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Norm Breyfogle hospitalized after stroke

Norm Breyfogle at his drawing table.

Norm Breyfogle at his drawing table.

Artist Norm Breyfogle — a comics veteran known best for his years on various Batman titles for DC Comics — has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke, according to a post on his Facebook page written Wednesday afternoon by Barbara De La Rue.

This is Barb I’m norm’s ex from California. Norm won’t be answering any txt’s from you friends out there. Norm just had a stroke and is in the hospital. Please keep him in your thoughts and your prayers. At this point norm is expecting a full recovery but time will tell.

A regular fixture on the Batman books from 1987 to 1993, Breyfogle has once again become a regular fixture at DC Comics in recent years, drawing Batman Beyond and Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger. He also illustrated much of the initial run of the Life With Archie series for Archie Comics starting in 2010, widely credited as a major turning point in that publisher’s ongoing evolution.

All of us at Comic Book Resources wish Breyfogle a speedy recovery.

Droid from ‘Star Wars’ trailer already has a fan-made video

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The 88-second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens left fans with a lot of questions: “Is John Boyega’s character a Stormtrooper?” “Who’s the shadowy figure with the crazy/impractical lightsaber?” “What’s up with that crazy/impractical lightsaber?” and “D’aw, who’s the cutest droid ever?”

The latter, it turns out, is BB-8 (which Mark Hamill revealed isn’t created with CGI), and he’s already the star of his own fan-made video. Created by Julien Leterrier over four days, the 10-second clip finds the li’l droid speeding across a desert landscape, weaving between and beneath X-Wings. It’s effectively an extension of BB-8’s appearance in the trailer, which, like this video, was all too brief.

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The mythology of Middle-earth explained in four minutes

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If you’re heading out to watch The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, odds are that you have at least a passing familiarity with the complex mythology underpinning J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth saga. If you don’t … oh, boy, do you have some catching up to do. And fast.

Luckily, CGP Grey has put together a four-minute (or so) primer, with nifty illustrations, that may help. Of course, it may also leave you tearing at your hair and shouting, “Wait, who’s Eru Iluvatar again?” and “But where the hell did Hobbits come from?” (It serves you right for coming in at the end.) But, hey, that’s preferable to trying to slog through the The Silmarillion.

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Nobody cares about Stan Lee, says Stan Lee

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It’s not easy being Stan Lee, particularly when it feels as if people only like you for your body of work.

“I’m glad people care about Spider-Man and Iron Man and the X-Men and the Hulk and Doctor Strange and all the others,” the legendary creator says in the latest installment of “Stan’s Rants.” “But this burns me up: I’ll meet somebody. ‘Hello, how are you? My name is Stan.’ ‘I’m Joe, that’s fine … Hey, Stan, tell me about Spider-Man.’ Or, ‘Hey, Stan, how come in the latest Iron Man story you did … Stan, how come this happened?’ Nobody ever says to me, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ All they want to know is my characters. How about me? What makes me happy? Did I have a good day, did I have a bad day? What are my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations? Nobody cares!”

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Supergirl carols for candy in Mike Maihack Christmas strip

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Over the past few years, Mike Maihack’s adorable Batgirl/Supergirl comic strips have become a holiday tradition. Today, the creator of Cow & Buffalo and Cleopatra in Space is back with a new Christmas edition, in which the eternally cheerful Maid of Might wants to go caroling in Gotham. Which is apparently a lot like trick-or-treating …

“I feel like every Batgirl/Supergirl comic I’ve drawn so far has led up to this one right here,” the cartoonist writes. “Anyhow, Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope everyone is okay if this is the last of these for a while. 2015 is going be a busy, busy year for me.”

Mailhack is offering the original art for sale on eBay. You can find previous strips on his blog.

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Ian McKellen is downright magnetic on ‘Sesame Street’

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In the past year, both Loki and Superman have dropped by Sesame Street to teach the beloved characters valuable (and not at all sinister) lessons, and this week it’s Magneto’s turn. Or is that Gandalf’s?

Appearing alongside Sir Cookie Monster, Ian McKellen is tasked with telling young viewers what the word resist means. But considering that Cookie Monster doesn’t even know, it’s up to the actor to explain, using a couple of vaguely familiar examples.

“Say there was something you really loved, and it pulled you towards it like some sort of powerful magnet,” says the Master of Magnetism. “If you were able to control yourself and not go near it, you would resist it.”

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Hot Toys announces ‘movie accurate’ Little Groot

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There have been quite a few excellent depictions — both official and unofficial — of dancing baby Groot from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and it was only a matter of time before Hot Toys decided to try its hand at one. The toy company, known for its incredibly detailed and accurate action figures from Marvel Studios films, has announced a Little Groot collectible is in the works, featuring three interchangeable head sculpts, special paint application, and movable arms and body to help replicate his dancing skills from the end of the blockbuster.

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Stan Lee Excelsior Award announces 2015 shortlists

image-rocket girlThe shortlist has been announced for the 2015 Stan Lee Excelsior Award and the new Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior, whose winners are selected by students at secondary and primary schools, respectively, across the United Kingdom.

Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the Stan Lee Excelsior Award is designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The Stan Lee Excelsior Award Junior is being introduced this year.

The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July. The nominees are:

Stan Lee Excelsior Award

  • All-New Ghost Rider: Engines of Vengeance, by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore (Marvel)
  • Barakamon, by Satsuki Yoshino (Yen Press)
  • Rocket Girl, Vol. 1, by by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder (Image Comics)
  • Red Baron: The Machine Gunners’ Ball, by Pierre Veys and Carlos Puerta (Cinebook)
  • Superman/Wonder Woman: Power Couple, by by Charles Soule and Tony S. Daniel (DC Comics)
  • Moonhead and the Music Machine, by Andrew Rae (Nobrow)
  • Alone: The Vanishing, by Bruno Gazzotti and Fabien Vehlmann (Cinebook)
  • Ms. Marvel: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel)

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Nate Simpson’s ‘Nonplayer’ #2 gets a cover, likely May release

nonplayer2It turns out that Nate Simpson’s long-awaited Nonplayer #2 is not only finished, it has a tentative release date — and, as you can see at right, a cover.

