Axel-In-Charge: Bringing "Dead No More" to FCBD, the Original "Civil War's" Legacy
Where is the line? When is an image empowering, and when is it too risque? While the case of the contested variant cover of The Powerpuff Girls #6 has a lot of silly aspects, its core speaks to larger issues the comic book industry has been wrestling with of late, and may find itself wrestling with even more. The questions it raises aren’t always easy to answer — as is so often the case, the devil is in the details.
All-ages comics have a larger presence now than they have in decades. Every month, tie-ins to popular kids’ shows and original books suitable for readers are released in high enough numbers that you could open a comic book store that’s just for kids. Many stores have increased their kids sections, and with events like Free Comic Book Day, it’s easier for those shops to prove themselves to parents as a safe place. Meanwhile, awareness of the industry’s female readership has never been higher; in October, digital comics platform comiXology released some startlingly specific data: Its average female reader is “17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.” In six years, female readership on comiXology increased from less than 5 percent to 20 percent.
Artist Mimi Yoon, whose withdrawn Powerpuff Girls variant cover has been the subject of much discussion over the past several days, has revealed one of her next projects for: a cover for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time, also licensed by Cartoon Network.
As she pointed out in the comments on her Facebook page, it was painted last year for the miniseries Adventure Time: Candy Capers, which concluded in December, but the publisher now has decided to use it for the main series. Yoon also teased that another, as-yet-unrevealed cover she created will appear before this one.
Dennis L. Barger Jr., the retailer who last week publicly criticized the “sexualized” nature of Mimi Yoon’s Powerpuff Girls #6 variant, leading Cartoon Network to withdraw the cover, has released an open letter in which he calls upon the comics industry to police itself, and to keep film studios and television networks out of the decision-making process.
The remarks from Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, follow a sharp response by Yoon in which the artist criticized him, in part, because “he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse.”
In his open letter, in which he touches upon a dwindling readership and the need to reach a younger audience, Barger writes, “I will not discuss why this cover upset me and this is the last time I care to talk about it, aside from this. I did not feel that it was appropriate for the cover of a book aimed at young children, especially young girls, and many people agreed with me. A Hollywood corporate machine like Warner Bros and Cartoon Network would not have pulled it unless enough people saw that this was inappropriate in some way.”
Read Barger’s full letter below:
Artist Mimi Yoon has responded to the controversy surrounding her variant cover for IDW Publishing’s The Powerpuff Girls #6, which was withdrawn last week by Cartoon Network following complaints that the illustration “sexualized” the pre-teen animated characters.
The chain of events began early last week when retailer Dennis Barger Jr. singled out the cover (at right) on his own Facebook page, asking, “Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet?”
IDW Publishing’s Dirk Wood explained that the cover was “mandated” by Cartoon Network, which selected Yoon and approved the artwork. When contacted by ICv2.com, the network’s licensing division noted that the cover was intended as direct-market collectible item; however, “We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”
After making vague references to the dust-up on Thursday, Yoon took to her Facebook page Friday afternoon to address the matter directly:
Stan Lee has a pretty good track record when it comes to creating heroes, and now he’s added one more to that long list: Chakra.
The character that will make his animated debut Nov. 30 in an hour-long television movie called Chakra: The Invincible, which will air across South Asia on Cartoon Network. According to Deadline, the movie potentially could reach 34 million households. Readers received their first taste of the character in May in Liquid Comics’ Free Comic Book Day offering.
Now that Cartoon Network has released a clip from a series of five Metal Men animated shorts debuting Saturday as part of its DC Nation programming block, Evan Dorkin reveals that he and Sarah Dyer collaborated on the project, with the cartoonist also providing character designs. “Although they were simplified quite a bit from what I submitted,” Dorkin notes. You can see the clip, along with some of Dorkin’s designs, below (with more on his blog).
“We had no idea they were going to announce this so we’re playing catch-up,” he writes. “Anyway, I hope DC Nation viewers enjoy them, especially the kids. Nothing against longtime fans and responsometer wonks — there’s two or three Ross Andru/Mike Esposito-designed villains in the mix — but the kids were who we were thinking of while working on the stuff.”
DC Nation airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.
Following the recent (and adorable) Bizarro animated short, Cartoon Network has released a clip from “Tales of Metropolis, Starring Lois Lane,” which premieres Saturday as part of the channel’s DC Nation programming block. While the previous installment of “Tales of Metropolis” gave us a glimpse of a no-nonsense Lois, this preview reveals her in intrepid-journalist mode — “Best reporter ever!” — as she refuses to allow Batman to dodge her questions about his sources of funding.
Moving from supporting player in the Bizarro short to star here, it’s obvious the only place Lois has left to go is her own animated series, Lois Lane: Best Reporter Ever – preferably with Jimmy Olsen as her faithful, if clueless, sidekick.
DC Nation airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.
Warner Bros. Television and TV Guide have teamed for the fourth consecutive year to produce a Comic-Con International special edition of the magazine, this time with a set of four flip covers that include Andy Kubert’s renditions of Superman and Batman.
The 88-page issue, which also boasts covers featuring The CW series Arrow, The Vampire Diaries and its new spinoff The Originals, and Supernatural, includes an overview of the 75-year history of the Man of Steel, an exclusive Arrow comic from DC Comics and the show’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim, a sneak peek at the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and a look at Warner Bros. Animation series MAD, The Looney Tunes Show, Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman.
The special edition, which goes on sale July 17, will be available for free during Comic-Con at the Warner Bros. booth (#4545). You can see all of the covers below.
