Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 10/20/21: The Winter Men Artist’s Edition is Live

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§ Nice Art: Walt Simonson’s pinup for the Winter Men Artist’s Edition, now funding on Zoop. The campaign launched on Monday and is already double its goal, but you can still order the book and the lovely pin-ups.

The Artist’s Edition will be edited by Scott Dunbier and features amazing contributions by Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang (the project organizers), Bill SienkiewiczLee WeeksDuncan FegredoSean PhillipsKim Jung GiDenys CowanWalter Simonson, and Joe Quesada in celebration of John Paul’s astonishing and inspiring body of work.

The book features 184 pages of full-size 12 x 17 scans of all of THE WINTER MEN’s original comic art pages, along with never-before-seen concepts, layouts, sketches, unused art, and pin-ups.

§ Boo! The New York Public Library has a list of Horror Graphic Novel Staff Picks, with lots of chills and thrill. And if you scroll down, even more lists of recommended titles.

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§ Indie bookstores survived the pandemic, and their numbers are even growing, Publishers Weekly reports: 

While acknowledging that the disruption of Covid has been challenging and that some bookstores are still struggling, Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, noted that “there’s also been growth in ABA membership.” She also pointed to “exciting trends in new stores—more diversity, location-independent formats, smaller sizes with room for growth—and an increased interest in nonprofit and co-op models.” Since the membership numbers were presented by ABA president Bradley Graham, co-owner of D.C.’s Politics and Prose, at the annual meeting in May, they have been readjusted upward due to delays in renewals caused by Covid. Membership and locations rose from 1,701 and 2,100 respectively to 1,910 and 2,496 for 2021.

Now if they can just survive the supply chain disruption! Jeopardy never ends.

§ A bunch of very nice, smiling NYCC photos from PW.

§ One last NYCC note from We Got This Covered: Anime Was New York Comic Con’s Biggest Draw—And A Sign Of A Growing Monopoly – in this case Funimation’s purchase of Crunchyroll.

NYCC was the first major industry event since Funimation Global Group, LLC acquired Crunchyroll, Inc. in August. Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc bought the streaming service from AT&T-owned WarnerMedia for $1.175 billion, furthering Sony’s grip on the global distribution of anime and creeping even further into its production. Crunchyroll is now a subsidiary of Funimation, itself a subsidiary of Sony’s legacy anime distributor and producer Aniplex. If you’ve watched anime in the past decade, you’ve probably seen the Aniplex logo; in addition to Funimation, Aniplex oversees A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your Lie In April), CloverWorks (Wonder Egg Priority, The Promised Neverland), and many others. 

§ This was a very old open tab I had, but Lars Vilks recently died in an automobile accident, when his car collided with an oncoming truck. The Swedish cartoonist’s 2007 depiction of the prophet Mohammed led to international uproar and at least one death. Vilks was still under police protection when he died, and two police officers were also killed in the accident. No foul play is suspected.

§ Cathy, the comic strip, continues to be a focal point for seeing how far we’ve come…or haven’t, as millennial podcaster Jamie Loftus has been examining the strip:

Her most recent podcast, “Aack Cast,” about the much-maligned “Cathy” comic strip that ran from 1976 to 2010, should quash any lingering concerns about typecasting. “Aack Cast” — named by the strip’s creator, Cathy Guisewite, herself — is a frustrated millennial’s journey to understanding, though not necessarily forgiving, the working white women of the “rightfully despised” Boomer generation and their second-wave feminist struggles. “Cathy is a symbol of how women’s anxieties and concerns can be considered embarrassing, and not worthy of discussion, if the character in question isn’t a perfect role model,” said Loftus.

§ Dave Buesing at Comic Book Herald did some back of the envelope data crunching to find out if Marvel Movies (MCU) Lead To Actual Comic Book Readers? 

I joked recently on Twitter about the absurdity of the worst voices on the fringes of comic book media who have made their grift all about “the death of comics.” The culture war doomsaying is especially laughable when I look at the absolute dominance of comic books in entertainment and pop culture. The shouty “comics are dying, we have to scream at marginalized groups until they are saved” crowd is a murky den of misinformation and misplaced rage, but like most topics these days, it’s also very much a *platformed” source of misinformation. So when comic fans – especially newcomers – are confused about the state of things, well, I can see why that might be!

Buesing’s metric was searches on his “how to start reading Marvel Comics” posts, perhaps not the most scientific method, but as I like to say, it’s a metric, and the results were clear.

