Category Archives: Spotlight

A Look at the Run: Book One cover art by Afua Richardson

In February, the follow up to Congressman John Lewis‘ award-winning graphic novel trilogy March was announced. Run: Book One picks up where March left off, telling how Lewis led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the time period that followed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lewis is reuniting with co-writer Andrew Aydin and will be joined by artist Afua Richardson as well as Nate Powell who handled the art for the original trilogy and will provide a transition portion to the book.

A first look at the cover by Afua Richardson has been released which you can see below.

Run: Book One will be published on August 14, 2018.

Why Are Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow Helping Assad?

In the lead up to their Marvel Studios releases, Marvel Comics publishes two issue “prelude” comics for upcoming films which are then collected into trade paperbacks with extra related material. Leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Infinity War Prelude recently saw its trade release. Written by Will Corona Pilgrim, with art by Tigh Walker, color by Chris O’Halloran, and lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham the two issue story recaps Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War, fills in gaps between the films, and also provides details on the Infinity Stones.

Part of the story follows what Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson, and Natasha Romanoff, (aka Captain AmericaFalcon, and Black Widow) have been up to, and what’s presented is a little head scratching.

The scene has the trio breaking up an arms deal in Syria. That arms deal is weapons being sent by the United States government to Syrian rebels who we can only assume are fighting a civil war against the dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad. Yes, Captain America, Falcon, and Black Widow are protecting Assad from rebels and interfering in an internal conflict.

What’s stranger is that Black Widow refers to these individuals as “terrorists” which is language that takes the side of Assad’s government. Further strange is that Black Widow has gotten her intel from her KGB contacts (and I’ll ignore the use of KGB and not one of the current intelligence agencies that split up in to after the dissolution of the Russian government in the early 90s). That means she received information to take down these “terrorists” from Russian operatives. The Russian government supports Assad and is in a proxy war with the United States with real world engagement. As presented, these superheroes are being willingly manipulated by the Russian government to take down the Syrian opposition (and their US ally) and prop up a dictator.

When you mix in some of Rogers’ issues with the fictional Sokovian Accords it gets stranger. Rogers vocalized concerns to Tony Stark included being used by individuals to meet their agendas, they lose their right to choose what actions they take. So, in this situation either Rogers, Wilson, and Romanoff have chosen this action and/or they’re being used by the Russian government. Either case, it’s a bad choice as they’re propping up a genocidal dictator who has used chemical weapons against his own people.

Through their actions too they’ve not only denied the weapons to this group, they’ve done so in opposition to the United States government an action that would likely come with further sanctions and at least charges.

Will this be addressed in the upcoming film? We have only until late April to see but as is it muddies the politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Takes the Unit and Dollar Share for March While DC Takes 5 of the Top 10

Marvel held the top spot for units share and dollar share for the month of March as Diamond Comic Distributors has released that month’s data. It wasn’t all Marvel as DC Comics held five of the top ten comics sold with Dark Nights: Metal #6 coming in first.

Comics and graphic novels were up compared to February and toys were up in dollars and down in units. Compared to 2017, things aren’t as good with everything down double digits. Comics and graphic novels are down 15.96% and 13.35% compared to March 2017. That month was riding high from Amazing Spider-Man #25 that sold 113,934 copies despite its $9.99 cover price and Dark Knight III Master Race #8 which sold 107,892 at $5.99. The year to date continues to show a negative trend.

Marvel Comics was March’s top publisher with a 35.92% dollar share (+1.06) and a 38.38% unit share (+1.44). DC Entertainment was second for the month with a 31.06% dollar share (-0.73) and a 35.10% unit share (-1.51). Image Comics was third with a 10.98% dollar share (-0.49) and a 10.43% unit share (-0.39). In fourth was IDW Publishing with a 3.96% dollar share (-0.38) and a 3.28% unit share (+0.65), followed by BOOM! Studios with a 2.40% dollar share (+0.03) and a 2.13% unit share (+0.01), Dark Horse Comics with a 2.38% dollar share (-0.47) and a 1.58% unit share (-0.1), and Dynamite Entertainment with a 1.83% dollar share (-0.57) and a 1.61% unit share (-0.68).

DC Entertainment had five titles among March’s top ten comics. Marvel Comics had four titles in the top ten. Image Comics’ Oblivion Song by Kirkman and De Felici #1 ranked #9. Among the premier publishers and their top-selling books, BOOM! Studios’ Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25, kicking off the “Shattered Grid” storyline, ranked #70; Dark Horse Comics’ Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: My Ainsel #1 ranked #114; Dynamite Entertainment’s The Shadow/Batman #6, the final chapter of their coproduction with DC Entertainment, ranked #121; and the milestone G.I. Joe #250 from IDW Publishing ranked #149 for the month.

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead Volume 29: Lines We Cross from Image Comics was March’s best-selling graphic novel, and one of Image Comics’ six titles in the top ten. DC Entertainment had four titles in the top ten.

Dark Horse Comics’ World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 3, an art book based on the best-selling Blizzard Entertainment role-playing game, was March’s best-selling book.  Also in the top ten for Dark Horse Comics was the Overwatch Anthology Volume 1 at 9. Insight Editions’ DC Comics Variant Covers: The Complete Visual History, a hardcover artbook featuring a cover by Frank Cho, ranked #3 for the month.

Mezco’s One:12 Collection: Marvel Comics: X-Force Wolverine Action Figure, a PREVIEWS Exclusive, was March’s best-selling toy product. Another PREVIEWS Exclusive product from Mezco, the One:12 Collection: DC Comics: Stealth Deathstroke Action Figure, ranked #2. Diamond Select Toys had two products in the top ten: the Marvel Gallery: Thor Ragnarok: Thor PVC Figure, based on 2017’s Marvel Studios film, ranked #3, and theMarvel Select: Venom Action Figure ranked #5. Another PREVIEWS Exclusive, Funko’s POP! Saga: Bloody Lying Cat Vinyl Figure, a special release for Free Comic Book Day 2018, ranked #4. DC Collectibles had three products in the top ten: the DC Cover Girls: Harley Quinn by Joëlle Jones ranked #7, the DC Gallery: Superman vs. The Flash Racing Statue ranked #8, and the Batman Animated: The Joker Expressions Pack ranked #9

NECA/WizKids’ Dungeons & Dragons: Icons of the Realm: Menagerie 3 Booster Brick, a collection of miniatures for the tabletop game, was March’s best-selling game product.  IDW Games had three products in the top ten: The Legend of Korra: Pro Bending Arena Game at #2, the Atari: Missile Command Game at #4, and The Legend of Korra: Pro Bending Arena: Amon’s Invasion Game at #5.

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER

DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS

35.92%

38.38%

DC ENTERTAINMENT

31.06%

35.10%

IMAGE COMICS

10.98%

10.43%

IDW PUBLISHING

3.96%

3.28%

BOOM! STUDIOS

2.40%

2.13%

DARK HORSE COMICS

2.38%

1.58%

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

1.83%

1.61%

VIZ MEDIA

1.23%

0.46%

ONI PRESS INC.

1.16%

0.80%

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC

0.93%

0.99%

OTHER NON-TOP 10

8.15%

5.25%

 COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS

UNITS

MARCH 2018 VS. FEBRUARY 2018

COMICS

2.92%

4.04%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

10.36%

3.69%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

4.95%

4.02%

TOYS

5.32%

-1.93%

MARCH 2018 VS. MARCH 2017

COMICS

-13.20%

-12.28%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-22.12%

-25.63%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-15.96%

-13.35%

TOYS

-29.83%

-38.04%

YEAR-TO-DATE 2018 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2017

(FIRST QUARTER 2018 VS. FIRST QUARTER 2017)

COMICS

-7.09%

-14.52%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-13.17%

-12.28%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-8.92%

-14.37%

TOYS

-9.81%

-12.36%

FIRST QUARTER 2018 VS. FOURTH QUARTER 2017

COMICS

-8.44%

-7.25%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-21.69%

-20.85%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-12.67%

-8.38%

TOYS

-14.91%

-11.81%

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER

COMICS SHIPPED

GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED

MAGAZINES SHIPPED

TOTAL

SHIPPED

DC ENTERTAINMENT

84

35

0

119

MARVEL COMICS

81

33

0

114

IMAGE COMICS

57

13

0

70

IDW PUBLISHING

40

18

0

58

BOOM! STUDIOS

25

9

0

34

DARK HORSE COMICS

12

14

0

26

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

15

8

0

23

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT

7

3

0

10

VIZ MEDIA

0

9

0

9

ONI PRESS

4

4

0

8

OTHER NON-TOP 10

113

135

11

259

TOTAL

438

281

11

730

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #6

$4.99

DEC170230-M DC

2

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #4

$4.99

DEC170234-M DC

3

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797

$3.99

JAN180892-M MAR

4

WEAPON H #1

$4.99

JAN180920-M MAR

5

BATMAN #42

$2.99

JAN180260-M DC

6

THE MIGHTY THOR #705

$3.99

JAN180888-M MAR

7

INFINITY COUNTDOWN #1

$4.99

JAN180879-M MAR

8

BATMAN #43

$2.99

JAN180262-M DC

9

OBLIVION SONG BY KIRKMAN & DE FELICI #1

$3.99

JAN180587 IMA

10

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #6

$3.99

JAN180268-M DC

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

DARK NIGHTS: METAL #6

$4.99

DEC170230-M DC

2

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #4

$4.99

DEC170234-M DC

3

WEAPON H #1

$4.99

JAN180920-M MAR

4

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797

$3.99

JAN180892-M MAR

5

INFINITY COUNTDOWN #1

$4.99

JAN180879-M MAR

6

DAREDEVIL #600

$5.99

JAN180911-M MAR

7

THE MIGHTY THOR #705

$3.99

JAN180888-M MAR

8

THE WALKING DEAD #177

$3.99

JAN180843-M IMA

9

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #6

$3.99

JAN180268-M DC

10

OBLIVION SONG BY KIRKMAN & DE FELICI #1

$3.99

JAN180587 IMA

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 29: LINES WE CROSS TP

$16.99

JAN180844 IMA

2

GREEN LANTERN: EARTH ONE VOLUME 1 HC

$24.99

DEC170239 DC

3

THE FLASH VOLUME 5: NEGATIVE TP

$14.99

DEC170377 DC

4

SUPER SONS VOLUME 2: PLANET OF THE CAPES TP

$14.99

DEC170381 DC

5

REALM VOLUME 1 TP (MR)

$9.99

JAN180692-M IMA

6

BLACK SCIENCE VOL. 7: EXTINCTION IS THE RULE TP (MR)

$16.99

DEC170675 IMA

7

INVINCIBLE VOL. 25: THE END OF ALL THINGS PART 2 TP (MR)

$16.99

JAN180762 IMA

8

BATMAN & HARLEY QUINN HC

$24.99

DEC170385 DC

9

PORT OF EARTH VOLUME 1 TP

$9.99

JAN180689 IMA

10

SAGA VOLUME 8 TP (MR)

