Your latest webcomics and digital comics news.
Creators: Keep those press releases and other notices coming! I want to know what you’re up to so I can tell others.
# Jmanga is shutting down, according to an urgent notice posted on its website last week. Users can no longer purchase JManga Points to purchase comics. Unredeemed points can still be used until next week. After that, Amazon gift cards will be issued to refund unused points. By the end of May, all content and accounts will be deleted. There is no way for users to retain the digital comics they have purchased.
Jmanga was created from a conglomeration of multiple Japanese manga publishers. It only launched a couple of years ago and while it didn’t release any digital-first manga or comics, it was a noble attempt to bring Japanese comics to English-language readers and combat digital piracy. Brigid Alverson at MTV Geek has a good write-up with more background and info.
Excerpts from the notice summarizing the details:
“As of March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users are no longer be able to purchase and/or acquire JManga Points through the Monthly Point Plan and Pay-as-you-go Plan on JManga.com. Due to this termination all Monthly Point Plan members’ accounts have been automatically switched to Free Memberships. As such Monthly Point Plan members will not be charged after March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time).
“As of March 26th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users will no longer be able to purchase digital manga content on JManga.com.
“As of May 30th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time) users will no longer be able to view digital manga content on JManga.com. At this time all purchased and free digital manga content will be erased from all JManga Member’s accounts.
“All JManga Members will be issued Amazon Gift Cards for use on Amazon.com as a substitute for the amount of unused JManga Paid Points possessed at March 13th 2013 at 11:59pm. Refund Distribution: Amazon Gift Cards will be emailed to applicable users at the email address registered with their JManga account. Amazon Gift Card Distribution Schedule: March 21st 2013 to March 25th 2013 (US Pacific Time).”
# ComiXology servers failed for about two days following the announcement of a mega-sale of 700 free Marvel comic books at the South By Southwest festival last weekend. “We expected a high degree of excitement for the Marvel initiative – and had believed ourselves prepared – but unfortunately we became overwhelmed by the immense response,” reads a blog post by CEO David Steinberger. They will be resuming the sale at a later date and have since resumed their normal service.
I wrote about it more at Robot 6, and within the context of the Jmanga story above, I think it’s even more crucial that digital comics providers give the option of true downloads, while keeping the option of cloud storage, so that their systems aren’t so taxed in the future.
# ComiXology and Marvel Comics made a number of other announcements at SXSW expanding their digital comics programs. Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly has a great wrap-up.
- ComiXology officially launched ComiXology Submit, which allows independent creators to turn their comics and graphic novels into digital comics sold through ComiXology. Revenue is split 50/50 and creators can also sell their comics on other digital distributors. A previous beta testing allowed the service to also launch with a 35 new digital comics, most notably Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man. For more information, check out this interview with CEO David Steinberger from TIME.com’s Techland blog.
- Marvel Comics has expanded and re-branded their subscription-based digital comics service Marvel Unlimited (formerly Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited). Previously only web-based, there are now iPad and iPhone apps with an Andoid app to follow. The $10/month rate gives readers access to over 13,000 comics with more being added each week. I joined the Robot 6 crew in a roundtable on what we thought of Marvel Unlimited.
- Marvel Comics will be launching a weekly series of digital-first comics in their Infinite Comic format this summer. Each serial will run for 13 weeks and feature Marvel’s marquee characters like Wolverine.
- Marvel Comics will be introducing music to some of their digital comics as part of Project: Gamma. The music will be responsive to the reader’s pace, similar to how music shifts to player dynamics in video games. Rolling Stone has a write-up on the announcement.
- Symbolia, the journalism comics magazine for the iPad, is nearing its initial goal of 3,000 subscribers. An Android version is several weeks away. The third issue is coming soon and will be called The Mating Ritual, featuring articles and stories on “sex, relationships and interpersonal encounters.”
# American BOOOM! is a unique super-hero webcomic by writer Patrick Yurick and artist Alonso Nuñez that chronicles the story of Sarah Hannigen, a girl with exploding fists on a mission to avenge her DEA father. He’s believed to be murdered by Mexican cartels, so with the help of her grandfather she takes up the inherited guise of American BOOOM! and moves to San Diego, where she ends up exploring the bi-national world of that city and Tijuana to track down her father’s murderer.
“The use of story as a metaphor/reality is very important to us,” said Yurick. “Everything in this story takes place in real landmarks in San Diego, where we live, and our neighboring city of Tijuana. The characters are based on real interactions and stories. The references to cartels and teenagers are as close to fact as possible. The stuff that isn’t ‘true’ (super powers, plot, character specifics) is at the very least aimed at being palpably meaningful metaphors.”
The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are a set of awards for excellence in literature held annually since 1980. They are given to books published in the United States within the previous calendar year by a living author(s). Winners receive a citation and $500 for each category. The finalists for each category were announced recently, and the Graphic Novel category, the newest to be added to the prestigious prizes, has an impressive line-up. The Comics Observer looks at each Graphic Novel finalist in the build-up to tonight’s award ceremony.
