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5 Key Takeaways From Publishers Weekly’s Annual Comics Retailer Survey

Comic Shop Manga

The big headline on Publishers Weekly’s site when it published the results of its comics retailer survey last month blared that comics sales were down during the early months of 2014, though retailers seem relatively optimistic about it.

What comes after is a sometimes difficult-to-parse snapshot of the world of comics as it looks now. It’s not necessarily a bleak picture, but it’s very clearly one that portrays an industry may not be able to sustain itself as it is now. Change is occurring, and here are some key items from the report that show how, and what might be changing.

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Lady She-Woman: Female Superhero Codenames and Identity

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Monica Rambeau is on her fourth superhero codename. In the pages of Mighty Avengers she's Spectrum, having previously gone by Captain Marvel, Photon and Pulsar. The Captain Marvel identity now belongs to Carol Danvers, also on her fourth codename after Ms. Marvel, Binary and Warbird. Her first codename now belongs to Kamala Khan, the fourth Ms. Marvel after Danvers, Sharon Ventura and Karla Sofen.

But Carol is actually the third woman (and seventh character) to call herself Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe. The second woman was Phyla-Vell, who was the fourth Captain Marvel after she was the second Quasar, before she was the first Martyr, before she saved herself the trouble of another codename by dying. Oh, those women! They never know who they are!

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4/20 Special: A Complete History Of ‘Fastlane,’ Marvel’s Amazing Anti-Marijuana Comic

Fastlane, Marvel Comics

If you were reading Marvel Comics in 1999, you read Fastlane. For four solid months, it was absolutely unavoidable, an eight-page anti-marijuana insert that would pop up right in the middle of every single Marvel Comic to let you know about the dangers of weed, a drug that was glorified in the media and would lead users to a dangerous world of addiction and deadly hallucinations that was so over the top even the producers of Dragnet thought that maybe they should tone it down a little. And if you're a certain kind of person who was reading Marvel Comics in the '90s, you actually kind of love it.

I mean, I do. And that's why, with 4/20 and all its attendant celebrations coming up this weekend, it's time for a look back on  what might actually be the highest circulating (and most bizarre) Marvel Comic of all time with a Complete Oral History of Fastlanefrom artist Gregg Schigiel, Editor Steve Behling, Head of Marvel Creative Services Mike Thomas, and Senior Vice President for Strategic Promotions and Advertising John Fraser.

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Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment

fake geek guys sexual harassment superman lois action comics golden age

“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”

That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?

Honest question, dudes.

That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.

So what can we do about it?

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Jerry Ordway & Steve Rude’s ‘Adventures of Superman’ Is Like ‘A Lost Fleischer Cartoon’ [Interview]

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The best Superman comic book currently published is about to get even better this coming Monday with the addition of Steve Rude, arguably one of today’s best living American comic book artists, and Jerry Ordway, one of the key Superman storytellers of the '80s and '90s, and a brilliant and influential artist in his own right. The pair have collaborated on a Superman story starring OMAC, a cult favorite creation of Rude’s own hero, Jack Kirby, for an Adventures of Superman digital short that they describe as " a lost Max Fleischer Superman cartoon."

ComicsAlliance spoke with Ordway and Rude to learn more about the 10-page adventure, their impressions of Superman in this day and age, the digital comics revolution, and how these accomplished but very distinctive creators worked together on the story.

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Exclusive Interview: Bruce Timm On His Return to Batman With ‘Strange Days’ [Video]

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Broadcasting Wednesday at 6:30pm (5:30pm CST) on Cartoon Network, Batman: Strange Days is the first all-new Dark Knight project authored principally by Bruce Timm in years and years. The latest of the DC Nation Shorts, the piece was conceived, written, storyboarded, designed and directed by Timm himself as a tribute to the original Batman comics by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson on the occasion of the character's 75th anniversary. And as Timm told ComicsAlliance in this exclusive interview, Strange Days is the Batman story that he would create if he was "boss of the world."

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Ask Chris #190: The Best First Three Comic Pages Ever

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran

A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.

Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.

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The Expert’s Guide To HBO’s ‘True Detective’ And Weird Comic Book Fiction

HBO True Detective Weird Comic Book Fiction Morrison Moore Guide

True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has claimed that Alan Moore Moore and Grant Morrison were the first writers to excite him about the possibilities of storytelling.

With everyone looking to solve the many remaining mysteries of True Detective, it’s tempting to ask: are comic books the key? Pizzolatto’s spectacular Moore crib aside, I’d go with with a big no. Ain’t nothing going to settle the debate around Carcosa let alone Marty Hart’s hot dating skills, but comics do represent a largely unexplored and appropriately strange route into the show. So without further ado here’s our by no means exhaustive guide to True Detective and weird comic books.

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for True Detective, Top 10, From Hell and some of The Invisibles.

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‘Batman ’66′ Writer Jeff Parker And Artist Colleen Coover: The ComicsAlliance Interview, Part One

Batman '66, by Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case

We are currently living in the middle of a renaissance of interest in the 1966 Batman TV show. With licensing deals that have taken decades to work out falling into place, we've got action figures, clothes, and DVDs are finally on the way, and at the leading edge of it all is DC's digital-first Batman '66 comic, written by Jeff Parker with art by Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones, Sandy Jarrell, Ruben Procopio and Colleen Coover.

This week, the first hardcover collection of the series is out in print, and to mark the occasion, I sat down at Portland, Oregon's Periscope Studio to talk to Parker (and special guest Colleen Coover) about their work on the series. In the first half of the interview, we'll discuss the competitive relationship between Batman and his villains, the addition of big stunts to the show, and why Parker doesn't think it's necessary to be a fan to write a good comic.

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‘These Have To Be Stories About People We Care About’: Kelly Sue DeConnick On Dark Horse’s New ‘Prometheus’ Comics

Dark Horse Comics Prometheus
Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics is bringing back its Alien comics franchise in a big way this year with a set of four mini-series set immediately after the most recent movie, Prometheus. The company has revealed the names of the four series writers: Aliens will be by Chris Roberson, Predators will be written by Joshua Williamson, Paul Tobin will write the Prometheus series, and Aliens vs. Predator will be by Christopher Sebela.

The company's been teasing a "fifth writer" on the franchise, and she's actually holding down the position you might call head writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick will be writing a double-sized "wrap-up" issue to close out the initial run of books, and she oversaw a lot of the goings-on in the writers' room as the series were being put together. We chatted with her by phone to find out how that experience was different from other comics writing jobs, and just what readers can expect from the first full-on Aliens/Predator/Prometheus comics crossover.

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