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Google celebrates Little Nemo in Slumblerland with incredible Doodle

As visitors to the Google homepage have already noticed, the company is celebrating the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s groundbreaking comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland with an amazing interactive Doodle.

Debuting Oct. 15, 1905, the surreal Sunday comic — much like McCay — was years ahead of its time, initially following the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo as attempted to reach the realm of King Morpheus, who wanted him as a playmate for his daughter. Each installment ended with Nemo abruptly waking just as he was about to experience a mishap in dreamland. The strip, later retitled In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed newspapers, ran until 1914 before being revived from 1924 to 1947.

Michael Cavna of The Washington Post has more on McCay, Little Nemo and the Google Doodle.

Quote of the Day | The future of comic strips

“When I started, if you got syndicated, you were basically set — you’d make a good living, and you wouldn’t have to worry much else. In the 11 years since then, that door has basically closed. There is no new great syndicated strip, and there probably won’t be. Literally, there are no new launches. Now, to make it, you have to go that web route. Many of those guys, from Penny Arcade to Cyanide and Happiness to The Perry Bible Fellowship — which are all excellent — claim to make a living, but how do you know? I can tell you that even if someone does a strip and it’s fairly popular online, the money is not online. I question a lot of claims about the money being made, and the question remains that if things continue to go that route for newspapers, and you have to make money online, how do you do it?”

– award-winning cartoonist Stephan Pastis, on how the market for comic strips has changed since Pearls Before Swine received wide syndication in 2002

Comics A.M. | IDW Limited launches; Swedish libraries grapple with Tintin

IDW Limited

Publishing | IDW Publishing CEO Ted Adams discusses the company’s new IDW Limited program, which will produce small print runs of deluxe editions that will be marketed direct to the consumer. How small? The print run for the Blue Label edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 1 Deluxe Limited Edition will be 10 copies. “The only fair thing to do is to give the fans direct access on a first come first served basis,” he said. “We’re putting an incredible emphasis on quality, and that directly affects the quantity of books IDW Limited can produce. We’re designing new covers, building custom cases and paying the artists to do hand drawn sketch work to go with these books. The reality is that that’s all very expensive and unfortunately it makes it difficult for us to offer this line at the deep discount needed for traditional retail distribution.” [ICv2]

Libraries | Following the firestorm sparked last month when a youth library in Stockholm briefly removed Tintin comics because of their racial caricatures of Africans and Arabs, a survey finds that 10 percent of Swedish libraries have removed or restricted Herge’s books due to “racist content.” [The Local]

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Cul de Sac ends after five years of syndication

The final "Cul de Sac," by Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson ended the five-year syndicated run of Cul de Sac on Sunday with a funny and touching salute to “the dying art form” of the comic strip. The cartoonist revealed last month that his struggle with Parkinson’s disease had just become too much for him to meet deadline demands.

”At first it didn’t affect my drawing, but that’s gradually changed” Thompson said in a statement at the time. “Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”

This morning many client newspapers announced comics-page replacements for Cul de Sac, with Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Hilary Price’s Rhymes With Orange emerging as apparent favorites (although the Las Vegas Review-Journal opted instead to bring back Bruce Tinsley’s Mallard Fillmore). Tom Spurgeon notes that Thompson’s syndicate is re-running Cul de Sac online from the beginning.

Comics A.M. | Indian court blasts police for cartoonist’s arrest

From a cartoon by Aseem Trivedi

Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]

Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]

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Indian cartoonist free on bail, will fight sedition charge

Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi is free on bail today after being jailed Saturday in Mumbai on charges of sedition and insulting Indian national symbols. The case, which stems from a display of cartoons at a protest in December and on his website Cartoons Against Corruption, has led to a widespread public outcry within the country.

Trivedi was arrested after a complaint was filed by a law student, Amit Katarnayea:

“I saw the exhibition of cartoons at the protest organised by [anti-corruption activist] Anna Hazare at Bandra-Kurla Complex in December 2011. It had Kasab’s face on animals peeing on Constitution, the lions of the Ashoka emblem were replaced by wolves and Parliament was shown as a commode. As a responsible citizen, I felt duty bound to complain to the police against Trivedi for exhibiting such insulting cartoons,” the third-year law student from DY Patil College, Nerul, said on Monday.

“Anna and his team should have stopped the exhibition.” Katarnaware said the charges of sedition have been rightly applied as the cartoons are an insult to Constitution.

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Comics A.M. | Direct market sales soar in August; Art Cumings dies

Avengers Vs. X-Men #9

Comics | The August direct market sales numbers are in, and things look good: Comics sales are up almost 20 percent over August 2011, and graphic novels are up 15 percent. This isn’t just a fluke, either: Year-to-date sales are up about the same in both categories. DC had a slight edge in market share, Marvel did slightly better on unit sales, and interestingly, the Big Two stole back a bit of market share from everyone else. And as with bookstore sales, Batman ruled the direct market: “The influence of The Dark Knight Rises is more obvious in the bookstore channel with its tendency to foster backlist sales (Frank Miller’s 1980’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns was tops in the bookstores), while the direct market sales are concentrated more on the most recent releases such as Johns’ Batman: Earth One, which was released in July and Snyder’s New 52 volume that was out in May.” [ICv2]

Passings | Illustrator and panel cartoonist Art Cumings has died at the age of 90. Mike Lynch describes Cumings as “an illustrator’s illustrator and a cartoonist’s cartoonist”; his work appeared everywhere from Dr. Seuss books to Penthouse magazine, and it’s worth hitting the link to see his Balloonheads cartoons from the latter. (NSFW, but in a cute, colorful way.) [Mike Lynch Cartoons]

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Winners announced for the 2012 Harvey Awards

Daredevil #4

Daredevil, Kate Beaton, J.H. Williams III, Jim Henson’s Tale Of Sand and Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition took home multiple honors at the 2012 Harvey Awards, held tonight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Named for the late Harvey Kurtzman, the awards are selected by comics professionals, who offer nominations and vote on the winners.

Also during the ceremony, Kevin Brogan presented the Hero Initiative‘s Dick Giordano Humanitarian of The Year Award to the late Joe Kubert, while Stan Lee and John Romita Sr. presented the Hero Initiative’s Lifetime Achievement Award to John Romita Jr.

You can find a list of all the nominees with the winners in bold below.

Best Letterer

Chris Eliopoulos, Fear Itself, Marvel Comics
Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
Todd Klein, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects Of Forever, Marvel Comics
David Lanphear, Secret Avengers, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (or Not), Abrams ComicArts

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Richard Thompson ends Cul de Sac comic strip

Cartoonist Richard Thompson, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009, will end his acclaimed comic strip Cul de Sac next month, The Washington Post reports. The announcement was made this morning by his syndicate Universal Uclick.

“The last year has been a struggle for Richard,” the syndicate said in a letter to client newspapers. “Parkinson’s disease, first diagnosed in 2009, has so weakened him that he is unable to meet the demands of a comic strip. For a time, he worked with another artist, but the deadlines became too much of a task.” The final comic strip will appear Sept. 23.

Thompson, who received the 2011 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, explained in a statement that, ”At first it didn’t affect my drawing, but that’s gradually changed. Last winter, I got an excellent cartoonist, Stacy Curtis, to ink my roughs, which was a great help. But now I’ve gotten too unreliable to produce a daily strip.”

Launched in 2007, Cul de Sac focuses on 4-year-old Alice Otterloop and her suburban life with her friends, family, family, and classmates at Blisshaven Academy pre-school. It’s syndicated in more than 150 newspapers.

