Harley Quinn's Greatest Moments from "Batman: The Animated Series"
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There have been a lot of really strange Batman-Superman team-ups over the years, but I’m willing to bet this is the first time in which the World’s Finest are depicted as talking meerkats … who interrupt a 1970s-era gang fight.
Called A Heroic Journey, it’s a limited-edition custom comic produced by DC Comics for the insurance-comparison website comparethemarket.com. If you thought those costumed meerkats look as if they were drawn by Neal Adams, you’re right.
Passings | Irving Fine, cousin of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and founder of the Siegel and Shuster Society, passed away March 11 at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 87. Fine, whose late brother introduced Siegel to Joe Shuster in the 1930s, made preserving and promoting Superman’s ties to Cleveland a priority: During his tenure as co-chairman of the Siegel and Shuster Society, Ohio introduced a Superman-themed license plate, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport installed a Superman Welcome Center, and Siegel’s childhood home was restored. Michael Sangiacomo notes that Fine also played a key role in the plans for a monument to Superman and his creators, set to be unveiled in 2018 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Festivals | More than 40 French publishers, including all the major publishers of graphic novels, have signed on to a press release saying they won’t participate in next year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival without significant, fundamental changes in the way it’s run. The signatories include almost every publisher that was at this year’s festival. Guy Delcourt, head of Delcourt publishing and the president of the BD commission of the national publishers’ association, said there have been problems with the festival for a long time, and attendance has been dropping, but after this year’s omission of any female nominees for the Grand Prix and the unfunny fake awards ceremony, he is fed up with the whole thing. Delcourt stopped short of calling for executive director Franck Bondoux to resign, saying the problem is not with one individual but with the entire structure of the festival, which is overly complex and opaque. The publishers have asked the Minister of Culture to name a mediator to work with them to solve the problema and give the festival, in Delcourt’s words, “the governance it deserves.” [ActuaBD]
Auctions | Rob Salkowitz looks at the recent sale at auction of Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 for an impressive, although not record-setting, $442,150. He notes that the significance of the issue, and the endorsement of the sale by Adams, likely had an effect on the price. In 1970, most publishers didn’t routinely return original art to artist, and Adams has been critical of the sale of artwork that was simply taken, and sometimes given away, by staffers or editors. In this case, however, he announced through the auction house that “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family, I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.” A portion of the proceeds was also donated to The Hero Initiative. [ICv2]
Conventions | Comiket, the world’s largest comics expo, drew 550,000 attendees to its summer edition, which ended Sunday at to the Tokyo Big Sight. That’s about the same number of people as the summer 2014 installment. (Note: Those figures account for the number of visits during the three-day convention to the Tokyo Big Sight, rather than individual attendees.) The winter installment of the biannual event will be held in December. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | In an attempt to avoid the sort of bad press they got last year, organizers of Rhode Island Comic Con put a clause in this year’s press application requiring news organizations promise to avoid “insulting or disrespectful comments and giving a bad image of the show” in order to get press passes. That worked about as well as you would expect: The convention quickly apologized and reversed course following push-back from not only the Rhode Island Press Association but also the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center. [GoLocal Providence]
“Over the years, when he heard somebody liked other artists more than his work, he was really non-competitive. The thing, though, that I think a lot of people never got about Jack was that Jack wasn’t really competitive with most other comic book artists, because in his mind, they had a different job description. When John Buscema sat down to draw an issue of Fantastic Four — and, actually, nothing I’m about to say is knocking John Buscema in any way, or any of the artists I’m going to mention here — his goal was to do an issue of the Fantastic Four. When Jack sat down to do an issue of Fantastic Four, in his mind his job description was to create a new universe, three spinoffs and take comics to another level.”
Note: The original version of this post misattributed the comment. It’s been edited to correct that, and to provide a fuller quote.
