"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Legal | Algerian cartoonist Djamel Ghanem is seeking asylum in France as the prosecution and plaintiff appeal his acquittal on charges that he insulted Algeria’s president in an unpublished cartoon drawn for the newspaper Voix d’Oranie. The newspaper brought the criminal charges against Ghanem; in possibly related news, Ghanem is suing his employer for seven years’ unpaid wages. Ghanem now claims Algeria wants to make an example of him. [Radio France International, Ennahar Online]
Conventions | Mark Rahner, who has been going to Emerald City Comicon since the first one in 2003, initially as a reporter and then as a creator, talks about why the event has grown so big (75,000 attendees are expected this weekend) and why it’s still awesome anyway. [Seattle Weekly]
A few weeks ago, I posted an item about baseball’s reigning home run leader Chris Davis, aka “Crush” Davis, aka the Hulk, aka Thor. Despite being the ones that bestowed upon him the “Crush” moniker, however, the Baltimore Orioles seem determined to make Davis’ visage and power synonymous with a different hero: Superman.
With the All-Star break fast approaching, Davis is not only heading into the middle of the 2013 season with 32 homers (a club record, and only one away from his previous season-high), he’s also gracing the cover of this season’s second issue of Orioles Magazine. For his photo shoot, the first baseman struck an iconic pose — DC Comics is now referring to as #Clarkkenting — tearing open his contract-signing outfit to proudly display the now familiar orange and black t-shirt given away to fans on Chris Davis appreciation night earlier this summer.
The magazine is available inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards for $5, or you can subscribe online for $25.
Earlier this week, it was Chris Davis Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with the O’s celebrating the breakthrough season of first baseman by giving away bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with the unmistakable silhouette of Baltimore’s current favorite son as he cracks yet another ball over the outfield wall.
After spending the early years of his career bouncing between the Texas Rangers minor and Major league teams, Davis was traded to the Orioles in 2011, becoming an everyday player in time to experience the team’s 2012 rise and run at the playoffs before exploding this summer. As of this writing, he leads the American League in home runs, slugging and OBPS (on-base plus slugging), and has been alternating the lead in batting average and on base percentage with a handful of other players, including last year’s Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and fellow Oriole Manny Machado.
But what, pray tell, does this have to do with comics?
Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as most Major League Baseball teams have their opening day. In late February, when writer/artist Matt Kindt tweeted that he was returning from a St. Louis Cardinals spring training trip to Florida, I got him to agree to an interview on the spot.
This exchange took place before Dark Horse’s WonderCon announcement that Kindt’s series, Mind MGMT, would have a finite 36-issue run.
In addition to discussing his Dark Horse series, and our shared appreciation of baseball (despite his Cardinals eliminating my hometown Atlanta Braves from playoff contention last season), we delve into the May 7 release of his First Second book, Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. There are few storytellers that set a narrative environment as uniquely as Kindt can. This go-around he establishes the city of Red Wheelbarrow to serve a larger homage to classic detective fiction.
For additional insight into Kindt’s work on Mind MGMT, be sure to read Jeffrey Renaud’s CBR interview with the writer/artist from early February.
As a longtime fan of Kindt’s narrative sensibilities, I hope he gets in contact with the right folks with the MLB in order to pursue that baseball project.
Inspired by the Ernest Thayer poem, “Casey at the Bat,” Jesse Young wrote a version in which the DC and Marvel universes face off in an epic baseball battle. Ha Huy Hoang put pictures to it, Thomas Mauer lettered it, and now we have a perfectly wonderful comic to enjoy with League Championships.
Awards | The Guy Davis short story “The Phototaker” has been removed from the 2012 Eisner Awards ballot after it was determined to be ineligible. “The ‘Phototaker’ Eisner nomination was a mix up,” Davis wrote on Twitter. ” Jackie Estrada messaged me after I posted asking about the original English version, which came out in Metal Hurlant #9 (2003). So it’s not eligible for the 2012 Eisner nomination and has been removed. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday, but I’m happy to clear this up and have it removed from the running.” [Eisner Awards]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham respond to March’s direct-market sales estimates, which saw Marvel claim three of the Top 10 spots after a February shutout. “We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever,” Wayne said. “I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.” [ICv2.com]
While biographies are becoming more and more common these days, sports comics remain a bit of an anomaly (indeed, up till now James Sturm seemed to have had the market cornered). Let’s hope Wilfred Santiago’s latest book, 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente, starts to fill in that genre hole a little bit. Particuarly if they’re as visually dynamic and playful as this book is. Chronicling Clemente’s life from his early years in Puerto Rico to his untimely death in 1972, Santiago avoids the traditional traps of being too staid, didactic or reverential, creating a book that show us what made the Pittsburgh Pirates member so special without feeling like a history lesson. It’s a book that’s both fun as well as informative.
I talked to Santiago from his home in Chicago about the new book and what it took to get it into print.
Why Clemente? What was it about him that made you want to tell the story of his life?
I really wanted to do a biography. It’s something I wanted to do since my last project [2004’s My Darkest Hour] and I had a list of different [potential] subjects. There were a number of factors as to why I chose Clemente in particular. I think it’s a compelling story to write about. The material was somewhat familiar [to me] and I like baseball .
Although Marvel has held panels at WonderCon over the last couple of years, they haven’t exhibited on the show room floor … until this year, that is. Not only will they have a booth on the floor April 1-3 when the show returns to San Francisco, but they also plan to bring copies of Uncanny X-Men #534 featuring a cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli that Giants fans will appreciate. It’s awesome to see Cyclops and crew supporting their new hometown’s championship team.
“Being from San Francisco, I am ecstatic about how strong Marvel’s presence will be at WonderCon this year,” Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief, told Marvel.com. “And with San Francisco now the adopted hometown of the X-Men, it just made perfect sense to create a variant for this show which celebrated the city and its achievements.”
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we give a great big hug to all the comics, graphic novels and what have you we’ve been reading lately.
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading recently, hit the link …
100 Bullets/First Wave scribe and “long-suffering” Cubs fan Brian Azzarello has teamed up with the Hero Initiative to take three fans out to the ball game. Azzarello has season tickets to the Chicago Cubs, who play the New York Mets on Sept. 3.
“Misery loves company, and I’m happy to share this experience with three lucky fans,” said Azzarello. “The Hero Initiative is an important cause, and I’d like to thank the great Chicago comic retailers for making this all happen. Take it from me, the beginning of September is the perfect time to begin waiting for next year. Go Cubs!”
For two bucks, you can buy a raffle ticket at several Chicago comic shops for the chance to win, including Challengers Comics, Chicago Comics, Comix Revolution and Graham Crackers Comics. Tickets will also be available at Hero Initiative’s booth at Wizard World Chicago at the Rosemount Convention Center, Aug. 19-22.
In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to baseball, and manga is here to help. There are two baseball series debuting this month, and one is free to read on the internet: Cross Game, a “poignant coming-of-age story,” according to the Shonen Sunday website, about a young man who wants to play baseball and the family of four sisters who live down the road (because, after all, this is still manga). The first chapter is up on the website now, and Viz is also streaming the first five episodes of the anime at their anime site.
If that whets your appetite, check out Diamond Girl, a new series from DC’s manga arm, CMX. It’s about a girl with an unusual talent for baseball that is matched only by her hatred for the game. The humor is broad and slapstick, but the art is very stylized, so readers who don’t care for manga might want to sit this one out. (Alas, we have just received word that CMX is shutting down, so this series probably won’t be completed. It’s a fun read anyway, though.)
Love & Capes creator Thom Zahler, who already had one Free Comic Book Day comic on his plate, has added a second — an eight-page comic book that will be given away to the first 1,000 fans, ages 12 and under, attending the Lake County Captains baseball game on May 1.
The Lake County Captains teamed with Zahler in both 2007 and 2008 to distribute Love and Capes to their fans on Free Comic Book Day, but this is the first time they’ve created their own comic book to distribute as an exclusive tie-in. According to the release Zahler sent over, the book is co-sponsored by Comic Haven of Willoughby and Laronge Wagner Realty of Mayfield, Ohio. Captains Comics will feature team characters including: Captain Clipper, Skipper, Skippy, Grover and the three fish: Willy Walleye, Buster Bluegill and Pauley Perch. The story is written and illustrated by Zahler.
The Lake County Captains are a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and play their home games at Classic Park in Eastlake, Ohio, at the corner of State Route 91 and Vine Street. Check out the first three pages from the book after the jump.
The Real Dirty Mets Blog revealed some good news for fans of the New York Mets in late August — apparently they’re getting a new injury-proof uniform for next season.
“It will make sure that all the injuries of 2009 will never happen again,” the blog reports. “No word on how much it will cost to put into production but sources say the first two will go to Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana.”