Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona has made the shortlist for the National Book Awards, only the third graphic novel to make it that far. At 23, Stevenson is apparently the youngest NBA finalist ever. Nimona is based on an idea Stevenson began toying with in high school and developed into her senior thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She started posting the comic online, and a literary agent spotted it and signed her on. “I don’t know if I actually expected anything to come from signing with an agent — I assumed I’d self-publish, like most webcomic creators did,” she said. “Then my agent called me when I was in the middle of a class critique to tell me that he had sold it to HarperCollins, and that was that.” [Comic Riffs]
If you’re not already experiencing deja vu from a 2016 campaign populated by a Clinton, a Bush, a billionaire reality star who’s often threatened a presidential run, and a gaggle of hopefuls long past their sell-by dates, this may do the trick: Opus and Bill the Cat have thrown their tattered hats into the political ring once more.
It’s of course not entirely unexpected, as Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed credits Donald Trump’s presidential bid with inspiring the recent online revival of the beloved comic strip. You see, in the waning days of the original Bloom County, which ended in August 1989, Trump was fatally injured and his brain transferred into the body of Bill the Cat, the near-catatonic drug-abusing televangelist/heavy-metal superstar/presidential candidate. The tycoon-cat subsequently bought the comic strip and fired all of its characters.
Fandom | Twelve-year-old Cameron Bippen was looking forward to attending Tampa Bay Comic Con, but had to miss the event due to unexplained seizures. Following his release from the hospital, Cameron’s neighbors in Riverview, Florida, threw him his own comic convention, complete with costumed guests and a visit from members of the Tampa Bay 501st Star Wars Legion. [Fox 4 News]
Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]
Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]
Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]
Manga | The 13 volumes to date of Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan have sold a combined 30.37 million copies in Japan, making the manga only the third series to do so since market research firm Oricon began tracking the numbers in 2009 (the first two were, of course, mega-hits One Piece and Naruto). [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | John Casteele considers the acquisition of comiXology from Amazon’s point of view: “It’s easy to see how the ComiXology purchase is going to benefit Amazon. Access to the ComiXology platform not only provides the company with additional revenues from the growing digital comics market and to the comic series that had the highest-selling single issue in 2013 (The Walking Dead, which also had five of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels for the year). It could also provide synergy with Jet City Comics and the Kindle, giving both access to the ComiXology publishing platform. Amazon could also use its Kindle platform to further refine the ComiXology’s ‘Comics’ app, which is already available for the Kindle Fire but might enjoy more direct integration in the future.” [Business Insider]
A limited edition of the Artist’s Edition: Best of EC Covers Portfolio, two new Locke & Key pewter replicas and a glitter variant for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #9 are among the highlights of IDW Publishing’s exclusive merchandise for Comic-Con International.
All of the convention-exclusive items will be available at the publisher’s booth, along with limited advance copies of the highly anticipated Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies, Vol. 1, and Berkeleyworks: The Art of Berkeley Breathed: From Bloom County and Beyond.
See the full rundown below:
Bloom County fans attending Comic-Con International in San Diego have something to look forward to: Not only will creator Berkeley Breathed attend the show, but IDW Publishing will also debut Berkeleyworks, the Art of Berkeley Breathed.
IDW publishes Bloom County: The Complete Library, and IDW’s Scott Dunbier posted the cover on Facebook this weekend: “300-plus pages of beautiful imagery and cutting commentary by the man himself.” Watch for more information on the collection soon. Comic-Con runs July 18-21, with a preview night on July 17.
Earlier this month we showcased comics-as-cookbooks, and now we find on Kickstarter a veritable buffet of comics for the foodies among us. Organized by cartoonist/small press publisher J.T. Yost, Digestate is a taster’s choice of stories by 50-plus cartoonists chronicling their own food tastes.
“Each artist has approached the theme in a manner exclusive to their own personality,” Yost says on the project’s Kickstarter page. “There are some autobiographical comics (both funny and heart-wrenching), some fictional comics, some akin to an essay and others that defy categorization altogether.”
The line-up is a “Who’s Who” of cartoonists, with everyone from Renee French and Marc Bell to James Kochalka and Alex Robinson to Keith Knight and Berkeley Breathed. On the Kickstarter page there are several of the stories to be included in the print publication, including the excellent “Bacon Vs. Asparagus with Oscar” by Jeffrey Brown, which is at the bottom of this post.
Digestate is nearly half-way to its$4,500 goal with 30 days remaining in the fundraising campaign. Compared with recent Kickstarter comics drives, $4,500 seems like a relatively small amount but Yost doesn’t say what the money specifically will be going for. Regardless, remember to tip your server!
