Comic Industry

The long debate/battle over creator vs publisher rights in the comic industry will probably always be a source for heated and visceral comments. Ones you can find in the strangest places. Like ESPN’s website. From Stan Lee (well an ESPN-related website called Grantland.)  What I can say is what Stan ‘The Man’ has to say is actually rather surprising, but also not surprising at all. In short while he’s always been rather flippant with the claims of ownership made be the estates of his former co-creators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko , he really just seems flippant on the whole topic.

“I’ve never been one of these people who worries about [that]. I should have been. I’d be wealthy now, if I had been. I always felt the publisher was the guy investing all his money, and I was working for the publisher, and whatever I did belonged to him. That was the way it was. And I was always treated well, I got a good salary. I was not a businessman. Now, a guy like Bob Kane, who did Batman — the minute he did Batman, he said, ‘I wanna own it,’ and signed a contract with DC. So he became reasonably wealthy. He was the only one who was smart enough to do that. Did you read that the check that Siegel and Shuster got for Superman — I think it was four hundred dollars, or two hundred dollars — just sold at auction for $140,000?”

“I murmur something what-a-world/you-never-know-ish. Then I ask him if he feels, in general, that the comic-book industry has been fair to comic-book creators.”

“I don’t know,” Stan says. “I haven’t had reason to think about it that much.” Five-second pause. “I think, if somebody creates something, and it becomes highly successful, whoever is reaping the rewards should let the person [who] created it share in it, certainly. But so much of it is — it goes beyond creating. A lot of people put something together, and nobody really knows who created it, they’re just working on it, y’know? But little by little, the artists and the writers now are a different breed than they were, and most of them, if they create anything new, they insist that they be part owners of it. Because they know what happened to Siegel and Shuster, and to me, and to people like that. I don’t think it’s a problem anymore. They make much more money than they used to make, when I was there. Proportionately.”

“Everybody thought that I was the only one that was getting paid off, but I never received any royalties from the characters. I made a good living, because I was the editor, the art director, and the head writer. So I got a nice salary. That was all I got. I was a salaried guy. But it was a good salary. And I was happy.”

Amazing, Stan really just dismisses the whole topic all the while still sounding like a damn nice guy at the exact same damn time. A nice guy that debatedly screwed over the legends like Jack Kirby, but still a nice guy.  The whole article is well worth a read, so you should.

Source: Comics Beat

Well, the headline really says it all. In one of the longest running creator/publisher bitchfests in the comic industry, Alan Moore has taken to the fans for the next move in the saga of The Watchmen.

“I have a huge respect for my audience. On the occasions when I meet them, they seem, I like to think, to be intelligent and scrupulous people. If people do want to go out and buy these Watchmen prequels, they would be doing me an enormous favor if they would just stop buying my other books. When I think of my audience, I like to have good thoughts and think about how lucky I am to have one that is as intelligent as mine and as moral as mine.”

Ok, that sounds kind of catty, doesn’t it? Sure the bad blood continues since DC Comics baffled a young Alan Moore with legalese and retained the rights to the seminal graphic novel of the modern age for a seemingly indefinite amount of time. He does have a right to be a bit pissy, but still.

As for the creators and supports of DC’s forthcoming return to the characters? He’s even pissier.

“It strikes me that, yes, I can understand why they took on Before Watchmen. It will probably be the only opportunity they get in their careers to actually be attached to a project that anybody outside of comics has ever heard of. So, I can see how that would be a great lure. I don’t think I would have done it, though, because to go down in history as the people who did the lame rewrites and prequels to Watchmen—well, that’s not for me. But, of course everybody has to make their own choices. So, no, obviously I won’t want anything to do with any of the people who are attached to this project at any point in the future, but that isn’t a huge loss.”

Yeow, he’s really handing out the comments here isn’t he. Sticks and stones Mr. Moore. Yes you were treated poorly buy the comic book publisher, but don’t pick on the new generation of creators that are trying to carve a name out for themselves. Pick on the publisher if you are going to toss out anymore hurtful statements.

