INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
Conventions | The Salt Lake Comic Con spinoff event FanXperience is shaping up for its April 17 debut with the addition of KidCon, a pavilion dedicated to younger attendees. “We don’t want the impression that we have KidCon there for everything else to become less kid-friendly,” says co-founder Dan Farr. “Although I would imagine 99 percent of the people that are coming are going to take their kids throughout the whole hall, it’s just to have an area where they can go and spend a little more time with their kids.” The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con in September drew an estimated 80,000 attendees; organizers anticipate as many as 100,000 for FanX, which will have almost double the floor space. [Deseret News]
Legal | The judge was a no-show for what was supposed to be the announcement of the verdict in the trial of Algerian cartoonist Djamel Ghanem, who stands accused of “insulting the president of the republic” in a cartoon that was, bizarrely, never published. Ghanem’s lawyer says the verdict has been postponed; the cartoonist faces up to 18 months in prison and a fine of 30,000 dinars ($380 U.S>) if found guilty. [Global Post]
Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson has stayed out of the public eye since he ended the popular strip in 1995, but he’s back this week with a rare new piece of art: the poster for the documentary Stripped. It’s his first published cartoon in nearly two decades.
Watterson also did a rare audio interview for the film about comic strips that features interviews with more than 60 creators. Stripped is being made by webcomics creator Dave Kellett and filmmaker Frederick Schroeder, and it was Kellett who asked Watterson if he would make the poster. “Dave sent me a rough cut of the film and I dusted the cobwebs off my ink bottle,” Watterson told Michael Cavna of The Washington Post.
“Given the movie’s title and the fact that there are few things funnier than human nudity, the idea popped into my head largely intact,” the cartoonist said. “The film is a big valentine to comics, so I tried to do something really cartoon-y. I had thought of having it colored with off-registered printing dots like newspaper comics, but Dave asked if I’d paint it instead, and I think he made the right call.”
This is Watterson’s second publicly released work of art since 1995; in 2011 he created a painting of Richard Thompson’s character Petey Otterloop, which was sold for $13,000 at the benefit auction for Team Cul de Sac, which supports research into Parkinson’s disease.
An exhibit of original work by Watterson and Thompson will open in March at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
Conventions | Complaints about comics conventions are apparently the same the world over, as a writer who attended the third annual Mumbai Film and Comic Convention (simply Mumbai Comic Con in its first year) this weekend notes, “Not to seem hypocritical, since we all tend to buy curios and the occasional t-shirt at Comicon every year, but when merchandising stalls (read: t-shirt shops) start outnumbering those which have an actual reason for being at a convention in the first place, we’ve got a problem.” According to DNA India, this year’s event saw the debut of the convention’s mascot, Wonder Bai (at right). [Think Digit]
Digital comics | Microsoft and the Indian publisher Amar Chitra Katha launched a comics app for Windows 8 at Mumbai Film and Comic Convention. “Children these days are drifting away from their Indian mythologies and stories, so this was our attempt to bring these value building stories on a platform familiar to them,” said Vineet Durani of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Business Group. [DNA India]
There are two remarkable things about Dave Kellett’s Kickstarter for his documentary Stripped. The first is that the pitch video includes a snippet of what Kellett claims is the first-ever audio interview with reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. That alone is going to make this film a must-see for a lot of people.
The second is that this is a Kickstarter for a project that’s already fully funded. What Kellett is looking for with this second campaign is access to more licensed footage:
Thursday’s installment of the webcomic Sheldon is a neat little behind-the-scenes sequence in which we get to see the characters backstage, before they go on. If you’re a regular reader of the strip (as I am), the biggest shock may be seeing the main character, Sheldon, without his glasses. It’s also cool that when they step into the strip, the characters change from color to black and white, although they don’t slip into character right away. Plus they get in a few digs about the comics life. It’s well worth the click.
In the blog, creator Dave Kellett notes that this is the end of Season 13 for Sheldon, but there is a bit of uncertainty as to how old the comic actually is. Apparently Kellett didn’t date the early strips, so he’s not entirely sure when they went online for the first time. That’s an interesting problem; you’d think everything would be date-stamped automatically, but I guess back then that wasn’t always the case. It does make one wonder how many other webcomics are of an uncertain age.
Kellett also reassures readers that the strip will continue (whew!) but adds that his priorities will be changing in the next year when his documentary Stripped: The End of the Funny Pages will be released.
As many of you know, I was an Eisner judge this year, and I can tell you that anytime someone was reading Dave Kellet’s Coffee: It’s What’s for Dinner, I heard giggling–even from the non-coffee drinkers. It’s a compilation of coffee-related strips from his daily webcomic Sheldon in which he affectionately mocks the extremes to which the caffeine habit drives people, and it’s full of his trademark deadpan humor.
Kellet is celebrating his second nomination in two years by making the book available for free download. It’s DRM-free, so you can read it anywhere, but I suggest you keep it to areas where you can laugh out loud without causing a disruption.
Legal | The Los Angeles Times reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Toby G. Scammell with insider trading. Scammell has been accused of using confidential information “surreptitiously gleaned” from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Scammell’s girlfriend was an intern working in the corporate strategy department at Disney. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Heidi MacDonald rounds up questions creators have raised about the Womanthology project, which raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, specifically about how the extra money will be used and whether the creators who are involved will be paid. Organizer Renae De Liz has posted additional details on the Womanthology site. [The Beat]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con gets into full swing today in Rosemont, Illinois. Comics guests include Brian Azzarello, Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Gary Friedrich, Patrick Gleason, Mike Grell, Dave Johnson, Ariel Olivetti, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ethan Van Sciver. The Chicago Sun-Times briefly spotlights attending artists Ivan Brunetti and Don Kramer, while the Daily Herald interviews Brunetti and Nate Powell. [Wizard World]
It’s not exactly pirates vs. ninjas, but there has been, shall we say, some ill feeling between webcomics creators and the National Cartoonists Society over the years. But there comes a time to put away childish things, including feuds, and this year the NCS actually invited three webcomics creators—Kate Beaton, Randall Munroe, and Dave Kellett—to present a panel at their annual meeting, which was held this past weekend in Boston. Naturally, Kellett worked this event, along with some of the high points of the evening, into his daily webcomic, Sheldon.
The big news of the evening was that Richard Thompson won the award for outstanding cartoonist of the year, an honor that anyone who reads Cul de Sac can tell you was well deserved. The award for best newspaper strip went to Jeff Parker and Steve Kelley’s Dustin, Jill Thompson won the Best Comic Book Award for Beast of Burden, and Joyce Farmer took Best Graphic Novel honors for Special Exits.
Politics | Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean has apologized for calling Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but contends the author and comics writer should return the $45,000 fee he received in May 2010 for speaking at the Stillwater, Minn., library (Gaiman donated the money, minus agents fees, to charity). Dean’s original remarks were made during a discussion of how the state’s tax-generated Legacy funds for the arts are spent. He was quoted as saying that Gaiman, “who I hate,” is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”
Now, however, the Republican lawmaker has dialed back the rhetoric while standing by his underlying criticism. “My mom is staying with us right now,” he tells Minnesota Public Radio. My wife’s out of town, and she was very angry this morning and always taught me to not be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”
Gaiman, who responded to Dean’s initial comments early Wednesday on Twitter, has since expanded on his remarks on his website, writing in part, “I don’t like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Underwire]
Comics | A psychologist has been brought in to a Houston elementary school after a group of fourth-graders created a comic book allegedly depicting them holding a gun to the head of one of their classmates. [My Fox Houston]
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Emily Stackhouse, creator of the award-winning minicomic Brazilianoir and her latest, Miner’s Mutiny.
To see what Emily and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Dave Kellett has posted a set of photos of original art he has hanging in Small Fish Studios, including a few fan-made objects and original comic art by everyone from Mort Walker to Dylan Meconis. Dave is the creator of the long-running webcomic Sheldon, and the newer sci-fi comic Drive. The interesting thing about these photos is they are showing the strips as objects, but I really wanted to read them. Alas, the tinted glass and occasional awkward angle make that hard to do. (Alas, Kellett has hung his artwork up high.) Still, it’s worth clicking over to see an original Richard Thompson piece, David Malki’s Wondermark-esque take on Sheldon, and even an 18th-century print by the godfather of sequential art, William Hogarth.
(Via The Daily Cartoonist. Photo (c) All rights reserved by smallfishstudios)