Kevin Keller cartoonist Dan Parent accepted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 24th annual Media Award for outstanding comic book, presented Saturday in San Francisco. The awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
This was the second nomination and first win for the Archie Comics series, which beat out Astonishing X-Men, Batwoman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Earth 2. Introduced in 2010 in Veronica #202, Kevin was the publisher’s first gay character. After a four-issue miniseries, the character received debuted in his own ongoing series in February 2012.
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at Archie Comics’ growing book-market presence, which has exploded since the publisher signed Random House as its distributor in 2010. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Matt Kindt, author of Red-Handed, writes about how becoming a comics creator has made it impossible for him to enjoy reading comics for their own sake. [The Huffington Post]
Awards | Animal Land, by Zatch Bell creator Makoto Raiku, took the Best Children’s Manga honors in Kodansha’s 37th annual manga awards. The sports manga Gurazeni won the overall award for best manga. [Anime News Network]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Or, “Betty & Veronica & Brandon & Emily.”
Cartoonist Brandon Graham is well known for thinking about the mechanics of comics. Recently, he and fellow cartoonist Emily Carroll went about examining a throw-off five-page Betty & Veronica comic be redoing it in their own styles. The results? Marvelous.
Here’s the first page from each. If you’re enticed, click over to Graham’s blog post containing both full comics as well as the original Betty & Veronica comic they are based on.
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
A 2007 recipient of the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, Gladir began working for Archie in 1959, initially penning one-page gags for Archie’s Joke Book before moving on to other titles, including Archie’s Pal Jughead, Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica and Archie’s Madhouse. It was in that last title, in 1962, that he and DeCarlo introduced Sabrina, the well-meaning witch who became a sensation, inspiring two animated series, a television movie and a live-action sitcom.
“I think we both envisioned it as a one-shot and were surprised when fans asked for more,” Gladir recalled in a 2007 interview. “We continued to do Sabrina stories off and on in Mad House until 1969 when we were flabbergasted to hear it was to become an animated [TV series].”
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
Debuting last fall, The Art of Betty and Veronica was something new for Archie Comics: It was the first time the 74-year-old company had released a deluxe art book under its own imprint, rather than licensing it to other publishers such as IDW or Dark Horse. Compiled by Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick and writer and comics historian Craig Yoe, the book takes a decade-by-decade look at the two leading ladies of Riverdale.
Gorelick and Yoe are already at work on their next book, The Art of Archie: The Covers, and they’re taking suggestions from fans on what covers to include. You can go to the Archie forums here if you have a cover to submit—or to look at some of the ones that readers have already uploaded.
I talked to Gorelick and Yoe about their collaboration, Gorelick’s 54 years at Archie Comics, the importance of creators, and the new book.
Robot 6: Victor, how did you start with Archie?
Victor: I came in working in the art department, right out of high school; I went to the School of Art and Design, and one of the production people had graduated from that school the year before and they needed a production assistant in the art department to replace Dexter Taylor — he was going to be drawing Little Archie along with Bob Bolling, so he was going freelance, and they needed someone on staff, so they contacted the school, and they sent up a few people from my cartooning class, including myself, for interviews, and I got the job. And the rest is history.
Publishing | J. Michael Straczynski discusses the revival of Joe’s Comics, which returns in May with the Image Comics release of Ten Grand, illustrated by Ben Templesmith. Top Cow was home to the imprint from 1999 to 2004, publishing such series as Delicate Creatures, Midnight Nation and Rising Stars. A preview of Ten Grant will be available in April at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo. [MTV Geek]
Creators | Ryan North, creator of Dinosaur Comics and the writer for the Adventure Time comic, talks about his work habits. [Lifehacker]
Creators | Penny Arcade co-creator Mike Krahulik talks about Strip Search, the reality TV-style webseries they will launch on Friday. [IGN]
MAC Cosmetics has unveiled its full lineup of products for its much-anticipated Archie’s Girl collection, which Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater characterizes as “truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.”
Announced in July during Comic-Con International, Archie’s Girls is of course divided into two lines, one for Betty and one for Veronica. And while the products don’t bear as colorful of names as MAC’s earlier Wonder Woman collection — Athena’s Kiss lip gloss! Obey Me nail polish! — they’re still pretty memorable. For those in the Betty camp, there’s Girl Next Door lipstick, Kiss and Don’t Tell lip gloss, and Caramel Sundae eye shadow. For the Veronicas out there, MAC offers items like Daddy’s Little Girl and Boyfriend Stealer lipstick, and Spoiled Rich eyeshadow.
The Art of Betty and Veronica
Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe
Archie Books, $29.99
It won’t take more than an hour or so to read The Art of Betty and Veronica cover to cover, but it will be a pleasurable hour. And to be honest, it’s not quite as light a read as I expected.