“I know a way that they (DC Comics) could have sorted out their continuity. I could have gotten rid of all of their problems for them. It would have been really simple. But, like I say, they unfortunately alienated me.”

There, that’s better. Saying that you could have fixed all of the muddled continuity that DC has dealt with for the past 20 or more years but you won’t because they are all big corporate meanies is probably a better stance to take rather than asking us to not read your books. Now take your bat and your ball and go home.

Regardless of where you stand on Before Watchmen, it will be nice when the bitching ends. So, has Moores words inspired you to spend your money elsewhere? If a crazy bearded man threatened you with some large and ancient club to chose between a Moore book or any of the new Watchmen books, which way would you go? I ask, because sometimes I think Alan Moore is crazy and am certain he owns multiple ancient clubs.


Source: Blastr


Arguably the biggest story in comic circles these days is off the page and in the courts. When the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich, lost his case vs Marvel comics of the rights of the character the comic nerd rage started to grow. Marvels counter suit against the senior citizen (touched on earlier in AofNCW) to prevent him from saying he created the character and appearing at conventions as such and profiting from the sale of merchandise. Oh yea, and it also came to the tune of $17,000 dollars.

Is the hose of ideas hurting that bad for money that they demand a cheque from a reportedly penniless man who’s only source of income is selling sketches of the character he created? Marvels Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and Publisher Dan Buckley told Comic Book Resources that its totally not what it looks like. Quesada hits on the $17k first.

“First and foremost, Marvel has not settled with Gary. What has been misinterpreted as a settlement is a court document that Gary’s very own attorneys agreed to, along with Marvel’s attorneys. That document basically ends his lawsuit against Marvel at the trial court level with Marvel having won and Gary’s case dismissed. By agreeing on a number for the profits Gary made from selling unlicensed Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider merchandise after the court has decided that Marvel is the owner of that copyright, it allows Gary’s attorneys to file his appeal now rather than have Gary litigate further. It is in no way a ‘fine’ or ‘punishment’ for Gary. It is something that the court asked both parties to do and agree upon. This is one more step in an expensive and time-consuming legal process initiated way back in 2007.”

What about blocking creators and artists from selling commissions at cons, a nasty precedent that seems draconian at best? Buckley tries to smooth that over.

“We in no way want to interfere with creators at conventions who are providing a positive Marvel experience for our fans. We want fans to speak and interact with the creators who wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, colored or edited their favorite stories. Part of that positive interaction is that a fan can walk away with a signed memento or personalized sketch from an artist.”

Call it being honest or just conducting damage control, hopefully Marvel’s more official statements start to sooth a very ugly situation. The perception that it’s big business trying to squeeze a retired creator for pennies is not doing them any favors and perpetuating the perception that the industry is hostile to creator rights.

One thing to note, Quesada did mention that Friedrich is not completely without a safety net. The Hero Initiative, a non-profit that raises money to help comic creators in need of financial assistance, had been contacted. Quesada is a board member of the nonprofit and said this:

“…when all of this Ghost Rider stuff broke, I immediately checked with Hero’s President, Jim McLauchlin, to see if Gary was in need of assistance, and Jim informed me that up until that point Gary had not applied for any. My understanding is that Hero has since been in touch.”

Is it cool if I editorialize here a little? I’m still not buying it. This is not directed at Quesada or Buckley personally, but towards the faceless business that it is. You’re an asshole. While things are ‘better’ for creator rights these days, they are still far from perfect and if the industry is to survive and thrive you have protect your main commodity, and that’s not the charcter, but the ones that make funny pictures and fill the word balloons.

If you would like to help Gary Friedrich, you may do so here.

Source: CBR

Wow, the internet is not going to be happy today. They did it, those damn  maniacs did it. They blew it… I mean they officially announced the Watchmen prequels. They being DC Comics and Watchmen prequels being a soul shattering money grab. Officially called Before Watchmen, seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original and have a back-up story called Curse of the Crimson Corsair, written by original series editor Len Wein and with art by original series colorist John Higgins. There will also be a single issue, Before Watchmen: Epilogue, featuring the work of various writers and artists.

“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”

It’s also going to polarize the comic book community into those that think its a bad idea and those that think its a terrible idea. Wait, maybe I am being to harsh… Maybe this will lead to some great story telling by some fantastic creative teams that expands on the already classic book. DC Comics is betting one pretty damn big maybe here because the nerdrage is already flaming up various parts of the internet.

Seven comics that will follow the same pattern as Seven Soldiers did with  new issue out every week of its run. Here’s the rundown:

Rorschach by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo

Comedian by Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones 

Minutemen by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke

Silk Spectre by Cooke and artist Amanda Conner 

Nite Owl by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Joe and Andy Kubert

Dr. Manhattan by Straczynski and artist J.G. Jones

Ozymandias by writer and original Watchmen editor Len Wein with art by Jae Lee

You have to admit, that is a rather impressive line-up DC has set up to pull this off. Clearly they know they are in an uphill battle so they brought out some big guns and I do wish nothing but good luck for them, they are going to need it.

The artist from the original classic Dave Gibbons gave a rather diplomatic response, “The original series of ‘Watchmen’ is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire.

Alan Moore is yet to comment on this announcement, but he has previously said that it is “completely shameless” and “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago”, (oooh BURN!) that the series is a reminder of “draconian contracts” he signed with DC and that “I don’t want money. What I want is for this not to happen… As far as I know, there weren’t that many prequels or sequels to ‘Moby-Dick.’” Ouch, caps with a literary classic burn, Well done Mr. Moore.

You can hit the jump to see the released images for Before Watchmen and sound off/vent/rage in the comments.


Attack Of The New Comics Wednesday: 01/11/2012

Welcome back to the comic racks everyone. Yes a whole new week of pulls to run through and time well wasted at your local comic store. From the conversations around the stacks today, it looks like the big story of the week is not about this week, but rather the last 52, and how the new 52 didn’t quite do it. Diamond Distributors has released the overall sales states for 2011 (that is purchased by comics shops and not necessarily resold to customers), and it looks like another year for Marvel at the top spot. With a market share of 37.29% and unit share of 40.93% Marvel was well above DC Comics 31.41% market and 36.77 unit. The mathematicians out there can already guess that leaves the independents with the scraps, Image Comics ranked third (5.27% and 4.71%), followed by a virtually tied Dark Horse (4.71% – 3.35%) and IDW Publishing (4.73% – 3.78%).

DC’s New 52 did pay off in one area though, locking in 9 of the top selling books of the year. Justice League #1 came out as the years top seller to the surprise of no one, with Batman #1, Action #1, Justice League #2 and Batman #2 to round out the top 5. Marvels only top ten appearance came with Ultimate Comics Spider-man 160 at number 6, so Peter Parkers death counted for something. The rest of the top 10 were Green Lantern #1, Justice League #3, Action #2 and finally Detective Comics #1. The smaller companies got some love too, top selling trade? Another no brainer. Image’s The Walking Dead walked (shambled) away with the top seller, no doubt due to the hit TV show on AMC

Ok, before the this game of shouting numbers carries on to much longer, here is the really good news, comic sales are up, way up. Single issue sales were up 3 million over 2010′s, bringing total comic sales to 72.13 million units sold. What’s that mean for us the reader? If the industry is stronger we get a better product, right? If you want more coverage of the sales figures check out Newsarama and Comics Alliances coverage., they are the experts, I’m just a dude that loves reading comics, speaking of which… let’s read some, damn it.

