Soule Finds a Weakness in the Afterlife, Discusses Surprise "Inhuman" Return
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
Conventions | WonderCon Anaheim has announced the first round of guests for its April 3-5 show: Neal Adams, Becky Cloonan, Aaron Kuder, Kevin Maguire and Dustin Nguyen. [Toucan Blog]
Publishing | Magnetic Press is looking for a marketing assistant. [Magnetic Press]
Retailers | The Laughing Ogre chain has announced its Lansdowne, Virginia, location (Phoenix Comics & Toys) has lost its lease and will close Dec. 18. That store is managed by chain co-owner Gary Dills, the former ComicsPRO treasurer named as the subject of an investigation into a possible misuse of organization funds. The chain has two other locations, in Fairfax, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio. [Laughing Ogre, via Bleeding Cool]
Jonathan Baylis recently published the seventh issue of his annual minicomic So Buttons, a collection of short, autobiographical stories, written by Baylis and illustrated by a variety of artists. They range from lighthearted anecdotes about his years in the comics and entertainment business (he started an internship at Marvel the day Jack Kirby died, and later worked for Valiant and Topps) to heartfelt stories about discovering beauty, confronting death and fighting his inner demons.
I first met Baylis (as he correctly remembers in this interview) last year a the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, although I was reading So Buttons before that. We have kept in touch since then, and it’s always a pleasure to run into him at a show. When he told me that So Buttons #7 was about to go live on comiXology, it seemed like an opportune moment for an interview about his work and his experiences as a minicomics creator. He not only answered my questions with gusto, he sent along a ton of art and a full-length So Buttons story about an encounter with John Romita Sr. (below).
Creators | Isabel Greenberg has announced she’s working on a “sort-of” sequel to The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, her British Comic Award-winning debut graphic novel. She also posted her new comic Dreadful Wind and Rain, which is being published as a limited edition by Gosh! Comics, and will be included in her follow-up to Early Earth. [Isabel Greenberg, via Digital Spy]
Manga | Yen Press associate editor and letterer Abigail Blackman talks about her job: “I see that the editor has a twofold obligation – to the original creator and to the reader. I think everyone in the process has to be most careful of not imposing his or her own sensibilities onto the material. I and Yen feel very strongly about preserving the meaning and intent of the original and making sure it translates clearly to the reader. It’s so easy for a rewriter to get carried away with his or her own voice, or for a letterer to get too cutesy with the fonts and placing emphasis.” [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]
Legal | Disney on Tuesday asked a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss a two-year-old lawsuit by Stan Lee Media claiming the copyright to such Marvel superheroes as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men. A lawyer for Stan Lee Media, which no longer connected to its namesake, argued a federal judge in Colorado erred last year in dismissing the 2012 complaint, but Disney countered that the copyright claims have been addressed time and again by the courts. “This is their seventh bite of a rotten apple,” Disney attorney Jim Quinn said after the hearing. The three-judge panel hasn’t issued its decision. [The Associated Press]
Manga | The finale of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which will run in an upcoming issue of Shonen Jump (both the Japanese and the North American editions), will be two chapters long, with the second appearing in full color, the manga magazine announced. Naruto was at one time the bestselling graphic novel in the United States and is still one of the top selling manga in the country. [Anime News Network]
I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman – what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!
Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?
Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.
What book were you debuting there?
I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.
Publishing | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater responds to Singapore’s ban of the third volume of Life With Archie, which features the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker: “Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Business | Devin Leonard looks at the possible effects of a Fox/Time-Warner merger on superhero movies; Time-Warner owns DC Entertainment, and Fox has the movie rights to some Marvel characters. The New York Times offers a broader overview. [Business Week]
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a federal judge last week sided with the toymaker in its 2013 lawsuit against writer Donald Glut, who claimed he created the characters in 1981, owns the copyrights and merely licenses them to Mattel (a license, he said, that would expire in 2016).
The company insisted Glut was commissioned to write “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds” and “King of Castle Grayskull” and to create backstories for He-Man and other characters under the direction of the toymaker. Mattel noted the writer acknowledged as recently as 2001 that the minicomics were work for hire for which he received neither credit nor royalties. Besides, the toymaker argued, if there were any confusion about the rights, Glut had a legal obligation to come forward years ago.
Glut’s attorneys countered that his delay wasn’t unreasonable, as he believed his claim fell within the termination period stipulated by U.S. copyright law. But Mattel insisted that because the minicomics were work for hire, Glut never owned the copyright to be able to license or terminate it.
Glut, who wrote the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, also penned episodes of such animated series as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Transformers and Centurions, as well as issues of Marvel’s Captain America, Conan Saga, The Invaders. Kull the Destroyer and The Savage Sword of Conan.
Earlier this year, the small publisher Oily Comics suspended its subscription service. But it’s back, with Publisher Charles Forsman (creator of TEOTFW) tweeting Sunday that Oily is offering a new spring bundle that will be out in March. It’s available for pre-order now, and the full bundle is limited to 200 copies.
I checked in with Forsman to see what the story is with Oily and get some details on the new bundle.
Brigid Alverson: What’s going on with Oily Comics? Are you changing your business plan? How is this different from the way you were doing things before?
Charles Forsman: I stopped the subscriptions at the end of last year. I was feeling a bit burnt out at the time. It was a combination of my mental state and I was beginning to feel like I was just going through the motions with the monthly comics. So I put it on hold so I could crawl into my hole and get through my winter depression and decide what Oily would look like in the future. So, I am trying this bundle idea. I think I was inspired a bit by the humble bundle service. They do a pay-what-you-want bundle of video games. I thought it could work for Oily so I’m giving it a shot. Plus it satisfies a goal that the subscriptions had which is the simple idea of getting someone for Oily because they like a certain artist. But they will also be exposed to cartoonists they have not read before. I would love to do a pay-what-you-want but that just doesn’t work for physical comics so well.
Becky Cloonan is now accepting preorders for By Chance or Providence, a limited-edition hardcover collection of her acclaimed trilogy of minicomics Wolves, the Eisner Award-nominated The Mire and Demeter.
“These stories cast a hypnotic melancholy,” the description reads, “weaving their way through a medieval landscape of ancient curses and terrible truths that will haunt you long after you’ve set them down.” The cover illustration is lovely, but the details sound even better: a canvas hardcover with gold foil blocking on the spine and cover, with a bonus sketchbook and illustration section, wrapped in a dust jacket.
By Chance or Providence is priced at $20; the print run will be determined by the number of preorders received by March 21. Retailers are encouraged to visit the wholesale site.
If you’re looking for an unusual handcrafted gift, minicomics and original prints are a good way to go. Many of them are beautifully produced, with unusual printing effects such as risography and die cuts, and they contain stories you can’t find anywhere else. As a bonus, the minicomics creator you support today may turn out to be the art-comix superstar of tomorrow, and you’ll be able to say you were one of the first to recognize their genius.
Here are six up-and-coming creators who are offering some very attractive mini-comics, prints, and other goods. You can get a lot of these things on Amazon and other mass-merchant sites, but the links here are to the creators’ own stores so you can support them directly with your Cyber Monday dollars.
Sarah Becan: You might know Becan from her foodie webcomic I Think You’re Sauceome, which recorded not just the amazing meals Becan ate but her mixed feelings about food and her body image. It’s a thoughtful read as well as an entertaining one. Her food posters, on themes like Sausages of the World and How to Poach an Egg, would make a colorful addition to anyone’s kitchen decor. Becan is also the creator of Shuteye, a comic about dreams nested inside of dreams, and The Complete Ouija Interviews, a minicomic (supported by a Xeric grant) based on “interviews” done via a Ouija board. “Printed in rich brown inks, assembled in a beautiful little perfect-bound volume, with a debossed feltweave cover,” this 192-page volume is an amazing deal for $10.
Conventions | Although convention organizers rolled out an altered name — WonderCon Anaheim — and logo when they confirmed two weeks ago that the event will return to Anaheim, California, again next year, they insist they haven’t close the door on San Francisco. “We still want to get back to the Bay Area. […] We are in touch with [the Moscone Center organizers] fairly regularly and we have an open dialogue,” says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations. “They haven’t given up on us, either.” The convention was uprooted from the Moscone Center in 2012 first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. WonderCon Anaheim will be held April 18-20. [Publishers Weekly]
Digital comics | I spoke with Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and iVerse Media CEO Michael Murphey about the new “all-you-can-eat” digital service, Archie Unlimited. [Good E-Reader]
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor, Fantagraphics Books, 120 pages, $24.99.
I enjoy both hip-hop and reading books about the history of music or nascent art forms in general, so this book fits right in my wheelhouse anyway, but, man, did I like this comic. I liked the way Piskor designed the book, making it look like one of those oversized Marvel or DC “Treasury” books from the 1970s, and even goes so far as to use newsprint-like paper and print the colors slightly off-register at times, all the better to evoke those lap-sized comics of yesteryear. I liked the way he juggles a huge cast of characters, jumping around from one to the next without losing or confusing the reader. I like how he employs some wonderful bits of cartoonish exaggeration (that, it should be noted, never devolves into ethnic stereotyping), so that Grandmaster Flash wears an impossibly large cap, Mellie Mel’s afro seems larger than his head at times, and Russell Simmons is a cross-eyed guy with a bad lisp. Piskor seems to know intuitively how to relate the best, most revealing and juiciest anecdotes without bogging the reader down in minutiae. I’ve enjoyed Piskor’s work in the past (most notably with his hacker book Wizzywig) but he’s never seemed quite as confident a storyteller as he does here. Can’t wait for volume two.
The Small Press Expo has announced the nominees for the 2013 Ignatz Awards, the festival prize named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comic strip.
Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists — this year it was Lisa Hanawalt, Dustin Harbin, Damien Jay, Sakura Maku and Jason Shiga — and then voted on by SPX attendees. The winners will be announced Sept. 14 during a ceremony at the Bethesda, Maryland, convention. The nominees are:
Mattel hopes it has the power to tamp down claims by writer Donald Glut that he has a copyright stake in the original Masters of the Universe minicomics packaged with the action-figure line three decades ago.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, and first reported by Courthouse News Service, the toymaker seeks a declaration that it is the sole owner of the lucrative multimedia franchise, asserting that Glut’s four stories were work for hire. Mattel refers to the writer’s claims of ownership as “both baseless and stale,” insisting the statute of limitations long ago expired.
According to the complaint, Glut was commissioned in 1981 to write “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds” and “King of Castle Grayskull” and to create backstories for He-Man and other characters under the direction of the toymaker (“Mattel told Glut what the toys could do and directed him to have the characters in the minicomics do these things as much as possible,” the document states). The company notes the writer acknowledged as recently as 2001 that the minicomics were work for hire for which he received neither credit nor royalties.