Posts Tagged ‘Teen Titans’

Remembering Nick Cardy With His Wonder Woman Covers

November 8, 2013

Earlier this week, famed comic book artist Nick Cardy passed away at the age of 93.  Cardy began in comics in 1939 at Eisner & Iger, and later won two Purple Hearts during World War Two.  Years after the war, Cardy was hired by DC Comics, where he was best known for launching the Silver Age Aquaman and drawing the first few years of his series, and for his work on Teen Titans in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.

Cardy also drew a few Wonder Woman covers soon after the end of the mod era in the early 1970s, when Wonder Woman got her superpowers back and returned to her Amazon roots.  His first cover was Wonder Woman #205, the second issue after Wonder Woman’s return:

cardy205

William Moulton Marston certainly would have loved this cover.  The bondage imagery and the “Suffering Sappho!” both harked back to earlier incarnations of Wonder Woman and her past sexualized tendencies.

Cardy drew the following issue as well, Wonder Woman #206, showing a battle between Wonder Woman and her sister Nubia:

cardy206

Mars had tricked them into fighting each other but, SPOILER ALERT, the two sisters soon teamed up to defeat Mars in this startling book-length epic.

The Grand Comics Database also credits Cardy with the cover of Wonder Woman #211:

cardy211

This issue had a wider array of stories, from some rehashes of a couple of old Robert Kanigher tales to Golden and Silver Age reprints.  Cardy captured a moment from a few of these issues, and got to draw some whacky situations.

Finally, Cardy drew the cover to Wonder Woman #216, a team-up with Black Canary:

cardy216

At this point in the series, Wonder Woman had to prove herself to each individual member of the Justice League so she could rejoin the team.  It was a clever plot to boost sales by including a big guest star in each issue.  In this one, Black Canary learned all about the Amazons.

Decades later, Cardy provided this pin-up for Wonder Woman #120, the ten year anniversary issue of Wonder Woman’s relaunch in 1987.  It’s a different look than his past art, and it weirdly has sort of a Lisa Frank vibe to me:

cardy120

Cardy also had ties to the wider Wonder Woman universe.  He drew the cover to Brave and the Bold #60, the first appearance of Wonder Girl as a member of the Teen Titans:

cardybravebold

And he continued to draw her regular adventures with the team when the Teen Titans series launched the following year.

It’s always sad to lose a well known comic book icon, though living to 93 is a pretty impressive run.  While Cardy wasn’t best known for his work on Wonder Woman, he was a part of a key moment in her history and I’m sure his covers are remembered fondly by many Wonder Woman fans.

Wonder Woman Sales: #8 Holds Steady At 25th, Sales Drop Only Slightly

May 11, 2012

The sales numbers are up for April 2012, and Wonder Woman had a very solid month.  It was decent for most of the DC books really, with much of the top 20 experiencing only small drops, along with a couple books that went up.  In April 2012, Wonder Woman #8 sold 50,450 copies for 25th place on the charts, a drop of only 1.7% from last month. Here are the numbers for the issue, and the five issues previous:

NOTE: The average sales total is based on all of the available sales data, which currently comprises every issue of the series since September 1996, for 180 issues in total.  The average rank isn’t given because rank is dependent on what other books came out that month, and that’s such a variable that an average really wouldn’t mean anything.

After such big drops in sales and ranking in March, and back to back sales drops of over 5%, I wasn’t very optimistic about April, but Wonder Woman held strong.  While falling 10 spots last month was big, at least they retained the spot and stayed at 25th.  It helped that there were no new first issues or anything to debut with strong numbers that could push it down the chart, but the series was also helped by the sales staying remarkably solid.

Dropping 1.7% is pretty much negligible.  Comic series rarely stay level… they usually drift slowly downward, even if it’s a very popular series, until some new event or crossover bumps them up a bit and they start their gradual decline all over again.  So falling 1.7% is very much in the normal range.  Time will tell if this is a random occurrence or if the book has settled out.  I’m leaning towards random, to be honest, but my predicting skills are awful.  Either way, April was great.

Wonder Woman did really well among her fellow DC titles too.  The book remained in 12th place at DC, still one behind that upstart Teen Titans that jumped up a spot in March.  But of the top 20 DC books, Wonder Woman had the sixth best month.  Only Batman and Nightwing, which saw gains from the Night of the Owls crossover, and Batman: The Dark Knight, Aquaman, and Teen Titans had better months in terms of percentage lost compared to the month before. 

SIDENOTE: Batman: The Dark Knight is killing it in sales, and I don’t understand it.  Is David Finch that popular?  It looks like kind of a terrible book.

So it was a really good month for Wonder Woman, and the book is still WELL above average, but next month could be tricky.  There’s a lot going on.  First off, if there’s any fallout from the murdering, raping Amazons in Wonder Woman #7, it could hit May more than April… the April orders might have been set before WW #7 even came out.  Second, Tony Akins is doing the art in May, and he’s not as big a draw as Chiang, which might lead some stores to decrease their orders.  Third, DC’s Second Wave starts in May, so at the very least a couple new books might knock Wonder Woman down the chart a bit even if the sales are the same.  Worst case scenario is that Wonder Woman is a bubble book for some people/retailers, and they decide to drop it (if they’re a person) or cut back orders (if they’re a retailer) to try out some of the six new books.  All of these factors COULD affect the May numbers, but none of them are glaringly frightening.  We’ll find out how it all worked out in a month or so.

Prediction For Next Month: After months of being too optimistic, I tried to be pessimistic last month and I was WAY off.  I’m still feeling a little pessimistic, but I’ll pull it back some and predict that Wonder Woman #9 will sell 48,450 copies for a loss of about 4%.  Check back next month to see how I did!!

Wonder Woman Sales: #7 Falls 10 Spots, Down 5.3%

April 12, 2012

The sales numbers for March 2012 have been posted over at The Comics Chronicles, and it wasn’t a very good month for Wonder Woman.  Marvel finally came back strong in March, spearheaded by the launch of Avengers vs. X-Men, and they took the top two spots by a wide margin, marking the first time they’ve even made the top ten in a few months.  All of this Marvel success wasn’t great for DC, and it seems that it hit Wonder Woman particularly hard.  In March 2012, Wonder Woman #7 sold 51,314 copies for 25th place on the charts.  Here are the numbers for the issue, and the five issues previous:

NOTE: The average sales total is based on all of the available sales data, which currently comprises every issue of the series since September 1996, for 179 issues in total.  The average rank is not given because rank is dependent on what other books came out that month, and that’s such a variable that an average really wouldn’t mean anything.

When Wonder Woman dropped 6% last month, I wasn’t terribly concerned because it had been heavily discounted for a while and, as far as I could tell, the discount ended.  You’d expect a drop when that happens, and 6% wasn’t too bad at all.  But this month is different… another 5.3% is a big drop.  Maybe retailers are still adjusting their orders to the new pricing, or maybe not having the regular artist on the book the past two issues hasn’t gone over well.  It’s hard to know what exactly is happening, but the book’s sales are falling.

It’s falling on the charts too.  After a remarkably stable run since the relaunch, Wonder Woman fell TEN spots in March, which seems bad but actually isn’t entirely awful.  Marvel premiered three new series to some pretty big numbers, and several of their top selling titles double-shipped or had Point One issues in March.  All those extra books push everything below them down the charts some, accounting for some of this drop.  Nonetheless, Wonder Woman was leapfrogged by several titles that it outsold in February, which isn’t a good sign.

Wonder Woman is down among DC titles as well.  One of those books that leapfrogged Wonder Woman was Teen Titans #7, and that pushed Wonder Woman down to 12th spot among DC titles after months at 11th.  Even worse, Wonder Woman had the biggest decline in sales out of all of DC’s Top 20 books.  EVERY book was down in March, with several in the four percent range, but the closest to Wonder Woman was Action Comics #7 at a loss of 4.9%.  Of the top books, only Wonder Woman was down over 5%.

So that’s not a great month at all, and I’m semi-concerned about next month after the hubbub this issue caused in terms of story.  I saw a lot of people saying that they weren’t going to buy the book anymore on account of the murdering, raping Amazons, and with the book already shedding a fair amount of readers generally, it could be bad.  Historically, Wonder Woman is still well about average, but the gap is slowing closing.  Hopefully things will level out next month, but I’m a little bit worried.

