Why The Russos Are The Best Thing to Happen to the MCU Since Joss Whedon
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
Sure, everyone gets worked up about turning comics into movies, but what about the other way around? Cartoonists have been attempting to cram great works of literature or art into tiny panels since the birth of Classics Illustrated. But many of these adaptations, despite the noblest of intentions, fall horribly flat or fail to evoke a tenth of the original work’s greatness.
There are exceptions of course; comics that not only manage to capture or add to the spirit of the original work, but in a few cases are the equal or better of the source material. Here then are six such examples. Feel free to include your own nominations in the comments section.
Comics | Auction prices for comics and original comics art have soared over the past few years, ever since a copy of Action Comics #1 broke the $1-million mark in 2010. Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions (admittedly, not a disinterested party) and Michael Zapcic of the comics shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash discuss why that happened—and why prices are likely to stay high. [Underwire]
Creators | Brian Michael Bendis looks back on his eight-year run on Marvel’s Avengers franchise. [Marvel.com]
As I’ve reported before, cartoonist Hope Larson has been working on a graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. If you’ve been wondering what some of the characters might look like, Larson recently posted the banner she’s designed for convention season that gives you a glimpse of them.
“If you look closely at the cover of the book you’ll see that the illustrations I used for this banner are the three tiny silhouettes under the title,” she said on her blog. “I thought that was a waste of some nice inks, so I’m glad I was able to repurpose the artwork here. The banner is 33″ x 80″, so I scanned in the artwork, dumped it into Illustrator, converted it to a vector image with Live Trace, blew it way up and tossed some colors in there. The cursive lettering I did by hand; it’s a combination of my own handwriting and handwriting from an old notebook I bought that contains 200 pages of handwritten home ec notes. The type is my old standby Times New Larson, which John Martz put together for me some years ago.”
The graphic novel is currently scheduled for an Oct. 2 release.
It’s been awhile since we last heard anything about Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time adaptation, but last week on her blog the cartoonist revealed not only the cover, above, but also that the book is done and will be out in October.
“The book’s finished!” she wrote. “Inked, lettered, colored (by Dicebox‘s Jenn Manley Lee), copyedited and probably somewhere overseas being printed. It will be out on October 2nd through Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and I’ll be here and there promoting it. Stay tuned!”
It’s just one of several projects she gives an update on, as she also has a project with Tintin Pantoja and short film in the works. Head over to her blog to read all about them.
Jonathan Kellerman is the latest mystery writer to cross over into graphic novels; Silent Partner is the fourth novel in his Alex Delaware series, and Suvudu has a nice little preview of the first ten pages of the story.
The artist for the project is Michael Gaydos, who has worked for Marvel and DC (he got two Eisner nominations for his work on Alias with Brian Michael Bendis) as well as Dark Horse, Virgin and sundry others. Here, he uses a stark black-and-white style with strong areas of black and no toning, giving the art a dramatic and rather ominous feel—appropriate for mysteries, and reminiscent of the art in Dark Horse’s Green River Killer graphic novel. The Suvudu folks assure us that we don’t have to have read any of the other books in the Alex Delaware series, which features a forensic psychologist detective, to enjoy this one, so we can jump right in; it’s due to hit the shelves on Feb. 28.
Never let it be said that Dash Shaw isn’t an artist who follows his bliss. The video above represents the fourth time Shaw has drawn a faithful adaptation of a segment from the kind of gross reality show Blind Date, in which more or less attractive young people are brought together to do something “fun” and either get along terribly or end the evening swapping spit or, y’know, whatever. The amusing part of doing this as a video is that you can hear the original audio the whole time, and trust me, the sound is worth the price of admission alone toward the end there. How does the date go? Let Shaw show you!
The Last Lonely Saturday, by Uptight and The Clouds Above cartoonist Jordan Crane, is one of my favorite comics of all time. Why? You can find out if you read the entire beautifully bittersweet story online at Crane’s webcomics portal, What Things Do.
It’ll only take a minute or two. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
There now. Need a hankie? I figured. The story of an elderly man bringing flowers to his beloved, The Last Lonely Saturday is where I first discovered Crane’s impeccably cartoony character designs and near-wordless storytelling chops, as well as his knack for teasing both the darkness and the light out of issues of love and loss. And now the comic has been adapted into a live-action short film by director Seth Craven. The movie premieres as part of the HollyShorts Film Festival at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles on August 12 at 5pm. Get ready to be heartbroken.
I’m slightly hesitant to even bring it up given what a bizarre, unnecessarily nasty clusterfuck our last comment thread on the topic became, but one project I’ve been tracking with great interest is cartoonist Hope Larson’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time. That’s why I was so struck by John Scarff’s report on the Hope Larson spotlight panel at last weekend’s WonderCon 2011:
Having been met by a few audible gasps when she mentioned that she would be adapting A Wrinkle in Time earlier in the panel, Larson explained how her involvement in the project came about. Jokingly referring to “a dinky little interview” a year ago when she suggested that it would be the only other author’s work she could see her self adapting, she was contacted by the publisher and the estate of Madeleine L’Engle. “I just can’t imagine a book that fit me as well as that one,” she said. “I wanted to be the one who was gonna screw it up.”
From Larson’s lips to God’s ears, apparently! I’m always delighted by stories about creative enterprises coming about in so fortuitous a fashion; I feel like it’s a good omen for the resulting work. Fingers crossed!
Sea Lion Books is just getting started, but they are developing an interesting line of graphic novels based on already popular prose works: Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan, and now, P.C. Cast’s Goddess of the Rose.
Cast is one of those writers whose readers obviously can’t get enough of her. She specializes in mythological-supernatural romance; her Goddess: Summoning series, of which Goddess of the Rose is the fourth volume, blends in fairy-tale elements, and she also writes a vampire series, House of Night. The books aren’t the biggest sellers in the biz, but they do pretty well, and she obviously has a dedicated community of fans.
On the other hand, the remainder bins are littered with graphic-novel adaptations of popular romances—I picked up my copy of Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince for a dollar, and I feel like I overpaid. One of the pitfalls is that fans of the prose novels often hate the graphic novels, because they already have the world of the story visualized in their heads, and because they aren’t graphic-novel readers. (It’s always fun to look at the Amazon pages for these books and see the outrage of people who thought they were buying a novel and ended up with a &$#! comic book.) The other is that publishers lean too heavily on the author’s name as a selling point and bring in subpar, no-name artists to do the visuals. Dark Horse avoided this by hiring Joelle Jones to work on Troublemaker (and for my money, the art is better than the story in that book), and it looks like Sea Lion is also hiring an experienced artist: They have signed Alan Halpin, whom they describe as a “much sought-after and elusive Irish artist.” That makes him sound a bit like a character in a romance novel, actually. Halpin certainly is elusive—Google doesn’t turn up much on him—but the fact that they are promoting the artist so heavily is a hopeful sign that they will be paying attention to the quality of the visuals in this book.
Exclamation point very much merited, if you ask me. That’s Tank Girl and Gorillaz co-mastermind Jamie Hewlett illustrating arguably the greatest song of the 1990s, “Common People” by Pulp — a masterpiece of withering English class-warfare derision and seamy sexuality. (Check out the awesome video if you haven’t heard/seen it.) According to PulpWiki, the comic was available only in the French single for the song and an Australian box set. What better way to celebrate the welcome news that Pulp will be reuniting for a tour in 2011 than by dipping into the glory of ages past?
Seriously, folks, a de facto Jamie Hewlett/Jarvis Cocker collabo? I can think of several entire comics over the past few years that the existence of this strip renders totally redundant.
(via Alexis Ong)
Becky Cloonan’s “Sluts of Dracula” post hinted that this might be on the way, and behold, it’s a thing of beauty: Historical and literary gag cartoonist extraordinaire Kate Beaton takes on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Victorian classic of horror and sex (and horror of sex). She nails it. Or drives a stake through it, whichever. Read the whole thing.
One of the big trends of the past five years or so has been adapting prose works into graphic novels. It’s the sort of thing that seems like it can’t fail, since you pick up both graphic novel fans and the audience for the original work, but it has two major pitfalls with these books; one is publishers who rely too much on the writing and hire mediocre artists for the illustration, and the other is fans of the author who order the book online, not realizing it’s a graphic novel, and then complain about it.
Dark Horse’s Troublemaker, written by Janet and Alex Evanovich and illustrated by Joelle Jones, suffers from the latter but not the former. By all accounts, the book is doing well; it is getting good reviews, and it has been the number-one book on the New York Times graphic books best-seller list for the second week in a row. It’s not doing so well on Amazon, though, where the average customer rating is one and a half stars.
What gives? This excerpt from a one-star review, currently rated “most helpful,” pretty much sums it up:
Teaser | J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro, who worked together on The Life and Times of Savior 28, have a new project called Impossible Incorporated in the works.
Graphic novels | Rick Veitch, Ramona Fradon, Michael Netzer and Terry Beatty are providing art for The Adventures of the Unemployed Man by Gan Golan and Erich Origen (Goodnight Bush). “Here they’ve written a retro romp that interprets the current global financial imbroglio into classic deadpan superhero shtick,” Veitch writes on his blog. “The writing is quite well done and had me laughing out loud when I first read the script.” The book is due out this fall from Little, Brown and Company.
History | DC Comics is working with TASCHEN Books on “an ultra-comprehensive, extra large book so impressive, even super heroes may have trouble lifting it,” according to DC’s The Source blog. 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking will feature more than 1,500 images and essays on the company written by former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz.
Comic books | Blackline Comics will publish Assassin & Son: Path of Vengeance, a comic written by the WWE’s Shad Gaspard and Mark Copani. Gaspard used to be part of the tag team Cryme Tyme, while Copani wrestled under the name Muhammad Hassan a few years back and was part of quite the controversy on Smackdown.
Adaptations | Pre-order the upcoming Xbox 360 game Singularity from Amazon, and you’ll receive the Singularity graphic novel, which features the work of Tom Mandrake, among others.
Photographer Max Oppenheim and prosthetics artist Bill Turpin‘s recreations of the “yearbook photos” found in Charles Burns’s teen-sex-horror graphic novel Black Hole are spreading around the nerd Internet like the teen plague itself. You can find a couple at the Fantagraphics blog, and a couple more at Boing Boing, and a few more at io9, and the whole set at The Operators. Oppenheim and Turpin created the images for British magazine 125, but they’ll be on permanent display in my nightmares.