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July 24, 2011

Bundled, Tossed, Untied And Stacked: CCI 2011 Edition


Comic-Con International remains the biggest comics of the year for North American publishers. What follows is a catalog of major publishing news announcement either made at the convention itself or made somewhere else close to CCI's place on the calendar. It will run through Monday.

CCI Related Or CCI-Proximate Publishing News: Early Sunday AM

* Fantagraphics announced it has acquired rights to the William Gaines library. They'll be doing four books of EC Comics material a year starting in 2012, in black and white, organized by artist. The first four books will feature Harvey Kurtzman's war comics, Wally Wood's suspense comics, Al Williamson's science fiction and Jack Davis' horror. Gary Groth is editing the series and Jacob Covey will design.

image* The other big news announced at the Fantagraphics panel is that they'll be publishing a two-volume slip-cased Complete Zap Comics, which will encompass all 16 issues to date, approximately 515 pages. The work will include an oral history of the flagship underground comix title.

* Legendary announced a Paul Pope art book, Pulphope, for this Fall, and a Matt Wagner supernatural action-adventure project called The Tower Chronicles at their panel.

* On yet another panel, Image Comics announced a series of Robert Kirkman/Charlie Adlard stand-alone volumes called Album, a pair of Jonathan Hickman projects including one about the creation of the Atomic Bomb, a science-fiction series by Brian K. Vaughan called Saga, a short series based on TV's MacGyver character of all things, Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss 2. Robert Kirkman has what seems like a staggering amount of work on his plate right now, although he's never struck me as a creator that would plan himself into a corner production-wise. Vaughan interviewed here.

* DC/Vertigo will publish a spin-off of the Fables series called Fairest. Story arcs will focus on the adventures of various female characters from the Fables comic. Bill Willingham will write the first one.

* please oh please let it be Jughead.

* Marvel announced the return of its Cable character -- he can't have been gone very long -- and more of the .1 "jumping-on point" comics.

* This is more of a publishing side note than it is a publishing news story, but D+Q selling 300 special CCI editions of Kate Beaton's forthcoming Hark! A Vagrant in nine hours speaks well to how that book might do this Fall.

* According to a post at Daily Cartoonist, Tom Richmond is self-publishing a book called The Mad Art Of Caricature!.

CCI Related Or CCI-Proximate Publishing News: Early Saturday AM

* Top Shelf announced a major digital comics initiative, making over 70 of the books in its library available through iVerse.

* Two huge on-line manga stories may clinch this CCI as the Year Of Digital Comics Announcements. Viz launched its Viz Manga site, I believe in conjunction with an anniversary party; a group of Japanese publishers discussed their JManga effort at a panel devoted to same. I have no idea if either of these ventures will be successful. Strangely, you can make a case either way based on the thriving on-line piracy of such material. On the one hand, piracy has shown that consumers will indeed process this material on-line; on the other hand, paying for such material on-line as is the case with at least the Viz effort is an entirely different process. Heck, you can even make the case that piracy will have little to do with either effort, and I bet those involved will even make that case so as to duck the issue entirely. One thing both efforts seem is overdue, and I worry with some of these efforts that there's a confidence in certain models that hasn't had a chance to play itself out in the marketplace in an earlier form.

image* The stalwart Vertigo series Scalped will apparently end with issue #60. Congratulations to its creators on a long and successful run. The end of this series along with the previously announced cessation of Northlanders makes Vertigo a slightly less diverse group of series, which I think is too bad.

* Dark Horse joined in the Big Digital Announcements Festival by revealing at its panel that its vast library of Star Wars comics will now be available through their various digital publishing initiatives. This includes new work.

* Dark Horse also announced a new edition of Jim Steranko's Red Tide, which was initially issued a whopping 35 years ago, and a Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson serial set to start in Dark Horse Presents #8.

* Today's IDW future Artist's Edition announcement: The Spirit.

* Comics Alliance is among those that has a report up on the second DC panel devoted to its forthcoming relaunch, which provides some background on the big publishing news in terms of when and how the venture developed. Tracing it back to October 2010 makes it seem less like a crazy, desperation move, although at the same time it makes some of the early rumblings of how it's being executed (creative team changes; a push to get material in; some of the creators involved generally) a bit more curious for having that long ramp-up period.

* this may be publishing news only at my house, but this is a new Perry Bible Fellowship strip, right?

* So I leave for a few weeks and I come back and First Comics has returned. (I had Harrier in the pool.) They were apparently already selling four books at the show, and announced old and new Ms. Tree material from Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. I know that most material that can be re-released will be re-released given the continuing richness of the trade paperback market and its generally low entry point, and I further realize that such a company's reformation serves as an organizing principle for that kind of thing as well as providing an opportunity to re-present certain properties to potential filmmakers. Still, it's hard for me to imagine something that First itself brought to the overall publishing market that would provide a compelling raison d'etre in this endeavor, although I'm sure its backers are very enthusiastic and the name may still have some power for a certain generation of comics fans.

