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Tokyopop has come back to life, sort of: The manga publisher unveiled its revamped website a few days ago, and the company is once again selling books, in partnership with Right Stuf (for print) and Graphicly (for digital). The only Japanese manga available on the new site is Hetalia; Tokyopop’s licenses for other series lapsed, and most of them probably aren’t coming back, although CEO Stu Levy dangled the possibility of some new licenses in a panel last week at Anime LA. What’s left is a good-sized collection of Tokyopop’s Original English Language (OEL) manga and a few graphic-novel imports from countries other than Japan.
Although Tokyopop’s OEL line earned a fair amount of derision at the time, many of the books were actually pretty solid. In addition, they provided paying work for many young and veteran artists. Here’s a look at six that are of interest either because of the creators or because they are so strong (or both).
East Coast Rising: Becky Cloonan’s first full-length graphic novel, this urban-pirate story earned a nomination for Best New Series in the 2007 Eisner Awards. Alas, there was never a second volume.
If you’re looking for some fun prints to buy in San Diego this weekend, Strawberry Shortcake artist Amy Mebberson has several, including the above mash-up of DC’s various Lanterns and the Muppets. Mebberson is no stranger to the Muppets, having drawn them when BOOM! had the license, and she’ll have a non-color coded Muppets print as well.
You can find Mebberson and James Silvani (Darkwing Duck) in the Artist Alley area of the con, table Table HH20. Just think of water …
Tim Beedle, formerly a Tokyopop editor and now a freelancer, has two interesting posts on his blog about choosing the artist for the Muppet Robin Hood comic (which he wrote and fellow Tokyopop alum Paul Morrissey edited). The first set of drawings is an audition comic by Armand Villavert, Jr., who was the one who got the gig; the sample pages that Tim shows aren’t in the finished comic, though, they are a sequence Villavert wrote himself, and they include some pages colored in a very different style than the finished comics.
The other sequence is by Amy Mebberson, who went on to draw several of the other Muppet Show comics (and is now one of the artists on Strawberry Shortcake). In this case, Tim shows both Villavert’s and Mebberson’s versions, and it’s fascinating to see how differently the two artists handled the exact same script. Choices have consequences!
Ape Entertainment announced it would be doing a Strawberry Shortcake comic at NYCC last year, and it looks like the first issues will debut this summer. The team working on the comic includes writers Georgia Ball, former Tokyopop editor Tim Beedle, and Russell and Meredith Lissau, and the artists are Tanya Roberts and Amy Mebberson. Mebberson was last seen illustrating Roger Langridge’s Muppets comics for BOOM! Studios, and it’s nice to see her back at work again. Here’s a sample, and there’s more at Ape’s preview page.
Two talented artists just presented their own takes on familiar figures: Amy Mebberson shows off her drawings of Supergirl and Batgirl covers; she will be selling prints at Heroescon, and the originals will be auctioned off at the Heroescon annual art auction.
And at Smurfology, where Matt Murray is collecting sketches of the Smurfs by famous artists, Raina Telgemeier contributes a drawing of a Smurf shilling for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, from an 80s-vintage TV commercial that apparently made a big impression on Raina. Check it out after the jump.
One of the best things about comics conventions is getting creators and marketers to talk about the things that aren’t quite ready for prime time yet, projects that are coming up but haven’t been the subject of a torrent of press releases. I heard about a number of interesting comics at C2E2 this past weekend; here are a few that piqued my interest.
The one that really grabbed me is Dark Horse’s nonfiction graphic novel about the Green River killer, which was first announced in 2009. The Dark Horse folks like to take their time with their books, and marketing director Jeremy Atkins tells me that it is now slated for a September release. The book is written by Jeff Jensen, whose father was a member of the investigative team on the murders. “It’s stories that have never been told before,” said Atkins. “It’s not sensationalized at all. It’s more for a true crime audience than a crime fiction audience.”
If that’s too dark for you, here’s a bit of sweetness and light: Amy Mebberson, whose super-cute art graced the global manga Divalicious (you can read the whole first volume online at the link) and many of Boom! Studios The Muppet Show comics, is not letting any grass grow under her feet: She is one of the artists on Ape Entertainment’s Strawberry Shortcake comics, doing the coloring and some of the pencilling. This increased my interest in Strawberry Shortcake 100%.
Amy Mebberson keeps pretty busy drawing Muppet and Pixar comics for Boom! Studios, and she also has done covers for their standard Disney characters line. So how does she relax after a hard day churning out the cuteness? By turning the dial to 11 and sketching super-cute versions of Barbie and comics characters. Amy has just set up a new blog, Fun Size, to collect her sketchcards and other incidental drawings of cute, rounded, smiling characters. For her everyday sketches, including the sketch covers she did for the Muppet comics at cons this year, check out her other art blog, My Blue Sky.
Passings | Prolific colorist Adrienne Roy, who was a fixture of DC Comics for more than two decades, passed away on Dec. 14 following a year-long battle with cancer. She was 57. Although Roy’s work appeared in countless DC titles, from Green Lantern and Superman to Warlord and Wonder Woman, she’s best known for her extensive runs on Batman, Detective Comics and The New Teen Titans. Mark Evanier notes that “Her long tenure on Batman (more than 600 issues of various comics featuring the character) meant that her credit appeared on more tales of the Caped Crusader than anyone else except for Bob Kane.” CBGExtra posts an obituary written by her husband Anthony Tollin. [News from ME]
Publishing | Rich Johnston reports on rumored contract changes at DC Comics that would affect all new creator-owned titles in the DC Universe and Vertigo imprints. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Storm Lion, the Singapore-based multimedia studio behind the 2008 Radical Publishing miniseries Freedom Formula, has closed on the heels the summer layoff of 30 employees in Singapore and Los Angeles. The closing leaves a planned movie adaptation, to be produced by Bryan Singer, “in limbo.” [The Straits Times]