This week in the stands, I found my wanting a little, it was a light shipping week I guess however it did come with a few high points. The easy grab for Marvel was The Scarlet Spider #1, spining out of the events of this summer’s Spider Island arc and desperately trying to make the whole clone saga matter, this I have to read…  The one that got away? Damn it, I could not find a copy of  Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand, by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, the main character is called Lobster Johnson, it’s by Mike Mignola, I must read this! Dark Horse kicks off Dark Matter, which is basically “Terminator” on a spaceship, alright, I’ll bite. From Image, Whispers, yes another crack at the horror comic genre. That really just leaves DC Comics, should I? Could I? Yes, I think it’s time to pick up another one of my least liked from the relaunch, it’s time to revisit The Suicide Squad, so someone tell Harly Quinn to put some pants on.

Your fast and dirty reviews start after the jump.


Attack Of The New Comics Wednesday: 11-09-2011

My usual Wednesday trip to my local comic store is impossible this week as I’ve been on the couch recovering from a minor surgery to a very tender and major part of my body (guess what it is and win a prize!) So it’s off to the new and exciting world of same day digital comics for me!

I have downloaded digital comics in the past, picking up mass amounts of back issues when they have a sale, sitting in airports bored and looking to spend money or just wanting to buy comic books without having to bother with pants. Seeing as just about every electronic device I own can display digital comics (come on microwave and coffee maker, pick up your game) this should be easy, right?

Maybe not.

Just a couple of quick thoughts on the current state of comic industry going digital. The slew of Comixology apps are still rather clumsy and while I like how I buy a comic once and can read it on any device, why do I have to download it on each one? Is it not possible to just stream the data? As I sat on the couch with my new best friend, a bag of frozen peas (oh, a clue to what the surgery could have been) I got a little frustrated having to wait for each one of them to download. Add in the fact that while I like my iPad, call me old fashioned but it’s never going to replace the joy of reading a comic on paper or killing 20 minutes to an hour in a comic store.

So lets get to the books, up ahead its Marvels big tease for 2012, we check in with the new Spider-Man that had people who never read a comic all up in arms, the latest issue of Green Lantern and we’re off to Cuba for spies and espionage.


DC’s New 52 Tops Marvel Again

In the comic book publishing game Marvel has been the undisputed sales leader since the early 90’s with DC always settling for 2nd place. Take for example March of this year, Diamond Comic Distributors reported that 45% of comics bought were Marvel while DC checked in at a paltry 31.5%.

Then Dan DiDio and Jim Lee (DC Comics c0-publishers) hit the big old reset button and launched the New 52, all new number ones and a ‘fresh’ continuity. Was it a ploy to boost sales? Hell yea, everyone knows first issues sell. Nerds everywhere buy 3 copies, one to read, one to pay for their kids college and one to flip into a house boat when they retire. DC walked away with  43% of the direct comics market in September to Marvel’s 38%. No one was surprised.

Obviously October would balance out, right? Fewer people would buy DC’s number 2’s, Marvel will fire back with a couple of its core titles relaunching at number one and the status quo would return, right?


More than one in every two comics sold by Diamond Distributors was a DC comic.

DC Comics secured 50.97% of sales to Marvel’s 20.29%, including seven of the top stops. The top six comics for October were Justice League, Batman, Action Comics, Green Lantern, Flash and Detective Comics with Marvel’s own relaunches of Hulk and X-Men coming in at 7th and 8th respectively. Overall comics sales are up too.  From September to October sales are up just shy of 7% and compared to this time last year? An astonishing 30% In just one year, comics sales have risen by a third.

At the risk of inflating Mr. DiDio and Lee’s egos a little more, DAMN DC you did good. You don’t have to be a market specialist to see that the New 52 and its plan to boost not only DC’s sales but the industry as a whole seems to be working. These new sales are not so much at the expense of the other publishers, they are the new and lapsed readers that the whole scheme was meant to rope back in and increasing the regular readers monthly purchase. The industry just might be turning back its downward trend.

Hopefully that is the case.

So whats next? DC Comics is going to have to work to maintain this lead, personally I have already started to trim a few titles. Marvel is going to have to do something, they done well maintaining the same continuity throughout the publishers history, relying mainly on small retcons and stunts like ‘Heroes Reborn’ or offshoot continuities like the Ultimate brand – think this might force them into their own reboot?

source: Bleeding Cool