Passings | Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan created the popular children’s book characters the Berenstain Bears, passed away Friday at a hospital near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Berenstain, 88, had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Since the release of The Big Honey Hunt in 1962, the Berenstain Bears series has grown to more than 300 books and sold about 260 million copies worldwide, inspiring animated television specials and series, museum exhibits and a stage show. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at age 82. [The Washington Post]
Events | This year’s 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Oct. 20. [ComicsPro]
Comics | Here’s a variation on the comics-aren’t-for-kids-anymore theme, with reasonable parents who know they need to check what their kids are reading, and a retailer who gets it. [WNYT.com]
Publishing | Number-crunching the direct-market charts, John Jackson Miller determines that sales of comics ranking in Diamond’s Top 300 increased by more than 3 million copies in 2011, bringing the total to 72.13 million. Dollar sales, too, rose by nearly $3 million, even as the average price of comic dropped by about a dime, from $3.58 to $3.49. [The Comichron]
Creators | Artist Fiona Staples has responded to Dave Dorman’s objection to her cover for Saga #1, which shows a woman breastfeeding an infant: “I find it a little hard to fathom why anyone would object to a depiction of breastfeeding, even if it were on a kids’ comic, which it isn’t. I have yet to hear a line of reasoning that makes sense to me. That said, anyone who wants to be grossed out by our comic is of course free to do so. I’m just going to fixate on the part where a master painter called me a ‘gifted artist.’” [ComicsAlliance]
Libraries | A committee recommended Monday that Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology of comics about middle school edited by Ariel Schrag, should remain in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library in Dixfield, Maine, after the mother of a student challenged its appropriateness because of “objectionable sexual and language references.” The local school board will make a final ruling in January. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sent a letter of support for the book prior to the hearing. A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pulled the graphic novel from middle-school libraries in November 2009, but allowed teachers to continue to use it in class. [Sun Journal]
Digital | Charlie Sorrel looks at the iPad comic reader called, appropriately enough, Comic Reader. [Wired]
Artist Paul Pope and colorist Nathan Schreiber have released what I think is our first look at color pages from Battling Boy, Pope’s highly anticipated — and much-delayed — graphic novel from First Second Books.
Announced in 2007, Battling Boy centers on the son of a god (or perhaps superhero) who’s sent down from the top of a mountain by his father to rid the continent-sized city of Monstropolis of the monsters that plague it. This is the fabled comic with “horrible, Grimm’s fairytale, Beowulf-ish monsters” and 50-page fight scenes.
It was suggested back in March that Battling Boy initially could be serialized online, presumably as part of First Second’s TBC/To Be Continued initiative. However, no additional information has been released.