Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
The Suicide Squad movie doesn’t arrive for another four months yet, but already DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products are filling stores with licensed apparel. In addition to that Hot Topics-exclusive “Daddy’s Lil Monster” T-shirt, there’s now a “Forever Evil” collection from shopping-mall mainstay Spencer’s.
Following its release of the Superman: The Animated Series die-cut vinyl, Mondo has decided to give the Man of Steel’s opposite number some time in the spotlight. Or is that spot-dark? Low-light? Dang it, I can never get the hang of Bizarro-speak.
In any event, the art boutique has announced the Bizarro Superman: The Animated Series single, cut in the shape of the character’s backward-“S” emblem. The purple vinyl features Shirley Walker’s theme music, just like the previous release, but with a twist: The record plays from the inner-most groove out. So, yeah, Bizarro.
Comics | In order to avoid the Foo Fighters’ concert photo contract, the Quebec newspaper Le Soleil sent a cartoonist to cover the concert. Cartoonist Francis Desharnais attended the show, and provided the paper with images to use alongside its write-up of the event. [Petapixel]
Political Cartoons | As scandals pile up around the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the South China Morning Post profiles the cartoonist Zunar, who was recently charged with a record-breaking nine counts of sedition for criticizing the embattled leader. Najib had pledged to do away with the sedition law, but instead he has been applying it with increased vigor in the last two years, with Zunar one of his highest profile targets. [South China Morning Post]
DC Comics returns from its two-month Convergence break with a reinvigorated line, including more than 20 new series, new directions for existing titles, a new “DC You” promotional campaign, and a brief commercial message from Nick Lachey.
Among the most notable changes evidenced this week is the wildly increased diversity of the publisher’s offerings. Over the past 43 months or so of the New 52, DC was particularly daring in the oddball titles, characters and concepts launched, likely the result of having a set goal of 52 books (and the knowledge that they had some 75 years’ worth of IP to exploit). But while the publisher toyed with twists of the superhero genre (superhero war comics, superhero horror comics, superhero Western comics, etc.) and went surprisingly deep into its character catalog (Dial H, The Green Team, Infinity Man and The Forever People), there wasn’t much diversity in terms of tone or visual style.
That’s no longer the case. This week’s new releases include comedy miniseries starring Bat-Mite and Bizarro — two particularly fun Silver Age characters – and featuring intentionally cartoony styles that are as far removed from Jim Lee-derived New 52 house style as one can imagine.
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
I don’t know whether it was cartoonist J. Bone’s intent, but I like the suggestion that his “sun-friendly” Superman costume is a send-up of the not-exactly-convincing justification for Starfire’s skimpy costume — namely, that she draws her power from the sun and, therefore, needs to expose as much skin as Earth laws will allow. Heck, these new threads could even work as a response to those who miss those signature red trunks in the New 52 design.
Comics fans who tuned in last night to the premiere of Fox’s ambitious reality series Utopia may have been shocked to see a familiar face: Bizarro creator Dan Piraro is the show’s host and narrator. Surprised? So is he.
“Think about it,” the Reuben Award-winning cartoonist writes on his blog. “I’m at home in my sweatpants working on my cartoon career like I’ve been doing for the past 30 years, a friend asks me if I’d like to do some voiceover work for a TV show and I’m thinking, ‘Sure. If I can make a few extra bucks talking into a microphone for a few hours a week, I’m game.’ A few weeks later I’m on national TV, posing for publicity shots, and going on press junkets. I didn’t even have an agent or a headshot when this started. People who’ve been working for this kind of break in showbiz for years must hate me, and I can’t blame them. To them, I can only say I’m sorry.”
LivoBooks has partnered with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products to launch Superman and Bizarro Save the Planet, an interactive storybook app that allows young readers — OK, probably a few older ones as well — to control the adventure.
Judging from the accompanying images and video, the app will likely hold some appeal for fans nostalgic for the classic Man of Steel, complete with red trunks. As the title suggests, the story brings together Superman and Bizarro (plus Krypto) for an unlikely team-up against a perhaps equally unlikely foe, one-time Justice League International villain Manga Khan. who’s … traveling the universe stealing famous artifacts.
Longtime DC Comics readers will undoubtedly recall Composite Superman, the green-skinned Silver Age villain who, dressed in a costume that was past Superman’s and part Batman’s, possessed the powers of the Man of Steel as well as those of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But how about Composite Aquaman? Or Composite Harley Quinn?
