INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
The South Carolina House Ways and Means committee voted 13-10 last week to cut the College of Charleston’s budget by $52,000, the amount the school spent last summer on The College Reads!, an annual campus-wide initiative designed to promote discussion of “challenging” books among faculty, staff and students. The choice of the gay-themed Fun Home drew fire in July from a conservative Christian group that labeled the graphic novel as “pornographic,” a charge that spilled over into last week’s House debate.
Fun Home details Bechdel’s childhood with her closeted gay father, his apparent suicide and her own coming out as a lesbian.
Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson has stayed out of the public eye since he ended the popular strip in 1995, but he’s back this week with a rare new piece of art: the poster for the documentary Stripped. It’s his first published cartoon in nearly two decades.
Watterson also did a rare audio interview for the film about comic strips that features interviews with more than 60 creators. Stripped is being made by webcomics creator Dave Kellett and filmmaker Frederick Schroeder, and it was Kellett who asked Watterson if he would make the poster. “Dave sent me a rough cut of the film and I dusted the cobwebs off my ink bottle,” Watterson told Michael Cavna of The Washington Post.
“Given the movie’s title and the fact that there are few things funnier than human nudity, the idea popped into my head largely intact,” the cartoonist said. “The film is a big valentine to comics, so I tried to do something really cartoon-y. I had thought of having it colored with off-registered printing dots like newspaper comics, but Dave asked if I’d paint it instead, and I think he made the right call.”
This is Watterson’s second publicly released work of art since 1995; in 2011 he created a painting of Richard Thompson’s character Petey Otterloop, which was sold for $13,000 at the benefit auction for Team Cul de Sac, which supports research into Parkinson’s disease.
An exhibit of original work by Watterson and Thompson will open in March at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
As much as people pine for better living and a brighter future, in fiction we’re continually drawn to a darker horizon with deadlier stakes, more violent endings and more corrupt influences. It’s that kind of thing that brought us movies like Blade Runner and Mad Max, comics like Judge Dredd and roleplaying games like Shadowrun. And now, there’s another dark future you’d fear in real life but delight in fictional form.
The Outrunners is a recently launched webcomic by writer Jonathan Gelatt and artist Andrew Krahnke that shows us a gas-drained future like Mad Max but set in the dark spires of a neolithic urban metropolis of Blade Runner, where the ultimate rebels are those that cling to the grimy, gas-fed, oil-fueled mechanics of old as a way to keep their independence. Mixing a futuristic dystopia with an old-school biker gang mentality, The Outrunners is an enterprising urban fable of youth rebellion focused on the titular biker gang going up against the persistent forces the Metropolitan Police and rival groups.
Something has been going on at the First Second website. For about a year and a half to two years, the publisher’s marketing and publicity coordinator Gina Gagliano has been bringing personality to its blog with informative, funny and engaging posts that make me want to Make Mine First Second. Yes, there’s decidedly a lack of alliterations, but there’s an effortless style to the blog that harkens back to the classic days of Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins, as written by Stan Lee.
Gina was introduced to us in 2007, when First Second was just establishing itself. It was using Typepad for its blogging, and editor Mark Siegel was the primary writer. Gina’s posts generally stuck to limericks to promote new releases. Cute, and a unique way to talk about First Second’s books, but maybe too brief and structured so they didn’t really create a personal connection or invite conversation. But then somewhere around summer 2012, she began to become the dominant voice on the blog. As she took over, her posts became meatier, and she started to cover a richer variety of topics that have really brought the site to life in a unique way.
New York artist Jess Ruliffson is turning the table on her fellow cartoonists: Last year, she set out to paint 100 portraits of her comic book peers for a one-day exhibition at a local gallery. That show has come and gone, sadly, but after interest in seeing these works continued, Ruliffson partnered with Paper Rocket Comics to publish 50 of those pieces in a book titled Characters: Fifty Portraits of Contemporary Cartoonists.
Of the 50 cartoonists profiled, you can see comic stalwarts like Reilly Brown, Dean Haspiel, Lara Antal, Josh Neufeld and Nick Bertozzi. Ruliffson even relented and included a self-portrait to complete the book.
Paper Rocket and Ruliffson took to Kickstarter to help make this project a reality, and with the fundraising period ending Saturday the publisher has already exceeded its modest $600 goal. Plans are to publish the book in early March. Paper Rocket used Kickstarter as both a capital campaign and a back-door pre-ordering system.
Normally, when we talk about art – which, of course, is different from mere entertainment – we like to phrase it in rarefied terms. We tend to want our art to focus on the examination or discussion of high-minded ideals like truth, beauty, justice, wisdom, or the existence of a sentient spiritual being and subsequent afterlife. Stuff like that. We want our movies, music and books to be concerned with the ethereal world, and not so much with the physical one, especially unpleasant or embarrassing tasks like defecating or sexual congress. Being reminded that only a thin layer of skin holds in all those slimy organs, blood and other icky stuff keeps us from musing on what special snowflakes we all are (not to mention the horror of our own eventual death).
When we do acknowledge that stuff, it tends to be in the form of “low” comedy or horror films, where jokes about going to the bathroom, violence, lustful urges and other aspects of our daily physical lives that make us uncomfortable, can be digested more easily because we often exhibit it in as loud and gross a manner as possible.
