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]
A guest-starring role last month in Kevin Keller #6 was only the beginning for actor and gay-rights activist George Takei. Now the Star Trek veteran and his husband Brad Altman are teaming up with Dick Tracy.
The storyline began Jan. 13, when a lake was drained to reveal a forgotten World War II internment camp and a sealed bottle containing a nearly 70-year-old murder confession. Needing an expert on the camp’s history, Detective Tracy turned in yesterday’s installment to George Tarawa (later spelled “Tawara”), who’s clearly based on Takei. Today, Altman’s character is introduced.
“The story has a WWII internment connection, and we are truly honored to be a part of it,” Takei wrote on his Facebook page. He said the storyline will continue for about two months. Like the character in the strip, Takei and his family were interned by the U.S. government during World War II, held first at the horse stables of Santa Anna Park before being transferred to Arkansas and then back to California.
Artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis have been the creative team on Dick Tracy since March 2011.
Publishing | As the smoke settles around the turmoil at Platinum Studios, it appears that company founder and CEO Scott Rosenberg remains in his position following an attempt by President Chris Beall to unseat him — and it’s Beall instead who’s been voted out. According to Deadline, Beall stands by his claims that Rosenberg has mismanaged Platinum and transferred controlling interest in the company to a shell entity called RIP Media without the approval of shareholders. Rosenberg denies the accusations, including that he controls RIP. The Beat has background on the whole mess. [Deadline]
Passings | Cartoonist Chris Cassatt, one of the contributors to the comic strip Shoe, has passed away following a short illness. He was 66. Cassatt started out in 1993 as the assistant to Shoe creator Jeff MacNelly and worked with him until MacNelly’s death in 2000. After that, he collaborated with Susie MacNelly and Gary Brookins on the strip. In earlier days he was a photographer for the Aspen Times in Colorado and also created a local comic featuring a character named Sal A. Mander whom he had run in actual local elections. “After candidate Sal A. Mander was thrown off the ballot in an Aspen mayoral election on the shaky (in Aspen, anyway) grounds that he was not a ‘real person,’ Cassatt legally changed his name to Sal A. Mander and ran for Colorado governor in 1978, finishing fifth in a six-candidate contest,” the newspaper writes. The following year, he mounted a write-in campaign for Sal against an unpopular district attorney who was running unopposed. He lost, but the ridicule Cassatt’s character heaped on the D.A. during the campaign took its toll, and he didn’t stay in office for long. [Aspen Times]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald reports that shareholders of Platinum Studios held a conference call Wednesday, with President Chris Beall sending a letter to founder Scott Rosenberg suspending him indefinitely as the company’s chief executive officer. Rich Johnston posted the press release announcing the call, and some of the topics on the agenda were fairly jaw-dropping. [The Beat]
Publishing | Andrews McMeel Publishing and Universal UClick (which are different divisions of the same company) are collaborating on a new line of digital comics, Udig, which collects themed newspaper strips into short e-books (the one I checked had 55 comics) for $2.99 each. [Good E-Reader]
According to SF Weekly, the pieces dating back to the turn of the 20th century include just one of Robinson’s own comics, a 1954 installment of Jet Scott, a sci-fi strip about an adventurer with the Office of Scientifact who’s called in to tackle strange threats. Among the highlights of the donation are Wash Tubbs by Roy Crane, Li’l Abner by Al Capp, Baron Bean by George Herriman, Pogo by Walt Kelly and two pieces by Winsor McCay, including a hand-painted installment of Dream of the Rarebit Fiend.
Curator Andrew Farago, who became friends with Robinson and his family, said those are the first McCay originals to be included in the museum’s permanent collection.
Robinson, who co-created Robin and the Joker, and later became widely respected for his work has a comics historian and creators’ rights advocate, was presented with the Cartoon Art Museum’s lifetime achievement award in 2011.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we take a look at the comics, books and other things the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately. We kick off the new year with Brian Cronin from Comics Should Be Good! as our special guest. In addition to running our sister blog, Brian is also an author, having written two books on comics trivia. He also runs the blog Urban Legends Revealed, where he talks about sports and entertainment urban legends.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
The new season of Game Of Thrones may not be released until March, but until then I have something that’ll keep you warm and giggly on the cold nights: a A Song Of Ice & Fire comic strips. No, not an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels or an adaptation of the television show; rather, it’s a comedic look at the world Martin created with all the characters played up for hilarious intent. Published under the banner Comics of Ice & Fire on Tumblr, these comics come by way of cartoonist Azad Injejikian, veteran of the Flight anthology and creator of the 2004 graphic novel A Very Sammy Day.
Launched four months ago, Comics of Fire & Ice has a great collection of one-off strip pages ranging from Daenerys Targaryen’s pompousness, portends of winter, and covers the rampant sexiness pervading the novels. Injejikian is showing himself to be an excellent cartoonist, understanding the characters and knowing where the humor is — I just hope he keeps it going!
Check out the strips he’s created so far at coiaf.tumblr.com.
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to cartoonist Richard Thompson in-depth about his Parkinson’s disease, its effect on his cartooning, and the brain surgery he had this year to combat it, and shows the cartoon Thompson drew during the surgery. The story includes an update on how Thompson has been doing since the surgery and interviews with other cartoonists, including a rare comment from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, about Thompson’s work and his struggle against the illness. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons mocking Mohammed, has released a comic-book biography of the Muslim prophet. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who has lived under police protection since the magazine first published the cartoons, says the biography is a properly researched educational work edited by Muslims: “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.” [AFP]
Continuing its busy week, comiXology has announced a deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing to bring Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury, Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate and Scott Adams’ Dilbert and other comic strips to the growing digital platform beginning today. Additional AMP releases will be available in later months.
