Comics A.M. | Four challenges facing the comics industry

Publishing | Todd Allen pulls the camera way back for a broad look at four challenges facing the comics market: the shift from serial comics to graphic novels, editorial changes at DC Comics and Marvel, and the virtual monopolies that comiXology has in the digital sector and Diamond Comic Distributors has in print. How could that play out? "In the best-case scenario, Marvel’s relaunch sticks with the audience, DC restaffs and regains its footing, the Direct Market retailers embrace risk diversification and increase their stock of independent comics, bookstores continue to expand their graphic novel selections. Comics enter a legitimate golden age. In the worst case, Disney and/or Warner Bros. both tinker with their formula of making monthly print comics and Direct Market retailers face a new and uncertain business model." [Publishers Weekly]

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Pearls Before Swine[/caption]

Comic strips | In the third part of Michael Cavna's series on boundaries on the funny pages, Rina Piccolo (Tina's Groove) and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) discuss the constraints they work under and why newspaper comics have descended into blandness. Pastis points out that a lot of the comics running today are reruns from a previous era ("What other part of the paper recycles content?") while many others are legacy strips whose creators are long gone and whose successors are reluctant to mess with the formula: "So you have a strip that is a tame shadow of its original self — a bland echo of its groundbreaking creator. Elvis replaced by an Elvis impersonator," says Pastis. And because the comics page has limited space, these older strips are keeping fresh voices out. [Comic Riffs]

Creators | Jessica Abel writes about the importance and power of editing and collaboration, taking what she observed in radio, as she compiled material for her new book Out on the Wire, and applying it more broadly. [Transom]

Comics | Michael Dooley takes us on a grand tour of the best of the vintage comics panels at Comic-Con International, with lots and lots of images from a variety of genres. [Print]

Comics | R. Fiore looks at "mainstream" comics that even a self-described comics snob can enjoy—Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, The Fifth Beatle, et al. [The Comics Journal]

Manga | Misha Begley picks five shojo manga series that go beyond their target audience. [Down the Tubes]

Exhibits | A new exhibit at the British Museum features three manga creators: Tetsuya Chiba (Ashita no Joe), Yukinobu Hoshino, who does sci-fi manga, and Hikaru Nakamura, creator of Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men), a slice-of-life comedy in which Jesus and Buddha take a break from their godly duties and move to an apartment in Tokyo. [International Business Times UK]

Retailing | Mauricio Machuca of Hi De Ho comics writes about the moment when the stress of his job drove his blood pressure up and put him in the hospital. "The doctor came back with the news for me and started it with a line worthy of a comic book. 'Mr. Machuca – What good is this comic book empire that you are seeking to build if you won’t be alive to see it?' Even now, writing the words out, hits like a dagger in the heart. Here I am, not even 30 years old yet. My first real acknowledgement of my mortality." [Santa Monica Daily Press]

Retailing | "Just kind of look around, find something that looks weird and don’t be afraid to ask questions," says Sam Berlin of the Athens, Ohio, comic shop The Wizards Guild, offering advice to comics and gaming newbies; several customers of the store chime in as well. [The Post]

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