Comics A.M. | Comic sales rise by 3M copies as average price drops

Publishing | Number-crunching the direct-market charts, John Jackson Miller determines that sales of comics ranking in Diamond's Top 300 increased by more than 3 million copies in 2011, bringing the total to 72.13 million. Dollar sales, too, rose by nearly $3 million, even as the average price of comic dropped by about a dime, from $3.58 to $3.49. [The Comichron]

Creators | Artist Fiona Staples has responded to Dave Dorman's objection to her cover for Saga #1, which shows a woman breastfeeding an infant: "I find it a little hard to fathom why anyone would object to a depiction of breastfeeding, even if it were on a kids' comic, which it isn't. I have yet to hear a line of reasoning that makes sense to me. That said, anyone who wants to be grossed out by our comic is of course free to do so. I'm just going to fixate on the part where a master painter called me a 'gifted artist.'" [ComicsAlliance]

Awards | The retailers association ComicsPRO has announced the nominees for its Industry Appreciation Award and the Industry Appreciation Memorial Award, which recognize individuals who have contributed to the success of the direct market: Cindy Fournier, David Gabriel, Robert Kirkman, Eric Stephenson and Bob Wayne. [press release]

Publishing | Valiant Entertainment, which in July announced the return of Valiant Comics, has signed an exclusive worldwide distribution deal with Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Book Distributors. [press release]

Creators | Kaiser Health News interviews MIT economist Jonathan Gruber — wait, why is this in Comics A.M.? Oh, yeah, because Gruber is the writer of the graphic novel Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It's Necessary, How It Works, which is that rare book that spoils the ending in the title. Artwork by Nathan Schreiber gives it some serious comics cred. [Kaiser Health News]

Creators | Lauren Davis has a fascinating interview with Achewood creator Chris Onstad, who recently brought his webcomic back from hiatus, about burnout, haters and the new things he has been trying lately, including a larger format to fit the new storyline. [Comics Alliance]

Creators | David Harper talks to Mark Andrew Smith, writer of Gladstone's School for World Conquerors, about his inspirations for the comic. I think Smith nails one of the best features of the book when he says, "I just like moments like these where we see supervillains being real people and doing things that normal people would do that we don’t get to see supervillains doing in other books. It’s great to pull back the curtain and see those moments of humanity there." [Multiversity Comics]

Creators | This article on Kickstarter includes an interview with John Walsh, who recently raised $5,800 to support his webcomic Go Home Paddy. [Boston Herald]

Review | Larry Cruz reviews the intriguing webcomic Power Nap, about a future society in which drugs have eliminated the need for sleep — except for the one guy who is allergic to them. [The Webcomic Overlook]

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