"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Legal | Eriq Gardner delves into the issues underlying the continuing legal battle over unauthorized replicas of the Batmobile from the 1966 Batman television series and the 1989 film: This summer the Ninth Circuit will consider the appeal of Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle, whose Batmobile replicas were found in February 2013 to violate DC Comics’ copyrights and trademarks. While Towle argues that Batman’s ride is a “useful article,” meaning a utilitarian object not protected by U.S. copyright law, a federal judge ruled the Batmobile is “a copyrightable character.” Gardner notes that if the appeals court sides with DC/Warner Bros., “Hollywood studios would win a powerful weapon to stop products that are similar to props like light sabers and ruby slippers.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
Conventions | Boston Comic Con is coming this weekend, and founder Nick Kanieff talks about how it has grown from 900 attendees at the first con, in 2007, to an expected 15,000 for this year’s event, which was rescheduled because of the Boston Marathon bombings. [MetroWest Daily News]
Publishing | Denis Kitchen discusses the return of Kitchen Sink Press to publishing as an imprint of Dark Horse. It kicks off in December with an anthology, The Best of Comix Book. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Peter Steiner’s cartoon, captioned “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” is the most-reproduced cartoon in the history of The New Yorker. On the 20th anniversary of its publication, Steiner looks back on its creation, which came about almost by chance, and the ways the world has changed in the interim. One interesting nugget: The most-reproduced cartoon in The New Yorker has brought its creator a total of $50,000 in royalties over the past 20 years. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Reporter Henry Hanks asks three experts about the increasing tendency toward “headline-grabbing plot twists” in comics, such as the death of Damian Wayne, and which ones they think have been the most successful. “I strongly believe that The New 52’s Batgirl can be seen as a great example of a major plot shift or re-imagining of a story that required readers to let go of a long-loved character (Oracle) and begin to believe in Batgirl as a new character, one who’s recovered from a life-threatening attack,” says Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist and convention speaker. “The character essentially presented the determination, resilience and psychological strength that she needed to put the cape back on after a severe injury, just as readers were challenging her ability to represent a strong rebooted character. It’s as if we could relate to the weight on her shoulders, because we were a part of that process. [CNN]
Every day people post comics on the Internet. Here are a few that caught our eyes.
“Gerry Comix” by Bob Fingerman
Over on his blog, Bob Fingerman says that he recently sold his second novel, a zombie thriller titled Pariah, to Tor:
The interesting thing is that part of my deal with Tor is to provide the book with some original interior art (I might do the cover, too, but that is pending). My approach is not to do illustrations of any scenes or characters in the book. I prefer to let the readers picture that for themselves. Instead, one of the characters is an artist and he does studies of the undead to pass the time (no more TV or Internet, so one must pass the time doing something). The conceit of the accompanying art will be that these are his drawings. I don’t want any of the art to be typical EC-tinged stuff. The approach is to do sensitive, objective drawings. The zombies didn’t ask to be this way. They’re not evil.
Sounds like an intriguing approach. Above is an example of what he’s talking about. And Fingerman says he might post some rejected sketches from the project soon.
When I learned that IDW was publishing Bob Fingerman‘s newest project, From the Ashes, I’ll admit I was pleassantly surprised, given that it seemed outside of IDW’s typical market focus. So when he recently agreed to an email interview I was eager to find out how it landed at IDW in addition to his thought process on this speculative memoir (as well as his latest Fantagraphics release, Connective Tissue). The first installment of the six-issue From The Ashes miniseries hits the market this Wednesday, May 13. Here’s the official snippet on the miniseries from IDW: “Fingerman and his wife Michele find out the apocalypse isn’t the end of the world in this hip satirical survival romp through Manhattan’s ruins. Think The Road, only funny!” My thanks to Fingerman for his time and to Emma Griffiths and Martin Wendel for facilitating this interview, as well as Chris Mautner for his help in formulating questions. If you happen to be in New York this Friday, May 15, Fingerman will have an art show/signing at Rocketship at 8 PM.
Tim O’Shea: Why did you opt to do this series as a mini-series, as opposed to a graphic novel?
Bob Fingerman: It wasn’t my choice. I’d have preferred to release it as a book straight off, but that’s not IDW’s business model. Still, they put out classy looking comics on good paper. And it will eventually get collected as a book.
O’Shea: You consulted with your wife, Michele, throughout the development of this story. But before embarking on this project did you tell her you intended this to be an “open love letter” (as you describe it in your recent Huffington Post piece) to her? Anyway you slice it, she clearly loves you a great deal to support a work that aims to capture your relationship with her and features “mutants, cannibals, zombies”.
Fingerman: Michele is the center of my life. She’s very supportive of everything I do. “Open love letter” is pretty corny, I’ll admit. But it’s honest. My consulting with her basically entailed repeatedly asking her, “Is it all right if I have you doing this or that?” She got final approval.