Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as most Major League Baseball teams have their opening day. In late February, when writer/artist Matt Kindt tweeted that he was returning from a St. Louis Cardinals spring training trip to Florida, I got him to agree to an interview on the spot.
This exchange took place before Dark Horse’s WonderCon announcement that Kindt’s series, Mind MGMT, would have a finite 36-issue run.
In addition to discussing his Dark Horse series, and our shared appreciation of baseball (despite his Cardinals eliminating my hometown Atlanta Braves from playoff contention last season), we delve into the May 7 release of his First Second book, Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. There are few storytellers that set a narrative environment as uniquely as Kindt can. This go-around he establishes the city of Red Wheelbarrow to serve a larger homage to classic detective fiction.
For additional insight into Kindt’s work on Mind MGMT, be sure to read Jeffrey Renaud’s CBR interview with the writer/artist from early February.
As a longtime fan of Kindt’s narrative sensibilities, I hope he gets in contact with the right folks with the MLB in order to pursue that baseball project.
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.
As crime comics experience a resurgence, one of the genre’s pioneers has been yellowing with age … but one group sketch blog is looking to bring some new attention and appreciation to the detective. Rafael Albuquerque, Andy Kuhn, Tyler Crook and other members of Ashcan All-Stars have been producing sketches to celebrate Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy and have been doing it with no shortage of style or talent.
Take a look below at some of the highlights, and head to Ashcan All-Stars’ website to see more as they’re revealed.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.
If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.
Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.
Art | Jerry Robinson’s cover artwork from Detective Comics #67 is expected to bring in more than $300,000 when it goes up for auction Nov. 15. “Robinson penciled and inked this cover and the detail of his art is amazing close-up,” said Todd Hignite, consignment director for Comic Art at Heritage Auctions, “particularly his shading lines on Batman and Robin, and on the feathery details of the ostrich being straddled by that bird-of-prey, the Penguin.” [Art Daily]
Business | Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment Inc. and Vuguru, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner’s independent studio, are partnering to produce “original digital content.” [press release]
Comics | Darryl Ayo has a small manifesto about comics that makes a lot of sense: “Things that don’t make sense in North American comics: 1) comics that exist after their creators have ceased to. 2) these comics’ existence continues despite minimal effort to applicable to contemporary culture. Things that make perfect sense in North American comics: people’s general lack of interest in comics.” He points out a number of reasons why the comics audience is small and challenges creators and publishers to “Do better.” One point he makes that is rarely mentioned: The critical importance of editors. [Comix Cube]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly round-up of … well, what we’ve been reading lately.
Today our special guest is the legendary Gilbert Hernandez. Known best as the co-creator of Love & Rockets, his other works include Sloth, The Troublemakers, Chance in Hell and Yeah! with Peter Bagge (which is being collected by Fantagraphics)
To see what Gilbert and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Awards | Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as part of the prestigious Nebula Awards. “When the nice lady from the Nebula committee called me, she said this is ‘essentially the Nebula Award for young adult books’,” Deutsch writes. Although graphic novels are specifically mentioned in the Andre Norton Award guidelines, this appears to be the first time one has been nominated. The award was established in 2005 in honor of prolific science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who passed away that year. The winners will be announced May 21 in Washington, D.C., during the Nebula Awards banquet. [SFFWA]
Passings | We’ll collect reactions later today to the sudden death of respected comics and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie — Comic Book Resources has remembrances from more than a dozen industry figures — but I wanted to go ahead and point to a handful of links: The Associated press obituary; a few words from Christopher Irving, accompanied by a beautiful portrait of McDuffie photographed by Seth Kushner on Feb. 13; the origin of Static; and a look at Spider-Man anti-drug PSA comics written by McDuffie. There’s also McDuffie’s message board, where he interacted candidly with fans on a regular basis. Two threads are devoted to the news of his death and memories of the creator they often referred to as “the Maestro.” The site’s administrator has posted a message last night on the main page: “Dwayne’s family and friends would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of condolences. They are much appreciated in this difficult time.” [Dwayne McDuffie]
Retailing | Borders Group began liquidation sales over the weekend at 200 stores, discounting items 20 percent to 40 percent. As Publishers Weekly and Blogcritics chart the 40-year rise and fall of the retailer, PW’s Jim Milliot looks at the effects the bookseller’s bankruptcy will have on the publishing industry: “The trickle-down impact will affect everyone from manufacturers to agents. Borders accounted for about 8% of overall industry sales, a higher percentage in some categories. A downsized Borders means publishers are likely to receive smaller orders and in turn place smaller first printings, resulting in less business for printers. The likelihood of lower print sales, one publisher said, means that books acquired one or two years ago when Borders was much bigger will have a more difficult time earning the advance back and that less shelf space could mean lower advances.” [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Tracey Taylor has details of retailer Jack Rems’ plans to resurrect Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief as a new store called The Escapist — a nod to the Michael Chabon character — possibly at the same location. [Berkeleyside]
Creators | Ruling that cartoonist Albert Uderzo can’t benefit from tax breaks extended to authors, French authorities have ordered the Asterix co-creator to pay $273,000 in taxes on the 24 books he and late collaborator late René Goscinny produced between 1959 and 1979. The country’s tax office asserts the extra tax exemption applies only to “people who have participated in writing the texts of the comic strip.” “This is an injustice and a scandal,” the 84-year-old Uderzo said. [The Telegraph]
Creators | Cartoonist Dick Locher is retiring from the Dick Tracy comic strip after 32 years, handing the reins to artist Joe Staton and writer Mike Curtis. Their first strip will appear in newspapers on March 14. “It’s time to move on to other things,” the 81-year-old Lochner tells Michael Cavna. “It’s time to do normal things with my family, to travel, to paint in the American Southwest.” [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Within a day of DC Comics’ entry into digital distribution, one commentator declares that “DC and Marvel Are Killing Digital Comics.” Aaron Ting points to pricing, the lack of “3D page-turning interactivity,” and the use of separate applications: “There should be one unified store, like iTunes or iBooks. Having separate digital stores makes sense if you’re just trying to reach your individual loyal fans — they’ll download anything you ask them to. But digital comics needs to be about reaching out to people who don’t currently read print comics, and those people aren’t going to intuitively know that they should download an app put out by this ‘DC’ company — even if that company owns Batman and Superman.” [WordsFinest]
Retailing | A bailiff changed the locks on Toronto independent bookstore This Ain’t the Rosedale Library on Friday because the store’s owners owe their landlord more than $40,000. Owners Jesse and Charlie Huisken explain their situation, and ask for donations, at the store’s blog. Chris Oliveros comments on the store’s early support of Drawn & Quarterly, and stresses the importance of independent booksellers. [The Globe and Mail, via Rory Seydel]
My love for all things Dick Tracy is such that I can’t not draw your attention to the Ye Gods! He Collects Dick Tracy blog. Did you know Chester Gould made a little cemetery to memorialize all his deceased villains? (found via Mike Lynch).
Mike Lynch finds an old program for an exhibit of Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy art that lists just about every significant villain and supporting character the strip has ever had and then some. Did you know there actually was a character called Smallmouth Bass?