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.