Anthony Del Col
This was a tough year for Boston Comic Con: It was originally scheduled for the weekend after the Boston Marathon, and although organizers worked tirelessly not to cancel the event, the venue was within the lockdown zone following the bombings, and the load-in day coincided with the massive manhunt forsuspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In the end, they had no choice but to shut down the convention. As most of the talent was already in town, local retailers sponsored a number of mini-cons.
Despite the cheerful we-can-get-through-this attitude of that weekend, things were looking pretty bleak. And then Boston Comic Con came roaring back, in a new venue and with a new attitude. This year, it felt less like a local event and more like a big-city con, with a smattering of publisher booths and an array of top-tier talent. The convention has grown quickly, from 1,000 attendees at the first con in 2007 to 15,000 last year. This year, with a bigger venue and more guests, I’m guessing the final number will be even higher.
Comics strips | An original 1986 Sunday installment of Calvin and Hobbes, drawn and hand-colored by Bill Watterson, has sold at auction for $203,150. The piece had been owned by Adam@Home and Red and Rover cartoonist Brian Basset, who exchanged original comics with Watterson in 1986. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Best of the year | The Top Ten lists are coming thick and fast now. Michael Cavna counts down his favorites of the year, which include Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, and Matt Dembicki’s Washington, D.C.-focused anthology, District Comics. [The Washington Post]
Best of the year | … and George Gene Gustines weighs in with his list. [The New York Times]
IDW Publishing announced at New York Comic Con that Kill Shakespeare co-creators Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery and artist Andy Belanger will return in February with a five-issue miniseries called The Tide of Blood.
Debuting in 2010, the original 12-issue adventure pits the Bard’s greatest heroes — Hamlet, Juliet and Puck, among them — against his most menacing villains (a list that includes Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago) in a quest to find a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare.
The Tide of Blood will follow Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Romeo as they confront the rogue wizard Prospero, who’s determined to destroy all of creation. As if that weren’t enough, “Hamlet must embark on a perilous journey to a remote island whose inhabitants have gone mad and want the Dane’s blood – if a love triangle and Cupid’s poisoned bow doesn’t kill Hamlet first.”
“It is a dream come true for us to be back at the New York Comic Con, where we first pitched Kill Shakespeare to IDW almost four years ago,” Del Col said in a statement. “We are incredibly happy that our fans and readers have been asking for more and have put together a new story that takes our characters in an exciting new direction.”
Kill Shakespeare was nominated for the 2011 Harvey Award for Best New Comic Series and the 2012 Joe Shuster Award for Comic Writing. The first series has been collected in two volumes, A Sea of Troubles and The Blast of War.
Digital comics | Archie Comics becomes the latest comics publisher to get a web-based store, allowing readers to purchase digital comics on basically any device that runs HTML5. While Marvel and DC have web stores built on the comiXology platform, this is the first time their competitor iVerse has gone outside the iOS. [Comics Alliance]
Awards | Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza is the winner of this year’s Oregon Book Award in the Graphic Literature category. [OregonLive.com]
Digital comics | Scott Kurtz, who knows a thing or two about digital comics, ponders the implications of Mark Waid’s aggressive move toward the digital realm: “This is something I’ve been warning my friends in webcomics about for a while now. That eventually, someone famous from the comic book industry would figure out that they should try what we’ve been doing for the last fifteen years or so, and would follow suit. All it would take is one or two high-profile creators succeeding at being ‘webcomicers’ and suddenly everyone would jump over. And the term ‘webcomic’ will finally die and just become ‘comic.’” [PvP]
Boston Comic Con isn’t one of your better-known cons, like SDCC or NYCC—heck, I live just north of Boston and I never heard of it until last year—but if you’re in the area, this year’s show looks like a pretty good bet, with guests like Darwyn Cooke, Frank Quitely, and Joe Kubert.
Right off the bat, BCC is better than 90 percent of comic cons because it is not in some sterile, isolated convention center. You know how you have to walk a mile from the Javits to get a reasonably priced sandwich? No problem here; the Hynes Convention Center is conveniently attached to a mall, and it’s located in the heart of the Back Bay, which is chock full of great little restaurants, funky boutiques, and bars with atmosphere. I used to live in the neighborhood, and it’s still one of my favorite places to go. When you’re at the Hynes, you know you’re in Boston.
Another nice thing about a small con is that conflicting panel times won’t drive you crazy; the panel schedule (warning: PDF) has only one strand, so if you want to see Stan Sakai, Darwyn Cooke, and Terry Moore speak, you don’t have to be in three places at once. Just stay in your seat.
And there will be interesting things to see and to buy! Sam Costello will be debuting the latest volume of his Split Lip horror comic, complete with a back cover blurb from me! Anthony del Col and Andy Belanger, two of the creators of Kill Shakespeare, will be there with an “exclusive digital promotion” as well as the news that they just got some financing to develop a film script based on the property. The Artists Alley lineup includes Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), Tak Toyoshima (Secret Asian Man) and a panoply of Boston-area talent. I just hope the show doesn’t get too successful, or they’ll move it to Boston’s own sterile, out-of-the-way convention center and it will lose much of its charm.
Comic strips | Scott Adams’ Dilbert is moving to Universal UClick after two decades with United Feature Syndicate. The news doesn’t come as a big surprise, as it was announced more than three months ago that Peanuts would make the same move in February. Both properties are represented by Peanuts Worldwide. UClick will begin management of Dilbert.com on Saturday, with print syndication to follow in the summer. Dilbert will join a lineup at the syndicate that includes Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Ziggy. [press release]
Comic strips | Writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman discuss the end of Brenda Starr, whose final strip runs on Sunday. “(Brenda) is a continuity strip, like a soap opera. Those have been dropping like flies,” Brigman says. “It is amazing she has lasted. It’s not a laugh-a-day strip. It requires some effort, like reading the paper every day.” [Boston Herald]
Retailing | Gendy Alimurung chronicles the final days of the Borders Books and Music location is Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood: “The protracted demise is helping [12-year employee Camilla] Ostrin gradually acclimate to her new reality, at least. Empty bookshelves are the saddest part. She’s used to seeing them full. Customers likely would agree; they don’t seem to understand that the store isn’t being restocked, that the new Obama calendars aren’t coming in, or that once the Paperchase journals are gone, they’re gone.” [LA Weekly]