Journalista for Oct. 8, 2010: I remember 300

Posted by on October 8th, 2010 at 6:10 AM

 

 

“[Boom Studios] were the first to do simultaneous release of digital and print editions. Retailers came at us with pitchforks.”

 

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From Ben Caldwell’s contribution to Wednesday Comics, ©2009 DC Comics.

 

Recently posted to our homepage:

  • Rich Kreiner reviews DC Comics’ oversized anthology, Wednesday Comics.
  •  

  • GutterGeek‘s Alex Boney reviews Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit Book Two.
  •  

  • Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, Noah Berlatsky takes a ride on the Alan Moore Fanboy Hate Machine.

And in the news…

 

Above the Fold

 

Fear and loathing at the ICv2 industry conference


Art by Ralph Steadman.

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Hunter S. Thompson-style crazy in Manhattan yesterday, but there was an industry conference held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which offered analysis and discussion of the comics industry both in print and online. While most of Our Diligent Comics Press seemed to miss everything that didn’t involve the price of a comic book, Heidi MacDonald and Laura Hudson were paying enough attention to write competent stories, while Deb Aoki and Brigid Alverson live-blogged the events on Twitter, and thus we learned:

  • “Sales in the U.S. and Canadian comic book and graphic novel market are down 12% in the first half of 2010, with comic books seeing a small 1% increase while graphic novel sales have dropped 20%. In 2009, the total market was $680 million dollars, with $370 million in graphic novel sales and $310 million in comics. The decline in graphic novel sales was particularly steep in bookstores, which experienced saw a 30% decline in sales, versus a 9% decline in traditional comic book stores.” [Hudson]
  • “The news was particularly dark for manga, which declined 9% in the first half of 2010, with an estimated 20% overall drop in 2010, making it likely that this will be the third bad year for manga sales in a row.” [Hudson]

  • “However on the digital side, (Milton) Griepp said that sales are up to $6-8 million in the US, a 1000% increase of the $500,000-$1 million business for 2009, estimated in his last white paper.” [MacDonald]

  • “People are shy about giving numbers of issues sold, though.” [Alverson]
  • “But even that sanguine statistic paled before the next session where Masaaki Shimizu, General Manager of International Business Strategy Division at Bitway ran down the statistics on the Japanese digital comics industry: $600 million a year. That’s US dollars.” [MacDonald]

  • “Doing things in the comic book industry has an element of cat herding,” said Diamond’s David Bowen. [Aoki]
  • “Publishers — both print and digital — are beginning to chafe against Apple and its restrictions for what you can charge and content. Apple never meant to be both a tech manufacturer and a content provider, said Ted Adams of IDW later in the day.” [MacDonald]

  • First Second’s Mark Siegel was able to sell the foreign language rights to Zahra’s Paradise, the online comic about the recent uprisings in Iran, and recouped the advance three chapters in. [Alverson]
  • Rantz Hoseley of Longbox stated that comics selling between 20¢ and a dollar were moving 20,000 units per day in Japan. “It’s accessible and it’s disposable-income priced. […] 10,000 copies at 20 cents is more money than most independent creators will see in a year.” [Alverson: one, two]
  • According to Bitway’s Masaaki Shimizu, the company is working with a multitide of Japanese publishers to create a digital manga portal which will include English-language content. [Aoki]
  • “The counterbalance of piracy is availability,” notes Ron Richards of Graphic.ly. [Alverson]
  • “Our e-circulation has gone up 140% since last year. The ebook market has really come of age,” said Alison Hendon of the Brooklyn Public Library. [Aoki]

While MacDonald, Hudson, Aoki and Alverson did the heavy lifting, the rest of the funnybook press were too busy being distracted by dual announcements from Marvel and DC concerning a rollback in the cost of comic books, from four bucks a copy to three. DC Comics’ announcement was fairly specific:

Beginning January 2011, DC Comics will implement a line-wide pricing adjustment, lowering the prices of all standard length 32-page ongoing comic book titles currently priced at $3.99 to $2.99, it was announced today by DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio.

By contrast, Marvel’s announcement was considerably more vague, and smacked of a last-minute “yeah, us too!” ploy. According to Kiel Phegley, “Marvel Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation David Gabriel confirmed that new books launching in January 2011 will not debut at $3.99.” Which could easily mean that, hey, the first issues of new books will henceforth be a dollar less expensive than the second issues! Likewise, the rationale offered for Marvel’s move — “because of the digital comics sales” — sounds less convincing in light of another statement from Gabriel, that weekly sales of comics on mobile devices have come close but not surpassed the weekly sales of funnybooks in Manhattan’s Midtown Comics. So Marvel’s digital sales can’t match those in a single (albeit major) comics shop, but they’re so good that prices! Can! Be! Slashed! Really? Did anyone from Marvel make a single, factually quantifiable statement at any point in yesterday’s conference? More to the point, why the move on DC’s part, and the attempt by Marvel to get their names in there, too? What spooked them? What are they seeing in the far-more-accurate-than-what-we-get sales data that Diamond hands them? Who knows? Apparently, none of the boys breathlessly reporting on the announcements bothered to ask.

For retailer commentary on the Big Two’s retreat from higher price points, we turn to Robert Scott, John Belskis and Mike Sterling.

