"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
The time travel, multiple speedsters and alternate timelines on The CW drama The Flash may be enough to confuse even some longtime comics readers. If you’re square with Harrison Wells and Eddie Thawne but can’t quite figure out Eobard Thawne (just play along, please), I suggest you consult Google Translate.
What? Where else would you turn for superhero comics minutiae?
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is big in New York City. Well, huge may be more like it.
At 13th Dimension, Dan Greenfield has a gallery of photos taken over the holiday weekend at Times Square, where Google’s block-long, 8-stories-tall digital billboard — the largest in North America — ran an ad for Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (available on Google Play, naturally).
The Google Cultural Institute has compiled images, videos and documents for an exhibit on Osamu Tezuka, marking the first time a manga artist has been featured in the digital historical archive.
Launched in 2011, the initiative is “an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.” With the participation of 40 institutions in 14 countries, the Google Cultural Institute offers free access to photographs, footage and documents from historical events and figures of the 20th century.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the Tezuka exhibit was added to the “Cultural Figures” section on Monday, the fiction birthday of Astro Boy. The collection consists of 172 images, video and text pieces from Tezuka Productions and the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum.
“Tezuka repeatedly expressed his opposition to war and discrimination and emphasized the preciousness of life through his works,” said Yoshihiro Shimizu, chief of the copyright business division of Tokyo-based Tezuka Productions. “I am happy that information concerning Tezuka is spread around the globe (through the site) and his ideas are shared.”
Cartoonist Ty Templeton, who illustrated Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, has thrown his support behind author Marc Tyler Nobleman’s renewed effort to convince Google to mark the 100th anniversary of Bill Finger’s birth on Feb. 8 with a Google Doodle.
To help increase public awareness of Finger as the uncredited co-creator of Batman, Templeton not only rattles off some of the writer’s contributions to the mythos — the Batmobile, the Batcave, Wayne Manor, the basic look of Batman’s costume, and key villains and supporting players, among them — but also a comic strip that imagines a Batman created solely by Bob Kane.
You can see the full strip on Templeton’s blog. He also posted some pages from Bill the Boy Wonder, including the spread below that illustrates just some of the elements Finger introduced to Batman comics.
An effort by Bill Finger biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman to honor the uncredited co-creator of Batman with a Google Doodle appears to be gaining steam, with the likes of Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer endorsing the campaign to their Twitter followers.
Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret C0-Creator of Batman, initially pitched the idea to Google in 2012, but dusted off the proposal again in December because this year marks not just the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight’s debut, but also the 100th anniversary of Finger’s birth and the 40th anniversary of his death.
Digital comics | Google was granted a patent this week for “Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications,” which means the Internet giant apparently has patented a mechanism for creating comics about your status updates and chats and sharing them via social media. This sounds a lot like the wildly popular, but widely reviled, Bistrips. [Geekwire]
Best of the year | Brian Truitt takes a look back at the year in comics, picking out some significant events and offering his nominations for best creator, best comic book movie, and best comic in a variety of genres and formats. [USA Today]
Best of the year | Writing for The Advocate, cartoonist Brian Andersen reflects on the year’s 10 greatest LGBT moments in mainstream comics. [Advocate.com]
Passings | Golden Age creators Marcus “Marc” Swayze, best known for writing and drawing Fawcett’s Captain Marvel comics in the early 1940s, died Sunday in Monroe, Louisiana. He was 99. Swayze, who created Mary Marvel with writer Otto Binder, employed a simple style of illustration. “My personal philosophy was to use the art in storytelling so that even a child who couldn’t yet read could get a story out of it,” he told the Monroe News-Star in 2000. [The News-Star]
Legal | The Indian government has officially dropped sedition charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, but he still faces up to three years in prison if found guilty on the remaining charges under the Prevention of Insult to National Honor Act of 1971. Trivedi was arrested last month and briefly jailed before being released on bail. In an odd twist, Trivedi is currently participating in the reality show Bigg Boss, the Indian counterpart of Big Brother. [UPI.com]
As visitors to the Google homepage have already noticed, the company is celebrating the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s groundbreaking comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland with an amazing interactive Doodle.
Debuting Oct. 15, 1905, the surreal Sunday comic — much like McCay — was years ahead of its time, initially following the nightly dreams of a little boy named Nemo as attempted to reach the realm of King Morpheus, who wanted him as a playmate for his daughter. Each installment ended with Nemo abruptly waking just as he was about to experience a mishap in dreamland. The strip, later retitled In the Land of Wonderful Dreams when it changed newspapers, ran until 1914 before being revived from 1924 to 1947.
Michael Cavna of The Washington Post has more on McCay, Little Nemo and the Google Doodle.
