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Over the past few weeks, thousands — probably tens of thousands — of graduates of received diplomas in a broad range of studies, but it’s safe to say that none of them is as cool as the ones handed out by the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.
Each year the school commissions a cartoonist to create the diploma for that graduating class. This year, it was Jason (I Killed Adolf Hitler, The Last Musketeer). You see those from previous years, from the likes of Ed Koren, Jim Rugg, R. Sikoryak, Eleanor Davis, Michael Kupperman and Ivan Brunetti, on the CCS Flickr page.
You’ll be forgiven if you missed Sweatshop the first time around. Sure, it was created, written and mostly drawn by Peter Bagge, and yes, it was published by DC Comics, but not for long. It lasted just six issues in 2003 and, according to Bagge’s afterword to the new collection (published not by DC, but Fantagraphics), then-DC President Paul Levitz decided to pull the plug around the time the second issue shipped.
The unlikely pairing of DC with talent like Bagge was apparently an outgrowth of editor Joey Cavalieri’s success with the hardcover Bizarro Comics anthology, which teamed “alternative” comics creators with DC regulars. Bagge, who had written DC’s poorly received nine-issue Yeah!, met with Cavalieri and decided on a pretty perfect premise for a comedic comic book. (Yeah!, by the way, was drawn by Gilbert Hernandez and was also collected by Fantagraphics rather than DC.)
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
Patton Oswalt and Ivan Brunetti have a bit of a history, with the comedian writing the foreword to the 2007 collection Ho! The Morally Questionable Cartoons of Ivan Brunetti, and the cartoonist illustrating the cover of his 2009 album My Weakness Is Strong. So for Oswalt’s upcoming show at New York City’s historic Carnegie Hall, he again turned to Brunetti, who created a poster featuring a lineup of comedy legends.
Yeti Press is selling a limited number of those 12-inch by 18-inch posters on its website for $15. Given the popularity of both the comedian and the cartoonist, they probably won’t last long.
Comics | The Wall Street Journal takes a look at comics as investments. Interestingly, while the rare, old issues bring in the big money, some more recent comics, like the first issue of Saga, have appreciated quite a bit. There’s also an accompanying video. [The Wall Street Journal]
Retailing | ComicsPRO, the comics retailers’ association, held its annual meeting over the weekend in Atlanta, where the group bestowed its Industry Appreciation Award on Cindy Fournier, vice president of operations for Diamond Comic Distributors. Thomas Gaul, of Corner Store Comics and Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim, California, also was elected as president of the board of directors. [ComicsPRO]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. To see what the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics, graphic novels, books and what-have-you we’ve been reading lately. This week our special guest is Brian Ralph, creator of Daybreak, Cave-In and Reggie 12.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Awards | Denver Post editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning “for his widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.” Keefe, who joined the Post in 1975, had previously served in the Marines and taught math in college. “I am gobsmacked,” the 64-year-old cartoonist says. “In recent years, the Pulitzer has gone to much younger folks who are newer in the business. I’ve always done pretty classical editorial cartooning. I thought my day had passed.” Comic Riffs has Keefe’s award-winning portfolio. [Denver Post]
Publishing | On the heels of successive announcements that Marvel will publish comics based on Disney’s Pixar and Muppets properties, licenses previously held by BOOM! Studios, comes word that BOOM! has stopped soliciting Classic Disney series like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. However, Diamond’s Previews catalog for July contains listings for the publisher’s titles based on such Disney Afternoon properties as Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and DuckTales. [ICv2.com]
Over at ComicsAlliance, Laura Hudson has a real treat for those of you who like your superhero comics with an alternative twist: 50-plus pages of sketches, thumbnails, pencils, inks, color studies and more from the Strange Tales II hardcover, which debuted this week. Click on over and get a glimpse at the creative process behind contributions from Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, Ivan Brunetti, Farel Dalrymple, Rafael Grampa, Dean Haspiel, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Benjamin Marra, Edu Medeiros, Harvey Pekar, Frank Santoro, and Paul Vella. That’s hella Strange!
Well, I certainly never thought I’d get to see what Ivan Brunetti‘s Nova would look like, but there you have it: This overpoweringly adorable cover for Strange Tales II #3 comes from the pen of the altcomix lifer himself. Those of you who are unfamiliar with Brunetti’s career might think otherwise, but anyone who’s read Haw! can tell you that this is the best evidence yet that Disney isn’t overseeing Marvel’s hiring decisions.
Heidi MacDonald and D&Q beat me to the punch, but just in case you missed the news, I thought I’d let you know that this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine is sporting four swell covers by Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and Ivan Brunetti. Supposedly when you arrange the four covers together in a certain way, a super-secret picture forms. Alright, I’ll spoil it: It’s a picture of Eustace Tilly. It must be one of those “Magic Eye” type images though, because I’ve been staring at the bloody things for hours on end, and all I’m getting is a headache.