Archie Comics has been criticized in the past for not giving credit to artists and writers, and this book goes a ways toward correcting that. Victor Gorelick, who started at Archie Comics in 1958, kicks things off with an essay about the Archie artists he has met during his tenure, giving a bit of personal insight into each one. There’s also a two-page spread with photos of them, which is another nice touch. I like being able to put a face to the name (although Bob Montana is somewhat obscured in his photo).
Archie Comics is old and new at the same time, still churning out comics featuring the Riverdale gang we all grew up with but mixing it up in interesting ways — with graphic novel compilations, the addition of the gay character Kevin Keller, and the dual-storyline Life With Archie magazine that ages the cast up into their 20s.
The end of the year seemed like a good opportunity to check in with Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about 2012 and the company’s initiatives for 2013. While Archie kept a pretty high profile in 2012, with a new Kevin Keller comic, the Archie Meets KISS miniseries, and the return of the Red Circle superheroes (in print as well as digital form), there was also quite a bit going on behind the scenes, both positive — Goldwater says they really figured out how to market their products in the current climate — and negative — a legal feud between Goldwater and Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit that bubbled out into the public eye last year but was settled in June.
Goldwater covers a lot of bases in the interview; one interesting nugget is that the monthly comics most people would think are the flagship Archie product are not a significant source of revenue for the company, although they are important both as a marketing tool and as the place where new stories run first. It’s also interesting to see how Goldwater regards the company’s deal with MAC Cosmetics as the first step toward global marketing of Archie products.
Robot 6: What’s new at Archie?
Jon Goldwatwer: We got a lot of great stuff coming up in 2013. 2012 was fantastic. I feel like every year we take these tremendous steps forward, from putting out Life With Archie and figuring out how to make that work — we have gained traction on that — to things like Archie Meets KISS, things like Kevin Keller, groundbreaking day-and-date digital. We look at 2013 being one of these big groundbreaking years
The first thing we have coming out is a partnership with MAC Cosmetics called Archie’s Girls. It launches February 2013, and it’s going to be a global launch. It’s going to be in every MAC store, not just in freestanding stores but in department stores as well. Wherever you want to go, you are going to have Archie right there. It’s truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.
Crime | Police say a Willston Park, New York, man shot his girlfriend in the back Monday following an argument about the AMC adaptation of The Walking Dead. Twenty-six-year-old Jared M. Gurman reportedly believed a military mishap could lead to the release of a virus, triggering a zombie apocalypse; Jessica Gelderman, 27, thought the idea was absurd. According to police, the argument escalated and even continued through text messages after Gelderman left the apartment to spend the night at her parents’ house. When Gelderman returned to try to smooth things over with her boyfriend, police allege he was sitting on the stairs with a .22-caliber rifle; a single round pierced her lung and diaphragm and shattered her ribs. Gurman was arrested when he took Gelderman to the hospital. She’s in stable condition with the bullet still in her body. [Newsday]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start out with Legend of Luther Strode #1 (Image, $3.50). I was behind the times on the first series, but now I will raise my fist to the air and decree “NO MORE!” (to the stunned silence of my local comic shop owner). Justin Jordan really brought a different take on this story, but for me the sizzle on this is Tradd Moore’s art. It reminds me of Sam Keith’s middle-period during his Marvel Comics Presents Wolverine run, and that’s nothing but a good thing. After that I’d get Stumptown #4 (Oni Press, $3.99). Some might compare Dex’s journey to that of Jessica Jones in Marvel’s Alias, but it’s anything but. Greg Rucka really knows how to make a story feel more than just mere fiction. My third pick this week would be Invincible #98 (Image, $2.99), seeing Mark Grayson get his powers back – just in time to be stomped into the ground, from the looks of it. Reading this series since the first issue, I’m noticing the colorist change more and more here; John Rauch definitely is a step removed from FCO Plascencia, and I’m still getting used to it. Kirkman and Ottley are delivering here so well that Domino’s should be jealous. (ba-dum CHING!) Last up in my Wednesday haul would be Avengers #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I’ve noticed in doing Food or Comics for as long as I have how I’ll routinely follow writers but when they manage to get an artist I particularly like I’ll fall over myself trying to get to it. Case in point, this book, with Jonathan Hickman joining forces with Jerome Opeña to kick off a new era for Marvel’s flagship book. I’m all for “Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers,” but I’m even more excited to see Opeña’s take on this.
No, it’s not your eyesight: After getting rid of its mere “Digests” last year, in favor of an entire line of Double Digests, Archie Comics will skip right over Triple Digests and start publishing Double Double digests in 2013. At 320 pages for $5.99, these are an even better deal than the Double Digests, which retail for $3.99. Every Double Digest will be doubled once a year, with the March Archie Double Digest being the first to be expanded.
Most, if not all, of the material in the digests is “classic,” i.e., has already run somewhere else, but with a huge back catalog of 70 years’ worth of comics, Archie has plenty of stories to fill those pages. I guess they’re not worried about running out anytime soon.