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Author Archive for Mark Allen Haverty

Taking Tonto Out Of “The Lone Ranger And Tonto”

Dynamite Entertainment’s The Lone Ranger, Volume II, #1 went on sale today. As far as Lone Ranger stories go, it was a solid first issue for writer Ande Parks, boiling down the basics of the character in a minimal amount of space – not too much for the people that know who he is and not too little for those without a clue – and the artwork from Esteve Polls serves the script well.

And, you can probably sense the “but” coming here, so here it is – where’s Tonto?

Part of the genius of the Joe Lansdale/Tim Truman miniseries from Topps Comics was their use of Tonto, not as sidekick but as equal partner. He even shared co-billing, with the title being The Lone Ranger and Tonto. A 2008 miniseries from Dynamite used the same title, yet this series opens with just the Lone Ranger in the title.

This gave me the feeling that Tonto would be downplayed heading into the series, and in the first issue that is largely accurate. Sure, he makes a couple of appearances, but he is tangential at best to the story, outside of the critical role that he plays in the origin. When masked gunmen trap a family inside a burning house, the Lone Ranger charges into action. The Lone Ranger disarms them all, ending the threat. Tonto’s lone bit of action is a sucker punch from the shadows as one of the gunmen flees, which of course means that Tonto did not even get close to the action.

There are large chucks of pages in-between Tonto appearances, and he is clearly in sidekick mode rather than as someone on equal footing. In terms of just dialogue, Tonto has only fourteen words in the issue, none past the third page of the story, his one speaking scene. He also appears on just eight pages, and three of those are one-panel appearances with Tonto just standing there, doing nothing.

In the 1950s, Dell gave Tonto his own series, titled The Lone Ranger’s Companion Tonto. That is exactly how Tonto felt here, as a companion and not a partner.

Why does Tonto matter? Firstly, without a strong Tonto, the Lone Ranger simply isn’t that interesting. How can there be any sort of meaningful character development with no one for him to play off of? The Tonto we saw in the first issue certainly did not fill that bill.

Secondly, and more importantly, a weak Tonto plays into all of the stereotypes that plagued the character when he was first introduced. While Tonto might not have spoken in the pidgin that the character spoke in during the 1950s, he also had nothing meaningful to say, and one can easily see the Lone Ranger’s reply as being somewhat condescending. Despite the Lone Ranger likely not being alive without Tonto having rescued him, he takes on an air of superiority around Tonto, one that Tonto does not push back against. The White Man is always the superior man.

Compare this to the Tonto from the Lansdale/Truman series, where he sniped at the Lone Ranger, “Of course, Kemosabe. Maybe when we talked I should use that ‘me Tonto’ stuff, way they write about me in the dime novels. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

I hope that I am wrong here, that the interpretation of Tonto in this series is stronger in later issues, as a strong, independent Tonto makes for much more interesting reading. If that happens, I will be there, and I will be the first to praise it. Until then, though, there’s a big hole in a series that has potential.


Just How Noir Is Brubaker And Guice’s Winter Soldier #1?

Just one day before the release of Ed Brubaker‘s creator-owned Fatale from Image, Marvel makes sure to remind everyone that CM Punk’s favorite writer is still in their ranks too, with the release of the cover and first three pages of Winter Soldier #1, coming out this February from him and artist Butch Guice.

And just like Fatale, it’s all a bit noir. But how can we tell? Okay, so we need some kind of gambling reference, casino, risk, slightly dubious company and an amount of nudity to suggest there may be sex in the offing. Maybe some lipstiuck being applied, unless you think that’s just too much,

You don’t? Excellent. Okay, well we’ve got the gambling, we’ve got the sex, now we need some violence. Specific violence as well, none of your Saturday morning cartoon knock-them-down-without-injury, we need bruising and believable blood, extracted ruthlessly, all under a blue lighting scheme.

Job done. Well almost, We’re still missing an enegmatic smile from someone in a dark haired bob, heavy on the eye makeup and one of those perfect noses that you’d fall in love with, while all the other fanboys are looking at blondes with big tits. She could even look French.

