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Amazon launched a new manga service in Japan on Wednesday that showcases free content that anyone can download. It is being billed as Kindle Free Manga Magazine and new issues will be posted weekly.

The initial lineup includes the first digital edition of Shueisha’s Grand Jump magazine, as well as Manga Action, Comic Ran Twins, Comic Zero-Sum, Manga Box service, and Square Enix’s Hobo Gekkan Otameshi Gangan.

Kindle Free Manga Magazine is not only being billed as a way to check out the publishers graphic novels and manga, but also a discovery service. There are hundreds of graphic novels and single issues of manga that is being advertised. Each issue ranged in price, but the average price is ¥400.

Amazon started their Japanese e-book store in early 2012 and currently has over 50,000 e-books and 15,000 manga volumes. The platform is starting to become a viable distribution system for companies such as Kodansha and Shueisha who are both publishing weekly magazines.

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The Crunchyroll anime and manga streaming service continues to have intermittent connection issues and has been down the last twelve hours. The website and streaming video library has been experiencing a Denial Of Service Attacks by malicious hackers.

Crunchyroll has incurred the ire of computer hackers when it started sending out DMCA notices to internet service providers and the users. Also, the anime company has been really going after hacking forums that specialize in password generators or selling user account information. These two things combined has resulted in a massive botnet attacking them.

During the last few days videos have worked sporadically but many users are facing constant freezing every few minutes. Sometimes the video will freeze but the timer will continue and then fast forward five or ten seconds. In other cases just the audio will be playing but the video will be blank.

Currently all platforms such as xbox 360 and Xbox One, Apple TV, Chromecast, PS4, PC and the official mobile apps are not working. The official e-commerence store is also down, so no purchases can be made and some of the incentives the company was providing due to the outages cannot be redeemed.

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When Comixology was acquired by Amazon it put comic book publishers on notice.  They realized that they had to look for alternative distribution methods, because it was only a matter of time before they had to renegotiate their contracts. This has promoted DC to sign a new agreement with iVerse, making their entire line of comics available via the ComicsPlus app.

DC and Marvel account for 70% of the print and digital market for comics. They both offer standalone apps that were designed and run by Comixology, something many comic buyers are unaware of. When Comixology decided to abandon in-app purchases from their main app for iOS, users lost the ability to make impulse purchases. This is something that iVerse is hoping to leverage.

“DC coming on board has been huge for iVerse as a company — obviously — but it’s also been important for me personally,” said iVerse CEO Michael Murphey. “I have been a DC fan for as long as I can remember. I was a Superman fan before I could talk, and those characters and that universe are still very, very important to me. I could not be happier to have them on board.”

iVerse knows that in order to take on ComiXology in a serious way, they have to innovate. One of the ways they intend on making this happen is to make significant upgrades to the app. One feature, that is entirely unique is being able to rent graphic novels.  Graphic novels from participating publishers can be rented via ComicsPlus for, typically, $1.99 for 24 hours, $2.99 for 48 hours, and $3.99 for 120 hours. Titles from Archie, IDW, and Valiant show up in the initial offering.

Renting comics makes sense, because when you purchase a comic in full, you don’t actually retain ownership. Instead, you merely license it, which makes renting something that normally retails for $19.99 or more, is a solid value proposition.

The other big upgrade to the app is an alternative to the Comixology guided view system,  named “uView.”  This is a system that allows readers to crop panels into a slideshow-like sequence and then view their creation in a similar manner. Some titles will ship with a “featured” uView as an automatic download.

Finally, iVerse is planning on rolling out a DRM-Free system sometime in 2015, that will allow readers to have a true sense of ownership of the comics they buy.  No publishers have been announced yet, but likely the company wants to launch with hundreds of comics from several publishers at once.

I think publishers really want to get away from Comixology and iVerse is one of the last men standing from the original rush of companies entering the mobile and tablet space several years ago. The fact they are continuing to stay relevant and innovate is a boon to comic book lovers.

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Top 10 Best Manga of 2014

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In Japanese culture, Manga is quintessentially apart of everyday life. It is ridiciously easy to buy one on the way to work and read it in a single day. Here in North America, things become a little bit more difficult, as bookstores often have a very paltry selection. This has given rise to digital distribution as an avenue for explosive growth. Viz, Crunchyroll, Manga Rock and a number of other apps make downloading and reading content very efficent.

The purpose of the top 10 manga list of 2014 is to give you a sense of what these are all about. Not only are they available in manga form, but most also have television shows that are available to watch via Crunchyroll or without subtitles in Japan. Maybe you will find a compelling read!