Prediction For Next Month: I was too optimistic last month and was off by about a thousand copies again, so I’m going to go pessimistic for April.  With AvX tie-ins sucking up people’s cash and Amazon outrage, I predict a drop of 6% for April, with sales of about 48,235.  Check back next month to see how I did!!

No More CCA Seal Of Approval For DC Comics

January 20, 2011

Today on The Source, DC co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee announced a new rating system for their comic books that is set to begin in April 2011.  Because of this new system, DC will no longer be part of the Comics Code Authority, and their comic covers won’t have the CCA’s classic Seal of Approval anymore. 

This is a smart move for DC.  The CCA either approved a comic or they didn’t… there were no levels to specify what sort of content the book would contain.  DC’s new code employs four new rating levels:

E – EVERYONE

Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief.

T – TEEN

Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.

T+ – TEEN PLUS

Appropriate for readers age 16 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.

M – MATURE

Appropriate for readers age 18 and older. May contain intense violence, extensive profanity, nudity, sexual themes and other content suitable only for older readers.

This will give readers and retailers a far better sense of what’s actually in the book.  Plus, the CCA’s approval has been a joke for a while now.  For example, let’s look at the much-maligned (and deservedly so) Teen Titans #62.  Here is the innocuous cover of the issue, a nice team shot that introduces the Wonder Twins (an updated version of Wendy and Marvin from the old Super Friends cartoon) and their friendly dog:

Note that the cover says “Approved by the Comics Code Authority” under the issue number, along with the CCA’s seal, so we know this book is good for all ages to read.  Even kids… this is Teen Titans after all:

So here’s what happens in the issue: The nice dog on the cover turns into a huge monster dog that devours Wendy and Marvin, quite graphically.  Marvin is killed first, and the Wendy runs away screaming, trying to get help, before she herself is devoured.  It’s a frightening, violent issue.  Here you can see a panicked Wendy trying to escape the dog:

And you can click here to see a splash page of the dog standing over dead Marvin if you are so inclined, but it’s pretty gruesome.  The issue is certainly nothing you’d want to give to a kid, yet it was approved by the Comics Code Authority.

But really, the Comics Code Authority has been useless for ages.  When it was implemented in 1954, it was HARDCORE.  If you didn’t submit to the Code, stores wouldn’t carry your books and you quickly went out of business… ask EC Comics (oh wait, you can’t).  The Senate trials on juvenile delinquency had scared the hell out of the comic book industry, and the goal for the publishers that survived was to be innocuous as possible.  That’s why the Silver Age was such a silly time… silly was all they were allowed to do.  DC was one of the companies that took the lead in creating the Code.  In fact, the original Code was largely based on DC’s own in-house code.  But then, in the early 1970s, Stan Lee wrote a Spider-Man comic that dealt with drug use to promote an anti-drug message.  The CCA refused to approve the story, so Marvel printed it anyway, without the Seal of Approval.  No one cared… stores carried it and it sold fine.  So it’s been over forty years since the CCA had any real teeth to it.

Marvel, incidentally, stopped with the CCA in favour of in-house ratings in 2001.  Comic Book Resources reports that only two companies still adhere to the Code now, Archie Comics and Bongo Comics.  Archie puts out the tamest books ever, so I have no idea why they’d need the Code anymore.  I don’t think I’ve ever bought a Bongo comic in my life… apparently they have the rights to The Simpsons and Futurama, so people probably know what they’re getting there.  DC ditching the Code might end up being the death knell for the Comics Code Authority. 

Interestingly, while Superman, Batman, and many other mainstream DC books continue to sport the Seal of Approval, Wonder Woman hasn’t had the Seal since Wonder Woman #22, back in September 2008.  It seems that we’ve been getting Wonder Woman Unrated for a couple years now!!

UPDATE:  Bleeding Cool reports that Bongo Comics actually stopped using the Comics Code a year ago, and just didn’t make a big deal about it so no one noticed.  That leaves Archie Comics as the sole adherent to the Code, and I can’t imagine the CCA will be around for much longer now.

UPDATE AGAIN: Everybody’s reporting that now Archie Comics are out too.  So it seems that the Comics Code Authority is dead.  I’m very curious to see what’s going to happen with it now… I have no idea how it’s run, but it must have a lot of stuff after fifty-some years of policing the industry.  I’m sure we’ll learn what’s up in the days to come.


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