Catching up with the Marvel court case, plus the latest on Ike Perlmutter, Scott Adams and Ben Garrison.
Marvel: In case you haven’t had time to digest the news that Marvel has sued several creators who had taken legal action to get the rights to their characters back, here’s the scoop from The Hollywood Reporter. If you have access, the New York Times talks to the lawyers on both sides.
Meanwhile, Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter has had a busy week. On Monday, the Military Times reports, the House Oversight Committee stated that Perlmutter and two others had “violated the law and sought to exert improper influence over government officials to further their own personal interests.” At the time, the three were “unofficial advisors” to Trump on Veterans Administration Affairs. Things went better for Perlmutter on Tuesday, when he succeeded in fending off a lawsuit by a neighbor, with whom he had quarreled over tennis courts, and who subsequently accused him of sending poison-pen letters to their neighbors and 1,000 prison inmates. If you like true-crime stories where all the crimes are petty misdemeanors, get comfy and settle in with THR’s coverage, which has plenty of links to the various tentacles of this story.
Marvel signs an exclusive distribution deal with the publishing house, that begins in October.
Marvel has announced a new agreement with Penguin Random House Publisher Services to distribute their comics and graphic novels to the direct market, beginning Oct. 1.
The deal is “an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections and graphic novels to comics shops.”
This effectively replaces Diamond Comics Distributors as Marvel’s route to comic book stores. Diamond, however, will still act as a wholesaler and will receive product through Penguin, so retailers can still choose to order Marvel’s products through them.
Plus: Angoulême comics awards, Adam Ellis accuses filmmakers of plagiarism, and a look at the world of back-issue collectors and dealers
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, will return in May as a virtual event. The past year has been a difficult one; in June, TCAF co-founder and artistic director Christopher Butcher stepped down for both professional and personal reasons. This year’s festival will be online only, and it’s being run in partnership with the zine festival Canzine and the Toronto Hand Eye Society.
Big news from Archie Comics, which this week began releasing all its comics on the ComiXology Unlimited service the day they come out. This is the first time a publisher, other than ComiXology itself, has put its comics on the all-you-can-read platform on the publication date. The Beat has a good piece putting this move into perspective, noting that Archie has been publishing fewer single-issue comics of late, and that these comics are also available day-and-date on the free (to the user) library service Hoopla.
IDW Entertainment has set up a new initiative within its Kids, Family, and YA division that will focus on developing original material for young readers. Erika Turner has been named senior editor of original content at IDW Publishing; she comes to IDW from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she was senior editor of their Versify imprint. On the IDW Entertainment side, Jeff Brustrom is the new vice president of kids, family, and animation, and Daniel Kendrick is the director of animation; both will work on developing animated properties.
Plus: News on Diamond, Art Spiegelman, Dragon Con and more.
Writing for The Comics Journal, Michael Dean has a long article detailing additional allegations against Charles Brownstein, the former executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Dean spoke with many former CBLDF, employees, including former Development Manager Cheyenne (Shy) Allott, who had been under an NDA about her time at the CBLDF until recently.
“My trouble with Charles started three days into my employment, at ComicsPro in Memphis, Tennessee,” Allott said. “Upon arrival at the show, I went to check into my hotel room only to discover that Charles had booked us in the same room together. I was instantly uncomfortable with this arrangement and for the first time, I saw Charles drop his charming facade and switch into an accusatory tone. He stated that it wasn’t fiscally responsible for me to have my own room, as we were a non-profit. I felt like I was misusing funds simply by asking that question.” Brownstein did not respond to TCJ’s request for comment.
The Comics Journal also sent questions to the CBLDF board, which CBLDF President Christina Merkler responded to. You can read her responses here, but one thing she addressed was whether CBLDF was still viable — a question many have been asking over the last couple weeks:
Retailers, publishers and industry react to DC dropping Diamond as a distributor.
DC’s announcement that they’ve ended their relationship with Diamond Comics Distributors in favor of working with Lunar and UCS, the two distributors that sprung into being during the coronavirus pandemic, sent shockwaves through the industry yesterday.
Diamond founder Steve Geppi responded to the news with a message of his own to retailers:
After 25 years, DC will distribute their comics to shops without the help of the industry’s traditional distributor.
DC Comics is cutting ties with Diamond Comics Distributors and will use the two new distributors that came into existence during the coronavirus pandemic to deliver comics to retailers.
Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, the distributors with ties to comics retailers Discount Comic Book Service and Midtown Comics, will distribute periodicals to stores. Retailers can also order books through Penguin Random House, who handle DC’s trades and graphic novels for the book trade.
“After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship,” a spokesperson from DC told The Hollywood Reporter. “Moving forward, comic book retailers can obtain their DC books from Penguin Random House, or their books and periodicals through Lunar or UCS comic book distributors. DC continues to be committed to providing the Direct Market with best in class service and the fans with the world’s greatest comic books.”
The comics distributor launches a social media campaign called #BacktheComeback, with plans to hold a charity auction this summer.
As they prepare to start shipping comics to retailers again, Diamond Comics Distributors has announced a new campaign to “shine a light on the unique relationship consumers have with their local comic and game retailers while raising funds to support restart efforts.” Called the “Back the Comeback” campaign, it already has a website, a throwback logo that recalls the Comics Code Authority and T-shirts, which they are selling to raise money for charity.
“To say these last few months have been challenging would be an understatement,” said Steve Geppi, Chairman and CEO, Geppi Family Enterprises, in a press release. “I have heard from many retailers and everyone is excited about safely reopening, restarting and rebuilding. I truly believe that our comeback will be bigger than our setback and am excited to kick off this campaign in support of our industry and our retailers.”
Female creators unite to help raise funds for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with a planned anthology, auction and more.
As shelter-in-place orders continue to impact businesses of all shapes and sizes, an all-star list of female comics creators have come together to support female and non-binary comic book retailers.
Jen King, owner of Space Cadet Collections in Texas, will administer The Insider Art: Female Comic Book Retailer Fund, which will raise money in three key ways:
A digital comics anthology, details on which you can find below.
An Insider Art fabric: Two fabrics will beavailable in the coming months via Spoonflower — one featuring cat art by noted comic book professionals, and another by a host of young female artists.
An auctions of exclusive artwork, signed prints and various collectibles: King, who is also host of CBSN, her Comic Book Shopping Network FaceBook Channel, will run auctions, live on FaceBook and on eBay, to raise money.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to acknowledge the female comic book retailers who are on the front lines every day, spreading the good word about our favorite medium,” said former Vertigo and Black Crown editor Shelly Bond, who helped put the project into motion. “Over 50 female comic book creators have donated their time and mad skills to support female retailers who have lost incredible amounts of money due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
DC will work with two new distributors with ties to comic retailers to deliver comics in late April and the first half of May.
It’s been a crazy day on the comics distribution front. Since Diamond Comics Distributors announced in March plans to temporarily halt comics distribution because of the coronavirus, the question has been when we’ll see new comics start to hit direct market shelves again. Now Diamond has provided an answer, as one of their biggest customers has given a different one.
Let’s start with the Diamond news, which you can find on Newsarama. That article quotes from a letter sent to retailers and publishers, saying that “While there are many steps and conversations that need to happen between today and resuming distribution of new weekly product, we are currently targeting mid- to late-May with the hope that, as an industry, we can all work toward that timeframe.”
The way that’s worded is interesting, as it was not long after that DC put out a press release of their own, saying they planned to have a limited number of comics in shops on Tuesday, April 28, as well as on May 5 and May 12. “After surveying more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada, it became clear that many comic book store owners are finding new and creative ways to get books to the fans who want them,” the press release reads. They’ve also set up a comic shop tracker on their site so you can see who will have their comics on April 28.
So what exactly is DC doing to get comics out to shops?
Just a handful of digital releases will arrive on comiXology this week.
Although it seemed to take them longer to make a decision than most of the other publishers, both DC and Marvel have indicated that many of the single-issue comics they had planned to release this week digitally have been pushed out.
The news comes after Diamond Comic Distributors announced they would halt physical comics distribution to comic shops due to the coronavirus, starting with the comics originally scheduled for this Wednesday, April 1.
Many comics publishers announced fairly quickly after the news broke that they planned to hold off on releasing their comics digitally until their print releases were rescheduled.