In case you missed the animated short when it aired last month as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block, DC Comics has now made the adorable “Tales of Metropolis” available online.
It’s just a little more than a minute long, so I don’t want to spoil it, but the short centers on a downright-endearing Bizarro, whose attempts to pass as a mild-mannered reporter (Not-Bizarro!) are foiled first by a tenacious Lois Lane and then by an alien invader. As with so many of the DC Nation shorts, the characterizations just about perfect (even the three-second cameo by gullible/clueless Jimmy Olsen).
Watch the full short below.
Joshua Hale Fialkov’s resignation from Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns was certainly unexpected, but it wasn’t nearly as surprising as the primary reason for the writer’s departure: an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart.
To a generation of fans who came of age watching Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the character is Green Lantern — forget Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner and the rest. In addition, he’s perhaps DC Comics’ most recognizable African-American character, facing competition only from Static and Cyborg, each of whom also appeared on television.
ROBOT 6 reached out to the voice of Stewart himself, veteran actor and comedian Phil LaMarr, for his reaction to DC’s editorial decree.
I touched base with Chuck Austen a few weeks ago, when Tokyopop put a selection of its original English language (OEL) manga up for sale on its revamped website. At that point I checked in with a couple of former Tokyopop creators, and I ended up having a fascinating e-mail exchange with Austen in which he said he made more money on one of his prose novels simply by selling it on Kindle than he would have made from a movie option. That caught my attention, and I asked him if he would write a guest post for Robot 6. Here’s what he had to say, and while all opinions are Chuck’s own, I think at the heart of it is some good advice for everyone who has ever done something they regretted later.
My name is Chuck Austen. Many of you have probably heard of me, and very rarely in a good way. But that’s one of the reasons I’m here.
Brigid asked me to address my fellow Tokyopop alums — people who created OEMs for that ill-fated company and, like me, watched their properties mistreated, ignored and ultimately thrown into ownership limbo, properties for which we will never retrieve our rights, worlds we imagined into being that we’ll never be able to create additional stories for.
The reason my past history is important is because I am probably the most extreme example of someone who “lost everything” and so am uniquely qualified to tell you this:
Viz Media has been busy snapping up licenses for its VizKids imprint, and now has announced a new one: a series of Ben 10 Omniverse graphic novels that will tie in with the Cartoon Network show.
Ben 10 Omniverse is the fourth iteration of the Ben 10 cartoon created by four comics writers (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle), beginning as the story of 10-year-old Ben Tennyson, who changes into different types of aliens with the help of a device called the Omnnitrix. In Ben 10 Omniverse, Ben is now 15 and has a new Omnitrix that transforms him into different creatures. His Grandpa Max pairs him up with a rookie plumber named Rook (who’s “highly skilled with his Proto-Tool, but lacks any field experience,” according to the press release) to explore an alien city and stay one step ahead of the bad guys who are in hot pursuit. If this is making you feel a little lost, here’s some good news: Cartoon Network is having a “Ben 10 Bootcamp” this weekend, with 17 hours of Ben 10 programming so everyone can catch up.
It sounds like some interesting announcements were made at the ComicsPRO meeting over the weekend in Atlanta, and one that is already hitting the streets is that IDW Publishing will release an entire line of comics based on Cartoon Network properties.
“Many of these Cartoon Network shows have only grown in popularity since they originally aired,” Chris Ryall, IDW’s chief creative officer and editor-in-chief, said in the press release, “and we’re excited to be able to offer new iterations of the characters in comic-book form alongside both our planned reprint material and also some new animated ventures Cartoon Network has planned, too. There’s a wealth of fun properties to play with here, and we’ve already got some unique things in mind for them.”
The starting lineup will include The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Johnny Bravo and Generator Rex. Many, if not all, have been made into comics before: DC released 70 issues of its Powerpuff Girls comic and 34 issues of Dexter’s Laboratory, in addition to a Cartoon Network Action Pack anthology, which featured many of the network’s other characters (like DC Entertainment, Cartoon Network is a subsidiary of Time Warner), and Del Rey published a Ben 10 graphic novel that was written by Peter David and illustrated by Dan Hipp. So there is an interesting back catalog to draw on in addition to new material.
An IDW spokesperson told ICv2 that the first release in the new line will be a Powerpuff Girls comic this fall.
While comics fans may miss seeing new work from Joshua Middleton on comics shelves (the covers to Sword & Sorcery and Before Watchmen were nice!), there’s some consolation in knowing that although the artist isn’t actively illustrating comics he is keeping within the superhero landscape. Middleton recently posted some landscape designs he created for Warner Bros. Animation’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which he worked on for some time. What he’s revealed so far is his renditions of Oa, interplanetary headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. In his brief post, Middleton explains some of the obstacles from an art direction standpoint to the Green Lantern concept and how he overcame them for his work on the series.
“One major problem from an art direction perspective, with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and anything Green Lantern in general, is the overabundance of green,” Middleton writes. “It can be difficult to come up with nice color palettes when everybody and everything in the scene is glowing green. Matters were not made better with the introduction of Red Lanterns, as we now had the world’s weirdest Christmas to deal with.”
Last month we posted shaky footage from a short from Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block called “Bat Man of Shanghai.” Featuring an anime-influenced Catwoman in 1930s China, it made me long for the return of DC’s Elseworlds imprint, in which creators reimagined familiar characters in different time periods and settings.
Now, just as the Elseworlds nostalgia had subsided, Cartoon Network has released a three parts of the series online — each spotlights a different character — showing us Bane’s ode to King Kong, Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Bat Man and a high-speed three-way fight.