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Passings | Isabelle “Barbara” Fiske Calhoun, who as Barbara Hall was an artist for Harvey Comics during World War II, died Monday at age 94. Calhoun and her first husband, Irving Fiske, left New York in 1946 and founded a commune in Vermont on land they bought with their wedding money. The commune became the Quarry Hill Creative Center and is “Vermont’s oldest alternative and artist’s retreat.” While the obituary mentions Calhoun’s comics career only in passing, Trina Robbins has more detail in Pretty in Ink: She says Calhoun drew the Black Cat, one of the first comic-book superheroines, and then was the artist for the Speed Comics feature, Girl Commandos, an all-woman team of Nazi fighters led by Pat Parker, War Nurse. “She left comics when her husband-to-be persuaded her to give up cartooning and become an oil painter, a gain for the world of fine art but a loss for comics,” Robbins writes. [Burlington Free Press]
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.
Passings | Artist Sid Couchey, an illustrator who brought many a Little Lotta story to life during the halcyon days of Harvey Comics, passed away March 111. He was 92. Couchey’s long career stretched from serving as an assistant to Superman co-creator Joe Shuster to steady if uncredited work in a number of comics during the 1950s, Harvey in the 1960s and 1970s, and a whole second career as a local-interest cartoonist, drawing comics about Champy, Lake Champlain’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. He also may have been the first artist to embed a real-life marriage proposal in a comic. [Press-Republican, via The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Heidi MacDonald talks to Brian K. Vaughan about Saga, his general absence from social media, and jumping from Marvel and DC to Image: “I think at the end of the day I really believe in creator owned books, I wanted to do a book that the artist and I could own and control outright and as much as I loved the other companies I worked for in the past, I feel that Image is one of the few companies left that I would consider having a real creator owned contract.” [The Beat]