EXCLUSIVE: "Arrow" Brings Back Amy Gumenick as Cupid
“RIP Jewel Kats,” tweeted Archie Comics cartoonist Dan Parent. “You’ve inspired so many! You won’t be forgotten!”
Kats, who was injured in a car accident at age 9, leading her to use a crutch or a wheelchair (hot pink), wrote the “Fairy Ability Tales” books, which cast characters with chronic illnesses or disabilities in the primary roles. It was while promoting her graphic novel DitzAbled Princess at Fan Expo 2013 that she encountered Parent, which led to the creation of Veronica’s cousin Harper.
Passings | Dr. George Slusser, co-founder of the University of California, Riversides’ renowned Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, passed away Tuesday at age 75. Curator emeritus and professor emeritus of comparative literature, Slusser expanded the Eaton holdings from 7,500 items to more than 300,000, making it the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction and fantasy literature in the world. It encompasses novels, journals, manuscripts, comics and manga, fanzines and anime, and includes first editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Action Comics #1 and The Fantastic Four #1. “Over three decades, George Slusser built the Eaton Collection up from a small core of titles into the world-class archive that it is today,” Rob Latham, co-director of UC Riverside’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, said in a statement. “The field of science fiction scholarship owes him an incalculable debt.” [UC Riverside]
Passings | Tom Medley, creator of the comic Stroker McGurk, which ran in Hot Rod magazine for many years, died on March 2 at the age of 93. Medley was a hot-rodder himself, which is how he got his big break: He used to post his cartoons at a local hot-rod builder, and the publisher of Hot Rod, which was just getting off the ground at the time, spotted them and hired Medley as his comics and humor editor. Medley’s son Gary said his father’s humor sometimes foreshadowed reality: “Stroker’s — or Medley’s — inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker’s fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.” [AutoWeek]
“We know that our fans — and fans of pop culture — come from all races and beliefs, and any sexual orientation,” Bruce MacIntosh, director of programming, said in a statement. “Denver Comic Con guests and programming are deliberately geared towards informing and entertaining the fanboy and fangirl in all of us! Being inclusive of the entire community — both the communities of Denver and the pop-culture community as a whole — has been a focus of DCC since its inception.”
Publishing | Douglas Wolk uses a classic comics trope — who would win in a fight between Marvel and DC Comics, or rather, Batman and Iron Man? — to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the two companies and how their business models have evolved. [Slate]
Comics | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and writer and artist Dan Parent talk about the latest story arc, which takes the Riverdale gang to India for an encounter with Bollywood. [The Times of India]
Manga | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke about manga and the importance of freedom of expression at the most recent Comiket, the world’s largest comics event, in Tokyo. [CBLDF]
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]
Declaring today Kevin Keller Day, Archie Comics has released its own video for the It Gets Better Project featuring cartoonist Dan Parent discussing the creation of the publisher’s first gay character.
“When we introduced Kevin in Veronica #202, it was the first Archie comic to sell out in 70 years,” says Parent, who won this year’s GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comic book. “That’s a good sign, it’s a sign the character is going to stick around, or is starting out very well. We didn’t want it to just be, ‘This is the gay issue of Veronica,’ and then just drop it and never come back to it. We were introducing a character that we really wanted to have some legs. So we worked very, very hard on the issue, probably harder than any story that I’ve worked on, and the readers responded really favorably.”
Archie has also teamed with the It Gets Better Project for promotions across the organization’s social-media platforms. Plus, there’s a sale on Kevin Keller comics.
The character will experience his first kiss next month in Kevin Keller #10 in a story said to be inspired by the American Family Association’s 2012 protest of the Life With Archie issue depicting the wedding of Kevin’s adult counterpart. The group demanded that Toys R Us remove the magazine; the issue ended up selling out.
Founded in 2010 by writer Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller, the It Gets Better Project is dedicated to communicating “to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”
While many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.
As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.
However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Kevin Keller cartoonist Dan Parent accepted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 24th annual Media Award for outstanding comic book, presented Saturday in San Francisco. The awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
This was the second nomination and first win for the Archie Comics series, which beat out Astonishing X-Men, Batwoman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Earth 2. Introduced in 2010 in Veronica #202, Kevin was the publisher’s first gay character. After a four-issue miniseries, the character received debuted in his own ongoing series in February 2012.
Events | Richard Pachter surveys the graphic novel scene at Miami Book Fair International, which this year will include appearances by Chris Ware, Derf Backderf, Marjorie Liu, Dan Parent and Chip Kidd, among others. [The Miami Herald]
Events | A group of Canadian creators and publishers are in Tokyo right now for the International Comics Festa, where they are selling an anthology that includes work by Darwyn Cooke, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Seth. Manga blogger Deb Aoki is there too, and she has all the details. [About.com]
BuzzFeed has debuted Dan Parent’s cover for Archie #641, the first issue of a storyline in which the Riverdale gang meets the cast of Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama Glee. The image is kind of odd, in that it looks as if someone may have gone in after the artist to touch up the faces of Glee characters Rachel, Finn and Quinn. See the full cover below.
Announced in July, the crossover is penned by comics writer and Glee co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Parent, and arrives on the heels of publisher’s much-publicized “Archie meets KISS” storyline.
“If you go back to the beginnings of modern music, if you will, with Elvis and moving forward with the Beatles and [Bob] Dylan – they established culturally the tone of what’s going on in the country,” Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater told Comic Book Resources. “That’s what I’ve been trying to establish in Riverdale. The characters stay the same, but Riverdale changes. And as musicians change in the culture, they can seamlessly integrate into comic books.”
Archie #641 arrives Feb. 27.
In this week’s What Are You Reading?, I mentioned that Jughead Double Digest #182 includes a strange, surrealistic story from 1990, “Jughead’s Diner.” The Archie folks were kind enough to share a couple of pages with Robot 6 so you can see what I was talking about. The intro to the story is done in blue and gray tones, and when Jughead is transported, on the page above, the palette shifts into full color and the panels start getting crowded. It’s written by Dan Parent (who later would create Archie’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller) and illustrated by Bill Golliher.
Like Archie’s Mad House, this wanders off the Riverdale reservation but never gets too edgy. On the other hand, it’s fun to see Parent and Golliher playing with the basic ingredients and coming up with new characters, even if most of them only have a few lines.
Star Trek alum, and gay-rights activist, George Takei is set to guest star early next year in Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller #6.
According to BuzzFeed, cartoonist Dan Parent met the actor at a comic convention, where he pitched him the idea of the cameo so Kevin, Riverdale’s first gay resident, could meet his hero. Takei was thrilled.
Although Archie Comics has traditionally opted for cameos by parodies of celebrities over actual celebrities, the publisher brought President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Riverdale in 2010. (Another notable, and downright odd, exception was minor ’80s child actor Glenn Scarpelli — son of Archie cartoonist Henry Scarpelli — who appeared in a handful of shorts, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Brooke Shields, Boy George, Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen. Seriously.)
Takei, who’s best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek series and in six movies, revealed he’s gay in a 2005 magazine interview. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman in 2008, and has been vocal on issues of marriage equality, homophobia and bullying.
Since moving to Riverdale nearly two years ago, Kevin Keller has established himself as the town’s first gay resident, gotten married (in the alternate-future Life With Archie, at least) and even beaten back the forces of One Million Moms. But in Kevin Keller #5, which goes on sale Wednesday, he faces a homophobic reaction from one of Cheryl Blossom’s Pembrooke Academy classmates.
Comic Book Resources has an exclusive preview for the issue, by Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski, which finds Kevin enjoying his first summer as a lifeguard on Riverdale Beach — until he meets up with Cheryl and her snobby, trouble-making friends. One in particular, the goateed Sloan, takes issue with Kevin’s sexual orientation, referring to him as “twinkle-toes” — it is Riverdale, after all — and facetiously offering to kiss his hand.
However, apparently not all of the Pembrooke gang has a problem with Kevin: The solicitation text teases that, “to make matters more complicated, a guy across enemy lines has eyes for Kevin … a surefire way to add drama to the whole mix!” Maybe it’s Sloan; he does seem to be overcompensating for something.
Check out the entire exchange below, and read the full preview at CBR.