But delving knee-deep into viscera and body fluids doesn’t ipso facto mean you have to forego subtlety, nuance or poetry. Take Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit series for example.
Long believed lost, the original page from 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180 featuring the first appearance of Wolverine will be auctioned in May to benefit The Hero Initiative.
The Associated Press reports that Heritage Auctions was contacted by the owner, who said he has had the page since 1983, when it was given to him by artist Herb Trimpe. The auction house describes it as “one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever appear on the market.”
They may be dived by thousands of miles, but it doesn’t mean webcomic creators aren’t a community. And this week 20 them are trading off duties in the second annual Webcomic Artist Swap Project (or WASP), which runs through this weekend.
Headed up by Lucy the Octopus creator Richy K. Chandler, this year’s event boasts artists from the United States and the United Kingdom. The complete list of participants can be found below.
Created by Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov, the new miniseries imagines modern-day Atlantis as a world superpower known for its opulence and excess. But Redum Ashargal seeks to liberate his people from their underwater life and sets out to find a legendary creature believed to hold the secrets of life on land.
More than a year after city council approved the proposal, officials in Dundee, Scotland, today unveiled the sign for Bash Street, honoring the long-running comic strip from The Beano.
Created by U.K. cartoonist Leo Baxendale, the strip debuted on Feb. 13, 1954 as When the Bell Rings before becoming The Bash Street Kids in 1956. DC Thomson & Co., the Dundee-based publisher of The Beano, asked city council in November 2012 to name a previously unnamed road in the Marketgait area after the comic.
Passings | Comics journalist and commentator Bhob Stewart died Monday at the age of 76. Stewart kicked off his career in 1953, at the age of 16, by publishing an EC fanzine; the following year, as Carol Tilley documented in a recent talk, he sent a copy to anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham, along with some tart commentary. Stewart went on to become an influential voice in the conversation about comics; he wrote several books, taught classes at the School for Visual Arts, and curated the first exhibit of comics art in a major American museum. Heidi MacDonald credits him with inventing both Wacky Packages and the term “underground comics.” [The Beat]
Editorial cartoons | German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr has apologized for a cartoon depicting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with a hooked nose, an image that critics said was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The cartoon appeared in the early editions of the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, but Zuckerberg’s face was replaced by an empty hole in later editions. “I’m very sorry about this misunderstanding and any readers’ feelings I may have hurt,” Mohr said. “Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies that are totally alien to me” [ABC News]
Batman has taken on Predator and, with assistance from Superman, both Aliens and Predator. Yet somehow he’s never faced the Terminator — until now, that is.
In this tense short conceived by Tony Guerrero and animated by Mitchell Hammond, we’re reintroduced to Bruce Wayne, 30 years after Skynet’s nuclear blasts, as he tries to make his way across the wasteland of the United States “to join forces with the man determined to neutralize the electronic menace — John Conner.”
Batman Vs. The Terminator feels very much like The Dark Knight Returns meets Akira meets Heavy Metal. And at a little less than five minutes long, it’s far too short.
Renowned Disney cartoonist Don Rosa, who left comics in 2012, has returned to the character for which he’s best remembered — with the cover art for a concept album based on his Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Yes, read that last part again.
Titled Music Inspired by the Life and Times of Scrooge, likely in hopes of avoiding the all-seeing eye of Disney, it’s a solo album by Finnish keyboardist/songwriter Tuomas Holopainen, founder of the symphonic metal band Nightwish, and a major Rosa fan.
“This is my longtime dream come true, 14 years in the making,” Holopainen says on his website. “And a homage to one of the best storytellers of our time.”
Holopainen spent most of last year writing and producing the album, which contains 10 tracks, including “Glasgow 1877,” “Cold Heart of the Klondike,” and the first single “A Lifetime Adventure,” which arrives with a video. The full album will be available April 15.
Comic-Con International has kicked off its “Early Bird Hotel Sale,” offering a limited number of rooms in Mission Valley and the airport area at special rates before general housing opens.
Beyond the geographic restrictions — no downtown rooms are included in the sale — there are some other notable conditions, including full, non-refundable “prepayment” at the time of the book. Nearly all of the hotels also require a minimum three- or four-night minimum stay. The early-bird rates expire on April 8, after which reservations are non-transferable.
Attendees staying Mission Valley and the airport area would need to take a 15- to 20-minute shuttle or cab ride to and from the San Diego Convention Center. Twenty-four-hour shuttle service to Comic-Con begins at 7 a.m. Thursday, July 24 and continues through 7 p.m. Sunday, July 27.
Fresh from Sunday’s Disney Princess event, runDisney has announced the inaugural Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. It marks the first such collaboration since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009.
Planned for Nov. 14-16 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, the event includes a kids race, a 5K and half marathon — it’s a new 13.1-mile route through the theme park — a pre-race pasta party featuring the Marvel characters and a merchandise expo. Registration opens March 25.
“RunDisney races are a natural fit because our comic book Super Heroes embody many of the same brand attributes as runDisney, such as heroism and intensity with a heavy dose of fun,” Dan Buckley, Marvel’s president of TV, publishing and brand management, said in a statement. “This race weekend will have a very distinct atmosphere that will appeal to comic book fans and runDisney fans.”