Comic Publisher Turning Mueller Report into Graphic Novel

From HuffPost:

A San Diego-based comic publisher has figured out a novel way to actually get people to read the Mueller report: Turn it into a graphic novel.

IDW Publishing announced on Friday that it is publishing “The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel,” an illustrated version of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Justin Eisinger, who’s editing the book, believes comic illustrations are the key to drawing more eyeballs to the report’s findings.

“This really is the easiest way to get people to actually read it,” he told HuffPost.

Artist Shannon Wheeler, who is doing the book with journalist Steve Duin, said he was surprised by how “readable” Mueller’s report actually is — and says real-life characters like President Donald Trump, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon are “straight out of Dick Tracy.”

Wheeler promises a combination of factual information (there will be footnotes referencing the report throughout the book) and a lot of real-life hilarity.

Link to the rest at HuffPost

To be clear, PG is not approving/disapproving any opinions about the Mueller Report in the OP.

He’s posted this because of the graphic novel publishing angle and doesn’t expect to revisit the Mueller Report in the future.

Why Are Comics Shops Closing as Superheroes Make a Mint?

From The Guardian:

With Avengers: Endgame set to break box-office records – it is predicted to make $1bn in its first week – it seems that the superhero business really is the one to be in. In Hollywood, at least.

But what of the medium in which the superhero originated – the comic book – and the purveyors of the hundreds of comics that are released every month? The high street is not as bulletproof as multiplexes, and comic shops are having a tough time of it.

Dozens of closures have been reported across the UK and US over the last few months – including, in January, the end of St Mark’s Comics, once one of New York’s most venerable institutions. (It even appeared in Sex and the City.) Last year, comics website Bleeding Cool documented how 50 comic shops had closed in the previous year, in both the US and UK. And since June 2018, at least 21 shops in the US and 11 in the UK – including shops in Nottingham, Ramsgate and Tooting – have closed, with others likely going unreported.

While superheroes have never had a higher profile, the gap between cinema and comics has never been wider. The days when you could pick the latest issue of Spider-Man or Batman from the newsagent’s shelves are long gone.

. . . .

So why are so many going out of business? Like other retailers on the high street, comic shops must factor in rents, business rates, staff wages, insurance – but the profit margins on comics are so narrow as to make this a very delicate balancing act.

“There isn’t a huge profit in comics and graphic novels,” says Jared Myland of OK Comics in Leeds. “Nobody gets into comic retail to be a millionaire. We do it because we love comics. Unfortunately, closures are a more and more common topic on both sides of the pond. Most comic shops make enough to get by if they make cuts, but some retailers depend on the generosity of family and friends to help support the shop.”

One of the unique challenges in comics is the monthly gamble on what will sell. Comics released every few weeks, as opposed to the collected editions available in bookshops or on Amazon, aren’t returnable; with 600 to 1,000 such items published every month, stores must make educated guesses or be stuck with their mistakes. At OK Comics, 90% of what Myland gets in are pre-orders, with the rest put on shelves for casual customers. “Smart retailers would rather under- than over-order,” he says.

. . . .

[Lisa Wood] says being unable to return comics leads to less risk-taking on unknown names: “Marvel and DC stuff will always do well but for a retailer, when money is tight, taking a risk on new work by unknown creators can end up being very costly.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

The Battle Angel Alita Manga Is an Essential Read

From Kotaku:

I’ve been waiting a long time for the Alita:Battle Angel movie, which is based on the Gunnm manga series by Yukito Kishiro. I fell in love with the nine-volume epic, which was called Battle Angel Alita in its English versions, when I first discovered the series in high school.

. . . .

Battle Angel Alita takes place in the Scrap Yard, a world of junk and trash where violence is rampant due to a non-existent police force. Crime has to be regulated by a group of bounty hunters. Above the city floats a huge aerial metropolis called Tiphares, where no ground dweller is allowed to visit.

We meet Alita first as a damaged cyborg who only has her brain and face intact. Dr. Ido, a cybernetics specialist, is the one who rescues her, becoming a paternal figure in the process. He has a mysterious circular mark on his forehead, signifying his connection to Tiphares.

Due to Alita’s memory loss, she is learning all about life again, and her youthful curiosity is part of the first volume’s charm. At the same time, she possesses lethal martial arts skills that only a soldier from Earth’s dark past can possess. That clash between the soldier in her and what remains of her humanity is part of what makes her arc so compelling. Alita handles her post-apocalyptic enemies with a violence that makes poetry out of her fighting skills, punctuated by bursts of calming “cuteness.” Here I refer to the cuddly smiles and youthful ripostes in the middle of all-out fighting and viciously gory mutilations, which add levity to offset the seriousness of the material.

The opening volume details Alita’s origin story and her path to becoming a hunter-warrior. The main conflict revolves around Alita’s fight against Makaku, a mutated goliath that devours human brains for the endorphin stimulants they provide. He’s the first villain to put Alita to the test after she easily disposes of an earlier slew of criminals. Makaku literally crushes Alita’s body, forcing Dr. Ido to flee with her remains.

Link to the rest at Kotaku

PG discovered that the first three volumes of this saga are available under Kindle Unlimited. He’s never tried manga and may check it out.

Graphic Novels Get New Respect

From The Wall Street Journal:

Sabrina,” the first graphic novel to make the longlist for Britain’s prestigious Man Booker prize, is everywhere in book conversations this summer—and almost nowhere on shelves.

“Everything in our warehouse is now gone,” said Peggy Burns, publisher of Drawn & Quarterly, which released the graphic novel by Nick Drnaso in the U.S. and Canada in May. Following the July announcement that “Sabrina” was one of 13 titles in contention for the 2018 Man Booker, it sold out at many bookstores. It won’t be back in stock until mid-August.

The recognition for “Sabrina,” a chilling story of a murdered woman and a media campaign that denies her death—a work treated with reverence by members of the comics community—is one of several milestones graphic novels have reached in recent months.

The Adventure Zone,” a graphic novel based on a podcast that features a father and his grown sons playing Dungeons & Dragons, just debuted at the top of the New York Times paperback trade fiction bestseller list, a category driven by less expensive versions of hardcover books. Tillie Walden’s “Spinning,” a figure skating coming-out story from a Macmillan imprint, recently won the comics industry’s Eisner award for reality-based work—what some industry veterans consider an accomplishment for a nonfiction work with a strong literary bent.

“There’s more awareness for graphic novels than there ever has been before,” said Gina Gagliano, publishing director of Random House Graphic, a new graphic-novel imprint for children and teens founded this spring. She added that recent successes “really have the power to change the landscape for the adult literary graphic novel.”

. . . .

Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics, said the graphic-novel market is rearranging itself. “There was a point not too long ago when the market for graphic novels was split between superheroes and more-literary work, but there’s a great deal of space in between and we’re seeing more and more material that occupies that middle ground,” he said.

The demographics of the readers and writers are changing, said Karen Green, curator of comics and cartoons at Columbia University. “You’ve got more cartoonists coming up who are looking for things that are more challenging, I would say more literary,” she said, adding that the audience for superhero comics now often skews much older.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

‘Drawing Is Always a Struggle’: An Interview with Art Spiegelman

From The New York Review of Books:

When this interview was first proposed to the cartoonist, writer, and graphic novelist Art Spiegelman, he seemed puzzled by the pitch. “Why do you want to do that?” he asked. “There are a lot of other cartoonists who are on fire trying to find a place for themselves. I’m not there.”

It’s true that he doesn’t need the publicity. At seventy, he enjoys a success that few in the cartooning world can match. This once “underground” cartoonist is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, has been a Guggenheim fellow, has two honorary doctorates and a Pulitzer Prize, to mention just a few of his awards and honors. There have been one-man exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Jewish Museum and, perhaps even more important to him, a guest appearance on The Simpsons.

The glory began in a left-handed way in the late 1970s when Spiegelman started experimenting with a project that combined his drawings, psychotherapy, family history, and the thing he loved most in the world—comics. After many tries, what developed was Maus, a two-volume 296-page comic, eventually published by the late André Schiffrin at Pantheon Books. Maus examined Art Spiegelman’s pained connection to his parents, who were Auschwitz survivors, and the terrible legacy their story had bequeathed to him. How do you grow up a “normal” American kid when your parents wake up in the night screaming? How do you get the nerve to make a comic book about it?

. . . .

Has your agent been after you to make another graphic novel?

My agent has been wonderful. Anything I want to do, his office will find a publisher for. But then, every year, Maus sells as if it were a new book. It’s in twenty-plus languages. In January, it was number thirty-six on Amazon! That means it’s not economically important for me to find my next graphic novel. It means I can afford to live in Soho.

Actually, I don’t think I’ll ever make another graphic novel. Maus came out of the impulse of wanting to make a long comic that needed a bookmark and that begged to be reread. After I finished it, I did not think, “Aha. Now I’ve found my perfect form.” Drawing it was a struggle. Drawing is always a struggle.

Link to the rest at The New York Review of Books

Marvel Create Your Own: Which Characters Are Free and Which Cost to Make Comics Marvel Will Own?

From Bleeding Cool:

Last year, Marvel announced a new initiative, TapTapComics, to create comics using Marvel characters. But the devil was in the details. Any comics created grant Marvel “the perpetual, irrevocable, exclusive, royalty-free and fully transferable and sub-licensable right, for the full term of copyright protection available (including renewal terms), to use, reproduce, transmit, communicate to the public, print, publish, publicly display, publicly perform, exhibit, distribute, redistribute, license, sub-license, copy, index, comment upon, modify, adapt, translate, create derivative works based upon, make available, and otherwise exploit, in whole or in part, in all languages, anywhere in the world, by all means, methods, processes, and media formats and channels now known or hereafter devised, in any number of copies and without limit as to time, manner or frequency of use, without further notice to you, with or without attribution, and without the requirement of permission from or payment to you or any other person or entity.”

Link to the rest at Bleeding Cool and thanks to Dave for the tip.


And here’s a link to a copy of Marvel’s 23-page-long Terms of Use.

Needless to say, PG doesn’t recommend giving Marvel a license to your creations without receiving payment for the digital comics you create unless you really don’t care about them and won’t feel sad if Marvel makes a lot of money from them and you don’t get anything.

That said, PG wonders if Marvel will have any problems demonstrating to the United States and other copyright offices that it has actually been granted the rights it claims by the creator of the comic under its click-to-accept contract, particularly if there is a pre-existing copyright filing that conflicts with the one Marvel is claiming. He suspects a sufficiently-motivated creator could, with the assistance of some others, work around Marvel’s TOU. Without going into detail, PG will observe that, on occasion, creating a very long and complex TOU opens gates and paths that can be used to defeat the intention of the organization for which the TOU was drafted.

DC Comics Leaves Barnes & Noble Newsstands

From Bleeding Cool:

DC Comics and Barnes & Noble have had a fractious relationship on occasion. When DC Comics released 100 graphic novels as a digital exclusive on the Amazon Fire, Barnes & Noble, owner of the Nook, pulled all those books in print from the shelves. It was quite a thing. Eventually, B&N blinked.

And of late they have been happy to run DC Days across all their stores and Marvel was able to use B&N stores to promote their floppy series Mosaic.

But Barnes & Noble also sells floppy comics as part of their magazine newsstand offerings. However, in 2013, they stopped selling Marvel Comics titles, while still selling plenty of DC, Dark Horse and Archie.

But as of late last year, it seems that offering now no longer included DC Comics.

Link to the rest at Bleeding Cool

Comics Shops Fight Bookstores In the Race to Sell Graphic Novels

From Publishers Weekly:

American comics and graphic novels (and media based on them) are more popular than ever, but the way these works are purchased is being transformed by a new wave of consumers looking for new material and new places to buy it. Pop culture trade news site ICv2’s Insider Sessions, an annual trade conference organized at New York City’s Javits Center to kickoff New York Comic Con, brought together industry constituents looking to understand a growing and quickly changing comics marketplace.

. . . .

American comics, especially superhero periodical comics, have been sold primarily through the comics shop market (also known as the direct market) since the 1970s. This distribution system is dominated by Diamond Comics Distributors, and the market consists of about 2,000 stores that buy their inventory wholesale on a nonreturnable basis from Diamond.

However, Griepp pointed out, the growth in popularity of book-format graphic novels and the rapid influx of a new generation of female comics fans over the past decade are beginning to produce a U.S. comics marketplace that looks a lot more like the book trade. “2017 has been a year of rapid change,” he said in his presentation. “The direct market is struggling with flat sales, while other channels are gaining new consumers.”

Sales of graphic novels via the book channel—which includes chains and independent bookstores, online retailers such as Amazon, mass market retailers like Target and even Scholastic book fairs—continue to grow. The direct market, on the other hand, is struggling. Rebounding from the recession years, graphic novels sales via the book trade grew from $250 million in 2011 to $405 million in 2016, according to Griepp. In the direct market (which sells periodicals as well as books) the growth was also significant, with graphic novel sales rising from $140 million in 2011 to $185 million in 2016.

The comics marketplace has become a contest between bookstores and the direct market, Griepp said, as well as “a battle of the formats” between traditional periodical comics and the growing popularity of graphic novels. He noted that comics shops are “struggling to accommodate their legacy consumers while appealing to new readers,” many of whom are either unfamiliar with comics shops, uninterested in traditional comics, or looking for new retail options.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly