Publishing | Israeli creators Rutu Modan (The Property) and Yirmi Pinkus have launched a new publishing house, Noah’s Library, to produce graphic novels for children. Modan, who wrote and illustrated Maya Makes a Mess for Toon Books, is creating new illustrations for the 1930s Israeli comics character Uri Kaduri, while Pinkus is illustrating stories about Mr. Gazma’i Habeda’i, another vintage character. They eventually plan to release the work of other creators as well. [Haaretz]
Cartoons | Francoise Mouly presents an array of cartoons by Ad Reinhardt, who eventually made his name as a fine artist with black-on-black paintings that he described as “the last paintings that anyone can make.” (For good measure, Mouly throws in a slide show of New Yorker cartoons about those paintings.) Before he reached that artistic pinnacle, Reinhardt drew cartoons for a number of different publications, including the leftist newspaper PM, where his fellow artists included Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Crockett Johnson, and the trade magazine Ice Cream World, where he was the art director. [The New Yorker]
Publishing| Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talks about bringing more Latino characters — and more diversity in general — to the Marvel lineup: “People out there reading our comic books are of all sizes, creeds and colors and it’s our responsibility to make them feel included. This isn’t some PC initiative, this is capitalism. This is about supply and demand.” [Fox News Latino]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses winding up his run on Action Comics: “Symbolically I’m not a big fan of dealing with politics in superhero comics because I think it diminishes both sides of the argument, but I do have my own take on things. I’ve got my own politics and so they do tend to find their way in. And really for me, its more symbolic, the way story winds up to tackle all those issues and looks at them through the perspective of Superman and Red Kryptonite and weirdness. So it’s gone underground. I think the early Superman was very much more aligned with the anti-establishment, anti-authoritarian current, because I think when Superman started out that he was what entered into.” [Comics Alliance]
Retronaut has posted some scans from “The Fantastic Adventures of Adam Ant,” a short-lived feature in Britain’s TV Tops comic during the early ’80s. Not all of the text is legible, but according to Comic Vine, the series was about Ant being transported away from a concert to an alternate dimension where he learns he’s the reincarnation of an immortal hero.
I know I’m old, but I’d love to see someone revive this. Adam Ant and Puss ‘n Boots could team up with Picasso to visita el Planeta de los Simios. Stripping and subtle innuendos follow.
Legal | A federal judge this week made final his Oct. 17 decision that the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster surrendered the ability to reclaim their 50-percent interest in the property in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics, triggering an almost-immediate appeal to the 9th Circuit by Shuster estate lawyer Marc Toberoff. Jeff Trexler delves into the legal strategy behind the attorney’s motion for final judgment. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Todd McFarlane has settled his lawsuit against former employee Al Simmons, who earlier this year released a book in which he claimed to be the inspiration for Spawn. McFarlane had accused Simmons of violating the terms of his employment pact and breaching his duty of loyalty. Settlement terms weren’t disclosed. [The Hollywood Reporter]
The winners of the 2012 British Comics Awards were announced Saturday evening at the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds. This is the first year for the awards, which were announced in January. Here’s the list of winners:
Nelson, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix
Bad Machinery, by John Allison
Young People’s Comic Award
Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
Hall of Fame Award
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
I’m not sure who turned me on to Stephen Collins, but I just spent a half-hour enjoying his short comics when I should have been working. Collins is British, and he has that wry sense of humor that blends incongruity and wit to make you look at something ordinary in a new way. The comics collected on his website Colillo span a number of topics, from sentient hand dryers to Martian invaders who are Tom Cruise fans to Thomas Pynchon’s dark secret. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be possible to link to individual comics, but just head to that left navbar and start clicking — there isn’t a clunker in the bunch.
Britain’s Royal Mail is releasing a set of 10 stamps today featuring a diverse group of comics characters from British comics. They’re available to those outside the U.K. as well and feature internationally famous characters like Judge Dredd and Dan Dare in addition to less-known folks like Roy Race and The Four Marys. There’s also a Dennis the Menace in the set (he’s the one appearing in front of the Beano comic), but don’t confuse him with the U.S. character created by Hank Ketcham. Though both characters debuted within a week of each other in March 1951, they’re different boys.
