"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]
The Ignatz Awards were handed out Saturday night at Small Press Expo in a ceremony that culminated with a mock wedding in which Simon Hanselmann married Comics (represented by a stack of graphic novels and real-life creator Michael DeForge).
Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the festival prize recognizes achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists, and then voted on by SPX attendees.
Small Press Expo has announced that Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm will be among the special guests Sept. 13-14 for the 20th anniversary event, which will focus on alt-weekly newspaper comics.
“This spotlight on the cartoonists of the alt-weekly world for our 20th anniversary show is long overdue,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Starting with Jules Feiffer almost 60 years ago, the unfortunately now-declining alt-weekly has a rich heritage whose influence extends into today’s graphic novel and comics scene.”
An Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Feiffer is considered the godfather as alt-weekly comics, as his strip Feiffer ran in The Village Voice for more than 40 years. Barry, whose new book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, arrives in October from Drawn and Quarterly, is well known for her long-running comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which began in the Chicago Reader in 1979. Co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Sturm also co-founded The Onion and Seattle’s legendary alt-weekly The Stranger.
Other announced guests include Tom Tomorrow, French, Box Brown and Michael DeForge.
Awards | The awards ceremony for the recently renamed Stan Lee Eagle Awards has disappeared from the program of the London Film and Comic Con, and has been replaced by the True Believers Comic Awards. It’s not clear whether this is just a name change or something more, as Mike Conroy, the organizer of both awards, had no comment, but the Stan Lee nominations page is gone. There is an online voting page for the True Believers Comic Awards, however. Lee is still scheduled to attend the event in person. [Down the Tubes]
Creators | Writer Caitlin Kittredge talks about her first comic, Coffin Hill. [The Kindle Post]
Creators | I interviewed the “three-headed monster” behind the Adventures in Cartooning books — James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost — about their new kids’ graphic novel Sleepless Knight. [Good Comics for Kids]
Passings | Artist Janice Valleau Winkelman, creator of the detective Toni Gayle, passed away on Dec. 8 at age 90. Winkleman, who drew under her maiden name Janice Valleau, had polio as a child and wore a brace through school. Her first work was published in Smash Comics in 1939, when she was 16. She studied at the Phoenix Art Institute and moved to New York, where she found steady work as a penciler and inker for Archie Comics and Quality Comics. She left the industry during the anti-comic crusades of the 1950; author David Hajdu profiled her in the prologue to his chronicle of those times, The Ten Cent Plague. According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Awards | All the presenters for last weekend’s Ignatz Awards ceremony were women, and that was no accident: This year’s host, New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly, explains, “More and more of us are now in the business, unlike previous years, and I wanted to celebrate that fact by bringing attention to it.” [Comic Riffs]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon has an in-depth interview with experimental cartoonist Warren Craghead. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Stan Lee, in town for Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, chats with reporter Michael Grossberg about superheroes as modern fairy tales. [The Columbus Dispatch]
Publishing | DC Comics may no longer hold the rights to create new stories about The Spirit and other pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Avenger, but it does retain the license to publish The Spirit Archives for “the foreseeable future,” according to Denis Kitchen, agent for the Will Eisner estate. Most of the hardcover collections are out of print. [The Beat]
Digital comics | Third time’s the charm for retailer Steve Bennett, as he goes through three different tablets (one was stolen, one malfunctioned) on his way to the ideal digital comics experience. [ICv2]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon kicks off his annual round of holiday interviews with a lengthy conversation with Alison Bechdel, creator of Fun Home and Are You My Mother? [The Comics Reporter]
In the spirit of his new book Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special, James Sturm has created a holiday comic, and he’s allowing us to premiere it at Robot 6. Check out “A Yeti Christmas” below, and don’t miss our new interview with Sturm in which he discusses the Adventures in Cartooning series and working with children, and answers the important question “Why a yeti?”
James Sturm has had a rich and varied career, as the creator of critically acclaimed graphic novels such as Market Day, the writer of the Eisner Award-winning miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules, and the head of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. A few years ago he embarked on something new: Adventures in Cartooning, a book that encourages children to draw their own comics. The book, co-created with Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost and published by First Second, was a big hit, as was its sequel, Adventures in Cartooning Activity Book. Now he’s back, just in time for the holidays, with Adventures in Cartooning Christmas Special, which features a grouchy Santa, high-tech elves, and a yeti. I talked to James about the new book and why he enjoys creating comics for children.
Robot 6: Before these books came along, I was more familiar with your work for adults, such as Market Day. What do you like about making comics for children, and how does it challenge you?
James Sturm: As a parent, I’m constantly trying to figure out how to communicate with my own kids in ways that are age-appropriate and engaging without being patronizing. So for starters I’m much more aware of my audience. That said, I find writing for kids more liberating than confining. There’s a goofy and silly side to my writing that comes out that doesn’t for more mature audiences.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I only had $15, I’d walk out a happy camper despite only having one book, because that book is 20th Century Boys, Vol. 22 (Viz, $12.99). While your typical American comics fan may have no idea who Naoki Urasawa is, he is in my mind undoubtedly the best cartoonist working today. Twenty-two books in and he hasn’t let up, delivering comics’ example of long-run storytelling perfection a la Sopranos. Friend is one of the most terrifying villains I’ve seen in comics in some time, and the mad assemblage of childhood pals out to stop him are some of my most treasured fictional friends.
If I had $30, I’d come back to comic stores on an American tip, starting off with Godzilla: Half Century War #2 (IDW Publishing, $3.99) by James Stokoe. I missed this when the first issue came out, but since then I’ve found it and relished its pure cartooning chaos. The first issue was an ideal debut, and I’m interested to see Stokoe take Lt. Murakami to Vietman in the ’60s for the ongoing war on Godzilla. After that I’d get the satisfying chunk, Dark Horse Presents #16 (Dark Horse, $7.99). I’ve been repeating the same praises every month, so let me try to spin it differently. This new issue, I have little idea what’s in it besides the return of Crime Doesn’t Pay; there’s a new series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray in it I have heard nothing about, but DHP has re-built its track record of excellence and I’m fine spending $7.99 sight unseen. My final pick would be Daredevil #18 (Marvel, 2.99). Chris Samnee is quite different than the original artists on the book, but is excelling with Mark Waid in a new way — and that’s good. Instead of aping what had gone before, Samnee assuredly gives us his own style that would make any true fan of art in comics smile.
Oh ,wait, I found some money. I know, I’ll buy Memorial, Vol. 1 (IDW, $24.99). I missed this in singles, and this hardcover looks like the perfect chance to me to make up for past mistakes. These covers by Michael WM Kaluta really get my heart beating, and I’ve been wanting to read more of Chris Roberson on his own. The preview on IDW’s website gives me the impression it’s got down-to-earth personality amidst a fantasy world, and reminds me of classic supernatural fiction like A Wrinkle in Time or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Creators | Market Day creator James Sturm explains he’ll be boycotting The Avengers movie because he believes Jack Kirby, co-creator of many of Marvel’s longest-lasting characters, “got a raw deal”: “What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’” Tom Spurgeon notes the position seems to mark a shift for Sturm, who wrote the Eisner-winning 2003 miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules for Marvel. [Slate, The Comics Reporter]
Digital | Comics by ComiXology has topped Apple’s charts as the top-grossing iPad application for the last six Wednesdays. ComiXology cited the launch of DC’s New 52 initiative, as well as many other comic companies moving to a same-day digital release schedule, as reasons for its success. “When have comic books, not comic book movies, not comic book merchandise, but the actual comic books been #1 in anything, much less high tech?” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “Being the number one grossing iPad application six Wednesdays in a row isn’t just a huge milestone for comiXology, but a huge milestone for comics as a medium … and we could not be prouder.” [press release]
Creators | An auction for the naming rights to a character in Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service raised $5,100 for St. Bartholomew’s Primary School, where Millar attended. The money will be used to pay for field trips for the school’s students. “I’m a former pupil at St. Bartholomew’s and have so many great memories of the place,” Millar said. “I know there’s not a lot of money in local government at the moment and I was sad to hear that the annual school trip for the children had been cancelled. By establishing this fund, I hope to have a pot the head-teacher can dip into every Christmas and take the entire school to a pantomime every year.” [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser]
Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday denied a defense motion to dismiss the murder case against former retailer and convention organizer Michael George, who will now stand trial a second time in the 1990 shooting death of his first wife Barbara. His trial is set to begin Sept. 7. George, 51, was convicted in 2008 of killing his wife in their Clinton Township comic book store. However, later that year Macomb County Circuit Judge James M. Biernat set aside the conviction based on claims of prosecutorial misconduct and the emergence of new evidence that might have resulted in a different verdict. [The Detroit News]
Comic strips | On Sept. 11, the Sunday comics pages will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 as 93 strips from six syndicates participate in “Cartoonists Remember 9/11.” After publication, the strips will be collected at CartoonistsRemember911.com. [USA Today]
Education | Updating Monday’s report about rising waters in White River Junction, Vermont, imperiling The Center for Cartoon Studies’ Schulz Library, Director James Sturm says that while the building was seriously damaged, thanks to the efforts of students, staff and alumni, not a single book was lost. Cartoonist Jen Vaughn, meanwhile, details the rescue, with accompanying photos. [The Comics Reporter, The Beat]
Education | The Center For Cartoon Studies’ Schulz Library in White River Junction, Vermont, was damaged over the weekend in flooding caused by torrential rains from Hurricane Irene. According to CCS Director James Sturm, volunteers called in Sunday night were able to remove about 70 percent of the library’s collection and move the remaining materials to higher shelves. However, he indicated to Tom Spurgeon that the building itself may be a loss. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief for Marvel Comics, shares the story of how DC Comics almost licensed the publishing rights to their characters to Marvel in the mid-1980s. Obviously the deal never happened, which Shooter said was due to a lawsuit by First Comics alleging anti-trust violations. [Jim Shooter]
Creators | Gail Simone discusses her upcoming work on Batgirl and Fury of Firestorm. [TFAW]
Publishing| Joe Keatinge and Frank Cho have signed a three-book deal with Delcourt, a comics publisher in France. The first book of theirs Delcourt will publish will be the first volume of Brutal, which will debut at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angouleme 2013. Delcourt publishes many American comics in France, including Walking Dead, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Invincible, Rocketeer, Hellboy, The Goon, Haunt and many more, as well as many manga titles.
“On a personal level, French comics have had a huge influence on me. Working within that industry is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I wanted a career in comics at all. Being an author with a book debuting at Angouleme is a goal I thought was many a year away, so this has taken things to a whole new level much sooner than anticipated. While I do plan on going back in 2012, this still gives me a year to work on my awful command of the language before I have to do a signing. Being in the good hands of Delcourt makes me think it’s a good start,” Keatinge said. [Joe Keatinge]