"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Passings | Artist and writer Alan Kupperberg has died of thymus cancer at the age of 62. Kupperberg got his start writing dummy letters for Marvel in the late 1960s, then moved to the production department at DC and in 1974 was hired by the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard comics, where he played a variety of roles, including letterer, colorist, and editor. That company folded after a year, and he went to Marvel, where he worked on a number of different titles, including The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Savage Sword of Conan, and Amazing Spider-Man. He created the one-shot comic Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men working entirely solo, and he drew the weekly Howard the Duck newspaper comic as well as the comic-strip version of The Incredible Hulk and Little Orphan Annie. His magazine work included National Lampoon, Cracked, and Spy. Kupperberg also taught at the School for Visual Arts, and he was the brother of writer Paul Kupperberg. [ICv2]
Manga | Hiromi Bando has translated Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen into Chinese and is looking for a publisher, but she has been told the Chinese government will not approve its publication. Bando, who is Japanese, was inspired to translate the manga, an eyewitness account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, after hearing of her father’s experiences fighting in China during World War II. The manga is taught in the original Japanese in a few universities in China. [Asahi Shimbun]
That’s some stunt.
For quite a while now, publisher Archie Comics has been engaged in an ongoing campaign of stunt comics, all seemingly calculated to secure the most mainstream media coverage. They introduced characters that made the notoriously conservative comics more representatively diverse. They had a same-sex marriage. They married Archie to Betty…and they married Archie to Veronica (In alternate future timelines, of course). They killed Archie. They had the gang from Riverdale meet Kiss, President Barack Obama and then-Governor Sarah Palin, and even a Predator. They even launched an honest-to-God, mature-readers horror comic in which Archie and friends battle to survive a zombie apocalypse.
But relaunching Archie with a new #1, a new creative team and a new direction has got to be their best stunt yet. Certainly, the move boasts some of the same calculation that went into those mentioned above (many of which did produce some good comics, no matter how cynically you want to view the decisions behind them). Hiring Mark Waid, one of the more popular and maybe the most reliable of superhero writers, and Fiona Staples, an immensely talented artist who achieved superstardom via creator-owned Image series Saga, is every bit as attention-getting as setting the issue counter back down to #1, or having an ungodly 21 (Twenty-one!) covers, or divorcing the book from its long-time house style.
It works though, and it works for the most simple of reasons: The new Archie #1 isn’t just new and it isn’t just different, it’s also very good.
Creators | Fast Company named writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as one of its 100 “Most Creative People in Business 2015,” a list that includes innovators in technology, scientific research, entertainment, medicine and social media. The writer of such comics as Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick is cited specifically for “reanimating a superhero,” Captain Marvel. [Fast Company]
Awards | Bad Blood, the Dark Horse miniseries written by Jonathan Maberry and illustrated by Tyler Crook, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. [Horror Writers Association]
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
What if I told you that you could get a sculpture of Saga‘s Lying Cat? No, not “Lying.”
Mike Bauerlein recently shared online the details of a 3D modeling commission he undertook of the fan-favorite character from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ hit series. Using ZBrush and reference pulled from the comic, Bauerlein captured the details of Lying Cat while staying true to Staples’ art.
Given the commercial and critical success of Saga, the space opera from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, it seems likely the Image Comics series has been eyed by more than a few film and television producers. However, the writer says he would be more interested in a video-game adaptation.
“That’s actually something that has come up,” he told The Verge. “A Saga video game, particularly if it’s sort of about characters other than the main characters in our story, is really exciting to me — even more exciting than a film or TV show. So, uh, never say never.”
Crime | Artist Josh C. Lyman reports that thieves broke into his car sometime on Monday or Tuesday and stole about 40 pieces of original art (some of it commissioned), 1,200 prints, plus convention setup materials, art supplies and clothes. “I’m more devastated in the fact my originals are all gone … some of my better non-commissioned work of the last 3 years … along with all of my tools I have earned and acquired during the aforementioned periods. Tshirts and the like I can slowly replace … but it’s the matter of having all this potential art for shows gone; along with all the posters I had left,” he writes. Lyman contacted police and has notified local comic shops to keep an eye out for the missing work, and he has posted images of the stolen art. [Facebook, via Bleeding Cool]
Censorship | Rachael Jolley takes a long and wide view of the pressures that political cartoonists are subject to, looking at several recent attempts to suppress editorial cartoonists as well as the history of tensions between creators of political cartoons and those they portray; the article also includes comments from Neil Gaiman on the topic of censorship. [The New Statesman]
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]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
In some ways, this is the best of times and the worst of times for those who are interested in bringing comics to a broader audience. As the hubbub died down over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover, another story went viral, about a comic shop where an employee allegedly made a crude joke about a “rape room” and then fired a trainee who complained about it. While debate continues to rage over what exactly happened there (the store owner denies it), Bloomberg did a big story on how the number of women comics readers is growing and becoming an ever more important sector of the industry.
With this in mind, I want to call out three things that happened this week.
The first is Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the National Book Festival. First of all, it’s impressive that a comics creator is given such a prominent platform at an event that isn’t actually focused on comics. What Yang had to say was even more impressive. He spoke about the African-American creator Dwayne McDuffie, whose love of comics first caught fire when he encountered the Black Panther, a black character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Black Panther wasn’t perfect, but, Yang said,
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
Thursday marks 10 years since the first 24 Hour Comics Day. In recognition of this milestone, Nat Gertler, who organized that first day and orchestrated the event annually through 2007, was more than happy to share his recollections of its formation. One detail that surprised was that the 2005 collection features the first sold story by award-winning artist Fiona Staples.
The Society of Illustrators has debuted new art by Fiona Staples (Saga) that will be used to promote this year’s MoCCA Arts Fest.
Staples will be a guest of honor, alongside Howard Cruse, Fiona Staples and Robert Williams. The event will be held April 5-6 at the 69th Regiment Armory (68 Lexington Ave., New York City). Admission is $5 per day.
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
Awards | Sean Phillips was named as best artist and Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, as best comic/graphic novel at the 2013 British Fantasy Awards, presented Sunday at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, alongside the World Fantasy Awards. [British Fantasy Society]
Publishing | Tim Pilcher of Humanoids talks about his company’s new plans to distribute its graphic novels in the United Kingdom through Turnaround Publisher Services. [ICv2]
Conventions | Italy’s Lucca Fest had a record-breaking show, with 200,000 tickets sold and 300,000 attendees in all. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Saga, Adventure Time, Jaime Hernandez and Parker: The Score were among the winners of the 2013 Harvey Awards, which were presented tonight in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con. Saga was the night’s big winner with six awards, as Fiona Staples took home awards for best artist and best colorist, and Brian K. Vaughan took home the award for best writer.
Also taking home an award tonight was this very blog, as Robot 6 won for best biographic, historical or journalistic presentation. Our fearless leader Kevin Melrose will likely have a few words to say about that in the days ahead, but for now I’ll just say congratulations to the rest of the Robot 6 team — it’s an honor to work with you guys.
Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the awards are selected entirely by creators. The full list of nominees can be found below, with the winners in bold and italics. Congratulations to all the winners: