Drawn and Quarterly has post a preview of its upcoming Pippi Longstocking comic on its blog.
Somehow this news had eluded me up till now, but Quill & Quire had the full scoop back in January: The comics were written by Pippi author Astrid Lindgren and drawn by Ingrid Vang Nyman, the original illustrator of the books, between 1957 and 1959 for the Swedish edition of the children’s magazine Humpty Dumpty.
Pippi is usually drawn as tall and thin in the illustrations to the prose books, but D+Q creative director Tom Devlin explained that Vang Nyman drew her as shorter and stockier to fit better into the comics panels.
Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth
By Jon Chad
Roaring Brook Press $15.99.
This is a clever, literally slim book, designed as skinny as possible in order to highlight its central conceit. You see, the running gag here is that you have to turn the book sideways to follow Leo on his downward trek to the Earth’s core, and then turn it another 180 degrees as he heads back up.
The book combines science with fantasy, with Leo discovering lost worlds filled with crazy monsters while spouting out science facts like “Some countries like New Zealand and Iceland harness the awesome power of lava for their own uses in heating and generating electricity. Though the juxtaposition of fantasy and hard facts seems a bit jarring, it actually adds to the book’s charm. There’s something about a guy standing on a giant underground ogre while discussing thermal generators that’s too silly to dislike.
Though Leo himself is one step up from a stick figure, Chad fills the pages with as much detail as possible and his ornate underworld scenes take on a “Where’s Waldo”-like mania at times, especially as he eschews panel borders to instead depict various versions of Leo crawling across a wide (but narrow) vista. Basically, it’s a fun introduction to geology that the elementary-school set will really dig (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).
The American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association has unveiled its annual list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens. The 56 titles come from 24 publishers, led by First Second Books with nine and Marvel/Icon with seven.
Chosen by the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee from among 78 official nominations, the books are recommended for readers age 12 to 18 as meeting “the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens.” In addition, the committee singled out 10 titles “that exemplify the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences”:
- Zahra’s Paradise, by Amir and Khalil (First Second)
- Scarlet, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev (Marvel/Icon)
- Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgal (First Second)
- The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, by Brooke Gladstone, Josh Neufeld and others (W.W. Norton and Company)
- Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Vols. 1 and 2, by Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee and others (Marvel)
- Infinite Kung Fu, by Kagan McLeod (Top Shelf Productions)
- A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1, by Kaoru Mori (Yen Press)
- Axe Cop, Vol. 1, by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle (Dark Horse)
- Daybreak, by Brian Ralph (Drawn and Quarterly)
- Wandering Son, Vol. 1, by Takako Shimuro (Fantagraphics Books)
The complete list of the 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens can be found at the YALSA website.
Legal | A teenager was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison for his role in the July 2010 theft of a valuable comic collection from an elderly Medina, New York, man, who later died of a heart attack. Eighteen-year-old Juan C. Javier, who pleaded guilty last fall to attempted second-degree burglary, is one of seven people whom police say were hired by businessman Rico J. Vendetti to break into the home of Homer Marciniak to steal his comics. Marciniak, 77, awoke during the burglary and was beaten, suffering only cuts and bruises. However, he had a fatal heart attack later that day. Eight people, including Vendetti and Javier, were indicted in November 2010; the indictments were dismissed against four of the accused so the U.S. Attorney could charge them with murder under federal law. [The Daily News]
Publishing | The anime and manga company Bandai Entertainment will stop distributing new products in February, although its existing catalog will continue to be available until the licenses expire. The company will shift its focus to licensing its properties for digital distribution and merchandising. President and CEO Ken Iyadomi said the decision to shut down new-product operations was made by the Japanese parent company without his input, and he strongly implied the underlying problem was that the corporate parent wanted to charge more for its anime than the current market will bear. Bandai published the Lucky Star, Kannagi and Eureka Seven manga, among others; all new manga volumes have been canceled, which means Kannagi will be left incomplete, at least for now. [Anime News Network]
Awards | The finalists for the Cybils, the blogger’s literary awards for children’s and YA books, have been posted, and they include five nominations each in the children’s and YA graphic novel categories. [Cybils Awards]
The U.K. comics scene has been heating up of late, and we can only hope that 2012 will see a British Invasion of the comics variety. The BBC has coverage of the latest development: The launch of The Phoenix, a weekly children’s comic published by David Fickling (whose David Fickling Books is an imprint of Random House). The name is apt: The Phoenix is a reprise of an earlier attempt, The DFC, which garnered a lot of praise but shut down after 43 issues. The Phoenix is launching with a nice lineup of stories and talent, including Neill Cameron, Simone Lia, Gary Northfield and Jamie Smart (who draws Desperate Dan for the long-running weekly The Dandy). Unfortunately, it’s print-only and not available digitally, so most U.S. readers won’t get to see it just yet.
Meanwhile, Strip Magazine, a monthly comic dedicated to serialized action tales, has released its second issue. Unlike The Phoenix, Strip is available digitally as an iPad app, which means we Yanks can read it, too. (I think the high point of my year was learning that The Beano and The Dandy are now available as iPad apps.)
If you’re not quite ready to let go of Christmas yet (hey, it’s supposed to be 12 days!), check out the classic British Christmas comics that Lew Stringer (another talented artist) has posted at his blog. It’s a fascinating look back in time. Dandy artist Andy Fanton posts a more modern Christmas comic (very much in the Dandy style) at his blog.
And finally, we had the U.S. release last week of Nelson, the collaborative graphic novel by 54 creators, each of whom contributed a chapter about one day in the life of a young woman. The contributors include Roger Langridge, Duncan Fegredo, Warren Pleece, Posy Simmonds and Darryl Cunningham, and publisher Blank Slate is donating the proceeds from the sale of the book to the homelessness charity Shelter.
Jimmy Gownley’s Gracieland, co-authored with his old friend Ellen Toole Austin, is a gag strip about life in Catholic school from the point of view of the kids in the plaid uniforms. Gownley, who has 11 Eisner and five Harvey nominations for his comic Amelia Rules, is anything but preachy in these strips; Amelia fans already know that he has a genius for seeing things through a kid’s eyes, warts and all. Already, with only eight strips up, Gracieland has broken new ground: Gownley said to me yesterday, “I think we are the only Catholic-themed web strip that used the word ‘Fallopian’ that wasn’t about natural family planning.”
Gownley will be live-Tweeting the creation of the Thanksgiving strip today.
It looks as if Sesame Street, the television series that’s educated and entertained children since 1969, could be making the move to comics.
It all seems very tentative, but Ape Entertainment has announced it’s in talks with Sesame Workshop to produce a series of a series of comic books featuring such beloved characters as Ernie, Bert, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Elmo. If the deal pans out, the comics would debut next year in print and digital editions.
All this week at Robot 6 we’re interviewing some of the many contributors to First Second’s new anthology, Nursery Rhyme Comics. Today Brigid Alverson talks to the editor, Chris Duffy.
Chris Duffy is the former editor of Nickelodeon Magazine‘s comics section and the current editor of SpongeBob Comics. I was interested in hearing the inside story of Nursery Rhyme Comics—how he rounded up this diverse array of talent and what sort of marching orders he gave them—and Chris obliged with some interesting insights into the making of Nursery Rhyme Comics.
Brigid Alverson: You have some really big names contributing to this book. Were you the one who recruited them, and if so, how did you get them to participate?
Chris Duffy: Almost everyone we asked wanted to be a part of the book. That’s the good news with a collection with a great, clear concept like this book has. Everyone wants in! The challenge was paring down our list to 50 cartoonists (harder than you might think) and just making all those phone calls and emails. I did most of the contacting, though Mark Siegel and Calista Brill broke the ice with a lot of creators who they knew well. I should mention that the idea began with former First Second publisher Lauren Wohl.
The Forbidden Planet blog is one of my favorite comics blogs, but because it’s UK-based, sometimes I read a glowing review of a book I can’t get over here in the States. (This is, of course, a familiar problem for me.) So I saw Richard Bruton’s review of Dave Morris and Leo Hartas’s Mirabilis, thought “That looks nice,” saw that it was part of The DFC, a short-lived experiment in children’s comics, and was about to move on. But something made me click the link to the Mirabilis home page, and I’m glad I did.
Mirabilis is available for the iPad, which means even Yanks like me can read it, and I highly recommend it. It’s a slightly grown-up version of the classic British children’s story, with a standup guy stumbling into a supernatural situation and winding up on a quest with his two pals (one of whom starts out as an enemy). I’m tempted to say “If you like Harry Potter, you’ll like this,” but that’s a bit facile. I liked the world of the earlier Harry Potter books, and I like the world of this comic. The figures are actually a bit stiff, but I didn’t really notice because of the richness of detail, the imaginative supernatural world, and the beautiful color. The writing is first-rate and quirky in the way the British do best.
The iPad app itself is beautifully designed. It sets the mood of the story and organizes the single issues of the comic (the first trade volume comprises eight issues). The first issue is free, the second is 99 cents, and subsequent issues are $1.99, which is an interesting pricing structure. It makes it relatively inexpensive to get started with the story. More issues will be added to the app as the trades are published, and the entire story is four volumes (32 issues) long. That could run to money, but it’s cheaper than import fees…
If you’ve seen Jordan Crane’s elegant webcomics hub What Things Do — or better still, if you’re one of the lucky few who have a copy of his hand-silkscreened, die-cut, three-books-in-one anthology NON #5 — you know that the cartoonist behind Uptight and The Clouds Above is one of comics’ best designers. But I think that with Keep Our Secrets, his new comics-style children’s book for McSweeney’s kids’ imprint McMullens, the man has truly outdone himself. This sucker is partially printed in heat-sensitive, color-changing black ink that disappears when touched to reveal a picture hidden underneath. Check it out in the video above, as two adorable tykes help demonstrate. If I were a little kid, I think being able to touch a book and suddenly see hidden stuff appear — like an accordion stuffed with cats, say, or a guy with banana hands under his gloves — would be something close to magic.
One of the best things about comics conventions is getting creators and marketers to talk about the things that aren’t quite ready for prime time yet, projects that are coming up but haven’t been the subject of a torrent of press releases. I heard about a number of interesting comics at C2E2 this past weekend; here are a few that piqued my interest.
The one that really grabbed me is Dark Horse’s nonfiction graphic novel about the Green River killer, which was first announced in 2009. The Dark Horse folks like to take their time with their books, and marketing director Jeremy Atkins tells me that it is now slated for a September release. The book is written by Jeff Jensen, whose father was a member of the investigative team on the murders. “It’s stories that have never been told before,” said Atkins. “It’s not sensationalized at all. It’s more for a true crime audience than a crime fiction audience.”
If that’s too dark for you, here’s a bit of sweetness and light: Amy Mebberson, whose super-cute art graced the global manga Divalicious (you can read the whole first volume online at the link) and many of Boom! Studios The Muppet Show comics, is not letting any grass grow under her feet: She is one of the artists on Ape Entertainment’s Strawberry Shortcake comics, doing the coloring and some of the pencilling. This increased my interest in Strawberry Shortcake 100%.
Publishing | Disney Publishing is pushing further into the kids’ periodical market with four new magazines, including two standalone issues tied to Marvel’s upcoming Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger movies. Marvel’s comics division apparently won’t be producing content for the publications. A third magazine, based around Cars 2, will be monthly beginning in the fall, while the fourth, tied to the Disney Channel animated series Phineas and Ferb, will be bimonthly. [Variety, Deadline]
Broadway | On the heels of the recent departure of director Julie Taymor, producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are reportedly in talks to replace choreographer Daniel Ezralow, who designed the $70-million musical’s complex flying sequences. Chase Brock is likely to step in for Ezralow, who was described by a cast member as “a Julie person.” [Bloomberg]
Retailing | Troubles continue for Borders Group as the retailer filed notice Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Executive Vice President Thomas D. Carney and Chief Information Officer D. Scott Laverty have resigned. Just last week Borders, the country’s second-largest bookstore chain, announced it’s delaying payments to some publishers as it attempts to restructure its credit lines. [GalleyCat]
Libraries | Four of the top five young-adult titles checked out from the New York Public Library in 2010 were manga: Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Tite Kubo’s Bleach, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, and Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball Z. Jennifer Holm’s graphic novel Babymouse and Jeff Kinney’s comics-prose hybrid Diary of a Wimpy Kid were the top two children’s titles. [NYPL Wire]
Legal | The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided Tuesday during oral arguments on a California law that would forbid the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor raised free-speech objections to the statute, with Ginsberg asking: “If you are supposing a category of violent materials dangerous to children, then how do you cut it off at video games? What about films? What about comic books?” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Samuel A. Alito Jr. indicated their belief that the state can restrict the access of minor to video games, while Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Elena Kagan probed the issues without showing their cards. It will probably be several months before the court hands down a decision. [Los Angeles Times, PC World]
Crime | A man charged with orchestrating the July theft of the expensive comics collection of an elderly Rochester, N.Y., man who was beaten and later died has been arrested by FBI agents for allegedly selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen merchandise on eBay. [The Daily News]
Crime | Police in Stamford, Conn., charged Spider-Man and Captain America with assault and Poison Ivy with breach of peace following a weekend brawl in a parking garage. [The Associated Press]