$14.99

OCT170715 IMA

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 29: LINES WE CROSS TP

$16.99

JAN180844 IMA

2

INFINITY GAUNTLET BOX HC SLIPCASE SET

$500.00

SEP170982 MAR

3

GREEN LANTERN: EARTH ONE VOLUME 1 HC

$24.99

DEC170239 DC

4

AVENGERS OMNIBUS VOLUME 3 HC

$100.00

SEP170986-M MAR

5

KAMANDI BY JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS HC

$125.00

SEP170419 DC

6

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE BRONZE AGE OMNIBUS VOLUME 2 HC

$125.00

SEP170417 DC

7

DAREDEVIL BY WAID & SAMNEE OMNIBUS VOL. 2 HC

$100.00

SEP170983 MAR

8

ABSOLUTE WILDC.A.T.S. BY JIM LEE HC

$125.00

JUL170485 DC

9

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: MARVEL TWO IN ONE VOL. 3 HC

$75.00

AUG171012-M MAR

10

BATMAN & HARLEY QUINN HC

$24.99

DEC170385 DC

TOP 10 BOOKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

WORLD OF WARCRAFT CHRONICLE VOLUME 3 HC

$39.99

NOV170046 DAR

2

THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 127

$14.95

DEC172080 SAN

3

DC COMICS VARIANT COVERS: THE COMPLETE VISUAL HISTORY HC

$45.00

JUL178304 INS

4

SONIC & TALES OF DECEPTION SC

$6.99

JAN182151 RAN

5

JUSTICE LEAGUE CLASSIC: RACE TO SAVE THE DAY SC

$3.99

JAN182149 HAR

6

MARVEL SUPERHERO ADVENTURES: SAND TRAP SC

$4.99

JAN182150 MAR

7

OVERWATCH ANTHOLOGY VOLUME 1 HC

$19.99

JUN170080 DAR

8

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL: 2 FUZZY 2 FURIOUS HC

$13.99

JAN182154 HAC

9

STAR WARS: FORCES OF DESTINY: REY CHRONICLES CHAPTERBOOK

$5.99

JAN182174 DIS

10

NEW GAME VOLUME 1 GN

$13.99

DEC171780 SEV

TOP 10 TOYS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

ONE-12 COLLECTIVE: MARVEL: X-FORCE WOLVERINE ACTION FIGURE MAR178670 MEZ

2

ONE-12 COLLECTIVE: DC: STEALTH DEATHSTROKE ACTION FIGURE MAR178824 MEZ

3

MARVEL GALLERY: THOR RAGNAROK: THOR PVC FIGURE SEP172483 DST

4

POP! SAGA: BLOODY LYING CAT FCBD 2018 VINYL FIGURE OCT170013 FUN

5

MARVEL SELECT: VENOM ACTION FIGURE OCT172354 DST

6

LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD: LINK RAH FIGURE MAR178289 MED

7

DC COVER GIRLS: HARLEY QUINN BY JOËLLE JONES STATUE SEP170453 DC

8

DC GALLERY: SUPERMAN VS THE FLASH RACING STATUE SEP170450 DC

9

BATMAN ANIMATED: THE JOKER EXPRESSIONS PACK SEP170451 DC

10

DC SUPER POWERS COLLECTION: HARLEY QUINN MAQUETTE APR178791 TWE

TOP 10 GAMES BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

D&D ICONS OF THE REALM: MONSTER MENAGERIE 3 BOOSTER BRICK DEC172933 NEC

2

LEGEND OF KORRA: PRO BENDING ARENA GAME AUG170532 IDW

3

THE DARK CRYSTAL BOARD GAME NOV173124 ALC

4

ATARI: MISSILE COMMAND GAME JAN180574 IDW

5

LEGEND OF KORRA: PRO BENDING ARENA: AMON’S INVASION GAME DEC170558 IDW

6

DC HEROCLIX: HARLEY QUINN AND THE GOTHAM GIRLS BOOSTER BRICK JUN173406 NEC

7

BATMAN: GOTHAM CITY 4D MINI PUZZLE SEP178722 4D

8

FALLOUT COLLECTOR’S CHESS SET FEB182826 USA

9

LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD EXPANDED EDITION HC DEC178223 POC

10

SUPERMAN: METROPOLIS 4D MINI PUZZLE SEP178723 4D

Editorial: Pruitt vs. Peck – Who’s Worse?

With EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt‘s scandals all over the headlines and him likely the next member of the Trump Admin to get the signature

it seems like a good time to ask the questions no one else is willing to ask: How bad is Scott Pruitt really at his job?

As the head of the EPA, it’s clear. He’s. . . uhm, how do you say?

Literally, the worst. Go ahead. Name one other truly bad EPA Administrator. Can you? (You must be one of my co-workers if you can.) They all look amazing by comparison. Yes, even Anne Gorsuch. Yes, even Stephen Johnson.

So, to really compare Pruitt to someone, we have to go to the world of fiction. And we look no further than fictional EPA apparatchik and classic 80’s villain Walter Peck from Ghostbusters. 

Let’s run down their CV’s:

scott-pruitt-800x430NAME: Scott Pruitt
JOB: EPA Administrator
HOME: Oklahoma, or sometimes a swanky DC condo owned by a lobbyist that he pays $50/night for.
ENEMIES: Clean air, clean water, a stable climate, science, and kittens, probably.
OTHER: Is a dick.

 

 

william-atherton-as-walter-peck-in-ghostbusters

NAME: Walter Peck (played by William Atherton)
JOB: EPA jerk
HOME: New York City
ENEMIES: Ghostbusters, especially Peter Venkman
OTHER: Has no dick. That’s at least what I heard.

 

Ok, so straight off, Pruitt is in the lead. Because, I mean, he’s not fictional. And Peck, while a jerk, was legitimately trying to do a job protecting the environment. Pruitt seems to think his job is to make it easier for big polluters to make big money. Fox, here’s your job guarding the henhouse.

So next let’s look at one trait they both share: Skepticism.

Both Pruitt and Peck are famous skeptics of scientists who actually know what they’re talking about. But while Peck is skeptical of Drs. Venkman, Spengler, and Stantz for saying they see ghosts, we can somewhat understand that position. I mean, it does seem unscientific to believe in ghosts.

Pruitt’s skepticism is about climate change. He has somewhat famously been pushing to do a “Red Team, Blue Team” “debate” about “climate science” but it has mostly been shut down. Why? Because even the worst of Trump’s cronies know that’s an extraordinarily bad idea to give a stage to the 3% of scientists who don’t believe the climate is changing from greenhouse gas pollution (and who all, coincidentally, take millions in cash from the coal, oil, and gas industries) because they’re essentially crackpot conspiracy theorists. Also, that’s not how science works, bro.

Again, advantage Pruitt.

Next? Biggest bombs.

Walter Peck famously shut off the Ghostbusters’ containment unit, equivalent to “dropping a bomb on the city.” Listen to how he fails to listen to not only the expert opinions of the people who understand the technology the best, but also neutral actors (like the ConEd guy) who says he doesn’t understand any of this and maybe they shouldn’t shut it all down? Instead, he seems to take glee in abusing his power, even telling the cop that he can shoot Venkman. Have a watch:

Pruitt’s bomb he’s dropped is similar, but less spectacular. By shutting off Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which limited greenhouse gases from power plants, and rewriting clean car standards to allow for more pollution (and more automaker profits!), Pruitt has dropped a climate bomb on all of us. But it is one which will more affect our children and their children, even while we deal with the shorter terms consequences of more smog, more asthma attacks, more premature deaths.

On the other hand, blowing up the containment unit brought about the coming of Gozer the Destructor. So. . . advantage Peck on this one. But really only slightly.

How corrupt were they?

Well, Peck doesn’t seem to be corrupt other than he’s a guy on a power trip. Meanwhile, Pruitt seems more like a fictional cartoon supervillain for all his corporate stoogery. Here’s an internet challenge: can you name all of Pruitt’s scandals in 30 seconds?

The Washington Post is saying Pruitt’s excuses for his corruption are “crumbling” and even Fox News is dogpiling on as his lavish travel, 24/7 security detail, sweetheart deals with lobbyists, and general mendacity become more and more impossible to defend.

Some of the highlights of Pruitt’s ineptitude? First, his entire reasoning for needing a 24/7 security detail and to fly first class everywhere? Because, apparently, people who care about the environment are mean to him. In his requests for first class travel, he recounts an incident where someone at the airport baggage claim confronted him and told him, “Hey Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment.”

Beyond pointing out that flying first class still means you have to stand at the baggage claim with everyone else, this is just a lame excuse from a fragile snowflake who can’t take criticism for his work. An easier solution? Pruitt could maybe not f— up the environment? And then people wouldn’t be mad at him.

But his security detail and security concerns. Whoa. . . there’s so much to unpack here. So, first, Pruitt had them build a soundproof secure booth in his office. Why would the EPA Administrator need this? Sure, head of the CIA or Secretary of Defense or State. . .  but EPA? Lots of state secrets you can’t share with the public, Scott?

Or– OR– this was just a clever way to be able to skirt freedom of information and oversight laws and make it easier to collude with corporate polluters about what kinds of policies they wanted. I can just see it now. . .

“Administrator Pruitt, your landlord is on the line.”
“Great, is he calling about the leaky faucet?”
“No, he says you’re late on your rent, but mostly he’s calling to talk about his clients’ pipelines and the clean car standards on behalf of the auto industry. He also wants to know if you’re going on the swanky Morocco junket to promote natural gas exports for his clients.”
“I REQUEST A CONE OF SILENCE!”

***AND…. SCENE***

But this security detail. . . they’re just the gift that keeps on giving. Apparently Pruitt made EPA pay for a door to the condo he was renting, because they broke it down while their boss was taking a nap.

Then, when Pruitt was late for a dinner at a fancy restaurant, he asked if they could put the sirens on. Taking a page from Ghostbusters, “Hey, let’s run some red lights!”

The icing on the cake of this story is Pruitt’s security told him they could not turn on the sirens unless there was an emergency. Pruitt then fired his security chief like any toddler throwing a tantrum because they can’t turn on the sirens.

Walter Peck? He did none of these things. A million points to Pruitt, none to Peck.

And finally, how’d they end up? Well, we only assume Pruitt is covered with an oily sheen gotten from bathing in the ill-gotten gains from his friends in the fossil fuel industry. He’s also surrounded by a dense cloud of smoke– but one can’t be sure if that’s from the coal stacks or just ethical problems. Peck, however, made it out at least a little better.

While being covered in liquid Stay Puft goo was described as “feel[ing] so funky” and “like the floor of a taxi cab,” at least marshmallow is yummy, and it’s nothing a shower and a trip to the dry cleaner’s can’t fix. Pruitt wins this round, too.

So, who’s worse? Pruitt, Pruitt, Pruitt.

