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What you’re seeing above is the de-lovely Prada ‘epicentre’ in Tokyo, decked out in the new face of the line, illustrated by James Jean. I’d previously mentioned the Fables and Umbrella Academy cover artist’s work with Prada a few weeks ago, after realizing that no one was covering this story and I felt it was a big one… Anyway according to Wallpaper* Magazine, the James Jean illustration is now covering the Japanese flagship store in honour of the release of the second installment of the Trembled Blossoms animation. Pretty damned impressive! Wallpaper* also had another nice photo of the Prada spring/summer 2008 show that featured Jean’s art that I thought I’d include.

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I hope that James get all that’s coming to him out of this…

- Christopher
Photos apparently Copyright 2008 Wallpaer* Magazine.


In the last week of 2006, I was an incredible smart-ass and decided to treat the weekly shipping list like chicken entrails or tea leaves, using it to predict what would go on in the comics industry in 2007. Mostly I just wanted to take the piss out of the comics industry (as I am wont to do) and crack a few easy jokes… Going back over the archives today I was kind of surprised at the… accuracy… of some of my predictions though. I suppose that’s why I get paid the big bucks? Anyway, you can find the original predictions here, but I wanted to call out some of the ones I got right:

NOV060196 52 WEEK #35 2.50
2006: 34 weeks of mediocrity, only 18 to go. Omen for 2007: A constant top-20 presence proves once again that people would rather have a constant stream of pablum than a great meal that takes some time to prepare. Look for much more of the same next year…

Yikes. Called that one.

AUG062018 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #537 CW 2.99
2006:
Spider-man shows face, penis, to world. Omen for 2007: This was just a blip. Superheroes will remain faceless eunnichs for nerds to project themselves onto. DON’T WORRY.

I’ve never been so happy to get one wrong. While I’m not really one for his work normally, I’d like to thank Alex Ross for giving characters packages every once in a while. Of course, fanboys completely lost their shit when it happened, causing the illustrations to be altered before they were printed… So I’m going still going to count this one as correct…

JUL062970 BARRONS GRAPHIC CLASSICS TREASURE ISLAND SC (C: 0- 8.99
2006:
Savvy small publishers and major publishing houses alike realize that there’s a huge gap in the book market featuring adaptations of classic literature, and race each other to the shelves in their bid to ‘update the classics.’ Omen for 2007: Adaptations almost always suck, horribly, and 2007 will be the year that everyone finds that out, hopefully.

Yeah, I fucked that one up (damn my optimism). We’re getting more classic literature adaptations than ever (thank you, public domain) and for every solid and artful adaptation like Neil Babra’s take on Hamlet, we end up with a line of factory-style creations that bring nothing to the table except some pretty mediocre art and poor storytelling.

AUG062033 CIVIL WAR #6 (OF 7) 2.99
AUG062035 CIVIL WAR 1 FOR 75 TURNER SKETCH VAR #6 (OF 7) (NE PI
AUG062037 CIVIL WAR FRONT LINE #10 (OF 11) 2.99

AUG062034 CIVIL WAR TURNER VAR #6 (OF 7) 2.99
2006: Marvel’s Civil War topped the sales charts, coming off of the poorly-received and ultimately-disappointing House of M crossover. Omen for 2007: Marvel’s World War Hulk tops the sales charts, coming off of the incredibly late and ultimately-disappointing Civil War crossover. No one learns anything.

2008: Marvel’s Secret Invasion tops the charts coming off of the only-a-little-late and ultimately-disappointing World War Hulk crossover (seriously, no one liked that last issue). Care to make a guess for 2009?

SEP063297 COMICS JOURNAL #280 9.95
2006: The Comics Journal continues its return to becoming an essential industry periodical by actually engaging the industry as a whole, and increasing coverage of manga, female creators, new mainstream, and ‘outsider’ comics artists. Then Dirk leaves for the internet. Omen for 2007: Well, at least Dirk’s still on the internet.

Yeah, I’ll stand by that one.

MAY051534 HELLSHOCK DEFINITIVE ED VOL 1 HC 49.99
2006:
Holy shit, this is actually coming out. And just in time for… oh, wait, that was last week. Omen for 2007: Joe at Dynamic Forces does not, in fact, buy me a blue drink after me making fun of the company on my blog. That’s more of a personal sort of omen, but, important nonetheless.

I just wanted to mention that Joe did not, in fact, buy me a blue drink in 2007.

NOV062300 IRON MAN HYPERVELOCITY #1 (OF 6) 2.99
2006:
Not enough Adam Warren on the stands. Maybe not ANY Adam Warren on the stands, except for an introduction (!) to the American Mangaka book, and that’s simply unacceptable. Omen for 2007: Perhaps between this and Warren’s forthcoming graphic novel for Dark Horse, Empowered, everyone will wake up and realise just how good of a creator he is. He made Gen 13 REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Do you know how hard that is?

Well, unfortunately Iron Man: Hypervelocity didn’t do much for anyone, but Warren’s Empowered has become a bonafied hit! It’s actually one of our best-selling Dark Horse books overall, and I couldn’t be happier for Warren, who’s a very talented creator.

SEP063658 NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 6 TP (C: 1-0-0) 9.99
2006: What a great, great year for manga. Seriously. All the Tezuka (so much Tezuka!), all of the Viz Signature books are great. 3 releases from Fanfare/Ponent-Mon, a new Tatsumi from D&Q, Tokyopop is putting out some great books, and Dark Horse’s ‘horror’ line skirts the edge of J-Horror to bring some really solid, off-the-wall stuff. Great year for manga. Omen for 2007: None of it sells, and all you fuckers get the umpteenth variation on LONELY NERD FUCK-UP MUST TAKE CARE OF 40 SEXY LITTLE GIRLS; HIJINKS ENSUE. Serves you right.

Sometimes I don’t want to be right.

I mean, we got some amazing mature manga in 07 but there were a number of disappointments too… And there are so, so many more lonely nerd fuck-up manga.

AUG062095 POWERS #22 (MR) 2.95
2006:
Brutal schedule this year guys, and all of those issues where Bendis used ‘stand-up comedy routines’ to yell at fanboys? Kind of soured me on the series for a while there. The current arc is very good though, and two issues in three weeks means that the book MIGHT JUST get itself back on schedule. Omen for 2007: Bendis takes on more projects. Oeming takes on more projects. Issues solicited for November 06, January 07, and February 07 all do manage to be released in calendar-year 2007. Maybe even a trade, the crystal ball is a little fuzzy at this point. Or sad, one of the two.

Looks like it really was both a fuzzy AND sad situation in 2007. Despite promises mid-way through the year that the series would be going monthly AND feature more pages, so far that plan hasn’t actually gone into effect, with the last 3 issues coming out in October, November, and… March 5th 2008. 2007 saw the same 6 sporadically released issues of Powers make it to the rack as did the 6 issues in 2006… At last count there were two issues of the series and an annual that are officially late. With only one issue in the first 3 months of the year it looks like good intentions don’t count for much.

NOV060289 SCALPED #1 (MR) 2.99
2006:
Wow. Awkward. I kind of don’t want to put this out for sale on Thursday. Omen for 2007: Vertigo’s new series I Got Jewed does not perform as well as expected.

I had a huge problem with the title of the series Scalped (and probably more-so with the title “incognegro”, a Vertigo original graphic novel last year). But the series is really strong, and continues to sell alright in single issues and trades at the store, with very little of the uproar I was expecting. I’m still not cool with the title though.

NOV062326 UNCANNY X-MEN #482 2.99
2006:
The X-Men had a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that left the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2007:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2008: The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2009:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2010:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2011: The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… FOREVER.
Omen for 2012:
The X-Men have a vibrant creative re-launch spiraling out of a senses-shattering event that leaves the team changed… “WE MADE GODS AND JAILERS BECAUSE WE FELT SMALL AND ASHAMED AND ALONE,” HE SAID. “WE LET THEM TRY US AND JUDGE US AND, LIKE SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER, WE ALLOWED OURSELVES TO BE…SENTENCED. SEE! NOW! OUR SENTENCE IS UP.”

