring data from the 1930s to today about comic book and graphic novel circulation, cover prices, and market shares on its website, www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.

ICv2.com:
ICv2 is the #1 industry source on the business of geek culture, including comics and graphic novels, manga and anime, movie/TV products, and hobby games, on its Website, www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence. For the people on the front lines of the pop culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance--it's a basic necessity for being successful. That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines. ICv2 is where trend-watching has become a science.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Valiant explores animated digital comics with Visionbooks

From the official press release . . . . . .

Valiant Entertainment and Visionbooks Partner for Animated Digital Comic Books

Cutting-Edge Digital Technology Brings Best-Selling Superheroes to Life, Beginning with Free X-O Manowar #1



NEW YORK, July 22, 2014 – Visionbooks is proud to announce a new partnership agreement with award-winning comic book publisher, Valiant Entertainment. Launching today with the release of X-O Manowar #1-4 on the Visionbooks app, relive the best-selling first story arc of Valiant’s alien-armored Visigoth hero as realized by Visionbooks’ groundbreaking digital animation process.

Visionbooks revolutionizes comic book reading by transforming two-dimensional comic books into a digital animation experience. By combining traditional comics with cutting-edge technology, Visionbooks creates dimensional action like explosions, smoke, weather, character conflicts and action, all within static comic panels.

From New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (Armor Hunters, Green Lantern) and Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord (Conan), X-O Manowar is the acclaimed series that relaunched Valiant’s publishing line in 2012 to critical and commercial success. Named the “Best Revival of 2012” by The Onion/A.V. Club and “Best Ongoing Series” by Ain’t It Cool News, the tale of Aric of Dacia’s transformation from fifth-century freedom fighter to modern-day America’s most powerful superhero begins right here with the chart-topping debut that IGN calls “one of the best books being published right now, period.”

Visionbooks’ technology and application showcases comics in a whole new way, while preserving the original narrative and layout found in paper comics. Click here to download Valiant’s X-O Manowar #1, free of charge, right now at Visionbooks.

“This partnership with Valiant gives Visionbooks an opportunity to work with classic superheroes and create a cinematic reading experience that engages the next generation of new comic book fans,” said Francesco Scrufari co-founder of Visionbooks.

“Visionbooks is pushing the envelope with our new digital technology. Who better to partner with than Valiant, a publisher who is also known for their innovation and creativity,” said Simone Offredo, co-founder of Visionbooks.

In addition to Valiant Entertainment, Visionbooks’ current partnerships include: Asylum Press, Arcana, Real Interface Studios, A.P.N.G. Enterprises, Vanquish Interactive, Pavesio and Cavalletto.

For more information visit: http://www.visionbooks.co

Follow Visionbooks on Twitter https://twitter.com/VisionbooksApp

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Harvey Award Nominees Announced, Finals at Baltimore Comic-Con

From the official press release-- my picks noted with "xx".


014 Harvey Awards Nominees Announced!
Visit www.harveyawards.org for Ballots & Submission Details!

BALTIMORE, MD (July 16, 2014) -- The 2014 Harvey Awards Nominees have been announced with the release of the final ballot, presented by the Executive Committees of the Harvey Awards and the Baltimore Comic-Con. Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, one of the industry's most innovative talents, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. They will be presented September 6, 2014 in Baltimore, MD, in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con.

Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected exclusively by creators - those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit, or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field. They are the only industry awards both nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. Thank you to all that have already participated by submitting a nomination ballot.

Final ballots are due to the Harvey Awards by Monday, August 18, 2014. Full submission instructions can be found on the final ballot. Voting is open to anyone professionally involved in a creative capacity within the comics field. Final ballots are available at www.harveyawards.org. Those who prefer paper ballots may e-mail harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com.

This will be the ninth year for the Harvey Awards in Baltimore, MD. Look for more details soon as to how you can attend the Harvey Awards dinner.

This year's Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 5-7, 2014. The ceremony and banquet for the 2014 Harvey Awards will be held Saturday night, September 6th.

