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Indie comics news: "Big Trouble in Little China" comic, "Doctor Who", and women

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BOOM! Studios hired Paul Levitz & announces "Big Trouble in Little China" comic!

It has been quite a week for "third party" publisher BOOM! Studios. The company had some big announcements at the annual "ComicsPRO" convention this weekend in Atlanta. The biggest being their hiring of former DC Comics scion Paul Levitz as publisher of their company. Levitz was a longtime "company man" of DC Comics since the 1970's, where he started out as a writer on books such as "Legion of Super-Heroes". As the decades went on he was promoted to various editorial and executive positions within the company, even serving as president of DC Comics from 2002-2009. After Diane Nelson from Warner Brothers crafted "DC Entertainment", Geoff Johns and former Image Comics founder Jim Lee got promoted, and Levitz was back writing "LOSH". Since then he's left the company entirely, and his placement in a high position within BOOM! Studios is quite a coup.

In addition, BOOM! Studios is making headway to prove that IDW isn't the king of licensed properties outside of the "big two". To this end they've announced a cult favorite 20th Century Fox aligned license - a comic based on "Big Trouble in Little China". The film debuted in 1986 and was directed by John Carpenter and starred Kurt Russell in one of his most memorable roles as trucker Jack Burton who stumbles into a plot involving his friend Wang Chi and the sorcerer Lo-Pan. While it was a bomb at the time, it became a hit on home video and TV airings and has since gone on to become a cult classic. Image Comics imprint Top Cow tried to launch a "Big Trouble" comic in 2009, but it fell through. The series will be written by Eric Powell ("Goon") and drawn by Brian Churilla ("D.B. Cooper", "Sixth Gun: Sons of a Gun"), with director John Carpenter involved as an "active consultant". The original film was written by Gary Goldman and David Z. Weinstein, who set it as a Western, before W.D. Richter was hired as a "script doctor" and set it in modern day. Although John Carpenter never intended to make a sequel, the ending of the film does leave the door open for more adventures of Jack Burton.

Titan Comics reveals creative team for "Doctor Who" comics!

At the end of January, it was revealed that U.K. based Titan Comics had whisked the "Doctor Who" comic book license away from (who else) IDW for this year. Now, the creative teams for the first two series are revealed.

"Doctor Who: the Tenth Doctor" focuses on David Tennant's incarnation and will be written by Nick Abadzis and drawn by Elena Casagrande. "Doctor Who: the Eleventh Doctor" focuses on Matt Smith's incarnation and will be written by Al Ewing and Rob Williams, with art by Simon Fraser. Both series kick off on July 23rd.

Dark Horse publishes "Light Brigade" hardcover!

Speaking of leftovers from DC Comics (see above), Peter Tomasi originally made a name for himself with a series called "Light Brigade" alongside artist Peter Snejbjerg in 2004. It centered around a brigade of soldiers in WWII being enlisted by Heaven to fight even more extreme forces of darkness. Much like "Bloodhound", this was apparently a creator owned series which DC Comics eventually relinquished after a set number of years which Dark Horse Comics will now reprint in a hardcover edition. It goes on sale March 26th.

Image Comics cites women as key to industry's future!

The ComicsPRO con is seen as a spotlight for indie creators and third party companies, but it was founded and run by Image Comics bigwigs. Publisher Eric Stephenson gave a speech to attendees which reflected his attitudes in this changing direct market. He has much to be proud about. In the late 1990's, Image Comics represented some 16% of the comic book industry, yet by the 21st century that market share fell to 3-4% for many years. Now, thanks to some big name talents producing big hits as well as becoming a welcome place for creative talent, Image Comics is once again representing at least 10% of the direct market of comic books in North America after a few short years.

While he gave a speech which attempted to impress upon retailers to stretch their horizons for new customers, he cited one group as "the fastest growing demographic" in direct market sales: women. He cites the immediate success of "Saga" (which in less than a year is selling at levels that took "The Walking Dead" a decade and a TV show to reach) as proof that if something is marketed with women in mind, it can sell gangbusters. They are a demographic the "big two" often consider an afterthought but can be a major block; they statistically buy a majority of novels and are a high percentage of movie goers. He also urged retailers to be more "inclusive" and used "Secret Wars II" as a near curse word when bemoaning the cycle of "crossover events" pushed by the "big two", feeling that model was not sustainable. Mr. Stephenson didn't state anything drastic about altering the direct market, even as digital comics continue to widen the net of potential readers, but he did highlight the importance of offering comics to audiences besides older, white men.

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