HarperCollins Children’s Books announced this morning it has signed a five-book deal with bestselling author and comics writer Neil Gaiman that includes a collaboration with comic artist Skottie Young.
Publishers Weekly reports the agreement begins in January with Chu’s Day, the first of two pictures books about a little panda with an outsized sneeze illustrated by Adam Rex. The remaining books are Fortunately, the Milk, the middle-grade novel illustrated by Young and described as “an ode to the pleasure and wonders of storytelling itself,” a sequel to 2008′s Odd and the Frost Giants, and a third currently untitled book.
Dave McKean was at one point set to illustrate Fortunately, the Milk, which Gaiman referred to last fall as “a very silly children’s book” that “was meant to be about the length of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, but it’s actually about four or five times as long.”
Gaiman has published 13 novels and picture books through HarperCollins Children’s Books, including the Newbery-winning The Graveyard Book.
Following the temporary retreat from Facebook by the anti-gay One Million Moms, a pro-gay group has sprung up on the social-media site hoping to capitalize on its absence.
Called, yes, One Million Moms, the group describes itself as “One Million Moms and friends of moms who support LGBT rights. Let’s put a positive spin to the group name One Million Moms by supporting equal rights to people of all orientations, creeds, genders and colors.” To further tweak the other One Million Moms, the new Facebook page flies the banner of the Human Rights Campaign and uses an image from the current JC Penney Father’s Day ad that has so enraged the other organization.
The new OMM explains that, “Using a ‘Risk’ metric, any time a territory like this is contested, it weakens the prior occupier’s footing and destabilizes their hold on that particular region of Cyberspace. Fundamentalist mothers looking for the original page will be confused, join the wrong thing, or not join at all; it muddies the message and strengthens the position of the new occupiers. This new page might not garner all that many followers initially, but its presence WILL deny the previous owners their beachhead and create a blockade to one of their most persuasive channels.”
Writer Neil Gaiman and artist David Mack have teamed up to create a new piece of art that features a poem written by Gaiman. The CBLDF are selling a print of it to raise funds for their cause, limited to 90 copies, but the rarest version is on the back of Burton Olivier:
“He’s the person who wrote to me and asked if I’d write a comic for his back … and I said yes, if it could also do some good for the CBLDF,” Gaiman said on his Tumblr. “And then I asked who he’d want to draw it, and he said, David Mack. So I asked David, who also said yes.”
The CBLDF is selling the “variant blue test run” versions of the print, which were created in very limited quantities prior to the standard edition grey run. Check out the print, which is on a French paper called Madero Beach rather than, um, human flesh, after the jump.
DC Entertainment will release a slipcase edition of Sandman this November, collecting all 10 volumes of the landmark series by Neil Gaiman and friends. The slipcase will retail for $199, which is about what you’d pay if you bought all the books by themselves at full price. Amazon has it available for pre-ordering for $
125. (Update: the price went up today to $179).
According to Gaiman, the collections are recolored, using the recolored Absolute Edition pages of the first few books.
“Remember, whatever discipline you’re in, whether you’re a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer — whatever you do, you have one thing that’s unique: You have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I’ve known, that’s been a lifesaver, the ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times, and it gets you through … the other ones. Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.”
– Neil Gaiman, in his commencement address to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he was bestowed with an honorary doctorate in fine arts (watch the full speech below)
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]
Conventions | Thousands of fans were locked out of the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo after the local fire marshal declared that the building had reached capacity. The big draw was not actually comics but a reunion of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. [Calgary Herald]
Awards | The Thrill Electric, an online comic created by Leah Moore and John Reppion, Emma Vieceli, Windflower Studio and LittleLoud for the U.K.’s Channel 4, has been nominated for best website in the 2012 Broadcast Digital Awards. [Broadcast]
Creators | Jay Faerber talks about his early ambitions, his current comic Near Death, and what is so special about being published by Image: “The thing about Image is you have absolute creative freedom. Once Near Death was approved, I just wrote it. There were no notes from Eric or anyone else at Image telling me what they think I should do, which is awesome. But it can also be a burden, because if a book sucks, I can’t say, ‘Well, if I had been able to do it my way…’ – because I did do it my way. So working at Image has made me become my own editor. The buck stops here, you know?” [Broken Frontier]
I’ve linked before to the series of Comics-On Tees that the T-shirt site Threadless has created, featuring stories and artwork by everyone from Brian Azzarello to Jhonen Vasquez. In fact, a new round of them debuted this weekend at C2E2.
Their next round of shirts will debut at the San Diego Comic Con, and this time they’ve gone to Sandman writer Neil Gaiman to provide the story … or in this case, a poem. They plan to adapt his awesome poem “The Day The Saucers Came” onto four shirts, featuring artwork by John Cassaday, Ben Templesmith, Brandon Graham and … well, maybe you. Threadless is holding an open contest for submissions based on the first two lines of the poem, the ones about aliens and zombies. I’ve embedded a dramatic reading of the poem with some familiar artwork after the jump; you can also read it on the Neverwear site, where they were selling a pretty awesome print by artist Jouni Koponen that I’d tell you to buy, but it has sold out.
The designer of the winning shirt will receive $750 cash, a $250 Threadless gift certificate, a 2012 CBLDF Protector Membership, a signed and numbered Paul Pope screened print, a print featuring “The Day the Saucers Came” script (presumably the one I linked to above) and four issues of Chew signed by John Layman. A quarter of the T-shirt sales will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
“We couldn’t be happier to partner with Threadless on this project,” said CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox in a press release. “Between Neil Gaiman and the artists involved, you couldn’t ask for a more talented group. It’s going to produce some amazing shirts, and we can’t wait to see the designs that are submitted over the next several weeks. This is going to be a great fundraiser, and an awesome way to see fans and supporters show off their creative chops!”
Todd McFarlane will pay Neil Gaiman $382,000 in the wake of the settlement in January of their nearly decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, Angela and other characters.
According to documents obtained by Daniel Best, a federal bankruptcy judge last week ordered the release of the funds placed into escrow in 2008 under McFarlane’s reorganization plan to offset potential losses from the lawsuit. Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million.
Best notes that with interest, Gaiman should receive somewhere around $464,000, although much of that will likely go to legal expenses. The writer has publicly stated that he gives money won in the proceedings to charity.
The agreement reached in late January gives Gaiman 50-percent ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the three issues of the 1994 Angela miniseries, ending a fierce court fight over the characters he and McFarlane created together some two decades ago. A federal jury had already found in 2002 that Gaiman has a copyright interest in the characters, but the subsequent bankruptcy of Todd McFarlane Productions left the writer unpaid. McFarlane was dealt another blow in 2010, when a federal judge ruled that Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany are mere derivatives of Medieval Spawn and Angela, meaning that Gaiman is also the co-owner of those copyrights and entitled to one-half of the profits generated by the characters.
UPDATE: Gaiman wrote on Twitter, “that simply says the escrow money has come out of escrow. I could have been paid none of it or ten times it.”
“I just went, Robert, what you’re about to get involved in is a pain in the ass, take it from me. But there is a silver lining in that you’re doing something that matters. Because nobody ever sues anybody over something that doesn’t matter. So, you know, if your book was selling four copies, it wouldn’t matter what agreement everybody thinks they have. Nobody cares. They only sue when there’s money on the table. There’s money on the table because you’re doing something successful. You have to get a thick skin, and in a weird way, if people keep coming at you, and lawyers keep coming at you, that means you’re doing something successful, that you’re enough of a target for them.”