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This doesn’t actually prove whether new readers jump on board, but they are certainly interested. I tweeted a bit about this (although mistakenly thought this measured sales – always read the article first!) and deemed the results “The Watchmen Effect:” a direct adaptation of a self contained work almost always results in a sales boom for the comic following a media adaptation. (The Watchmen graphic novel sold hundreds of thousands of copies when the movie came out.) I wrote about the streaming effect on sales six months ago, and nothing has changed since. Marvel’s own mitigating factors: they don’t always have enough books in print due to their policy of carrying small inventories; and sometimes it just doesn’t work. It was pointed out that no matter how many times they try to make a Gurdians of the Galaxy comic, it doesn’t really catch fire. I don’t know if Disney’s Groot and Rocket kiddie books did any better – the movie characters and humor are hard to translate into a comic I guess.

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§ Well, speaking of comics adaptations, Hulu’s Y The Last Man was brutally cancelled before it’s first 10 episode season was even done – that’s right after more than a decade in development the show didn’t even make one season. While showrunner Eliza Clark hopes to find a new home, the reasons for the cancellation appear to be monetary.

Because of the delays amid the showrunner and cast changes, FX had to extend options on original Y stars, including Lane. And, because of the pandemic-related production shutdown, also pay to extend the options of Schnetzer and other new castmembers. Those cast extensions added up despite the fact that production came in under its $8.5 million-per-episode budget. Clark pitched a potential second season to FX execs in late September, after four of its 10 episodes had aired and well after reviews for the series were published. (Y currently has a 73 percent rating among critics and 67 percent score with viewers on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Ultimately, FX brass declined to pay $3 million to further extend options, not wanting to leave the cast in limbo yet again. The cancellation decision was, per sources, not based on viewership figures; Hulu, like other streamers, does not release traditional ratings data. That means FX had little to no data on which to evaluate the series, including how it performed in its entirety over a certain timeframe, etc. While sources note there had been a drop-off among viewers, it’s worth pointing out that mid-series declines are not uncommon now that viewer behavior has shifted to binge-watching entire seasons of a show.

I suspect that the controversy over the premise might have also had something to do with it. While stories about one “sex” (however you define it) or the other getting wiped out are common throughout human storytelling, we’ve come a long way in 20 years, and this trope just doesn’t work any more.

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§ But still the adaptations come! An animated version of The Freak Brothers, an underground comics classic by Gilbert Shelton, has been floating around for a while and it will finally premiere on Tubi, the Fox owned free streaming service.

Tubi is lighting up its push into adult animation. The Fox-owned free, ad-supported streamer has acquired rights to “The Freak Brothers,” a stoner comedy series starring Woody Harrelson, Pete Davidson, John Goodman and Tiffany Haddish. Tubi will premiere the first two episodes on Sunday, Nov. 14. “The Freak Brothers,” Tubi’s first original animated series, joins the streamer’s slate of more than 140 hours of original programming that it plans to roll out in the coming months, spanning genres and subgenres that it has identified as the highest-performing types of content. The eight-episode animated series is based on Gilbert Shelton’s “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” cult-classic underground comics. The show is produced by WTG Enterprises and distributed by Lionsgate. Starburns Industries (“Rick & Morty”) and Pure Imagination Studios (“The Simpsons: Brick Like Me”) handled the animation.

§ An early version of the script for The Suicide Squad killed off Ratcatcher but thankfully James Gunn realized that would have been too dark and bleak.

§ Another old link but vital for Kremlinologists! Vanity Fair has the first profile of David Zaslavwho will eventually become the head of Warner Brothers Discovery, and also the head of our beloved DC superheroes. The profile paints him as a friendly, just folks guy who is quite down to earth.

After the town hall, an outdoor reception, and meetings with various executives, Zaslav hopped aboard an open-air van for a tour of the lot. When the van slowed to a halt in front of the fountain from Friends, Zaslav jumped off for a picture and texted it to his wife and kids. Inside the Warner Bros. museum, he strolled through Batman’s bat cave and Harry Potter’s wizarding world before stopping to pose with Wonder Woman’s lasso. Then he hit the gift shop and bought a bunch of hats, coffee mugs, and tote bags. (Zaslav’s swag stash is the stuff of legend.) Later, aboard a private jet back to New York, Zaslav and his lieutenants reclined in their seats and scoured the news coverage while an attendant poured some Chardonnay. Zaslav was still pinching himself. “How lucky are we that we get to do this, that this is our job?” he said. “I really do believe this is going to be the best media company in the world.” They raised their glasses and took a drink.

The piece doesn’t mention DC specifically – or Zaslav’s take on them – aside from listing them as valuable IP. With Discovery’s takeover of WB from AT&T set to take place sometime next year, we’ll be finding out more, you can count on that!

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