Creators | Pickles creator Brian Crane, who was recently named Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society, talks about how he was ready to give up on his dream of being a cartoonist after his pitches were rejected by three syndicates, but his wife wanted him to keep going: “To prove her wrong, I sent it to The Washington Post Writers Group. She proved to be right. Since then, I’ve learned: She’s almost never wrong.” [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Chicago City Council recently passed an ordinance, which takes effect in July, regarding wage theft, and Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago organization, has put together a 32-page comic explaining workers’ legal rights and what recourse they have if their employers illegally withhold their wages. [Crain's Chicago Business]
You would think being the editor of a newspaper’s comics page, in which all the content is provided by the syndicates, would be the world’s easiest job, but in fact, it’s well known to be a headache, especially when the editors try to change something. T
his recent article from the Capitol Journal, titled “There’s nothing funny about changing the comics page,” could be put under glass at the Smithsonian as the purest example of all such editorials, a perfect distillation of all the necessary elements: reader revolt at the removal of a moribund comic (in this case, Dennis the Menace), introduction of four new comics (they’re good, people, give them a try), and finally, the editors’ courageous stand against Peanuts:
Baby Blues creator Rick Kirkman and Pickles creator Brian Crane shared the Reuben Award this year, which honors the outstanding cartoonist of the year. According to the Daily Cartoonist’s Alan Gardner, this is only the second time in the award’s history that two cartoonists have shared the award, the previous time being in 1968.
The National Cartoonist Society presented the Reuben and its divisional awards in Pittsburgh, Penn. last night. Other winners included Rich Webber, director of the Aardman segments that appear on Cartoon Network’s DC Nation, as well as Joann Sfar for the animated The Rabbi’s Cat, Chris Ware for Building Stories, Bernie Wrightson for Frankenstein Alive, Alive!, and Vince Dorse for the Untold Tales of Bigfoot webcomic.
The complete list of winners can be found below.
THE REUBEN AWARD for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year:
Rick Kirkman and Brian Crane
Rich Webber, Director, Aardman Animation Studios, DC Nation
Jack Chick is best known as the creator of Chick Tracts, the little religious comics that predict dire fates for those who celebrate Halloween, read Harry Potter books, or adhere to any religion not approved by Chick. But how did he get his artistic chops?
At the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library Blog, Caitlin McGuirk posts a fascinating selection of Chick’s pre-tract comics, a caveman series from the 1950s titled Times Have Changed? Like The Flintstones and BC, both of which came later, the comics use modern-day gags in a caveman setting. The writer was P.F. Clayton, and Chick handled the art.
Manga | Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump has announced that One Piece will go on hiatus for the magazine’s next two issues because creator Eiichiro Oda has been hospitalized for a peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis. The popular series is expected to return June 10. One Piece, which has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump since 1997, has sold more than 280 million volumes in Japan alone. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly share their thoughts (and sometimes disagree) on their own world, the comics world in general, and digital media. [National Post]
Conventions | More than 30,000 people descended upon the 24th annual Motor City Comic Con over the weekend, with attendees reportedly waiting for up to two hours just to get into the parking lot, and then another one to four hours to get in the doors of Novi, Michigan’s Suburban Collection Showplace. Comics legend Stan Lee and The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus apparently contributed to the long lines, but the site was also hosting two other events and undergoing construction of a hotel, leading to a parking shortage. According to The Oakland Press, some fans parked as much as a mile away; traffic was backed up for miles. For the first time, the convention offered advance tickets, allowing attendees to pay extra in exchange for not having to wait in line. However, because of a mess-up, even those who pre-ordered had to wait in line. Related: Lee talks to USA Today during the convention. [The Oakland Press]
Events | Heidi MacDonald beats everyone else to the punch and files the definitive report on the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which featured a flurry of graphic novel debuts and appearances by artists as diverse as Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet) and Andrew Hussie (Homestuck). [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | BOOM! Studios will publish a line of Robocop comics beginning in August. Dynamite Entertainment had the license previously, but company President Nick Barrucci said the rights reverted to the licensor, who granted them to BOOM! [ICv2]
Publishing | Brian Truitt takes a look at Valiant’s lineup for the second summer of its new life, and he talks to the creators about the relaunch and their plans for the future. [USA Today]
Comics critics like myself like to talk about living in the “golden age of reprints,” and indeed, it is exciting (and somewhat astonishing) to see classic stories and strips that often were only glimpsed in anthologies or discussed in glowing terms in historical chronicles (Skippy, King Aroo) finally be made available. Works long regarded by fans as stellar – Little Lulu, Captain Easy – now have the ability to reach an audience beyond the handful of collectors that had the time and resources, or simply the obsessive-compulsive capabilities, to track down the musty old newspapers and crumbling funny books.
