Comics Lowdown | Tarzan swings to the web

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.

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Can’t Wait for Comics | ‘Infinite Frontier,’ ‘Nocterra’ and more

This week brings new comics by Keanu Reeves, Dan Rather, Scott Snyder, Tim S. Daniel, Chris Samnee, Peach Momoko, Kalinda Vazquez, Carlos Gómez, Tyler Boss and more.

Welcome to Can’t Wait for Comics, your guide each week to what comics are arriving in comic book stores, bookstores and on digital. This week sees a new one-shot setting up the return of DC’s regular titles, more King in Black tie-ins, new comics by Scott Snyder and Keanu Reeves, and much more.

Also this week I’m happy to welcome aboard Brigid Alverson, who will be helping to cover manga and other things she finds interesting each week.

Check out a few highlights below, or visit ComicList for this week’s full list of new comics arriving in stores, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally.

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What Are You Reading? | ‘King in Black,’ ‘Legion,’ ‘Teddy’ and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately. We’ve got a packed room today, as we talk about comics from the last few decades or so — including old Spider-Man and Milestone Media, as well as newer stuff like Wretches, Batman/Catwoman and King in Black.

Let us know what you read this week in the comments or on social media.

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‘Attack on Titan’ nears its finale

The popular manga will see its final chapter published in Japan in April and will arrive in the U.S. in October.

Kodansha has announced that the popular manga Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama, the basis for the popular anime of the same name, will end in 2021.

“I’ve been saying for the past eight years that it would be over in three years, and it looks like I’m finally going to be able to finish it,” Isayama said on Twitter. “It’s been a very long time coming, but I hope you can stay with me until the end.” “

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Comics Lowdown | Eisner judges announced

Also: Batman manga coming to Japan, Ohio legislators complain about anime text, and a chat with the creator of the ‘Sickos’ meme

Eisner Awards: The judges for the 2021 Eisner Awards have been announced: Retailer Marco Davanzo, who is the executive director of ComicsPRO); Shelley Fruchey, a member of the Comic-Con Board of Directors; Pamela Jackson, Popular Culture Librarian and Comic Arts Curator in Special Collections and University Archives at San Diego State Universit; Keithan Jones, founder and owner of the independent publisher KID Comics; Alonso Nuñez, executive director, and lead instructor of Little Fish Comic Book Studio in San Diego; and independent comics scholar Jim Thompson.

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Comics Lowdown | Manga gets Naomi Osaka right

Plus: How comics ease quarantine, who buys variant covers and more.

Manga drawing Naomi Osaka

Tennis champ Naomi Osaka is the star of a new story in the Japanese shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi (which first published Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, among others), and the creators are taking pains to get her skin tone right. Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian-American, describes herself as “tan,” but an instant-noodle brand that depicted her with light skin caused an uproar last year. This time, the Nakayoshi designers consulted Osaka’s sister Mari Osaka, who is a tennis player and illustrator, for help in getting the skin tones right. The story features Naomi using her tennis skills to battle extraterrestrials in outer space, supported by Mari and her parents. Osaka has drawn some criticism in Japan, where she was born, for her outspokenness on racial matters, but the magazine focuses on her skill and dedication rather than her political statements.

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Comics Lowdown | Paul Rainey wins Jonathan Cape Prize

Plus: New manga licenses, minicomics reviews, and more!

Paul Rainey has won the 2020 Observer Jonathan Cape Comica Graphic Short Story Prize for his story Similar To But Not, a memoir of a chance encounter with a celebrity in a local pub in 1975. Rainey’s story and the runner-up, Ellen Durkin’s The Worm, are both available to read online.

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comiXology Originals, Kodansha to release ‘Shaman King’ digitally

The entire saga — including three volumes never released in English — will hit comiXology on July 28.

Kodansha and comiXology originals announced this week that Hiroyuki Takei’s shonen manga Shaman Kings will arrive on the platform in its entirety on July 28.

“It’s been over 10 years since I’ve completed Shaman King. But finally –– at last –– I can deliver the true ending to the story to the fans in America,” said Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei in the press release. “It’s a message from my heart, and I think it’s a particularly important one in this day and age. I hope that it’ll reach the hearts of many comrades.”

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Drawn + Quarterly announce their 2021 winter catalog

New works by Aminder Dhaliwal, Darryl Cunningham, Michael DeForge and more are coming next year.

Drawn and Quarterly’s winter 2021 catalog, which they shared last week, includes new work by Aminder Dhaliwal, Darryl Cunningham and Michael DeForge, and new manga collections by Shigeru Mizuki and Yoshiharu Tsuge. They’ll all be released between January and April of next year.

Take a look at them below:

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‘Sailor Moon’ arrives on comiXology

The popular manga series is available digitally in English for the first time.

Naoko Takeuchi’s beloved manga series Sailor Moon is now available on comiXology in four 300-page volumes, with future volumes planned to be released as the series hits print from publisher Kodansha Comics.

“Fans who enjoyed Sailor Moon as children have now grown into full-fledged adults – I am extremely grateful that their love for Sailor Moon continues to this day,” said Fumio Osano, editor of Sailor Moon. “Many people have told me they see the series in a different light now that they’ve re-read it as adults. Takeuchi-sensei started the series in her 20s and drew it into her 30s, so now that the fans who enjoyed it as children and teens are the same age she was, I think they’re making new discoveries.”

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Comics Lowdown: Unearthing info on Golden Age comics artists

Plus: Matthew Inman, Seth, May sales and more.

Above: A panel from Dotty, by Jane Krom Grammer

Comics scholar Carol Tilley has unearthed new information about several Golden Age comics artists, and she presents the first fruits of her research on her blog: An account of the life and work of Jane Krom Grammer, who drew (and perhaps colored) the comic Dotty in Supersnipe Comics in the mid-1940s. Tilley has found Grammer’s pay stubs for comics that had previously been attributed to another artist, and in conversation with Grammer’s daughter, she fills out the rest of her biography.

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Comics Lowdown: RIP Monkey Punch, Kazuo Koike

Plus: Bill Mantlo in need, halfway through ‘Saga,’ awards and more.

The manga community has lost two legends in April, as both Lupin III creator Monkey Punch and Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike have passed away. Both men died from pneumonia six days apart, and were once considered rivals when their respective manga ran in Weekly Manga Action magazine. They also worked together on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series that ran in the magazine in 1970.

Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, was 81 when he passed away. His most famous creation, Lupin III, started as a manga and was later adapted into six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and several video games. He passed away April 11.

In addition to Lone Wolf & Cub, Koike is also known for such titles as Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, Samurai Executioner and many other popular series. His work influenced many American creators, including Frank Miller, who drew covers for First Comics’ publication of the series. Koike also worked on a few western series, including a Hulk manga and an issue of X-Men Unlimited. He passed away April 17 at the age of 82.

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