Pipeline: Bat-Comics, Twitter Networking & More

Tue, July 12th, 2011 at 12:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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OCTOBER DC COMICS COVER NOTES

DC has started to trickle out their October solicitations. I'm game. Let's talk:

  • Nightwing needs to see a doctor about his rib cage. Check out the cover to "Nightwing" #2 -- it's good to know that if he ever has a heart attack, no rib-spreaders will be needed. They're naturally far apart enough to plunge your hand in and, unassisted, rip out his heart a la "Temple of Doom."

  • "Batman: The Dark Knight" #2: Yes, David Finch already has a script and art assist as of the second issue of a reborn series he hasn't produce a single issue of in months. As a bonus, DC promises a shocking final page. Judging by the cover, Two-Face is about to go Ultimate Hulk on Batman's Ultimate Wolverine.

  • "Batwoman" #2: DC calls this "2011's most anticipated new series." It also qualified for that category in 2010, too.

  • "The Huntress" #1: I'm just going to come out and say it: That is an ugly cover. Huntress' eyes are made up like Tammy Fate Baker's, her torso is twisting as it she's trying to show the reader just how far out her breasts can point and she's got two stubs for arms. On the bright side, it looks like she's swinging through the back alleys of a Will Eisner comic.

    The punditry will no doubt continue through the week as DC reveals more covers. Sadly, this column has a deadline long before we get to the rest.

TWITTER FRIENDS

I'm often amazed by how often some comic professionals tweet. That's not a value judgment on their work habits, by any means. Many of them are fast typers, quick wits and friendly folks. This is their social time, no different from the time your fellow cube slaves spend hanging out around the coffee machine or water cooler.

I realized last week that, given the way Twitter works, I only see the tweets a specific pro sends out to other pros who I also follow, and I don't follow everyone. Those prolific Twitter users might very well be twice as prolific as I know them to be, just given the number of messages Twitter doesn't show me by default.

That blew my mind.

The other interesting thing to watch for is which professionals are friendly with which other professionals, and then wonder how that all came about. These are people who have never worked together, or who don't even work at the same companies, whose styles and personalities are wildly different. And there they are on Twitter, one-upping each other on the latest gag hashtag chain or debating the finer points of digital distribution.

The social network is a funny thing. I love it.

THE DIGITAL COMICS PARALLEL IS OBVIOUS, RIGHT?

Thanks to digital music, album sales are up for the first time year-over-year since 2004.

Are you listening, comics industry?!?

THREE YEARS AGO IN PIPELINE...

From the Pipeline column of July 15, 2008:

The regular miniseries will start later this year, but Marvel wants to remind you that it's still in the works. "Captain America: White" #0 is a standalone 17-page story giving us the origin of Bucky. I'm not well enough versed in Captain America lore to vouch for its "authenticity," but it works for me. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale glide across the story, giving enough character to hook us in while showing us a plot without over-explaining it. Steve Rogers provides the narration, which works well to give the story its final sad twist. It also provides some characterization that's not always explicit in the action. In other words, the text adds to the story instead of repeating the art. That's Comics 101 there.

I don't think Marvel wants to remind you about it much anymore.

Back on July 8th, I pondered what "Absolute" editions we might see in the future:

"Absolute StormWatch" -- Collecting the early issues from Warren Ellis and Tom Raney. That's never been in hardcover before.

Still hasn't. DC/Wildstorm works hard to ignore everything that came before Ellis and Bryan Hitch's run. Even with the Wildstorm characters leaking into the relaunched DC Universe, I doubt we'll see this anytime soon.

"Absolute Superman/Batman" -- Two volumes should collect Jeph Loeb's entire run nicely. The series acted as an artist showcase for the likes of Carlos Pacheco, Michael Turner, and Ed McGuinness.

This would still be a great idea. Hasn't happened yet, though the run is available in a series of standard hardcovers that line up nicely on the bookshelf.

"Absolute Superman: Birthright" -- Part of me think the time for this book has passed, but with Leinil Francis Yu getting high-profile assignments at Marvel right now, it could sell.

Given the number of times DC has tried to "reboot," "relaunch" or "Ultimatize" Superman at this point, I think they're better off letting sleeping dogs lie. There was a standard hardcover edition once upon a time, but I'm not sure it's still in print.

"Absolute Flash," by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins -- I'm not sure how it would work. "Absolute" volumes collect stories with definite beginnings and endings. Kolins' run on the title didn't really have that, I don't think.

As it turned out, this one just recently went the route of the 12 issue hardcover format.

"Absolute The Monolith" -- OK, that's just me and my unnatural love for the artwork of Phil Winslade. It'll never happen.

Not out yet, though a Facebook campaign for a reprint popped up not that long ago.

"Absolute The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke" -- This one should be a slam dunk for 2009. It's why I haven't bought any collections of the series to date.

I still can't believe this one hasn't happened. Cooke is supposedly working on something for DC again, so maybe that'll raise his profile enough to make this viable in 2012? Maybe?

"Absolute Justice" by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross -- See the "slam dunk" comment above.

Finally, I got one right! This one came out in November 2009.

"Absolute All Star" Anything -- Jim Lee's work is always Absoluted. The "Superman" volume is a little iffier, but I think they'll go for it.

