Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Legal | Eriq Gardner delves into the issues underlying the continuing legal battle over unauthorized replicas of the Batmobile from the 1966 Batman television series and the 1989 film: This summer the Ninth Circuit will consider the appeal of Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle, whose Batmobile replicas were found in February 2013 to violate DC Comics’ copyrights and trademarks. While Towle argues that Batman’s ride is a “useful article,” meaning a utilitarian object not protected by U.S. copyright law, a federal judge ruled the Batmobile is “a copyrightable character.” Gardner notes that if the appeals court sides with DC/Warner Bros., “Hollywood studios would win a powerful weapon to stop products that are similar to props like light sabers and ruby slippers.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]
I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who seldom notices lettering unless it’s bad, so when I was offered an interview with Deron Bennett, the letterer of Archaia’s Cyborg 009, I jumped at the chance to expand my horizons a bit. Bennett, who was nominated for an Eisner Award last year, has lettered both manga and Western comics, and he worked on both the original translation of the Cyborg 009 manga and Archaia’s Western-style retelling, so he has a unique perspective on this particular work. I also stole the opportunity to ask him some more general questions about being a letterer and what he looks for in other people’s work.
Brigid Alverson: I saw on your blog that you worked on Tokyopop’s translation of the original manga version of Cyborg 009 as well as a later Ishimori Productions edition. What sort of work did you do for them?
Deron Bennett: So here’s the breakdown on that: I was a production artist for Tokyopop when they first brought Cyborg 009 to the U.S. A friend and co-worker of mine, James Lee, actually did the lettering for the manga. I was involved in post-lettering duties at the time, handling things like corrections and pre-press. That role came in handy, years later, when Itochu Corporation decided to revitalize the property through an agreement with Ishimori Productions. They wanted to digitally distribute the Cyborg 009 manga that Tokyopop had produced, but it needed some updating. I was contracted to add translations to the sound effects and fix some existing errors. That, in turn, got me lettering duties on two other Ishinomori classics, Skullman and Kikaider, which were also being prepped for digital distribution. You can currently find the versions of all three titles that I worked on on the comiXology app.
Conventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]
When you go to your local store (or digital provider) you’ll find that nearly all of the comics are lettered using a computer. That’s obvious, right? But there are a relative few creators who still prefer, and advocate, hand-lettering to digital methods, and one of those is Image Comics co-founder and Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen.
With very few exceptions, every issue of his Savage Dragon series for the past 20 years has been hand-lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, Tom Orzechowski or Larsen himself. But recently on Twitter, Larsen began talking about a switch to digital lettering — and for those attuned to the craft, that’s something major. So we asked him for more information.
“In this case it was simply timing,” Larsen told ROBOT 6. “Tom Orzechowski was booked.”
While that might seem trivial, the central point Larsen had is that the time involved — inked pages are shipped to the letterer and then shipped back once lettering is complete — was adding a significant wrinkle to Savage Dragon‘s production schedule. With digital inking, you can send the files to the letterer in a matter of minutes (depending on your scanner and Internet bandwidth), with the production time for a letterer drastically reduced by the use of a computer.
Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing| Comics sales in the direct market were down in September relative to last year, but that may be because the launch of DC’s New 52 pushed sales unusually high in September 2011. Graphic novels were up by 14.4 percent, making for a slight uptick in the overall market. Year-to-date and third-quarter sales were also up by a goodly amount from last year. [ICv2]
Editorial cartooning | The position of editorial cartoonist as a staff job on a newspaper is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but attendees at the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists meeting in Washington, D.C., don’t seem too downhearted; new opportunities are opening up, and this year’s presidential campaign is presenting them with plenty of material. “Times are tough for the old idea of cartoonists, but all kinds of other things have opened up,” said cartoonist Chip Bok, “And editorial cartoons, all cartoons, are more popular than ever. You see them all over the Internet. The problem now is figuring out how to get paid.” [Voice of America]
Creators | Veteran artist Jules Feiffer is publishing his first graphic novel (not counting a graphic novel-ish work in the 1970s), and he says his fans won’t recognize it, as it’s in a much more realistic style than his other work. Feiffer got his start in Will Eisner’s studio but felt he couldn’t draw like the other artists there, but he seems to have developed the ability recently: “Now I seem to be able to work in the adventure story drawing style. All of this comes out of my early love of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler.” [Publishers Weekly Comics World]
Creators | Pitting teenagers against one another for a television reality/talent show, America’s Got Powers may sound a bit like The Hunger Games, but artist Bryan Hitch says there’s more to it than that: “The talent show/gladiatorial stuff isn’t the story, though — it’s the setting against which the story takes place and at heart this is the story of two brothers and how they changed the world, or at least the world from their point of view. It’s personal, emotional and, given my own visual tendencies, massive, explosive and destructive!” [USA Today]
East Coast comics fans who are looking for something to do the night before MoCCA Festival could do far, far worse than the party and signing being held Friday evening for multiple award-winning letterer and designer Todd Klein at at Locust Moon Comics and Movies in Philadelphia.
The event will begins at 7:30 p.m. at the store, located at 4040 Locust St., near the University of Pennsylvania campus. Check out the press release after the break.
“Every day, millions of people rely on Comic Sans for countless applications ranging from scrapbooking to school projects,” Allan Haley, Monotype’s director of words and letters, said in the announcement. “Comic Sans is also a favorite in professional environments, used in medical information, instructions, ambulance signage, college exams, corporate mission statements and executive reprimands – even public letters from sports team owners to their fans. Breaking up with your spouse? Why not write a letter in Comic Sans Pro, embellished with a typographic whack!, pow! or bam! Comic Sans is everywhere, and now it’s even better.”
Because the only thing better than plain ol’ Comic Sans is bold and italic Comic Sans, the family pack includes two new italic and bold italic fonts designed by Terrance Weinzierl. “Our aim is to put the ‘fun’ back in ‘functional’,” the designer said. “We can’t wait to see Comic Sans Pro used in everything from second wedding announcements to warning labels. Long live Comic Sans!”
Kurt Hassler pretty much invented the notion of selling comics to girls when he was the head buyer at Borders, so it’s not surprising that he has continued that trend as publishing director of Yen Press. And indeed, Yen’s graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sold 66,000 copies in its first week of release, which is a pretty good indication that Hassler knows what he is doing, regardless of what the rest of us may think. While most comics folk grudgingly admitted that the book itself wasn’t bad, the lettering got a lot of criticism online. So naturally, the subject came up when CBR’s Kiel Phegley interviewed Hassler earlier this week. Hassler parried the question, essentially saying that the critics didn’t understand what the artist was doing:
Todd Klein is a letterer with a level of talent, success and acclaim that is only exceeded by his modesty. That’s the perspective I took away from an email interview I recently conducted with him. I’m not even going to bother offering some concise bio blurb on the man–he has such a rich history, it’s just best that you go here to read up on him. On with the fun.
Tim O’Shea: As of 2006, you noted the following metrics: “From beginning freelance work in 1977 through the end of 2006 I’ve lettered over 48,000 pages of comics, as well as over 5,400 covers and designed over 820 logos.” Have you tried to keep track of your pace since 2006?
Todd Klein: In 2007 I added 2013 pages, no covers and 8 logos. In 2008 I added 2102 pages, 12 covers and 10 logos. That kind of information, for those who want it, is available on my website’s Klein Lettering Archives pages.
O’Shea: In the case of long-term collaborators, like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, in what ways do they utilize your unique skills to elevate their narrative?
Klein: Kind of a hard question for me, asking them would probably give a more accurate answer. From my end, I can say they know my work well and what I can do, know that I don’t shy away from a challenge, so I think they pretty much trust that I will give them something that works no matter what they ask for.