Comics A.M. | The re-poster dilemma; a look at digital-first initiatives

BearFood

Creators | In the wake of the FunnyJunk/The Oatmeal legal dispute, Ian Pike talks to San Diego-based webcomics creators David King and Phil McAndrew about the problem of having their work re-posted without credit. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that re-post my comics without my name on them,” McAndrew says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.” One interesting sidelight is that Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has set up a site called BearFood where users can share their favorite webcomics with the appropriate links. [San Diego Reader]

Digital comics | Matt White surveys the digital-first landscape with a look at the strategies (or the lack thereof) from publishers ranging from DC Comics to Viz Media: “While the majority of digital comics are just digitized versions of print comics, available simultaneously (known as ‘day-and-date’) or after the physical version hits shelves, current digital-first offerings seem to represent an alternative, more specific market as publishers begin to treat digital more as a complement to print rather than a replacement.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Nominees announced for 2012 Ignatz Awards

The nominees were announced for the 2012 Ignatz Awards, which will be presented during the Small Press Expo, held Sept. 15-16 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the awards recognize achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists — this year it was Edie Fake, Minty Lewis, Julia Wertz, Dylan Meconis and Lark Pien — and then voted on by SPX attendees.

The nominees are:

Outstanding Artist
• Marc Bell – Pure Pajamas (Drawn & Quarterly)
• Inés Estrada — Ojitos Borrosos (Self-published)
• Jaime Hernandez — Love and Rockets: New Stories (Fantagraphics)
• Craig Thompson — Habibi (Pantheon)
• Matthew Thurber — 1 800 Mice (Picturebox)

Outstanding Anthology or Collection
Big Questions, Anders Nilsen (Drawn & Quarterly)
Hark! A Vagrant, Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Man Who Grew His Beard, Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)
Nobrow #6, Various artists (Nobrow)
Ojitos Borrosos, Inés Estrada (Self-published)

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Comics A.M. | Alan Moore to make rare convention appearance

Alan Moore

Creators | Alan Moore will make a rare convention appearance in September — his first in 25 years, according to this article — at the inaugural Northants International Comics Expo in Northamptonshire, England. To attend Moore’s hour-long talk on writing comics or the hour-long question-and-answer session, convention-goers are required to donate graphic novels to the Northamptonshire Libraries, which will have a table at the event. [Stumptown Trade Review]

Creators | Mark Waid gets the NPR treatment, as Noah J. Nelson interviews him about his digital comics initiatives. “I got news for you: I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and this is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do,” Waid says of creating digital comics. [NPR]

Publishing | Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman discusses the publisher’s spring lineup, which will include William Stout’s Legends of the Blues, Darryl Cunningham’s What the Frack, a history of Bazooka Joe comics, and a Will Eisner artbook written by Paul Levitz. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | More on MoCCA’s move: ‘It’s in excellent hands’

Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art

Museums | So what is the deal with the move of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art to the Society of Illustrators? They are being “transferred and acquired,” says MoCCA President Ellen Abramowitz, although the headline on this article says “rescued.” “After the transition, the Society of Illustrators will go on to be the sole overseer and manager of the holdings. ‘It’s in excellent hands,’ said Ms. Abramowitz.” [The Wall Street Journal]

Retailing | Seattle Weekly has named the Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery the city’s best comic-book store. [Seattle Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Court rules Zunar’s arrest is lawful, books seizure is not

Zunar

Legal | Human Rights Watch reports on the lawsuit filed by Malaysian cartoonist Zunar after he was arrested and his books seized by authorities. The court ruled that while the arrest, on grounds of sedition and publishing without a license, was lawful, the government’s continued possession of his materials was not. Zunar was never formally charged — a judge threw the arrest out after authorities could not point to any actual seditious material in his book, Cartoon-O-Rama — and therefore, the court ruled, the government had no right to continue to hold the books and must return them and pay him damages to boot. [Human Rights Watch, via The Daily Cartoonist]

Legal | Rich Johnston reports that copies of Howard Chaykin’s super-erotic Black Kiss 2 have been held at the border by U.K. customs. Diamond Comic Distributors is in talks with customs officials and hopes to get the books into the country next week. [Bleeding Cool]

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Comics A.M. | Vertical snags Gundam: The Origin, Wolfsmund

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]

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