When you lose so badly to a classic 80’s movie villain, you really need to wonder just how bad of a person you are.

Join us in our next round of these articles where I compare Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Hedley Lamarr from Blazing Saddles or Mark Zuckerberg to famous James Bond villains.

Raven, the Pirate Princess Needs Your Help

Comics live or die on their sales. While we the readers see it as entertainment, in reality it’s a business and if a comic isn’t profitable, ie the sales aren’t enough, then the comics get cancelled or goes on hiatus until a time when it might be worth starting again.

Writer Jeremy Whitley has gone to Tumblr to let us know his series Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess needs our help and is in trouble.

Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess is a spin-off series to the hit Princeless and is the “young adult” sister series to Princeless‘ “all ages.” The series has stood out of its take no crap attitude and diverse characters, more specifically a community of diverse queer women who were carving out their place in the world.

While the comic has a dedicated fanbase, it’s not enough. Action Lab Entertainment informed Whitley that the series’ numbers don’t justify the cost of the book and with that they haven’t given a greenlight for year 3 of it. That means, after Princeless: Raven, the Pirate Princess Year 2 #13 is released, the series will go on a break until a time the numbers justify its return.

If you care about this series, or series like it, you need to speak with your dollars if you haven’t already. And if you have, you can help spread the word.

Here’s different ways you can help:

  • Purchase the comic digitally on comiXology
  • Purchase physical copies of the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or from your local comic shop (though you might want to call to make sure they have it)
  • If you bought volumes 1-4, volume 5 is available for pre-order
  • And if you’ve already bought the comic, help spread the word. Write a review on those sites, share this post, tell your friends.

Help save the ship! It’s great to have diverse books but we need to support them to make sure they stay around because if we don’t, we have no right when comics returns to default and that’s are only choice.

Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo Has Renamed the Crumb Room

Since its founding in 2010, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) has featured exhibitor spaces with the names Bechdel Room, Crumb Room, Doucet Hall, and Eisner Level. These names were a way to pay tribute in a fun and fitting way to some of the most influential comic creators in the history of independent comics and graphic novels.

The convention has announced that as of this year, they will be retiring the name of the Crumb Room.

In the announcement they said:

This was a decision that we did not come to easily. It reflects a difficult and complicated set of issues facing the world of independent comics and the arts in general.

We are very sensitive to, and opposed to, any form of censorship. We do not want this re-naming of the Crumb Room to be seen as an attempt to erase Robert Crumb from the history or current reality of independent comics. We recognize Crumb’s singular importance to the development of independent and alternative comics, the influence that he has had on many of our most respected cartoonists, and the quality and brilliance of much of his work.

However we also recognize the negative impact carried by some of the imagery and narratives that Crumb has produced, impact felt most acutely by those whose voices have not been historically respected or accommodated during the period in which Crumb has so effectively challenged and shattered many cultural taboos. The great value of Crumb’s radical and inventive freedom of expression is, we acknowledge, seriously problematic because of the pain and harm caused by perpetuating images of racial stereotypes and sexual violence. The simple appellation, “Crumb Room,” without context or opportunity for dialogue, can function more as an insult to those we want to feel welcome and respected, than as a fitting homage to an artist.

MICE was founded in 2010 to create a showcase space for artists and writers working in the field of comics in the greater-Boston area. The event is produced by the Boston Comic Arts Foundation and hosted by Lesley University College of Art and Design. The convention has a focus on the art of making comics and connects local creators with the local audience including workshops for adults and children, panel discussions on the craft and relevance of comics, and special guests.

This year’s convention is being held October 20-21 in Cambridge, MA and free to the public.

Why Does Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dip Into Racist Asian Stereotypes?

Nickelodeon‘s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series Rise of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has come under criticism for numerous reasons; changes to the dynamic of the Turtles, the stylized look of the series, and drastic difference in the Turtles’ depictions. I have no opinion, no really care about all of that. Beyond all of that, the thing that stood out to me about the brand new trailer is the use of the Fu Manchu/Yellow Peril stereotype in the character of Splinter.

In the first official teaser released Friday, we get a look at what we can expect from the series and a better idea of the characters. We also get a look at Splinter who with his “slanted/slit” eyes, buck teeth, and delivery of lines, is hard to not see a racist Asian stereotype. There’s even a top knot!

This ethnic stereotype (which has no place in a kids show let alone modern society) has its roots in “Yellow Peril,” Western imperialism, racism, and led to exclusionary laws enacted against immigrants here in the United States. In entertainment it’s common and popularized in characters such as Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan both of which tread in stereotypical looks that persist to today. One scratches their head why the creators of this show thought it’s appropriate in 2018.

While there’s movements and individuals fighting for better representation of Asians in entertainment, to see a kids’ animated show perpetuate this hurtful imagery for a new generation is not only misguided it’s downright regressive and has no place on television let alone Nickelodeon which has had a history of excellent children’s programming.

You can watch the video below and see the problematic speech patterns at the 44 second mark and 53 second mark.

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 300 For February

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamond’s top 100 sellers for February.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find four to six comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 300 in sales.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 300 for January’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

ARM_001_COVER-B_RYPTMNT Universe #19 (IDW)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 213 / 7,429
A new story that feels freshly familiar to fans of the Turtles that acts as a showcase to some newer characters. This series has been consistently thoroughly enjoyable for some time, and this issue is no exception.

Bloodborne #1 (Titan Comics)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 227 / 6,766
A series based on a video game that doesn’t suck? Believe it or not, yes. I read this before playing the game, and the comic was more than capable of standing alone as a creepy and intense setting, but after playing the game a little I can honestly say this comic is a brilliant adaptation.

Armstrong And The Vault Of Spirits #1 (Valiant) 
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 271  / 5,038
A one shot story about family, immortality, and bad luck. Armstrong brings his friends to his gargantuan vault of various wines and spirits to reminisce about days gone by, only to be attacked by an evil alliance of all of his enemies. Blending comedy and emotional impact seamlessly into an brilliantly fun comic, this should have been read by more people than it was.

Fence #4 (Boom!)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 374 / 2,601
Innocent, entertaining and a perfect break from some of the more universe spanning multi-part epics from other publishers. A not so guilty pleasure of mine that reminds me of when I used to stab other people in white coats (though not nearly as well).

Fu Jitsu #1 (Aftershock)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 442 / 1,204
An utterly crazy concept where the villain is Robert Wadlow (who didn’t die). I have no words for this series, other than it’s a blast.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Creators Corner: Creating Rebirth of the Gangster, Part 8 – Filtering Through Publisher Feedback

Over the summer, I wrote a few parts in a series detailing the creation of my comic Rebirth of the Gangster (on sale now!)

In case you missed it, check out these links to the first seven parts-

Part 1: The Birth of the Idea

Part 2: Brainstorming and Outlining the Plot

Part 3: Outline, Synopsis and Chapter Breakdown

Part 4: Scripting the Action

Part 5: Finding the Right Artist

Part 6: Pages in Progress and the Artist/Writer Collaboration

Part 7: Submitting the Comic and Cover Letters

As any aspiring writer, artist, or any other creative person will tell you: sending in submissions as an unknown is hell.  And I don’t have anything new to add to that point. The stress of waiting for a response would kill me–I don’t do well with unknowns and things I can’t control, so I would pull out my phone, praying for a new response to pop up in my inbox. I did this obsessively: sometimes every 5 minutes. In fact, I knew it wasn’t healthy behavior and would only lead to further stress, but I still kept checking, just like an addict keeps going back for a re-up of her favorite escape. As of this writing, there are still companies that haven’t responded to my submission (this is pretty standard for unknown creatives, but that fact doesn’t make me feel better).  

Eventually, however, a few companies started getting back to me. The bad news: they were all rejection emails. The good news: many of them gave me feedback that I could use to refine my comic. After all, I could wallow in the rejection all I wanted–and I did for a while, crying in the shower like Tobias in Arrested Development–but that wouldn’t help me get this comic off the ground. I like to think we are all on a path of continuous improvement, at least if we have the will to put one foot in front of the other, and I decided to use this experience to make me better, faster, stronger.  

Read on for excerpts from emails (or summary of the some feedback, if the email had a confidentiality disclaimer on it), along with my reactions in bold. Some of it I accepted, and some of it I rejected; hey, I want to grow, but I don’t want to be a puppet for publishers.

 

Email 1 from Markosia Publishing:

The art is a problem for us, and that is half the battle. The publisher does use a different in-house art style than Juan, so I partly see where they’re coming from. But they’re crazy to think that Juan isn’t the perfect fit for this story. So, while this made me review the research component of submissions to check typical art styles of a comic, I largely ignored it.  Even more confusing, TJ Comics gave me the exact opposite feedback, saying, “Whatever you do, don’t let go of Juan.”

It also needs re-lettering, not so much of an issue but again it doesn’t help the pitch. This comment was echoed by TJ Comics (so at least they were on the same page with something): “The lettering is not professional and inconsistent. You don’t want to have different font sizes based on the amount of dialogue, and you want to be sure that the captions can be read clearly. The captions are placed cleverly in some spots but immediately the placement of the text on page 1 panel 3 gets muddied by the background.” They were both definitely right about this–and by implication, I needed to spread out my dialogue across more balloons, instead having it all in one or two big chunks–so I went back to the Illustrating board (Adobe Illustrator that is), and fixed this problem, sometimes needing a few tries to get that consistency.

final draft p 1

Final Draft pg. 1

first draft p 3

First Draft pg. 1

                                                                       

second draft p 3

Second Draft pg. 3

first draft p 3

First draft pg. 3

 

final draft p 3

Final draft pg. 3

third draft p 3

Third draft pg. 3

 

One other thing that can be off-putting to some people is anything to do with word gangster. It gets people to assume straight away and that takes away from the experience.

Your story sounds deeper than just a regular gangster story and maybe a new title will help with that.  I thought about this and came up with the alternate title A Family Affair, which conveys the generational/systemic/secretive motifs I was looking for in the comic, but when asking most people, they preferred the original title.  They thought the alternative was too bland (and that might have been what Markosia was looking for–a title that won’t offend or alienate others). But, as I tell my students when talking about writing, your work is only good if it elicits an emotional reaction.  So, as far as I was concerned, Markosia was 1 for 3 on their feedback. Let’s see how other publishers fared.

 

Email 2 from TJ Comics:

Appreciate the submission. We love your passion and enthusiasm.

Whatever you do, don’t let go of Juan. And yes, this is a story best suited to black and white. Two things stick out about the pages. 1) The cover needs a catchier logo and should have some color to it. It also doesn’t really tell us what the story is about. And based on the title and synopsis, it’s not really a “Rebirth” of a gangster, so much as it is a Journey to becoming. (more on that in a moment). Rebirth is supposed to imply the rebirth of the family as a gangster family, but maybe they weren’t digging that thematic idea; it’s also supposed to connect to the national resurgence of crime and stereotyping black people as criminals, but maybe that’s too complex for this company.  They were right on that the cover needed color and a catchier logo.