To see the full gallery of stamps, visit the BBC website.
U.K. artist Rob Davis traveled to Russia last year at the invitation of the Respect Project to talk about comics and human rights and then create a small comic about Gypsies to be distributed to Russian children. As Davis says on his blog, “I’m not great at black and white politicking,” and that’s a good thing; far from being preachy, his comic addresses the stereotypes and the real experiences of Gypsies (including himself) and, in his words, “left all the thinking to the reader.” It’s poetic and heartbreaking at the same time, and well worth a look.
Legal | Antarctic Press has agreed to stop selling Diary of a Zombie Kid and Diary of a Zombie Kid: Rotten Rules under the terms of a temporary restraining order issued Wednesday by a federal court. Wimpy Kid Inc. is suing Antarctic for trademark infringement, among other things, claiming that its Diary of a Wimpy Kid parodies are too close to the real thing. Antarctic CEO Joe Dunn signed the temporary restraining order, signifying that Antarctic agreed to it; the two companies are negotiating a settlement, according to court papers. One interesting tidbit: Diary of a Zombie Kid sold all of 850 copies in comics shops in August, while the first printing on the latest Wimpy Kid book was 6 million. [ICv2]
Comics | Bayou Arcana is a new anthology of Southern Gothic horror comics with a gender twist: All the comics are written by men and illustrated by women. There are some pretty broad generalizations in this article — “There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women’s art that just does not appear in a lot of guys’ work,” says the project editor, James Pearson — but the project itself sounds interesting. [The Guardian]
The U.K. comics scene has been heating up of late, and we can only hope that 2012 will see a British Invasion of the comics variety. The BBC has coverage of the latest development: The launch of The Phoenix, a weekly children’s comic published by David Fickling (whose David Fickling Books is an imprint of Random House). The name is apt: The Phoenix is a reprise of an earlier attempt, The DFC, which garnered a lot of praise but shut down after 43 issues. The Phoenix is launching with a nice lineup of stories and talent, including Neill Cameron, Simone Lia, Gary Northfield and Jamie Smart (who draws Desperate Dan for the long-running weekly The Dandy). Unfortunately, it’s print-only and not available digitally, so most U.S. readers won’t get to see it just yet.
Meanwhile, Strip Magazine, a monthly comic dedicated to serialized action tales, has released its second issue. Unlike The Phoenix, Strip is available digitally as an iPad app, which means we Yanks can read it, too. (I think the high point of my year was learning that The Beano and The Dandy are now available as iPad apps.)
If you’re not quite ready to let go of Christmas yet (hey, it’s supposed to be 12 days!), check out the classic British Christmas comics that Lew Stringer (another talented artist) has posted at his blog. It’s a fascinating look back in time. Dandy artist Andy Fanton posts a more modern Christmas comic (very much in the Dandy style) at his blog.
And finally, we had the U.S. release last week of Nelson, the collaborative graphic novel by 54 creators, each of whom contributed a chapter about one day in the life of a young woman. The contributors include Roger Langridge, Duncan Fegredo, Warren Pleece, Posy Simmonds and Darryl Cunningham, and publisher Blank Slate is donating the proceeds from the sale of the book to the homelessness charity Shelter.
For a long time, I thought that I was the only person in the whole comics blogosphere who was obsessed with old British comics, but Super I.T.C.H. has proved me wrong. They have been running some stories from old UK annuals (the hardback comics that delighted us every Christmas), and their latest one is a corker: The 1970 Valiant annual, which includes two Billy Bunter stories (about a fat kid in boarding school—just read them!) and some other action tales. The stories are definitely dated but still a lot of fun for those who like old-school comics.
Back in the day, comics like Valiant, Tiger, Hotspur (and their girl-comic counterparts Bunty, Judy, and Mandy) appeared weekly on the newsstand. With color covers and black-and-white (or single-color) interiors, they were no-frills comics that delivered a lot of story, usually three- or four-page chapters of six or seven different stories in a single issue. The comics were filled with action and each week’s episode ended on some sort of a cliffhanger, so you just couldn’t wait until the next week to find out what happened.
