Comics A.M. | Direct market sales soar in August; Art Cumings dies

Comics | The August direct market sales numbers are in, and things look good: Comics sales are up almost 20 percent over August 2011, and graphic novels are up 15 percent. This isn't just a fluke, either: Year-to-date sales are up about the same in both categories. DC had a slight edge in market share, Marvel did slightly better on unit sales, and interestingly, the Big Two stole back a bit of market share from everyone else. And as with bookstore sales, Batman ruled the direct market: "The influence of The Dark Knight Rises is more obvious in the bookstore channel with its tendency to foster backlist sales (Frank Miller’s 1980’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns was tops in the bookstores), while the direct market sales are concentrated more on the most recent releases such as Johns’ Batman: Earth One, which was released in July and Snyder’s New 52 volume that was out in May." [ICv2]

Passings | Illustrator and panel cartoonist Art Cumings has died at the age of 90. Mike Lynch describes Cumings as "an illustrator's illustrator and a cartoonist's cartoonist"; his work appeared everywhere from Dr. Seuss books to Penthouse magazine, and it's worth hitting the link to see his Balloonheads cartoons from the latter. (NSFW, but in a cute, colorful way.) [Mike Lynch Cartoons]

Libraries | The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, has named its graphic novel collection after DC's Geoff Johns, who appeared at the museum Sunday to promote Simon Baz, the Arab-American Green Lantern, and donated some DC graphic novels to the collection. [The Detroit News]

Awards | The shortlist for the U.K.'s first Young People's Comic Awards has been announced. [British Comic Awards]

Creators | Raina Telgemeier, whose Smile took the middle-school graphic novel market by storm, talks about her new book Drama, and about moving from memoir to fiction: "I was always scared of writing fiction, but I’m still using my own memories as a springboard, so it doesn’t really feel all that different. I was in my high school choir, which translated into singing in the ensemble in several school musicals. I loved learning the parts, hanging out with the cast and crew, and the buzz of opening night. I loved the experience of putting on plays…but I never wanted to be in the spotlight. I decided to write a story that spoke to those memories, but moved away from my own experiences, for the opportunity to push the story further. All of the musicals I was in went relatively smoothly, but it’s easy to imagine a school play spiraling completely out of control!" [Graphic Novel Reporter]

Creators | Where are all the female creators? Everywhere except Marvel and DC, according to this roundup. (That's not entirely true — Gail Simone, Amy Reeder, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Marjorie M. Liu spring to mind — but the trends certainly seem to be heading that way.) [Stumptown Trade Review]

Comic strips | Michael Cavna talks to Jeff MacNelly's widow Susie, Gary Brookins, and Chris Cassatt, who have continued to work on Shoe since Jeff MacNelly's death, about their 35th-anniversary story arc in which Skyler goes back to 1977 and meets his creator. [Comic Riffs]

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