 

Life in interesting times

  • Editorial cartoonist Matt Davies of New York’s Journal News is one of nine people being sued by Republican congressman Jim Russell, who claims that “they smeared his name and undermined his candidacy in the press and on television.”
  •  

  • In Malaysia, “cartoonist Zunar and online news portal Malaysiakini obtained leave Friday to challenge a Home Ministry ban on two comic books featuring the artist’s work.”
  •  

  • In Indiana, Marc V. Rowland was sentenced yesterday to 11 years in prison for allegedly attempting to break into Castle Comics and Cards in June 2009.
  •  


    From Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, ©2007 Bryan Lee O’Malley.

  • Scott Pilgrim volumes continued to dominate the BookScan estimates for graphic-novel sales in September, according to ICv2.
  •  

  • Demise Martin relates the cautionary tale of Andrew Peterson, an asipring comic-book artist who was ripped off by something called “Underdog Comics.”
  •  

  • Remember when a Muhammed-themed lecture by cartoonist Lars Vilk was interrupted by outraged Muslims, a few months back? Yeah, well, he finally got to complete the lecture.
  •  

  • Raighne and Meghan Hogan‘s difficulties in shipping comics via media mail continue.

 

Today’s Format WarsTM report

  • Johanna Draper Carlson notes a new digital initiative from Top Cow, involving an issue of Witchblade:

    The plan works this way: A retailer who’s agreed to participate (I’m emphasizing that for a reason — I’m not sure a lot of comic stores want to show their customers the value of digital comics) will give a customer who purchases this issue a download code, which will allow the buyer to download the same thing he just bought online through Wowio.

  •  

  • Webcartoonist Jason Brubaker throws back the curtain on how much his work earns, and how he earns it.

    (Link via Xaviar Xerexes.)

 

 

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Graphic NYC

 

Profiles

 

  • The Economist on Eadweard Muybridge

    There are any number of reasons to link to an essay on the 19th-century photographer in a comics blog, not the least of which being that his career was dedicated to the pioneering use of sequential images — among other things, he’s the man who proved that horses periodically had all four hooves off the ground when running — but there’s also the fact that his work makes for one of the best forms of reference to artists who want to draw the human figure.

    (Apologies for the run-on sentence.)

 

Also

 

Reviews

 

  • Joe McCulloch on Neonomicon #2


    Click image for full, even less safe-for-work sequence. ©2010 Alan Moore.

    “The most startling aspect of Neonomicon #2 isn’t that Moore presents another rape scene, it’s that (intentionally or not) he appears to be doubling down on criticisms of his presentations of rape. And it’s not just that Brears is set in the uneasy position of misreading the nature of her reference-heavy world as prelude to tragedy — it’s that the comic instills its six concluding pages of violence with a dispassion that teeters toward comedy.”

 

Also

 

Commentary

 

  • Joe Vince (one, two): Breaking into the Boys’ Club

    A two-part look at the current wave of kick-ass female cartoonists.

 

Also

 

Comics and Art

 

  • Hellen Jo: Jin & Jam #1


    ©2008 Hellen Jo.

    What Things Do really has been the gift that kept on giving this week, hasn’t it?

 

Also

 

Multimedia

 

  • Comics-related podcasts

    • This week’s episode of Inkstuds features a conversation with Vanessa Davis (64MB).
    • Mr. Media‘s Bob Andelman speaks with caricaturist Drew Friedman (5.6MB).
    • Brian Ralph falls into the Comix Claptrap (41.6MB).
    • Panel Borders spotlights chats with Paul O’Connell and Ben Templesmith (30MB).
    • The Anime 3000 podcast welcomes as guest Jason Thompson, former Shonen Jump editor and author of Manga: The Complete Guide (23.5MB).
    • This week on War Rocket Ajax: comics writer Brandon Jerwa (83.6MB).
    • Not enough? Then get your fill of commentary and criticism with House to Astonish (60.4MB) and Fourcast (30.5MB).

    All podcasts are in downloadable MP3 audiofile format.

 

Events Calendar

 

Today:

 

  • Oct. 8-10 (New York City, NY): The New York Comic Con takes place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on 34th Street. Details here.
  • Oct. 8 (New York City, NY): Drew Friedman will sign books as he celebrates the release of his new collection at Brooklyn’s own Desert Island on Metropolitan Avenue, from 7-9PM. Details here.
  • Oct. 8 (New York City, NY): I’ll be honest: I haven’t the slightest idea what’s going on at the Bowery Poetry Club from 7-10PM, but I do know that it involves Michael Kupperman, Emily Flake, R. Sikoryak and Anthony Lappé. Details here.

 

This Week:

 

  • Oct. 9 (Chestertown, MD): Join R. Crumb for an on-stage discussion of his art and career with illustrator Robbi Behr at the Prince Theatre on High Street, from 1-3PM. Details here.
  • Oct. 9 (San Francisco, CA): Beverly Gherman will discuss and sign copies of her new book Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz at the Cartoon Art Museum on Mission Street, from 1-3PM. Details here.
  • Oct. 9 (Seattle, WA): Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan will celebrate the launch of their new books at the Fantagraphics Bookstore on Vale Street, from 6-9PM. Details here.

 

Want to see your comics-related event listed here? Email a link to dirk@tcj.com and let me know. Please include an online link to which I can send people for more information. No sales-only events, please — it’s nice that you’ve marked things down at your store or website, but I won’t be listing it here. (Note: Under no circumstances will I link to a Facebook page. Seriously, what idiot “advertises” their event solely on a website that requires registration to see the advertisement?)

 

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