Manga | Dark Horse has announced the September release of Astro Boy Omnibus Volume 1, an oversized collection featuring nearly 700 pages of Osamu Tezuka’s most popular creation, billed as the first in a series. The news follows the recent announcement of the publisher’s oversized editions of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. [Dark Horse]
Publishing | David Carter takes a hard look at Vertigo as part of his analysis of DC Comics’ December sales. He notes that most of the series are selling poorly (under — often well under — 15,000 copies) and speculates that the reason may be that creators, even those who do work for DC, are taking their creator-owned books to Image Comics. He also thinks Vertigo’s trade policy isn’t working, as releasing the trades early and pricing the first one low encourages readers to skip the monthly comics — but then there’s a high probability they will forget about a new series altogether. [The Beat]
The comics medium allows for diverse interpretations of characters, both narratively and visually. Artist Jaakko Seppälä has taken 10 of the most iconic comic characters — from Asterix to Batman to Lucy van Pelt — drawn in the style of 10 famous artists (including their respective creators or most popular illustrators).
Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]
Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]
“It was like trying to stop a force of nature. He was a sponge. The last time he came, he’d gotten a six-page assignment, and I went over what he’d done wrong, how he could make it better. He said, ‘You’re saying I have to draw it over again.’ I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ He said, ‘OK, but the problem is, I turned it in, and they accepted it.’ I said, ‘In that case, don’t draw it over again; I think you just started your career.’”
— Neal Adams, discussing a young Frank Miller, who repeatedly stopped by his New York City studio for critiques. It’s from Sean Howe’s Wired profile of Miller, probably the best of a handful published ahead of the premiere of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
It’s certainly the most unflinching, touching upon the effect of 9/11 on the artist and his work — “I think many people didn’t get over it, that it will continue to affect their lives forever,” Lynn Varley, his longtime colorist and former wife, says. “And I think Frank is one of those people.” — the failure of The Spirit, the response to Holy Terror, the disappearance of All Star Batman & Robin, his tirade against the Occupy movement, and speculation about his health.
With the 25th anniversary of 1989’s Batman, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the Tim Burton movie. As part of that, James at 1989Batman.com has pulled together some excellent threads examining DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin, a project undertaken at the behest of filmmakers.
Out went the elfish garb of the original as DC searched for something more modern — befitting the time, and also primed to be translated into a future Batman film. To accomplish that task, DC turned to several of its top artists at the time, including Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Stephen De Stefano, George Perez and Jim Aparo. DC didn’t tell the artists what it was for; simply, they were asked to redesign the Boy Wonder.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ year-long celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary will continue in a big way later this month at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with several of the creators most associated with the character set to appear on the “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” panel on Thursday, July 24.
Notably, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One‘s Frank Miller — in a relatively rare appearance at a comics-centric panel — will join fellow Bat-luminaries Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, current Batman team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
On Saturday, DC will commemorate the Caped Crusader’s storied history in other media, with Batman: The Animated Series vet Paul Dini, longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet co-writer Ralph Garman and more.
The two panels are something of a bisected version of the treatment DC gave Superman last summer, with a Superman 75th Anniversary panel including folks from both the worlds of comics (Morrison, Dan Jurgen) and movies/television (Henry Cavill, Tim Daly).
In 1991 Steven Spielberg directed a sequel of sorts to Peter Pan and Wendy called Hook, starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Don’t be upset if you haven’t seen it; it wasn’t that great. But a recent discovery has uncovered a hidden comics connection that makes the film a little more interesting.
Thanks to Billy Ingram, we can now see two paintings Neal Adams created for Hook that were shelved and then thrown away by the production company that commissioned them. Ingram, who worked for the company, saved the two 11-inch by 17-inch paintings in 1989 but forgot about them until earlier this year.
Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron’s]
Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]
Neal Adams will appear Saturday at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles for not only a signing but also for a sneak peek at the upcoming Blood motion comic, animated by Continuity Studios (the plan is for the story, originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents, to be eventually be developed as an animated feature).
However, it doesn’t stop there: Adams also will present a discussion about the Silver Age, followed by a Q&A.
And for fans with a sweet tooth, Sweet! Hollywood will use the event to introduce its set of signature candy bars with packaging featuring Adams characters like Bucky O’Hare, Crazyman and Armor, as well as “Neal’s best illustrated paintings” (they’re $8.99 each). Sweet! Hollywood previously teamed with Meltdown for the special Hellboy chocolates, released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1.
The lecture is scheduled for Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (the $5 tickets can be purchased here), followed by the signing.