Hope springs.

- Christopher


eyeshield-interior.jpg

eyeshield21-v19.jpgI don’t know if this is ruining the surprise or just making sure you don’t miss it… Eyeshield 21 Vol 19 hits comics shops everywhere tomorrow, and it features a chapter in full colour! Mirroring the Japanese release of the series, this volume features a chapter that ran in full colour in Japanese Shonen Jump, in what looks like a marker/paint combo by series artist Yusuke Murata. It looks great too, crisp and bright and immaculately produced. I kind of want anything I do in colour to show up on matte/uncoated stock I think? Anyway.

While many manga publishers had begun to print the first few introductory pages of a manga in colour on a special insert, it’s very rare indeed to include a full-colour chapter… Other than some of the recent prestige releases like Tekkon Kinkreet, and a very notable sequence at the end of Yotsuba Volume 3, I can’t think of too many other North American manga that have gone to such lengths to preserve the integrity of the original release. Very cool stuff.

- Christopher
Thanks to Derek for the pic.


“The comics industry needs to rectify its historical abuses as best it can, no matter if a court makes them or not. It needs to do this right now. It needs to do it publicly. It needs to do it in a way that honors the creative process… And then, when this is done, it needs to make an unrelenting, industry-wide commitment to the notion that these matters have moral force and that exploitation is intolerable no matter what a legal construction allows. Because there are just as many horrible people out there right now who want creators’ movie rights or who come to the table offering little more than a small advance in order to put their name on someone else’s work, and just as many if not more apologists for same. In a way, it’s hard to blame them. After all, for 70 years, Superman said it was okay.”

Tom Spurgeon
http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/what_the_siegel_case_should_mean/


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+ Flight contributor and graphic novelist Neil Babra recently completed an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet for the “No Fear Shakespeare” line of graphic novels published by an arm of B&N. The “No Fear” line basically “translates” Shakespearian English into more direct or contemporary English, to make the stories more approachable for young readers. I have a complex array of feelings on the idea of changing the language of Shakespeare without a full modernization, particularly because I don’t think the plot of Shakespeare is as important as the actual language… But that said, I think there’s still value to this approach, both as a study guide and additional learning tool for readers who need a way “into” the works. Luckily Neil has lots of ideas on adaptation, translation, and Shakespeare’s language as well, and he addresses them all on the just completed information page on the No Fear: Shakespeare graphic novel adaptation of Hamlet. It’s really wonderful reading.

Also, I have included a more literal adaptation of my own to My reading of the classic; Neil draws Horatio hot all the way through the book.

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+ Has anyone noticed that the new colours on the remastered hardcover edition of Batman: The Killing Joke are kind of boring? Check out this side-by-side comparison of the original colours and the new edition over at PopCultureShock. I think my problem with it is that while artist Brian Boland brings a high degree of craft to the new colouring, he’s drained all of the emotion and… art… out of the work. Little touches like the cast-shadows on the cuffs of the Joker’s sleeves, for example, added more personality and depth to the art than all of the soft airbrush modelling in the world could hope to accomplish. At work my opinion is in the minority, with the majority of customers loving the hell out of the new look. Enh.

+ I’m really glad that Johanna Draper-Carlson put the leg-work in to try and peel away some of the secrecy surrounding comics’ only national holiday (or outreach event…), Free Comic Book Day. I’ve never understood the lack of transparency or accountability that surrounds this event, and I find it incredibly frustrating every single time it rolls around. This time out? The organisation mandated that all books had to be all-ages appropriate, thus reflecting a vision of the industry that doesn’t actually exist. They disallowed the participation of a publisher and then apparently lied about the reasoning (see the comments section). Getting answers is like pulling teeth. They stopped answering. And then somewhat mysteriously retailer Joe Field, the founder of FCBD (before turning it over whole-hog to Diamond), a man who has made very specific mention in the past of his arm’s-length from FCBD, ends up responding to questions that were sent to Diamond.

I’m not one to critisize without putting the work in myself; I do lots of comics outreach. But I think you can do it without the secrecy and misdirection, and a damn site better than what’s gone on. And if Mr. Field wants to ask me for suggestions that generally aren’t followed up on, again, here’s one: Name the people and organizations on the FCBD comittee. Who’s making the decisions, specifically? I’d feel better about the organization and more inclined to support it if decisions weren’t being made behind closed doors, and without any more general consultation of the direct market.

+ My friend Mr. Bryan Lee O’Malley was interviewed on NPR’s “Fair Game” last week about Scott Pilgrim. It’s a fun little interview and it’s the last segment, so fast-forward until there’s about 10 minutes left in the program.

+ The New York Times’ “Papercuts” blog offers up The 7 Deadly Sins of Book Reviewing. In keeping with the form, the 7 sins are particular words that are overused by reviewers and critics to the point of uselessness… Are the standards in comics criticism high enough that something like over-use of word “poignant” is something we have to worry about? I mean, how often are we likely to see the word “lyrical” in the latest plot-recap of last week’s Avengers? Or am I just being a bitch? Or both?

+ At Gay Pop Culture Website AfterElton.com, prominent gay comics fan/writer Lyle Masaki has been covering comics and geek culture turning on the broader gay audience to all that’s gay in comics (though mostly the superhero and Buffy set). “Six Gay Geeks Who’ve Improved Popular Culture” is a recent piece from Lyle that tags comics mainstays like Phil Jimmenez and Andy Mangels for their comics-centric contributions to geek culture. It’s a solid read.

+ roance-cut.jpgI found myself needing to write a short history of comics in North America recently, and found the website The History of Romance Comics to be a really useful compendium of knowledge on some of the most popular and bestselling comics North America has ever seen. Who knew that they also feature a great collection of romance comics reprints as well? Check out their fantastic collection of pre-code romance comics and history articles.

+ Thank you John Jakala for pointing out that Paul Levitz isn’t so hot at the math. Unfortunately, the platform for Mr. Levitz’ creative accounting is the blog & Newsarama, and the comments section there is such a fucking pit that any legitimate criticism of the facts presented in the column is likely to get drowned out by mouth-breathers still angry that every DC comic doesn’t come with bound-in $50 bills. Le Sigh.

+ Finally, though it isn’t specifically about comics I wanted to talk a little bit about bookstore culture… Here in Toronto the bookstore landscape is a-changing. Our neighbors at Ballenford Books on Architecture will be closing their doors in the next few months. They’re currently working to liquidate inventory which means some nice sales on some beautiful books… I really like this store and bookstores in general. It’s always sad when one decides to close their doors.

Meanwhile, one of my favourite indy bookshops is closing as well, but with a happier ending. “This Ain’t The Rosedale Library” will be closing their 22 year old spot in Toronto’s Gay Village, and moving to a smaller (and likely much cheaper) space in Kensington Market. They’re also having a pretty amazing sale right now, with 50% off of the already low prices on remaindered books. I’m going to try to get over there first thing tomorrow…

And that’s it for this post. Thanks for reading!

- Christopher


siegel_ruling_stressed.jpgDid you read that headline?

“A federal judge here on Wednesday ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel — who 70 years ago sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130 — were entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the character. The ruling left intact Time Warner’s international rights to the character, which it has long owned through its DC Comics unit.”New York Times

Basically, they sold the copyright for Superman and all derivative creations in 1938 for Action Comics #1, and at that time, selling copyright was a limited-duration sort deal, so far as I can tell. Then in 1976, a copyright extension act enabled the creators to terminate copyright agreements under certain circumstances. In 1999 the family of Jerry Siegel filed for a termination of copyright, DC fought it in court, and on Wednesday morning they lost.

It’s worth noting that DC lost a similar court battle to the Siegel and Shuster estates last year, I believe, over the character of Superboy. They appealed of course, and that case is ongoing. It’s almost guaranteed that DC will appeal this ruling as well, but… yeah. This is a pretty big deal, and a truly surprising result as far as I can tell.

I think… I think this is amazing. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on creator ownership, on claims by estates and heirs, all that sort of stuff. I’m trying not to say anything contradictory (or flat out wrong), but I’m just surprisingly happy about this. I think it’s difficult to know anything about the treatment of Siegel and Shuster since the creation of Action Comics #1 to present day by DC and think this is anything but just, but… Yeah, even if they’d made $100,000 a year since 1938 (and they really, really didn’t) I still think there’s a moral imperative for creators to be able to control what they create, and for contracts, all contracts, to have limits.

Mostly I hope that this acts as a warning to talented young creators eager to sign away their rights just to get published… Two 17 year old kids signed away Superman and lived in poverty for much of their lives because of it. It took their heirs seventy years to rectify the situation.

I hope some of that sinks in. I hope that creative people realize and value their worth. And congratulations to the Siegels.

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Photo of Jerry Siegel and Bob Clampett at the 1976 San Diego Comic Book Convention. Photo by Alan Light.

For More:

Jeff Trexler’s Excellent Examination
http://trexfiles.com/2008/03/siegel-heirs-awarded-copyright.html

William Patry’s Legal Analysis of the ruling
http://williampatry.blogspot.com/2008/03/super-superman-opinion.html

Alan Light’s Photos of Jerry Siegel, including two letters from Siegel on the 1970s movement to gain recognition for he and Joe Schuster.
http://flickr.com/search/?q=siegel&w=42274165%40N00

- Christopher


I just wanted to briefly mention that I was in the newspaper a couple of times in the past few weeks, which is kind of thrilling and terrifying at the same time.

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Comic Book Hero
http://www.nationalpost.com/todays_paper/story.html?id=361519

“Chris Butcher takes a break from rescuing literacy and gives Zenya Sirant the 411 on the superpowers of the graphic novel from his HQ at indie institution The Beguiling.”

Pilgrim’s progress for graphic novel fans as Cera touted to star
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/349210

“We don’t let people leave the store without buying [Scott Pilgrim],” says Chris Butcher, manager at The Beguiling comic book store in the Annex. “Yeah, we’re totally excited about the movie news. You know, it’s still our best-selling graphic novel every week … People are always discovering it.”

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My Night As A Lady: Steve Murray Goes Undercover
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=295844

It was a pretty fun evening.

Also: Funny story. I actually quit an interview two questions in, yesterday. A journalism student for an accredited university had called looking to do an interview for class on graphic novels, and somehow heard I was the guy to go to. Fair enough, I like to be helpful. The first question was “What’s a graphic novel?” and I was like “Seriously?” The second question was “Are they all superheroes?” and… I just balked. Like, maybe they didn’t know what they were doing, maybe they just thought that they needed me to reiterate all of their background information in my own voice for some reason, but I just was totally put off by the style and tone of the questions and balked. I just couldn’t do the interview anymore… I feel like a bit of a jerk too because I’m sure that now this person needs to find someone else for their project or whatever, but I realised that getting angrier and angrier at the questions and even answering these sorts of questions wasn’t going to do anyone any favours… Ah well.

Also Again: I feel like I’m getting back into the groove of blogging after a bumpy few winter months. Thanks to everyone for the comments and links on my last few weeks of articles. I’ve been trying a lot harder and I think it shows.

- Christopher


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We’ve installed 2 more bookcases of manga at The Beguiling in the past week or two, bumping our total to 14 (and 6 spinner racks). Last time my fellow employee Parrish checked our instock list, there were more than 5000 line items on it, and that’s not including stuff that we don’t have codes for and have to order “manually” (adult titles and yaoi, international manga, etc.). After finishing the monumental task of re-stocking and re-organising these shelves, he said “I want a picture of this with the caption ‘this is what 5000 manga looks like’.”

Parrish, your wish is my command. Check the (craptacular) panoramic below.

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(Click for larger).

…and if you’re just dropping in from BoingBoing, hello! Check out my Japan photos, they’re pretty great.

- Christopher