Attack on Titan – Eren Jaeger lives in city surrounded by monolithic walls. Outside dwell human murdering Titans. For decades members of the Scouting Legion have been the only humans who dared to leave the safety of the walls and gather information on the Titans. Every time they return, many of them are dead. Freedom loving Eren has no greater wish than to join them.

Tokyo Ghoul – Ken Kaneki is a bookworm college student who meets a girl names Rize at a cafe he frequents. They’re the same age and have the same interests, so they quickly become close. Little does Kaneki know that Rize is a ghoul – a kind of monster that lives by hunting and devouring human flesh. When part of her special organ – “the red child” – is transplanted into Kaneki, he becomes a ghoul himself, trapped in a warped world where humans are not the top of the food chain.

Yowamushi Pedal – Sakamichi Onada is a wimpy high school freshman who loves anime. He initially wants to enter the anime club, but winds up joining the cycling club after meeting two classmates who are already famous cyclists. He undertakes the grueling training to compete in races, and discovers his own hidden talent in cycling. This manga has spawned a TV show and various gatherings in Japan where people meet up and cycle together now.

One Piece – Twenty two years ago, the legendary pirate, Gold Roger was executed. His final words told that his treasure known as “One Piece” was hidden somewhere on the Grand Line. This started the Age of Pirates. Now, twenty two years later, seventeen year old Monkey D. Luffy desires to find One Piece, and become the Pirate King. But to do this, he needs a crew.

Haikyu!!- Shōyō Hinata began playing volleyball after seeing the “small giants” who played the sport when he was in elementary school. He suffers a crushing defeat in his first and last tournament in middle school at the hands of his rival Tobio Kageyama. So, Hinata joins Kurasuno High School’s volleyball team, vowing revenge against Kageyama. However, Kageyama is also on Kurasuno’s team. The former rivals form a legendary combo with Hinata’s mobility and Kageyama’s precision ball-handling. Together, they take on the local tournaments and vow to meet Kurasuno’s fated rival school in the nationals.

Ace of Diamond – It is a manga of high school baseball. The main character, who is a pitcher from a country high school, accidentally gets teamed up with a catcher from a school with an elite baseball team. He decides to quit his school to attend the school that this catcher plays…..

Magi – In a fantastic middle-age world where slavery is very common, there are mysterious tall towers named “Dungeon” which mysteriously appeared out of nowhere fourteen years before the story line. Someone who conquers a Dungeon becomes very powerful and wealthy. Our hero Ali Baba is a teenager who works for merchants to support himself. He dreams for conquering a lot of Dungeons and becoming a very rich person. One day, he comes across with a strange young boy named Aladdin who carries a mystical flute with supernatural powers in it. Ali Baba and Aladdin agree to travel their first Dungeon together.

The Seven Deadly Sins – Elizebath sets out to save the Kingdom of Lyons by searching for the infamous group of criminals who tried to overthrow the Kingdom, to ask them to save the Kingdom. She stumbles into a travelling Bar where she meets Meliodas, the owner of the Bar and the Dragon’s Sin of Wrath. After a brief encounter with a Holy Knight, the journey starts, to find the other members of the Seven Deadly Sins and to try and save the Kingdom.

Terra Formars – With Earth quickly becoming uninhabitable due to a swelling population, humans develop a project to terraform Mars, one that involves leaving cockroaches on the planet’s surface. Five hundred years later, Earth sends a team of astronauts to “exterminate” the roaches and prepare Mars for colonization. Once there, however, the astronauts discover that the roaches have rapidly mutated into terrible humanoids, more powerful than any normal human. But the astronauts have been given special, insect-like abilities to deal with the roaches, and a violent struggle for control of the planet ensues.

Chihayafuru – Chihaya Ayase is a frank and ebullient girl who becomes fascinated by the obscure world of competitive karuta, a card game based on Japanese poetry. Introduced to the aggressive style of the game by a quiet and thoughtful elementary school classmate named Arata Wataya, the two quickly become close friends. They start playing as a group with Taichi Mashima, Chihaya’s smart and athletic childhood friend, until they have to part ways during their middle school years due to several circumstances. As their high school life begins, they meet once again.

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Dark Horse is bidding a fond farewell to the Star Wars universe. The comic book publisher has printed hundreds of comics and is holding a fire sale. For the rest of 2014, all Dark Horse Star Wars comics are 50% off, and you can buy every single comic — 28,353 pages — for $300, or 80% savings.

In early 2015 the rights to the Star Wars comic book series will be transferred to Disney, and they will publish the comics in-house. It remains to be seen what exactly will happen to the copyright that Dark Horse has over the comics it has produced over the years, but it may be a moot point, since they aren’t considered canon anymore.