Of course this is a comic, so there must also be some unrealistic fighting poses from the lady in question. Just to make sure no one thinks we’re gay.

And we’re out, Winter Soldier #1, published by Marvel, tomorrow. Maybe other pages will show scenes under streetlights, smoking in alleyways and light coming through office blinds.


Meet Nicholas Mowdy, AKA Snickers19510, An Aspiring Artist, Rob Granito-Style

Using the name Snickers19510 over on Etsy, an “artist” named Nicholas Mowdy has some amazing artwork for sale at dirt cheap prices. For example, there’s this awesome rendition of Superman and Batman that he has posted for sale for only $20.

Hmm… that looks awfully familiar. Almost like this:

Francis Manapul noticed too, tweeting late Friday,

This guy is claiming he drew this and is selling prints. It’s hilarious that he can’t even get the media I use correct.

Maybe this is a one-off though, and he’s not doing the full Granito, right?

Nope.

We have this sketch of Bane and Batman that looks pretty sweet.

However, it looked a lot better on Zenescope Entertainment artist Marcio Abreu‘s deviantART page.

Then there is this Joker piece.

That happens to come from deviantART user j0kersWILD.

There’s this “twisted” Pocahontas piece he has up for sale.

That comes from this page, looking at “Twisted Disney Princesses.” Nick did not even bother to remove the stylized Pocahontas logo in the upper left.

I have had to use Google Cache for all of the above links as, when I began to originally write this, Nick’s etsy store was shut down by etsy by around approximately 1:30 AM Eastern Time, thanks to the fan outrage triggered by Francis’ first twitter post.

It became obvious that there was nothing original about Nick artistically, but what is even more amazing is that even his artist “statement” is even plagiarized. Here is what Nick has to say about why he is an “artist”:

“Drawing is my key to serenity, my version of free therapy, my looking glass.”I don’t set out to produce art about one subject or another. I’m never without a sketchbook in hand so I am constantly drawing and sometimes the drawings are left in the sketchbook and other times they develop into more in-depth ideas and detailed images.

My artwork takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues. In my work, I deconstruct the American dream, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and lullabies that are part of our childhood and adult culture. Having engaged subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, southern rock music and modernist architecture, my work reproduces familiar visual signs, arranging them into new conceptually layered pieces.

Growing up I was big on graffiti. As I grew older it turned in to tattoo work. I love working with people with their ideas on what they would like to see or put on their body. The way art is never the same and constantly changed is amazing to me. The way that there are no limits, and can create anything is what fuels me to keep drawing.

Influences

My influences are first and foremost everything I see, feel and experience, but I’ve always loved comic books particularly work by Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb. I love architecture particularly Art Deco. The artists I most admire are John Martin, a mezzotint artist from the 1800′s, Winsor McCay a cartoonist and animator who created Little Nemo, Escher and Lyonel Feininger creator of Kinder Kids.

Now, here are the original sources for that statement.

I don’t set out to produce art about one subject or another. I’m never without a sketchbook to hand so I am constantly drawing and sometimes the drawings are left in the sketchbook and other times they develop into more in-depth ideas and detailed images.

This comes from “Martin Langford” and his sample artist statement on ArtStudy.org. In fairness to Nick, that paragraph gets swiped all over the place online.

The third paragraph comes from the same sample page, this time from “Jonathan H. Dough,” but his piece on graffiti (which, by the way, is also illegal, but Nick doesn’t sweat those details) is all his. He went right back to swiping from the sample however for his influences, which of course look nothing at all like the art he has stolen.

While etsy has closed Nick’s shop, his profile still exists there, and he can also be found still on Twitter, but he has not responded to any of the criticism. His most recent posts come from two days ago, immediately before the controversy broke, and include the following:

Grabbing some pencils and paper…let’s see what comes out today

Throwing some serious art down…I will be an artist somewhere!! I won’t let them turn me away!!

While the incident was short-lived, the comic industry is dominated by those with long memories, so while Nick might not “let” people turn him away, he has supplied them with all the reasons to do so.


History Lessons With Peter Sanderson

It sounds like a dream job – getting paid to read comics and take notes. Very few ever get such a chance. Peter Sanderson did, twice, first working as a research assistant for DC for a little project that turned into Crisis on Infinite Earths. From there, he would move over to Marvel, where he became Marvel’s first, and to date only, official archivist. Peter can now be found at the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art in New York or in bookstores, where he has multiple books on the history of comics, along with an upcoming book that he can’t talk about yet, but we’ll be sure to cover it, and speak with Peter, when he can.

Until then, Peter and I have had the chance to chat about his tenure with DC and Marvel, starting first with DC.

In preparation for Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC hired you to read all of the comics they had published to that date for research. How does one get hired for such a position?

Len Wein and Marv Wolfman asked me to do research for them by reading through all the comics relating to DC Universe continuity in the DC library. They knew me through the letters I’d written to letter columns in comics they wrote (such as Marv’s Tomb of Dracula) and we had met at comic conventions in New York City. Obviously I only had to read DC comics dealing with DC Universe continuity. I didn’t have to read through Bob Hope or Jerry Lewis or The Fox and the Crow!

Did you know from the beginning what the research was being used for – Crisis – or was it more vague?

Originally the research was to be used for a project called The History of the DC Universe. I don’t recall when I found out about Crisis. By that point I’d moved on to working at Marvel. Marv Wolfman and George Pérez eventually did a History of the DC Universe in 1986, following Crisis. You’d have to ask Marv how much he relied on my research to write History. Certainly I used the research I had done as one of the writers of DC’s original Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, which ran from 1984 to 1987.

How long did that take you to read through everything?

It took a year, with my spending three days a week at the DC library. Marv and Len originally assumed it would take only three months, but that underestimated how long it would take to read through a half century of DC Comics! At the three-month point, I think, Len took a look at the notes I was compiling and said I was doing them correctly. So it wasn’t that I was slow; it was that there was so much material to go through. I think there were three different librarians during the time it took me to do the research—two women and one man!

Was there anything that truly surprised you along the way?

In terms of continuity, I don’t think so. I was already knowledgeable about DC Universe history and aware of various supposed problems (like multiple versions of Atlantis, multiple future timelines, the various alternate Earths). Of course it was a comics fan’s dream come true to get to read through all of these stories I’d never read before, especially the wealth of Golden Age material. I suppose one of the biggest surprises was discovering how many characters and series there were in DC’s Golden Age, not just super heroes but in other genres as well, like “The Black Pirate.” It was also something of a surprise that so much of the Golden Age material was not good by contemporary standards, either in terms of writing or art. Nonetheless, it was wonderful to discover the gems in DC comics going back to the mid-1930s. It was a surprise to find the vintage material that was really good, and often little known, like early series by “Superman” creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster such as “Doctor Occult” in More Fun Comics and “Slam Bradley” and “Spy” in Detective Comics. It was also a surprise to me to see how many Golden Age artists were seemingly influenced by leading comic strip artists of the time, most notably Flash Gordon’s Alex Raymond.

What areas did you find most daunting in untangling DC’s continuity?

That wasn’t my problem. I was just researching the stories. It was up to Marv and Len and DC to untangle continuity. Of course what Marv did in Crisis was to get rid of the parallel Earths like Earth-2, and to establish only one future timeline. So the Justice Society and Captain Marvel were now on the same Earth as the modern DC Universe super heroes. Crisis also got rid of the Kamandi/OMAC future timeline; now the DC Universe’s only future timeline was the one that led to the Legion of Super-Heroes’ 30th century. Of course, recent DC comics have brought back the multiverse and undone most of the changes in continuity that Crisis on Infinite Earths accomplished!

On the other hand, I did have freedom to untangle continuity when I was writing entries for the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Editor Mark Gruenwald would have to approve what I wrote, but we thought alike on these matters, and I think he always approved of solutions I found to resolve continuity tangles. I also made a point of consulting the then-current writers of series, like Chris Claremont on X-Men and Frank Miller on Daredevil, when writing entries about their characters.

Next week, Peter and I will open 2012 with a discussion of his role at Marvel, followed by his work with the Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art.


Bryan Hitch Announces The End Of “An Amazing Decade At Marvel”

Bryan Hitch has been counting down for a while now, with lots of speculation as to what the countdown might be for. In covering the countdown, Rich wondered if the countdown was to, “News that he’s going fully independent from Marvel?”

Hitch himself confirmed that this is indeed the case, as he tweeted earlier today that,

In two days time, an amazing decade at Marvel closes for me. What a wonderful time to have joined the party. Very proud and honoured.

He has not said yet what his plans are for the future, only that,

So naturally new horizons beckon. Boy ate they something. See you there.

The “Boy ate they something” is clearly a hint to something, which has led Ethan Van Sciver to post some speculation of his own, as he has commented,

Now look, I don’t know ANYTHING. I keep my eyes on my own paper and don’t ask for info about other stuff DC is doing unless I think I want it. But gee. This line is weird: “Boy Ate They Something.” B.A.T.S. (don’t know why “ain’t” is “ate”, but whatever.) It would be nice to have Bryan over here drawing Batman, yes?

When will we know what Hitch’s plans are? Tuesday, January 3.

Too many to respond to individually but a massive thank you to all. Trust me. BIG is coming. FIVE DAYS.

So, save the date to see if Ethan is right and this is Hitch’s future.


Shop Talk – Batman Incorporated, New 52 Fourth Printings, And More Uncanny X-Force

The holidays certainly threw things a little out of whack when it comes to last week’s new books, but here are some of the books we talked about with retailers, from books shipped December 21, 2011.

We start off with Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! This one-shot had a few things working against it right out of the gate. There was the fact that it was a late arriving conclusion to a series that has now been canceled for months; that, because of this lateness, it is part of the old, pre-New 52 continuity; and, most importantly in a crappy economy, it has a $6.99 cover price. With all of those strikes against it, how did it actually stand up when it hit the racks?

“Anyone reading Batman Incorporated before stayed on board as they wanted to see how the story ends,” Jay Bardyla, owner of Edmonton’s Happy Harbor Comics, tells us. “So sales were strong, as any Morrison book tends to be.” It was a similar situation at Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire, where owner Ralph DiBernardo tells us, “Even with the higher cover price I ordered this in line with my Batman Incorporated numbers and was not disappointed.  While it was not New 52 contiguous, people that were reading Batman Incorporated were happy to continue the run.” As such, he reports that there were, “solid sales that fell in line with previous sales and my expectations!” And at Comic Cellar in Memphis, neither one of the concerns I posit was an issue, according to store owner Jason Prince: “I sold through quickly even at the high price point. I didn’t see any resistance to the continuity; I didn’t even hear one complaint about the price.”

Others though were less positive, with sticker shock having been a big issue. “Bad timing played into some tough sales, putting a $6.99 book on the shelf four days before Christmas when many customers were trying to snap up last minute Christmas presents, regardless of how much content it provided,” Stephen Mayer, assistant manager at Greensboro, North Carolina’s ACME Comics tells us. At Crazy Scondo’s in Queens, New York, owner John Scandalios agreed, telling us that he had, “Disappointing sales as the $6.99 cover price certainly hurt. I guess DC thought they could get away with a high quality print book since Marvel did well with a cheap staple-bound 100-page Fantastic Four #600 for $7.99. The biggest difference was that Fantastic Four #600 sold out in the first week and was reordered by me while Leviathan sold less than half of what I ordered.”