2) The lettering is not professional and inconsistent. You don’t want to have different font sizes based on the amount of dialogue, and you want to be sure that the captions can be read clearly. The captions are placed cleverly in some spots but immediately the placement of the text on page 1 panel 3 gets muddied by the background.

Story-wise, 24 issues is a lot for an independent/creator-owned comic of this magnitude. Frankly, it’s unrealistic and you would need consistent sales and marketing to justify a series of that length from unknown creators, let alone consistent and increased month-to-month distribution.  I see where they’re coming from in terms of the financial worry, but I didn’t want to compromise my vision this much for a financial consideration–I have another job, so my main intent with this comic is to just get it out there and make it as strong creatively as I can. There are too many characters and way too many plot threads when in reality at the end of the day the story should be primarily about Marcus and Hunter.  Hmm…what about Game of Thrones?  The Walking Dead? The Wire?  I guess they’d also say The Avengers and Justice League of America wouldn’t work because there are too many characters in those comics.  And wouldn’t focusing more on female characters, a gay character, and Latino characters create a wider appeal, not less of one?

That’s where the strength is, and it’s an intriguing hook to have a successful black character contrasted against a broken white character and the sins of their fathers. But what’s Marcus and Hunter’s real journey? There are some interesting things at play and I think the story could be consolidated to focus on the relationship between Marcus and Hunter and their fathers. Was he so remorseful about killing John that he changed his life and encouraged Marcus to become a lawyer? Is Hunter’s primary motivation to seek revenge by turning Marcus to a life of crime for the sins of their fathers? The real meat of the story is there, that’s the most intriguing plotline. You can still have many of the other characters, but their journeys and arcs should be supplemental to the main characters’.  These are all good questions, and just because I have 4 other supplementary characters doesn’t mean I can’t focus on Hunter and Marcus.

Your ultimate endgame is the moral dilemma that Marcus faces and that final confrontation with Hunter. Marcus doesn’t have to be the perfect person, but it seems as though he should have an understanding of right and wrong and not wanting to become the man his father was at one point.  That’s the whole dilemma for Marcus outlined in the synopsis and the script, so I’m thinking they didn’t read it closely enough.

This is really a story you could tell (and have solid success with) in 96 pages or less. It would be best suited in print as a graphic novel that could be serialized digitally.  I also had other advice to serialize this digitally and then turn it into a graphic novel, so this makes sense, which is what I’ve been doing (not the 96 pages part though–clearly we have a difference about the scope this comic should have).

For future pitches, some advice that I learned over time and a few failed pitches myself. In your cover letter, you’re trying to sell yourself a bit too much. Your story is what matters and what makes it unique. A description of your work and experience should be no more than a paragraph and a brief explanation of the story and why you are telling it should follow. Fair point: as with all writing, especially cover letters, strive to be concise.  This is the hardest thing for me to do in a cover letter when I want to impress, but they’re absolutely right.

The one-page synopsis is way too detailed and that was my first red flag that there might be way too much going on in the story. You really want one major plot thread that sticks out with smaller secondary plots subtly weaving their way into the main plot.   The secondary plots all do this (Small Spoiler Alert! Katilyn and Lorena go through their own struggles, which helps lead them to the plot of Hunter and Marcus; Randy’s plots within the robbery connects to the framing of his father by Curtis; Dennis and Lizzeth’s romance creates a hole in Marcus and Hunter’s gang, creating tension toward the end to make it seem like the plan isn’t going to work, so that Marcus is able to nominate Devonte and create more tension within this gang –how does this not weave into the main plot?)

You want to hold the reader’s attention with the primary journey and it often gets lost in the smaller details and situations throughout the extended narrative. While I don’t think they have the right perspective on these secondary characters and subplots, it is good advice for me to keep the main journey in mind.  So, even though the outline shows that a chapter should focus on a character, that doesn’t mean it is only focusing on the character; I’ve added more Marcus scenes in the second chapter based on this advice, for instance, so this advice is partially helpful.

Thanks for submitting and we hope to hear from you again soon!

 

Email 3 from Anonymous Publisher:

There was a publisher who said their feedback was not for publication, but I’ll briefly summarize their feedback. They said they couldn’t publish it, but that it was a fun work and that I should consider Kickstarter as a way to publish it electronically and/or in print. While I had thought of this idea before, it was nice to see it reaffirmed–especially the idea that I could start with digital serialization and Kickstarter campaigns and then move to print campaigns for the graphic novel that collects each individual story arc, all of which I did.

 

Email 4 from Creator’s Edge Press:

Email 4A:

Thanks for sending us your work.This book looks fantastic.

But I think I must explain a few things about CEP before we move any further… We are in a position to get your book out to a broader audience, but we’re not comic tycoons with deep pockets. Typically, we ask any creator bringing us a book to pay for the print run (keep in mind that we have a pretty decent deal worked out with our printers, so you get to take advantage of that as opposed to going it alone). The split is 50/50 of the profit (once the price of each book is returned to you on a sale by sale basis) no matter how many sell, we pay out twice a year and we NEVER want to own your book. The property always stays yours.

Basically, I’m interested in the new project and I’d like to read more before we make our final decision.

Also, keep in mind that an outfit like ours isn’t really doing a lot of single issue comics. It’s easier for us to promote a graphic novel of a full story arc and it’s cheaper for you to print them in the long run. It just makes sense all around. We can release the singles digitally to spark a following, but print should be reserved for trades and graphic novels. (things over 80 pages) BTW, setting up a “digital only” contract with us costs nothing. There’s no real money in it (downloads don’t yield much cash), but it will be something we can promote until the rest of the book is completed OR until you can find the cash to print the graphic novel.

