Comics Lowdown | RIP Takao Saito

Plus: DC does NFTs, the Uffizi opens its doors to comics, and small publishers discuss distribution.

Cover of Golgo 13, vol. 8, showing a man holding a gun and smoking a cigarette.

Takao Saito, the creator of Golgo 13, died on September 24 at the age of 84. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Saito made his manga debut in 1955 and launched Golgo 13, which follows the exploits of a taciturn hitman, in 1968. Volume 202 of the series has just come out in Japan, making Golgo 13 not only the longest continuously running manga series but also the one with the most volumes. Saito has said he would like the manga to continue after his death, and his publisher, Shogakukan, says the series will continue.

Comics at an Exhibition: The Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, Italy, is adding comics to its collection. The museum, which started out in the 1600s as the Medici family’s portrait collection, has commissioned 52 self-portraits by prominent Italian comics artists. The self-portraits will be on display in a special exhibit in Lucca from October 8 to November, 1, then moved to the Uffizio to join its permanent collection.

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IDW jumps to Penguin Random House for direct market comics distribution

IDW joins Marvel in moving away from Diamond, who will still offer IDW comics as a wholesaler.

IDW Publishing and Penguin Random House Publisher Services have announced that Penguin will exclusively distribute IDW’s comics and graphic novels to the direct market, beginning June 1 of next year.

The news follows Marvel’s similar announcement from earlier this year. IDW joins both Marvel and DC in moving away from Diamond Comics Distributors as their single path into comic shops.

“IDW succeeds when the Direct Market succeeds,” said IDW Publisher Nachie Marsham. “No matter how amazing our comics and graphic novels may be, it’s the retailers that are connecting readers with our stories. Because of that, I couldn’t be more excited about our future with Penguin Random House and I have the utmost confidence that every store, no matter the size, will see the benefits of the high levels of care and service that PRHPS brings.”

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Jim Lee addresses rumors, future of comics publishing at DC

DC’s publisher talks about the past week and the future of comics in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

A week that started with layoffs at DC Comics ends with Publisher Jim Lee discussing many of the changes and rumors that sprang from Monday’s news.

Lee confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he is indeed still in the role of DC’s publisher, noting that he has “more responsibilities and more expectations than ever before.” As a result, he’ll focus on creative content while a new general manager position will “focus on the operational side.” While he didn’t mention a name, he said that person will start in September, suggesting they’ve already been hired.

Here’s a rundown of what else Lee said:

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Comics Lowdown: 2018 sales, Michael Davis hacked

Plus: News on Mark Waid, Mary Fleener, Free Comic Book Day and more!

ICv2 and the Comichron held a special crossover event this week to share the news that “Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018.”

“After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year,” said Comichron‘s John Jackson Miller. “Popular releases helped right the ship in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains.”

Their report looks at three formats — comics, graphic novels and digital — across multiple channels, including crowdfunding, book fairs, mass merchants, newsstands and more.

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Comics Lowdown: Don’t quit the day job

Jim Zub has advice for an aspiring creator. Also: Best comics of 2017, trends to watch in 2018.

Sitcomics, a comics publisher based in Santa Monica, is rolling out Binge Books, a line of 64-page comics priced at $3.99, with a new strategy that they call “Sell-Through Distribution”: Bypassing the usual distribution system, they will go directly through retailers. They will start distributing a free catalog to retailers on January 3; customers can order the comics until January 25, and they will be delivered on January 31, a much faster turnaround than standard distribution. The comics will also be returnable by retailers.

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