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Thursday, 22 March 2007

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Comics on Your Mobile - Exclusive

Well, it's been five years (at least) in the making -- but I'm delighted to report that I'm in the middle of a first round testing of a new comics-to-mobile service for ROK Media, that should launch soon, and we'll be rolling out in full this May.

Several British creators here will know I've been touting comics-on-mobile to anyone who will listen for simply ages, but ROK picked up the ball and ran with the idea last year, and it's been non-stop ever since. In pure business terms, you can't ignore the massive rise in digital comic demand – one comics aggregator says it's delivering some 350,000 comics a day to mobile.

The system will let creators upload their own comics and create them using a suite of characters, props and backgrounds: all can then be offered to comic readers to buy and view on their mobiles. Creators will then receive a percentage of every sale.

We're also looking at distributing a range of comic strips from various publishers to mobile and we've had several encouraging discussions so far with a range of companies, both small and large.

In addition to mobile comics, we're also considering print – including publishing titles based on licenses on intellectual properties we've signed, although I can't reveal the names of those properties at this stage. I can say we have solicited samples from some terrific artists for our first project and I hope to be able to say more about that very soon.

Exciting times!

In Memoriam: Jim Cronin

Jim Cronin from MonkeyWorldI was very sorry to hear from my Mum last night that ape rescue campaigner Jim Cronin died this week. Jim was the co-founder of Dorset's Monkey World with his wife Alison, an internationally renowned ape rescue centre I've visited twice with my wife.

His death at just 55 from liver cancer has left us both shocked and saddened. Even though we never met him, we've followed the work of Monkey World through the TV series, as the team there worked with governments around the world to halt the illegal smuggling of apes out of Africa and Asia.

Jim was a tireless campaigner, firmly establishing himself as an international expert in the rescue and rehabilitation of abused primates, and the enforcement of international treaties aimed at protecting primates from illegal trade and experimentation.

If you get chance, I'd recommend a visit to the 65 acre wildlife park, opened thanks to his own personal investment (he sold his own house to start the project), and support from his business partner. Some government funding followed later.

"Jim had a passion for life and the conservation of wildlife that was an inspiration to all who knew him," the Monkey World web site tribute reads. "His enthusiasm was infectious and he will be missed by all whose lives he touched. Jim’s legacy will continue under the guidance of his devoted wife, Dr Alison Cronin. Monkey World and the numerous projects Jim and Alison set up around the world will continue as a fitting memorial to a man whose life touched so many around the world."

Monkey World have set up a fund in memory of Jim, who was awarded an MBE for his work, to continue his legacy and all donations should be made payable to the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund and sent to Monkey World - Ape Rescue Centre, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6HH.

He will be much missed.

Web Links:

- New York Times obituary (registration required) - 20 March 2007
- Report on funeral in the US - The Journal News, 20 March 2007

- Senior Keeper Mike Colbourne has pays tribute to Jim in The Dorset Echo (21 March 2007)
- Tributes from the Ape Alliance and other campaigners in The Dorset Echo (21 March 2007)
- Tribute by Neal Butterworth, Editor of The Dorset Echo (20 March 2007)

Re-visiting childhood

Talk about a labour of love. dtb contributor Matthew Badham's just passed on a note from 2000AD fan Paul (Book of Lists, There's No Time Like the Present) Rainey, who's re-visitng the entire 30 year run of the title, after buying nearly 1200 copies in one fell swoop on eBay, and is now reviewing them one by one online.

"One day in 1977, I bought the first issue of 2000AD," he says. He was nine. "Thirty years later, I bought it again along with most of the following eleven hundred and eighty eight issues in a moment of madness in an eBay auction.

"Obviously, this would be a total waste of money if I didn't read them all. Why not record the experience of reading twenty years worth of comics in a contracted period of time, I thought. And so I have started the 2000 AD Prog Slog Blog."

