O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Passings | Tom Medley, creator of the comic Stroker McGurk, which ran in Hot Rod magazine for many years, died on March 2 at the age of 93. Medley was a hot-rodder himself, which is how he got his big break: He used to post his cartoons at a local hot-rod builder, and the publisher of Hot Rod, which was just getting off the ground at the time, spotted them and hired Medley as his comics and humor editor. Medley’s son Gary said his father’s humor sometimes foreshadowed reality: “Stroker’s — or Medley’s — inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker’s fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.” [AutoWeek]
IDW Publishing has announced the return of Kill Shakespeare in June with The Mask of Night, a four-issue pirate adventure from series creators Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery and Andy Belanger.
Debuting in April 2010, Kill Shakespeare is an epic adventure in which Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff, Romeo and Puck search for William Shakespeare, a reclusive wizard believed to have the ability to help them in their fight against evil forces led by Richard III, Lady Macbeth and Iago.
The initial 12-issue miniseries inspired a 2013 sequel, The Tide of Blood, and a Kickstarter-funded board game, which is scheduled to arrive in May.
In The Mask of Night, Hamlet, Juliet, Othello and Shakespeare become pawns in a game of survival between the masked pirate Captain Cesario, his first mate Viola and Titus Adronicus’ warship the Lavinia.
“Not only does it include characters from our previous books but [it] incorporates one of Shakespeare’s most famous heroines, Viola, who we have refashioned into one of the coolest female pirates ever,” Del Col said in a statement. “I think fans — both new and old — are going to find this homage to classic pirate tales a real treat.”As the cast of characters ties in to the board game, IDW Games is offering all four issues of The Mask of Knight to anyone who backs the Kickstarter campaign at the game level.
Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the acclaimed 1967 Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which was rewritten before filming began, will be adapted in a miniseries debuting in June from IDW Publishing.
“Presenting Harlan Ellison’s brilliant original script for ‘City on the Edge…’ has been a goal of ours since IDW first began publishing Star Trek comics in 2007,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “The episode justifies its position atop ‘best Star Trek episodes’ lists but even it ain’t nuthin’ compared to what Ellison did in his original teleplay. This is truly going to be a Star Trek adventure unlike any other, even to fans who have that beloved episode memorized.”
The five-issue Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay is adapted by writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton and artist J.K. Woodward, with regular covers by Juan Ortiz and variants by Paul Shipper.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” follows Kirk and Spock as the pursue a temporarily delusional McCoy through an ancient time portal, where they end up in 1930s New York City. There they must not only rescue their friend but save their own future, which has been changed by McCoy’s actions in the past. The episode won the 1968 Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.
“It was a superlative joy of my long life to have worked with Leonard Nimoy, who became my friend, and many others at Star Trek,” Ellison said, “and an equally heart-happy joy to be working with J.K. and the Tipton Bros. and Chris Ryall on this long-awaited visual of my (humbly, I say it) brilliant original ‘City…'”
The publisher teamed in October with the Austin, Texas-based tabletop gaming company to launch IDW Games, with Pandasaurus overseeing design, production and distribution of 30 Days of Night and the aforementioned Kill Shakespeare.
“Pandasaurus has done an excellent job building a catalog of rich, engaging and in-demand board games,” Jerry Bennington, director of IDW Games, said in a statement. “They’re veterans in the industry and we look forward to developing some amazing titles together. This is a partnership that will have an immediate positive impact for both sides and you can be sure you’ll be hearing big things from us soon.”
With 16 days remaining, the Kickstarter campaign for the Kill Shakespeare board game has already surpassed its initial $25,000 goal.
Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are marking the 30th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in May by collaborating on a cover for IDW Publishing’s special issue. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the two have worked together on the property that launched a multimedia empire.
“Working on the TMNT comics with the wonderful and amazing IDW team over the last three years reminded me how much I missed and loved the four green guys,” Eastman said in a statement. “Getting to work with my co-creator Peter Laird again is the icing on the cake — and then some! It really took me back 30 years, to the earliest days, with the fondest memories, and why we got into this business in the first place.”
Debuting in 1984 as a black-and-white self-published comic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began as a parody of Cerebus, Daredevil, New Mutants and Ronin. However, the property soon spawned animated TV series, movies, video games and endless merchandise. Laird, who in 2008 completed a buyout of Eastman’s interests in TMNT and Mirage Studios that began eight years earlier, struck a deal in 2009 for Viacom to purchase the property for a reported $60 million.
IDW’s 48-page 30th Anniversary Special features new short stories by such creators as Dean Clarrain, Chris Allan, Gary Carlson, Frank Fosco and Jim Lawson.
Debuting in May, the series center on Audel Howard, an industrialist who, “when he lets a green fairy out of the bottle, makes a deal that no mere mortal man can refuse. Wine, women, song, and a large backyard extension called America are now coming his way.”
“Any Ashley Wood book is an event that excites all of us at IDW,” Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “And T.P. Louise, who crafted such an epic tale in Lore, is back to do the same thing here.”
The debut of The Beautiful War will be followed in June by the release of Wood’s Adventure Kartel, an oversized art book containing comic book stories, concept art and more.
Lore, the 2003 miniseries about a secret agency that protects the unwitting world from monsters of legend intent on humanity’s destruction, is being developed for film by Warner Bros.
In the 1990s, Warner Bros. and Tim Burton secured the rights for both Mars Attacks! and Dinosaurs Attack!, the 1962 and 1988 Topps collectible bubblegum card series, the premises of which is screamed aloud in their titles.
With both the commercial and creative success of Steven Spielberg’s 1993’s Jurassic Park scaring away others from tackling dinosaurs, Warner Bros. and Burton opted instead for Mars Attacks, ironically releasing their alien-invasion movie the same year as Independence Day, which, despite the wildly different tone, is nearly beat for beat the same movie, to the extent that Mars Attacks scans like a parody of ID4.
Dinosaurs Attack! may not have made it to the big screen (yet, he typed, with his fingers crossed), but it did get adapted into an unfinished Eclipse comic series … which was completed, cleaned up and re-released by IDW last year for the 25th anniversary of the card set. And it’s now available in graphic-novel form.
The comic adaptation is written by series creator Gary Gerani, and is an expanded version of the parody of an unlikely B-movie plot: The world’s greatest scientist has invented something called “Timescan,” a process that will bombard the Earth from an orbiting space station with a special ray that will allow he and those aboard to see into planet’s past using a huge view screen.
The world’s second-greatest scientist, who just so happens to be his ex-wife and the mother of his child, doesn’t think the process is safe and is virulently opposed to it.
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Digital comics | The Korea Times takes a look at the comics market in that country, where government suppression of comic books in the 1990s (and school-sponsored book burnings even before that) has combined with the current demand for free digital material (in the form of the wildly popular “webtoons”) to create an uncertain environment for cartoonists trying to make a living from their work. “Unlike Japanese manga, which continues to drive a large part of the country’s publishing market and provide a creative influence to movies, music and video games, Korea’s cartoon culture was deprived of its opportunity to thrive,” said Lee Chung-ho, president of the Korea Cartoonist Association. “However, the most difficult process for us will be to find a sustainable business model. Readership has increased dramatically through webtoons, but you have no clear idea on how many of these readers will be willing to pay for content.” [The Korea Times]
After chronicling the story of Kill Shakespeare in comics, IDW Publishing wants to let you tell your own with friends in an innovative board game — but the company is looking for some help.
IDW announced this morning that it’s using Kickstarter to fund the Kill Shakespeare board game, the flagship title of its new IDW Games division, in an effort to publish the project as intended. According to IDW, the $25,000 goal will go toward improving “the quality and content” of the game with a series of add-on components and expansions.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, IDW Publishing provided ROBOT 6 with three exclusive elementary school-style cards to promote the forthcoming collection of the 1950s and ’60s romance comic Weird Love. Packaged by Craig Yoe’s Yoe Books, Weird Love follows in the tradition of the acclaimed Haunted Horror comic collection with “kooky, kinky and klassic” romance comics.
Among stories planned for inclusion are “Love of a Lunatic” from My Romantic Adventures #50, “I Fell For A Commie” from 1953’s Love Secrets #32, and “You Also Snore, Darling” from Just Married. IDW says Weird Love culminates with a “pre-Code comics ode to the female derriere.”
Weird Love is scheduled for release in May.
Publishing | DreamWorks Animation’s announcement on Monday that it is launching its own book-publishing unit doesn’t mean the end of the road for its comics licensees, at least not yet: ICv2 talked to representatives from IDW Publishing, which publishes the Rocky & Bullwinkle comics, and Ape Entertainment, which has had a number of DreamWorks licenses, and both say that this won’t affect their comics. [ICv2]
Auctions | A collection of comics that included the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the British satirical comic Viz, as well as long runs of several Marvel series, brought in almost £25,000 (about $41,300 U.S.) at an auction in Newcastle, England. The majority of the comics were from a single collector whose wife decided to put them up for sale after he died. For those who are curious about the details, Duncan Leatherdale of The Northern Echo liveblogged the auction. [BBC News]
Creators | A memorial service for Morrie Turner, pioneering creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, will be held Sunday at the Grand Ballroom at the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa in Berkeley, California. It’s open to the public. The family plans to hold a private service in February in Sacramento. [Contra Costa Times]
Where is the line? When is an image empowering, and when is it too risque? While the case of the contested variant cover of The Powerpuff Girls #6 has a lot of silly aspects, its core speaks to larger issues the comic book industry has been wrestling with of late, and may find itself wrestling with even more. The questions it raises aren’t always easy to answer — as is so often the case, the devil is in the details.
All-ages comics have a larger presence now than they have in decades. Every month, tie-ins to popular kids’ shows and original books suitable for readers are released in high enough numbers that you could open a comic book store that’s just for kids. Many stores have increased their kids sections, and with events like Free Comic Book Day, it’s easier for those shops to prove themselves to parents as a safe place. Meanwhile, awareness of the industry’s female readership has never been higher; in October, digital comics platform comiXology released some startlingly specific data: Its average female reader is “17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.” In six years, female readership on comiXology increased from less than 5 percent to 20 percent.
Artist Mimi Yoon, whose withdrawn Powerpuff Girls variant cover has been the subject of much discussion over the past several days, has revealed one of her next projects for: a cover for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time, also licensed by Cartoon Network.
As she pointed out in the comments on her Facebook page, it was painted last year for the miniseries Adventure Time: Candy Capers, which concluded in December, but the publisher now has decided to use it for the main series. Yoon also teased that another, as-yet-unrevealed cover she created will appear before this one.
Dennis L. Barger Jr., the retailer who last week publicly criticized the “sexualized” nature of Mimi Yoon’s Powerpuff Girls #6 variant, leading Cartoon Network to withdraw the cover, has released an open letter in which he calls upon the comics industry to police itself, and to keep film studios and television networks out of the decision-making process.
The remarks from Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, follow a sharp response by Yoon in which the artist criticized him, in part, because “he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse.”
In his open letter, in which he touches upon a dwindling readership and the need to reach a younger audience, Barger writes, “I will not discuss why this cover upset me and this is the last time I care to talk about it, aside from this. I did not feel that it was appropriate for the cover of a book aimed at young children, especially young girls, and many people agreed with me. A Hollywood corporate machine like Warner Bros and Cartoon Network would not have pulled it unless enough people saw that this was inappropriate in some way.”
Read Barger’s full letter below: