Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
If you read about comic books on the Internet, and I have reason to believe you do, then chances are you’ve seen a lot this year about Lumberjanes.
And there’s good reason for that. First, the monthly series from BOOM! Studios is the sort of book many talkers-about-comic have been saying we need more of forever: It’s full of strong female protagonists, and it’s the work of strong female creators. (It’s a comic book about a group of awesome ladies, by awesome ladies!)
Second, and more importantly, it’s really, really good. It’s the story of five teenage best friends who occupy the Roanoke cabin of their Girl Scouts-like summer camping organization — April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley — and their discovery of, and battles, against all kinds of weirdness in the woods around them. In the first, eight-issue arc they became involved in a contest between Greek gods, fighting three-eyed woodland creatures, yetis, dinosaurs and giant lightning bugs in the process. All that while earning merit badges.
Why do I bring this up? Well because if you’ve been reading about Lumberjanes and haven’t yet sampled it, this week’s issue is a pretty great jumping-on point.
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Conventions | Following reports that New York Comic Con attracted 155,000 attendees this year, surpassing Comic-Con International’s 133,000, Kerry Dixon scrutinizes producer ReedPOP’s counting system and finds it leaves “a lot of room for guesswork and error in attendance size”: “So did New York Comic Con beat out San Diego to take over the title of the largest pop culture and comics convention this side of the globe? Well, not really.” [Unofficial SDCC Blog]
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, talks about the company’s new offering: a $20 bundle of 50 kids’ comics that can be handed out to trick-or-treaters. The selection includes Adventure Time, Peanuts, Garfield and other comics from the kaBOOM! line. [Comicosity]
Crime | A man was spotted on security video last week at New York Comic Con stealing a one-of-a-kind, 20-inch Dunny figure hand-painted by by Jon-Paul Kaiser valued at $2,000, plus two other items, from the Clutter Magazine booth. [DNAinfo New York]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who uses the pen name “Biantai Lajiao” (Perverted Chili Pepper), has applied for a visa to remain in Japan, saying he’s afraid to return to China. Liming’s account on the Chinese social media site Weibo, where he published his cartoons, was shut down in August, and the People’s Daily newspaper has called him a traitor and accused him of being pro-Japan. Last year, he was arrested and held overnight on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance.” “China’s situation surrounding freedom of speech has worsened during these six months,” Wang said in an interview. “I have no idea where the borderline is (between what is permissible and what is not anymore).” [The Asahi Shimbun]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow is a charming children’s story with clearly defined heroes and villains, plus music-making Muppet monsters from outer space, all lovingly adapted into comics form by Roger Langridge. It has a classic feel that will please adults but is fresh enough for children to enjoy, and Langridge does a particularly nice job of rendering music into visual form, something that is often a challenge for creators.
The book is adapted from a script that Jim Henson and collaborator Jerry Juhl wrote for a children’s television special, and the story is pretty straightforward. The protagonist, Timmy, lives with his Aunt Clytemnestra, who has an other-worldly feel to her, and his older sister Ann, who is more of a hippie type (the story is set in 1968). Ann and Timmy like to go out to an isolated area of their property to practice playing guitar, but they get chased off by their mean neighbor Mister Sump, who wants the land for himself.
Timmy is out practicing one day when the monsters arrive and accompany him with strange musical sounds of their own. Soon Timmy is friends with the monsters, but you know in a story like this that the bad guy is going to cause trouble, and that’s exactly what happens. Turkey Hollow has more turkeys than people, and suddenly the turkeys are all gone and the monsters are found sleeping in a heap with bones scattered all around. The sheriff reluctantly rounds the monsters up and puts them in jail, but Timmy is pretty sure they are being framed, and he sets off to prove it.
Legal | A conference has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in San Diego to discuss a possible settlement in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the latter’s use of “Comic Con.” Comic-Con International filed lawsuit last month, claiming Salt Lake organizers are attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term. Salt Lake Comic Con formally responded on Monday, denying those accusations and asking a federal court to find Comic-Con International’s trademarks invalid. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Banned Books Week | Reporter Sydney Gillette gets the local angle on Banned Books Week, talking with a local comics retailer and a librarian. While Missoula, Montana, has very few book challenges, the most recent one at the public library involved a graphic novel, The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. Neither the public libraries nor the schools in the area have ever removed a book in response to a challenge. [Montana Kaimin]
I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman – what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!
Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?
Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.
What book were you debuting there?
I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.
Conventions | Attendance at the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con was estimated at between 120,000 and 130,000, putting it on a par with the big shows like Comic-Con International in San Diego and New York Comic Con. Even better, Stan Lee proclaimed it “the greatest comic con in the world” (but he probably says that to all the shows). [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | The scale of the first Las Cruces [New Mexico] Comic Con was considerably smaller, with expected attendance of 3,000 to 5,000, but organizers were pleased with the event, which featured a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament, a Comic Strip Burlesque show, and appearances by Jim Steranko, Power Rangers stuntman Jason Ybarra, and the 1966 Batmobile. [Las Cruces Sun-News]
Debuting in December from the publisher’s KaBOOM! imprint, the all-ages comic centers on a 9-year-old girl with a wild imagination who moves to a small town, where she’s the new kid who struggles to make friends. However, that changes when Abigail meets Claude, a Yeti pursued by the Shadow Men” after he escaped a top-secret government facility.
An Eisner and Harvey award winner, Langridge is no stranger to BOOM!, where he’s worked on The Muppet Show, Popeye, his creator-owned Snark! and the upcoming Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow.
“I’m doing this book for BOOM! mainly because they asked me, really,” the cartoonist explained in the video released in July. “They asked me if I had some ideas, and they’ve been good to me in the past as far as all-ages material goes — they know how to sell all-ages material, which is what this is.”
Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]
Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
The Humble BOOM! Bundle is in its final day, meaning readers still have time to download 39 issues of DRM-free digital comics for as little as a penny.
That will get you issues of such BOOM! Studios series as Sons of Anarchy, Day Men, RoboCop and Imagine Agents. Those who pay more than the average amount offered (right now that’s $10.10) will unlock issues from 10 more series, including Planet of the Apes, The Woods and Mouse Guard: The Black Axe (the offering has expanded since the launch of the promotion, adding Fairy Quest: Outlaws, Polarity, Suicide Risk Vols. 1-2 and Protocol: Orphans).
BOOM! Studios has added its name to the list of publishers embracing Humble Bundle with a promotion that allows readers to name their own price for digital editions of comics ranging from RoboCop to Lumberjanes to Mouse Guard.
By now you likely know how Humble Bundle operates, with customers getting DRM-free downloads for as little as a penny, with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity (in this case, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund).
Passings | Manga artist Hiroshi Obi, whose best known work is the Shonen Jump series Ganbare Goemon, died Sunday at age 54. His most recent project was a Yatterman remake, Yatterman Dengeki Daisakusen!, and he also taught in the manga department of Tokyo Kogakuin College of Technology. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Filip Sablik of BOOM! Studios talks about marketing Lumberjanes on Tumblr, and how Beware the Valkyries, a group of women who work in comic stores, helped promote the comic with a special “Lumber Day.” [ICv2]
Creators | Mike Donachie profiles Canadian creator Diana Tamblyn, who’s nominated for a Shuster Award for her graphic novel From the Earth To Babylon: Gerald Bull and the Supergun. [Metro]
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
If the biggest surprise coming out of Comic-Con International on Friday was that, before last night, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez had never won an Eisner Award — seriously, how can that be? — a close second was undoubtedly the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover from IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios.
Yes, the two sci-fi franchises will finally meet in an alternate-future event that brings the original crew of the Enterprise together with Taylor, Nova and other characters from 1968’s Planet of the Apes as the Klingons secretly support a renegade gorilla general in a coup to seize control of Ape City. Writers Scott and David Tipton will be joined by artist Rachael Stott for the crossover, which marks the first time BOOM! has partnered with another publisher.
Other announcements of note:
• After being introduced into the Marvel Universe at the end of the Age of Ultron miniseries and discovering her past in Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, Neil Gaiman’s angelic warrior Angela will star in her own ongoing, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett and artists Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.