New readers are recommended to start here if they want to follow Paul's marathon review mission. It's a fascinating insight, including a look at the way the launch of 2000AD was promoted on TV - something that's actually still done these days, but the costs of even a small ad campaign are astronomic, and to be honset probably weren't cheap then.

Best of luck with that Paul: like you, I'm wondering if you will suffer from thrill power overload, as Tharg the Mighty has warned of many times before in his editorials, or will you start screaming as you re-visit some of the low points in 2000Ad's history. You know what they are (cough, The VCs -- and I don't care if Cam Kennedy liked it!), and if you don't I'm sure Paul will warn you before you to head for eBay on a similar buying spree...

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Flat Pyramid

This might be a useful site for artists: Flat Pyramid, founded by professionals in the creative media and corporate America, is dedicated to the creation, management, worldwide promotion, and distribution of digital content online.

The website provides an intermediary platform where digital artists, game developers and photographers generate revenue by selling their content online. Flat Pyramid's platform gives users instant access to affordable, high quality content to enhance their creative projects and meet tight deadlines.

It's early days but a quick poke around has unearthed some gems (I liked the "Comic Robot" for example, and like sites such as ComicSpace (which isn't as monetized), it's growing its database of digital content pretty quickly in four major interrelated categories including 3D Models, Textures & Digital Art, Games & Game Contents and Photo by Request.

Some things just aren't right...






Michelle Trachtenberg

Michelle Trachtenberg Bratzified

Case in point: Bratz dolls. I can't believe I'm alone in thinking they're deeply disturbing in terms of look (quite frankly, they give me the heebie jeebies), and now Worth 1000's running a competition to turn the world into them.

Well, okay, they're really asking for manga versions of famous film and tv stars and the like, really, but it amounts to the same thing -- look what they've done to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Michelle Trachtenberg. Very clever stuff, but ewwww...

... It's a slippery slope, I tells ya!

Comics International sells out

Just had an e-mail from Comics International editor Mike Conroy who tells me demand for its first issue of the new-look mag has been phenomenal and retailers around the UK are reporting a virtual sell out within the first four days of the 100-page#201 going on sale.

The issue includes a piece on TV's The Avengers by myself, Ian Wheeler and Dez Skinn, and of course I'd like to think it was this that boosted the sales, although it's more likely to be pent up demand for the delayed magazine -- it was worth the wait, though! -- and coverage of Frank Miller's stunning 300 movie.

Conroy advises that anyone requiring extra copies of the £2.99 issue are urged to phone 01621 877 231 as soon as possible. Publisher Cosmic Publications has less than 300 copies left in its warehouse and these are being made available for reorder to retailers on their usual terms. The minimum reorder quantity is 10 copies.

Comics International #202 is scheduled for April 13 and will include a Danger Man in comics feature.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Super Lawyer Required?

Talk about complex. Stan Lee Media, which the legendary Stan Lee no longer has any involvement with, is suing Marvel for a stonking $5 billion -- claiming rights to titles including Spider-Man.

Stan Lee Media was orginally co-founded by Lee, who created Spider-Man, the Hulk and other characters back in the 1960s, during the dot-com boom a few years back as a way of bringing superheroes online -- but the company went bankrupt and produced a litany of lawsuits and criminal charges in its wake involving stock manipulation schemes against the other co-founders of the company.

New media magazine and web site Red Herring has the most detailed report on this story, noting the company is back from the dead, having been reconstituted by Jim Nesfield (who describes himself as a "vulture" - has he been reading eraly issues of Spider-man in the run up to this suit?), who gathered a group of former investors, while he took charge as chairman, CEO, and president.

The suit is complex, but as I understand it, Nesfield has now filed a lawsuit on their behalf claiming claiming Lee signed his rights away to the company in 1998 and SLM a 50 per cent cut of profits from Marvel film licencing deals.

88-year-old Lee, who is now involved in POW Entertainment, has rejected the claim, as has Marvel.

In 2005 Lee had to go to court himself to win 10 per cent of Marvel's profits from the Spider-Man movies.

Seems to me that he needs some kind of super-lawyer to handle this one...

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