After last week’s big Uncanny X-Force #18, I followed up with retailers to see if the momentum carried over into issue 19. It has at Kingdom Comics in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, where shop owner Stan Daniel tells us that, “Uncanny X-Force has great numbers that have been increasing with each issue of the Dark Angel Saga,” and Dave Kruseski reports a similar effect at Heroes Comics and Cards in Norwalk, Connecticut. Down under, at Sydney’s Kings Comics, we were told that, “This polybagged #18 issue did see a slight spike in sales, but we still had copies on our shelves a week later when issue #19 was released,” but this was not for a lack of sales, as, “Uncanny X-Force is our best and most consistent selling X-book. It may be our best-selling Marvel title, full stop. It’s been consistently good from the get-go: great writing, great art, great mix of characters, it’s all there.”

There was some concern expressed by a few retailers, however, that the bagging of the last issue and the multiple issues in a month could backfire and turn away readers. However, there is no concern in terms of the quality of the story, with one retailer, Geoffrey Patterson of Geoffrey’s Comics in Gardenia, California, going so far as to say, “If Stan Lee and Jim Steranko were born 60 years later, this is the comic they would be making.”

Lastly, despite the New 52 winding down its fourth month, we are still seeing printings of first issues arriving in stores. This past week brought the fourth printing of Detective Comics #1, so I asked retailers if these were really needed, or if we were reaching a point of overkill. For Bret Parks of Winston-Salem’s Ssalefish, it was the former, as, “hey were needed here. Readers do not care about the printing and we have a small number of collectors who get all printings.” Dave Romero at Scranton’s Comics on the Green is on the same page, telling us, “We got some, mostly for the die-hard completists. However, this first issue continues to sell well, no matter the printing.” DC can keep churning out the printings as far as Lauren Becker at Clawson, Michigan’s Warp 9 is concerned, as, “We keep running out of all the printings (except the first, which we continue to get $15.00 for).  Demand is still there.”


The Papercutz Manifesto – Jim Salicrup Discusses How His Company Is Succeeding With Demographics The Direct Market Often Ignores

Whenever one talks about the future of comics, part of the answer always includes talk of expanding the fan base and reaching demographics currently not being served. Despite all the talk though, there remain areas where comics could, and should, be reaching out to yet fail to do so.

One publisher, Papercutz, has built their business around reaching one of those, the tween market, including the oft-ignored tween girl market, which has tremendous spending power – ask any parent that has gone into an American Girl store or a Justin Bieber concert how much money they had walking in compared to when they walked out – but is criminally ignored by the comic industry. So we asked Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief of Papercutz, about how they are reaching this demographic and whether the current comic marketplace is even the right place for doing so.

Jim, one of the biggest complaints I have written about that I have for the “Big Two” is that between the two of them, they have maybe one comic (well, more a series of miniseries) between the two of them that is aimed at tween girls, and that’s Oz. Both the dad in me and the former retailer in me see that this as a lost opportunity, both in terms of hooking a new audience and getting them into comic shops. Even with Oz, it seems like the main audience there is the one that will later pick it up as a hardcover at Barnes and Noble rather than as a monthly in a comic shop.

This is definitely an opportunity that your company is not passing on though with product like Dance Class and Disney Fairies, just to name a couple. What is it that you see in this audience that they don’t? Similarly, are comic shops a venue that works for you, or is your business model more focused on more traditional booksellers?

Keeping in mind that the direct sales comic book market was essentially created to distribute comics from the “Big Two,” it works very well at doing just that. Trying to sell other types of comics through this distribution system is a real challenge, even for the Marvel and DC. Marvel’s Wizard of Oz adaptations are a great example of what we try to do at Papercutz – a comic series that truly is for all ages. I buy multiple copies of the Oz comics and the collections, for myself and for several friends. I believe its appeal to older comics fans is what makes it a success, that if it only appealed to children, it would be struggling.

Along similar lines, our Smurfs graphic novels also appeals to all ages — especially older fans who loved the 80s cartoon series, and, to a lesser extent, fans of European comics, and that’s why The Smurfs is our strongest seller in the comic book shops. Sure, kids love Smurfs too, but I suspect that these books are being bought for them in comic book shops by parents or relatives who normally frequent comic book shops. I’m sure there are also kids who shop at comic book shops and buy The Smurfs too, but I bet they’re in the minority.