I got this one completely backwards, as Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "All Star Superman" run has reached mythical proportions, along with a much-loved Absolute edition. Frank Miller and Jim Lee's "All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" is still unfinished, despite repeated promises. In face, they were claiming to be back on the publishing schedule at the beginning of 2012, but nobody's said a word of it since Jim Lee was announced for the relaunched "Justice League" monthly.

"Absolute Batgirl" -- I'm thinking about the Scott Peterson/Kelley Puckett/Damion Scott run. The art was nice. The stories were strong. Two volumes should cover it. I think six of us might buy it, though. This is why I'm not employed by DC.

Smartly, DC hasn't hired me yet, so this book doesn't exist.

If they'd like to do "Absolute Batgirl: Year One" or "Absolute Robin: Year One," I'd be all over those, too.

Dare to dream...

"Absolute Top Ten" -- This is the one that would work the best. Imagine the original 12 issue series with all that beautiful Zander Cannon/Gene Ha art blown up onto larger pages. Imagine sorting through the backgrounds for all the meticulous details, background gags, and characters. It's the best of the ABC line for the format.

"Promethea" got the treatment, instead.

REGRETS? I'VE HAD A FEW

I remember reading "Y: The Last Man" in the back of my local comics shop one Sunday afternoon before it was officially released. Back then, Marvel and DC had their "First Look" program and retailers would get copies of next week's books a week in advance, so a friendly reviewer might talk his way into stopping by the shop on a slow Sunday afternoon, sit in the back room, and read through a bunch of comics, taking notes to be turned into reviews for that week's Tuesday column.

It was a great system, though it did lead to one mistake.

I read "Y: The Last Man" #1 in that back room. I enjoyed the issue and decided to read the series. But I didn't buy that first issue because so much other stuff came out that week. I'd buy the trade when it came out, instead. (And I did. And then I bought the hardcover edition later, too.)

Now, that comic is valued in the $50-$100 range. Whoops.

COMIC-CON FOR COMICS?

We can argue over statistical validity all day on this one. Perhaps app buyers are less likely to be comic fans? Perhaps comic fans are Luddites who use old fashioned paper and pen to schedule their convention days?

But you can't ignore this report from Rich Johnston that notices of the Top 50 Most Popular panels for San Diego, only one is comics-related, and that's a Dark Horse Spotlight on Joss Whedon.

Yeah, there's a comic convention in San Diego, and it's robust and alive and thriving. It's just a smaller part of a bigger thing happening in a convention center by the marina.

Thankfully, there is a whole raft of panels starring the comic books, themselves. Why, just from Image alone, you can sit in on a panel hosted by Top Cow which promises to discuss their exciting film and television properties (and comics which are produced with an eye towards the eventual film and television properties), a "Walking Dead" Season 2 panel, and how "The Darkness" is spreading to video games and "entertainment." Comics used to be entertainment, too.

Jim Lee draws live on Sunday and it's in room 28DE. If this were really a convention filled with people interested in comics, they'd pack Hall H with that one. Heck, I'm not entirely sure they couldn't fill that room for this panel. I bet this panel closes off real fast and lots of people get turned away. Shame.

But Sergio Aragones is interviewing Jordi Bernet on Sunday, and that's awesome.

So, yeah, please do go and enjoy the comic book convention happening across the street from the Monster Truck Rally and the Cirque du Soleil show. It's called "Trickster," I believe.

Oh, wait, one more from Saturday:

5:00-6:00 How comiXology Is Empowering Retailers to Sell Digital Comics to Increase Sales for All! -- A traditionally fragmented market, the comic book industry has come a long way in terms of closing the gap between publishers, retailers, and creators.

Yes, they're all going down together. Carrying on:

comiXology’s recently announced Digital Storefront Affiliate program has further catapulted the industry into transition by empowering publishers and retailers to strengthen synergies and tap into the vibrant digital marketplace to sell more comics.

Personally, I enjoy comics and the comic book industry because it's an escape from my average workday. If I wanted to see Buzzword Bingo this bad, I'd wait for my next department meeting, thanks.

On the other hand, it's appropriate language, given that my first exposure to the word "synergy" was a Chris Claremont "X-Men" comic book.

On the verge of another breakthrough within the industry, creators and independent publishers will soon be able to increase visibility in the digital marketplace through a standard format and ubiquitous platform using comiXology’s Guided View Authoring Tools. Learn more with David Steinberger (CEO of comiXology), P. J. Bickett (CEO of Archaia), Riley Brown (comic artist), and more to gain an inside perspective on how our recent programs are empowering and unifying the comic book industry to leverage the full the power of the digital marketplace. Room 4

I wish them luck in this space. Perhaps their multimedia approach to the conglomeration of democratized creatives will lead to the long tail of increased viability of their digital goods across multiple platforms, promoting the verticals along the way. If not, they'll pivot.

WRAPPING IT ALL UP

One last little bit: I love the high concept of the new webcomic by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett. It's like a mash-up of four different CrossGen titles.

That wraps it up for this week. Elsewhere:

I have a photography blog, AugieShoots.com, where I'm showing off pics from a recent Jake Shimabukuro concert. He's the ukulele virtuoso, and an amazing guy to watch work. Next week, I'm shooting a Huey Lewis and the News concert. Very excited for that. Go to VariousandSundry.com to read other oddball thoughts that aren't comics-related. Weird Al was a recent topic there. His new album is awesome.

Twitter @augiedb || E-mail || Pipeline Message Board

TAGS:  pipeline, batman, dc comics, dc relaunch

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