Comics A.M. | Image Comics' 'terrific year'; Viz Media's Nook debut

Publishing | Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson talks about the ups and downs of the past year, including getting Todd MacFarlane's Spawn on a tighter schedule and the difficulties of selling all-ages comics: "There’s this really blinkered mentality in comics that “all-ages” means only for kids, despite the relatively easy to understand implication that all-ages books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Diamond even has this graphic they use for all-ages comics in Previews and it’s these two children that look like toddlers or whatever. People seem to miss the point that most the comics we love from the ‘60s or ‘70s or even the ‘80s to a large degree, were all-ages comics. Stan & Jack’s Fantastic Four was an all-ages book. And it was brilliant." [Multiversity Comics]

Digital | Viz Media, the largest manga publisher in the United States, began releasing its graphic novels on Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Nook Color devices today. As on the Viz iOS app and website, the manga are priced from $4.99 to $9.99 per volume, and they read from right to left, in authentic Japanese fashion. 107 volumes from 18 series are available at launch, although the selection skews a bit older than what's available on the iOS app, with no sign of the Shonen Jump blockbusters Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece, at least in the initial announcement. [press release]

Creators | Tom Spurgeon kicks off his annual holiday interviews with a talk with Art Spiegelman. [The Comics Reporter]

Comics | Joey Esposito makes the case for a Lord of the Rings comic series. [IGN]

Comics | Health care economist Jonathan Gruber talks to NPR's Radio Boston about his new graphic novel, stirringly titled Health Care Reform. What It Is. Why It’s Necessary. How It Works, which does for the Affordable Care Act what Project X: Cup Noodle did for ramen-in-a-cup—takes something boring and turns it into a stirring adventure tale. Or at least makes it less boring. [Radio Boston]

Creators | Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk reflects on the many ways in which Cleveland influences his work, including real places and real people that have popped up in his comics over the years—including fanatical band director Harry L. Dinkle, who was based on Batiuk's junior-high band director, Harry Pfingsten: "With most real characters, I exaggerate their traits. With Harry, I had to tone him down just a little." [Cleveland.com]

Reviews | Larry Cruz reviews Tony Cliff's swashbuckling adventure comic Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. [The Webcomic Overlook]

Comic strips | Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn highlights Fantagraphics' Pogo collection and a Pogo exhibit at Fantagraphics' bookstore in Georgetown, Wash. [Seattle Times]

Awards | The Japanese Ministry of Cultural Affairs has given out its 15th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards, and top honors in the manga division went to Hisae Iwaoka's Saturn Apartments, which is published in the U.S. by Viz. Alison Bechdel's Fun Home also won an Excellence Prize. [Anime News Network]

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