Following up on last week’s announcement, the artist reveals the issue likely will be listed in Image Comics’ solicitations for May, a little more than four years after the critically acclaimed debut of Nonplayer #1.

In an FAQ posted on his website, beneath the headline “Halley’s Comic Returns,” the artist also elaborates on the factors that led to the lengthy delay between issues (in addition to the previously mentioned shoulder injury, new child and day job, Simpson reveals he also helped to care for his mother, who passed away last year).

“… I ended up having to throw out the original first six pages of #2,” he writes. “They felt like they had been drawn by somebody whose eye was not on the ball, which they were. When I finally shook off the brain-fog and gave the first pages an honest read, it was clear they’d have to be redone. Super bummer. On top of all that, I had contrived to switch from Photoshop to IllustStudio to streamline my pipeline. Not only did it take me a while to get comfortable with the new interface, the work I did with the program felt lifeless because of the way the linework was automatically stabilized. I finally found the right settings to replicate the feel of the first issue, but that took time. And then time ran out.”

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Comics A.M. | U.K. publisher Great Beast to close

Great Beast

Great Beast

Publishing | The British independent publisher Great Beast, which has released the work of Dan Berry, Marc Ellerby and Isabel Greenberg, among others, will close on Jan. 7. Founded in 2012 by Ellerby and Adam Cadwell, the publisher was something of a victim of its own success, as Cadwell explains: “As the group got bigger, as the books became more successful and as we widened the range of shops we sold to there became more of a need for the management and promotion to come from one or two people and Marc Ellerby and I (Adam Cadwell) happily took up that role. However, as time went on we found that the time spent working for the benefit of the group was getting in the way of us actually making our own comics, which is why we started the group in the first place… We looked at many ways of monetising the group so we could pay someone to run things whilst still giving the creators the bulk of the profits but we just couldn’t find a fair way to make it work.” [Great Beast Blog]

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CBR unboxes the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ 99-cheese pizza

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In this past summer’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the latest live-action iteration of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird enduring multimedia franchise, Splinter tests the foursome’s mettle by attempting to break their concentration with a 99-cheese pizza dubbed “Novantanove Formaggio” — which for those counting at home is a full 95 cheeses more than a comparatively pedestrian four-cheese pie.

With the film out on DVD and Blu-ray today, Paramount actually attempted to create the mythical concoction — first crafted by an Australian chef — and sent it out to media outlets, including Comic Book Resources. A publicity stunt? Yes, but when a publicity stunt involves dozens of melty cheeses sent to our door, you can bet that we’re going to mark the occasion accordingly.

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‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ author Norman Bridwell passes away

norman bridwellAuthor and cartoonist Norman Bridwell, best known for his celebrated Clifford the Big Red Dog books, passed away Dec. 12 in Martha’s Vineyard, the Martha’s Vineyard Times reports. He was 86.

Born in 1928 in Kokomo, Indiana, Bridwell attended art school in Indianapolis and New York City before going to work as a commercial artist. By 1962, with a wife and infant daughter to support, he set out to supplement his income by securing work as a children’s book illustrator; among his portfolio pieces was a painting of what would eventually become Clifford.

“I did about 10 paintings. One was of a little girl standing under the chin of a big red dog and holding out her hand to see if it was still raining,” Bridwell recalled last year to the School Library Journal. “I was rejected everywhere I went. One editor, Susan Hirschman, said that my work was too plain. She said, ‘You may have to write a story, and then if they buy the story, you could do the art. She pointed to the sample of the girl and the dog and said, ‘Maybe that’s a story.’”

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The dog says ‘Voff!': James Chapman’s ‘Soundimals’

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I’m sad to say I was unfamiliar with cartoonist James Chapman’s Soundimals before he tweeted this helpful primer to sounding like a dog in 14 languages. I plan to remedy that.

Available on his Etsy page, Soundimals: An Illustrated Guide to Animal Sounds in Other Languages is just what the title suggests: 32 pages of Chapman’s too-cute animals demonstrating what sounds they make around the world. In Romanian, the bear says “MOR,” and in Japanese, the elephant says “PAO,” and so on. You can see a selection of the pages on Chapman’s blog.

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Thailand’s Hobbit House is perfect for vacationing halflings

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No one is likely to mistake this for a hole in the ground, but Hobbit devotees looking to continue the experience beyond the trilogy-ending Battle of the Five Armies may want to consider a stay at the Hobbit House in Thailand.

Just two hours from Bangkok, the rental cottage is entirely above ground, but otherwise bears a fairly decent likeness to Bag End, right down to the round green door and earthen roof. Luckily, however, this version has air conditioning and wireless Internet, still unavailable in the Shire, despite Saruman’s efforts to modernize.

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Ivan Brunetti’s Patton Oswalt poster can be yours

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Patton Oswalt and Ivan Brunetti have a bit of a history, with the comedian writing the foreword to the 2007 collection Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti, and the cartoonist illustrating the cover of his 2009 album My Weakness Is Strong. So for Oswalt’s upcoming show at New York City’s historic Carnegie Hall, he again turned to Brunetti, who created a poster featuring a lineup of comedy legends.

Yeti Press is selling a limited number of those 12-inch by 18-inch posters on its website for $15. Given the popularity of both the comedian and the cartoonist, they probably won’t last long.

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