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Tue, December 28th, 2010 at 1:58pm PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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LOOKING AHEAD: CINEBOOK

The Cinebook catalog for the Winter and Fall is available through the Cinebook website. It's a 17 page PDF and well worth a perusal. Though based in the UK with limited distribution here in the States, they've put together an impressive and broad publishing program. The catalog lists 153 books in 37 different series.

The best news is that my favorite series, "Largo Winch," gets two new volumes by April. Of course, that's because they've gone to the European release format for the series. The initial four volumes actually collected two albums apiece. The most recent two, and these next two, are only reprinting one volume per book. And, as you may or may not know, each "Largo Winch" story is two albums long. I'm sure this was done for price reasons. The difference is $8 a volume. Looking at it the other way, though, it now costs an extra $4 to get a complete story ($12 x 2 instead of $20 x 1.) I'm guessing they're trying to get (a) more volumes in print or (b) new readers who might be more willing to sample at a $10 discounted price point.

There are a lot of other titles worth looking at as well. Just reading the descriptions for "XIII" has finally actively interested me in the series, beyond just the usual, "Ooh, they made a TV movie of this," curiosity. It's illustrated by Jean Van Hamme, the same artist as "Largo Winch."

"Orbital" is a series I've never looked twice at, though the third volume due out in May is rather pretty looking. Science fiction swamp adventure? Looks cool.

And, finally, I need to give "Lucky Luke" a try. I'm a huge fan of "Asterix," which was also written by Rene Goscinny, but I've never delved too far into "Lucky Luke." Initially, there was something about the art which bothered me, but looking at it now, I'm rather taken by it. Maybe my tastes have morphed over the years and I'm OK with that 60s cartooning look?

Plus, as the catalog notes, Cinebook has now published more volumes of "Lucky Luke" in English than anyone else. They'll be at 29 when the June release, "The Grand Duke," is published. This could be mighty expensive if I really like it...

I wonder if Cinebook has given any thought to selling slipcases for these series? 10 volumes of "Lucky Luke" might stand up better in a well-designed box. I know the "Bone" books did those, back when Cartoon Books was doing those with the trade paperbacks. Fantagraphics does it for their "Peanuts" reprints. And manga series make them quite often, don't they?

I encourage you to take a look at the Cinebook catalog for anything that might pique your interest. They have books for all ages, including some great humorous kids books, straight through to the more mature readers titles, which "Largo Winch" falls into. Plus: adventure, sci-fi, historical, pirates, and a lot more. It's a strong lineup.

LOOKING BACK: PIPELINE 2010

The Walking Dead

Is there any bigger creator-owned success story this year than "The Walking Dead?" With a television series getting off to both critical and popular acclaim, a new ray of light has focused itself on the Robert Kirkman series that continues to defy all odds. It's an independent, non-superhero, black and white comic book that holds its readership on a bad day, and often increases it from month to month, despite being almost 80 issues old.

Special Events and Special Columns

Wonder Woman's New Costume sparked all sorts of crazy reaction, much of which came from people who should have known better.

Just the announcement that DC was going digital was enough to spark a whole extra column out of me. Truth be told, the news of a day-and-date title was likely the most important business move DC made that day. Marvel already had a Comixology app. With this announcement, DC trumped Marvel's single overpriced day-and-date comic experience and jumped in with two toes in the water. Marvel has since countered with a "Thor" book going day-and-date, most likely because they're publishing so many of those lately that the retailers won't notice and get ticked off at them.

We talked this year about the horrible cancer on our industry that is phototracing. (Part 1 and Part 2.

I made a proposal that Marvel's "Strange Tales 3" should be done by children's book authors, instead of indy comics creators.

Digital Comics

The story of 2010 is, without a doubt, the dawning of digital distribution. Yes, it's been around officially for more than just a year, but this is the year where it became something to rally around. For starters, Apple's iPad announcement, release and sales bonanza led to a whole new form factor for digital entertainment, one that fits the comic book format to a tee. Marvel kicked off the iPad's release with a digital comics app of their own, and DC followed closely behind. At year's end, just about every company has a digital comics plan. Dark Horse's starts up in January 2011, with an exciting bookshelf application of its own. And Diamond Distributors is hinting towards their own digital distribution program.

Digital Comics once seemed like a quaint idea, the kind of thing some feverish artist might use to produce comics in a one-off Batman or Iron Man comic. Today, there isn't a part of the comics production pipeline that isn't digital, and that now includes distribution. The possibilities for experimentation in this field aren't exactly new; Scott McCloud has been pushing on those borders for many, many years. But the business opportunity is now there to put comics in front of a brand new audience at a reasonable cost.

I spent a lot of time in Pipeline this year, particularly in the spring, on digital comics and all the different angles the story might take. Here's a round-up:

  • Comics Thoughts On the iPad Announcement (02 Feb)

  • Adventures in Selling Comics on eBay (02 Mar

  • The Amazon Glitch and Digital Comics Prices (09 March)

  • The Effect of Digital Comics on Conventions? (16 March)

  • The Role of the iPad in Comics Today (06 April)

  • How Digital Impacts the Back Issue Market (27 Apr)

  • The Direct Market Blinds Publishers to Wider Audiences (25 May)

  • DC Goes Digital (23 Jun)

  • Day and Date Iron Man Is a Flawed Experiment (08 June)

  • Could Humanoids' Digital Comics Change the Industry? (22 Jun)

  • Reading "The Walking Dead" on an iPhone (30 Nov)

Reviews for 2010

I like to track the graphic novels and collections I review each year. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • "365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice" (12 Jan)

  • "Absolute Planetary 2" (03 Aug)

  • "American Vampire" HC (28 Sept)

  • "Asterix and Obelix's Birthday" (11 May)

  • "Batman: The Cat and the Bat" (09 Feb)

  • "B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess" (11 May)

  • "Brody's Ghost" (10 Aug) (Volume 2 is due out next week)

  • "Copper" (16 Feb)

  • "EmiTown" (21 Dec)

  • "Hulk, Volume 3" (23 Mar)

  • "I Killed Adolf Hitler" 23 Feb)

  • "Invincible Iron Man Omnibus"" (11 May)

  • "Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher" (09 Feb)

  • "Modern Masters: Guy Davis" (27 Apr)

  • "Off Road" (02 June)

  • "Purple Smurfs" (08 Sept)

  • "Scott Pilgrim" and "Planetary Volume 1" (13 July)

  • "The Saga of Rex" (02 Nov)

  • "Superman: Earth One" (26 Oct)

  • "The Thin Black Line: Perspective on Vince Colletta" (31 Aug)

  • "Torpedo Volume 1"" HC (11 May)

  • "Vampire Dance" (14 Dec)

  • "The Venice Chronicles" (31 Aug)

  • "The Walking Dead: The Covers" (12 Oct)

  • "The Wednesday Conspiracy" (07 Dec and 14 Dec)

  • "Ythaq, Volume 1" (23 March)

I didn't do as many Pipeline Retro features this year as I did the previous couple. But, if I stretch the definition a little bit, I did put together these four:


  • "The Infinity Gauntlet" (24 Aug)

  • "NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E." (17 Aug)

  • "The Crossovers" (CrossGen) (10 Aug)

  • Silver Surfer (26 Jan)
In Conclusion

That's a lot of writing, and I thank all of you for supporting Pipeline through the year 2010. Whether it was just by reading, or from a friendly email or a mention on a message board or a retweet, you've all helped make Pipeline the fun that it is today.

Looking back, there's always more I wish I would have written. I don't think there are too many years that I wouldn't have said that, though. So I'm being happy with what I've done and will let the rest sort itself out over time.

There will be more fun in 2011, complete with more arguments, more digital comics, and who knows what other craziness will come up. The comics industry is banking big in 2011 on cover prices, movie tie-ins, digital distribution, corporate synergy, and more. Major failures in any one of those departments could lead to some very ugly situations that we, as comic fans, don't want to see happen.

And we'll be taking it one week at a time here in Pipeline. I'm sure it'll all provide lots of fodder for future columns. Whenever I'm worried I won't have anything to write about in the next PIPELINE, I know some news will drop at the last minute and we're back off to the races.


Strap yourselves in, because 2011 could be legendary.

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

Where else I hang out: AugieShoots.com(might be down for a period this week, as I change hosts) || VariousandSundry.com

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