Conventions | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has announced the Official Selections for the 2012 festival, which will be held Jan. 26-29 in Angoulême, France. Eddie Campbell’s Alec, Craig Thompson’s Habibi and Daniel Clowes’ Mister Wonderful are among the almost 60 graphic novels on the list. [Angoulême]
Editorial cartoons | The Columbus Dispatch suspended political cartoonist Jeff Stahler after finding that his Monday cartoon was too similar to a New Yorker cartoon published in 2009. At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner posts several of Stahler’s cartoons alongside earlier pieces with similar punchlines. While one can debate whether Stahler lifted his ideas from the older cartoons, it’s obvious that he drew them in his own style, unlike David Simpson, who was recently accused of copying Jeff McNally’s cartoons. [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Several pieces of original artwork, among other items, were stolen from the car of AdHouse Publisher Chris Pitzer while he was in New York City last weekend for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Pitzer is offering a reward for any information leading to the recovery of the artwork. [AdHouse]
At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.
But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!
TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND
The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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Fox has released images and an official synopsis for this week’s episode of The Simpsons, which features a guest appearance by Neil Gaiman. In addition, Gaiman posted a clip from the show which, as you can see from the above screenshot, includes a glimpse of a bookstore display showcasing the author’s work, including The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1, and The Absolute Death. Clearly they’re not in the Springfield Barnes & Noble.
Here’s how Fox describes the episode, called “The Book Job”: “Lisa becomes disheartened when she learns the shocking truth behind the ‘tween lit’ industry and her beloved fantasy novel characters. But Homer decides to cash in on the craze and forms a team to group-write the next ‘tween lit’ hit, with the king of fantasy, Neil Gaiman (guest-voicing as himself), lending his expertise to the effort. After catching the eye of a slick industry publisher (guest-voice Andy Garcia) at the Springfield Book Fair, the team gets an advanced copy of their work and discovers that the corporate lit business is a bigger operation than they imagined.”
Gaiman previously appeared in animated for in a 2010 episode of Arthur. Check out the clip and images from “The Book Job” below. The Simpsons airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
I’m biased: 12 percent of the titles that they’ve physically removed were written by me. From my perspective, it’s a ridiculous overreaction [by Barnes & Noble]. The idea that these people [Amazon] have a digital exclusive, therefore [B&N] will give them a physical exclusive, too — I’m not sure it’s a sane business practice.
If you force publishers to decide between the Amazon tablet and the Barnes & Noble Nook, some of them may come down on the Amazon side.
Creator Neil Gaiman on Barnes & Noble’s removal of DC’s graphic novels from its shelves after Amazon announced DC’s graphic novels would be exclusive on the Kindle Fire e-reader for a limited time. Gaiman’s comment is a reminder that this action affects real people—and carries a certain amount of risk for both creators and publishers.
Noted in passing: I was in my local Barnes & Noble over the weekend, and while the graphic novel section has shrunk way down (to a single six-bay bookcase), there were plenty of DC graphic novels on the shelf.
Creators | Robert Crumb pens a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, explaining why he pulled out of the Graphic 2011 festival: “I was quite alarmed when I read the article in the Sunday Telegraph. I showed it to my wife, Aline, who said, ‘That’s it, you’re not going.’ She got a very bad feeling from the article. She feared I might be attacked physically by some angry, outraged person who simply saw red at the mention of child molesters. She remarked she’d never seen any article about me as nasty as this one.” Sunday Telegraph staff writer Claire Harvey, meanwhile, responds to Crumb’s comments and criticisms lobbed at the newspaper: “Crumb seems to be living in fear of the reaction he once sought to provoke. It seems a sad place for any artist to be.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]
Passings | Kim Thompson eulogizes Argentina cartoonist Francisco Solano López, who passed away on Friday. [The Comics Journal]
Conventions | Reporting from this weekend’s Wizard World Chicago, the Chicago Tribune talks to former comic shop owner Gary Colabuono, who displayed rare ashcan editions of comics from the 1930s and 1940s featuring Superman, Superwoman, Superboy and Supergirl at the show. Blogger Matthew J. Brady has pictures of the ashcans, as well as a report from the show. [Chicago Tribune]
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from Big Two stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — although in this case not specifically for his comic work: Neil Gaiman.
We know Gaiman best for his comics work, but it’s arguably his prose work that made his name for the mainstream public-at-large and the Hollywood types that have hired him for jobs. While none of his comics work has been adapted to the screen, his prose and prose/art hybrids have come to life in the movies for Stardust and Coraline, and the BBC series Neverwhere. He’s been brought in to write episodes of Doctor Who and Babylon 5, and has written original screenplays for movies like Beowulf, Mirrormask and several unreleased projects. Be that as it may, people have attempted film adaptations of his comics work in the past, including an adaptation of Death: The High Cost of Living several years back.
But with Gaiman’s stock in people’s minds continuing to ride high, I’d bet money on more of Gaiman’s comic work making it to the screen. Here’s a crib sheet for the Hollywood-types on what they should do and how they should do it. Take note, I chose to leave out the variety of prose work that would be natural fits for adaptation, even the prose work that’s later been adapted to comics.