CCI-Related Or CCI-Proximate Publishing News: Early Friday AM

* Drawn And Quarterly announced a new Guy Delisle book for 2012, called Jerusalem: Chronicles From The Holy City.

image* Abrams announced The Art Of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist by Alvin Buenaventura for next Spring.

* Marvel announced that several of their major titles will be available in digital form the same day as they hit comic shops, a program they'll phase in by the end of the year. The hobby business news and analysis site has details. I asked Direct Market retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs about the move when it first started popping up on sites and he responded, "I remain to be convinced that huge flocks of new customers would have been buying comics, if only they had been Day-and-Date digital -- I think the far more likely outcome is, instead, that some percentage of current customers will migrate channels, leaving mainstream comics with essentially the same-sized audience, just less profitable, as current print circulations are barely profitable as they are. Having said that, I think that the report of this plan (if accurate), with a slower phase-in, is the smarter way to do it."

* It's not really publishing news in any way, shape or form, but the imminence of this book makes me happy.

* Pages from Frank Miller's forthcoming Legendary effort Holy Terror began to show up in the comics press in conjunction with the show.

* I whiffed on noting another con lead-in announcement, this one from Dark Horse Comics: the return of Bob Burden's Mysterymen and related comics.

* I'm not familiar enough with Vertigo's output to know if any of the stuff discussed at their panel constitutes publishing news or not, but I imagine if you're a fan there will be bits and pieces of stuff you'll want to hear about. In other DC news, they announced the return of their version of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, although I'm a bit lost as to who might actually be buying that material. There will apparently be a third Perdition graphic novel. I couldn't find anything worth reporting from this panel devoted to DC's forthcoming soft relaunch, although it's always odd when a convention panel to get people excited about forthcoming comics comes across -- at least in the reports I've seen -- as defensive and slightly hostile. Also, if you're doing what many perceive as expensive digital downloads as part of a major publishing initiative, someone should probably have a public answer as to why they can't be cheaper.

* IDW announced another worthy "Artist's Edition" subject: John Romita. They'll also be reviving The Crow and Popeye. That's two different titles, by the way, although I'd be first in line for The Crow & Popeye.

* Archaia has announced an all-ages title at the show, Cow Boy from Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos. That's due next March. You can read a preview here. You can read about the announcement from Cosby's perspective here.

CCI-Related Or CCI-Proximate Publishing News: Early Thursday AM

* On Tuesday, Publishers Weekly announced that cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley has signed with Villard to publish a new series/book/probably-book called Seconds. Little information is available beyond that it will be published in 2013, it will be edited by Ryan Doherty and that Judith Hansen acted as O'Malley's representative on the deal. O'Malley is of course best known for his runaway series success Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, which sold over one million books total.

image* If I'm correct in my assumption that this site is in the outermost concentric circle of press sites that receive press from the company, DC Comics has three semi-sizable announcements heading into the show. One is the launch of its Android app; another is details from its Superman re-launch; yet another is a Vertigo anthology. That Superman re-launch looks and sounds hideously awful to me despite its creators' pedigrees. Granted, I can't tell you how much of my critical reaction is the repugnant idea brought into play that this is all being done for DC to salvage something if/when the Siegel and Shuster cases finally -- and against DC's efforts -- resolve themselves.

* Another pre-CCI announcement I think designed to take advantage of keen, pre-CCI press awareness and to set a tone for the weekend was Marvel's announcement of a "Season One" graphic novel line, re-telling various classic Marvel stories with new creative teams. That sample looks dire to me, and the general idea doesn't seem to me a good one, and I think these companies lose something when they don't drive new readers to older material in a way that potentially broadens their taste beyond the right-now way of doing comics, but I suppose it's all in the execution of the books themselves. I also have to imagine the primary being-thought-of audience for such books is on-line.

* Image partner Robert Kirkman's new series also profiled in USA Today in a "lead up to the big show" way, Thief Of Thieves, will use a writer's room approach to its creative teams. Passing off a book to another writer for a while while maintaining general creative control has been done informally in comics before, and even more formally I think with the last round of Joss Whedon books.

* IDW announced a bunch of stuff in the days leading up to the show. The one that sticks out enough to mention it this morning is a Wednesday announcement about its next "Artist's Edition" book subject: Wally Wood. The other books in the series featured Dave Stevens and Walt Simonson. That one's due in October.


photo of books displayed at the 2010 CCI; Victor Moscoso in Zap; art from Scalped; cover to The Art Of Daniel Clowes; panel from forthcoming Superman effort

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