Sometimes when you interview a creator, you get the distinct impression that person would rather be promoting a new film or a new novel, anything but a comic book. Other times you are fortunate enough to talk to a creator like artist Jamal Igle who relishes his craft, loves comic books and is almost as much a booster of his fellow creators as the typical comic book fan. This Wednesday (December 14) marks the release of The Ray 1, the first installment of the four-issue DC miniseries by Igle with the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. My thanks to Igle for the email interview. Once you’ve enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out CBR’s late November interview with Palmiotti and Gray, as well as the preview that CBR offered of issue 1.
Tim O’Shea: When the initial 52 DC Books were announced there was a great deal of displeasure voiced about the fact you were not on the list of creators. Two-fold question: How gratifying was it to see your fans support you so vocally on this front. Secondly, without going into details, were you offered a New 52 assignment and passed on it (please feel free to skip the first part and only answer the first part, if you prefer not to delve into it)
Jamal Igle: It was very flattering and humbling at the same time. It was a little difficult for me to respond to all of the inquiries, because I didn’t know, frankly, how to respond. I was still working on Superman at the time, so I hadn’t been assigned anything. It was a really weird, with all of the assignments being announced, not being able to say anything. The offer for The Ray came just as I was finishing up Superman # 713, prepping #714 and getting ready for San Diego.
Publishing | Marvel and DC Comics are among the first companies to join Google+ as a part of the Google + Pages initiative, along with other early adopters like the WWE, Angry Birds, The Muppets and Pepsi. Companies that initially joined Google+ back when it first launched had their accounts shut down as Google worked on “building a similarly optimized business experience for Google+” like they had for individuals. Google+ Pages launched yesterday. [The Source, Marvel.com]
Digital | Digital comics distributor iVerse Media has received a $4 million private-equity investment for the expansion of marketing and product development for its Comics+ app. [TechCrunch]
While in the Bay Area a few weeks ago for WonderCon, Paul Levitz, former DC president and publisher and current Legion of Super-Heroes writer, headed down the peninsula to speak at Google’s offices in Mountain View as a part of their Authors@Google speaker series. It’s a lengthy video, but well worth the time to check it out.
(Hat tip: Tom Galloway)
To mark what would have been Will Eisner’s 94th birthday, Google is honoring him with a homepage “doodle” spotlighting The Spirit and the cartoonist’s imaginative blend of type and architecture. Scott McCloud, who helped design the piece, also writes a tribute to Eisner on the Official Google Blog: “For most of his career, Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve. I saw him debating artists and editors half his age, and there was rarely any question who the youngest man in the room was. It helped that he never stood on ceremony. Everyone was his peer, regardless of age or status. None of us called him ‘Mr. Eisner.’ He was just “Will’.”
Manga creator Ken Akamatsu (Negima, Love Hina) has been pioneering an interesting business model: Putting out-of-print manga online, for free, as PDFs with no copy protection. The site, J-Comi, is supported by ads, and Akamatsu put his money where his mouth is by posting all 14 volumes of Love Hina on the site, which is still in beta.
Last week, Akamatsu announced that he is working with Google to develop a comics reader that will track readers’ location and interests and deliver targeted ads. That’s actually not such great news for readers—comics viewers seldom work as smoothly as a PDF, they won’t allow the comics to be downloaded to an iPad or other device, and everyone hates ads—but I guess you have to pay the bills somehow.
What makes this site a big deal is the names attached: Akamatsu has persuaded two of the biggest manga publishers in Japan, Kodansha and Shueisha, to play along. When the second beta test period begins, on January 11, the offerings will include Belmonde Le VisiteuR, from Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, which is also the home of the blockbusters Naruto and Bleach, as well as Hōkago Wedding (Afterschool Wedding), a previously unpublished 50-page story, and Kōtsū Jiko Kanteinin Tamaki Rinichirō (Rinichirō Tamaki, Traffic Accident Investigator), an older series from Shueisha’s Super Jump.
Akamatsu’s plans also include finding a way to allow readers to post comments alongside the comments (this sounds vaguely like Graphic.ly), which would allow fans to do their own translations right on the site.
Publishing | Following its grim snapshot of year-to-date dollar sales in the direct market, ICv2.com has released a dreary analysis of the November charts: For the third time in 2010, the top-selling title failed to crack the 100,000-copy mark. Batman: The Return, priced at $4.99, sold about 99,500 copies, compared to the 144,000 sold by November 2009’s top title, Blackest Night #5. According to the retail news and analysis site, 20 of the Top 25 titles experienced a drop last month. As ICv2 noted last week in its initial report, dollar sales of comics were down 10.2 percent when compared with November 2009, while graphic novels jumped 14.84 percent, tied to the release of the 13th volume of The Walking Dead (it sold more than 19,000 copies). [ICv2.com]
Digital publishing | Google on Monday unveiled Google eBooks, a web-based e-book platform/digital storefront that boasts “the world’s largest selection of ebooks.” Dan Vado offers brief commentary. [TechCrunch]
Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]
Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86. The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]