Remember that we released The Smurfs graphic novels the year before the new movie was released, so comic book stores were very important to our initial success with The Smurfs. Even before the movie opened we were already going back to press on each volume of The Smurfs. Once the movie hit, we couldn’t keep any volume in print for long.

We’re very thankful for Diamond’s help and support on The Smurfs. Working with Diamond we published a dollar preview comic and two Halloween Smurfs min-comics that helped greatly to allow fans to sample these comics either at a very low price or virtually for free. Our very first Free Comic Book Day comic was also The Smurfs and Geronimo Stilton, which also helped tremendously.

Reviews were also very helpful. We’re publishing the original Smurfs comics created by Peyo, and critics were quick to point out how amazing these comics truly are. Not many fans in the US realized that The Smurfs originally started as comic characters back in 1958, as they’re much more familiar with the 80s cartoon series. Many fans enjoyed the opportunity to finally read the original comics, some of which had never been available before in English. Critics also praised the excellent work by award-winning designer Adam Grano, and the artful lettering by award-winning letterer Janice Chiang, and were happy with how Papercutz has repackaged The Smurfs in highly affordable formats.

So, while we’re very happy with the support we’re getting on The Smurfs, and happy for the success of Marvel’s Oz adaptations, we realize that comic book stores are still a challenging market for titles that may appeal more to younger audiences. While there are comic book stores that actively support comics and graphic novels for all ages — and we’re very appreciative of their efforts– most comic book stores still understandably focus most of their efforts on retaining and attracting new customers for the many super-hero comics they sell.

Even when some comic book stores do carry comics that may appeal to children, especially girls, it’s a tricky proposition. For example, if young girls haven’t been shopping at comic book stores, why will they suddenly start now? How will they know that these stores now have material that may appeal to them? That is really a major challenge, and unless that’s addressed, it’s unlikely enough girls will ever make it into the stores to check out these new comics and graphic novels.

So, what this all means is that many of our titles find their audience at traditional bookstores, simply because children know there are children’s sections at these stores with books created just for them. In these children’s sections, characters such as Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Geronimo Stilton, Disney Fairies, and many more are very well known. This audience instantly recognizes the parodies we feature in Papercutz Slices, such as Harry Potty, Percy Jerkson, and Hunger Pains. And at this point, titles such as Dance Class, Ernest & Rebecca, and Sybil the Backpack Fairy may have their best shot at building a following in traditional bookstores, but we’re thankful for all the support we get from comic book stores. Our next Free Comic Book Day comic will feature The Smurfs and Disney Fairies, but will have a few pages of Dance Class and Ernest & Rebecca as well (single pages from both series are designed to work either separately or as part of a bigger story, so it’ll work nicely).

If the Big Two say that the audience for all-ages comics isn’t there in the comic book stores, they may be right, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be created. As I said, some stores are very interested in developing this market, and certainly there is more material (mostly graphic novels) now available than there has been in many years. Papercutz, which was started by publisher Terry Nantier and me, has now been around for seven years, and although it has been a major struggle at times, there seems to be more and more openness to comics for all ages. You may wonder why stores would be reluctant to attract new customers, but in these difficult times, trying to simply survive may distract many a store.

When we had success with The Smurfs we took that opportunity to let both comic bookstore customers and owners know about another one of our success stories– Geronimo Stilton. By including Geronimo Stilton in with The Smurfs in our first Free Comic Book Day comic, storeowners had little to lose — they already knew they had customers who liked The Smurfs. When some of their younger customers were exposed to the Geronimo Stilton content, they may have been surprised to discover that comics based on this super-successful children’s series even existed! As a result, they asked the comic book storeowners about it, and we saw our orders on Geronimo Stilton increase dramatically in comic book stores.

