As part of its “Human to Hero” series, CNN profiles celebrated artist Takehiko Inoue, creator of the hit manga series Vagabond, Slam Dunk and Real. “If you can have vivid characters, they will make the story themselves. By putting them in certain situations or having one meet another, they naturally make stories by reacting to each other,” he says. “It sounds like a very easy thing. I wish it was.”
Watch the video segment below.
Neil Gaiman and Robert Kirkman are among The Hollywood Reporter’s 25 most powerful authors in Hollywood, appearing alongside the likes of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin.
At No. 6, Kirkman is recognized not only for the success of AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead but for a “banner year for the veteran comic-book writer and Image Comics partner” that includes overseeing his Skybound imprint and publishing Thief of Thieves, which is also being developed by the cable network.
Gaiman, co-creator of The Sandman, clocked in at No. 23 on the strength of his prose work — The Graveyard Book and American Gods are being developed for film and television, respectively — and the adaptations of Coraline and Stardust.
Even as the casting search gears up for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a push has begun online to convince the studio to fire director James Gunn over objections to a nearly two-year-old blog post that many view as misogynistic and homophobic. (Note: This post contains graphic language.)
The Feb. 17, 2011 post containing the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll, complete with Gunn’s commentary, was deleted at some point from the filmmaker’s website but the cached version resurfaced earlier this week on Tumblr before receiving further exposure Wednesday on The Mary Sue. Why Gunn’s post was only recently unearthed is a bit of a mystery (he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy more than two months ago).
Gunn’s superhero sex poll includes male and female characters — 50 in all — ranging from Wonder Woman and Superman to Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. While The Mary Sue notes “there’s nothing wrong about running a poll for the most sex-able superhero on your site,” the complaints arise over some of the filmmaker’s accompanying commentary.
Comics | The editor-in-chief of the Boston Phoenix denies accusations that the alternative weekly canceled Karl Stevens‘ satirical comic Failure because advertiser Anheuser-Busch was offended by last week’s strip, which referred to Bud Light as “diluted horse piss.” Stevens, whose comic has appeared on ThePhoenix.com since 2009, claims he was told by the art director that Failure was being canceled specifically because of the Bud Light jab. “Apparently I offended Bud Light, and cannot be trusted,” Steven told Publishers Weekly. However, Editor-in-Chief Carly Carioli called the accusation “categorically false,” insisting Failure was canceled because it no longer fit The Phoenix, which has changed from a weekly newspaper to a weekly magazine. “It is categorically false that Karl’s strip was discontinued due to any outside objections. As the Phoenix’s editor in chief, it was my sole decision to discontinue Failure,” Carioli told The Boston Globe. “There were no sponsor objections — zero — to this strip or any other that I’m aware of.” [Publishers Weekly, The Boston Globe]
From Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter comes the sad news that pioneering alternative comix artist Manuel “Spain” Rodriguez passed away this morning. He was 72 years old.
Born in Buffalo, NY, Rodriguez built his early cartooning chops in and around New York City where in the late ’60s he contributed to nationally known underground newspaper The East Village Other. The artist was known for his muscular, inky style which was born out of artistic influences like the EC Comics of Wally Wood and real life ones like Rodriquez’s years riding with biker gang the Road Vultures.
By 1969, the artist had relocated to San Francisco where he joined with foundational underground comix artists like R. Crumb, publishing stories for a bevy of titles put out by Last Gasp Press including Crumb’s Zap Comix and Skull Comics and later contributing to other acclaimed titles including Rip Off Comix and Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor.
Rodriguez was perhaps best known for Trashman – a meaty satirical anti-hero inspired by leftist political and road warrior narratives. Though in his later years, he produced a wide range of non-fiction works including the autobiographical My True Story and Che: A Graphic Biography about the life of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
News of Rodriguez’s death is scarce, apparently circulating via an e-mail to friends and supporters. In honor of his passing, The Comics Journal is representing some classic stories with the artist including a 1998 interview with his sometimes publisher Gary Groth and a profile written in April of this year to celebrate his latest release Crusin With The Hound.
Dismissed as a fad 10 years ago, big-screen adaptations bring comic book characters to millions of people every year. Just when you think they’ve peaked, out comes another blockbuster that tops the previous one. Sure, there are also the moderate hits and outright stinkers, but then there arrives an Iron Man or a Dark Knight or a Walking Dead or an Avengers. They’ve long passed the point of being a fluke. They even influence the collectors’ market, with optioning deals causing spikes in sales of back issues and original art, most recently demonstrated by the crazy prices people are willing to pay on eBay for The Walking Dead #1.
So if going from comics to film and television is so great, why is the reverse so rarely true? Comic books that adapt stories from other media (TV, film, video games, books, etc.) are only sometimes great and rarely garner the same kind of enthusiasm and attention. Someone who’s better at Photoshop than me should whip up one of those “said no one ever” images because no one has ever said, “I can’t wait for my favorite blockbuster movie to get adapted into a comic.” And yet most of us could barely keep our composure over the prospects of seeing Marvel’s The Avengers.
After working behind the scenes and delivering one of the signature parts of superhero comics, the coloring studio Hi-Fi is stepping out from the shadows to write, draw and, yes, color, comics of its own and show them to the world. Titled Untold Tales, this 150-page collection brings together both current and former members of the Hi-Fi crew, including Flash co-writer/colorist Brian Buccellato and A-list Marvel colorist Jason Keith. And they’re looking to Kickstarter to make it happen.
With an ambitious fundraising goal of $59,000, Hi-Fi founder (and colorist) Brian Miller’s intent with Untold Tales is to show off the caliber of talent under the Hi-Fi umbrella in a variety of different styles and genre. On the book’s Kickstarter page they’re already showing off samples of the work produced for the anthology, and plan to publish the book in January.
Man, oh, man, is Brian Stelfreeze great.
Sometimes comic fans might forget that, as he isn’t the type to do regular interior work. But when he does, nine times out of 10 it’s a home run — like this pin-up of X-Statix heroine U-Go Girl. This piece, posted on ComicArtFans by its new owner Louie La Palombara III, is a good example of the kind of work artists like Stelfreeze are doing for the original art market that most fans never even see.
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Today’s lucky creator is Rob Guillory, artist and co-creator of Chew. Today sees the release of Chew #30, “the issue that is gonna take EVERYBODY by surprise.” It marks the halfway point of the the Eisner-award winning comic published by Image Comics, in addition to being a big wedding issue, so check it out.
My thanks to Rob for agreeing to answer our questions. Now let’s get to it …
“Monocultures are risky business, diversification a useful hedge in times of change, and women’s dollars are as good as men’s. In particular, the traditional commodities of geekery – comic books, cult TV series and video games – are going through a complete and painful transition in business model under the pressure of digital distribution, the normalization of copyright infringement and the increasing ill-health of their direct retail channels. Meanwhile, the successes claimed by geeks over the dominant culture – such as the billion-dollar successes of this year’s Avengers and (soon) Batman films – have come by expanding audiences out of the core demographic. Geeks inherit the Earth when they learn to talk to other people on it – whether they are selling movie IP or operating systems.
In the face of this insecurity, ‘fake geek girls’ are the equivalent of Communist sleeper agents in the uncertain ’50s – the number of women who have no interest in geek culture but want geek attention at a personal level is vanishingly small, but their phantom is used to justify prejudice more generally, with the aim of keeping an unknown quantity out of the clubhouse.”
– Forbes contributor Daniel Nye Griffiths, wading into recent dust-ups in in comic book and video game circles about “fake geek girls”
As if the Uglydoll characters weren’t already ubiquitous, spreading from plush toys to clothing to coffee mugs, they’ll soon be appearing in graphic novels as part of Viz Media’s children’s line.
Launching this summer from the Viz Kids imprint, the Uglydoll graphic novel series “will transport readers to a diverse universe where ‘ugly’ just means unique and different, and celebrating who you are inside and out is the new beautiful. Join Wage, Babo, OX, Ice-Bat and their Uglydoll pals as they express themselves through laughs, tears, love and adventure!” Needless to say, these are all-ages books.
“Uglydoll is an iconic pop culture brand that has helped to question and redefine the very definitions of ugly and cute,” Beth Kawasaki, Viz’s senior editorial director. “Each Uglydoll is unique, and possesses its own distinctive characteristics and personalities that everyone can relate to. These adorable and highly original characters will come to life in a series of fun, and funny, adventures and are sure to find their way into the hearts of readers everywhere.”
