"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]
Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]
Espionage Cosmetics is sinking its nails into The Wicked + The Divine.
The company, which has already released products based on Bitch Planet, Girl Genius and Sex Criminals, is introducing a line of nail wraps inspired by the popular fantasy comic by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.
Publishing | Vox takes a lengthy look at the effects of DC Comics’ efforts to diversify, in terms of characters, titles and creators. The article, which includes interviews with Marguerite Bennett, Genevieve Valentine, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, notes that while new titles like DC Comics Bombshells have been successful, others launched under the “DC You” umbrella – Black Canary and Midnighter, for instance — are on far shakier ground, sales-wise. However, Co-Publisher Lee suggests the company is standing behind the initiative: “I think it’s important for us to listen and to learn and basically to adjust and pivot. There is this emerging audience. Comics are changing. At the end of the day, if you’re going to remain competitive and grow and flourish, you have to be able to adapt and change and evolve.” [Vox.com]
Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]
Legal | Anime and manga fans in Japan are raising concerns that a proposed provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would threaten the existence of doujinshi, fan-made comics that are often parodies of commercial manga. Many established manga creators cut their teeth on doujinshi (and some return to it even after their series hit the big time), and the biggest comics expo in the world, Comiket, is devoted to doujinshi. The works are self-published and made in small batches, sold to fellow enthusiasts at large and small conventions, and Japanese publishers generally ignore them. Under current Japanese law, only the rights holder can bring a copyright complaint, but the TPP would allow complaints from third parties, including the creator of a rival doujinshi. “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said Negima creator Ken Akamatsu, himself a former doujinshi-ka. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.” [The Japan News]
Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]
Comics | In advance of a radio show titled “White Men in Capes,” to be broadcast Tuesday, BBC News looks at diversity in comics and finds it lacking; as DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio says, there “doesn’t seem to really be a proper representation of ethnic characters across the entire industry.” He talks about DC’s efforts to bring diversity to its line, and he explains why: “There’s a very hungry audience, excited audience and the reason why we know that exists is because we go to the conventions and we hear from our stores and you hear the make-up of the people shopping in those stores.” [BBC News]
Awards | Six graphic novels are finalists for the eighth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, Happy Birthday Babymouse, Sisters, The Dumbest Idea Ever, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl and El Deafo. This is the largest number of graphic novels to make the cut; the previous high was three. Children and teens can vote for the winners, which will be announced during Children’s Book Week, which starts this year with Free Comic Book Day. [Children’s Book Council, via ICv2]
Retailing | When water got into the stock room of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, Florida, it destroyed a number of valuable comics, including a 1956-vintage Superman comic and a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. Rather than just toss them, however, owner William Insignares is using them to redecorate his store, starting by decoupaging some of them to his front door using a Mod Podge-like substance. [Bradenton Herald]
Passings | Andy Hutton, who drew the popular strip “The Q-Bikes” (which morphed briefly into “The Q-Karts”) for the British comic The Beano, died last month at age 91. Born in Calcutta, Hutton moved as a teenager to Dundee, Scotland, where he began working for Beano publisher DC Thomson at age 14. He quit that job to train to be a pilot in the Royal Air Force, but poor eyesight kept him grounded much of the time. After World War II, he got an art degree and lived in Canada for a while, working in nuclear reactor construction, before returning in 1950 to Scotland. He was a Beano artist for 25 years, and his work included Red Rory of the Eagles, Jack Flash and The Kangaroo Kid; he also taught art in a local high school. [Down the Tubes]
Crime | Artist Josh C. Lyman reports that thieves broke into his car sometime on Monday or Tuesday and stole about 40 pieces of original art (some of it commissioned), 1,200 prints, plus convention setup materials, art supplies and clothes. “I’m more devastated in the fact my originals are all gone … some of my better non-commissioned work of the last 3 years … along with all of my tools I have earned and acquired during the aforementioned periods. Tshirts and the like I can slowly replace … but it’s the matter of having all this potential art for shows gone; along with all the posters I had left,” he writes. Lyman contacted police and has notified local comic shops to keep an eye out for the missing work, and he has posted images of the stolen art. [Facebook, via Bleeding Cool]
Censorship | Rachael Jolley takes a long and wide view of the pressures that political cartoonists are subject to, looking at several recent attempts to suppress editorial cartoonists as well as the history of tensions between creators of political cartoons and those they portray; the article also includes comments from Neil Gaiman on the topic of censorship. [The New Statesman]
Kid-With-Knife is set loose in this pretty faithful adaptation by Trinity Players of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram: The Singles Club #7, backed of course by TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.”
The short is described as a “video extract” and “the start of ‘Wolf Like Me,'” suggesting there’s more to it, somewhere; the video ends before the full story plays out.
Graphic novels | The long-running Belgian comic Blake and Mortimer, created by Herge contemporary Edgar P. Jacobs and currently the work of Yves Sente and Andre Juillard, will get a prequel. The series launched in Tintin magazine in 1946, and when they re-read the first episode, Sente and Juillard found themselves asking a lot of questions — so they answered them in their latest volume, The Staff of Plutarch. [Agence France-Presse]
Creators | Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses her new Image Comics series Bitch Planet. [Paste]
Creators | HOW magazine interviews artist Kody Chamberlain (Punks, Sweets). [HOW]
The winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:
Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)
Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)
Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds
Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
If the biggest surprise coming out of Comic-Con International on Friday was that, before last night, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez had never won an Eisner Award — seriously, how can that be? — a close second was undoubtedly the Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossover from IDW Publishing and BOOM! Studios.
Yes, the two sci-fi franchises will finally meet in an alternate-future event that brings the original crew of the Enterprise together with Taylor, Nova and other characters from 1968’s Planet of the Apes as the Klingons secretly support a renegade gorilla general in a coup to seize control of Ape City. Writers Scott and David Tipton will be joined by artist Rachael Stott for the crossover, which marks the first time BOOM! has partnered with another publisher.
Other announcements of note:
• After being introduced into the Marvel Universe at the end of the Age of Ultron miniseries and discovering her past in Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, Neil Gaiman’s angelic warrior Angela will star in her own ongoing, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett and artists Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.