EXCL. PREVIEW: Superman Escapes a Black Universe in "Dark Knight III" #5
Comic strips | Prompted by the insult-filled message left by an 8-year-old for the newspaper editor who dropped his favorite comics, Michael Cavna asks Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce whether kids are still even reading comic strips in high numbers. His answer, at least in part: “I’m a firm believer that kids will ALWAYS want their comics…but they’ll want them in whatever formats are the newest and shiniest. So: Yes, kids are still reading plenty of comics. They’re just not reading them in their daily newspapers.” It kicks off an interesting, if brief, discussion with a cartoonist who’s found a great deal of success reaching young readers. Related: Christopher Caldwell looks back on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. [The Washington Post]
Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools. [The Washington Post]
Continuing its busy week, comiXology has announced a deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing to bring Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Scott Adams’ Dilbert and other comic strips to the growing digital platform beginning today. Additional AMP releases will be available in later months.
“We are thrilled to bring our cutting-edge, world-renowned comics and best-selling humor books to comiXology’s global audience,” Kirsty Melville, publisher and president of Andrews McMeel’s books division, said in a statement. “Andrews McMeel prides itself on publishing exceptional and innovative content, and making it available to consumers wherever and however they choose to read. This digital engagement with comiXology, through their innovative buying and reading experience, provides a perfect way for new audiences to discover our titles.”
ComiXology kicked off the week with news that Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing iPad app in 2012, up from No. 10 the previous year. That was followed Wednesday by the debut of Continue, a continuous-bookmarking feature that permits users to pick up reading on one device where they left off on another, and the announcement this morning that Mark Waid’s Thrillbent imprint has signed a distribution deal that begins with the digital debut of Insufferable by Waid and Peter Krause.
Richard Thompson ended the five-year syndicated run of Cul de Sac on Sunday with a funny and touching salute to “the dying art form” of the comic strip. The cartoonist revealed last month that his struggle with Parkinson’s disease had just become too much for him to meet deadline demands.
”At first it didn’t affect my drawing, but that’s gradually changed” Thompson said in a statement at the time. “Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”
This morning many client newspapers announced comics-page replacements for Cul de Sac, with Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Hilary Price’s Rhymes With Orange emerging as apparent favorites (although the Las Vegas Review-Journal opted instead to bring back Bruce Tinsley’s Mallard Fillmore). Tom Spurgeon notes that Thompson’s syndicate is re-running Cul de Sac online from the beginning.
As Kevin reported back in March, Andrews McMeel — the company that publishes the collections of popular newspaper comic strips like The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, Cul de Sac, Baby Blues, Get Fuzzy, Dilbert, and Pearls Before Swine – also has new editions coming for Fox Trot, Lio, and Big Nate that are specially tailored to appeal to children. To do that, the publisher has created a new imprint: AMP!
Building on that previous announcement, AMP! has now revealed the official titles of those books and released the cover art. The books, they say, “are designed to bridge the gap between today’s mostly older-skewing comic book content and the demand from kids for comic books that are age appropriate. A boy genius, bickering siblings, and a comic book reading scientist – along with zombie bunnies, a robot maid, and a mischievous iguana – will have kids anticipating new offerings from AMP! season after season.”
It’s a cool idea, because while I don’t know that I’d keep my child away from any of the normal collections of those strips, certainly not every storyline of Foxtrot is going to appeal to him as much as the ones focusing on Jason and Quincy the iguana. Collecting just the strips that kids will most appreciate is pretty great.
The line launches next month with Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate Makes the Grade and continues in October with another Big Nate collection (all color, Sunday strips) as well as Bill Amend’s AAAA! A Foxtrot Assortment for Young Readers and Mark Tatulli’s Lio: There’s a Monster in My Socks. There are already plans for Pearls Before Swine and other series to follow.
Andrews McMeel Publishing, a corporate sibling of Universal Uclick, in August will launch AMP! Comics for Kids, a line of paperback graphic novels aimed at middle-school readers, Publishers Weekly reports. The initial lineup will feature Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate #4 and Big Nate Sunday Treasury, Bill Amend’s FoxTrot and Mark Tatulli’s Lio #1 and #2.
The publisher already releases collections of such Universal Uclick comic strips as FoxTrot, Lio, Garfield and Cul de Sac. Kirsty Melville, president of the AMP division, told PW the initial kids’ line will include both original material and adaptations of previously published work.
She also credited the success of the Big Nate collections — there are more than four million copies in print — for spurring the launch of AMP. The popular strip centers on a rebellious sixth-grader and his classmates and teachers.
“Big Nate set us on the path that we could do comics for kids,” Melville said. “We’re trying to build a list that will go on for years. We’re reaching out to our comics artists community, some of whom have never created just for kids before.”