Soule Finds a Weakness in the Afterlife, Discusses Surprise "Inhuman" Return
Passings | Cartoonist and illustrator Roy Doty, best known for his long-running Wordless Workshop cartoon, has died at age 92. Wordless Workshop, which ran in Family Handyman and other similar publications, featured a pipe-smoking handyman who, when faced with a domestic problem of some sort, would immediately visualize something he could build, including a simple set of plans. Doty also illustrated over 100 children’s books, including several by Judy Blume, and drew a syndicated Laugh-In comic based on the television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. He had a short-lived show of his own on the Dumont Network in 1953, in which he told stories and drew cartoons. He won 10 awards from the National Cartoonists Society, including their Gold Key Hall of Fame Award, and continued to be an active cartoonist until last year. [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature, we asked some creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, hear from Hope Larson, Jason Latour, Jess Fink, Sophie Goldstein, Chris Schweizer, Shawn Crystal, Dean Haspiel, Andrew MacLean, Stephanie Cooke, Nolan T. Jones, Erica Schultz and Fred Van Lente!
Since his Myeloid Acute Leukemia diagnosis in April, I have been following Seth Kushner’s arduous medical journey. The various rounds of chemotherapy did not seem to be the hardest part of the experience for the photographer/comics writer. For him, the biggest hardship (other than the fight for his life, of course) was the fact that his frequent bouts of hospitalization for treatments kept him away from his home with his wife, Terra, and their young son.
Conventions | With the 20th Small Press Expo kicking off Saturday in Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post’s Lori McCue singles out three of the show’s biggest draws: appearances by Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Bob Mankoff. Meanwhile, Michael Cavna spotlights Fear, My Dear, the new release from convention guest Dean Haspiel. [The Washington Post]
Creators | As he prepared to head out to Small Press Expo, Farel Dalrymple paused for an audio interview about his newest book, The Wrenchies, which will debut at the show. [Comics Grinder]
Creators | Writer Tom Taylor teases what we can expect in his new Superior Iron Man series. [Previews World]
If you asked me for a list of some of the best superhero comics of the past year or so, I’d be sure to mention one that comes not from DC Comics or Marvel, two companies synonymous with the genre, but from Archie Comics, a publisher popularly known for not making superhero comics.
That comic would be the one starring The Fox, a Golden Age superhero from MLJ Comics (which would eventually become Archie Comics) that was recently resurrected in a well-made, well-received miniseries, now available in the collection The Fox: Freak Magnet.
Archie’s approach to the book seems to have been somewhat Marvel-ous, in several respects.
First, the publisher appears to have allowed a talented creator, Dean Haspiel, to do pretty much whatever he liked with the relatively minor character, and he chose to stick with what came before, but to take it in his own, idiosyncratic direction, not unlike Marvel’s post-Hawkeye strategy for its secondary, non-franchise books.
Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores in March divides neatly into eight Image Comics titles (six volumes of The Walking Dead and two of Saga), eight volumes of manga (four Attack on Titan, four Viz Media titles) and four volumes of media tie-ins. For the second month in a row, not a single DC Comics or Marvel title cracked the Top 20, although an older DK Publishing character guide to the Avengers (not actually a graphic novel) came in at No. 11. The top-selling title was the 20th volume of The Walking Dead, and the No. 2 was the third volume of Saga. It’s also interesting to note that the first three volumes of Attack on Titan charted higher than the most recent release, which suggests new readers are still coming into the franchise in substantial numbers — and sticking with it. [ICv2]
This week writer and photojournalist Seth Kushner launched the Kickstarter for Schmuck, his semi-autobio/anthology graphic novel about his quest to find love in New York City. While portions of the collection originally ran online at TripCity.net, even those aspects will be remastered and/or colored for the 168-page trade paperback.
This collection, which features the work of 22 artists, also marks the inaugural release of HANG DAI Editions. The HANG DAI imprint, which was founded in New York City by Gregory Benton, Dean Haspiel, Josh Neufeld and Kushner, focuses on “limited edition comix, graphic novels, and art books, with an emphasis on personal interaction at events, conventions, and signings”.
Comics | Once the paperwork is complete, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will officially own the original artwork for the 1964 DC Comics story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy,” fulfilling one of artist Al Plastino’s final wishes. Plastino, who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been donated to the library five decades earlier, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The auction was put on hold until questions of ownership could be resolved, and Plastino spent the final weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, even petitioning a judge to force the auction house to reveal the name of the seller. DC Entertainment intervened in December to acquire the pages and give them to the library. “We are thrilled to receive this historic artwork and look forward to sharing it with the public when the legal transfer is completed,” library director Tom Putnam said in a statement. [Newsday]
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In, this final round, we hear from Vito Delsante, Jacq Cohen, Mark Sable, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Williamson, Jordie Bellaire, Paul Allor, Adam P. Knave, Tim Gibson, Bryan Q. Miller, Nathan Edmondson, Ann Nocenti, Jason Latour, Paul Tobin, Ming Doyle, Jeff Parker, Francesco Francavilla and Gabriel Hardman.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Kurt Busiek, Faith Erin Hicks, Tyler Kirkham, G. Willow Wilson and many more.
Dean Haspiel is one of the most visible creators working in comics today, and his style is equally recognizable, whether he is creating superhero comics or his own Billy Dogma stories at ACT-I-VATE, the webcomics site he co-founded in 2006.
Even when he’s working on someone else’s property, Haspiel has a way of making it his own, and this is particularly true of his revival of The Fox for Archie Comics’s Red Circle imprint. One of the earliest superheroes in comics, The Fox made his debut in 1940, back when the publisher was still called MLJ Comics, and has resurfaced several times since then; a new version of the character appeared in the 1980s in Blue Ribbon Comics and Mighty Crusaders.
In Haspiel’s hands, The Fox is a reluctant superhero, a “freak magnet” who can’t avoid getting into trouble but won’t run away from a fight. The third issue of the series, scripted by Mark Waid, arrives Jan. 8; Haspiel will be doing a signing that day at Forbidden Planet in New York City. We talked to Haspiel about his version of The Fox, and Archie sent along some art from Issue 3 to go with it.
The second annual Locust Moon Comics Festival will be held in Philadelphia, with a larger space than last year’s showand more than double the number of creators. Hosted by Locust Moon Comics, the donation-based event offers no advance tickets; children 13 and under get in free. A portion of all donations will go toward helping the Jack Kirby Museum create a physical location.
Held at The Rotunda in West Philadelphia (4014 Walnut St.), the festival will include workshops and panels with an emphasis on independent and creator-owned comics. Local creators will off course be present, and Philadelphia residents like J.G. Jones (Final Crisis), Robert Woods (36 Lessons in Self-Destruction), James Comey (Donkey Punch) and Box Brown (Everything Dies) are all scheduled to attend. The event also includes guests from outside the city, though, so attendees can expect to see creators like Jim Steranko (Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Chrissie Zullo (Cinderella), Todd Klein (Fables), Dean Haspiel (Billy Dogma), Tom Scioli (Gødland), Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle), Jay Lynch (Garbage Pail Kids), Kim Deitch (The Boulevard of Broken Dreams) and Ron Wimberly (Prince of Cats).
Some of the artists are offering festival-exclusive prints (like the Robert Woods poster accompanying this post), and Woods is also debuting his new book, 36 Lessons in Self-Destruction, the complete collection of his Depressed Punx minicomics.
Locust Moon also offers a far better standard of convention food with local vendors like Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Tacos Don Memo, Kung Fu Hoagies and Lovers & Madmen Coffee Lounge. While the festival itself takes place on Saturday, events and festivities at Locust Moon Comics will spill across the weekend, including a 36 Lessons release party and a post-festival pancake breakfast. See the festival’s website for more details.
Although Image Comics has staked out territory as both the premier publisher for creator-owned work and a proving ground for fledgling writers and artists, it was another 1990s company that served as an entry point for many of today’s top talent: Caliber Comics.
Launched in 1989 by retailer Gary Reed, Caliber Comics was a harbinger of the coming wave of creator-owned titles. Launching with two flagship books — Deadworld and The Realm — Reed quickly expanded the line with his in-house anthology book Caliber Presents and a entire sub-line of illustrated books similar to Classics Illustrated. But perhaps its enduring contribution was as a doorway into the comics industry for writers and artists who are today marquee names
The list of A-list creators whose comics debuts were made possibly by Caliber is mind-boggling: Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Michael Lark, James O’Barr, Brandon Peterson, Dean Haspiel, Georges Jeanty and Jason Lutes all made their comics debuts here. In addition, Caliber also was where many budding creators made their first recognizable work; it was at there that Mike Allred created Madman, and Guy Davis blossomed with Baker Street.
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]
Premiering Oct. 30, The Fox follows photojournalist Paul Patton Jr. as he dons to a costume to make news to take pictures of, only to be drawn into something far stranger than he’d initially thought when he investigates a social-media mogul.
The series, part of a Red Circle revival that includes the digital-first New Crusaders, will feature “The Shield” back-up stories by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro.
Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to the direct market dropped sharply in August, compared to the same month in 2012 (10.39 percent and 24.55 percent, respectively), but ICv2 attributes the decline — at least as far as periodicals is concerned — to August 2012 having five Wednesdays while last month had just four. Year-to-date sales are still up over 2012, although things seem to be slowing down a bit. DC Comics shipped more comic books, but Marvel won in market share, and the top-selling graphic novel was the first volume of The Walking Dead, which points to a dearth of new graphic novel releases. [ICv2]
Conventions | Attendance exceeded 50,000 at the first Salt Lake Comic Con, held over the weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. This article focuses on families with children who attended, and includes some interesting conversations with parents who are obviously fans themselves and take an active interest in their children’s comics reading. [Deseret News]