“As the end of an era closes, we say a fond farewell to Star Wars. The Wookiees will be missed, and bounty hunters will be sad. But take heart, young Jedi, for in these last few days, you can seal in carbonite the entire Dark Horse Digital library of Star Wars,” the publisher said in a press release. “Get every comic, every panel, and every battle in perfect digital format in your collection. Access via the Cloud City whenever you want. Many of these comics may never be in print again, and this is your chance to get over twenty years of Star Wars comics history at a once-in-a-lifetime price.”

There are a number of notable comics to be purchased via the Dark Horse app for Android, iOS and a number of other platforms. Legacy and Old Republic come to mind as two of the series that lasted the longest. The series that was the most compelling to me was Crimson Empire, a 22 comic adventure.

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Archie has been chasing Betty and Veronica through the halls of Riverdale High school since 1941. Not much has changed over the years, but starting in 2015 the entire Archie comic book line will be rebooted.

Jon Goldwater took over as chief executive and publisher of Archie Comics five years ago, from his father that founded the company in 1939. He has been evaluating the entire Archie line of comics, digital comics and graphic novels to get a sense on what the public wanted.

Afterlife with Archie was very dark in its overtones and capitalized on the obsession with zombies in our culture. Life with Archie also was more mature, as it featured Archie in his later life and much publicized death. These comics sold very well, bookstore sales have increased 736%, and direct-market sales, which include those in specialty stores like comic book shops, rose 226%

Starting in early 2015 the entire Archie comic book series will be rebooted with a new creative team, featuring Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. Mr. Waid said his primary goal was to return Archie to a modern audience, which included restoring the contemporary attitudes that the teenagers of Riverdale had lost.

Not much is known yet on the exact formula that Archie will employ. The only hints that were dropped was that it would be fresh, modern and the teens would face most of the same issues as they face nowadays. The traditional Archie digests will still be published, but the company priority right now is on the reboot and making it more modern.

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Marvel is rebooting the Secret Wars into a new project called Battleworld, which will launch in May 2015 and continue well into the summer.

In the original Secret Wars, the villain known as The Beyonder took pieces from various planets and combined them to create Battleworld where he forced the heroes and villains of Earth to fight each other. This new Secret Wars seems to be taking that basic concept but using pieces from Earths of different realities. This trailer shows that each reality has their own separate region on Battleworld. Given the name of this planet, it’s safe to assume that the heroes and villains of these worlds will have to battle one another.

This event will hopefully be a do over from the original Secret Wars, which had a high concept but terrible execution. I am hoping this is going to be better than Age of Ultron or AVX, which has been fairly lackluster.

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Wacom is employed by serious art creators in the comic and gaming industry, everyday thousands of artists are penciling, inking, coloring, lettering or simply cleaning up traditionally illustrated scanned artwork. In order to broaden their customer base and really show what their technology can do for digital comics, Wacom is partnering with a ton of great artists to release a 32 page digital anthology.

Pressure/Sensitivity is the name of the new comic and it will feature original, creator-owned short stories by Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie, Marceline and the Scream Queens), Ming Doyle (The Kitchen, Mara), Giannis Milonogiannis (Old City Blues, Prophet, All-New Ultimates) and one more still-to-be announced. All of the interior comics goodness comes wrapped in a cover by artist Ulises Farinas (Gamma, Judge Dredd: Mega City Two) and colorist Ryan Hill (Terrible Lizard, Stumptown).

The comic anthology will be available in early 2015 and  Wacom is going to be teasing its community with behind the scenes looks at the creation process.

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Kobo has reached an agreement with Marvel to sell over 250 graphic novels on their global online bookstore. The new comics can be purchased using any of the official Kobo tablets, their main website or bought in one of their many apps for Android, Blackberry or Windows.

The inclusion of Marvel graphic novels joins Archie, DC and Dark Horse on the Kobo ecosystem. With so many Marvel movies on the horizon like X-Men Apocalypse, Ant-Man and Avengers 2, and the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, readers will want to become familiar with the source properties.

“For more than 75 years, Marvel has been transporting comic fans to exciting new galaxies,” says Santiago Melo, Merchandiser, Kobo. “Tackling big issues with larger than life characters, these stories continue to be a constant source of enrichment in our popular culture and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them to the Kobo family.”

“Marvel is excited about our partnership with Kobo and happy to have the opportunity to provide fans, new and existing, another great way to experience our legendary content,” says David Gabriel, SVP Sales and Marketing for Marvel Entertainment.

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Frozen by Disney has become the 5th highest grossing movie of all time After sweeping theaters worldwide like a snowstorm for over half a year, Frozen has grossed a whopping $1.219 billion at the box office! According to Variety, the film raked in $400 million-plus in the U.S. alone and $194 million in Japan. Frozen has also become the top-grossing animated flick ever. This has promoted a new graphic novel to be commissioned and will come out November 29th.

