"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Legal | Illustrator Greg Theakston tells The Comics Journal that during his Christmas vacation, he plans to file a police complaint against the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, alleging it stole about 3,000 photocopies of Kirby’s pencil work. Theakston gave the photocopies to the museum, but he contends it was intended to be a loan, while the museum says it was an outright donation. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Theakston has been threatening legal action since August. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | Paul Tumey posts a charming series of letters from Pogo creator Walt Kelly to a young pen pal (who had a pet alligator named Albert), along with plenty of backstory. [The Comics Journal]
Passings | Eisner Hall of Fame nominee Fred Kida has died at the age of 93. Kida was an active comics artist for almost 50 years; he got his start drawing Airboy for Hillman Comics in about 1940 and went on to work for Lev Gleason and then Marvel. He assisted Will Eisner occasionally on The Spirit and also drew a number of newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon and The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics,” said Mark Evanier. [News from ME]
Publishing | ICv2 has a two-part interview with Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci, who has plenty to say about variant covers, the launch of Twilight Zone and Legenderry, their Gold Key properties, and what’s coming in the year ahead. [ICv2]
Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
After submitting an offer last week, DreamWorks Animation announced this morning it has bought Classic Media for $155 million. The purchase brings with it comics, cartoon and television properties as diverse as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Lone Ranger, Where’s Waldo?, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the licensing and production rights to Gold Key characters like Magnus, Robot Fighter, Doctor Solar, and Turok, Son of Stone.
“Classic Media brings a large and diverse collection of characters and branded assets that is extremely complementary to DreamWorks Animation’s franchise business, and we plan to leverage it across our motion picture, television, home entertainment, consumer products, digital, theme park and live entertainment channels,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. Founders and co-CEOs Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman – seasoned executives with over 20 years of industry experience and a proven track record of success in managing high-quality content – have built an amazing team at Classic Media and are a welcome addition to the DreamWorks Animation family.”
Classic Media was founded in 2000 by former Marvel Entertainment CEO Ellenbogen and former Broadway Video executive Engelman, who spent much of the next decade acquiring the entire, or partial, libraries of companies like Rankin/Bass, Filmation, Harvey Comics and Jay Ward Productions, and ancillary rights to Golden Books properties, Tribune Media Services comic strips and World Events Productions cartoons.
News broke earlier this week at DreamWorks Animation submitted a bid for Classic Media, a production company that’s not that well known outside of Hollywood. However, it has bought an amazing number of properties over the years that make this auction something to watch. In addition to favorites like Casper the Friendly Ghost and The Lone Ranger, its library includes Dick Tracy, Little Lulu, Richie Rich, and a big portion of the Gold Key/Valiant characters (Doctor Solar Man of the Atom, Magnus Robot Fighter, Turok and others). Heck, Classic Media even owns Where’s Waldo? According to some estimates, Classic Media is the third-largest comic books rights holder, after DC and Marvel.
While I don’t see DreamWorks starting a comics company in the near future (in the near future), the company already does a good deal of licensing to comic publishers like Dark Horse and APE Entertainment. This potential business deal could have ripples that hit comic shelves years down the road.
Disney artist Del Connell, who received the Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award during this year’s Eisner Award ceremonies just three weeks ago, has died at the age of 93. The Bakersfield Californian has a nice article about Connell, who could not attend the ceremony due to failing health, and Glen Weldon posts an appreciation at NPR’s Monkey See blog describing how Connell’s creation, Goofy’s alter ego Super Goof, changed his life. Mark Evanier, who worked down the hall from Connell for a while and was instrumental in getting him the award, adds his own memories of Connell.
Working at a time when artists and writers seldom signed their work, Connell wrote Disney, Dell, and Gold Key comics for 30 years but is still an unfamiliar name to most comics readers. “He did a three-panel gag for Mickey Mouse every day of his life, including Sundays, for 20 years,” his wife Ruth told the Californian. In addition to Super Goof, he came up with Space Family Robinson, which became the television series Lost in Space, as well as Wacky Witch. Yet few people (including the Eisner judges) knew his name, partly because his work was unsigned, and perhaps also because he was humble about it anyway—and when he retired from comics, he stepped away from the industry entirely.
Comic-Con International in San Diego doesn’t officially kick off until tomorrow, but they are hosting a preview night tonight. And not surprisingly, there were some announcements today, albeit not as many as we’ve seen on Wednesday in years past — or at least not as many as I remember on Wednesdays from years past. Maybe the fact that we’ve had so many announcements leading up to Comic-Con over the last week or so led to a quieter pre-con Wednesday. I won’t complain; instead, let’s see what was announced …
• BOOM! Studios announced at a press conference this afternoon that writers Paul Cornell and Chris Roberson would join Mark Waid as the trio of writers working with Stan Lee on a new line of comics. Cornell and artist Javier Pina will bring Soldier Zero to life in October, Mark Waid and Chad Hardin will tackle The Traveler in November, and Chris Roberson and Khary Randolph’s Starborn debuts in December.