While they don’t come with superhuman abilities (as far as we know), Funko’s newly announced line of DC Comics Vinyl Cubed 2.5-inch magnetic figures that allows collectors to mix and match body parts of their favorite heroes and villains. The head of The Joker on Bizarro’s body? Sure. Robin with Harley Quinn’s arms? If you want.
Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).
However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]
If you’ve been keeping up with the events in the DC Universe, then you know things are looking particularly grim for the good guys.
At the conclusion of “Trinity War,” the Justice Leagues faced an invasion from the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 — “The birthplace of all evil,” as one character called it — evil counterparts of the Justice League. In the first issue of Forever Evil, these villains claimed to have killed all of the Justice Leaguers, they freed all the supervillains from all the super-prisons and organized them into an army called The Secret Society, they did some awful things to Nightwing and then even moved the moon to permanently block out the sun.
To mark the occasion of evil temporarily winning (again), DC declared September Villains Month, and is interrupting the ongoing adventures of its heroes with special “.1″ issues starring various villains. Each of these was to bear a fancy plastic 3D cover that jacked the price up a buck and ultimately created shortages, an artificial collectors/speculators market and irritated a whole bunch of retailers, many of whom were already pretty irritated by having to figure out how to order something like, say, Justice League #23.3: Dial E, which fused one of the publisher’s best selling comics with one of its worst.
We — and by that I mean you and I, for the course of this post — aren’t going to concern ourselves with that aspect of the books, however. Instead, let’s look under those covers, whether they’re the fancy plastic 3D ones or the regular, cheaper “standard edition” ones and concern ourselves with the quality of the comics concealed behind the covers.
In case you missed the animated short when it aired last month as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block, DC Comics has now made the adorable “Tales of Metropolis” available online.
It’s just a little more than a minute long, so I don’t want to spoil it, but the short centers on a downright-endearing Bizarro, whose attempts to pass as a mild-mannered reporter (Not-Bizarro!) are foiled first by a tenacious Lois Lane and then by an alien invader. As with so many of the DC Nation shorts, the characterizations just about perfect (even the three-second cameo by gullible/clueless Jimmy Olsen).
Watch the full short below.
The one-panel cartoon, titled “Divine Intervention,” depicts a trio of angels confronting God with a list of how his behavior affects others, ending with, “… and then there was the weekend bender when you reached rock bottom and created man.” It’s not the stuff of such anodyne comics-page mainstays as Family Circus or Garfield, but it hardly seems offensive.
Yet the editor of the Paris, Tennessee, Post-Intelligencer donned sackcloth and ashes in reaction to a phone call from a displeased reader. “We won’t repeat its irreverent humor, accusing God is sinning — let’s just say we were horrified that we didn’t pay attention to it in advance, when we should have refused to publish it,” states the editor’s note in Wednesday’s paper. “We apologize to all our readers offended by this particular comic strip. And we’ll try to do a better job of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.”
Brazilian pop artist (and firm Robot 6 favorite) Butcher Billy recently told me he was working on a project that would appeal as much to readers of Time as to the readers of this blog. I believed him, and waited eagerly to see what he was going to come up with. He was right, and he’s excelled himself. He’s just posted The Legion of Real Life Supervillains at Behance, a gallery of images recasting some of humanity’s very worst as four-color miscreants.
In Billy’s own words:
“If back in the day comics and movies were pretty naive and faced only as pure escapism, today’s fiction has to evoke reality to create something truly meaningful… and frightening. This series is an experiment where a dictator, a psycho, a murderer (sometimes they are the whole package) or even a suspicious figure from real life is mashed with a comics bad guy – strangely related some way or the other with his counterpart. The depressing thing? Realising that if the comic book supervillains were actually the ones threatening real life, the world wouldn’t be such a bad place.”
This series raises all sorts of questions and invites all sorts of controversies. Some examples below, and be aware that Billy’s Legion of Doom includes a couple of choices whose presence in such nefarious ranks you may well disagree with. I might distrust Facebook’s ubiquity, but Mark Zuckerberg isn’t exactly a genocidal tyrant (yet).
Last year Robb Pratt posted a stellar “Fleischer Brothers meets Mike Kunkel” Superman cartoon that he made in his spare time, featuring the Man of Steel, Lois Lane and a giant robot. Pratt is back with a new cartoon, this time pitting Superman against Bizarro in the aptly titled “Bizarro Classic.” Check it out below, and keep watching after the credits to see how he made the film (and how they did the voice for Bizarro … very cool).