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]
Fans of FOX’s Fringe probably caught this on the show’s most recent episode — an “alternate reality” version of Berkeley Breathed’s “Opus” comic strip. Click on over to see the entire strip, courtesy of IDW’s Chris Ryall.
Much like DC’s comic-book plotlines were a little different in the Fringe reality, so too is Breathed’s famed penguin. For one thing, he’s a peahen — and presumably female — in the topsy-turvy world. Some things do remain the same, though — Paris Hilton gossip is still taser-worthy.
Publishing | With the release today in Japan of the 60th volume of One Piece, 200 million copies of Eiichiro Oda’s hit comedy-adventure will have been published. What’s more, this volume’s 3.4 million copies will break the record set by the previous volume. As of late August, One Piece had sold 20 million copies in 2010 alone — four times that of Naruto, the second-highest selling manga. On a related note, a 35-year-old Japanese man was arrested for copyright violation for allegedly distributing four manga, including the 59th volume of One Piece, online. [Japanator, The Mainichi Daily News]
Crime | Six people accused in the July robbery of a 77-year-old New York comics collector who died of a heart attack hours later could be charged with murder if police can link the crime to his death. [Democrat and Chronicle]
Conventions | Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus announced he has acquired the two-year-old NOLA Comic-Con, which will become part of the Jan. 29-30 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con. [press release]
Passings | Writer Peter O’Donnell, creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip, died May 3 at age 90. Steve Holland notes that although the prolific novelist suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he “kept in touch with fans and continued to pen introductions for Titan’s Modesty reprints.”
Born in south London on April 11, 1920, O’Donnell wrote such adventure strips as the long-running adaptation of the James Bond novel Dr. No, Garth, and Romeo Brown before being asked in 1962 to create a new character for the Daily Express. He came up with Modesty Blaise, whose catsuit-wearing heroine fought villainy with the help of her right-hand man Willie Garvin. The strip was quickly picked up by the Evening Standard, and ran from May 1963 to July 2002.
Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. One: 1980-1982
by Berkeley Breathed
IDW, 288 pages, $39.99.
The Family Circus Library, Vol. 1: 1960-61
by Bil Keane
IDW, 240 pages, $39.99
As more and more publishers realize that comic fans are interested in rummaging though the works of yesteryear, more and more of them are releasing sizable hardcover collections of allegedly classic comics at a breakneck pace. Some of those releases may cause question marks to rise above the heads of persnickety collectors. Take IDW’s new volumes focusing on Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County and Bil Keane’s Family Circus. Isn’t the former readily available in easy-to-find collections in libraries and used bookstores across the country? Isn’t the latter rather, well, overly precious and saccharine? Does this material really need to be reprinted in such lavish volumes? The answer, surprisingly, is yes and yes.
Over the past few months, I’ve been introducing my son to the wonder of Calvin and Hobbes, the nationally syndicated comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1995. So creator Bill Watterson was already on my mind, when I gained access to a preview of Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. The book aims to trace “the life and career of the extraordinary, influential, and intensely private man behind Calvin and Hobbes”. In this new email interview, Martell and I get a chance to discuss the ground he covers in the book and the folks he got to interview in his pursuit.
Tim O’Shea: You did some advanced marketing of the book a few months back by releasing the first chapter of the book for free upon request. Did you find that helped generate buzz for the project?
Nevin Martell: The free chapter giveaway turned into an insane bonanza of buzz, which, frankly, I was totally unprepared for. My publishers told me that super successful versions of this kind of promotion in the past had garnered a couple of hundred requests. But then the offer got written up by BoingBoing and NPR, not to mention a slew of comic-related blogs and the Twittersphere, so suddenly I had hundreds of requests pouring in. Since I was initially answering all these requests individually, it turned into three days of hitting reply, attaching a file, writing a quick note, and then repeating. Ultimately over 4,000 people requested the chapter, which just blew my mind. Actually, my mind is still blown.
IDW Publishing announced today the release of The Bloom County Library, a five-volume collection of Berkeley Breathed‘s well-regarded 1980s comic strip. The series will debut in October.
The books are part of the publisher’s Library of American Comics imprint, and designed by Dean Mullaney.
“Fans have pestered me for years for this ultimate Bloom County collection in that polite, respectful badgering way that only fans can manage,” Breathed said in a press release. “Thank God I can now tell them something better than just ‘please remove your tent from my lawn.’ I can say, ‘It’s coming!'”
The influential comic strip, which ran from Dec. 8, 1980, to Aug. 6, 1989, blended politics, cultural commentary, fantasy and humor, lampooning everything from AT&T and environmental activists to misguided government policies and televangelists.
The press release can be read after the break.