Cartoonist Ron Wimberly is a busy man — but not too busy to try something new.
For the past few weeks, the Prince of Cats creator has been working with Nike and advertising agency Weiden & Kennedy comic strip about Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Launched in September, Calvin & Johnson tells the story of Calvin and how he uses his alter ego (named Johnson) to help manage his life off the field and unleash his speed on the field. The Johnson alter ego is more than just another side of Calvin, as Wimberly states it’s played — in comic form — by rapper/media mogul P. Diddy. If that doesn’t sound like a traditional comic, that’s on purpose; Wimberly says that’s one of the reasons he chose to do it.
“What’s cool about this job is that it’s a comic that you won’t find in a comic book store. It’s not about superheroes,” he told ROBOT 6. “Hell, it’s kind of in the style of yonkoma manga. It stars people of color, made by a person of color. And it’s produced by Nike; they see the value in the medium for everyday folk who are not necessarily initiated in the language of comics. And none of that was deliberate … just happened that way. So that’s cool … rare, but hopefully not for long.”
Alison Bechdel, who’s acclaimed now for her graphic memoirs Fun Home and Are You My Mother?, was previously best known for Dykes to Watch Out For, her long-running comic strip that chronicled the lives of a group of lesbian friends (it’s also where the frequently referenced “Bechdel test” originated, although she didn’t coin the term). In 2008, after more than two decades, she placed the strip on an indefinite hiatus to work on her second memoir; however, the cartoonist soon suggested other factors — a shrinking number of gay and alternative weeklies, a changing political climate — contributed to her decision.
But just how indefinite was that hiatus? Asked by Comic Book Resources in 2009 about a possible return to the comic, Bechdel said, “I don’t mean to be coy. I just doubt that it’s going to be really viable. I was able to eke out a living from it for a long time, but I just don’t know if that’s going to continue to be possible. For various reasons, I had to take a break from it. I’m not saying I won’t go back to it, I just think it’s doubtful.”
Now, more than four years later, she’s reconsidering that stance.
After 63 years, military cutbacks have finally hit Camp Swampy.
Stars and Stripes, the newspaper serving the U.S. military community, announced this week it has dropped Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey from its daily print edition as the average number of pages shrinks from 40 to 32 due to a number of financial factors that include Department of Defense sequestration cuts and a declining readership.
The newspaper also expects to eliminate an estimated 40 staff positions worldwide next year amid a reduction in print operations “as it tries to accelerate a shift toward digital distribution.”
In the grand Internet tradition of combining one thing you like with another thing you like, the blog This Charming Charlie matches panels from Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip Peanuts with the lyrics of ’80s alternative rock pioneers The Smiths. The results range from funny to poignant — fitting, given both of the source materials.
Feeling the need to expand your comics knowledge? Worried that you don’t know Rodolphe Topffer from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Fearful that you might make a serious gaffe at your next sequential arts cocktail party?
Good news, help is on the way: The Sequential Artists Workshop, or SAW, located in Gainesville, Florida, is holding an online class on the history of comics. Taught by John Ronan, the class will go from the 1750s through the birth of the comic strip in the early 2oth century, with a focus on early humor magazines like Puck and Judge.
The class begins Aug. 27 and will be held live on Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., through Dec. 20. The cost is $99.
The one-panel cartoon, titled “Divine Intervention,” depicts a trio of angels confronting God with a list of how his behavior affects others, ending with, “… and then there was the weekend bender when you reached rock bottom and created man.” It’s not the stuff of such anodyne comics-page mainstays as Family Circus or Garfield, but it hardly seems offensive.
Yet the editor of the Paris, Tennessee, Post-Intelligencer donned sackcloth and ashes in reaction to a phone call from a displeased reader. “We won’t repeat its irreverent humor, accusing God is sinning — let’s just say we were horrified that we didn’t pay attention to it in advance, when we should have refused to publish it,” states the editor’s note in Wednesday’s paper. “We apologize to all our readers offended by this particular comic strip. And we’ll try to do a better job of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.”
You would think being the editor of a newspaper’s comics page, in which all the content is provided by the syndicates, would be the world’s easiest job, but in fact, it’s well known to be a headache, especially when the editors try to change something. T
his recent article from the Capitol Journal, titled “There’s nothing funny about changing the comics page,” could be put under glass at the Smithsonian as the purest example of all such editorials, a perfect distillation of all the necessary elements: reader revolt at the removal of a moribund comic (in this case, Dennis the Menace), introduction of four new comics (they’re good, people, give them a try), and finally, the editors’ courageous stand against Peanuts:
Jack Chick is best known as the creator of Chick Tracts, the little religious comics that predict dire fates for those who celebrate Halloween, read Harry Potter books, or adhere to any religion not approved by Chick. But how did he get his artistic chops?
At the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library Blog, Caitlin McGuirk posts a fascinating selection of Chick’s pre-tract comics, a caveman series from the 1950s titled Times Have Changed? Like The Flintstones and BC, both of which came later, the comics use modern-day gags in a caveman setting. The writer was P.F. Clayton, and Chick handled the art.
At a time when newspaper comics-page slots are few and coveted, Jeff Burney’s decision to stop running his comic strip Attica in the Ottawa Citizen and put it online as a free webcomic seems counterintuitive. Who would trade a regular paycheck to take a chance on the web?
Burney’s calculation included both time and money: As he explains in an interview with ROBOT 6, doing the strip seven days a week took up all his time, so he had no opportunity to market it online. The money problem stemmed from the fact that Attica runs in only one newspaper, and his attempts to sell it to others have hit up against the wall created by the current state of the industry.
He began working on Attica while on parental leave from his high-tech job, and he took early retirement so he could become a full-time cartoonist. I asked Burney to talk about his experiences as a creator and the marketer of his own comic, and he provided a fascinating inside look at the newspaper comics market — and the possibilities of webcomics.
IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics is partnering with DC Entertainment to reprint rare newspaper strips starring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The archival collections will debut in July with Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1: 1958-1961.
Although DC and Kitchen Sink Press reprinted the first few years of the Superman and Batman newspaper strips in the 1990s, they only scratched the surface of the comics’ run: Superman, which featured the work of such creators as Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Curt Swan and Wayne Boring, was serialized from 1939 to 1966. The Batman strip, originally titled Batman and Robin, saw three major runs — 1943 to 1946, 1966 to 1974, and 1989-1991. Wonder Woman’s newspaper tenure was much short-lived, lasting less than a year (in 1944).
The Superman daily strips will be released in three collections, organized by era — the Silver Age, the Atomic Age and the Golden Age — with Sunday reprints published in a separate, concurrent series later in the year.
There are two remarkable things about Dave Kellett’s Kickstarter for his documentary Stripped. The first is that the pitch video includes a snippet of what Kellett claims is the first-ever audio interview with reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. That alone is going to make this film a must-see for a lot of people.
The second is that this is a Kickstarter for a project that’s already fully funded. What Kellett is looking for with this second campaign is access to more licensed footage: