Pipeline

Tue, October 12th, 2010 at 1:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist
5

NEW YORK COMIC CON 2010

NYCC is now the San Diego Comic Con of the east coast. We're less than two years away from full-scale pavilions to promote movies inside the con hall, I have to think.

It's hard to believe that just five years ago, most of us thought a large New York City comic convention was impossible. Congrats to the team at Reed for getting the job done, despite the unions and other NYC-related expenses.

Let's recap some of the news and what it all means:

  • Bob Wayne has been promoted at DC Entertainment. You may continue to hold your breath on that Batman/Daredevil crossover.

  • With Brian Bendis working on an upcoming Moon Knight book, a Moon Knight/Daredevil crossover co-written with Ed Brubaker would make a lot of sense. Surely, there's a plot laying around that would just need a tweak or two.

  • Man, poor "Powers" can't catch a break, can it? Every time you think it's starting up again and will be around for good, it disappears. This time, it's so Bendis and Oeming can do an all-ages comic. What do we need to get "Powers" back on track again? A TV series officially on the schedule?

  • DC and Marvel announced price drops. Some comic retailers expressed their disappointment at making less per issue on the 10% fewer comics they'll sell in 2011. And some comic fans went back to playing video games they downloaded and got to play immediately.

  • Does anyone seriously think Marvel heard DC's news on Thursday and made a quick phone call to the accountants in the bean counting division, and instantly decided to do $2.99 for new titles inside of an hour? I've seen people on-line saying that Marvel is copying DC here, when it's clear that, given how big corporations work, there's no way such a major decision on pricing content could have been made in an hour or two. They're just trolls I should ignore, right?

  • Seriously, a black-bagged "Fantastic Four" issue? Seriously? OK, now you may say that Marvel is copying DC. At least they waited twenty years on this count, though. I think Superman's death is a story told with less frequency than the death of an F4 cast member.

  • And while I'm being negative, let's be the twentieth to >link to Simon Pullman's awesome takedown of Marvel's digital comics policies:

    "...they are saying to readers ‘now that you’ve enjoyed this conveniently accessible, digitally malleable version of the story, please drive to the comic book store to buy the physical copy of the next issue – for more money.’ That seems incredibly backward to me, and I’d love for somebody to explain to me why it’s not."

    Don't look at me, Simon.

  • Only one major convention in 2010 had a stabbing in a panel room. To everyone's surprise, it wasn't New York's.

  • I wrote the previous bullet point on Friday and held my breath all weekend that it would still be true on Monday. Whew.

  • Ted Rall bailed on the digital comics versus print comics debate, due to a book signing across the country. I hear Kurtz offered to let him Skype in, but that Rall would only send his responses via carrier pigeion.

  • DC wants to do 20 pages of story in your 32 page comics. This means a number of things:

    Every DC comic will have two more pages of ads, and I'll bet they won't be pushed into the back of the book. You'll see more double-page ads in the middle, breaking up the reading experience even more.

    Fewer fill-in artists? With two fewer pages a month to draw, does this mean every new DC launch won't require a fill-in artist by its third issue? That would be a miracle.

    Only 20 pages a month? Adam Hughes can now draw a six issue mini-series in less than three years! He'll also need to do an extra 10 commissions a month to make up for those lost two pages, setting that back by another year.

  • In other news, "All Star Wonder Woman" is on hold.

  • Let's do some math:. A drop in comic price from $4 to $3 means that a retailer needs to now sell 33% more comics to make the same amount of money next year. Does anyone want to bet on DC seeing a 33% sales rise in 2011? Yes, that's incredibly short-sighted thinking, but this is comics. Has there ever been any other kind?

  • The return of "Ruse" with Mark Waid at Marvel is very good news, indeed, if it pans out. I hope I'm wrong about my previous thoughts for what Marvel's CrossGen plans might be. (Basically, CrossGen would be a great place to try out all the new talent they keep scouting from Europe.) If Marvel lets Butch Guice draw "Ruse" with Mark Waid writing it, then I know many people who will be very very happy.

    Maybe Marvel could even do those oversized 300-style "Ruse" hardcovers that the series so richly deserves.

  • Did Marvel redo the CrossGen sigil icon for some trademark reason? Or is it just their way of slightly rebranding the line?

  • Imagine an imprint at Marvel with a slate of regular monthly books drawn by Steve McNiven, Jimmy Cheung, Greg Land, Steve Epting, Brandon Peterson, and Butch Guice. Ten years ago, CrossGen was a magical publishing house, wasn't it?

  • Kathryn Immonen and Phil Noto are doing a Jubilee comic? Cool! Can we get a trade paperback of Robert Kirkman's "Jubilee" mini-series now? Has anyone ever asked for that? I might be the first.

  • Adi Granov is to draw a new "Astonishing Captain America" five-parter due out next summer. Remember, now, that it's only five issues and that the first isn't due out for at least eight months. That gives Marvel a solid three issues of on-time delivery before the wheels fall off the wagon.

  • "Ultimate Spider-Man" #150 will be a return to the series' original numbering system. Why not? The "Ultimate" line has now done everything else comic fans have come to dislike about comics in the modern era. Might as well add "revert to original numbering" to the list.

  • I'm not 100% sure I understand Dark Horse's "home grown digital comics app" yet, but that's mostly because the press release is so coy, and their promotions so contradictory. Is it really a smart idea to promote your own "comics bookshelf" app that circumvents Apple's App Store by introducing a slew of free apps into Apple's App Store? Seems backwards, don't you think?

    I'm guessing that this home grown app will work like the Kindle App works. All your monetary transactions don't occur inside the app, but rather through a website. You can open your Dark Horse app, but then it opens the Safari app to take you to the store to buy more comics. Many find this workaround to be the least of Kindle's features.

  • BOOM!, meanwhile, turns out to be the ultimate digital comics pragmatist. Have an on-line comic shop? BOOM! is there with their complete library. Given the current state of digital comics, this isn't a bad idea.

    But isn't it a shame that the dozen (not the real number, but likely close) digital comic stores that BOOM! has joined means 12 different file formats? The music industry tried that and failed miserably. Hopefully, the comics industry will learn before it's too late.

  • APE Entertainment landed the much sought after license for Richie Rich comics. They plan on updating the character to be a globe-trotting adventurous rich boy. In other words, they're making Richie Rich into Scrooge McDuck. I'm not one to pre-judge their business acumen, but have they seen the sales figures of "Uncle Scrooge" for the last decade?

    And you just know there are people upset that Greg Land won't be drawing their "Strawberry Shortcake" series.

  • Is anyone else bored with Stan Lee announcements? Has Stan Lee written anything in the last ten years that's memorable? Besides "Striperella," which is only memorable as a punchline for jokes.

  • NYCC filled up the entire Javitz Center, sold out, and was jam-packed all weekend long. Con organizers are demanding an expansion to the center now to facilitate future years' conventions. Atlantic City and Philadelphia have started to prepare their pitches to the NYCC coordinators to steal the show. NYCC Organizers are willing to let this go on for as long as they can milk it, to persuade local hotels to stop booking other conventions in the area and give favorable rates.

    At the very least, I look forward to the inevitable pedestrian bridge to the parking lot across the street.

  • The previous bullet point is a work of fiction. Please don't call Lance Fensterman for comment on my ridiculously stretched San Diego parallel.

  • Possibly the worst thing Hollywood has brought to comics journalism is the introduction of the ridiculous phrase, "sizzle reel."

  • Completely unrelated, but while I'm being a grumpy old man: Can the hipsters stop asking people to "holla" at them?

  • Best con-related news of all: Next year's NYCC is scheduled for October 14-16th. I'll be able to attend! At that point, it'll have been two and half years since my last convention. I can't wait! On the other hand, Reed has also said that early October is their scheduled date for the show for years to come, so I likely will miss more of them in the future as the weekends shift around. Crap.

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COVERS

Matching the size of the standard "Walking Dead" hardcover books, "The Walking Dead Covers" is a great art book and process junkie archive. Inside it are the first 50 issues' worth of covers. Each is reprinted full size and in color on the left page, while the right page gives you commentary from Robert Kirkman and the artist (Tony Moore or Charles Adlard, where appropriate.) It's filled with behind the scenes stories, art theory, sketches, layouts, and more. It even includes all of the trade paperback and hardcover reprint covers.

I was worried that this would turn into a DVD commentary track where the write compliments the artist, and the artist replies demurely with an "aw, gee" and "it's nothing." Instead, Kirkman and Moore and Adlard aren't afraid to point out each others' flaws, where bad ideas got fixed and what goofs happened along the way. Not only is there a sense of camaraderie that comes across in the multiple back-and-forths, but also a sense of the story behind the story. We see comics as a simple product that gets printed and distributed, but a book like this pulls back the curtain just enough to give us a better sense of the chaos, dumb luck, and hard work that goes into that final 32 page stapled item.

But there's also interesting artistic talk in here, notably early on from Tony Moore, as he learns Photoshop to draw snow over his art (using a unique method), and discusses color theory. Moore colored his own covers and used various textures he collected over there years to make everything look as good as it does.

Sure, Kirkman refers to the artist as "knocking one of out of the ballpark" once too often, but the copy is clean and the conversational tone of the book makes for a much lighter read than a heavier Art Theory reading might have had.

The only thing missing from the book is Cliff Rathburn, who colors Adlard's covers and does the gray toning inside the book, too.

The hardcover has the design printed right on the book, so no annoying dustjacket to deal with. It contains not just the first 50 covers from the monthly series, but also the covers to the trade paperbacks and hardcover books collecting those issues. The book is a mere $25, and worth if for dedicated "The Walking Dead" fans, or those with an interest in some of the behind the scenes shenanigans at a successful monthly series.

Next week: Your guess is as good as mine. It will be the 700th week of Pipeline next week, though. Like I said, I'm a cranky old man now.

And speaking of Kirkman titles, I have some Invincible-themed eBay auctions running right now.

How to get in touch: Twitter @augiedb || E-mail || Pipeline Message Board

Where else I hang out: AugieShoots.com || < A HREF="http://www.variousandsundry.com" target="_blank">VariousandSundry.com

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TAGS:  pipeline, nycc2010, new york comic con, the walking dead

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