Without further delay, the 2014 Harvey Award Nominees:

BEST LETTERER

____ Deron Bennett, CYBORG 009, Archaia
__xx__ Dave Lanphear, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Terry Moore, RACHEL RISING, Abstract Studio
____ Steve Wands, ADVENTURE TIME, kaBOOM!
____ Britt Wilson, ADVENTURE TIME WITH FIONNA AND CAKE, kaBOOM!

BEST COLORIST

____ Jordan Bellaire, PRETTY DEADLY, Image Comics
____ Marte Gracia, ALL NEW X-MEN, Marvel Comics
____ Matt Hollingsworth, HAWKEYE, Marvel
__xx__ Brian Reber, UNITY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Dave Stewart, HELLBOY: THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS, Dark Horse Comics

BEST SYNDICATED STRIP or PANEL

____ DICK TRACY, Joe Staton and Mike Curtis, Tribune Media Services
____ FOX TROT, Bill Amend, Universal Uclick
____ GET FUZZY, Darby Conley, Universal
_xx__ MUTTS, Patrick McDonnell, King Features Syndicate
____ THE PHANTOM, Tony DePaul and Paul Ryan, King Features Syndicate

BEST ONLINE COMICS WORK

_xx__ BATTLEPUG, Mike Norton, battlepug.com
____ THE DREAMER, Lora Innes, thedreamercomic.com
____ GUNNERKRIGG COURT, Tom Siddell, gunnerkrigg.com
____ JL8, Yale Stewart, jl8comic.tumblr.com
____ TABLE TITANS, Scott Kurtz, Steve Hamaker, and Brian Hurtt, tabletitans.com

BEST AMERICAN EDITION of FOREIGN MATERIAL

____ ATTACK ON TITAN, Kodansha
____ THE KILLER, VOLUME 4, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ SHOWA: A HISTORY OF JAPAN 1926-1939, Drawn and Quarterly
____ SUNNY, Viz Signature
_xx__ TODAY IS THE LAST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, Fantagraphics

BEST INKER

____ Vanesa R. Del Rey, HIT, BOOM! Studios
____ Stefano Gaudiano, THE WALKING DEAD, Image Comics
__xx__Danny Miki, BATMAN, DC Comics
____ Brian Stelfreeze, DAY MEN, BOOM! Studios
____ Wade Von Grawbadger, ALL NEW X-MEN, Marvel Comics

BEST NEW SERIES

____ AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, Archie Comics
____ QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ SEX CRIMINALS, Image
____ SIX GUN GORILLA, BOOM! Studios
_xx__ SUICIDE RISK, BOOM! Studios

MOST PROMISING NEW TALENT

_xx__James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Pere Perez, ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG, HARBINGER WARS, Valiant Entertainment
____ Victor Santos, POLAR: CAME FROM THE COLD, DARK HORSE PRESENTS, Dark Horse Comics
____ Jeff Stokely, SIX GUN GORILLA, BOOM! Studios
____ Chip Zdarsky, SEX CRIMINALS, Image Comics

SPECIAL AWARD FOR HUMOR IN COMICS

____ James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Ryan North, ADVENTURE TIME, KaBOOM!
____ Dan Parent, KEVIN KELLER, Archie Comics
_xx__ Fred Van Lente, ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG, Valiant Entertainment
____ Jim Zub, SKULLKICKERS, Image Comics

BEST ORIGINAL GRAPHIC PUBLICATION FOR YOUNGER READERS

____ ADVENTURE TIME, KaBOOM!
____ BATTLING BOY, First Second
____ G-MAN: COMING HOME, Image Comics
_xx__ MONSTER ON THE HILL, Top Shelf Productions
____ ONLY LIVING BOY, Bottled Lightning

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED

_xx__ HARBINGER VOLUME 1: OMEGA RISING, Valiant Entertainment
____ THE KILLER OMNIBUS VOLUME 1, Archaia
____ MOUSE GUARD VOL. 3: THE BLACK AXE, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ POLARITY, BOOM! Studios
____ RAINBOW IN THE DARK: THE COMPLETE SAGA, Comfort Love and Adam Withers

BEST ANTHOLOGY

_xx__ DARK HORSE PRESENTS, Dark Horse Comics
____ MOUSE GUARD: LEGENDS OF THE GUARD VOLUME 2, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ OUTLAW TERRITORY 3, Image Comics
____ SPERA, VOLUME 3, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR, BOOM! Studios/Archaia

BEST DOMESTIC REPRINT PROJECT

____ BARNABY VOLUME 1, Fantagraphics
_xx__ BEST OF COMIX BOOK: WHEN MARVEL COMICS WENT UNDERGROUND, Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse
____ FRAGGLE ROCK CLASSICS VOLUME 2, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ VALIANT MASTERS: NINJAK VOLUME 1 - BLACK WATER, Valiant Entertainment
____ VALIANT MASTERS: SHADOWMAN VOLUME 1 - SPIRITS WITHIN, Valiant Entertainment

BEST COVER ARTIST

_xx__ Goni Montes, CLIVE BARKER'S NEXT TESTAMENT,
____ Andrew Robinson, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Chris Samnee, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
____ Fiona Staples, SAGA, Image Comics
____ Brian Stelfreeze, DAY MEN, BOOM! Studios

BEST BIOGRAPHICAL, HISTORICAL, or JOURNALISTIC PRESENTATION

____ AL CAPP: A LIFE TO THE CONTRARY, Denis Kitchen, Bloomsbury
____ AMERICAN COMIC BOOK CHRONICLES: THE 1950S, TwoMorrows Publishing
____ ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG, Jennifer George, Abrams ComicArts
____ CO-MIX: A RETROSPECTIVE OF COMICS, GRAPHICS, AND SCRAPS, Art Spiegelman, Drawn and Quarterly
____ THE FIFTH BEATLE: THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY, by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker,
Dark Horse
_xx__ MARCH: BOOK ONE, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, Top Shelf Productions

SPECIAL AWARD for EXCELLENCE IN PRESENTATION

____ BEST OF COMIX BOOK: WHEN MARVEL COMICS WENT UNDERGROUND, John Lind,
Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Comics
____ CYBORG 009, Stephen Christy, Archaia
____ HARBINGER WARS, Josh Johns and Warren Simons, Valiant Entertainment
_xx__ THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR, Joe LeFavi, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ UNITY, Alejandro Arbona, Josh Johns, and Warren Simons, Valiant Entertainment

BEST GRAPHIC ALBUM ORIGINAL

____ BATTLING BOY, First Second
____ CYBORG 009, Archaia
____ THE FIFTH BEATLE: THE BRIAN EPSTEIN STORY, Dark Horse Comics
____ MARCH: BOOK ONE, Top Shelf Productions
_xx__ THE REASON FOR DRAGONS, BOOM! Studios/Archaia

BEST CONTINUING OR LIMITED SERIES

__xx_ ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG, Valiant Entertainment
____ DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
____ HAWKEYE, Marvel Comics
____ HIT, BOOM! Studios
____ MOUSE GUARD: LEGENDS OF THE GUARD VOL. 2, Archaia
____ SAGA, Image Comics

BEST WRITER

____ James Asmus, QUANTUM AND WOODY, Valiant Entertainment
____ Matt Fraction, HAWKEYE, Marvel Comics
_xx__ Matt Kindt, MIND MGMT, Dark Horse Comics
____ Brian K. Vaughan, SAGA, Image Comics
____ Mark Waid, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics

BEST ARTIST

____ David Aja, HAWKEYE, Marvel Comics
____ Dan Parent, KEVIN KELLER, Archie Comics
____ Nate Powell, MARCH: BOOK ONE, Top Shelf Productions
____ Chris Samnee, DAREDEVIL, Marvel Comics
____ Fiona Staples, SAGA, Image Comics
_xx__ Jeff Stokely, SIX GUN GORILLA, BOOM! Studios

BEST CARTOONIST

____ Matt Kindt, MIND MGMT, Dark Horse Comics
____ Comfort Love and Adam Withers, RAINBOW IN THE DARK, uniquescomic.com
_xx__ Terry Moore, RACHEL RISING, Abstract Studios
_____ Dan Parent, KEVIN KELLER, Archie Comics
____ David Petersen, MOUSE GUARD: THE BLACK AXE, BOOM! Studios/Archaia
____ Paul Pope, BATTLING BOY, First Second

BEST SINGLE ISSUE OR STORY

____ ADVENTURE TIME ANNUAL #1, kaBOOM!
____ DEMETER, self-published, Becky Cloonan
____ "A Kiss ISN'T Just A Kiss!", KEVIN KELLER #10, Archie Comics
____ "Now and Then", DARK HORSE PRESENTS #30, Dark Horse Comics
____ "Pizza is My Business', HAWKEYE #11, Marvel Comics
____ SUICIDE RISK #5, BOOM! Studios
_xx__ UNITY #1, Valiant Entertainment


Congratulations to all of the nominees! If you know a nominee, please pass on the good news using email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Please submit any corrections to harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com. We try our best to list nominees correctly, and want to know if there is an error.

The Harvey Committee and the Baltimore Comic-Con will make every effort to contact all nominees. If you are a nominee and you do not hear from us by July 25, please contact us at harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com. We would love to discuss your involvement in the ceremony and the Baltimore Comic-Con.

For additional information about Harvey Kurtzman and the Harvey Awards, visit www.harveyawards.org or http://www.facebook.com/theharveyawards.

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 15th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. With a guest list unequaled in the industry, the Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 5-7, 2014. For more information, please visit the website, Twitter, or Facebook pages.



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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Archer & Armstrong Headed To The Big Screen

. . . From the official press release . . . . .

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG" HEADED TO BIG SCREEN
Award-winning, multi-million selling comic coming to film from Valiant developed and financed script




As revealed exclusively at the Hollywood Reporter, New York-based comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment today announced that they are adapting their award-winning comic book series, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, into a feature film. Valiant has partnered with the Sean Daniel Company (THE MUMMY, BEST MAN HOLIDAY, MGM’s upcoming BEN-HUR) for the production and has funded a script from writer BenDavid Grabinski. The film will be produced by Sean Daniel, Jason Brown, and Dinesh Shamdasani.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is an action-adventure/buddy comedy colliding a drunk, delinquent immortal who has given up on saving the world and the idealistic young man who needs him for a globetrotting quest to stop history’s oldest conspiracy from toppling modern civilization.

Co-created by former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter (AVENGERS), and legendary comics creators Barry Windsor-Smith (CONAN) and Bob Layton (IRON MAN), Archer & Armstrong first appeared in 1992 and quickly became one of the most successful comic book franchises in history, selling more than 4.5 million copies worldwide. With a devoted following that stretches around the globe, Ain't It Cool News has called Archer & Armstrong “the best buddy team book of all time,” adding that “not since Batman & Robin has a more important duo hit the comic world.”

Most recently, Valiant re-launched the property with a new series in 2012 to an immediate worldwide sell-out and rave reviews. The series’ debut issue garnered three printings; earned numerous awards and accolades; and was named as one of the Best Comics of 2012 by Crave Online and Bloody Disgusting, as one of the Best Comics of 2013 by Comic Book Resources, and was nominated for Best New Comic Series of 2012 by IGN.

"ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is one of the greatest untapped franchises in comics, and BenDavid's script is delivering a vision for these characters that has made us all very, very excited,” said Sean Daniel. “The movie is about the relationship between these two amazing characters, the comic clash between optimism and pessimism, and how family is the most important unifier. It combines globe-spanning action with BenDavid’s singular sense of humor, and is rooted in resonant themes that give it a powerful emotional core.”

Founded in 1989, Valiant experienced a meteoric rise in the 1990s, selling 80 million comic books and quickly becoming the number three publisher in the comic book industry. One of the few companies to ever rival Marvel and DC in popularity and market share, Valiant re-launched its universe of characters to tremendous commercial and critical success in 2012. The company previously announced that SHADOWMAN, another award-winning franchise from Valiant's library of more than 1,750 comic book characters, was being adapted into a feature film. Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski (THOR, WORLD WAR Z, and the upcoming SENSE8 for Netflix) has been hired to adapt SHADOWMAN with Valiant funding and producing alongside the Sean Daniel Company. Additionally, BLOODSHOT – another Valiant property with sales in excess of 7 million copies to date – has been optioned by Sony Pictures with Matthew Vaughn (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) attached and a script by Jeff Wadlow (KICK-ASS 2). Valiant has partnered with Original Film for the project. Neal Moritz, Toby Jaffe and Dinesh Shamdasani are producing.

BenDavid Grabinski, writer of SKIPTRACE with Jackie Chan and Seann William Scott starring, also previously wrote an untitled project for Peter Berg (LONE SURVIVOR), as well as CON ED for Alcon Entertainment; SWIFT for Sony Pictures; and THE HOW-TO GUIDE FOR SAVING THE WORLD for MGM with Barry Sonnenfeld (MEN IN BLACK) directing, which was featured on the Black List.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG joins a highly anticipated slate of upcoming feature film and television projects at the Sean Daniel Company, including THE MUMMY reboot for Universal in 2016, BEN-HUR for Paramount/MGM with director Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED) also in 2016, and THE EXPANSE, which received a straight-to-series commitment from the Syfy channel and is based on the New York Times bestselling series of novels by James S.A. Corey.

“We couldn’t have more apt partners than Sean Daniel – who, as an executive at Universal, shepherded the seminal movies in the genre in BLUES BROTHERS, MIDNIGHT RUN, and ANIMAL HOUSE – and BenDavid Grabinski, who just turned in a truly awesome adaptation,” said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani. “We’re bringing the same quality and creativity that established our success in comics to our film and television adaptations. SHADOWMAN, BLOODSHOT, and ARCHER & ARMSTRONG are just the beginning."




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Monday, July 14, 2014

DANGER GIRL
Writer:  J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell
Artist:  J. Scott Campbell
IDW Publishing | TPB | $18.99
Browsing comic covers one day while looking for the trade about which I would write this column, Danger Girl caught my eye. It’s not that I recognized the writer or the artist or even that I was a big fan of Wildstorm’s stuff but the cover caught my eye for reasons that will be apparent to anyone familiar with JSC’s body of work.
J Scott Campbell got his start as artist and co-creator of Gen13 and is known throughout the industry for his highly sexualized depictions of women. Andy Hartnell co-created Gen13 with Campbell and has also written Army of Darkness: Ashes to Ashes for Dynamite comics.
Abbey Chase is a treasure hunter in the vein of Nathan Drake in the Uncharted video game franchise. While wrestling with a fellow plunderer in a ship that’s headed for a waterfall, she is saved by several statuesque women. Recruited into an all-female strike force to fight a modern incarnation of Nazis, she is part spy, part action hero and all woman.
The story has its fair amount of plot holes. Why does Abbey join the Danger Girl squad? How did the squad come to be? Who do they even work for beyond Deuce, their handler?  The action movie plot merely moves the Danger Girls from skimpy outfits to jumping into bubble baths to wrestling with each other. To the extent that there is a story here, it is half Indiana Jones and half Charlie’s Angels.
The art is truly fantastic, though I would not recommend it for younger readers. While it’s easy to dismiss JSC as a smutty artist, he really does amazing work. His facial expressions are some of the most detailed in any book I’ve read recently, and his art compliments this type of story.
While the writing falls somewhat flat, the action and art are enough to redeem this book. It’s the equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie where you know the bad guy’s actions or motives might not make sense, but you’re just there for the gun fights, big explosions and Scarlett Johansson.
Final rating (out of 5):
goldstargoldstargoldstargoldstar

a NUMBER ONE should be in every comics shop

NUMBER ONE (Aazurn Publishing, September 2014 release, $3.99) Writing, typography and colors by Gary Scott Beatty. Art and inking by Aaron Warner.

Number One cover.indd

          NUMBER ONE does much more than relate the fictional story of a comic store owner as he experiences the ups and downs of owning a business over the course of 50 years. It also serves as a great summary of the changes that have occurred in the industry over those same years. In addition, it provides great insight into the challenges faced by all owners of comic shops and independent bookstores in the 21st Century, in the early days of the digital age.

