Comics A.M. | Direct market sales up 29% in first quarter

Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, "There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts." [Publishers Weekly]

Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli's recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]

Creators | Alex Ross talks about his work as an artist for comics and games, how he developed his style, and his early influence: The Electric Company. [Geek Dad]

Creators | Industry veteran John Ostrander, who will step in for Geoff Johns on Aquaman #20, delves into the art of writing a fill-in issue. [ComicMix]

Creators | Bill Baker posts the second part of his interview with Starstruck creators Elaine Lee and Michael William Kaluta. [The Morton Report]

Manga | Casey Baseel translates and summarizes a lively Twitter discussion in which manga critic Kentaro Takekuma calls for manga to be written from left to right, arguing that this will bring in more readers in the long run. Critic Go Ito, Hellsing creator Kota Hiroano, and Patlabor creator Masami Yuki chime in as well. [RocketNews24]

Fandom | Before he was in KISS (and even after launching his career as a musician), Gene Simmons was heavily into the fanzine scene. [The Hooded Utilitarian]

Reviews | Noel Murray takes a look at Fantagraphics' collection of Al Williamson's EC stories, 50 Girls 50 and Other Stories. [Hero Complex]

History | Zane Razzaq writes a concise account of Professor N.C. Christopher Couch's lecture on "Jews and Comics," delivered recently at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. [The Sophian]

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