"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Passings | Inker Rick Ketcham has passed away. Details are sparse, but Ketcham’s Facebook quickly filled with tributes from friends and colleagues who hailed his kindness, his professionalism, and his willingness to mentor others. Ketcham worked on a number of titles for DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image Comics and other publishers, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G.I. Joe, New X-Men, Runaways and Venom. [Tsunami Studios Facebook]
Legal | There’s one fewer party in the lawsuit over the use of the term “comic con”: Newspaper Agency Corp., which produces materials for Salt Lake Comic Con, has settled with the organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic-Con sued both in August, claiming trademark infringement. Update: A Comic-Con International spokesman clarified that the settlement with the Newspaper Agency Corp. — a printing, advertising and delivery company owned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News under a joint operating agreement — is already in effect, with the company agreeing to a court order that prevents it from using the mark “Comic-Con,” “Comic Con” or its variants in the materials it produces. The lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con organizers continues. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Crime | Someone tossed a homemade fire bomb into the offices of the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. Firefighters put out the fire quickly, and no one was in the offices at the time. The paper published three of the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons from Charlie Hebdo on Thursday with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” [The Telegraph]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Kupperman relates his frustrating, and short-lived, experience as a cartoonist for The New York Times. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]
Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]
Publishing | The British independent publisher Great Beast, which has released the work of Dan Berry, Marc Ellerby and Isabel Greenberg, among others, will close on Jan. 7. Founded in 2012 by Ellerby and Adam Cadwell, the publisher was something of a victim of its own success, as Cadwell explains: “As the group got bigger, as the books became more successful and as we widened the range of shops we sold to there became more of a need for the management and promotion to come from one or two people and Marc Ellerby and I (Adam Cadwell) happily took up that role. However, as time went on we found that the time spent working for the benefit of the group was getting in the way of us actually making our own comics, which is why we started the group in the first place… We looked at many ways of monetising the group so we could pay someone to run things whilst still giving the creators the bulk of the profits but we just couldn’t find a fair way to make it work.” [Great Beast Blog]
Conventions | It looks as if Wizard World’s convention won’t be returning to San Antonio, Texas, in 2015. A Wizard World spokesman said the company couldn’t come up with a date that fit the schedule of the city’s Henry B. Gomez Convention Center, adding, “We hope to revisit the possibility for 2016.” However, reporter Rene Guzman notes that San Antonio’s Alamo City Comic Con was a much bigger deal this year, in terms of the exhibit floor (it took up three exhibit halls of the convention center, compared to Wizards’ one) and probably attendance as well: Wizard World said its inaugural event in August drew “thousands,” and Alamo City had 73,000 attendees, almost twice as many as last year. There will be a Wizard World Austin conventionn in 2015, so anyone wanting a taste of that Wizard magic can find it a short road trip away. [San Antonio Express News]
New Zealand cartoonists Roger Langridge (Fred the Clown, The Muppet Show), Dylan Horrocks (Hicksville) and Tim Gibson (Moth City) are likely familiar are familiar names to many comics readers, but there are plenty more where they came from. And several of them are showcased in the pages of Faction.
“Faction is a showcase of the best of New Zealand comics,” Damon Keen, who edits the biannual anthology with Amie Maxwell, writes in an email to ROBOT 6. “Comic readership here isn’t high; most NZers are completely unaware of the huge renaissance comics have gone through of late, or indeed of the local comic scene at all. And internationally, apart from a few bright stars (Tim Gibson, Roger Langridge, Colin Wilson and Dylan Horrocks) NZ comic artist still remain relatively unknown.”
A New Zealand library’s refusal over the summer to carry Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls has received renewed attention, earning a signal boost from Neil Gaiman and a stern denial from the National Library of New Zealand that it had anything to do with the move.
The story illustrates the strange and unenviable predicament of libraries in countries with censorship laws: If they submit the material for government review in hopes it will be cleared, they risk triggering a ban; however, if they don’t submit a potentially objectionable book, they risk later being found in violation of the law.
Here’s what happened in New Zealand: Over the summer, cartoonist Dylan Horrocks reported he had asked his local library in Auckland to purchase a copy of Lost Girls. The library refused, and he posted its response on his Facebook page:
Thank you for your suggestion to purchase ‘Lost Girls’ by Alan Moore. Due to the depictions contained within this graphic novel we have been advised by the Office of Film and Literature Classification that we may be at risk of prosecution if we made the book available to customers. As a result Auckland Libraries will not be purchasing copies of this title.
As it turns out, Stuff.co.nz reported this week, the library had purchased a copy in 2008, at a patron’s request, but removed it from shelves after concerns were raised about the content.
Publishing | As the smoke settles around the turmoil at Platinum Studios, it appears that company founder and CEO Scott Rosenberg remains in his position following an attempt by President Chris Beall to unseat him — and it’s Beall instead who’s been voted out. According to Deadline, Beall stands by his claims that Rosenberg has mismanaged Platinum and transferred controlling interest in the company to a shell entity called RIP Media without the approval of shareholders. Rosenberg denies the accusations, including that he controls RIP. The Beat has background on the whole mess. [Deadline]
Passings | Cartoonist Chris Cassatt, one of the contributors to the comic strip Shoe, has passed away following a short illness. He was 66. Cassatt started out in 1993 as the assistant to Shoe creator Jeff MacNelly and worked with him until MacNelly’s death in 2000. After that, he collaborated with Susie MacNelly and Gary Brookins on the strip. In earlier days he was a photographer for the Aspen Times in Colorado and also created a local comic featuring a character named Sal A. Mander whom he had run in actual local elections. “After candidate Sal A. Mander was thrown off the ballot in an Aspen mayoral election on the shaky (in Aspen, anyway) grounds that he was not a ‘real person,’ Cassatt legally changed his name to Sal A. Mander and ran for Colorado governor in 1978, finishing fifth in a six-candidate contest,” the newspaper writes. The following year, he mounted a write-in campaign for Sal against an unpopular district attorney who was running unopposed. He lost, but the ridicule Cassatt’s character heaped on the D.A. during the campaign took its toll, and he didn’t stay in office for long. [Aspen Times]
Comic strips | Scott Adams’ Dilbert is moving to Universal UClick after two decades with United Feature Syndicate. The news doesn’t come as a big surprise, as it was announced more than three months ago that Peanuts would make the same move in February. Both properties are represented by Peanuts Worldwide. UClick will begin management of Dilbert.com on Saturday, with print syndication to follow in the summer. Dilbert will join a lineup at the syndicate that includes Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Ziggy. [press release]
Comic strips | Writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman discuss the end of Brenda Starr, whose final strip runs on Sunday. “(Brenda) is a continuity strip, like a soap opera. Those have been dropping like flies,” Brigman says. “It is amazing she has lasted. It’s not a laugh-a-day strip. It requires some effort, like reading the paper every day.” [Boston Herald]
Retailing | Gendy Alimurung chronicles the final days of the Borders Books and Music location is Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood: “The protracted demise is helping [12-year employee Camilla] Ostrin gradually acclimate to her new reality, at least. Empty bookshelves are the saddest part. She’s used to seeing them full. Customers likely would agree; they don’t seem to understand that the store isn’t being restocked, that the new Obama calendars aren’t coming in, or that once the Paperchase journals are gone, they’re gone.” [LA Weekly]
Legal | Michael Renaud, the only witness who can place retailer Michael George at his comic store around the time his first wife Barbara George was killed, testified Monday that a meeting with detectives shortly after the 1990 murder detailed in a recently published book did take place, despite its lack of mention in police files. Defense attorney Carl Marlinga questioned during the evidentiary hearing whether Renaud, who admitted to smoking marijuana, has a reliable memory of events. [Detroit Free Press]
Digital piracy | Four publishing groups in Japan, including the Digital Comic Association, is demanding that Apple stop selling pirated works of Japanese authors in its App Store. Apple says that it removes pirated material upon notification by the copyright holder. [The Wall Street Journal]
Publishing | Although a bill to further restrict the sale in metropolitan Tokyo of manga and anime depicting “extreme” sex won’t be voted on until Wednesday, some creators say the legislation has already had a chilling effect. For instance, one boys love artist contends her publisher is refusing to release works set in schools or featuring school uniforms. [Sankaku Complex]
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off having fun at WonderCon, so it falls to me to handle this week’s column. Our special guest this week is New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks, who some of you might know as the author of the seminal graphic novel Hicksville, which was just re-released by Drawn & Quarterly.
To see what Dylan and the rest of us are reading hit the link below. Hard. Then let us know what you yourself are perusing in the comments section.
Nate Powell‘s Swallow Me Whole is a graphic novel that demands and warrants repeated readings. Released by Top Shelf last year, the publisher describes it as “a love story carried by rolling fog, terminal illness, hallucination, apophenia, insect armies, secrets held, unshakeable faith, and the search for a master pattern to make sense of one’s unraveling.” My thanks to Powell for this email interview and his level of candor.
Tim O’Shea: What motivated you to start self-publishing mini-comics at the age of 14?
Nate Powell: Well, I’d been drawing comics with a few friends for a couple of years already. We had many issues of a comic series mapped out, and a friend’s uncle suggested that we finish up each issue and self-publish it. We didn’t really know what that entailed, but soon discovered a few neglected copy machines around town and in my dad’s office. We made 100 copies of the first comic, and they all sold in about two months; we’d never anticipated recovering our expenses, or anyone actually BUYING the books, to be honest. We just wanted to have a comic too, and found the most accessible way to make them. At this time I was already into the punk subculture and had been exposed to people who made zines and released records in much the same manner, but it was not until a few years later when I started writing zines and putting out records that I saw the inherent connections between these two realms of DIY entrepreneurship.
The American Dream: this is a totally new story that I’ve been working on for some years (I think I began writing notes for it in 2003 or 2004). Not sure exactly how long it will be, but probably less than 100 pages, and I plan on putting up a few new pages per week.
Sam Zabel & the Magic Pen: I already published the first chapter of this story in Atlas #2 & 3 (from the wonderful Drawn & Quarterly), so the first 26 pages will look pretty familiar to anyone who read them there. But I’ve now added colour (which I’d always hoped to do eventually), and of course from chapter two onwards, it’ll be all new.
Horrocks has a couple other short stories up as well and also says he plans on serializing the main story from Atlas on his site, and that he will still be collecting these tales in book form at some point down the road. Go check it out.