INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Achewood devotees were excited in February when cartoonist Chris Onstad revealed on his rarely updated blog that he was heading to Los Angeles to pitch an animated series based on his incredibly popular webcomic. Unfortunately, the network meetings didn’t go well — but Onstad remains undeterred. In fact, he says he was reinvigorated by the experience.
“A couple places seemed interested, but there is a lot of hokum and jive in the process of shopping a TV show,” he explains to The Verge. “Most networks have a shopping list for the season, or a format they’re already looking for — we didn’t fit any of them this time around.”
Yes, “this time around”: Onstad and his collaborators are going back to the drawing board, developing a new pitch.
“I don’t think we nailed the tone and humor of Achewood by any means,” he says. “I’m excited to write version two, knowing what I know now about how all that work, all those actors, engineers, and producers come together, which is a hell of a lot.”
Achewood cartoonist Chris Onstad is ready to take the next step with his insanely popular webcomic — clear to Hollywood. To that end, he’s debuted a 19-second clip showing Ray, Roast Beef and the others in animated form, the first step in what he hopes is the path to television.
“I’ve been working with a team of artists, engineers, and producers to bring Achewood to life,” Onstad wrote Sunday on his blog. “To give it the voices, richness, and opportunities it never had as a comic strip. […] I’m flying to Los Angeles today to begin a week of network pitch meetings. If things go well, we’ll find a home for our show. Please cross your fingers for us, send us your good energy. And please, share this clip with your world. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”
Legal | A proposed Arizona law that would make it a crime to annoy or offend anyone through electronic means has been held back for revision after a number of concerned parties, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, protested that it was too broad. The bill, which was passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature, basically took the language from the statute criminalizing harassing phone calls and applied it to all electronic devices, without limiting it to one-to-one communications. As a result, the language appears to make it a crime to post anything annoying or potentially offensive on the internet. [CBLDF]
Retailing | Brian Hibbs questions Mark Waid’s math, both with regard to comic shops and the cost of self-publishing, and brings up a number of arguments in favor of the Direct Market. He argues that having gatekeepers in the market is a good thing and that rather than refusing to take a risk on a new or different comic, retailers will go out of their way to stock comics they think their readers will like. [Savage Critics]
Legal | The trial resumed today, if only briefly, in Tunis for the president of a Tunisian television network accused of “insulting sacred values” when he aired the adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Tensions were so high in the courtroom that proceedings were postponed until April. The Oct. 7 broadcast resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui, who apologized in October, is charged with “insulting sacred values, offending decent morals and causing public unrest” because of the outrage triggered by a scene in Persepolis showing God, which is prohibited by Islam. [AFP]
Organizations | Stumptown Comics, the organization that puts on the Stumptown Comics Fest every year in Portland, Oregon, has added three new members to its board: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein, Boilerplate co-author Anina Bennett and editor Shawna Gore. [Stumptown Comics]
Publishing | Number-crunching the direct-market charts, John Jackson Miller determines that sales of comics ranking in Diamond’s Top 300 increased by more than 3 million copies in 2011, bringing the total to 72.13 million. Dollar sales, too, rose by nearly $3 million, even as the average price of comic dropped by about a dime, from $3.58 to $3.49. [The Comichron]
Creators | Artist Fiona Staples has responded to Dave Dorman’s objection to her cover for Saga #1, which shows a woman breastfeeding an infant: “I find it a little hard to fathom why anyone would object to a depiction of breastfeeding, even if it were on a kids’ comic, which it isn’t. I have yet to hear a line of reasoning that makes sense to me. That said, anyone who wants to be grossed out by our comic is of course free to do so. I’m just going to fixate on the part where a master painter called me a ‘gifted artist.'” [ComicsAlliance]
Chris Onstad put his critically acclaimed webcomic Achewood on hiatus earlier this year, citing the need to recharge his creative batteries and take a fresh look at the comic.
Fortunately, “indefinite” turns out not to mean “infinite,” and Achewood is back, with a new strip that was posted on Wednesday and a gentle reminder that tips are always welcome to keep the comic going. There is no commentary with the comic, but Onstad says “The hiatus has ended!” at the top of the page, so it’s safe to assume he will be posting regularly now.
(Via Storming the Tower)
Wait—Achewood is going on indefinite hiatus??? Man, that’s what I get for staying off the internet for a few days to reproduce! Seriously, the announcement by cartoonist (and blogger, and prose author, and recipe author, and god knows everything else he’s done with this strip) Chris Onstad that his much loved, much acclaimed, collected-by-Dark Horse webcomic Achewood and its tales of the misadventures of a bunch of cats and squirrels and stuffed bears and things will cease regular publication indefinitely really shocked me. As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t regularly followed the strip since its early years (that’s on me, not on the strip, which I never stopped enjoying), but I just assumed it was the kind of thing that’d be around more or less forever—it seemed to have the audience, and Onstad (who’s done literally thousands of strips, in-character blog entries, and assorted other ephemera for the comic) clearly didn’t lack for ideas. But when I heard a while back that Onstad was asking for donations to keep the strip afloat I realized that acclaim, audience size, and revenue are by no means interrelated sure things (even though the rhetoric surrounding webcomics sometimes seems to suggest that they are), and now that Onstad is retiring the strip for a while to recharge his creative batteries and bring the characters up to speed with where he is now as a person, I realize that even an idea man as proficient and prolific as Onstad isn’t an endlessly renewable resource. In addition to the aforelinked post, Onstad talked to Comics Alliance’s Aaron Colter about the decision. Read it and pray for a Roast Beef resurrection.
Conventions | Early estimates place attendance three-day attendance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo at 34,000, up from 27,500 at last year’s inaugural event. “Last year was disappointing,” said Eric Thornton, manager of Chicago Comics. “But now you definitely see this starting to take hold.” [Chicago Tribune]
Retailing | Borders Group has announced it will close an additional 28 stores, bringing the total to 228. The bookseller, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, had used the possibility of as many as 75 closings as leverage to negotiate lease concessions. This latest wave will bring the chain’s remaining store total to about 400. [Media Decoder]
Publishers | Chicago-based publisher Archaia, which expects sales of $11 million this year, has raised capital from a group of investors with local connections. [Crain’s Chicago Business, via ICv2.com]
Today Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson did something that some consider too revealing even in this socially networked, airport x-ray’d age: She posted 20 movies from her Netflix “Watch Instantly” queue. Like anyone else’s, it’s a motley crew of movies made possible by a massive library of films and the power to watch any of them at any time with a few clicks of a mouse — a blend of “comfort food” you want access to at all times, unwatched stuff you’re dying to see at the next available opportunity, major investments of time or energy you haven’t been prepared to make just yet, “eat your vegetables” fare you know you ought to watch eventually, and goofy guilty pleasures you’re simply tickled to be able to watch whenever you feel like it.
This got me thinking. I know there are any number of logistical and financial reasons why such a thing doesn’t exist for comics. But we comics readers are an imaginative bunch, no? And today I choose to imagine a world where I can load up pretty much any book I can think of and read to my heart’s content. So here’s what my imaginary “Read Instantly” queue would look like, circa today. Check it out, then let us know what’s on your queue in the comments!
Patrick Alan Coleman, of the Portland Mercury, pens one of the oddest cooking/cartooning articles ever when he records his conversations with Achewood creator Chris Onstad as they cook up a big batch of buffalo and yak testicles. Onstad’s characters talk about food a lot, so the strip has apparently attracted a following among the culinary-minded:
“What basically happened was that people who like cooking actually started following the strip.” Onstad says. “I came to Portland in 2008 to do a signing and cooks were coming in with these strips that had obviously been hung up next to their stations because they smelled like fryolator grease and were discolored.”
Furthermore, Onstad has self-published one Achewood cookbook already and is working on a second; the article includes several of his recipes. While Coleman’s enthusiastic descriptions of testicle prep may be wince-inducing for male readers, the article is an entertaining look at the creator and his quirks, and well worth a read. (Via ComixTalk.)
Pretty self-explanatory, no? Maakies and Sock Monkey caroonist Tony Millionaire has done a guest strip for Chris Onstad’s Achewood One of today’s greatest humor cartoonists does one of today’s greatest humor strips. There’s even a cameo by Uncle Gabby and Drinky Crow. Click the link already!
(Via Brian Warmoth.)