And yet. And yet the success of these collection projects has often encouraged publishers to seek out work that might not be worthy of such lavish format and attention. Do we really, for instance, need a complete run of Hagar the Horrible or Wizard of Id in hardcover? Do these humorous but rather mediocre and ephemeral strips really deserve that sort of focus?
More to the point, does Bazooka Joe?
Manga | Call it the Manga Paradox: Manga sales are way down, but traffic on scanlation sites is robust and attendance at anime conventions is way up. What’s the story? I crunched some numbers and talked to some publishers to get a picture of the new normal for the manga market in North America. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | A collection of 60,000 comics sold for $200,000 at auction over the weekend in East Vancouver. It seems impressive until you do the math and realize that’s a little more than three bucks a comic. The star of the collection was a restored Hulk comic that went for $6,500. [CBC]
At a time when newspaper comics-page slots are few and coveted, Jeff Burney’s decision to stop running his comic strip Attica in the Ottawa Citizen and put it online as a free webcomic seems counterintuitive. Who would trade a regular paycheck to take a chance on the web?
Burney’s calculation included both time and money: As he explains in an interview with ROBOT 6, doing the strip seven days a week took up all his time, so he had no opportunity to market it online. The money problem stemmed from the fact that Attica runs in only one newspaper, and his attempts to sell it to others have hit up against the wall created by the current state of the industry.
He began working on Attica while on parental leave from his high-tech job, and he took early retirement so he could become a full-time cartoonist. I asked Burney to talk about his experiences as a creator and the marketer of his own comic, and he provided a fascinating inside look at the newspaper comics market — and the possibilities of webcomics.
The Boston Phoenix, the groundbreaking alternative weekly that in recent years had carried the work of cartoonists ranging from Matt Bors and David Sipress to Karl Stevens and Brian McFadden, has closed after nearly five decades.
The announcement was accompanied Thursday afternoon by a tweet saying, “Thank you Boston. Good night and good luck.” The current issue, dated March 15, will be the last; a final online edition will appear March 22. Executive Editor Peter Kadzis told The Boston Globe that about 40 employees will be let go within the week with another 10 following soon afterward. There will be no severance pay.
In a statement circulated Thursday to staff members and reposted on the Phoenix’s website, Publisher Stephen M. Mindich attributed the closing to a combination of the economic crisis, changes in the media industry and a decline in advertising. Just six months ago the company changed to a magazine format in an effort to attract more advertisers.
“We are a textbook example of sweeping marketplace change,” Kadzis said in a statement. “Our recent switch to a magazine format met with applause from readers and local advertisers. Not so — with a few exceptions — national advertisers. It was the long-term decline of national advertising dollars that made the Boston Phoenix economically unviable.”
Its sister publications The Portland Phoenix in Maine and The Providence Phoenix in Rhode Island, will remain open.
Digital comics | Although the Marvel Unlimited and DC Comics apps work very differently, Noel Murray has similar complaints about both: Specific titles are difficult to find, and the damn things keep crashing: “Frankly, while some of the other major comics apps have better search functions — Dark Horse’s, for example — none of the big companies have created the digital comics retailing equivalent of an Amazon or iTunes.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Drawn & Quarterly has announced its fall lineup, which includes Peter Bagge’s biography Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. [Drawn & Quarterly]
Awards | Brian Crane (Pickles), Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues) and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) have been nominated for the 2012 Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, presented by the National Cartoonists Society. [National Cartoonists Society]
Awards | Nominations are being sought for the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award, which will be presented July 19 at Comic-Con International during the Eisner Awards ceremony. The deadline is April 5. [Comic-Con International]
Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]
Publishing | Radical Studios has secured $3 million in its first round of fundraising to further develop its catalog, expanding its digital publishing efforts and licensing capabilities. The publisher, which ultimately hopes to raise $9.5 million, has two comic-book adaptations in development at major studios: Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, at Universal Pictures, and Hercules: The Thracian Wars, starring Dwayne Johnson, at Universal Pictures. [Variety]
Retailing | Dave and Adam’s Card World, billed as the largest online seller of baseball cards, has branched out, with an eye toward becoming the largest online seller of vintage comic books by 2014. “We were somewhat shocked and surprised that vintage comic books are more popular than vintage baseball cards. As a card collector, that just hurts,” c0-founder and CEO Adam Martin joked. [Lockport Union-Sun & Journal]