Calvin and Hobbes
Four entries this time that I’ve been saving up for a not-so-rainy day …
Auctions | An original watercolor by Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, showing his creations lounging under a tree, fetched $107,000 at auction. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | David Barnett writes an appreciation for 2000AD, the U.K. comics anthology that turns 35 years old this year: “For a seven-year-old, 2000AD was anarchic and fascistic and funny and frightening and gory and exciting and thought-provoking, all rolled up together. They called it 2000AD, presumably, because no one expected the comic to live that long. But 35 years after the first issue, which had a 26 February cover date, and in the year that Queen Elizabeth II marks her diamond jubilee, 2000AD is still going, delivering (in the magazine’s own words) ‘thrill power’ every single week since then.” [The Guardian]
Because they’re like crack.
Visit Callen’s site to also see Daredevil #7 (from the current Mark Waid/Paolo Rivera run) and Batman #15 (which should put to rest that whole Batman-hates-guns myth once and for all). I hope someone starts paying him to do these as covers for digital comics. I’d never buy print again.
Longtime readers of Robot 6 know there is much love among the gang for Max Overacts, the popular Eisner-nominated webcomic by Caanan Grall. The webcomic came off of a brief hiatus in June 2011. Here’s the basic premise of Max Overacts: “The strip is about Max’s unbridled optimism, and his quest to be the next greatest thespian. He wears his heart on his sleeve for his self-proclaimed leading lady, Janet, and lords his ‘planned’ status over his ‘accidental’ older sister, Andromeda. His best friend is Klaus, when his ventriloquist doll, Curio, isn’t around.” In addition to discussing the strip, we also talk about his recent Muppet Thor mashup.
Tim O’Shea: How much of an effort was it to design the relatively large cast of Max Overacts? How long was it in the development stage before you found Max’s voice?
Caanan Grall: Most of the characters were pretty easy to figure out. I tried tons of different looks for Max, but inevitably ended up back at the very first one I sketched. The funny thing is, when you make up characters, and the name and character traits come first, it’s almost instinctual that the first design you do is the right one. Max’s parents probably went through the most changes, because at first, the characters weren’t defined enough. They began life on the sketchbook page as the standard harried parents, always struggling to stay one step ahead of the bank, and two steps ahead of their kids. Now, they’re still like that, but they’re fine with it. They’re not rich, but they’re happy, positive people.
Remember a few years ago when someone drew a comic of Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) and longtime foe Susie Derkins, uh, setting aside their differences? (The comic turned out to be by an artist who goes by the handle Bob-Rz on Deviantart.)
Well people grow, people change, and now Dan and Tom Heyerman, the creators of the webcomic Pants Are Overrated, are imagining what life would be like a few years later in Calvin and Susie’s household, when they have a daughter named Bacon. The first episode was just a one-off, but people reacted so well that they have posted a second comic as well, in which we see that Calvin and Susie haven’t changed all that much. Will there be more? Playing in someone else’s sandbox has its limits, but the Heyermans’ comic manages to be both convincing and original, not an easy feat to pull off, and we’d love to see more.
Face it, tiger-lovers — you just hit the jackpot: Check out this terrific gallery of early and rare art by Calvin & Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson. Included are pieces from the Kenyon College yearbook and student newspaper, covers from the political-cartooning journal Target, Watterson’s own editorial cartoons from the Cincinnatti Post, illustrations for an essay in The Comics Journal, self-portraits, a collection of Calvin & Hobbes sketches, and much more. The site design indicates that this is about a million Internet years old and thus many of you may have seen it before, but I sure haven’t, and it’s great way to see whole new side of Watterson — and a demonstration that his chops were ample even at a tender age.
The indispensable Super Punch is holding a Calvin & Hobbes-themed art contest and has started posting some of the entries. So far they’ve guest starred or channeled Batman, the Legion of Super-Heroes and Lone Wolf & Cub, among others. And of course, Tyranno-Shark … you can’t forget Tyranno-Shark.
Wow. I knew Lee Bermejo could draw some steely-lookin’ bad guys, but I didn’t know he could also channel Bill Watterson so well I’d have a hard time telling the two apart. Behold “Joker and Lex,” Bermejo and writer Brian Azzarello’s Calvin and Hobbes-esque contribution to the Superman/Batman all-star 75th-issue spectacular. I don’t even wanna think about what the rules of Jokerball would be in the alternate universe where this strip is a universally beloved classic — let alone what kind of “Joker peeing” stickers it might have spawned.
(via Topless Robot)
The “Sunday Funnies” stamps announced earlier this year by the United States Postal Service will be issued July 16, kicking off at 10:30 a.m. with a dedication ceremony at The Ohio State University, home of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
The five stamps honor Archie, Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Dennis the Menace and Garfield, so it’s fitting that the ceremony’s guests include Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker, Garfield creator Jim Davis, Dennis the Menace artists Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, Archie newspaper strip writer Craig Goldman and Calvin and Hobbes editor Lee Salem.
See larger images of the stamp artwork, and read the text from the back of the “Sunday Funnies” pane, after the break:
Freelance artist “kizer180” on DeviantART shares what might be the real reason we never see Calvin & Hobbes anymore … they wandered down the wrong path.
“Looks like Christopher Robins just ordered the guys to sneak attack and kill some kid and his imaginary friend,” the artist writes. “I guess that’s what happens when you travel to far into the damn woods. Wonder if Walt knew about this shitty behavior.”
For several months, there’s been a great amount of interest in Sean Murphy‘s work on Joe the Barbarian (the artist’s latest project/eight-issue miniseries with writer Grant Morrison, the first issue of which goes on sale this Wednesday, January 20). I was looking forward to meeting Murphy at the late October 2009 SCAD event (covered here). After talking about his craft with him (and seeing his work first hand), I am genuinely enthused to see the release of the first issue. I truly relish Murphy’s candor, as evidenced in this interview, and appreciate him giving me the opportunity to discuss Joe the Barbarian (as well as other topics).
Tim O’Shea: How did you come to be involved with Joe the Barbarian?
Sean Murphy: I’ve had a rough ride with DC for many years it seems. After Batman/Scarecrow: Year One I couldn’t get work there. My editor apparently pushed hard for me but the people in charge didn’t like my stuff and blacklisted me from the DCU. I’ve got a Teen Titans story that was never published because of how I reinvented Cyborg (shame on me for bringing him out of the 90s).
Then one day Karen Berger calls from Vertigo. She wanted me to work on this book they were doing with Neil Young called Greendale. Needing cash, I of course agreed. But there were a lot of delays for about a year. At one point I passed on Spider Man 1602 because I thought Greendale was almost ready. In the end Neil opted to go with another artist, so I started talking to Marvel about working there. When they offered me Dr. Strange, Karen countered with a Morrison book called Warcop. Soon they were both talking exclusives.
It was a rush. I remember thinking that I must have given the lord of comics a hand job in a past life or something.
Over the past few months, I’ve been introducing my son to the wonder of Calvin and Hobbes, the nationally syndicated comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1995. So creator Bill Watterson was already on my mind, when I gained access to a preview of Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. The book aims to trace “the life and career of the extraordinary, influential, and intensely private man behind Calvin and Hobbes”. In this new email interview, Martell and I get a chance to discuss the ground he covers in the book and the folks he got to interview in his pursuit.
Tim O’Shea: You did some advanced marketing of the book a few months back by releasing the first chapter of the book for free upon request. Did you find that helped generate buzz for the project?
Nevin Martell: The free chapter giveaway turned into an insane bonanza of buzz, which, frankly, I was totally unprepared for. My publishers told me that super successful versions of this kind of promotion in the past had garnered a couple of hundred requests. But then the offer got written up by BoingBoing and NPR, not to mention a slew of comic-related blogs and the Twittersphere, so suddenly I had hundreds of requests pouring in. Since I was initially answering all these requests individually, it turned into three days of hitting reply, attaching a file, writing a quick note, and then repeating. Ultimately over 4,000 people requested the chapter, which just blew my mind. Actually, my mind is still blown.
Making comics, as we all know, is hard work. And — particularly if you work in the “indie” side of the aisle — it’s not always good-paying work.
Small wonder then that many talented individuals leave the medium to find a career in illustration, animation, sales, or hell, anything that paid better than comics.
Still, while I understand the financial necessity, there’s a number of artists I wish would come back to the fold, if just for old time’s sake. For example:
1. Aaron Augenblick. In 1999 Augenblick created a charming little mini-comic, Tales of the Great Unspoken. It was inventive, clever, superbly crafted and very funny. It won a Xeric. It was, all in all, a great debut that showed enough promise to suggest that Augenblick had a great career ahead of him in comics. Then he decided to chuck it all and make animated cartoons for Adult Swim and MTV.
It’s a shame. The kid really could have really made a name for himself. Still, it’s not too late Aaron. You could give up all that sweet, sweet Nickelodeon money and come back to comics anytime …
Back in late January, I completed this email interview with Andrew Farago, curator of San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. Events on my end delayed it being run until this week. As detailed at the museum’s site: “The Cartoon Art Museum is committed to fostering and promoting a greater appreciation of cartoon art. This it achieves through collecting, cataloging, preserving and displaying the finest representations of original cartoon art as well as providing innovative educational programs designed to enrich the cultural life of our community.” While I am pleased to run this interview, before launching into it, I want to offer my condolences to Farago and the museum staff on the February 26 death of Rod Gilchrist, the museum’s executive director for the past 11 years. My thanks to Farago for his time.
Tim O’Shea: How long has the Museum had a Cartoonist-in-Residence program–and how did you land the latest person in residence, Mike Gray?
Andrew Farago: The Cartoonist-in-Residence program was started several years back as a joint effort between the Cartoon Art Museum, The Charles M. Schulz Museum and the Northern California chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. We wanted to take advantage of the fact that we’ve got such a wealth of cartoonists in our area and give the public a regular opportunity to interact with them (and vice versa).
The artists come to us in a variety of ways. Often, someone will contact me, or another staff or board member, about his upcoming book, or a new strip launching in a local publication, or a new piece of animation that they’ve created, and that person wants to work with us to promote it.