X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
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]
Publishing | French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will release a special double-size issue on Jan. 6 commemorating the one-year anniversary of the jihadist attack on its Paris office by that left 12 people dead. One million copies will be produced of the issue, which will feature drawings by the cartoonists killed in the massacre, as well as illustrations by current staff members. A special “survivors issue” released after the attack sold 7.5 million copies worldwide. [The Guardian]
Mark Millar is offering comics retailers a chance to win a free in-store appearance by him.
All store owners have to do is encourage their staff to dress up for Free Comic Book Day as Millarworld characters, anyone from Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl to Nemesis and The Fox. Then take photos and email them to Millar no later than noon GMT (5 a.m. PT) on May 8.
Bryan Hitch has been a professional artist for more than a quarter century, so it makes perfect since that after all that time he would want to try his hand at writing as well as drawing a comic. This year saw the premiere of such an effort, the Image Comics six-issue miniseries Real Heroes.
The premise is direct: A group of actors portraying a team of superheroes gets thrust into an alternate universe, where they’re forced to portray actual heroes. Two issues will be released this month (Issue 4 arrives Wednesday, followed Nov. 12 by Issue 5) in an effort to catch up to its its schedule, before the series wraps up on Dec. 10.
In our interview, Hitch discusses how much he enjoyed writing and his intention to write more, and elaborates on his decision to have his last creative word on superheroes be his next project.
Mark Millar is teasing a 10-issue series that has some fans guessing could be his first DC Comics work since 2003’s Superman: Red Son.
Posting a page of artwork this morning on his message board, the writer asked members to guess the artist, the project and which “well-known superheroes” are shown, promising, “All will be revealed next week.” “You will be SURPRISED,” he added.
Clearly enjoying the game, Millar was quick to offer four clues:
Conventions | Attendance at the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con was estimated at between 120,000 and 130,000, putting it on a par with the big shows like Comic-Con International in San Diego and New York Comic Con. Even better, Stan Lee proclaimed it “the greatest comic con in the world” (but he probably says that to all the shows). [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | The scale of the first Las Cruces [New Mexico] Comic Con was considerably smaller, with expected attendance of 3,000 to 5,000, but organizers were pleased with the event, which featured a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament, a Comic Strip Burlesque show, and appearances by Jim Steranko, Power Rangers stuntman Jason Ybarra, and the 1966 Batmobile. [Las Cruces Sun-News]
Publishing | Calvin Reid looks at how publishing is done on Kickstarter, and interviews Maris Kreizman, the general publishing manager, and Jamie Tanner, who oversees the comics category and is himself a comics creator. Comics campaigns have a success rate of nearly 50 percent, making them the fourth-highest category on Kickstarter (and way ahead of general publishing, which has a 32 percent success rate). Tanner sees the popularity of comics as an indication that people still like a print product, and, he pointed out, “setting up a [Kickstarter comics] project, offering rewards and a delivery date, is very much like any conventional comics publishing project.” [Publishers Weekly]
Freedom Factory Studios, which developed Young Justice: Legacy, and UIG Entertainment have unveiled a trailer touting the May release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles. That will likely come as a surprise to some, as the game was originally set to debut in November, but instead now will arrive about nine months after the premiere of the film, based on the comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
The passage of time hasn’t produced any more details about the game, which is still described by UIG simply as “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic book.” Players control Kick-Ass as he faces his arch-nemesis The Motherfucker.
Comics | Rupp’s Comics in Fremont, Ohio, will display a rare comic this weekend as part of the store’s 22nd-anniversary celebration: Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, published in 1933, is the first comic book to contain a single original story (as opposed to several strips, or a compilation of reprints from newspapers). The new format was not an immediate success, and the series was canceled after just one issue. [The News-Messenger]
Creators | It’s old but it’s good: The Comics Journal dips into the archives for a 1989 interview with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | John Porcellino reflects on 25 years of King-Cat Comics. [du9]
Although the timing is a little odd, considering the film was released in August, Freedom Factory and UIG Entertainment have announced the November release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles.
