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On Monday, cartoonist Stephan Pastis kicked off a new Pearls Before Swine arc by teasing that this week’s strips “will contain a mind-blowing surprise.” That tantalizing tweet, coupled with artwork in a decidedly different style and a couple of potential dialogues, led some readers to speculate that parts of the storyline are drawn by none other than Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.
At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner lays out some of the evidence, both for and against, and rounds up some of the Twitter chatter on the subject. He acknowledges, “I’m not fully convinced that it is Bill.”
Another rare original Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson has been put on the block by Heritage Auctions. Just how rare is it? Only four have been sold through Heritage during its 13 years auctioning comic art — and two of those were in the past couple of years: An original Sunday installment fetched $203,150 in November 2012, and a daily strip went for $65,725 in February 2013.
The current offering, a daily strip dated May 9, 1987, in which Calvin refuses a vegetarian meal and declares himself a “dessertarian,” has faded lettering and panel frames, but is described as otherwise in “Excellent condition.” The current online bid is $16,000, but will likely climb considerably higher before the May 15-17 auction.
Bill Watterson has granted so few interviews in the 18 years since Calvin and Hobbes ended that when the rare one does surface, it certainly deserves attention. Such is the case with this new, if brief, Q&A released this morning by The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
The chat centers on Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, an exhibit of original strips and specialty pieces opening Saturday, but broadens to include topics like Watterson’s process, the digital arena, and the decreasing likelihood another comic strip will resonate with so many people the way his did.
We’ve seen cartoonist Bill Watterson’s advice transformed into words of inspiration, but this may be the first time one of his strips has been used in a courtroom.
The Rochester, Minnesota, Post Bulletin reports that when it came time last week to give instructions to a jury considering the case of 20 silica sand protesters charged with trespassing, Winona County Judge Jeffrey Thompson turned to a classic Calvin and Hobbes comic.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. Looks like I’m flying solo this week, so without further ado, let’s get to it …
Comics | Rupp’s Comics in Fremont, Ohio, will display a rare comic this weekend as part of the store’s 22nd-anniversary celebration: Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, published in 1933, is the first comic book to contain a single original story (as opposed to several strips, or a compilation of reprints from newspapers). The new format was not an immediate success, and the series was canceled after just one issue. [The News-Messenger]
Creators | It’s old but it’s good: The Comics Journal dips into the archives for a 1989 interview with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | John Porcellino reflects on 25 years of King-Cat Comics. [du9]
Conventions | WonderCon organizers have announced that next year’s show, set for April 18-20, will again be held in Anaheim, California. This will be the third year for the event at that location, after having been uprooted from its longtime home at San Francisco’s Moscone Center first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. [Los Angeles Times]
Publishing | Nick Barrucci, CEO and publisher of Dynamite Entertainment, looks back on 10 years in the business, and discusses some upcoming comics, including J. Michael Straczynski’s Twilight Zone and the new kids’ line Li’l Dynamites. [Previews World]
Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]
Gravitas Ventures has debuted a new full-length trailer for Dear Mr. Watterson, the Kickstarter-funded documentary that explores the influence of cartoonist Bill Watterson and his beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.
It’s a six-year passion project by director Joel Allen Schroeder, who raised $25,000 in 2010 so he, producers Christopher Browne and Matt McUsic, and cinematographer Andrew P. Waruszewski could interview a slew of cartoonists, editors and fans, and then another $96,772 in 2012. Dear Mr. Watterson, which had its festival premiere in April at the Cleveland International Fan Festival, will debut Nov. 15 in theaters and On Demand.
Less than six months after bringing Calvin and Hobbes, Pearls Before Swine and others to mobile phones and tablets with its GoComics app, Andrews McMeel Publishing and Universal Uclick have announced they’ll release three collections of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip as e-books.
It’s another digital first for Calvin and Hobbes, which made its (legal) debut on mobile devices in April with GoComics.
The three collections, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes (1988), The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes (1990) and The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes (1992), will go on sale for tablet format only on Nov. 12 for $12.99 each. The hardcover and paperback editions have sold a combined 10 million copies.
For the past year and a half, cartoonist Gavin Aung Than has been adapting inspirational quotes from famous people into comics form on his website Zen Pencils, garnering plenty of readers and media coverage along the way. But Tuesday’s installment struck a particular chord within the comics community, as it’s been making the rounds on blogs and Twitter and in email.
Mimicking Bill Watterson’s style, Than turns the Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist’s words of wisdom into a love tribute to “my biggest creative influence and someone I admire greatly as an artist.” The text below the comic is wonderful, too.
Gravitas Ventures has acquired the North America distribution rights to Dear Mr. Watterson, the Kickstarter-funded documentary that explores the influence of cartoonist Bill Watterson and his beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. It will be premiere in theaters on Nov. 15.
“Mr. Watterson has inspired and influenced millions of people through Calvin & Hobbes,” the documentary’s website explains. “Newspaper readership and book sales can be tracked and recorded, but the human impact he has had and the value of his art are perhaps impossible to measure. This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.”
The documentary began in 2007 as a passion project for director Joel Allen Schroeder, who turned to Kickstarter in 2010 to raise $25,000 to enable him, producers Christopher Browne and Matt McUsic, and cinematographer Andrew P. Waruszewski to film interviews with cartoonists Bill Amend, Berkley Breathed, Keith Knight, Stephan Pastis and Dan Piraro, Charles Schulz’s widow Jean Schulz, Watterson’s editor Lee Salem and others. They then returned to Kickstarter last year, where they generated another $96,772 in pledges. Dear Mr. Watterson had its festival premiere in April at the Cleveland International Fan Festival.
According to Deadline, Gravitas and Submarine Deluxe will make the documentary available On Demand the same day as its theatrical debut.
Comic strip fans, rejoice! Universal Uclick’s GoComics has debuted a free app that enables you to read comics on your mobile phone or tablet. While Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine and The Boondocks are among the offerings, it’s Calvin and Hobbes that undoubtedly will generate the most excitement.
Slate.com‘s Will Oremus notes that it appears to be the first time Bill Watterson’s beloved strip has appeared (legally) on mobile devices; presumably it’s with the cartoonist’s blessing. However, while Gary Larson’s Far Side would seem perfect for phones, he’s yet to make the leap to digital.
Manga | Call it the Manga Paradox: Manga sales are way down, but traffic on scanlation sites is robust and attendance at anime conventions is way up. What’s the story? I crunched some numbers and talked to some publishers to get a picture of the new normal for the manga market in North America. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | A collection of 60,000 comics sold for $200,000 at auction over the weekend in East Vancouver. It seems impressive until you do the math and realize that’s a little more than three bucks a comic. The star of the collection was a restored Hulk comic that went for $6,500. [CBC]
The latest offering from the gang at Gritty Reboots will probably make you glad that cartoonist Bill Watterson never answered the siren call of Hollywood, as the result would likely not be a faithful animated adaptation of his beloved Calvin and Hobbes, but rather a grim live-action tentpole, made with sequels in mind.
In fact, it would probably look like this trailer for Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie, written by David Spear and produced by Cinesaurus, that finds Calvin grown up and attempting to leave behind the imaginary world of his hyperactive childhood, only to discover his daydreams have other plans.
The special effects are surprisingly good, even if the Hobbes costume is a little questionable.