The graphic novel costs $14.99 and will run a staggering 394 pages. Over 100,000 have been sold so far on a pre-order basis from customers on Amazon and comic book stores.

The graphic novel is basically retelling the same story that occured in the movie. “Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey – teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven – to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf along the way, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. Audiences who thrilled to the adventures of Anna and Elsa on the big screen can relive their favorite moments in this oversized graphic novel keepsake featuring an introduction by Leonard Maltin. With hundreds of movie stills and over 300 pages of adventure and laughs, the Frozen Cinestory will transport fans back to Arendelle time and time again!”

A frozen graphic novel will likely sell like gangbusters once it comes out in late November and many parents will be purchasing it for their little kids for the upcoming holiday season. A standalone comic is also planned by Disney for January 2015, and will clock in at 48 pages. No word yet if a digital edition will be available.

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The Spider-Man  newspaper strip debuted in 1977 and was drawn by master Spider-artist John Romita Sr. and written by none other than Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. IDW Publishing has announced that the first three years of the strip will get the graphic novel treatment in early 2015 and will likely be available digitally.

Newspaper Spider-Man is quite possibly the worst version of the character ever made. Newspaper Spidey is never quite that offensively terrible, but he also has a pretty dismal track record from when it comes to actual superheroism. He’s generally pretty cowardly, gets conked on the head a lot, and doesn’t actually seem all that concerned about this whole using-great-power-with-great-responsibility thing, instead preferring to just sort of lay around waiting for things to sort themselves out.

Early story arcs in the newspaper strip were paced much like a comic book, and a complete story unfolded in about 2 months of Sunday and daily strips. While the strip and the comic book feature the same characters, they do not share the same continuity. The strip differs from the established story lines of the comic books, most notably in the villains who Spider-Man fights and the women who Peter Parker dates. Many villains were introduced that have never appeared in other media, including the Rattler, a man who acquired snakelike characteristics. A rare exception was the 1987 wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson which occurred in both the comic book and the comic strip.

The comic strip rebooted in 2008 and is still going strong today. The early days are really good for a laugh due to the cheesiness of the story-lines.



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Gone are the days

Gone are the days

Trajectory started in 2011 and their core business model is assisting publishers in converting their comics and graphic novels to the digital arena. They also formulated their own fledgling distribution network and marketed the content overseas, where many people were curious about the west. In order to gain more traction in the industry the company signed agreements with Diamond Distributors earlier this year, to basically provide conversion services for their entire list of contacts. This relationship has paid off, as Trajectory just announced a new movement to bring digital comics and graphic novels to libraries.

At the New York Comic Con 2014, Trajectory announced that it has signed an agreement with Ingram Content Group and Follett School Solutions. Over 10,000 comics and graphic novels will now be available for schools and libraries to purchase through their existing relationship with either Ingram or Follett.

Diamond Comic Distributors v-p of purchasing John Wurzer said, “Schools and libraries can be incubators for the future appreciation of comic books and graphic novels and we are happy to be working with Trajectory to foster that.”

Kelly Gallagher, v-p content acquisition, Ingram Content Group, said, “Comic and graphic novel content is in demand by readers.” He added that “Ingram is excited about our collaborative work with Trajectory to be providing comics and graphic novel content to the library market through our leading MyiLibrary e-book platform.”

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Archie Comics has been undergoing a renaissance the last few years, as the comic company tries to diversify its target audience. They introduced the openly gay character Keven Keller and tapped into our infatuation with Zomibes with Afterlife with Archie. What would happen if Archie married Betty or Veronica? Life with Archie chronicles the quintessential What If scenario. The next chapter in Archie comics has just been announced and it involves the Predator.

Jesse ‘the body’ Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger famously battled the Predator in the 1980’s classic. Since then, the franchise has spawned many sequels, mash-ups and comic books. The next comic book hero to take on the Predator is Riverdales favorite son.

Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are combining two popular franchises for Archie Meets Predator, a four-issue series coming in spring 2015 by writer Alex de Campi, that puts Archie and the gang in the alien hunter’s sights while they’re on spring break in Costa Rica.

It all starts with Jughead winning a vacation prize from a lucky bag of chips and hi-jinks start to ensue when Betty runs off into the Jungle after losing a “Best Dressed” contest with Veronica.

In an interview with the USA Today de Campi said “Let’s take this gentle, beloved, classic teen cast and hunt them down and slaughter them one by one. Seriously, if you wouldn’t jump at the chance to write something like this, you need your head examined.”

Archie meeting other entertainment properties is nothing new. It all started with 1994’s “Archie Meets the Punisher” crossover with Marvel Comics, and continued in 2011’s “Archie Meets KISS.”

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