Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
I’ll admit to putting tiny clothes on my tiny Chihuahua (RIP), because she would chill easily. At least that’s the story I told everyone. But I’d have to draw the line at something like Sanrio’s Hello Kitty dog pants.
It’s not that I have anything against Kitty White and her ever-expanding merchandising empire, it’s just that you risk making your pooch a prime target for mockery, and possible shunning, by his doggie friends. Hello Kitty is a cat, after all. A cute-as-a-button anthropomorphic cat, but a cat nonetheless.
For cats, time is like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey … stuff, mostly because they sleep 23 hours a day. But in that remaining hour? They’re primed and ready to knock expensive objects off high shelves, scatter kitty litter and, of course, visit other worlds and times in this feline-sized cardboard TARDIS.
As if Hello Kitty weren’t already a global merchandising juggernaut, she’s now merged with super-robot Mazinger Z to form a virtually unstoppable force.
In an animated video that’s sure to rattle the world, Bandai trumpets the new Hello Kitty x Mazinger Z collaboration, the apparent result of Chogokin Hello Kitty … colliding with the super-robot in the street? However it happened, we end up with a Mazinger Z toy painted in Hello Kitty colors and sporting red bows and her familiar emblem, and a Hello Kitty toy in the Mazinger Z colors, with a pop-open cockpit and a minifigure that fits inside.
“The Fight of the Century” is already taken, so let’s call this “The Battle of the Bows.”
In one corner, 87-year-old Minnie “Yoo-Hoo” Mouse; in the other, 41-year-old Kitty “Hello Kitty” White. In a fight decades in the making, the two merchandising icons finally faced off last week in — where else? — Times Square, with child psychologists emerging the real winners.
Between three solo movies and two Avengers features, there have been a lot of Iron Man action figures release over the past eight years, but few of them — all right, none of them — are as amazing as these custom creations by Sam Kwok.
The artist repaints and sculpts Hot Toys Iron Man and War Machine figures (which don’t come cheap, mind you), reimagining them as characters ranging from Batman and Ultraman to Hello Kitty and the Alien Xenomorph.
Last year we spotlighted a pretty stylish Dark Knight-inspired motorcycle helmet, but what if you prefer, say, The Punisher, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Wonder Woman to Batman? AirGraffix has you covered.
The Mattoon, Illinois-based company specializes in custom-painted helmets that can transform the rider into everyone from Goku and Deadpool to Iron Man and Spawn. It’s not all superheroes or comic books, either; there’s an assortment of Star Wars, Transformers and Power Rangers designs, for starters.
If My Little Pony can have a large, devoted male following, then why shouldn’t Hello Kitty?
It may be because, even after 40 years, many people still considering the adorable little merchandising juggernaut too feminine. However, Anime News Network reports Sanrio is hoping to change that with the Hello Kitty Men Project.
Launched Wednesday with a six-day exhibit at the department store Hankyu Men’s Tokyo, the initiative boasts the tagline “Sorry to keep you waiting, boys.” The goal is to put an end to the gender stereotype, and convince men that it’s OK to like Hello Kitty — and to buy her products.
The story that broke Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times rocked social media, and had a lot of people questioning whether everything they know is wrong: Hello Kitty isn’t a cat.
Anthropologist Christine Yano received the news when she was writing the annotations for a Hello Kitty show at the Japanese American National Museum:
That’s one correction Sanrio [the owners of Hello Kitty] made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.
However, it turns out Hello Kitty isn’t human, either. RocketNews 24 contacted Sanrio and got the straight dope, which comes down to a difference in terminology: Hello Kitty is a 擬人化 (gijinka), which they translate as “a personification or anthropomorphization” — like Mickey Mouse or, in a parallel some have drawn, like the pipe in René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images. They further added that Hello Kitty does indeed have a mouth, it’s just not drawn (most of the time, anyway).
Over the past four decades, Hello Kitty has planted her flag on the worlds of toys, fashion, animation, music, video games, comic books, restaurants and even home appliances. And next the adorable Japanese bobtail/merchandising juggernaut is setting sail for new waters: conventions.
As part of the character’s 40th-anniversary celebration, owner Sanrio is staging the first-ever Hello Kitty Con Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Los Angeles. Held at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the four-day event will feature lectures, panels, workshops, exhibits, a pop-up shop, a tattoo parlor, parties, an arcade and, of course, plenty of exclusives.
Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to something great fans are doing to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s get to it …
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans on March 22 to launch ComicWalker, a digital comics service that will carry manga in three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese. The stories will include some well-known classics (Sgt. Frog, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam: The Origin) as well as new manga, and apparently they will be free. The launch will include 150 titles, 40 of which will be translated, so it sounds like not everything will be available in English right away. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Lewis Trondheim, a former winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême and therefore a member of the academy that chooses each year’s winners, provides an insider’s view of the voting and the causes and effects of the changes that have been made over the past two years: “In its forty-three years, the festival has had, I believe, three Americans, one Argentine, one Swiss, three Belgians, and over thirty Frenchmen. This doesn’t seem to correspond with the reality of the comics world to me.” [The Comics Journal]
There are challenging characters, and then there is Hello Kitty. She’s a familiar face, but nobody really knows anything about her. She doesn’t appear to have a backstory. She doesn’t even have a mouth. And here she is, starring in her own graphic novel.
Jacob Chabot is one of several creators behind the Hello Kitty graphic novels published by Perfect Square, Viz Media’s kids’ imprint. He’s an old Viz hand at this point, having illustrated two of the publisher’s Voltron graphic novels, and his other work includes stints at Marvel (including the X-Babies comics), SpongeBob SquarePants comics, and his two-volume all-ages graphic novel The Mighty Skullboy Army, which is truly laugh-out-loud funny for adults as well kids.
Not only is Hello Kitty the tabula rasa of comics characters, the stories are wordless as well, which presents a whole different set of challenges. We asked Jacob to let us in on some of the details of writing the Hello Kitty story — and check out our preview of Hello Kitty: Delicious! after the interview.
An online-privacy advocacy group has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate MarvelKids.com and the Hello Kitty Carnival mobile app, which it insists fail to protect children’s personal information as required by federal law.
In twin complaints filed Wednesday, the Center for Digital Democracy claims neither Marvel nor Sanrio Digital “provides adequate notice or obtains verifiable parental consent prior to collecting, using, or disclosing personal information about its child users,” as mandated by the 14-year-old Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The complaints are the first to be filed since the FTC implemented stricter rules in July.
Launched in January 2008, MarvelKids is a hub “designed to entertain and educate children” using the company’s kid-friendly comics, animated series and games. Visitors can watch episodes and clips from shows like Ultimate Spider-Man and Wolverine and the X-Men, read issues of titles like Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and assorted Power Pack team-ups, and play upward of 20 online games.
Sanrio will make its Comic-Con International debut next week with Hello Kitty Fashion Music Wonderland, an “interactive experience” that includes a fan hub and pop-up shop at the Comic-Con Interactive Zone at San Diego’s Petco Park, the Kitty-chan Secret Space at the convention center and the release of the first Hello Kitty graphic novel.
Published in partnership by Viz Media, Hello Kitty Fashion Music Wonderland features three wordless stories based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, each illustrated by a different artist: Jacob Chabot, Victoria Maderna and Ian McGinty. (You can see a preview at Hero Complex.)
The fan hub at Petco Park will be hosted by Hello Kitty’s band of Lolitas, while the pop-up shop will feature event-only and limited-edition collectibles. The Kitty-chan Secret Space (booth #4537) will offer, among other items, the limited edition pink Hello Kitty flocked collector’s figure by Funko.
Read the full breakdown in the press release below:
We’ve all seen Hello Kitty grow from a quirky Japanese import into a household name, but do you remember the time its corporate owner set out to “conquer comics”? Me neither, but I learned a lot from reading comic/animation historian Fred Patten’s excellent post on Cartoon Research called “Sanrio And Me.”
In 1978, Sanrio held a series of press conferences in the United States trumpeting its goal to, as Patten says, “take over the American comic book industry and the moribund theatrical animation industry.” With an office in Santa Monica, California, the means for doing that was a slick manga anthology publication called Lyrica (which it had already launched in Japan) and a full-length animated feature called Metamorpheses, which executives promised as their Fantasia, referring to the Disney feature that had been reissued the year before. Metamorpheses had a trial run in the Japanese edition of Lyrica as a comic strip by American animation artist Dan Morgan, who did double-duty in the movie’s art department.