Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
No one needs to hear me speak of the virtues of Charles Schulz’ s Peanuts, one of the greatest comic strips and one of the greatest long-form narrative works of art of any medium. Plenty of much smarter people who can communicate much more clearly and cleverly than I have already done that in plenty of different places.
And the fact that so many newspapers continue to re-run old strips of Schulz’s so long after his death instead of filling that valuable (to cartoonists) space with something—anything—else is about as eloquent expression of the regard Schulz is held in as anything I could pound out in a few sentences here.
Do note that, when Schulz passed away, no descendant of his or hand-picked assistant/apprentice took over the strip for him—Peanuts not produced by Schulz was apparently judged so wrong it wouldn’t even be attempted, better to just have folks re-read older strips than attempt new ones by someone else.
That was a big part of the reason I was so shocked when Boom Studios announced a new ongoing Peanuts comic book series on their Kaboom kids imprint. They had previously produced an original graphic novel based on a new animated special which itself was pieced together from Schulz strips—last spring’s Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown—but this seemed like something pretty different. It wasn’t a media tie-in or a one-off lark project, it was going to be something rather sustained.
Passings | Richard Alf, who as a teenager fronted the money for the first three years of San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, the annual event that later became Comic-Con International, passed away Wednesday from pancreatic cancer. He was 59. Alf, who co-chaired the first convention in 1970 and became chairman the following year, later opened Comic Kingdom in North Slope, a business he sold by the end of the decade. [U-T San Diego, Mark Evanier]
Conventions | iFanboy, San Francisco’s Isotope Comics and Grant Morrison are teaming up for MorrisonCon, which will feature “A once in a lifetime opportunity to see Grant Morrison and 9 hand picked comic creator superstars, all together for one weekend, one time only.” They’ve released few details so far, but the website says it’ll occur next fall. [MorrisonCon]
Awards | Comic-Con International is now accepting submissions for the 2012 Eisner Awards, which will be presented in San Diego in July. The deadline for submitting materials for consideration is March 6. [CCI]
Did you pick up Peanuts 1 yesterday? If you love all ages books, you should have. The first issue of this ongoing KABOOM! monthly features new stories by Vicki Scott, Paige Braddock, Shane Houghton and Matt Whitlock–and original Charles Schulz stories of course. In fact, Braddock wears many hats on this project. First off, she is the creative director of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates. Secondly Braddock (also creator of the ensemble comedy comic strip, Jane’s World) inks the stories, as well provides colors on the cover. Anytime an all ages title like this new release from the KABOOM! gang (in partnership with Peanuts Worldwide) comes out, I want to shout it from the rooftops. On a personal level, I am overjoyed to interview Braddock in this brief email interview, as I have been a fan of her work since her days many, many years ago–on staff as an illustrator at my local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As much as I wanted to interview her some about Jane’s World and The Martian Confederacy (her collaboration with Jason McNamera), I opted to make the focus of today’s interview on Peanuts. My thanks to Braddock for her time.
Tim O’Shea: Were you involved in selecting the other writers of the stories, such as Shane Houghton and Vicki Scott?
Paige Braddock: Shane Houghton was selected by Boom, but I was familiar with his other work on Reed Gunther. Shane also did some test pages for Boom and we reviewed those at the studio. I met Vicki Scott during the Happiness is a Warm Blanket graphic novel project. It’s a funny story actually… I had met her husband, Bob, who was at the time an animator at Pixar. I knew his work and contacted him about working on the graphic novel. He was pretty busy so he suggested that maybe his wife could help out. I was thinking to myself, his wife?! Then of course his wife, Vicki, turned out to be this incredibly talented artist. Since that first project, she and I have collaborated on a couple of children’s books based on the Peanuts characters. Vicki also turned out to be quite gifted at writing and capturing the “voice and tone” of these characters.
A few months ago, I picked up Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline’s minicomic The Potter’s Pet and was really impressed — it’s a cleverly written, beautifully drawn, handsomely produced little comic. I have been a fan of Lamb’s work since I discovered his (unfortunately incomplete) webcomic Kitty Hawk years ago; Paroline’s work was new to me, but her lively lines quickly made me a convert.
So I was delighted to see that they will be handling the art for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, which are based on the animated Cartoon Network series.
