"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Conventions | As comics conventions continue to become an international phenomenon, ReedPOP bags a big one: The company behind New York Comic Con, C2E2, Star Wars Celebration and Penny Arcade Expo has announced a partnership with Oz Comic-Con, which runs several conventions in different locations in Australia. [press release]
Passings | Paul Burgarino reports on Sunday’s memorial service for Wee Pals cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died last month at the age of 90. Wee Pals was the first comic strip by a black creator to get a national syndication deal, and speakers remembered him as both a pioneer and an inspiration. “Through your unique artistry and personal kindness, you’ve helped show the world what we can be, should be and must be,” said David Shaffer, the son of one of Turner’s close friends. [Contra Costa Times]
Creators | A memorial service for Morrie Turner, pioneering creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, will be held Sunday at the Grand Ballroom at the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa in Berkeley, California. It’s open to the public. The family plans to hold a private service in February in Sacramento. [Contra Costa Times]
Passings | Bomb Queen and Five Weapons creator Jimmie Robinson writes a touching remembrance of pioneering cartoonist Morrie Turner, who passed away Saturday at age 90. Widely recognized as the first nationally syndicated African-American cartoonist, the Wee Pals creator frequently spoke at schools, and it was during one of those visits that he inspired a young Jimmie Robinson: “When he came to our class he spoke about his craft and showed us how he worked and what his job demanded. He spoke about his newspaper comic strip and how he had to write it every day. He spoke about the diverse cast of characters in his strip, but he never once spoke about the issue of his race. But for me he didn’t have to. The fact that he, a black artist, even existed, spoke volumes.” The New York Times also has an obituary for Turner. [Jimmie Robinson]
Raised in Oakland, Turner was a self-taught artist who drew cartoons for Army newspapers while serving during World War II with the 477th Bomber group. Following his discharge, he worked as a police clerk while also creating strips for a number of publications.
In 1959, the black daily newspaper the Chicago Defender began publishing his all-black strip Dinky Fellas, created with the encouragement of his friend Charles Schulz after Turner expressed a desire for a comic that reflected his childhood experiences. But it wasn’t until Turner diversified the cast, introducing kids from different ethnic backgrounds, that Wee Pals was born.
“All the kids were different,” the cartoonist recalled in a 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. “White, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, black. It was a rainbow. I didn’t know that wasn’t the way it was other places. Oakland was that way before the war. We were all equal. Nobody had any money.”
Digital comics | Rob Salkowitz, who’s making the rounds to promote his new book Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, has the best summary yet of the digital comics phenomenon: “Digital doesn’t cannibalize the industry; it grows it by encouraging fandom.” (Robot 6 contributor J. Caleb Mozzocco reviewed Salkowitz’s book this week.) [Flip the Media]
Creators | Christos Gage may have created a new genre, “geezer noir,” with his graphic novel Sunset, the tale of an old soldier and former hitman who sets off after his old boss when he fears his ex-wife and child are in peril: “‘He’s got this craggy face and you see his life written in the lines of his face, and black and white makes that so much more powerful,’ the writer says. He credits artist Jorge Lucas for giving him all the facial expressions that stand in for a lot of talking: ‘He was never going to have interior monologues. I don’t think he overanalyzes what he does all that much.'” [USA Today]