C2E2: Marvel Ventures Into "Secret Wars'" "Warzones"
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.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment have partnered with Sanrio for a new Hello Kitty line, which features the international marketing phenomenon dressed as her favorite DC Comics superheroes, such as “Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman” (although it’s obvious in the image above that those are classic Supergirl and Batgirl).
Debuting next year, the costume-clad Hello Kitty will appear on apparel, accessories and footwear, stationery, publishing, personal care, promotional products and food products. Continue Reading »
Viz Media has inked a deal with “global lifestyle brand” Sanrio to publish a series of original Hello Kitty graphic novels, as well as a special-edition comic that will debut in July at Comic-Con International.
The single-volume comic will feature a cover by Eisner-nominated artist Jacob Chabot, with interior art by Victoria Maderna, Ian McGinty and Chabot. That will be followed in the fall by the release of Here We Go!, a collection of stories about Hello Kitty’s world travels and the first volume in the main graphic novel series.
Festivals | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has opened in Angoulême, France, and that’s where all the cool kids are. Bart Beaty surveys the scene for the rest of us; the president of this year’s show is Jean-C Denis (last year it was Art Spiegelman), and there will be an exhibit of his work, but Beaty says the big draw will be the exhibit of work by Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix. [The Comics Reporter]
Editorial cartoons | Rupert Murdoch has apologized, on Twitter, for an editorial cartoon by Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times that depicted Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu bricking Palestinians into a wall with blood-red mortar. Many commentators were concerned that the cartoon, which Scarfe intended as a commentary on the recent elections in Israel, came too close to old anti-Semitic blood libel. Making things worse, the cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day. [The Guardian]
DC Comics, Disney and Sanrio have sued a California birthday party entertainment company for copyright and trademark infringement, alleging that it’s using counterfeit costumes of such well-known characters as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Superman, Wonder Woman and Hello Kitty.
Law 360 reports that the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Party Animals and owner Jason Lancaster of using and renting costumes resembling the companies’ characters and logos for birthday and corporate parties, in violation of copyright and trademark laws.
“[Party Animals] is actively selling, offering for sale, renting, distributing or manufacturing unlicensed and counterfeit costumes, which incorporate unauthorized likenesses of the animated or live action characters or other logos owned by plaintiffs,” the complaint said. “[The] defendants have never been authorized by the plaintiffs to distribute the plaintiffs’ copyrighted properties.”
What are they putting in the water at the Sanrio Corp? The parent company of Hello Kitty is letting its prize property wander off in some mighty odd directions: At Comic-Con International, the company mentioned a Hello Kitty/Street Fighter crossover, and now it’s Hello Kitty meets Tony Tony Chopper in a Sanrio/One Piece mashup. And that’s not all: Look for Luffy D. Monkey and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates, who will be entering the world of Hello Kitty for some good clean Kitty fun. Apparently this involves cross-species-dressing, and the pirates will have to figure out how to make do without knees or elbows, because it’s Kitty’s world, and they are only living in it. (Actually, I think it would be much more interesting to see One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda turn Hello Kitty into one of his exaggerated, energetic characters, but that’s just a pipe dream.) Watch for a wave of pirate-infested HK merch in fine import shops everywhere this fall.