A group of talented creators and editors are attempting to recapture that spirit in Strip Magazine, a new monthly action comic. Strip is actually the brainchild of Bosnian publisher Ivo Milicevic who, like me, grew up reading British comics in another country. The stories are a mix of genres: There’s a story about black ops soldiers, a fantasy story, a story about a glamorous cat burglar, a couple of gag strips, and the return of a classic shark comic Hook Jaw. The stories are a bit longer than in the old weeklies, and the cliffhanger endings are gone—they don’t work in a monthly magazine—but you get the same feeling that you will be seeing these characters for a while. Best of all, you don’t have to go to the UK to get it; it’s available as an app through the iTunes store. Issue 1 came out last month, and issue 2 is due out later this week, so this is a good time to check it out.
I happened across this because Roger Langridge was showing off a bit of art from it: Nelson is a collaborative graphic novel with an impressive lineup of 54 contributors, including Jamie Smart, Sarah McIntyre, Darryl Cunningham, Posy Simmonds, Duncan Fegredo, Warren Pleece, Andi Watson, Garen Ewing — a veritable who’s who of U.K. comics creators, representing children’s comics (including several members of the kids-comics collaborative The DFC), newspaper strips, even 2000AD.
The 250-page graphic novel, to be published by Blank Slate next month, follows the life of Nel Baker, born in London in 1968. Each chapter depicts a single day in her life, running from her birth to the present. The idea was cooked up by Rob Davis, who co-edited the book with Woodrow Phoenix. It looks like it will be available in the U.S., because Amazon has a listing, although there is no price yet. UPDATE: Blank Slate publicist Martin Steenton just e-mailed me to say it’s in the current Previews for a December release in the U.S.
Historically, U.S. comics have been geared towards boys, and until manga became popular, there were very few comics for girls—and even fewer good ones. The UK, on the other hand, had great girls’ comics in the 1960s and 70s—I grew up reading them—but those comics faded away, due more to neglect on the part of editors than a lack of popularity. Says who? Says writer Pat Mills, whose manly credentials are in good order (he was one of the creators of 2000AD and contributed to Judge Dredd) but whose first love is girls’ comics. Mills wrote for several girls’ titles in the 1970s, and he created one of the best-loved girls’ comics, Misty, which he originally conceived as a girl-freindly equivalent of 2000AD.
Mills recently talked to the Bring Back Bunty blog about his career in girls’ comics and his plans to resurrect the genre. Clearly, he gets it: Asked what comics have girl appeal, he responded
Girl as lead character. Although they may be unisex, there is an emphasis on the heroine. The objectives are different… a typical heroine wants to overcome obstacles to achieve some sport objective which provides some action. A typical hero for boys wants to kick ass and possibly destroy something! Okay, that’s superficial, but you get the idea. There are key differences as I found to my cost. Thus girls love mystery (what’s in the locked room?) boys don’t care.
Why can’t we have more of these? Mills says that girls’ comics outsold boys’ comics but were ultimately cut down by hostility from editors and creators; he contends that the desire to make “art house” comics rather than write good genre stories for mainstream comics doomed the category and left a gap in the market. The good news, though, is that Mills has been making pitches for a new girls’ comic, which will probably start out in digital format. If you’re not familiar with the richness of British comics, this article is a good starting point, and Mills, being a veteran, has some interesting insights into comics writing in general. As Bunty would say, jolly good show!
The imminent arrival of Flex Mentallo — a comic book few old-school Vertigo readers (myself included) ever expected to see collected in a fancy-dress trade — has heartened Grant Morrison fans and lovers of lost comic causes everywhere. If that comic can finally see the day, perhaps there’s hope for all sorts of beloved but forelorn projects. With that in mind then, let me present to you another Grant Morrison comic that has lingered unfairly in obscurity ever since its The New Adventures of Hitler.
Lest you think that title is some sort of ironic joke or that the book doesn’t actually involve the person mentioned in the title, much in the same way Joyce’s Ulysses isn’t about the Greek hero (at least not on the surface) let me assure you, this is a comic book about the Adolf Hiter.