Plus: Graphic novel sales soar, a look at comics NFTs and more!
Bullish on Manga: Graphic novel sales were up by 4 million units in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the first quarter of 2020, according to news released by NPD BookScan and reported by ICv2. Sales of all print books, including graphic novels, increased by 29% to the highest sales numbers recorded in the first quarter since NPD started keeping track in 2004. The top driver for graphic novel sales was manga, which increased by 80% from the first quarter of 2020.
Watch Out for that Tree! The Tarzan syndicated newspaper strip will end its 92-year run in June, reports The Daily Cartoonist, killed off by two factors: The low number of subscribers, and the fact that the strips, which are reruns from the 1950s (daily) and 1980s (Sundays) are, well, not exactly in tune with today’s readers. That’s not the end of the line for the Lord of the Jungle, though: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., is transitioning Tarzan to a subscription webcomic, with new strips picking up where the old ones left off. (That subscription is a pretty good deal, as it includes a number of other webcomics based on Burroughs’ work.) In addition, Dark Horse will publish collected editions of both the new strip and Roy Thomas’s Tarzan of the Apes: A Classic Adaptation.
In an unprecedented week in American history, comics were all over the place.
After seeing a rioter in Captain America gear during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby, has condemned the use of his father’s character by the far right. “Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump,” he wrote, later adding “My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images.”
The problem with the Punisher: The Punisher’s elongated skull logo (and specifically, the version used in the 2004 film) has become an icon for white nationalists, Proud Boys and Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts. At Inverse, Eric Francisco offers a brief history of the alt-right’s use of the skull and Disney’s failure to assert its IP rights. At CBR, Cass Clarke summarizes the thoughts of Gerry Conway, who created the character. At SyFY Wire, Mike Avila calls on Marvel to retire the logo and “give the Punisher a makeover.” He also reached out to former Punisher writer Garth Ennis, who had this to say:
See what comics, graphic novels, comic strips and more the Smash Pages team enjoyed in 2020.
As we continue our look back at 2020, the Smash Pages crew offer their personal picks and perspectives on their favorite comics, comic strips and graphic novels from the year. Hopefully you’ll see something in this post that you haven’t read yet but will take some joy in discovering.
Wimberly’s ‘Diary Project’ submission proved too controversial because it depicted a burning police car.
The New York Times has been running a series of comic strips over the last few months from some top-notch comic creators, including Jillian Tamaki, Ben Passmore and more. Titled “The Diary Project,” the “weekly visual assignment series” features a recent “diary” entry by the artist. Many have focused on COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and other recent newsworthy events.
Artist Ronald Wimberly of Prince of Cats and LAAB fame created the final piece for the series, but says that the New York Times has decided not to run it.
Plus: How the pandemic has impacted Scholastic and VIZ Media, the ‘Thundarr the Barbarian’ comic that almost was and more!
IDW Publishing has “parted ways” with Jud Meyers, who they had named as their new publisher on July 22.
“IDW Publishing has parted ways with Jud Meyers and would like to thank everyone for their discretion,” the company said in a short statement. Meyers was named publisher after longtime publisher Chris Ryall departed the company, but was then placed on administrative leave a few days after the announcement.
Publishing: Publisher’s Weekly looks at Scholastic’s fourth-quarter and full year results for fiscal year 2020, which ended May 31 for the company. Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, they were down significantly compared to last year. Revenue was down $187 million, or almost 40%, leading to a 10% drop in their full-year revenue for FY20.
Larson has created three new strips for the site using, for the first time, a digital tablet.
It looks like the cows have finally come home — Gary Larson’s The Far Side website has unveil new work by the man himself.
Three new strips can be found on the site, but older fans of the Far Side may find them a bit … different than his previous work. Larson’s now using a digital tablet to create them, following some issues he had with a “clogged pen” while creating his annual Christmas card.
Plus: Jonathan Hickman details his plans for the X-Men, comic sales in April and more.
Stan Lee’s former caretaker and manager, Keya Morgan, has been charged with felony elder abuse. The charges include felony counts of false imprisonment of an elder adult, theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
A warrant for Morgan’s arrest had been issued. The 43-year-old memorabilia collector was served with a restraining order by Lee’s family last summer, when they accused him of elder abuse. Lee passed away in November.
The cartoonist and comics critic discusses his work, the differences in comic strips vs. comic books, and much more.
Darryl Ayo has been making comics for years and remains known today for not just his comics, including the series Little Garden, but for his criticism. He has been published in The Comics Journal, Comixcube, Comics MNT, The Hooded Utilitarian and elsewhere. Little Garden features mythological creatures and humans in a world that is clearly not ours, but the focus of the series is centered around more mundane events and interactions. It also possesses Darryl’s sense of humor and a great sense of design and composition.
Ayo and I have met at shows for years and we’ve interacted on Twitter, but we’ve never before sat down to talk in a formal interview. So we took the opportunity to chat about his work and process.
BOOM! Studios cancels ‘Husband and Husband’ collection after plagiarism charges! Image stops selling DRM-free digital comics directly! Chicago Sun-Times drops two pages of comics! Plus: Chip Zdarsky, NaNoWriMo, best of 2018 lists and more!
“[Meyer] asserts claims against Mr. Waid for tortious interference with contract and defamation. These claims are completely meritless. But the problem at the outset, and which is proper to address, is that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Mr. Waid,” reads the motion. “Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to identify any allegations or facts establishing any connection between Mr. Waid and Texas. Instead, Plaintiff merely alleges a single phone call between Mr. Waid, who was in California at the time, and a San Antonio publishing company. That is far short of the necessary substantial connection with Texas to justify personal jurisdiction.”
Mark Waid and Richard Meyer have GoFundMe campaigns going to pay for their legal fees, both of which have reached their goals.
David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s hard-nosed cop and his imaginary friend return this Winter.
One of last year’s pleasant surprises in the comics world was Spencer & Locke, David Pepose and Jorge Santiago Jr.’s re-imagining of Calvin & Hobbes by way of Sin City. Now a Ringo Award-nominated series, Spencer & Locke is getting a sequel that will introduce their take on other comic strip characters. The villain, Roach Riley, may look familiar to fans of Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey.
“We’ve told fans from the beginning that there was a much larger universe for Spencer & Locke to explore — and we’re excited to expand their world further with their latest adversary, Roach Riley,” Pepose said. “Half The Deer Hunter, half Heath Ledger’s Joker, Roach is only the beginning of Locke’s latest gauntlet, as every classic comic strip from your childhood will be fair game for parody in our action-packed sequel.”
Censorship: The Chinese government has banned rage comics (Baozou Manhua, or Baoman) channels from a number of online platforms, claiming violations of the recently enacted Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs. In addition to the censorship, the article discusses how rage comics migrated from 4Chan to Chinese youth culture and why this is important: They are now a big-money business.
Besides the shutdown of the various social media channels, the closure of the baozoumanhua.com media empire is a huge blow to its fans and creators. The website’s founder Wang Nima’s net worth is estimated to be around 4 billion yuan (±US$628 million), according to Daily Economic News (每日经济新闻).
The cartoonist and Marine discusses his ongoing strip about the military and its recent collection.
Maximilian Uriarte began making the comic strip Terminal Lance when he was still an active duty Marine. He continued making the strip while in art school and since. The strip has become a phenomenon, but Uriarte gained a larger audience with the publication of his 2016 graphic novel The White Donkey.
Little Brown has just released Terminal Lance: Ultimate Omnibus, which collects much of Uriarte’s strip along with notes and commentary. The strip skirts the brutal realism of The White Donkey and is instead strange and surreal, funny and weird. It’s easy to see why the strip became so popular. So often marines are portrayed in very one-dimensional ways, but what runs through all of Uriarte’s work is the desire to show them as human. This is not propaganda, this is not a recruitment tool; rather, in both the comic strip and the graphic novel, Uriarte seeks to be honest above all. Sometimes it’s funny or absurd, sometimes disturbing, sometimes brutal. I spoke with Uriarte about the strip and the collection.