Weekender: Yen Press, ‘Octopus Pie’, and Jamie Coville’s World of Audio Wonders
The weekend is here, so take a look back and just what’s been going on over the past seven days. New comics, new stories, new podcasts, new art being made — it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
Oof. Heavy week, especially if you’re on any social media site whatsoever. People are excited about comics right now... but wow, people are really disappointed with comics right now. That’s all within the realm of franchise comic work, though, and Weekender is all about creator-owned and creator-made comics first --- and we’re going to stick with that. You can read about the other issues that’ve been raised by franchise comics on various posts right here on CA.
But this is the Weekender, so let’s get back to work!
The biggest news for comics was the launch of Comixology Unlimited, an expansion of Comixology that is designed to resemble the Netflix model of availability --- when someone signs up for ComiXology Unlimited, they get access to a range of free comics they can try out. It’s a further step towards market primacy for the company, which has basically monopolized the digital comics market at this point. The acquisition of Dark Horse’s library a short while ago means that most major publishers are now available on the site.
There are two things of note about this announcement, though. The first is that neither Marvel nor DC have chosen to include their comics on the service. Instead we have Image, Valiant, Dark Horse, IDW as the participating major publishers, which proved to be quite a surprise to the writers and artists who saw their creator-owned comics show up within the scheme. Publishers were informed of the deal ahead of time, but creators were not, and this raised questions about how royalties will be earned and distributed. Remember that, with comparable services like Spotify for music, it quickly became clear that royalties were marginal at best. As Comixology Unlimited unrolls further, we need to keep a close eye on what this means for the creators whose work is featured.
In Alex Spencer’s interview with Comixology CEO David Steinberger, which is the best I’ve read to date, Steinberger talks a little about this, suggesting that this is an issue that lies with the publishers rather than Comixology itself. He also talks about the second noteworthy part of Comixology Unlimited: the comics available. In most cases only the first few issues of a series are offered. This seems intended to encourage new readers to try a range of books, but then pay to stick with the ones they like. That, to be honest, seems like the smartest way to go about that particular piece of business.
Another plan that came together this week was a venture between American book publisher Hatchette and Japan’s Kadokawa, which went public this week. This partnership, detailed by Brigid Alverson in the link above, is set to bring more Manga into the American marketplace, and gives Kadokawa a 51% share in Hachette’s Manga imprint, Yen Press. In the first instance this obviously means that Yen Press will continue to publish Kadokawa books over the long term, but it also means we’re likely to now see more original material coming from the imprint.
As reported earlier this week, the 2016 Glyph Awards were announced last Saturday as part of the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia. Webcomics creator Chuck Collins proved to be the biggest winner on the evening, as his series Bounce took home the award for Best Comic Strip/Webcomic, as well as both the Rising Star Award and the Fan Award for Best Work. Elsewhere saw wins for publishers including Rosarium Press, (H)Afrocentric, and Brotherman Comics. You can read more about the awards over on the official blog.
On the subject of the ECBACC event, Sabrina Vourvoulias previewed the event last week by talking to a number of the creatives present. There’s tips of the hat to Natalie McGriff, the young girl who created her own superhero Moxie Girl, as well as writer Mikki Kendall, retailer Arielle Johnson, and the founders of Rosarium Press. Kendall also mentions an upcoming comic she has called Alice in Jazzland, which is the first I’ve heard of the project --- excited to hear more about that one.
There’s a zine fest going on! Betty Zine Fest (see top image) arrives July 9 in Newark, NJ. The festival hopes to spotlight comics by anybody who identifies as female and genderqueer/genderfluid comics makers. This is the first festival from the organizers, and on their announcement post it looks as though they’re still looking for exhibitors. Exhibitors like you, perhaps?
Jamie Coville’s spent the last few years recording select panels at every convention he’s gone to, from small indie shows to the NYCC/SDCC juggernauts. His most recent foray was to TCAF, where he recorded audio for several fascinating panels, as well as Ryan North’s keynote speech. Coville’s been a terrific presence for all of us who are unable to travel to these shows, and I’m incredibly excited to listen to these panel discussions.
WomenWriteAboutComics has an interview with Meredith Gran, whose long-running webcomic Octopus Pie has been racing into trades thanks to Image over the last few months. Interviewer Alenka Figa talks about those recent print editions, as well as some of the realities of working in webcomics --- whether it’s okay to rely on Patreon, how difficult it is to build an audience, and how extra-difficult it must be to maintain that audience subsequently.
Sheena C. Howard wrote up the announcement of the Glyph Awards for Huffington Post, but used the opportunity to look at a number of adjoining topics. She looks briefly at the history of comics awards, with a particular eye on how infrequently black creators are recognized. She notes that a black woman first won an Eisner only in 2014, before talking about some of her own experiences reading comics written by people of color, and how a new community is building and banding together. There’s some interesting stuff in there.
The Hindustan Times wrote up a short feature about a young boy called Neal, a huge comic-book fan who has decided that he wants to sell off his expansive collection. Why? So he can use the money to help feed stray animals. He’s sold 56 of his books to date, raising over 2000 rupees in the process. There’s no link to donate anything else to him, but for all this recent talk about what defines a superhero, well; there’s a superhero.
Have a great weekend, everybody!