Ultimately it may just come down to us figuring out as many ways as possible for us to get our comics in front of the people who will enjoy them. We’re on comiXology, we’re getting into more mass-market outlets such as Wal-Mart and Target, we’re in school book clubs and book fairs, we’re in schools and libraries. We love the comics we’re publishing and we hope we can expose them to as many people as possible.

In your business model then, are comic shops even necessary? I don’t mean that as a knock on the direct market, but at the same time, it’s not a market that seems very welcoming to what you offer.

Any potential market is necessary for a small publisher like us! Ironic, isn’t it, that comic shops would be considered not “very welcoming” to a publisher of comics? But as I said before, there are quite a few comic stores that are making a concerted effort to support comics for all ages. Just like in regular bookstores, we’re seeing sections of stores being dedicated to comics for kids. Recently we hired Janna Morishima as our Director of Marketing, and getting those kids graphic novel sections into bookstores is something she helped make a reality.

But while that is certainly a very positive move, and we certainly welcome that, there’s even an unintended side effect to that… some of our titles really are suitable for all ages, meaning adults as well as children. Unfortunately, sometimes when titles are shelved in sections explicitly labeled for children, some adults won’t even consider that they could possibly enjoy that material. Titles such as Classics Illustrated, or even The Smurfs or Ernest & Rebecca, which can be enjoyed by adult audiences, suffer by being shelved in the children’s section. There’s good news, however, more and more adults are finding books in the “Young Adult” sections, such as Harry Potter and the Twilight saga that they can enjoy.

Way back when, all comics were considered, in a not very good way, suitable only for children. For decades folks such as Stan Lee and Will Eisner fought the battle to have comics accepted as a legitimate art form able to produce sophisticated material that even adults could enjoy. Papercutz publisher, Terry Nantier, was a real pioneer, along with a few others, publishing material that was worthy of an adult audience– everything from collections of classic comic strips such as Terry and the Pirates to English editions of great European graphic novels through his company NBM Publishing. It’s safe to say that in many ways that battle has been won. Bookstores, libraries, and most importantly, audiences, have accepted comics and graphic novels for adults. But along the way, many of the traditional outlets for comics for younger audiences either vanished or no longer carry comics. And that is where a lot of our efforts are focused, to figure out ways to bring our titles to as large an audience as possible.

Our biggest hit so far, is a title based on the LEGO Ninjago toy line. Kids, especially ten-year-old boys, are crazy for Ninjago! We’re able to sell these books at far more places than anything else we sell, and that’s very exciting for us! Our Ninjago graphic novels are available at comic book stores, booksellers, and at comiXology.com as well as Toys ‘R’ Us and Wal-Mart and gazillion other outlets!

While we’re super thankful to publish Ninjago, we’re still working as hard as we can to help titles such as Ernest & Rebecca and Dance Class find their audiences.


More Holiday Bargains – Bullseye’s First Appearance, Daredevil #131, Hits Record Low In CGC 9.8 In Boxing Day Bidding

In an auction ending late on Boxing Day, despite multiple bidders and 38 bids, a CGC 9.8 copy, with off-white to white pages, of Bullseye’s first appearance failed to crack $1,000, closing at $976. This is the first sale out of fourteen recorded at CGC 9.8 to fail to crack that mark.

How much of a bargain was this? The previous low was $1,200, set in 2010. Ten of the fourteen sales went for at least $1,500. The previous CGC 9.8 sale this year was back in May, for $1,315, $339 more than Monday’s sale. Overall, this issue has been on fairly consistent downward path from the highs of the earliest CGC 9.8 sales recorded, with the first seven sales all being over $1,600, and the first three over $2,000, but none have been higher than $1,500 since.

Similar downward movement has been seen at other grades too. A CGC 9.6 sold on December 17 for $332, $90 less than the average sale price in 2009, and two sales in November, at $275 and then $269, set record lows in this grade. In CGC 9.2, a sale on December 19 for $91 was $65 less than the 2010 average, and that also wasn’t the lowest price in the last three months.

In other words, across the board, there’s a serious market correction going on with Bullseye’s first appearance, so if you were thinking of selling yours, you better sell quick.


