– East Village comic book shop institution ST. MARKS COMICS, which is always a presence at any NY based convention, was closed for a day this week when a fire broke out in the basement of the building that houses the shop (http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/02/basement_fire_o.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogs%2Frunninscared+%28Village+Voice+Blogs%3A+Runnin%27+Scared%29). Firefighters had to smash through a wall of the shop to battle the blaze, and while one person was injured, the shop itself was not majorly effected and none of its staff were harmed. ST. MARKS COMICS is located at 11th Street Marks Place, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The comic book shop responded to fans about the incident via Twitter, even having enough humor about it to announce a “FIRE SALE” event over the weekend (http://twitter.com/StMarksComicsNY). It remains one of New York City’s longest running comic shops.
– In additional local NYC shop news, FORBIDDEN PLANET at Union Square is shopping around for a larger retail space – a “FOR RENT” sign has appeared in the window, which spooked regulars (http://evgrieve.com/2011/02/not-such-lonely-planet-broadways-iconic.html). Jeff Ayers, the manager of the store, stated that it isn’t because times are tough – it is that he wants to expand his business, and their current location is too small to do so in. The ground floor of the shop is often filled with rows of comics, graphic novels, action figures, statues, t-shirts and video games, and one has to trek through a toy aisle and up a small flight of stairs for the second floor, which offers DVD’s, anime merchandise, board games, and manga. The store is currently located at 840 Broadway at 13th Avenue (most UNION SQUARE train stops let out nearby), and it is unknown if Ayers could move the stop to another location in the immediate neighborhood, or if the move would be more vast. This year has already seen some shake-ups to the comic shop community in Manhattan, as COSMIC COMICS on 23rd Street changed owners at the start of the year. In Brooklyn, comic shops rarely move in or around; they either hang tough or close.
– The sales manager at Diamond Distributors, John Shableski, is leaving the company after three years to help launch a new line of young adult graphic novels for JeffCorwinConnect (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/book-news/comics/article/46142-shableski-to-head-new-publishing-division-at-jeffcorwinconnect.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly%27s+PW+Comics+Week&utm_campaign=a60601b619-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email). The company was launched by Jeff Corwin, a wild life expert best known for appearing on ANIMAL PLANET. The company seeks to publish six graphic novels this year, with the first being BLACK TIDE, an account of the 2010 gulf coast oil spill. After decades of believing that comic books were “junk” compared to “real books”, several publishing companies are dipping their toes into the idea of comics (or graphic novels) as educational, and/or political, tools. The real question is, in an era of Facebook and Twitter, is this a case of “experts” being a decade behind? At any rate, Shabelski is considered an authority on how to sell comics in the current market, and is a good get for a new publisher. His specialty was working with book fairs, libraries, and independent book sellers to get more variety into the market. It also says something when the best way to get into the comic publishing or creative biz is to be a personality from another medium. In additional Diamond news, book chain BORDERS has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and owes Diamond, which distributes many graphic novels for comic book companies, including Marvel until very recently, nearly $4 billion dollars (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/02/16/borders-files-chapter-11-owes-diamond-3-9-million/).
– Telltale Games, the company that has released download games for BACK TO THE FUTURE and JURASSIC PARK, intend to make similar style games for THE WALKING DEAD and FABLES (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/02/18/telltale-to-produce-walking-dead-and-fables-video-games/). This will join their efforts for games based on BONE and SAM & MAX. The idea of selling “episodes”, or stages, of games online for a price may reach a $3 billion dollar industry by next year.
– Drawn and Quarterly has the final cover for PAYING FOR IT, which is the latest graphic novel by cartoonist Chester Brown, which will feature a foreword by Robert Crumb. It covers a controversial subject – prostitution, from the point of view of an admitted john. Laws regarding prostitution are changing in Canada, and Brown offers an non-erotic yet honest look at his side of the issue. Neil Gaiman will also offer a blurb about its quality (http://drawnandquarterly.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html#5429735119347779304).
– The reboot of “THE CROW” has been in development limbo for some time now, but Fangoria reports that it may be twitching once more (http://www.fangoria.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3539:whos-really-directing-the-crow-remake&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=167). They hear that F. Javier Gutierrez, who directed “BEFORE THE FALL”, is in talks to direct the long rumbled remake of the film adaptation of James O’Barr’s Dark Horse work. Once one of Dark Horse’s most successful licenses, lackluster direct to video sequels have diluted the brand and a “from scratch” option is being seen – best to reboot the old than come up with new, as movie studios say. Given that everyone from Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 WEEKS LATER”) to Stephen Norrington (“BLADE”) to Adam Sandler (just kidding) has been attached to the Crow reboot at some point, it gets difficult to take any rumor seriously.
– The full creator list for the second issue of INDIE COMICS MAGAZINE has been announced. Appearing in this issue is Mike Kitchen (Spy Guy), Alonzo Washington (Omega 7), Tim Vigil (Faust), Terry Cronin (Students of the Unusual), Michael Marcus and George McVey (Pulp Dreams, IF-X), Gary Scott Beatty (Jazz: Cool Birth, and the editor of the magazine), and Blair Kitchen (The Possum). The cover is by Tom Kelly (DC’s canceled ZUDA imprint). The magazine seeks to spotlight the cream of indie talent in one-shot stories for a cover price of roughly $6.99 for 64 pages of material. The magazine’s official website remains here: http://indiecomicsmagazine.com.
– The winners of the Spring 2011 Xeric Grant Award have been announced. The grant was founded by Peter Laird (co-creator of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES) in 1992 to help aspiring cartoonists and creators publish their work. This year, over $31,000 was raised to help support seven lucky creators; comics website The Beat also offers the winners advertisement at reduced rates (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/02/21/spring-11-xeric-grant-winners/). It was awarded over $2.4 million dollars to the publication of original comic work.
Last Week’s Indie News – http://glowbass.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comic-news-for-2-14-11-diamond-dabbles-digital-suicide-girls-comics
Last Week’s DC News – http://glowbass.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-for-2-14-11-static-shock-returns-batman-3-casting-more
Last Week’s Marvel News – http://glowbass.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-for-2-14-11-spidey-joins-the-4-gets-a-movie-title-more