If you’re thinking of self-publishing anyway, give us a try. If we enjoy a book, we’re going to try to get it into the hands of others who will like it. It’s just that simple. But we’re not as big as even Arcana (especially now that they are under the Boom umbrella). We’re pretty grassroots and mostly make our bread and butter at cons and shows. Also, keep in mind that while we will submit the book to Diamond, they are not the end-all-be-all of our sales. In fact, as the industry changes, large outfits like Diamond are having less and less faith in small press and indie books. What I’m getting at is: Don’t count on Diamond. At all. Our main focus is conventions, shows, direct sales, etc. The more people we can get the books out to the better. But we cannot depend on the distributors. Just want everything to be as clear as possible.

Now I’d like to take a moment to talk about our company structure. CEP is a network of creators helping creators. So, when one creator of a CEP book goes to a show, while their book is the star (obviously, because you are there to sign books), the rest of our titles are available. So, you do a show near your home town with your book and the others in our library, the same thing is happening with the other creators all over the country. You are getting exposure at every con we attend and you don’t have to leave your house. And CEP tries to pay for tables at the bigger shows, so all you have to do (if it’s in your area or you are travelling to it) is show up and sit at the table. Any money collected from the sales of books is sent back to us. Any sales of art, personal swag, etc. is yours to keep.

But, if you pay for the table at a local con (as CEP can’t pay for every show), you keep all money from sales of YOUR book to offset your overhead. Your book is still selling and the CEP brand is getting out there. We’re happy.

Let me know if this is something that interests you and we can talk further.

Thanks!

Travis Bundy (CEP Art / Submissions Director)

 

Email 4B:

Hi Travis,

Thanks for your quick and detailed feedback.  I need to look at it a little more closely, but here’s my first response:

1) I’m still interested in working with you, but maybe more to publish the story arcs/graphic novels instead of the individual issues: I’d probably go digital for individual issues if I’m working with you.

2) Would you be able to send me a quick run-down of printing costs through the printer you use?

(divided by page count, black and white vs. color, and number of copies being printed–if there are other categories you normally use, of course throw those in)

Thanks

 

Email 4C:

It all depends on what the end size of the book is (dimensions and page count), Let me know what one one volume would be and I can get an approximate cost.

Also, if you plan to do it this way, we would require at least the first 2 graphic novels to be completed before committing to the project. No offense to you, but we have to be sure about people’s level of commitment before we involve ink and paper lol!

 

Email 4D:

The size would be standard comic size:

7 inches wide x 10.5 inches

The page count for individual issues would be 22 pages, but the page count for graphic novels would be 132 pages.

 

Email 4E:

 

Thanks. What is your address? We typically ship half the books to us and half to you (250 each – 500 total book run) and I need them to calculate shipping costs into this. That way you can sell them on your end as well and have them available for cons.

I sent my address to him, but I’m not putting it here.

 

Email 4F:

I got some numbers back from my printer.

To do a 7×10 book, 132 pages + cover, 500 copies your cost would be $3,886.02. That’s roughly $7.77 per book. If we sell them for $15, we give the cost to print that copy back to you off the top and then split the remainder 50/50. So, per sale, you’d get $11.39 and we would get $3.61. If we sell directly to stores, it will be less, (as we could only charge half of the cover price to the store), but we won’t take a cut on those sales. And any copies you sell on your own the money is yours to keep. But we let you set your own pricing on your book. If you want to sell it for more or less, just let us know.

If this sounds like something you’d like to pursue, we’d want to see the full first book before we could make our final decision. But you should have all the nuts and bolts in place before we move forward.

 

Email 4G:

Hi Travis,

Thanks for getting back to me and outlining your model with specifics.

Would it be an issue if I sold the individual chapters digitally (so I can afford to keep paying Juan and possibly bankroll some of the printing costs) and then sent the graphic novel to you to print?  Or would you not like the fact that it’s available in a different format in smaller chunks earlier?

 

Email 4H:

If you want to do the digital sales on your own, we are totally fine with that. We can also sell the copies digitally, but honestly it really should be written off as a marketing expense. There’s very little money in indie digital sales. My recommendation would be to do a kickstarter campaign and ask for a bit more than is needed to print. That way, you can pay him up front and then more on the back end per sale.

If we get the rights to print a graphic novel, we’re good. In fact, one of our titles already had issues printed before the GN. So it’s all good. Preferably we’d like our imprint on the digital copies as well, but it’s not necessary if it’s an issue.

Let us know! Thanks!

 

I thought about taking them up on this offer when I was in my first few issues of the series, but it on further thought, it seemed more like a vanity press option.  And even if it wasn’t a vanity press, it still seemed like too much of a financial investment to work with a company that doesn’t have that wide of a reach, making it unlikely to offer a good return on that investment.

After all of this feedback and some reflection I decided to self-publish individual issues digitally and compile each storyarc into printed editions.  It’s definitely an uphill struggle, but I think it’s worth it for the creative control and financial freedom that it lends itself to. In fact, you can get the first printed edition now, collecting issues 1-6 and the first arc, “Meet the Family”.

Before I started self-publishing, I had to examine digital platforms, so stay tuned for that, my last installment in “Creating Rebirth of the Gangster”.

And, after I found the platform, I did run a successful Kickstarter campaign, which I covered already–happy reading and creating!

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