Everyone else seems to be excited about the concept here, but we don’t watch a lot of Cartoon Network in our house and, to be honest, I have never seen the show. It’s the creators who have me interested in this series, which is the opposite of how things used to work with licensed comics. When I was a kid, the Disney comics I read all looked alike, and they weren’t signed because the Disney folks wanted me to think that they all flowed from Walt Disney’s magic pen. More and more, though, creators are putting their own stamp on licensed comics and becoming an important part of the package. Think of Roger Langridge’s run on The Muppet Show comics, or Dan Hipp’s reinvention of Ben 10. What’s more, licensed projects give artists a chance to work on their skills and bring in a regular paycheck without the risks of creator-owned work. If you want to see the up-and-coming artists of the next decade, check out BOOM!’s Pixar and Muppets comics or Archaia’s Fraggle Rock anthologies.
Lamb and Paroline have honed their craft working on BOOM!’s Muppet comics: Paroline was the artist and Lamb the colorist for Muppet Snow White, which is apparently out of print, and Paroline actually drew the Muppet Show #0 comic. From what I have seen, Adventure Time will be worth picking up for their art alone.
BOOM! Studios has announced the creators for their upcoming Peanuts comic book, which will feature both new stories and reprints of strips by creator Charles Schulz.
The ongoing series, which was announced last summer as a part of their KABOOM! kids line, will feature new stories by Vicki Scott (Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown), Paige Braddock (Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, Jane’s World, Martian Confederacy), Shane Houghton (Reed Gunther) and Matt Whitlock. Scott and Braddock worked together on a story that appeared in #0 preview issue that was released earlier this month.
This isn’t the first time Charlie Brown and the gang have appeared in comic book form, and it isn’t even the first time they’ve appeared in comics done by someone besides creator Charles Schulz. As detailed on Comicartville.com, the Peanuts characters appeared in numerous comics in the 1950s and 1960s, some of which were reprints of newspaper strips, some new stories by Schulz and some by artists who worked for him.
“I’ve always been under the impression that Charles M. Schulz always drew and directly supervised all aspects of his strip and characters, so this was something of a surprise,” wrote Dr. Michael J. Vassallo on Comicartville.com. “From a variety of sources, I learned that these DELL issues were produced by a crew of artists working for Schulz and who did advertising artwork for him. The main artist was Dale Hale. This information has been confirmed for me by the late comic strip art collector/historian/agent Mark J. Cohen, who was gracious enough to ask Charles M. Schulz over dinner about his contribution to those Dell issues. Mr. Schulz enumerated that he did the very first one himself with Jim Sasseville doing the next few and Dale Hale doing all the rest.”
This first issue of Peanuts ships in January.
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 had $15, I’d spend several musty dollars on Fear Agent #31 (Dark Horse, $3.50). This penultimate issue has been a long time coming, and I’m excited to see Remender and Moore enlist Mike Hawthorne to help get these final issues done – big fan of all three of them! Next up would be two of DC’s New 52; Action Comics #2 (DC, $3.99) and Swamp Thing (DC, $2.99); I admit that I feel weird not being more excited about Morrison’s run than I am, but somehow the first Action Comics wasn’t as gripping as the first All-Star Superman … and it’s not the art. For the last pick, I’d get X-Men: Schism #5 (Marvel, $3.99). It got off to a slow start, but Jason Aaron’s an expert at nailing his landings, and I’m intrigued to see how it all goes down.
If I had $30, I’d start off with a pair of number ones – Pilot Season: Test #1 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99) and Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). Pilot Season has always been a must-buy for me; sometimes the concepts don’t live up to the promise, but they still have a good track record. I just wish more ended up as ongoing series. Next up I’d get the long-running Invincible #83 (Image, $2.99); seriously, this hits all my itches harkening back to my younger comic-reading days. Last up I would get Animal Man #2 (DC, $2.99); I love what Lemire and Foreman started here; I just wish there were more of it!
If I found some extra cash, I would double-back for Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant (D+Q, $19.95). This reads like a literary nut’s comic strip, and I love every bit of it. For some reason it reminds me of Gary Larson’s The Far Side but in a very modern way.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Dark Horse Presents is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Puss in Boots Movie Prequel – I don’t care for movie prequel comics as a rule, but swashbuckling cats are awesome in any incarnation. As long as these are fresh gags and not just ones warmed up from Shrek, I expect to enjoy this.
Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths, Book 1 - I just introduced my son to The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth a couple of weeks ago, so this is great timing. He had the same questions about The Dark Crystal‘s world that I always do, so I’m looking forward to seeing Archaia’s take on answering those. Totally feel like the world’s in good hands with this publisher and these creators.
The Sigh - If Archaia’s snagging Marjane Satrapi’s (Persepolis, Chicken With Plums) new book has been reported already, I missed it. I’m surprised that wasn’t bigger news.
Siegfried, Volume 1 – I’ve been meaning to read P Craig Russell’s Ring of the Nibelung adaptation for years, so I think this might be what pushes me to finally do it. It would be fun to read Russell’s and compare it to this version by Alex Alice.
Their Disney comics may be all but gone — and they will be gone after October — but BOOM! Studios’ kids line, kaboom!, isn’t going away. Joining Snarked!, Wordgirl and the other post-Disney era of kid’s comics from the company will be an ongoing Peanuts series.
The book follows BOOM!’s Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, a graphic novel adaptation of the TV special by the same name. They’ll kick it off with a $1 “zero” issue this November, and the regular series will kick off in January.
“It’s a daunting task to follow in the footsteps of a master,” BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon said in a press release. “But with the team we have assembled and the guidance of the folks at Peanuts Worldwide and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, we’re confident that we’ll be delivering to fans the best Peanuts monthly comic book series anyone could imagine.”
Unfortunately the press release makes no mention of the “team” they have assembled to work on the comic. It does note that these will be new, original stories, rather than reprints of any previous Peanuts material. You can find the release after the jump.
Chris Samnee and Roger Langridge’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger was a big hit with everyone except its editors, it seems; the kid-friendly version of Thor was cut down in its prime, canceled after only eight issues, despite getting good reviews.
Langridge has moved on to his creator-owned comic Snarked, a light-hearted caper story about two rascals based on Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter—it’s not the most likely topic for a comic, but Langridge makes it work quite nicely. With Snarked #0 in shops now and Snarked #1 due out in October (it’s solicited in the August Previews), it’s time for a bit of Snarked hype, and BOOM! Studios delivered the goods directly to my in-box with a rather breathless press release touting the “special 1:10 Thor: The Mighty Avenger homage variant by fan-favorite Chris Samnee.” The homage is rather indirect, of course, because Thor himself (being the property of Marvel) doesn’t appear on the cover, but glance from this to the cover of TMA #4 and you’ll see the resemblance. Anyway, it’s nice to see Samnee and Langridge together again, even if only for a cover.
Langridge’s interlocking variant covers, which are very handsome indeed, are below the cut.
Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels in July fell 6.17 percent versus July 2010, with dollar sales of comic books sold through Diamond Comic Distributors falling 4.27 percent and graphic novels falling 10.10 percent year-over-year. Unit sales for comics were only down slightly, at .52 percent, which ICv2 points out “indicates that comic book cover prices have in fact declined. The problem is that circulation numbers have not risen enough to make up for the decline in revenue from lower cover prices.” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #666, which kicked off the “Spider-Island” event, was the best-selling comic of the month, while League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2 from Top Shelf topped the graphic novel chart. John Jackson Miller has commentary.
Marvel saw a slight increase in its dollar market share for July when compared to June, while DC’s jumped from 28.03 percent in June to 30.55 percent in July. IDW, the No. 5 publisher in terms of dollar share in June, moved to the No. 3 position in July. The top seven publishers were rounded out by Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite and BOOM! [ICv2]
In a press release that reads like a parody of corporate press releases, Peanuts Worldwide announced a series of digital initiatives that they hope will develop Peanuts into “a leading global entertainment and multi-media property.” Because it wasn’t before, apparently—just a meaningless jumble of books, television shows, movies, Broadway musical, syndicated newspaper strip, lunchboxes, etc. Verbiage aside, their new initiatives sound pretty cool.
First, there’s a new the Peanuts website, which is very nicely designed and gives you a daily Peanuts strip (the same one that’s in the paper, I’m guessing, but my paper doesn’t get Peanuts) as well as links to Peanuts merchandise, character profiles and video clips, and a page for the Charles M. Schultz museum. It’s a good start, and I hope they continue to add content.
The second part of the push is digital comics and e-books. The first product to launch was Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, an original graphic novel published by kaboom!, the kids’ imprint of BOOM! Studios, which is available both in print and digitally via comiXology and a special Peanuts app (not in the iTunes store yet, as far as I could see). There are more original graphic novels on the way.
BOOM! Studios sent out both their Comic-Con International exclusives and their booth/panel schedule yesterday. They include variant cover editions of Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, Planet of the Apes (with a movie cover) and Duck Tales. The Duck Tales cover, a “homage” to Nintendo Games, is very tongue-in-cheek, considering many have compared the Kaboom! logo to the Nintendo logo.
They’ll also have Mark Waid and Shannon Wheeler signing, respectively, Definitive Irredeemable Vol. 1 and I Thought You Would Be Funnier. And a lot of other creators. Check out their booth schedule after the jump.
By now, faithful readers of this blog will have read not only an interview with the creator but also a review of Roger Langridge’s new series for kaboom, Snarked. Let me add my voice to the choir on this one: It’s a very, very good comic, indeed. Continue Reading »
By Roger Langridge
Roger Langride, writer of the Muppet Show comics and Thor: Mighty Avenger, set the bar pretty high when he decided to use Lewis Carroll’s characters, the Walrus and the Carpenter, in his new comic, Snarked. Carroll is a tough act to follow, and there’s a big risk that the new characters will fall flat compared to the original.
Langridge has succeeded admirably, however, in not only making an enjoyable comic but making one in which his story is both an original creation and true to its roots. Carroll’s walrus and carpenter use witty-sounding conversation as misdirection while they lure unsuspecting oysters to their dinner plates. Langridge’s characters, cast as lovable swindlers in some vague past, fast-talk their way into the palace to steal some food from the king’s kitchen, but unlike in the poem, they wind up with empty stomachs after all.
Snarked #0 is a tease, a one-dollar prequel to the series, which launches with issue #1 in October. This comic features an eight-page story, plus some special bonus content—puzzles, a fake diary and newspaper that relate to the story, and all of Carroll’s poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” with the original illustrations.
Recently I was lucky enough to see a preview of Roger Langridge‘s Snarked! #0, his all ages series for Kaboom where the writer/artist uses Lewis Carroll‘s “Walrus and the Carpenter” poem (from Through the Looking-Glass) as a springboard for his storytelling. For every consumer that railed against the cancellation of Langridge’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger, here’s your chance to support Langridge again. For every pundit and website commenter who opined that Thor would have flourished, had it not been caught in the deluge of Thor titles that dashed any chance of it succeeding, take note.
A quick look at the CBR front page reveals a full court press for every new DC #1 coming our way in September. And we should be covering the DC relaunch, don’ t get me wrong. But I am fearful that some great books coming out around the same time, say this one, for example, are going to get overlooked. Roger Langridge’s Snarked! should not be overlooked. This is the comic that non-comics reading parents are looking for when they wander into a store seeking something to give their kid. This is a fun comic. This is a funny comic. This is an intelligent comic. This is a comic with puzzles, mazes and word searches. This preview issue is only a $1. This is a project that I hope to see on many folks Best of 2011 lists (I know it will be on mine).
Langridge chatted with me briefly in this email interview, and Kaboom was kind enough to give us a preview of Snarked! (provided at the end of our discussion). While the preview is not on sale until August, of course it is in Previews this month, with orders due June 30 [Diamond Code: JUN110963]. I can count on one hand the number of active creators that write and draw as engagingly a story as Langridge. If that does not win you over, the book stars a talking walrus (Wilburforce J. Walrus, as noted by Kaboom: “that’s right, the same Walrus that inspired the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus” is now in Roger Langridge’s merry, mad hands”) for the love of God. Check it out, I think you’ll agree it should be on everyone’s must-read list, no matter your age. To paraphrase Langridge fromthis interview, I hope this project is something that people will want to re-read many times–and if that’s not the definition of a great comic, I don’t know what is.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a fan of the work of Lewis Carroll?
Roger Langridge: It’s tempting to say “since I could read”; I’m sure it can’t have been quite that long, but I know I was very, very young when I first read the Alice books. And I’ve gone back and re-read them every couple of years since then, pretty much. They’re that rare thing, books which hit you in one way when you’re a kid, and in a different (yet equally powerful) way when you’re an adult, when you appreciate some of the really black humor and the general pricking of pomposity. They reward repeated re-readings more than most.