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Kevin Eastman voices ‘Ice Cream Kitty’ on Sunday’s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman contributed to tomorrow’ episode of the cartoon series in a unique way — he’ll voice the character of Ice Cream Kitty, a kitty made of ice cream.

According to US Today, Ice Cream Kitty gains its powers when it eats ice cream mixed with mutagen, and it “turns into the Turtle’s secret weapon.”

Eastman’s appearance on the show is just one way the TMNT’s 30th anniversary is being celebrated. A March 14 episode reunites the voice cast from the original cartoon — Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen. Meanwhile, an anniversary special being released by IDW will reunite Eastman with Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, who worked together on the cover. The Turtles will also be featured this year in Comic-Con International’s souvenir book, which spotlights various comics and pop culture anniversaries.

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Bill Watterson draws poster for ‘Stripped’ documentary

WebCalvin & 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.

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Five ways to celebrate Bill Finger’s birthday

Bill Finger

Bill Finger

In recent years, it’s become fashionable to refer to Bill Finger as the “secret” co-creator of Batman. And while that’s an attention-grabber for the uninformed, it’s more accurate to say the writer, who died in 1974, is the uncredited, unrecognized and unsung creative force in the creation of DC Comics’ Dark Knight Detective.

Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of Finger’s birth. It’s an occasion many in the comics community have been promoting as an opportunity to correct the record in some small way, such as with biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman’s quest to get a Google Doodle in his honor.

But for the average comic fan, there are also plenty of ways to celebrate the legacy of Bill Finger and his unquestionable contribution to one of comics’ most enduring character. Here is just a handful of suggestions:

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Watch Masashi Kishimoto draw Naruto

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Viz Media has posted a video from December’s Jump Festa expo of Masashi Kishimoto knocking out a sketch of his world-famous creation Naruto Uzumaki with a big Sharpee.

The 39-year-old artist recently announced that Naruto, which has sold more than 126.5 million volumes in Japan alone since its debut in 1999, is “in its final phase.”

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Ed Koren named as Vermont’s second cartoonist laureate

ed korenEdward Koren, well known for his cartoons, covers and illustrations for The New Yorker, will be honored Feb. 27 as Vermont’s second cartoonist laureate. Burlington resident James Kochalka was the first.

A New York City native, Koren lives with his family in Brookfield, Vermont, where he has served as a volunteer firefighter for 24 years. Beyond his more than 1,000 cartoons for The New Yorker, he has contributed to such publications as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ, The Nation and Esquire. Koren has also illustrated numerous books.

“The great imaginative artists, comic or seriocomic (what other kinds are there?), are great at least in part because they create a world: Baldwin’s Harlem, Faulkner’s hamlet, Chekhov’s dachas,” The New Yorker Editor David Remnick said in a statement. “Ed Koren not only created a world — the Koren worlds are both urban and Vermontian, but all Koren — he also created creatures, part human, part fantastical, to represent and give voice to all of our anxieties, joys, and craziness. Long live Ed Koren, his world and his creatures!”

Following his recognition Feb. 27 on the floor of the State House, Koren will begin his three-year term with a public lecture at The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction. Vermont is the only state that appoints a cartoonist laureate.

Watch Neil Gaiman read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’

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In addition to donating signed books to a fundraiser for Worldbuilders, author and comics writer Neil Gaiman also promised to record himself reading the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham if they hit $500,000 in their fundraising. Which they did. So he did.

“It made me miss having small kids around to read to. I hope you enjoy it,” he wrote on his blog. Check it out below.

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Dark Horse to publish ‘The Sakai Project’ benefit book

usagi-sakaiDark Horse will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo with the release in July of the oversized hardcover benefit book The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of “Usagi Yojimbo.” All proceeds will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai.

Sharon Sakai suffers from a debilitating illness that required an extended hospital stay and convalescence, and while she’s now back home, she requires 24-hour care and medications that exceed their insurance coverage. The Comic Art Professional Society, which spearheaded an earlier fundraiser for the Sakais, is working in conjunction with Dark Horse to produce the book.

“It has been an absolute pleasure publishing Stan’s work over the years, and recently collaborating with him directly on 47 Ronin,” Dark Horse President Mike Richardson said in a statement. “With the thirtieth anniversary of his most beloved creation, Usagi, and in a time of need for Stan and his family, we are honored to publish this tribute to Stan and his work. We are donating all of the proceeds to Stan and his wife, Sharon. We hope you will join us in honoring one of the comics industry’s shining lights.”

The list of contributors to The Sakai Project already includes the likes of Arthur Adams, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Groening, Mike Mignola, Bill Morrison and Jeff Smith, but Dark Horse is seeking to involve more professionals. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 20; email sakaiproject@darkhorse.com for details.


Larime Taylor on ‘A Voice in the Dark’: ‘This is my ticket out’

A Shot in the Dark

A Voice in the Dark

As someone who has covered the comic book industry to some degree since 1999 and been reading comics since 1977, I’ve been audience to a plethora of appeals by creators to support their projects. But none has caught my attention quite like that of A Voice in the Dark creator Larime Taylor, who draws with his mouth.

Earlier this month, in a Tumblr post, Taylor recounted how in 2012 he embarked on a pilot project through Kickstarter for A Voice in the Dark in the hopes he could ultimately connect the project to a publisher. In 2013 he succeeded, with it landing at Top Cow’s Minotaur Press imprint. But unfortunately, sales are lagging. He logically assumes part of the sales struggle is that he is an unknown name and that some potential consumers are less inclined to read a black-and-white comic.

Both factors are true. I’m ashamed to admit there are multiple independent comics that are released on a monthly basis that never catch my attention. I was surprised that this one in particular hadn’t, given Taylor’s unique talents — as well as the fact he was interviewed in late August by Comic Book Resources.

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Palahniuk turns to Fraction for help with ‘Fight Club’ sequel

fight clubChuck Palahniuk’s highly anticipated comic-book sequel to Fight Club has moved one step closer to reality, with a little help from Matt Fraction.

“The graphic novel ‘script’ for the Fight Club sequel has gone off to the writer Matt Fraction and to an unnamed publisher for review,” the author revealed to his official fan site. “Matt writes his own series, called Sex Criminals and does very well. He’s been my go-to advisor about format and other considerations of graphic scripts. I’ll be choosing an illustrator based on their response to the script. The sequel will consist of seven issues, totally more than 210 pages. Fingers crossed.”

Over the weekend, Fraction tweeted, “#satanista #fightclub2 #ohyeahitsfuckinghappening,” followed by a blog post that read simply, “What’s the first rule of Fight Club?”

Announced in July, the sequel picks up 10 years “after the seeming end of Tyler Durden,” with Jack (as he was dubbed in the  film; Palahniuk is calling him Cornelius) trapped in a failing marriage. “The typical midlife bullshit,” Palahniuk said in November. “Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with. She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and — go figure — Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.”

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Reminder: Rafael Grampá is a rock star

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Although I know I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting any word about Furry Water, I can certainly understand why Rafael Grampá isn’t hunched over a drawing board, banging out comics pages 10 hours a day: He’s kept busy by other, certainly more glamorous projects.

There’s that Nike commercial, and that deal with Absolut vodka that’s seen Grampá star in a television and print campaign, and design a limited-edition bottle. Now, as part of that same arrangement, he’s featured in a new TV spot and print ad for Next Frame (below), a project sponsored by Absolut in which people can help Grampá to create a 3D-animated short film, which will premiere March 14 in Berlin.

Beginning Feb. 3 on Absolut’s Facebook page, Grampá will update the film daily, based on suggestions from others. He’ll share his progress from his studio throughout the process.

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What ‘Batman’ might’ve looked like without Bill Finger

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Cartoonist Ty Templeton, who illustrated Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, has thrown his support behind author Marc Tyler Nobleman’s renewed effort to convince Google to mark the 100th anniversary of Bill Finger’s birth on Feb. 8 with a Google Doodle.

To help increase public awareness of Finger as the uncredited co-creator of Batman, Templeton not only rattles off some of the writer’s contributions to the mythos — the Batmobile, the Batcave, Wayne Manor, the basic look of Batman’s costume, and key villains and supporting players, among them — but also a comic strip that imagines a Batman created solely by Bob Kane.

You can see the full strip on Templeton’s blog. He also posted some pages from Bill the Boy Wonder, including the spread below that illustrates just some of the elements Finger introduced to Batman comics.

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Penn State’s University Libraries acquire Chip Kidd archives

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Penn State’s University Libraries have acquired the archives of graphic designer and author Chip Kidd. A Pennsylvania native, he graduated from the school’s graphic design program in 1986.

Renowned for creating the jackets for such books as Michael Chricton’s Jurassic Park and The Lost World, Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, David Sedaris’ Naked and Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow, Kidd also designed the covers for Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Vertical Inc.’s Osamu Tezuka line, and Dave Gibbons’ Watching the Watchmen. Kidd also wrote Batman: Collected, Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan and the 2012 graphic novel Batman: Death by Design.

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Stan Lee makes Forbes’ list of most influential celebrities

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Forbes has named Stan Lee among its most influential celebrities of 2014, a list led by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and George Lucas. The 91-year-old comics legend came in at No. 9 (of just 10), between Bono and Rush Limbaugh.

“Maybe it’s all those cameos in Marvel movies,” the business magazine explains. “Lee doesn’t usually show up on this list but the comic creator is responsible for the characters in some of the biggest movies in recent years.”

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Art Spiegelman brings his ‘Intellectual Vaudeville Show’ to U.S.

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Think comics are a solitary experience? Art Spiegelman wants to throw that idea out the window.

The legendary creator of Maus is in the middle of a worldwide tour of a stage performance titled WORDLESS!. Described as the cartoonist’s “Intellectual Vaudeville Show,” this live event mixes slides and spoken word by Spiegelman with musical performances by jazz composer Phillip Johnston and his sextet. In many ways, WORDLESS! is a guided tour by Spiegelman into the world of graphic novels, going from the early 1900s to the modern era, including a new comics piece the cartoonist created specifically for the event.

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When ‘Stumptown’ returns, it will be without Matthew Southworth

stumptown-v2-4Last week Oni Press teased the return of Stumptown as an ongoing series, but co-creator Matthew Southworth has revealed he won’t be joining Greg Rucka on the title.

“Thx for all the Stumptown love re: the new series!” the artist wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “One note, tho — @ruckawriter is working w/ diff artist, not me, on this. I’m excited, too!”

Oni hasn’t announced the name of the new artist, or any other information about the series; however, more details are expected by Emerald City Comicon in late March.

Launching in November 2009 as a four-issue miniseries, Stumptown centers on Dex Parios, a private investigator in Portland, Oregon, with a gambling problem. A second miniseries, “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case,” debuted in September 2012.

(via The Beat)


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