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The renewal of Garry Trudeau’s Amazon Studios comedy Alpha House means there won’t be any new weekday Doonesbury strips until at least fall. New Sunday installments will continue to run for the time being.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist announced in May he would take a summer sabbatical to work on Alpha House, a political satire about four senators who share a home in Washington, D.C. New Sunday strips reappeared in September, but daily versions were delayed until November; according to the Chicago Tribune, vacation repeats began running this week.
“As I discovered last year, the demands of producing the show are considerable, and my efforts to return to the daily strip while we were still in production had to be abandoned,” Trudeau said in a statement released this morning.
He declined to offer a return date, saying, “There’s no way of knowing how many seasons of Alpha House lie ahead. I could be back drawing Doonesbury full-time in the fall.”
However, Trudeau acknowledged to The Washington Post that the break from Doonesbury may have a price: “A hiatus comes with uncertainty, of course: I can’t assume I’ll be welcomed back a year or two from now.”
Amazon made a splash last month with the publication of Blackburn Burrow, a digital comic that it’s distributing for free via its Amazon Studios, a crowdsourcing project for movie scripts. Written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Matthew Dow Smith, the comic originated as an Amazon Studios screenplay and was produced by 12 Gauge Comics. Not only was the first issue free, but Amazon actually paid people to read it: Anyone who read the first issue and filled out a short survey got a $5 Amazon gift card.
Well, Issue 2 is now out, and while Amazon may not pay you to read it, it’s still free on Graphicly or via the Kindle store, and you’re still welcome to share your thoughts via a survey. You may not get five bucks, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you have made the eventual movie that will be produced from this marginally better.
Issue 3 will be out in November.
The online retail giant Amazon, which already has a publishing arm of its own, has added digital comics to its portfolio with the release of Blackburn Burrow, a comic that is — they make no bones about it — a movie pitch. In fact, the comic originated as a screenplay in Amazon Studios, which is a sort of crowdsourcing commons where people can upload scripts, videos and other projects, and those with the best feedback rise to the top of the heap, apparently. Amazon has a number of projects from Amazon Studios in development, although none are in actual production yet, but it’s early days for them.
Blackburn Burrow was produced by 12 Gauge Comics, an actual comics publisher, and the creative team of writer Ron Marz and artist Matthew Dow Smith has some serious comics cred. I actually read the comic: It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really rise above its genre. It’s a horror comic set during the Civil War, featuring a blind ex-soldier who starts off killing some kind of a witch and then gets sent by the War Department to investigate mysterious doings in a small Georgia town. The art is serviceable — honestly, it looks like it was done in a hurry, but Smith has a deft style and it’s very readable. A lot of horror comics load up the panels with details and gore, but his restrained hand suggests he is going for story over effects. So far, the comic hasn’t broken any new ground, but it’s entertaining enough.
At the end of the comic (which is hosted on Graphicly and can also be read on the Kindle) there’s a link to an online survey, and if you complete the survey, Amazon will send you a $5 gift card. The survey is pretty painless, but there are a lot of questions about the comic so don’t try to cheat and skip the required reading.