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‘Dear Mr. Watterson’ documentary to arrive in theaters Nov. 15

dear mr wattersonGravitas 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.

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Now you can read ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ on your mobile phone

calvin and hobbes-mobile

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.

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Comics A.M. | Manga sales down, but cons & scanlation sites thrive

Gate 7, Vol. 3

Gate 7, Vol. 3

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]

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‘Calvin and Hobbes’ parody trailer takes aim at Hollywood

calvin-hobbes-movie

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.

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Calvin and Hobbes come to life in delightful animated fan film

calvin-hobbes-animated

Although reclusive cartoonist Bill Watterson famously resisted merchandising his beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, he at least gave some thought to an animated adaptation before — obviously — deciding to remain true to the medium.

“For all my admiration of the art, I really can’t decide if I ever want to see Calvin and Hobbes animated,” he told The Comics Journal in 1989. “I know I’d enjoy working with the visual opportunities animation offers, but you change the world you’ve created when you change the medium in which it’s presented. Books are almost always better than the movies made from them, because there are things books do well and things movies do well, but usually those things don’t overlap.”

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Rare comics and original art fetch $4.4 million at auction

John Higgins' color guide for the cover of "Watchmen" #1

John Higgins’ color guide for the cover of “Watchmen” #1

Vintage comics and original comic art brought in $4.4 million over the weekend during a Heritage auction in New York City, Artinfo reports. Among the bigger sales were a CGC-graded 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27, for $567,625, and John Romita Sr.’s original cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #121, which fetched $286,800.

As we noted on Friday, Dave Gibbons’ original cover art for Watchmen #1 sold for $155,350, with the first three covers going for a combined $216,892.50. John Higgins’ color guide for the first cover was bought for $7,767.50. The remaining covers for the 12-issue landmark series are expected to go up for auction later this year.

Wired.com delves into the history of the 12 covers, which were purchased at a Sotheby’s auction in 1993 by former Wizard Publisher Gareb Shamus for what’s been reported to be in the neighborhood of $26,000. The article doesn’t repeat that figure, but it does say what was paid was “a bargain price” (for instance, Higgins’ color guide for the cover of Watchmen #1 was picked up for $50, which was then five to 10 times the usual price).

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Calvin and Hobbes come to life in photographer’s work

calvinhobbes1

Portland-based photographer Michael S. Den Beste has flawlessly inserted Calvin and Hobbes (and supporting characters) into photographs to create beautiful scenes that capture all the best emotions of Bill Watterson’s classic comic strip. He brings to life the serenity of enjoying comics together on the living room floor, the pleasure of summers outdoors, and even the zaniness of Spaceman Spiff and Calvin’s snowman antics. I’ve included some favorites below, but Den Beste has a whole gallery of high-res images that’s worth checking out.

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Robot Roulette | Fred Van Lente

Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.

Today we welcome writer Fred Van Lente, who you know from his work on Archer & Armstrong, Action Philosophers, Comic Book Comics, Herc and Incredible Hercules, Marvel Zombies and many more, including upcoming runs on G.I. Joe and Brain Boy.

Now let’s get to it …

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Rare original Calvin and Hobbes strip goes up for auction

Three months after an original 1986 Sunday installment of Calvin and Hobbes, drawn and hand-colored by Bill Watterson, sold for $203,150, another original strip is going on the auction block.

Like the previous piece, this daily strip was part of a 1986 swap between Watterson and Adam@Home and Red and Rover cartoonist Brian Bassett. However, The Daily Cartoonist notes that while Bassett sold the other original to help with the expenses of a divorce and upcoming marriage, this one is being offered by his ex-wife Linda through Heritage Auctions (both are signed by Watterson to Brian and Linda).

The strip, part of Heritage’s Feb. 21-23 Vintage Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction in New York City, has already garnered a top online/telephone bid of $15,000. The company cautions, “We know you’ve heard us say this before, but consider this a rare opportunity that may not be repeated for a long time to come. We have no more Watterson Calvin originals ‘waiting in the wings’ to trot out next time around.”

See the full strip below.

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What Are You Reading? with Joshua Williamson

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.

To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Calvin and Hobbes: The Search Engine

If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes strips where he made horrifying, life-sized dioramas out of snowmen, or you itched to revisit the adventures of Spaceman Spiff, software engineer Michael “Bing” Yingling has you hooked up. He’s created Calvin and Hobbes: The Search Engine.

After discovering a complete script (with both dialogue and panel descriptions) online, Yingling realized he could make it interact with GoComics’ archive of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip. So he did. The search tool currently only recognizes exact phrases, but users can also search by date.

To try it out, I searched for a few things and have included an example of each after the break below, but I can easily see spending hours on this. Continue Reading »

Food or Comics? | Matzo or Masks

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes softcover slipcase

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d get Remake 3xtra, the latest comic in Lamar Abrams’ occasional superhero/manga satire. I’d also get Batman Inc. #5 to get another glimpse into the Gotham City of the future, where Damian has taken on his father’s superhero role.

If I had $30, I’d check out Dante’s Inferno, Kevin Jackson and Hunt Emerson’s adaptation of the classic poem. The British Emerson has been around since the days of the underground, but he hasn’t gotten much attention, at least on these shores, which seems odd given what a funny and facile cartoonist he is. He tends to fire on all cylinders when riffing on classic literature, too, so I imagine this will be a pretty great book.

Splurge: I don’t own the hardcover edition, so the new paperback collection of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes seems like a no-brainer to me. On the other hand, Humanoids is releasing the Technopriests Supreme Collection, an omnibus, epic sci-fi story that is yet another spin off of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Incal. This particular series features art by Zoran Janjetov.

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Comics A.M. | Original Calvin and Hobbes strip sells for $203,000

Comics strips | An original 1986 Sunday installment of Calvin and Hobbes, drawn and hand-colored by Bill Watterson, has sold at auction for $203,150. The piece had been owned by Adam@Home and Red and Rover cartoonist Brian Basset, who exchanged original comics with Watterson in 1986. [The Daily Cartoonist]

Best of the year | The Top Ten lists are coming thick and fast now. Michael Cavna counts down his favorites of the year, which include Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, and Matt Dembicki’s Washington, D.C.-focused anthology, District Comics. [The Washington Post]

Best of the year | … and George Gene Gustines weighs in with his list. [The New York Times]

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Robot Roulette | Chris Schweizer

Welcome back for another round of Robot Roulette, where creators spin the virtual roulette wheel and let Lady Luck determine what questions they’ll answer. We’ve got 36 possible questions, and each week I will select at random which of those questions our guest is subjected to.

Today Chris Schweizer tests his luck at the wheel. Chris is the creator of the Crogan Adventures series, published by Oni Press, and teaches sequential art at the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design. He also makes some pretty rad paper figures.

My thanks to Chris for playing along with us today. Now let’s get to it …

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee cancels Ohio Comic Con appearance

Stan Lee

Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee  has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]

Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]

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