“We are thrilled to bring our cutting-edge, world-renowned comics and best-selling humor books to comiXology’s global audience,” Kirsty Melville, publisher and president of Andrews McMeel’s books division, said in a statement. “Andrews McMeel prides itself on publishing exceptional and innovative content, and making it available to consumers wherever and however they choose to read. This digital engagement with comiXology, through their innovative buying and reading experience, provides a perfect way for new audiences to discover our titles.”
ComiXology kicked off the week with news that Comics by comiXology was the third-highest grossing iPad app in 2012, up from No. 10 the previous year. That was followed Wednesday by the debut of Continue, a continuous-bookmarking feature that permits users to pick up reading on one device where they left off on another, and the announcement this morning that Mark Waid’s Thrillbent imprint has signed a distribution deal that begins with the digital debut of Insufferable by Waid and Peter Krause.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.
To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes strips where he made horrifying, life-sized dioramas out of snowmen, or you itched to revisit the adventures of Spaceman Spiff, software engineer Michael “Bing” Yingling has you hooked up. He’s created Calvin and Hobbes: The Search Engine.
After discovering a complete script (with both dialogue and panel descriptions) online, Yingling realized he could make it interact with GoComics’ archive of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip. So he did. The search tool currently only recognizes exact phrases, but users can also search by date.
To try it out, I searched for a few things and have included an example of each after the break below, but I can easily see spending hours on this. Continue Reading »
Charles Schulz’s Peanuts captured the hearts and minds of millions during its long run, and continues in various cartoons, comic spin-offs and other products. But as it turns out the beloved cartoonist also used his Peanuts characters to win the heart of at least one woman during a brief courtship.
The renowned Sotheby’s is hosting an auction of a series of very personal letters that Schulz sent in 1970 and 1971 to a photographer he met named Tracey Claudius during the waning years of his first marriage. Although never intended for public display, these communications from Schulz reveal an endearingly romantic side of the usually reserved cartoonist. Sold by the family of Claudius to pay medical bills, the 56 pages of letters include 22 original drawings of Peanuts characters. The auction house expects them to bring in at least $250,000.
The Associated Press notes that in two letters, Schulz told Claudius he must stop calling her because the long-distance charges had been discovered by his wife: “Soon after, he created a strip in which Charlie Brown berated Snoopy for his obnoxious behavior when he’s not allowed to go out ‘to see that girl beagle.’ In subsequent panels, Charlie warns Snoopy ‘you’d better start behaving yourself’ and when Snoopy picks up the telephone, Charlie Brown yells ‘And stop making those long-distance phone calls.’
Amazon.com has launched Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, a subscription service that offers access to thousands of handpicked books, movies, television shows, games and educational apps appropriate for children ages 3 to 8. The online retail giant promises, “Parents don’t have to spend time (and money) guessing what their kids will enjoy, and kids can explore a world of age-appropriate content on their own — no ads, no in-app purchases.”
The service, included as a free trial on every new Kindle Fire, debuts with a library that includes the Disney-released Marvel picture books, Warner Bros. Consumer Products-produced DC Comics apps, Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate, Bill Amend’s FoxTrot, Mark Tatulli’s Lio, and Graphic Universe’s “Graphic Myths & Legends, Sherlock Holmes and “Manga Math Mysteries” series. Presumably we’ll see more kids’ comics as the rollout continues.
The monthly subscription is $4.99 a month for one child, and $9.99 for up to six (cheaper for Amazon Prime members).
As part of an overhaul of its logo and packaging, the 65-year-old Bazooka bubblegum is replacing its red, white and blue color scheme and dropping the tiny Bazooka Joe comic strip that’s wrapped each piece of the pink candy since 1953. Yes, first Twinkies, and now the eyepatch-wearing Joe.
The New York Times reports the new packaging — it’s fuchsia and yellow with graffiti-inspired splattered paint — will begin arriving in stores in January as part of an effort by Topps Company subsidiary Bazooka Candy Brands to revive plummeting sales (from $17 million in 2007 to a projected $8.8 million this year). The new design is already a hit among retailers, with Target, 7-Eleven and Kroger now agreeing to stock the gum in early 2013.
That’s cold comfort to Bazooka Joe and his turtleneck-clad pal Mort, whose cheesy jokes and silly antics will be relegated to the pages of history, replaced by brainteasers, activities and online codes. Not that many of Bazooka’s target audience will mourn their passing: A recent survey found just 7 percent of children age 6 to 12 are aware of Bazooka Joe; of those, only 41 percent liked the character. Perhaps it’s the eyepatch, which turns out to have been a mere fashion accessory all along.
Publishing | The final print edition of the 75-year-old children’s comic The Dandy arrives Tuesday, featuring a cameo by none other than Paul McCartney. When it was announced the publication would move online, McCartney wrote the editors explaining it was his lifelong dream to appear in the comic; tomorrow he’ll be seen along with Desperate Dan. [Daily Mail, Daily Mail]
Passings | Jeff Millar, the co-creator, with Bill Hinds, of the comic strip Tank McNamara, has died at the age of 70. [Houston Chronicle]