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Passings | Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan created the popular children’s book characters the Berenstain Bears, passed away Friday at a hospital near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Berenstain, 88, had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Since the release of The Big Honey Hunt in 1962, the Berenstain Bears series has grown to more than 300 books and sold about 260 million copies worldwide, inspiring animated television specials and series, museum exhibits and a stage show. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at age 82. [The Washington Post]
Events | This year’s 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Oct. 20. [ComicsPro]
Comics | Here’s a variation on the comics-aren’t-for-kids-anymore theme, with reasonable parents who know they need to check what their kids are reading, and a retailer who gets it. [WNYT.com]
A couple of years ago, Image published Sky Pirates of Neo Terra, a fantasy-adventure miniseries based on the upcoming Nintendo DS game of the same name, and featuring gorgeous art by Camilla d’Errico (Nightmares & Fairy Tales, Burn). Now, with the impending debut of the game for Facebook and Apple devices, Day 21 Studios is launching a Sky Pirates of Neo Terra webcomic by d’Errico and Green Wake writer Kurtis J. Weibe.
The comic kicks off this weekend, with new installments appearing every other Friday telling side stories of characters in the Neo Terra world that weren’t explored in the Image comic.
“It’s in the stories that we don’t read or see in the main plot that characters can often come alive,” d’Errico said, “and in these snapshots we pull back the curtains to really get to know who they are.”
Day 21 is also giving away original pages of d’Errico’s art on the Sky Pirates Facebook page. You can see pages from the comic below:
There’s anthologies. Then there’s Womanthology.
Designed to showcase the works of female comic creators “of every age and experience level,” the short stories in Womanthology center around the theme “Heroic.” In addition to comics, the book will also have interviews and “how-to” tutorials by female creators to encourage the next generation of talent. All proceeds from the book will be donated to the charity Global Giving Foundation.
To bring this all together, the women behind Womanthology are turning to Kickstarter.com to raise money to print the book. With a release date tentatively set for December 2011, the Kickstarter campaign has already generated $18,000 of its $25,000 goal with just under a month to go.
The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of comic creators, including the likes of Ann Nocenti, Camille d’Errico, Ming Doyle, Colleen Doran, June Brigman, Fiona Staples, Barbara Kesel, Gail Simone, Trina Robbins and more.
It sounds a little shady, but The Art Hustle is actually a trading card series featuring original works of art (backed by a photo of the artist), because why should baseball players get all the trading-card glory? You can mix and match and collect the whole series, and there’s also a set of menko (which are apparently like POGs, only rectangular). And the latest contributor to the set is Camilla d’Errico, whose works include Make 5 Wishes (the Avril Lavigne graphic novel), Sky Pirates of Neo Terra, Burn, and a new art book from Dark Horse, Femina and Fauna. Al Jaffee is also represented in this pack, but other than that there don’t seem to be a lot of comics artists on the roster.
Awards | Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as part of the prestigious Nebula Awards. “When the nice lady from the Nebula committee called me, she said this is ‘essentially the Nebula Award for young adult books’,” Deutsch writes. Although graphic novels are specifically mentioned in the Andre Norton Award guidelines, this appears to be the first time one has been nominated. The award was established in 2005 in honor of prolific science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who passed away that year. The winners will be announced May 21 in Washington, D.C., during the Nebula Awards banquet. [SFFWA]
Passings | We’ll collect reactions later today to the sudden death of respected comics and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie — Comic Book Resources has remembrances from more than a dozen industry figures — but I wanted to go ahead and point to a handful of links: The Associated press obituary; a few words from Christopher Irving, accompanied by a beautiful portrait of McDuffie photographed by Seth Kushner on Feb. 13; the origin of Static; and a look at Spider-Man anti-drug PSA comics written by McDuffie. There’s also McDuffie’s message board, where he interacted candidly with fans on a regular basis. Two threads are devoted to the news of his death and memories of the creator they often referred to as “the Maestro.” The site’s administrator has posted a message last night on the main page: “Dwayne’s family and friends would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of condolences. They are much appreciated in this difficult time.” [Dwayne McDuffie]