– Todd McFarlane, who last month settled a decade-long legal battle with Neil Gaiman, relating his advice to Robert Kirkman, who’s being sued by former Walking Dead collaborator Tony Moore
The internet has been abuzz ever since the news broke that Marvel is demanding $17,000 from Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich in return for not countersuing him, after he lost his suit against them. And now someone is doing something about it: Comics writer Steve Niles has set up a donation fund to help Gary, and donations are pouring in. Niles told CBR that most were in the $20 range, so it will take a lot to make a difference, but Marvel’s action seems to have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Jamie Gambell has pledged the proceeds from his February book sales to the fund, and other donors include Steve Lieber, David Gallaher, and Neil Gaiman, who gave the fund drive a huge boost by retweeting it to his large following.
The whole thing came together quickly over Twitter; after getting an e-mail from Friedrich, Niles appealed to friends to help him set up a PayPal page, then reached out to a number of prominent creators (not all of whom have answered the call). The goal is rather modest: “Looks like 6k will keep a roof over his head, so let’s shoot for 7,” Niles tweeted about an hour ago. The donations have been pouring in, but he will need a lot more to reach that goal, he told CBR.
Meanwhile, it’s a bit like the last scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with creators hollering good wishes as they toss money into the till. “I just helped Gary. We might all need help some time. Good Karma, people!” tweeted Jill Thompson. “I am totally in,” said Gail Simone.
Before Wednesday morning’s big news, I was all ready to write about the wish-fulfillment aspects of DC’s reprint program. Maybe next week.
Now, though, we’ve got Before Watchmen*, seven miniseries and a one-shot in the Seven Soldiers mode, and no doubt collection-ready. Please pardon my cynicism, but with all due respect to the impressive roster of professionals involved, this could have easily been subtitled We’re Back For More Cash.
To be clear, I understand DC wanting to make money off its intellectual property. A while ago I argued that one purpose of the current Shade miniseries is to fill another slot on bookshelves next to the rest of James Robinson’s Starman collections. Starman was one of the rare series where one writer introduced a character (Jack Knight) and took him through a series of adventures, until that character reached the natural endpoint of his life’s particular phase. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman preceded it, and Garth Ennis’ Hitman followed. (Working with writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns, Robinson tied Starman into the JSA revival as well.)
Legal | Neil Gaiman comments briefly on the settlement agreement that ends his decade-long legal dispute with Todd McFarlane over Medieval Spawn, Angela and Cogliostro, and a handful of derivative characters: “The main thing is, I feel like an awful lot of good things have come out of it. … I think the various decisions, particularly the [Judge] Posner decision, were huge in terms of what the nature of dual copyright in comics is. What is copyrightable in comics is now something that there is a definite legal precedent for. There were a lot of things that were … misty in copyright [law] that are now much clearer. And it’s of benefit to the creator.”
While the details of the settlement are confidential, it’s known that Gaiman and McFarlane now share ownership of Spawn #9 and #26, as well as the first three issues of an Angela spin-off series. [Comic Riffs]
While it’s no shock that bestselling author Neil Gaiman would be an answer on Jeopardy!, that one of his lesser-known comics works would appear may come as a little more of a surprise. Matt Lobo tweeted a snapshot from Thursday’s episode referencing Marvel 1602, the 2003-2004 miniseries by Gaiman and Andy Kubert that placed key Marvel Universe characters in an alternate version of the Elizabethan era.
Although the comic spawned three sequels, it was met with decidedly mixed reaction from readers and critics. In short, it was no Sandman — which probably makes it perfect for a Double Jeopardy question. (And, yes, the correct question is, “Who is Queen Elizabeth I?” She was killed by a poisonous-gas device created by Count Otto Von Doom.)
Internet | Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman joined with Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, OK Go and 14 other members of the creative community in signing an open letter to Congress against the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. “We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result,” the letter states.
Warren Ellis and Fantagraphics have also come out against the bill, while Peter David, who is against the bill in its current form, takes aim at those who “endorsed the piracy, supported the piracy, enabled the piracy, felt their own actions weren’t piracy, and now refuse to accept the consequences of their own actions.” ComicsAlliance has posted an editorial against the bill and rounded up webcomic reactions to the blackout. [NeilGaiman.com]