Graphic Novels/Comics

Light Novels Arrive in the U.S.—Again

1 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

In the North American publishing world, comics are comics and novels are novels. But if you peek into the manga section of your local bookstore, you might find a “light novel,” which, according to Leyla Aker, v-p publishing at Viz Media, “possesses elements of YA and genre fiction, combined with the uniquely Japanese element of the manga/anime connection.”

Light novels are Japanese prose works illustrated with manga-style drawings and are often adapted into manga and anime properties. While a few U.S. manga publishers dabbled in the books in the early 2000s, the category never quite took off. Now, Yen Press, Hachette Book Group’s graphic novel and manga line, has launched Yen On, a light novel imprint that will release at least 24 titles in 2015, and has plans to publish many more. Yen Press has already released several light novels, according to its publishing director Kurt Hassler, and, while its prose push is still young, he reported that results are promising.

. . . .

The term “light novels” was coined in Japan in the 1990s, but illustrated novels have been hot sellers with a devoted audience since the 1970s. The books are meant to be light entertainment: fast-paced serialized stories offered as inexpensive paperbacks. According to Japan’s Publishing Science Institute, light novels accounted for approximately 23.5% of the country’s general paperback sales in 2011. “Light novels are huge in Japan these days, and also in most countries in Asia,” observed Ju Youn Lee, senior editor at Yen Press. “In Korea, I think I would say that it’s even bigger than the manga market nowadays.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Eric for the tip.

How Amazon and Comixology betrayed comic book readers

3 May 2014

From Vox:

For the last two years, people have been buying comics like they do their music — in pajamas (optional), on a tablet, and mostly through a specific app called Comixology. Not unlike iTunes, Comixology allowed readers to search and buy comics with a flick of the finger, saving a trip to the brick and mortar store and (more importantly) possible embarrassment from looking like a comics newbie.

Comixology began showing its dominance in the app market place at the beginning of 2011. By September, it was in the top ten of the highest-grossing apps in the App store, and remained in that upper echelon for the next two years. In 2013, the company announced that it was the top-grossing non-game iPad app for the year. So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Amazon announced it was buying Comixology last month.

As with many acquisitions, neither company really spelled out what that meant for consumers.

. . . .

The Verge’s Adi Roberton was told by Comixology that the app would remain safe, even unchanged. Robertson reported:

A Comixology spokesperson confirmed that its brand and apps aren’t going away in the foreseeable future, saying that the companies would likely find ways to make Comixology and Kindle work better together.

On Saturday, users found that Amazon had gutted the app, killed one-touch buying, and in doing so, alienated publishers and rabid readers alike.

. . . .

Amazon’s changes mean buying a comic is now a tedious, multi-step process with logins, account creations, and is done through a web browser. The original app is now more or less just a fancy PDF reader for all the comics that clients have already purchased.

Link to the rest at Vox

PG claims little expertise in the world of apps, but understands this change (which applies to iPad and iPhone users only) is because Apple won’t allow apps sold through iTunes to implement in-app purchases unless those purchases pass through Apple, which takes 30% of the purchase price.

Amazon is not inclined to process content sales through Apple because of the 30% fee but also, more importantly (PG suspects), because Amazon generates a lot of additional sales based on the customer data it captures through direct sales. Apple doesn’t pass any customer data to the owners of apps (just like Amazon doesn’t pass any customer data to the people and business who sell direct on Amazon).

It’s an indication of how valuable customer data is to Amazon that it’s willing to irritate current Comixology purchasers with iPads by removing in-app purchasing.

At the risk of triggering an avalanche from Apple fanbois and fangurlz, PG humbly reminds them that Android tablets, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire, are very nice devices these days and typically cost a lot less than iPads.

PG seems to remember reading that the Fire HDX has a higher-res screen than the latest iPads which would seem to benefit comics readers.

Users are Reporting the New Comixology App is Missing Old Purchases

29 April 2014

From The Digital Reader:

Amazon ignited a storm of protest when they removed the in-app store from the Comixology app on Saturday, but the story isn’t over yet.

Numerous comic fans have reported on Twitter that the new Comixology app has lost many of their existing purchases. In addition to no longer being able to buy content inside the app, they are no longer able to even read some of the content they already bought!

. . . .

 If you have not checked your Comixology app yet, I suggest you do so. Based on the pattern of Comixology’s responses on Twitter I am not sure that they are aware of a systemic problem, and I don’t think they will notice until more people complain.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to SFR for the tip.

PG says this sounds like a misstep by Amazon.

UPDATE: PG received the following email from a Comixology person:

“Since the launch of the new Comics iOS reader application, there have been reports from a small group of customers who have purchased books from comiXolology that are seemingly not showing up in their account. This problem is occurring because customers have books tied to more than one comiXology account, and/or a separate iTunes account, and/or did not restore their purchases. If you have experienced any of these issues, please contact [email protected] and we will be happy to fix the problem.”

In wake of Amazon acquisition, ComiXology drops Apple in-app purchases

27 April 2014

From TeleRead:

Since its recent acquisition by Amazon, people have been wondering what changes Amazon is going to make to the company. The first one came along today: ComiXology is retiring its old iPhone and iPad e-comic applications, and releasing new ones that remove the ability to buy comics as in-app purchases from Apple devices. You have to buy them from the web store now. Unless you’re on Android, in which case the in-app store works just fine.

This is, of course, because of that pesky 30% commission Apple enforces on all in-app purchases. Amazon has steadfastly refused to pay the Jobsgeld, but ComiXology didn’t really have much choice. Here’s where being owned by the honey badger of e-commerce comes in handy. Amazon just doesn’t give a damn about any sales it might lose from not having in-app purchases through Apple. It’s not worth the 30% tax.

A side benefit is that ComiXology no longer has to worry about any potential Apple censorship or pressure not to make certain titles available for in-app purchase.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Amazon to purchase ComiXology e-comic-book store

11 April 2014

From TeleRead:

Looks like the Big Bad Amazon Wolf has just gulped down another hefty meal. Amazon has announced it will be acquiring ComiXology, the e-comic-book store that carries titles from Marvel, DC, Image, and a number of others. Although the various comic book publishers are trying to push their own stores, ComiXology has nonetheless become the best known source for e-books of popular comics. Now, like Audible and so many other brands, it is going to find a new home at Amazon.

News is pretty light on the ground about what this acquisition will entail. But it could be all kinds of good for both Amazon and ComiXology. The benefit to Amazon is fairly obvious. Amazon has sold graphic novels for its Kindle desktop and color tablet apps for some time now, but they’re really kind of a second thought, and it’s awkward to read them on anything short of a desktop screen or a full-sized 10” tablet where you can see the whole page in full size at once.

But ComiXology has a mature, fully-developed reader optimized for reading comic books. Its panel-by-panel “Guided Mode,” in which it zooms in so you can work your way through the book panel by panel using your full screen, is probably the best way to read comics on a mid-sized or small screen.

. . . .

And what if Amazon decided to add the ability to read a select library of ComiXology books to Amazon Prime? They’d have to work out the rights with the publishers of the books, of course, or else treat them like Kindle Owner Lending Library books and essentially pay purchase price for “check-outs”. But colorful comic books are a great way for Amazon to push the niftiness of its beautifully-full-color-and-high-resolution Kindle Fire tablets, so getting more of them on those tablets somehow is basically a no-brainer.

Link to the rest at TeleRead and thanks to William for the tip.

Why Does Everyone Keep Trying to Reinvent the Book?

21 October 2013

From The Digital Reader

A reader has brought my attention back to MadeFire. This is a 2 year old digital comics startup that has been getting a lot of attention lately, and according to FasctCo they plan to reinvent the comic book:

They’re hoping their new touch-publishing platform Motion Books will help artists and creative types fully embrace the power of mobile devices to create immersive reading experiences.

According to Madefire CEO Ben Wolstenholme, it’s not about throwing technology at digital publishing for technology’s sake—it’s still all about storytelling and the user experience. “Everything should serve the story. With traditional print, readers are pretty much limited to turning a page for a surprise or unexpected reveal. But with mobile devices and e-readers, it’s possible to do so much more” said Wolstenholme. “You can create a specific mood and atmosphere. You can use movement, sound, and visuals to enhance a story without taking away from it” he added.

***

Madefire produces a storytelling platform that incorporates the full range of a mobile device’s hardware to create a new form of digital storytelling that isn’t limited to turning pages — which is the universal method for advancing a story with books. Unlike the majority of digital comic books that were simply converted from print, motion books provide for artwork on a single page to move and interact with the reader (like swiping or tapping a touchscreen or moving the device to have artwork on a page shuffle around). A motion book’s story unfolds through layers of art, word balloons, and captions that unfold in sequence, which is sort of like reading a book that slowly fills a blank page with text as you read.

***

My opinion, in short, is that if I want moving images I will watch a movie. If I want a soundtrack I will load an mp3. And if I want interactivity in my novel I will play a computer game. But if I want to read I will open an ebook.

A book is not any of those other types of content, and trying to make a text into something resembling a game or movie misses the point of what a book is supposed to be.

See the rest, including the demo, here.

From Guest Blogger Randall 

Amazon’s Publisher Ambitions Target Comics With New “Jet City” Imprint Launch

9 July 2013

From TechCrunch:

Amazon is about to take on Marvel and DC with a new publishing imprint for comics.

. . . .

The new publishing brand is called “Jet City Comics,” and will begin with a series penned by Neal Stephenson called Symposium. Later this year, it’ll get a George R. R. Martin story adaptation, and then in 2014 it’s going to turn dystopian novel, Wool, into a serialized graphic novel.

Amazon will be treading mostly existing territory in the science fiction and fantasy genres with its new imprint launch, which is likely a way for it to ease into a tricky market with properties that have proven their ability to be commercial successes. It isn’t exactly a direct charge at publishers like Marvel and DC who dominate with their own original properties, but it is an opening salvo in what could become a much broader ambition.

. . . .

The bigger picture is also that Amazon can use this new publishing arm as another funnel in its content engine, with tie-ins possible between its original video series, books, and now comics, too. Amazon is essentially building itself into a microcosm of the general media landscape.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch

Author battles to unmask Batman’s secret co-creator

8 July 2013

From NBC Today Books:

Everybody knows Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne. But few have heard of the writer who came up with that name, as well as many of the most familiar facets of the Bat-mythos, including the Batmobile, Gotham City and the character’s tragic origin.

Marc Tyler Nobleman is out to change that. In his book “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman,” he argues that even though artist Bob Kane has received sole official credit for creating Batman since the character debuted in 1939, a writer named Bill Finger carved most of the legend we know today.

“If you break it down by who did what, by their own accounts, Bill Finger was by far the prime mover behind Batman,” Nobleman told TODAY.com.

Nobleman’s illustrated biography recounts how aspiring writer Finger’s collaboration with cartoonist Kane began after they met at a party. When Kane was challenged by an editor at National Comics (precursor of today’s DC Comics) to come up with a superhero to repeat the success of the company’s Superman, he turned to Finger for help.

. . . .

And Finger’s contributions didn’t stop there. “He wrote the first Batman story, the first Robin story, the first Penguin, Catwoman and other villains,” Nobleman said. “But most enduring of all was that Bill Finger crafted the origin.”

Early superheroes did not have deep psychological underpinnings — except Batman, who was driven by the trauma of seeing his parents murdered before his eyes as a child, as first chronicled by Finger.

“It was unprecedented that he came up with the origin,” Nobleman said. “He was bringing elements of novels and films into what was considered to be a lower art form.”

Link to the rest at Today Books

Little Nemo in Slumberland

15 October 2012

If you haven’t looked at Google today, you will find it celebrating the 107th anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland and you’ll see the logo generate some animated comics. Keep clicking on the pointer in the lower right corner to open up more strips.

From Wikipedia:

Little Nemo is the main fictional character in a series of weekly comic strips by Winsor McCay that appeared in the New York Heraldand William Randolph Hearst’s New York American newspapers from October 15, 1905 – July 23, 1911 and September 3, 1911 – July 26, 1914; respectively.

The strip was first called Little Nemo in Slumberland and then In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed papers. A brief revival of the original title occurred from 1924 to 1927.

. . . .

The original set-up of the comic revolved around the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo (meaning “nobody” in Latin). The purpose of his early dreams was to reach ‘Slumberland’, the realm of King Morpheus, who wanted him as a playmate for his daughter, Princess Camille. The last panel in each strip was always one of Nemo waking up, usually in or near his bed, and often being scolded (or comforted) by one of the grownups of the household after crying out in his sleep and waking them. In the earliest strips, the dream event that woke him up would always be some mishap or disaster that seemed about to lead to serious injury or death, such as being crushed by giant mushrooms, being turned into a monkey, falling from a bridge being held up by “slaves”, or gaining 90 years in age. Later on, when Nemo finally did reach Slumberland, he was constantly being woken up by Flip, a character who originally wore a hat that had ‘Wake Up’ written on it. Flip would go on to be one of the comic’s seminal characters. Other notable recurring characters included: Dr. Pill, The Imp, the Candy Kid and Santa Claus as well as the Princess and King Morpheus.

Link to the rest at Wikipedia

Superman vs. Batman

25 September 2012

Author Matthew Cowley at Random Buzzers:

Superman is cooler than Batman, and I’ll tell you why.

I practically grew up wearing a cape. Sometimes it was a real, honest-to-goodness cape with a Superman symbol drawn on the back in black magic marker. But as often as not it was a towel, or my jacket tied around my neck. A shirt would do in a pinch and my poor mother spent untold hours of my childhood trying to untie the knots of my shirtsleeves. Supes was my guy.

. . . .

But what makes Superman really, well, super, is that he could score any number of touchdowns as easily as breathing. He could take off his nerdy glasses and get the girl. He could toss the bullies into the next cornfield, into the sun. But he chose not to. Superman rose above it all – up, up and away. That’s pretty potent stuff for a terminally-shy kid wearing his shirt tied around his neck.

. . . .

We are all powerless at some point in our lives. We all feel alone and alien in a world that doesn’t seem to want us, surrounded by evil-doers determined to make our lives miserable.

. . . .

So that’s why, for me, it’s Superman. Because of his secret power. Because of the secret power we all share, if we choose to embrace it.

Link to the rest at Random Buzzers

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