Beginning as a character David Horvath drew on a love letter to Sun-Min Kim, the Uglydolls debuted in 2001 as hand-sewn plush toys. Since then they’ve spread virtually everywhere: There’s even an animated movie in the works from the production company behind Despicable Me.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced this morning that the Gaiman Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established earlier this year by Neil Gaiman, has donated $60,000 for the organization’s education program. The author, who recently retired after more than a decade on the CBLDF board of directors, was described as instrumental in establishing the group’s educational initiatives.
“Part of the CBLDF’s purpose is educational,” Gaiman said in a statement, “and in dealing with the ongoing emergencies of arrested comics readers and comic store staff, corporate attacks on creators, rescuing people who had run afoul of law enforcement bodies who want to limit their freedom to read and the like, it was too easy for that part of the remit to come in last. From my perspective, educating readers, creators, retailers and publishers is the most important thing we can do, because it gives us long term change.”
According to the CBLDF, the Gaiman Foundation gift will help fund such initiatives as the Kids Right to Read Project and Banned Books Week, as well as new resources like the book Manga: Introduction, Challenges and Best Practices, and publications for parents and educators about using graphic novels.
The Gaiman Foundation was founded to “to grant gifts to selected charitable and educational organizations that have demonstrated dedication and excellence in their respective missions.” Or, in the words of Gaiman’s daughter Holly, who serves as administrator and secretary: “The Gaiman Foundation was founded in order to Do Good. The initial way it Does Good is by financially supporting organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.”
Archie Comics launched the latest incarnation of Red Circle Comics as a digital app that combined comics from the 1930s to the 1980s, featuring early superheroes like The Shield and the Mighty Crusaders with new, digital-first comics starring a teen superhero team, the New Crusaders, composed of the children of those original characters.
Now, six months after the launch of the app, Archie is changing its strategy a bit to bring the digital comics in line with print. Instead of releasing The New Crusaders as a six-page digital comic once a week, followed by a print comic with the same material at the end of the month, the company will publish the complete comic digitally and in print on the same day. Archie is also moving its Lost Crusaders comics, which fill in the gaps in continuity between the old comics and the new ones, from a fifth-week to a monthly schedule.
Robot 6 talked exclusively to Paul Kaminski, executive director of editorial for Archie Comics and editor of The New Crusaders, about the changes and what lay behind them.
Robot 6: The Red Circle app is unlike anything in comics, so I’m guessing there has been a learning curve. Can you talk a bit about what parts of it are working and which ones still need a bit of work?
Paul Kaminiski: Red Circle is all about creating the ultimate comic book experience — and the subscription-based initiative was able to bring that experience to readers every week for the entire run of Rise of the Heroes. While the weekly six-page installments of New Crusaders were well-received, fans of the series and people looking to jump on let us know that complete issues, in both digital release and in print, were the way to go with New Crusaders! Now that the next step for the series is on the horizon (coming this spring!) we’ve got a unique opportunity to take what we learned, listen to the fans, and build on the app for the next series.
Digital comics | I talked to Viz Media Executive Vice President Alvin Lu and the head of Viz Labs, Gagan Singh, about the company’s digital strategy, which includes the recent announcement that their digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will publish manga chapters simultaneously with Japan; the idea, Lu explains is to create the same sort of weekly ritual that superhero comics readers have, and to use the digital releases to build a community both online and in the real world. [Good E-Reader]
Creators | Fantastic Four was the first Marvel Universe comic, so it has been around for a while, but writer Matt Fraction is doing his best to keep it fresh: “Anything you can do to run contrary-wise to expectation to keep people guessing and wondering and entertained and surprised, you should do because otherwise people are going to dismiss the book as ‘Been there, read that.’” [USA Today]
For some reason, I keep reading and re-reading Jim Zubkavich’s breakdown of indie comic economics, as if at some point it’s actually going to make sense to me. It’s not that I don’t understand the math as he presents it, but more than my brain refuses to comprehend the scale of the unfairness of distribution of wealth when it comes to comic books.
In case you haven’t seen it, Zub’s breakdown for a $2.99 comic goes like this: