"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Comics strips | Terry LaBan and Patty LaBan are bringing their syndicated comic strip Edge City to an end after 15 years. In his farewell message, Terry LaBan cites not only exhaustion but also a sense that the funny pages aren’t what they used to be: “It’s rare to meet anyone who reads a newspaper anymore, at least anyone under the age of 50. Comic strips, which once occupied a place at the center of pop culture, have fallen completely off most people’s radar. As much as we love it, it’s depressing to work in a form that seems to have lost its relevance and is, for the most part, ignored.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
At Scholastic’s party Thursday night at Comic-Con International, the pubblisher announced the latest addition to its Graphix line of middle-grade graphic novels: Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape, by actor Greg Grunberg (Heroes, the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens). It will be illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom, creator of the comic strip Imagine This and a contributor to both the Axe Cop graphic novels and the Team Cul de Sac anthology.
The book will feature a foreword by Grunberg’s longtime friend, director J.J. Abrams.
Dream Jumper is a story about a boy who jumps into the nightmares of his friends in order to rescue them from a monster who tries to keep them from waking up. “Lucas and I met at San Diego Comic-Con. We hit it off immediately and knew we wanted to create something together,” Grunberg said in a statement. “When my 12-year-old son Ben described a dream he had about a boy who could jump in and out of his friends’ nightmares to help them fight off bad guys and monsters, it sounded like a really relatable and exciting world to build a graphic novel and I immediately thought of Lucas,” Grunberg said.
Dream Jumper will be released in June 2016.
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow is a charming children’s story with clearly defined heroes and villains, plus music-making Muppet monsters from outer space, all lovingly adapted into comics form by Roger Langridge. It has a classic feel that will please adults but is fresh enough for children to enjoy, and Langridge does a particularly nice job of rendering music into visual form, something that is often a challenge for creators.
The book is adapted from a script that Jim Henson and collaborator Jerry Juhl wrote for a children’s television special, and the story is pretty straightforward. The protagonist, Timmy, lives with his Aunt Clytemnestra, who has an other-worldly feel to her, and his older sister Ann, who is more of a hippie type (the story is set in 1968). Ann and Timmy like to go out to an isolated area of their property to practice playing guitar, but they get chased off by their mean neighbor Mister Sump, who wants the land for himself.
Timmy is out practicing one day when the monsters arrive and accompany him with strange musical sounds of their own. Soon Timmy is friends with the monsters, but you know in a story like this that the bad guy is going to cause trouble, and that’s exactly what happens. Turkey Hollow has more turkeys than people, and suddenly the turkeys are all gone and the monsters are found sleeping in a heap with bones scattered all around. The sheriff reluctantly rounds the monsters up and puts them in jail, but Timmy is pretty sure they are being framed, and he sets off to prove it.
Comics sales | The bookstore chain Books-A-Million had an up year, and CEO Terrance G. Finley credited that in part to strong graphic novel sales, including The Walking Dead and kids’ graphic novels. [ICv2]
Digital comics | Wired runs down a handful of digital comics apps, noting both the pluses and the minuses of each one. [Wired]
Creators | Yehudi Mercado talks about his kid-friendly comic Pantalones, TX, which is filled with Saturday morning cartoon-style action, authority-questioning, and risky business: “I did purposefully envision Pantalones, TX as the anti-safety pad cartoon. I see my nieces and nephews growing up in a sheltered and sanitized environment, they don’t play outdoors at all. When I was a kid we shot fireworks at each other while playing in a bayou. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but there should be a balance.” [Wired]
The finalists were announced Tuesday for this year’s Children and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, or Cybils. Nominations for the awards are taken from the general public beginning in October, and the Cybils judges make the final choices. Here are the books that made the final cut in the graphic novel category:
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
Hilda and the Midnight Giant, by Luke Pearson
Little White Duck: A Childhood in China, by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale
Usually this feature highlights webcomics that have just gotten started and have a small archive, but today’s choice is a little different: You should start reading Chris and Kyle Bolton’s Smash now so you will be up to speed when Season 2 debuts on Aug. 25. Briefly, it’s the story of a 10-year-old boy who inherits superpowers —a nd the great responsibility that comes with them — when his local superhero bites the dust. The opening chapters are notable for some very funny sequences in which Andrew, our hero, has to master his superpowers; there’s a lot of slapstick, and it turns out the ability to fly is a mixed blessing if you’re afraid of heights. Candlewick will publish the first season in book form, which is another reason to read it online now, as comics have a tendency to disappear from the web once they are published in print.
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]
Mark your calendar and start saving your pennies: Top Shelf has announced its entire 2011 lineup, in chronological order, and it’s going to be quite a year. In addition to a varied line of adult graphic novels, the indy publisher is greatly expanding its children’s line and inaugurating a “Kids Club” website just for those books. Some highlights:
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol III): Century #2 – 1969, by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill: The latest chapter of Moore’s epic moves to 1960s London, the epicenter of psychedelic cool. Due out in July.
Any Empire, by Nate Powell: Powell won an Eisner Award two years ago for Swallow Me Whole, and now he’s back with another book about the secrets of childhood, this one focusing on violence in suburbia. Also due out in July.
Incredible Change-Bots Two, by Jeffrey Brown: The catalog text describes this as “a nostalgic tribute not only to Saturday morning cartoons but also to Jeffrey Brown’s Incredible Change-Bots One,” which is as good a reason as any for fans of the first book to pick up the second. Watch for it in March.
Gingerbread Girl, by Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin (who we interviewed last summer about it): This sounds like a pileup of wackiness, with multiple narrators following a young woman, trying to see if her mad-scientist father used part of her brain to make her a sister. Due out in May.
Okie Dokie Donuts (Story 1): Open for Business, by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos: Trouble in the donut shop! Chris Eliopoulos is an animator for the children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba, and you can see his webcomic The Bravest Nino at the Top Shelf site. Due out in June.
And, for those who can’t get enough alternative manga, another volume of AX! There’s a lot more in their catalog, so go, read, and plan!