Joe Harris Talks Dracula With Bleeding Cool

This January, writer Joe Harris will be pairing up one of comics’ oldest vampires, Vampirella, with one of the oldest vampires in fiction, Dracula, for Dynamite Entertainment’s Vampirella vs. Dracula. The basis for this version of Dracula comes from an Alan Moore/Gary Frank short story that was part of Vampirella/Dracula: the Centennial, a 1997 Harris one-shot.

The screenwriter of Darkness Falls, Harris has been in great demand of late, with DC announcing that he is taking over for Gail Simone on The Fury of Firestorm, plus the announcement of Bastardized with Ethan Van Sciver that Rich covered earlier this month and the 2012 release of his creator-owned Great Pacific from Image.

What attracted me most to Vampirella vs. Dracula was the mention of the Order of the Dragon in the press release. As a history geek, seeing Harris tap into the actual history behind Dracula certainly peeked my interest, so I connected with him via email about this, along with the project in general.

In the press release announcing the project, you made reference to the Order of the Dragon. Will this be the historical Order of the Dragon, which included amongst its members Vlad II Dracul, the father of the historical Dracula?

Well, it’s at least based in history.  And I have done some research to this end.  But, when it comes down to it, “The Order of the Dragon” in “Vampirella Vs. Dracula” is very much a new, mysterious and powerful organization.  Much more mystical than the actual Knights Order were, and even more closely tied in to Dracula’s mythos than you might expect considering it’s, essentially, an entirely new take on the concept.

We have scores of interpretations of Dracula over the last century. What can we expect from “your” Dracula? Is he a romantic character, a horror character, or somewhere in between?

Both.  In-between, definitely.  Dracula, in this series, is a schemer and a vile being when you get right down to it.  He has a penchant for impaling people, after all, and the machinations of his we’ll reveal are quite devious and self-serving, to say the least.  But he’s tragic, too and born of pain due to love lost… and fueled, at least in part, by lust going forward.

How wedded is this interpretation of the character to the one in Alan Moore’s adaptation?

The Alan Moore Dracula as personified in the modern-day character of “Dragunsun” is very much a character in this series.

In writing this, do you find yourself fitting Dracula into Vampirella’s world or is it Vampirella into Dracula’s world?

This is definitely “Dracula’s World” we’re exploring.  Rather, world(s), when you consider the multiple timelines and repeating narratives that loop around and around over the course of this series.  Vampirella is lost in it and needs to find a way out.


In Christmas Bargain Shopping, The Punisher’s First Appearance Dropping To Record Lows

It’s been a great month for those looking to pick up an Amazing Spider-Man #129, the first appearance of the Punisher, as the price has dropped to the lowest they have ever been in recorded CGC sales at CGC 9.8.

It is not as if this is an incredibly rare book anymore, with 557 copies graded at 9.4 or higher by CGC, 46 of them at 9.8, and the market is beginning to catch on to that lack of scarcity. This past Thursday, a CGC 9.8 copy of #129, with off-white to white pages, sold for just $4,000, the third-lowest price according to the CGC sale-tracking website, GPAnalysis.com. Less than two weeks before that, on December 11, another 9.8, also with off-white to white pages, sold for only $3,751, the lowest-recorded sale of this issue.

Only once this year has there been a sale where the price was higher than the lowest price last year, and not by much relatively speaking, with one sale for $5,801 in September, with last year’s lowest sale having been $5,378. The average price in 2011 is $4,699 over seven sales, down dramatically from the average price of $7,990 over seven sales in 2010.

A similar downturn can be found at lower grades too. The 2011 average price for CGC 9.6 is down over $200 from 2010, while the six of the last seven sales at CGC 9.4 have been below $1,000 after posting an average sale price of $1,043 in 2010 and $1,127 in 2009.

With sales of the monthly Punisher and PunisherMAX being little to write home about, ranking 88th and 126th respectively in sales for the month of November, and with another movie still years away, there is little reason to see this downward trend stopping in 2012.