Garden by Yuichi Yokoyama, as described by publisher PictureBox: “A group of friends is attempting to enter a garden just beyond a wall. When they succeed, the garden they finally enter is no Eden, but rather a massive landscape of machines, geometric forms and all manner of nonorganic objects. To his signature vivid visual style, Yokoyama has added more dialogue than in past works, fleshing out the characters and allowing them equal billing with his spectacular architectural creations.” Garden is the only manga on the list of Graphic Novel Finalists for this year (no manga last year). The story is essentially an excuse for Yuichi Yokoyama to draw whatever crazy thing he wants, as the reader is taken on a tour of a hyper-kinetic landscape with man-made objects intruding on nature.
For better insight on what makes Garden so special, check out Sean T. Collins’ interview with Yuichi Yokayama about the book and some of his past work, along with previewing six pages of Garden. There’s also a solid review by Douglas Wolk on TIME’s Techland blog which explains Yokoyama’s unconventional approach to storytelling, adamantly refusing to provide answers to his mysteries or much, if any, character development.
Three years in and the LA Times Book Prize has yet to award the Graphic Novel category to manga. As mentioned, there was no manga Finalists last year. In 2009, the first year for the Graphic Novel category, Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster, published by VIZ Media, was named as a Finalist. Also a Finalist in 2009 was Bryan Lee O’Malley’s heavily manga-influenced Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (published by Oni Press). Neither won that year. Tonight we’ll find out if Garden will be the first manga to win the Graphic Novel LA Times Book Prize.
The issue of gender in comics has been getting a lot of attention over the last few months. One of the recurring criticisms is the lack of female creators. The grassroots anthology Womanthology proves that there is an abundance of very talented comic book creators ready and willing to work, and that there is a very enthusiastic audience ready and willing to pay for such material. And yet most comics publishers still have a significant minority of female creators. Or in some cases, none whatsoever.
To get a better understanding, I’ve taken a look at nearly 25 comic book publishers and the products they are planning to release this November.
The only publishers that have an even split or majority of female credits are manga publishers Viz Media, Yen Press, Go Manga/Seven Seas, and Digital Manga Publishing. Publishers with a more literary or alternative focus, such as Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, have 1/3 female creators. Of the major comic book publishers, proportionally Dark Horse probably has the best female representation, but still a minority. Despite criticism leveled against DC Comics for the lack of women creators in their New 52 marketing blitz, they are not the worst of the larger publishers. Archie Comics surprisingly has only one female writer.
Jenny Frison appears to be the busiest with 7 credits, mostly for cover art, such as the image here.
What does all of this prove? Manga captured a greater female readership for a reason. It’s a lesson that the rest of comics could stand to learn, just as it was learned by the producers of the sitcom Community. Despite all of the numbers, it’s not a quota. Hitting an exact 50% or more really isn’t the goal or the point. The idea is that if you want to speak to a demographic, you hire that demographic. And it works.
This doesn’t mean that men can’t produce work that appeals to women or that they shouldn’t be hired. There are plenty of examples and reasons why that doesn’t hold water. There are enough comics (and jobs) for everyone, especially if more people are reading comics because of the increased diversity.
And of course the other lesson is that real diversity and experimentation often happens first outside of structured publishers. That’s why there are so many fantastic female creators making web-comics with varying levels of financial success. The establishment will eventually catch up.
Click through if you want all of the nitty-gritty numbers. Corrections welcome. Read the rest of this entry
Today we’re taking a look at the nominees for Best Continuing Series category.
The 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards released their nominees for excellence in comic books for the previous year recently. A panel of 6 judges made up of professionals throughout the industry selected the nominees. People throughout the industry will now begin voting on the nominees. Winners will be announced at the award show put on at this summer’s huge Comic-Con International convention in San Diego. The Eisners are basically the comic book equivalent of the film industry’s Academy Awards, TV’s Emmy Awards, music’s Grammy Awards, and theater’s Tony Awards, so it deserves a closer look.
I’m breaking down the nominees in each category, providing context and background info, and giving links to Amazon and other sites so you can buy your own copy, if possible. I can’t read everything, so lots of this stuff passed by me or is on my way-too-high to-read pile, so I’m going to avoid saying what “should” win. (I’m also pretty bad at predicting award show winners, so I’m not going to bother embarrassing myself.) Please feel free to post your predictions, preferences, opinions, or questions.
Best Continuing Series
- Chew, by John Layman and Rob Guillory (Image)
- Echo, by Terry Moore (Abstract Studio)
- Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
- Morning Glories, by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma (Shadowline/Image)
- Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)
- Scalped, by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra (Vertigo/DC)
Take a closer look with the click through:
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