          NUMBER ONE is the book that recognizes the passion for illustrated story-telling that is the core driving force that keeps long-term fans of comic books coming back for more, week after week, month after month, year after year, and on and on.  It’s the book that does a noteworthy job of explaining “why we still read those things” as well as why any sane individual would try and make a living by catering to the interests of comics fans.  It’s a testimonial for comic store owners nationwide, and through its’ narrative it explains and drives home the message - - we still need local comics stores and need to support them.

          NUMBER ONE is the product of creator Gary Scott Beatty, a noted illustrator/inker/colorist who utilizes his Indie Comics Magazine and Aazurn Publishing to showcase the best of independent creators.  Utilizing Diamond Distribution and employing a unique business model that ensures that costs can be contained, Beatty has found a way for a small publisher to co-exist among the bigger companies with huge overhead and budgets.  NUMBER ONE is sold only through pre-order.  Interested readers need to order this book through their local comic store or resource in July in order to receive a copy in September.

04-numberone-web-res

          It’s pretty simple.  If you care, you should support this book.  NUMBER ONE deserves to have a place on the shelves of every single comics store .  Anyone who considers themselves a “comic collector” rather than a casual reader needs to own and read NUMBER ONE.

          The story follows the life of narrator Steve from the fateful event in 1964 that made him an orphan up to the present day.  It relates how mythological literature and an introduction to comics helped him cope with the fears and doubts that bother the very young and impressionable.  Steve takes a job working in a head shop that sells comics, and years later comes back to buy the business.  NUMBER ONE covers the days of joy , success ,and profit as well as the days of despair, depression and debts.  In the capable hands of scripter Beatty, Steve really comes to life and his story seems believable, perhaps reminding some readers of some memorable comic store owners from their own experience.  Perhaps because it is a narrative that takes an A to Z path through Steve’s life, there is a very fluid and seamless flow to the story-telling.

06-numberone-web-res

          Artist Aaron Warner details everything in a style that compliments the mood and tone of the story, a style that will remind you of many classic EC Comics artists.

          What is the real life value of comic books and the heroes in them?  This question is explored fully in  NUMBER ONE, a full color, done-in-one-issue story looking at 50 years of comic book history through the life of one comic book retailer. 

          “Comics helped Steve through some tough times growing up and he turned his love of the medium into a comic shop business,” said writer Gary Scott Beatty. “In NUMBER ONE we see whether operating the business is worth the toll it takes on his family.”

          Returning to comic book illustration in NUMBER ONE is Aaron Warner, whose Adventures of Aaron comics became a critically acclaimed newspaper strip that ran for over 10 years, was read by over six million newspaper subscribers, and garnered a Rueben Award nomination from the National Cartoonist Society.

          “Aaron understood the comic book guy in  NUMBER ONE like I think most of us will understand him,” said Beatty.  “We don’t have to be comic shop owners to relate to someone who loves comic books.  The adventure, the history, the hope and passion comics inspire inform our every day lives.”

          Small business owners will also feel for Steve, said Beatty.  “I think we’re all more informed about how difficult it is to operate a local business these days, since the recession of 2008.”

          American media offers a distorted view of comic book readers, said Beatty.  “I enjoy the goofy actors on television, but few of the people I know who read comics are like that.  I set out to write a story that, in an personal way, can explain to those outside our community why we love comics.”

          Steve’s tale brings readers through decades of comic book history.  Also included in  NUMBER ONE’s 32 pages is a short Guide to Illustrated Stories.  “I put comics in historical context, from Gilgamesh, to The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck, to Free Comic Book Day.  Number One is a complete package explaining, in an entertaining way, our hobby and our passion for it.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

THE VALIANT comes to Valiant: prestige mini-series debuts

from the official press release . . . . .

VALIANT_001_COVER_RIVERA

A battle ten millennia in the making is about to begin...

          Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce THE VALIANT – a new prestige format four-issue limited series beginning in December from New York Times best-selling writers Jeff Lemire (Green Arrow, Animal Man) and Matt Kindt (RAI, UNITY, Mind MGMT), and featuring interior artwork and covers by Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera (Daredevil)!

          An entirely self-contained comics event spotlighting Bloodshot, Eternal Warrior, Geomancer, and a cast of heroes and villains from across the Valiant Universe, THE VALIANT is a visionary new adventure from three of the greatest creative talents in comics today.

          The Eternal Warrior has protected the Earth for more than 10,000 years.  A master of countless weapons and long forgotten martial arts, he is guided by the Geomancers – those who speak for the Earth.  During his long watch, the Eternal Warrior has failed three times.  Each time, the Geomancer was killed…and a new dark age for humanity began.  Each time, he was unable to stop The Immortal Enemy – a monstrous force of nature.  A civilization killer.  A horror that appears differently each time it arrives…and whose seemingly only purpose is to bring disorder and darkness to the world.  Now, the time has come for The Immortal Enemy to return once more.  But, this time, the Eternal Warrior will be ready. This time, he has a force greater than any single warrior. This time, he has…THE VALIANT.

VALIANT_001_002

          "I've been a huge fan of what Valiant Comics has been doing for the past two years, with a lot of my favorite creators, and favorite people, like Matt Kindt, Josh Dysart and Rob Venditti, doing incredible work for the publisher," said writer Jeff Lemire.  "So, it's a huge thrill for me to now step into the Valiant Universe in a BIG way with the upcoming four-issue series, THE VALIANT, along with co-writer Matt Kindt, and one of the most incredible artists working in comics today, Paolo Rivera.               

         THE VALIANT will not only serve as a great entry point for brand new readers to Valiant, but also enrich the existing universe and shake it up dramatically moving forward.  Valiant has an incredible stable of characters to play with, and they will ALL play a role in THE VALIANT."

          "Jeff and I have been threatening to work together for a long time," said writer Matt Kindt.  "And we did a little bit on Sweet Tooth with the few issues I did, but this is the first time we've really created something from scratch and written a long piece of work together.  Collaborating on writing isn't something I normally get excited about, but Jeff and I just got coffee after a con one night and started brainstorming different things we could do and, by the end of the night, the waitress got a big tip and we'd written an outline for this epic story.  It was like being transported to your best friend's kitchen table when you're 11 and cooking up fantastic comic book ideas.  But in this case, when we were done, we got Paolo to draw it.  We couldn't be more excited.  I was just a fan of his on his now classic run on Daredevil.  He's just a great cartoonist, you know?  He can tell a story so well – and I think we gave him plenty of story to draw."

          "I've heard nothing but good things about Jeff and Matt, and their script does not disappoint," said artist Paolo Rivera.  "One of the major things that brought me to this project was the epic scale.  Most of the stories I've worked on, even when action-packed, have been on the level of individuals.                          While our main characters are still the heart, this story spans epochs and realms, with consequences that, quite literally, affect the entire Earth."

          "I worked with [Valiant Editor-in-Chief] Warren [Simons] briefly at Marvel, but he's been doing his best to lure me (and my Dad) to Valiant since 2012," added Rivera.  "We've been doing mostly covers since then, so it's awesome to be drawing comics again.  That, and it's fun to draw Bloodshot getting blown to bits."

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          A New York Times best-selling writer and artist, Jeff Lemire is the award-winning author of some of the most acclaimed graphic novels and comic book series in recent memory, including the Essex County trilogy, Sweet Tooth, and The Underwater Welder.  A recipient of the American Library Association's prestigious Alex Award and the Joe Shuster Award, Lemire's work has also been nominated for the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards.  Most recently, his work for DC Comics has included critically acclaimed runs on Animal Man, Green Arrow, and Justice League United, as well as the creator-owned series Trillium for Vertigo.  THE VALIANT will be Lemire's first full-length work for Valiant Entertainment.

          Matt Kindt is the New York Times best-selling writer and artist of many acclaimed graphic novels and comic book series, including Mind MGMT, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man, Pistolwhip, Red-Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes, Revolver, and Super Spy.   A Harvey Award winner and Eisner Award nominee, his other works include Justice League of America and Suicide Squad for DC Comics, and Marvel Knights: Spider-Man for Marvel Comics.   In addition to THE VALIANT, Kindt currently writes two ongoing series, RAI and UNITY, for Valiant Entertainment.

          Paolo Rivera quickly gained notoriety for his painted artwork on Marvel Comics' Mythos before moving on to provide distinctive and striking covers for nearly all of the publisher's top series.   With his father Joe Rivera inking his work, Rivera penciled the best-selling relaunch of Marvel's Daredevil with writer Mark Waid – a run that won the father-son duo two Eisner Awards for their work.  THE VALIANT will mark Rivera's first full-length comics' work since Daredevil in 2012.  He can be found online at paolorivera.blogspot.com and twitter.com/PaoloMRivera.

          This December, the Geomancer's sacred mission begins anew as superstar creators Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera bring together THE VALIANT – a new comic book milestone.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First State Comic Con : Lessons learned by a part-time vendor

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REFLECTIONS ON THE FIRST STATE COMIC CON - - Sunday, June 29th at Mill Creek Fire Hall in Marshallton (Southern Wilmington) Delaware         

          Comic Conventions are a great place to meet artists, writers and comics creators and publishers, find that book you need to complete a set in your collection, enjoy the variety of costumed participants, and talk shop with local comics-minded enthusiasts.  And, if the price to rent some table space at the Con is not too outrageous (it wasn’t) - - it’s a good place to display and sell comics.  However, you should not try to do both.  You will find that you need to stay glued to your vendor space no matter how much the traffic slows down.  Walk away to meet some of the famous guests and you could miss that one big chance to sell a stack of books.

       Of course, if you are a full-time vendor making a living/business out of this hobby then you just might have enough staff to cover your selling area so that you can walk around and enjoy yourself.   I did have help from an attractive and friendly assistant (see photo above) but I just couldn’t walk away for more than a few minutes without feeling either guilty or that I just missed my big sales opportunity.  If you didn’t try to engage the passer-by in comics-related conversation and/or find out something about their interests, you probably weren’t going to sell them anything.

     So, after surrounding myself with a plethora of objects related to my hobby and all within reach, I basically tortured myself for an afternoon.  (Similar to placing a juicy, meaty bone just three feet beyond the reach of the dog run.)  Across the aisle were some very respected creators - - - David Michelinie, Tom Smith, Greg LaRoque and Neil Vokes.  On the same side of the aisle just eight feet away from my space were The Living Corpse Crew  (Buz, Ken & Blair).  Somewhere else within the fire hall were the folks from PLB Comics and Underground Comixx and I never even got a glimpse of them.   Almost every single member of the 501st  (Star Wars cosplayers) were present, even featured in their own room. Yet I never got a picture or a chance to see them all together (it requires widescreen Cinemascope, mind you). We were lucky enough to see some of the other cosplayers entered into the competition (including one of the big winners) as they walked down the aisle past our section.

       Is there a happy ending to this story?  I’d like to say that my dedication to my little section of the Fire Hall resulted in a ton of book sales - -  but I’d be lying to you. In spite of having some of the better conditioned and protected books at bargain prices and a warm, inviting market space  (see photo above again) we had plenty of potential customers but no big orders.  My biggest sale was the Spider-Man wedding issue, which absolutely thrilled the buyer when he could turn around and get it signed by author David Michelinie. I was glad to oblige and it was the high point of my day.

     Other lessons learned:  successful comic conventions bring out the big players in the comics selling business.  They come from several neighboring states and pull up in big rented trucks loaded with merchandise to sell.  They have signs, banners, and elaborate stand-up racks to display their hottest books and goods.  They have the ability to rent 3X as much space as the little private collectors like me who just want to get something for their excess or surplus so they can keep buying new books (comics has become an expensive hobby in the 21st century!)  I can’t draw the crowds to my area the way that they can.  My advice to anyone thinking about selling their comics part-time fashion like I - - - a comic convention is going to frustrate you.  Stick to the flea-market type of events.

   The biggest lesson for me: Go to a comics convention for entertainment purposes. The next time you see me at First State Comic Con (I heard a rumor about October 2014!) I will be in the crowd rubbing elbows with like-minded enthusiasts.

Below Photo - -  My neighbor vendor Mike (that’s all I remember) had a giant stand-up rack (must have been 7-8 feet to the top) that was dedicated to key issues  (all Near Mint) of Deadpool comics.  You think I had a chance of getting the guy in the photo to check out my stuff?  Nah, not even after I took a photo and promised to send it to him . . . .

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