"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
The iTunes’ Terms and Conditions agreement has got to be the least-read-yet-most-signed contract in human history. For pages and pages (and a nearly limitless downward digital scroll), it enumerates Apple’s latest subtle shifts in policy regarding the ways we purchase, license and “own” music and media acquired through the most influential online marketplace to date. Who reads those things? Who could even pretend to? Can one even imagine a more arduous task than going through that document, line by line, and trying to parse what exactly it is we are all signing on for?
But ah, the magic of comics. Cartoonist R. Sikoryak, whose work has appeared in Drawn and Quarterly and The New Yorker, is publishing his painstakingly thorough, unabridged graphic adaptation of the iTunes Terms and Conditions agreement on Tumblr. This version of the contract is no mere dry rendering of legalese — instead, Sikoryak has transformed the document into a showcase of styles from talent all across the history of comics, making each page an experiment in the diverse visual language of the medium’s most beloved luminaries.
Dr. Seuss will soon be celebrated in his hometown with a museum dedicated his work in children’s literature, the first of its kind in the world.
Announced by Springfield Museums, a group of five museums in the Massachusetts city, the $3.5 million Amazing World of Dr. Seuss is set to open in June 2016.
The main exhibit space will be divided into three sections — Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss’ Neighborhood and Readingville — with classroom space, a reading nook and a display about the making of the Dr. Seuss National memorial Sculpture Garden, which has drawn an estimated 3 million visitors since 2002.
He’s gathered a Murderers’ Row of great contributors and collaborators to tell the life’s stories of 16 cartoonists, in the most obvious format to do so — comics, of course.
But what, exactly, constitutes a cartoonist? Some of those included might have worked at one point in the field, but made their greatest marks in other areas: people like Walt Disney, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Hugh Hefner (whose inclusion will likely be the biggest surprise to more readers; and, make no mistake, the book is made as much for the casual reader as the expert, armchair or otherwise). Others you might not think of as cartoonists at all, like Edward Gorey or Al Hirschfeld.
And changing the world — the whole world?! — is a pretty bold claim, certainly bolder than changing, say, a genre, or a medium or an industry. Certainly Disney and Osamu Tezuka qualify, as do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced the superhero as we know it, and Jack Kirby, who reimagined the superhero, made countless contributions to the form and who created or co-created characters and concepts that today make billions of dollars.
But what about Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and the aforementioned Hirschfeld? Are their influences and innovations on equal footing?
Before he became well known as the writer and illustrator of charming children’s books, Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel) had another gig: He drew political cartoons. In fact, in the run-up to World War II, Seuss drew some fairly pointed cartoons accusing those who wanted to stay out of the war of being manipulated by the Nazis.
Alas, one stash of these cartoons is being kept firmly out of the public eye, as reporter Bill Sloat reveals in a fine piece in the Cincinnati City Paper: The Cincinnati Art Museum has five of Seuss’ political cartoons, all drawn for the left-leaning newspaper PM between 1939 and 1941, but they aren’t on exhibit, and the museum has no plans to put them on public display:
In addition to donating signed books to a fundraiser for Worldbuilders, author and comics writer Neil Gaiman also promised to record himself reading the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham if they hit $500,000 in their fundraising. Which they did. So he did.
“It made me miss having small kids around to read to. I hope you enjoy it,” he wrote on his blog. Check it out below.
With Halloween just around the corner, Forbes has released its weird (and probably a little morbid) annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities, led by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. But at No. 3, for the second year in a row, is the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
The cartoonist, who passed away in 2000 at age 77, is estimated to have earned $37 million this year — or at least his creations did. They’re owned by Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture formed by Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz, which in 2010 bought the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co. (it was part of a $175 million deal for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy). The property’s 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide.
Publishing | Bob Wayne, DC Comics’ senior vice president of sales, and John Cunningham, vice president of marketing, discuss May sales figures, which show the publisher edging closer to Marvel in market share and Batman topping Justice League. Wayne also explained why DC won’t change its practice of publishing collected editions first in hardcover, then as inexpensive paperbacks: “While certain titles do get a deluxe or an Absolute Edition at some point, we think our retailer would be leaving a lot of money on the table if we didn’t give consumers the chance to buy hardcovers first on select titles. The sales we are having in both channels on Batman and Justice League in the month of May indicate that we don’t have that many people waiting the trade, looking for that cheaper edition. A lot of people seem to want a nice durable hardcover and we plan to follow this model for the foreseeable future.” [ICv2]
Piracy | Manga scanlators (and proprietors of other bootleg comics sites, such as HTMLComics.com) have argued that reading manga on their sites is no different from checking it out of the library. Librarian and graphic novel expert Robin Brenner explains why that just isn’t so. [About.com]
This John Kerschbaum interview is long overdue. After I interviewed John Arcudi back in January 2009, he suggested I interview John Kerschbaum. In fact, he mentioned Kerschbaum in the course of our interview: “Petey and Pussy creator John Kerschbaum is the best cartoonist working in funnybooks right now. And he’s not working nearly enough.” My apologies to Kerschbaum for the time it took to make this interview happen (he agreed to it back in late January, but I was unable to get questions to him until May), so I am really glad to run this finally. Kerschbaum, who was a 2008 Eisner nominee in the Best Humor Publication category for Petey and Pussy, was kind enough to discuss this most recent Fantagraphics book as well as the work he has self-published through his own Fontanelle Press. Enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Looking at your work to date, is there any line of comedy that you are afraid to cross?
John Kerschbaum: I don’t know if I’m motivated by fear, per se, but I tend to shy away from specifically offending people. That is, I avoid ethnic, political or religious humor, that type of stuff. I like to think I’m more of an equal-opportunity offender.
But that’s not to say I think any of those topics are taboo. There are talented cartoonists, humorists and comedians that mine those territories for humor whose work I really enjoy. It’s all about the context in which it’s being done and the abilities of the cartoonist doing it. Just because something CAN be funny doesn’t mean is always IS. There’s a time and place for everything.