There are few details in the brief press release beyond that it’s “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic-book” (however, there are some screenshots and character designs, which you can see below). Gamers can play as many of the main characters from the film, including Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, as they face off against The Motherfucker.
More details will follow, presumably.
Legal | Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit is in court again, this time claiming sexual harassment by former friend Sam Levitin, who was her liaison to Archie after her legal feud with the company and C0-CEO Jon Goldwater was settled last year. Levitin has responded that Silberkleit “lacks functional communication skills and has an unstable temperament” and has a “venomous and destructive effect” at the company. Levitin asked the court in December to remove Silberkleit as a trustee of the company, and she responded in April with the allegation of sexual harassment against both Levitin and Archie Comics. An outside firm hired by Archie determined that her claims were “unfounded,” and the publisher is not a party in the latest lawsuit. [New York Daily News]
Legal | Jeff Trexler takes an in-depth look at the copyright battle between Marvel and Jack Kirby’s children. [The Comics Journal]
There’s been a lot of talk about the appropriateness of violence and sexual violence in comics. It’s a good discussion to have, particularly for creators who take their art seriously.
I saw a quote from the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat in The Guardian that seemed apt, although the context of what he was talking about was different: “If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a [house] painter and decorator.”
At some point, creators have to decide what their work is about in a larger sense — what’s their mission statement, if you will. In defining that, everything they produce serves that goal on some level. It’s probably not apparent to anyone other than the creator, and some probably do it on a subconscious level, but it gives their work a unified essence that makes it undeniably them.
Or maybe that’s just me, and I’m projecting that onto everyone else.
Even so, creators have to live with their work; it represents them. And everyone is going to have different comfort levels regarding what they want to represent them and their ideas, just as those that experience the work will have different levels of comfort. For some, it’s run-of the-mill to use sexual violence as shorthand to establish a one-dimensional villain; it’s a go-to device
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks into full gear today in Rosemont, Illinois. Special guests for the four-day event range from creators like Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to such television and movie personalities as Zachary Quinto, Norman Reedus, Summer Glau and the cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. [Daily Herald]
Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs breaks down what’s problematic about DC Comics’ announcement that it will allocate its “Villains Month” 3D covers, which essentially means to publisher won’t completely fill all the orders. Instead, the company has added a 2D variant to make up the difference: “You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of ‘talking people into’ signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.” [Savage Critics]
Duncan Fegredo has been known to post all kinds of process art on Twitter while he’s been working on various Hellboy projects: thumbnails, layouts, sketches, pencils, inks, gray washes (and sometimes he compiles them at Storify). Knowing that he’s a serial documentarian of every stage of an image, I asked if there were any previous stages to his variant cover for Kick-Ass 3 #2. This cover is the first fruits of Fegredo’s partnership with Mark Millar, as they gear up to creating their new series MPH for Image Comics. Of course, Fegredo answered my question with a virtual folder full of art, showing just how much work the artist (and his editor, and his colorist) put into producing one iconic image.
Fegredo: “Amidst much ongoing talk of MPH, Mark asked if I could turn around a Kick-Ass 3 variant by the end of what was already a short week. This was whilst I was finishing the last few Hellboy: The Midnight Circus pages, so not the best timing! The brief could not have been briefer, “It should feature Kick Ass!” was pretty much it. So here’s my initial and only sketch, Kick-Ass playing with action figures of himself and a bad guy. Kick-Ass literally playing with himself if I need make it any plainer!”
Creators | Ahead of the premiere of Kick-Ass 2, Abraham Reisman profiles Mark Millar, with an emphasis on his subversion of the genre — and the new prominence he’s about to achieve with the films based on his comics: “By decade’s end, he’ll have had more of his creations translated into movie form than any comics writer other than Stan Lee.” The piece also includes criticism of his work, with Colin Smith observing, ““Millar does indeed have a history of producing work which represents less powerful groups in an insensitive, and often deeply insensitive, manner. There are massive contradictions between his words and actions as a private citizen and the apparent politics of some of his books.”[The New Republic]
Conventions | Matt Arado looks forward to this coming weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (it’s actually in Rosemont) with some creator interviews and a look at the way the con has evolved over the years. [Daily Herald]