REVIEW: "DC Universe: Rebirth" #1 Makes the Future of DC Comics Look Genuinely Bright
Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]
Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Auctions | A rare drawing of Tintin by Hergé from the 1936 book The Blue Lotus was sold at auction Monday in Hong Kong for $1.2 million. The black-and-white illustration, which depicts Tintin and Snowy being pulled in a rickshaw through the streets of Shanghai, is the only original piece from the book that remains in private hands. [BBC News]
With these new “Bitch Planet” leggings from Bombsheller, you too can now express your non-compliance to the world. The leggings manufacturer has teamed up with Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Inc. in order to bring you the latest in comic book fashion.
The leggings feature a design by Valentine De Landro, who co-created the Image Comics series “Bitch Planet” with DeConnick. The symbol stands for “non-compliant,” which — in the not-so-distant future of “Bitch Planet’s” world — is a term applied to women who don’t comply with its societal standards for women. Non-compliant women are sent to an off-planet prison for offenses as simple as rejecting commonly accepted beauty practices.
In an effort to make these leggings available for every fan, DeConnick and Bombsheller are running a beta test for sizes up to 6XL. “When Kelly Sue DeConnick asked to work with us on a design that would be available through 6XL, we were thrilled to get the chance to put our prototypes to the test,” Bombsheller’s website reads. “Compared to the rest of the fashion industry, Bombsheller is non compliant. We believe you should wear what you want, not what you’re told. Get your girl gang together and celebrate spandex for all bodies.”
Conventions | San Diego’s Convention Center Corp. has adjusted its estimate of how much money Comic-Con International pumps into the local economy, down from last year’s $178 million to $136 million, because of possible double-counting and other flaws in methodology. [Voice of San Diego]
Passings | Leonard Starr, who wrote and drew the comic strip Mary Perkins On Stage, died Tuesday at age 89. Starr started his career in 1942, when he was a student at New York’s Pratt Institute, and he worked for most of the early comics publishers: Funnies, Incorporated, Timely (now Marvel), Fawcett, E.C. and DC. He also did work for the Simon and Kirby studio, and both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were admirers. When comics publishing began to decline in the mid-1950s, Starr began working on newspaper comics and crafting his own strip, Mary Perkins On Stage, which ran from 1957 until 1979, winning a Reuben Award in 1965. After Mary Perkins ended, Starr took over as writer and artist of Little Orphan Annie, bringing new energy to that legacy property until his retirement in 2000. He also wrote a series of graphic novels, Kelly Green, and was the main showrunner for the ThunderCats animated series. [News from ME]
Creators | Fast Company named writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as one of its 100 “Most Creative People in Business 2015,” a list that includes innovators in technology, scientific research, entertainment, medicine and social media. The writer of such comics as Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick is cited specifically for “reanimating a superhero,” Captain Marvel. [Fast Company]
Awards | Bad Blood, the Dark Horse miniseries written by Jonathan Maberry and illustrated by Tyler Crook, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. [Horror Writers Association]
Publishing | Abraham Riesman looks at the revival of Valiant, which was once the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and now, under new management, aspires to reclaim that position. The article covers the rise and fall of the original company, its rescue by now-CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and the strategy the new Valiant has used to quickly build an audience for a different type of superhero comic. [Vulture]
Conventions | San Diego officials had to do some shuffling to accommodate the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played in the city in 2016, but they didn’t move Comic-Con International, which is only a few days later. “Their attendees are such a unique group that they don’t take well to change,” said Joe Terzi, chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They plan their year around this event.” [U-T San Diego]
While creators in the past such as Mark Millar have done a fine job of developing their name as a brand to build a fanbase around, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has taken brand building to a whole new level. Perusing the back end material in the first issue, I was astounded and impressed to find that anticipation for the new Image Comics series, Bitch Planet, had grown so much in advance that a few people actually got a tattoo sporting the “non-compliance” icon (that features prominently in the story).
Graphic novels | The long-running Belgian comic Blake and Mortimer, created by Herge contemporary Edgar P. Jacobs and currently the work of Yves Sente and Andre Juillard, will get a prequel. The series launched in Tintin magazine in 1946, and when they re-read the first episode, Sente and Juillard found themselves asking a lot of questions — so they answered them in their latest volume, The Staff of Plutarch. [Agence France-Presse]
Creators | Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses her new Image Comics series Bitch Planet. [Paste]
Creators | HOW magazine interviews artist Kody Chamberlain (Punks, Sweets). [HOW]
“No one gets to have their cake and eat it too. So I don’t get to talk about the problems with the lack of diversity in both the books we put out and the creators behind them, I don’t get to speak up about that and then not have my gender brought up as an issue as well. … People will often apologize when they ask me about feminist issues in the industry, and it’s tough. I don’t want them to apologize. These are things that need to be discussed. … My husband’s [comics writer Matt Fraction] gender never comes up in an interview. I think it’s a thing that, if we want it to get better, we have to talk about it. It’s on the table whether we like it or not, so let’s go ahead and – if it’s there, let’s sit down and feast.
I’ve been accused of putting forth sort of an agenda in Captain Marvel, which I actually don’t think I’m doing at all. I think I’ve been very true to what the character was created for, the roots of the character that I had nothing to do with. I was 7 years old when that character’s first book came out under Ms. Marvel. I’ve been accused of putting forth an agenda and so on and so forth. There’s a certain part of me that’s just like, ‘If I’m going to take the heat for it, well … let’s do it then. Let’s steer into the curve.’”
– writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, discussing Bitch Planet, Captain Marvel and feminism
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.