I had the pleasure of meeting with Greg Crafts, Marketing Coordinator with Gentle Giant Ltd., to find out about the latest happenings at the company and how it meshes with book and other media tie ins.
The highlight of my tour was an introduction to Gentle Giant’s first in house created intellectual property called HONEY TRAP. The intial line features five female figurines – Fireball, Lucky, Whisper, Kat-Ya, and Derby. Gentle Giant knew they had a strong group of designers and scultptors in-house, and tasked them with this challenge – “hot chicks with big guns – go!” – which resulted in these first five of what Gentle Giant hopes will be an extensive line. Each character has a unique backstory but they are also all part of the same universe. Right now they are being featured in figurine form only, but when I asked Greg Crafts if any other mediums would be used to pursue telling their stories, he said that they were opening to partnering with all mediums including “movies, comics, and television” just to name a few. Kevin Dart is the visionary behind the HONEY TRAP concept art, and Gentle Giant also partners in return by doing figurines of some of Kevin Dart’s original concepts.
Marvel characters and STAR WARS are two prominent licensees for Gentle Giant. They have figurines such as Iron Man in a version that lights up, or a bust of Hawkeye that has 10 different arrows that can be swapped out, and all items show such an attention to detail. Similar commments can be made for the Clone Wars version of Darth Maul, and the wide assortment of Star Wars merchandise for which the mini busts are Gentle Giant’s “most popular collectibles’” per Greg Crafts. People who grew up on the original figures may fall in love with the Kenner 12″ replicas series Gentle Giant has, for which a proper scale Cantina playset is anticipated this holiday season. One very popular figure is the Death Trooper from the Star Wars Expanded Universe series of books, which has now been done in three different ways because each collecctible is only released in one batch so when there is demand for a characcter they do it in another fashion. When I asked why this particular figure was so popular, Greg Crafts said, “Star Wars and Zombies, how can you miss?”; we went on to discuss what drives demand to own characters from books and media, to which he said, “they want to see it” and if we “do a good enough job” Gentle Giant can win trust and loyalty. One other point of interest to bibliophiles is Gentle Giant also does bookends based on Marvel characters and STAR WARS, and in the case of the Marvel characters, they can detach from the bookends and display separately.
THE WALKING DEAD comic is a new licensee for Gentle Giant, and with it they plan several new approaches. They are planning to release the figures more like old style Army men including large quantity packaging where they will “come in big bags,” according to Greg Crafts. Bookends based on THE WALKING DEAD are also available. Also another new area here is prop replicas, where they are starting with the sheriff’s badge.
Busts from THE HOBBIT – for which their film arm Gentle Giant Studios helped with post-production – also were on display. Thorin, Dwalin, Gollum, and Gandalf all could be seen, and Greg Crafts mentioned “a great partnership with WETA” along with support from Warner Brothers to get these items marketed. Greg Crafts agreed that the passion we discussed about wanting to see it in relation to the STAR WARS universe also came into play here.
After showing off the last two HARRY POTTER busts planned for release – the Series 7 Harry and Voldemort – the final highlight of the tour were Christmas ornaments designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MARS ATTACKS trading cards from Topps. Featured is a cardpack so detailed it even has the legalese on the back. Greg Crafts said it was “great to be a part” of a tribute to this classic property.
Thank you to Greg Crafts for letting AmoXcalli be a part of Gentle Giant’s celebration of ten years. Keep following Shannon Muir’s “Professional to Professional” series for more Comic-Con highlights!
Neil Gaiman Announces His Return to One of the Most Celebrated Comic Books of All-Time — THE SANDMAN
Surprise Announcement at San Diego Comic-Con Pairs Legendary, Award Winning Author with Artist JH Williams, III Under DC Entertainment’s Vertigo Imprint
SAN DIEGO, CA – July 12, 2012 – Twenty-five years after one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all-time hit shelves, award winning and critically acclaimed author and screenwriter, Neil Gaiman, announces his return to THE SANDMAN. Gaiman made the surprise announcement, via video, at DC Entertainment’s Vertigo panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. Karen Berger, Executive Editor of Vertigo, then revealed that Gaiman is paired with artist, JH Williams III (BATWOMAN) for the series, who appeared on stage to an already stunned and elated crowd. THE SANDMAN mini-series will be published by Vertigo in 2013.
One of the few graphic novels ever to be on the New York Times Best Seller list and lauded by critics the world over, THE SANDMAN is credited with changing the path of storytelling in the comic book industry. Gaiman will pick up his pen for the first time in more than 10 years since ending the series to continue a story that he feels still has yet to be told.
“When I finished writing THE SANDMAN, there was one tale still untold. The story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in THE SANDMAN #1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war. It was a story that we discussed telling for SANDMAN’s 20th anniversary… but the time got away from us. And now, with SANDMAN’s 25th anniversary year coming up, I’m delighted, and nervous, that that story is finally going to be told,” said Gaiman.
“There’s nothing like a Neil Gaiman story,” said Berger, “and there’s nothing like having Neil back home on THE SANDMAN, his dark, soulful, literary epic that transformed comics and continues to captivate countless new readers year after year. Working with him again, and with JH Williams, the extraordinary and groundbreaking artist, is truly the stuff dreams are made of.”
DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio added, “As accomplished as Neil Gaiman is in other media—whether it be novels, film and even music—he still has an incredible passion and love for comics. It’s exciting to have him back. J.H. Williams will be the perfect complement to Neil’s writing. He has a history of creating art that pushes the boundaries of the medium.”
Each issue of THE SANDMAN mini-series will be published day-and-date digitally. The title will be announced at a later date.
ABOUT THE SANDMAN:
With more than 7 million copies sold in nine different languages, Gaiman’s multi-volume magnum opus THE SANDMAN features literature’s most dysfunctional family—Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction, Destiny and Dream. The critically acclaimed Vertigo fantasy series transformed the landscape of comics, helping to usher in an era of more compelling and sophisticated storytelling. Combining mythology and literature in an epic story, it is one of the most popular, groundbreaking, bestselling and award-winning comic books of the last twenty-five years. It has garnered nineteen Eisner and six Harvey Awards, and is the only comic book to win the World Fantasy Award. The original series ran 75 issues and has been collected in ten Volumes, five Absolute Editions (plus Absolute DEATH) and is now being collected in THE ANNOTATED SANDMAN. Other SANDMAN related titles include SANDMAN: Endless Nights, SANDMAN: The Dream Hunters, and SANDMAN Mystery Theatre.
ABOUT NEIL GAIMAN:
Neil Gaiman is the New York Times best-selling author of the Newbery Medal-winning The Graveyard Book and Coraline, the basis for the hit movie. His other books include Anansi Boys, Neverwhere, American Gods and Stardust (winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award as one of 2000’s top novels for young adults) and the short story collections M Is for Magic and Smoke and Mirrors. He is also the author of The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Traded My Dad for Two Goldfish, both written for children. Among his many awards are the Eisner, the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy and the Bram Stoker. Originally from England, he now lives in the United States.
ABOUT J. H. WILLIAMS:
Williams is the co-writer as well as the co-artist of the GLAAD Award-Winning title BATWOMAN for DC Comics-The New 52. A multiple Eisner Award-Winning artist, he has also received the Harvey, the Eagle, and the 2012 Reuben Award from the National Cartoonist’s Society. The acclaimed artist has also drawn PROMETHEA, DESOLATION JONES and other titles.
ABOUT DC ENTERTAINMENT:
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating its content across Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world. In January 2012, DC Entertainment, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Time Warner divisions, launched We Can Be Heroes —a giving campaign featuring the iconic Justice League super heroes—to raise awareness and funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.
You can get your hands on exclusive DJANGO UNCHAINED Comic-Con bounty! To do so, you must spot an outlaw at SDCC, equipped in a limited edition t-shirt, cowboy hat and jeans and tell them the secret code, “the d is silent.” They will be given a redemption coin to bring back to Django City where they’ll be eligible to receive a limited edition SDCC shirt, VIP tickets to exclusive Django Unchained events.
Outlaws will be on the run throughout SDCC. For clues on their whereabouts, be sure to check the official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/
This is Shannon Muir for AmoXcalli, on my way to Comic-Con International: San Diego 2012. I’m looking forward to the craziness of the Con and the coverage I will bring you.
As of right now, I have one interview scheduled for Thursday that I will bring you by Friday morning. Most of the action is on Friday, with some stuff still to be firmed up for the weekend. More as it develops.
So get ready to go “pro to pro” and hear thoughts about various media influence on the written word… and vice versa.
It’s that SDCC time of year again, though earlier in July than usual which kind of threw me off. I’m at Comic-con International, reporting from a very hot and crowded San Diego. The convention is crazy crowded. Even with all the new hotel additions and expansions going on, there are way too many people.
Preview night used to be that calm before the storm, that time for exhibitors to set up and press to sit in hotels preparing and going through interview requests. Not anymore. No longer is the exhibit floor open only to vendors and press the night before – it’s open to the public and there’s stuff going on all over town. It feels like opening day the morning before! I arrived at 9:00 a.m. and the city had already gone Comic-con crazy. Streets are jam packed, excitement is in the air, and oh my gosh the lines!
While I stood in the boiling hot sun waiting in the press line (hint hint SDCC, how about some tents or awnings to protect people if they are going to be in line for hours?), I couldn’t help but notice all the things that typically drive me nuts about huge crowds of people. It also got me thinking about what I do right at this monster that is the Con. I’m kind of an expert having been here more times than I can count, not to mention other conventions. I kind of have it down to a science, so I figured I’d share my hints and peeves with more than just a bit of snark.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Comic-con