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, Casanova: Avaritia #4 would be the first thing I’d pick up. I’ve been enjoying Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s return to their dimension-hopping super-spy immensely and am looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up.
If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then.
Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here: Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work; Bill the Boy Wonder, a new prose biography of Batman co-creator Bill Finger; and a Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus featuring Jack Kirby’s run. If I were in a charitable mood, however, I’d likely snap up Team Cul de Sac, the anthology/art book/tribute to Richard Thompson’s delightful comic strip featuring contributions from folks like Lynn Johnston, Mort Walker, Gary Trudeau and even Bill Watterson! Proceeds from the book go to help fight Parkinson’s disease, which Thompson unfortunately suffers from. It’s hard for me to think of a more worthy – or potentially enjoyable – book to spend your money on this week.
According to The Washington Post, the oil painting of Cul de Sac character Petey Otterloop fetched the highest bid of the more than 100 works donated for Team Cul de Sac, created to honor cartoonist Richard Thompson following his recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. All of the proceeds from the auction benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support Parkinson’s research.
Nearly $50,000 was raised by the online sale, which included original art by the likes of Sergio Aragones, Danielle Corsetto, Evan Dorkin, Cathy Guiswite, Lynn Johnston, Karl Kesel, Roger Langridge, Patrick McDonnell, Stephan Pastis, Lincoln Peirce, Don Rosa, R. Sikoryak and Mort Walker. The artwork is also collected in the book Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s, which arrived in stores Tuesday. A portion of the proceeds from book sales also benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Watterson explained his approach to Thompson’s character last year to the Post: “I thought it might be funny to paint Petey ‘seriously,’ as if this were the actual boy Richard hired as a model for his character. At first I intended to do the picture in a dark, Rembrandt-like way to accentuate the ‘high art’ of painting vs the ‘low art’ of comics — the joke being that the comic strip is intelligent and the painting is idiotic — but the picture went through quite a few permutations as it developed.”
Auctions | An original watercolor by Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, showing his creations lounging under a tree, fetched $107,000 at auction. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | David Barnett writes an appreciation for 2000AD, the U.K. comics anthology that turns 35 years old this year: “For a seven-year-old, 2000AD was anarchic and fascistic and funny and frightening and gory and exciting and thought-provoking, all rolled up together. They called it 2000AD, presumably, because no one expected the comic to live that long. But 35 years after the first issue, which had a 26 February cover date, and in the year that Queen Elizabeth II marks her diamond jubilee, 2000AD is still going, delivering (in the magazine’s own words) ‘thrill power’ every single week since then.” [The Guardian]
Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson is notoriously reclusive, and original pieces of art from his long-running strip are just as rare. That’s why recent news by Heritage Auctions that a piece of his is going up for sale is worth perking your ears up about.
The watercolor illustration (seen at right) was a piece done by Watterson for a 1989-90 calendar cover. The piece comes from the collection of comic historian Rick Marschall, to whom Watterson inscribed it to in the lower right corner.
The current highest bid is at $26,000, but the auction house expects it to top $50,000 by the time the live floor auction starts on Feb. 23. I expect to see a vast array of comics art collectors come out for this, and perhaps even a few comic artists who are fans of Watterson’s work.
If the season has you missing Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes — particularly, Calvin’s scenes of snowman carnage — you’re not alone. Jim Frommeyer and Teague Chrystie have created a wonderful short film called “A Very Calvin & Hobbes Christmas” that pays homage to those fondly remembered strips and delivers a touching message to their creator. For the curious, Frommeyer even walks us through the process.
Publishing | As the fallout mounts from the revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff, plans to revive the Terminator star’s acting career have been put on hold — a move that now extends to The Governator, the comics and animation project co-developed by Stan Lee. “In light of recent events,” representatives announced last night, “A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have chosen to not go forward with The Governator project.” However, Entertainment Weekly notes the statement was revised two hours later, putting the project “on hold.”
Unveiled in late March, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, no less, The Governator features a semi-fictional Schwarzenegger who, after leaving the governor’s office, decides to become a superhero — complete with a secret Arnold Cave under his Brentwood home that not even his family knows about. “We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life,” Lee said at the time of the announcement. “We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor.” But even before the couple’s separation became public, producers had backed off depicting Shriver and their children. [TMZ, Entertainment Weekly]
Unlike the painting that Bill Watterson just did for the Team Cul de Sac project, these drawings are not new work; in fact, they were done early in his career, before Calvin and Hobbes became such a success. Artist Thom Buchanan posted them at his blog My Delineated Life, which is a treasure trove of interesting illustrations from times gone by.
Watterson did these as a freelance job for the Mark Twain Journal, and it’s kind of interesting to see how consistent the public discourse is: These cartoons, done in 1983 and based on material that’s about 100 years older, are about the same things that cartoons are about now: Cats and corruption in Congress.
At The Daily Cartoonist, where I first spotted this item, Nevin Martell contributed a few more Mark Twain cartoons, including one on another timeless topic, the irritations of modern technology—in this case, the telephone.
Team Cul de Sac is that rare combination of a worthy cause and total awesomeness. Founded by the friends of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s Disease, it is a fund-raiser for Parkinson’s research in which famous artists make Cul de Sac fanart, and it just made news recently when Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson contributed a painting.
Now the writers are going to get their turn as well. Enter the Team Cul de Sac zine, with Craig Fischer at the helm. Here, I’ll let him say it:
To that end, I’m cobbling together a big, fat, old-school zine to raise money for the Team. I’ve asked an armada of bloggers, critics and fans (and maybe a cartoonist or two) to each write a short essay answering the following questions: what is your favorite comic (comic book, comic strip, graphic novel, whatever), and why? The Team zine will be a compilation of these essays, an explosion of wildly divergent opinions, and an ideal shopping list to take with you as you plunge into an unfamiliar longbox or used book store.
And he has a stellar lineup: Derik Badman, Noah Berlatsky, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Kleefeld, Joe McCulloch, Chris Schweizer, Tom Spurgeon, and our own Chris Mautner. The zine will premiere at Heroes Con, where it will sell for $5 a copy, with every penny going to the cause. After that, it will be available through the mail and at other cons.
Face it, tiger-lovers — you just hit the jackpot: Check out this terrific gallery of early and rare art by Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson. Included are pieces from the Kenyon College yearbook and student newspaper, covers from the political-cartooning journal Target, Watterson’s own editorial cartoons from the Cincinnatti Post, illustrations for an essay in The Comics Journal, self-portraits, a collection of Calvin & Hobbes sketches, and much more. The site design indicates that this is about a million Internet years old and thus many of you may have seen it before, but I sure haven’t, and it’s great way to see whole new side of Watterson — and a demonstration that his chops were ample even at a tender age.
Wow. I knew Lee Bermejo could draw some steely-lookin’ bad guys, but I didn’t know he could also channel Bill Watterson so well I’d have a hard time telling the two apart. Behold “Joker and Lex,” Bermejo and writer Brian Azzarello’s Calvin and Hobbes-esque contribution to the Superman/Batman all-star 75th-issue spectacular. I don’t even wanna think about what the rules of Jokerball would be in the alternate universe where this strip is a universally beloved classic — let alone what kind of “Joker peeing” stickers it might have spawned.
(via Topless Robot)
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.