After 63 years, military cutbacks have finally hit Camp Swampy.
Stars and Stripes, the newspaper serving the U.S. military community, announced this week it has dropped Mort Walker’s Beetle Bailey from its daily print edition as the average number of pages shrinks from 40 to 32 due to a number of financial factors that include Department of Defense sequestration cuts and a declining readership.
The newspaper also expects to eliminate an estimated 40 staff positions worldwide next year amid a reduction in print operations “as it tries to accelerate a shift toward digital distribution.”
History | Michael Dooley celebrates Banned Books Week with a look at the comics singled out by Dr. Fredric Wertham in Seduction of the Innocent as particularly corrupting of our youth; Dooley juxtaposes scans of the pages with Werthem’s commentary. [Print]
Creators | Lynda Barry is now an assistant professor of interdisciplinary creativity in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) as well as the UW-Madison Department of Art; she was an artist in residence at the university last year. [University of Wisconsin-Madison News]
Creators | Congressman John Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell talk about their involvement in the graphic novel March. [Free Comic Book Day]
Publishing | Jody LeHeup, who joined Valiant in May 2012 as associate editor, has left the publisher, and will focus on his writing career. However, he noted on Twitter, “I am open to discussing editorial work as well.” LeHeup previously worked for four years at Marvel, where he edited such titles as Deadpool, X-Force and the Eisner-nominated Strange Tales before being let go in October 2011 during a round of layoffs. [Twitter]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon pointed out a disturbing paragraph in this article about the dangers of being a political cartoonist in the Middle East: Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan hasn’t been heard from in months and may be dead, according to Robert Russell of the Cartoonists Rights Network International, which has been advocating for Raslan’s release from prison. Raslan was arrested last year, and Russell was told his trial was delayed and then that he had been killed. [CNN]
Comics | The Venezuelan government is issuing illustrated versions of the country’s constitution to all school children, and plans are already under way for another edition that will be in comics format. [Foreign Policy]
As Morrissey once wrote, “I know it’s over/And it never really began”: This Charming Charlie, the delightful blog that mashed up Peanuts panels with The Smiths lyrics, has closed (at least for now), less than two months after its launch. But the culprit might not be who you think.
Techdirt notes that the blog’s mastermind Lauren LoPrete announced last week that The Smiths license holder Universal Music Publishing Group — rather that Peanuts Worldwide — began inundating her with takedown notices, leading her to advise her readers that she’s ending the Tumblr. However, she isn’t giving up without a fight.
LoPrete tells Motherboard that as soon as she posted the farewell, she began getting offers from lawyers to accept her case pro bono. And so now, with a little help, she’s filing counter-notifications with Tumblr, insisting the mash-ups fall under the fair-use exception of U.S. copyright law.
Writer of the Year
• Brian K. Vaughan
• Dan Slott
• Mark Waid
• Robert Kirkman
• Scott Snyder
Penciler of the Year
• David Aja
• Fiona Staples
• Greg Capullo
• Jim Lee
• Ryan Stegman
Publishing | Calvin Reid talks to publisher Josh Frankel, who is relaunching his Zip Comics (the publisher of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland) as Z2 Comics. The first books under the new name will be reprints of a sort: Paul Pope’s Escapo, which he originally self-published in black and white, and Dean Haspiel’s Fear My Dear, which first appeared as a webcomic at Act-I-Vate. Escapo will be colored and Fear My Dear will be re-colored. The company will publish strictly graphic novels, no periodicals, and they will be distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Toledo, Ohio, cartoonist Pete Hoffmann, whose comic strip Jeff Cobb was syndicated nationwide, died last week at the age of 94. Hoffman was also a ghost artist for Steve Roper and illustrated the panel cartoon Why We Say, which explained the meaning behind common sayings. He “got ambitious” and decided to strike out with his own strip, and the result was Jeff Cobb, a serial about an investigative reporter, which ran from 1954 to 1975. In this 2004 interview, he talks about his work and shows off his first published drawing, which appeared in the Toledo Times when he was four years old. [Toledo Blade]
Creators | Garry Trudeau is extending his hiatus from the daily Doonesbury strip until November, although new Sunday strips will begin running this weekend. “I have hit the wall,” Trudeau explained in a letter to newspapers that carry Doonesbury, saying that the demands of writing and producing Amazon Studios’ Alpha House are keeping him from returning to the daily strip on schedule. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Mary and Bryan Talbot discuss their work in a short video shot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. [Forbidden Planet]
Publishing | ICv2 notes the near absence of DC Comics and Marvel on the August BookScan chart, which tracks sales in bookstores. There were no Marvel titles in the Top 20, and the four DC titles — Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta — were all evergreens, not new releases. Particularly noticeable by their absence were any volumes of Wolverine or Kick-Ass, properties with movies released in July and August, respectively. What’s hot? Attack on Titan, apparently, with two volumes charting and Volume 1, which was released more than a year ago, getting stronger every month — which means new readers are finding the series now. Curiously, the series is not selling well in comics shops, perhaps because retailers simply aren’t ordering it. Eight of the top 20 volumes were manga, including the top seller, the 62nd volume of Naruto. Chart mainstay The Walking Dead placed four books, including the nine-year-old first volume. [ICv2]
Creators | Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker received messages from the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and Prince Albert II of Monaco ahead of his 90th birthday today. The cartoonist, who introduced Beetle Bailey in 1950, still supervises daily work on the strip at his Stamford, Connecticut, studio. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang discusses his newest work, Boxers and Saints, a 500-page, two-volume set that examines China’s Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of two very different characters. [Graphic Novel Reporter]
Business | The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved Disney’s plan to build a 58-acre television and film production facility on the sprawling Golden Oak Ranch, near Santa Clarita, California. Located less than an hour north of Los Angeles, the 890-acre ranch has been owned by Disney since 1959, serving as the backdrop for projects ranging from Little House on the Prairie to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Pirates of the Caribbean: The World’s End. ABC Studios has been producing more series than Disney’s Burbank facilities can handle, requiring additional sound stages to be rented. The new facility is targeted for completion in 2016.
Marvel Animation opened a new studio early last year in Glendale, just minutes from Disney’s Burbank lot. Marvel Studios later followed suit, moving from Manhattan Beach to new offices in Glendale. [TheWrap]
Legal | Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit is in court again, this time claiming sexual harassment by former friend Sam Levitin, who was her liaison to Archie after her legal feud with the company and C0-CEO Jon Goldwater was settled last year. Levitin has responded that Silberkleit “lacks functional communication skills and has an unstable temperament” and has a “venomous and destructive effect” at the company. Levitin asked the court in December to remove Silberkleit as a trustee of the company, and she responded in April with the allegation of sexual harassment against both Levitin and Archie Comics. An outside firm hired by Archie determined that her claims were “unfounded,” and the publisher is not a party in the latest lawsuit. [New York Daily News]
Legal | Jeff Trexler takes an in-depth look at the copyright battle between Marvel and Jack Kirby’s children. [The Comics Journal]
Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
Graphic novels | Dubbing this “the age of the graphic novel,” Glasgow, Scotland’s Sunday Herald asked an unnamed and unnumbered group of cartoonists, novelists, critics, comics historians and the like for a list of titles that should be in everyone’s library. The result is a pretty impressive, and varied, rundown — “the 50 greatest graphic novels of all time” — that ranges from Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid and Lili Carre’s The Lagoon to Katshuiro Otomo’s Akira and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. [Sunday Herald]
Creators | Rebecca Gross interviews Daniel Clowes about the development of his work, doing comics at a time when comics weren’t considered an art form, and the current exhibit of his work at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes.” [NEA Arts]
Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]
Creators | Ahead of the premiere of Kick-Ass 2, Abraham Reisman profiles Mark Millar, with an emphasis on his subversion of the genre — and the new prominence he’s about to achieve with the films based on his comics: “By decade’s end, he’ll have had more of his creations translated into movie form than any comics writer other than Stan Lee.” The piece also includes criticism of his work, with Colin Smith observing, ““Millar does indeed have a history of producing work which represents less powerful groups in an insensitive, and often deeply insensitive, manner. There are massive contradictions between his words and actions as a private citizen and the apparent politics of some of his books.”[The New Republic]
Conventions | Matt Arado looks forward to this coming weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (it’s actually in Rosemont) with some creator interviews and a look at the way the con has evolved over the years. [Daily Herald]