Legal | Marc Toberoff, the lawyer suing Marvel on behalf of Jack Kirby’s heirs, plans to appeal Thursday’s ruling by New York federal judge Colleen McMahon that the Kirby estate had no claim to copyrights on the superheroes Kirby co-created for Marvel Comics. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and intend to appeal this matter to the Second Circuit,” Toberoff told The Hollywood Reporter. “Sometimes you have to lose in order to win.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison chat about Supergods, The Sandman, Superman and more. “…when I did comics, it was also a performance,” Morrison said. “It’s like playing live. You don’t get much time to edit; we don’t really do second drafts in our business. I love that aspect of comics, where you could have a Sandman out and people would be talking about it immediately, and we could be responding to things that were happening all around us and it could be published three months later, or two months later, depending on how late we were. It’s not like writing a book, which is over a span of years like building a cathedral. The comic is so instant. That’s why it covers the seismic shifts of culture very, very accurately.” [Shelf Life]
Friday was a busy day in San Diego, with a full slate of announcements capped by the Eisner Awards in the evening.
• Image Comics will resurrect the classic television show MacGyver as a five-issue miniseries written by MacGyver creator Lee David Zlotoff and Doctor Who writer Tony Lee, and illustrated by Becky Cloonan.
• Brian Wood’s newest project was announced — The Massive, about environmentalists who survive the last environmental collapse. The comic will start its run in Dark Horse Presents #8 in January.
• Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger confirmed that Scalped will end with issue #60.
• Marvel teased the return of the Scarlet Spider.
• DC Comics released more interior art for several of their “New 52″ titles, including Aquaman, Mister Terrific and more.
Legal | Brent Staples pens an editorial for the New York Times on the legal battle between the Jack Kirby estate and Marvel: “The Marvel editor Stan Lee sometimes offered general ideas for characters, allowing the artists to run with them. Mr. Kirby plotted stories, fleshing out characters that he had dreamed up or that he had fashioned from Mr. Lee’s sometimes vague enunciations. Mr. Lee shaped the stories and supplied his wisecrack-laden dialogue. And in the end, both men could honestly think of themselves as ‘creators.’ But Mr. Kirby, who was known as the King of Comics, was the defining talent and the driving force at the Marvel shop. Mr. Lee’s biographers have noted that the company’s most important creations started out in Mr. Kirby’s hands before being passed on to others, who were then expected to emulate his artistic style.” [New York Times]
Awards | Writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, The Graveyard Book) and artist Shaun Tan (The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia) are among the winners of the 2011 Locus Awards. Gaiman’s “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” won for best novelette, while “The Thing About Cassandra” won best short story. Tan won for best artist. [Locus Online]
Legal | Jeff Trexler reviews the legal battle between Warner Bros. and the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster through the filter of the Neil Gaiman/Todd McFarlane decision, where a judge ruled Gaiman has copyright interest in Medieval Spawn, Angela and other Spawn characters. [The Beat]
Just in time for next month’s San Diego Comic Con, IDW will release Hero Comics 2011, an anthology that benefits the Hero Initiative. The book will feature a new Chew short story by John Layman and Rob Guillory, an Elephantman story by Richard Starkings and Dougie Braithwaite, and a new story called “My Last Landlady” by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg — the creative team on the first five issues of the landmark 1980s/90s DC series The Sandman. The anthology is edited by IDW’s Scott Dunbier.
“When it comes to doing the impossible, there’s a dude who doesn’t really recognize that ‘impossible’ exists. Ladies and gentlemen, there is only one Scott Dunbier. Accept no substitutes,” the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin said on the HI’s blog. Head over there to check out the first two pages of the story.
The depressing majority of comics seem to be about violence of one sort or another, yet how much violence does the average person have to deal with in their everyday lives? Unless you live in Bogotá or somewhere similar, mostly it’s pretty petty stuff; the odd drunk looking for a fight, the odd crazy shouty person, the odd mad taxi driver, maybe. And I just don’t enjoy violence. I can see that narratively it is often a powerful spike in a story, but I certainly don’t want to dwell on it. I don’t want it in my real life, I don’t find violence entertaining in and of itself, or exciting, or funny.
But sex is happily part of most people’s lives, and crosses the mind most days, I would say, even if it’s just watching your partner get out of bed in the morning. All my stories tend to be about things that mean a lot to me and may be fragmented through dream imagery, or metaphorical settings, but basically, my stories are just about the people and places in my life.
–Dave McKean, artist of Arkham Asylum and many memorable collaborations with Neil Gaiman (including The Sandman‘s distinctive covers), on Celluloid, the upcoming porno-graphic novel from Fantagraphics that’s his first big comics project since his 1998 magnum opus Cages. I like that practical argument on erotica’s behalf. Ideally, we’ve had sex more often than we’ve thrown punches or shot bullets — why not reflect that in the art we make and consume?
McKean’s whole CBR interview with Robot 6′s own Chris Mautner makes for a fascinating read: He fills us in on how he’s been spending his time (lots of comics-esque collaborations with avant-garde musicians), talks about the unique challenging of baring it all (artistically speaking) in an erotic comic, discusses working with live models for some of the book’s sequences, and more.
Politics | The controversy in Minnesota continues over Neil Gaiman’s speaking fee, with a state House Republican committee chairman now recommending a $45,000 cut to the Twin Cites’ regional library system budget to make up for the Legacy Fund money paid to the author and comics writer in May 2010. “I simply subtracted out $45,000 — just making a point,” Rep. Dean Urdahl said. Gaiman responded that the move “seems like a sad way to make a point.” He talks at length with CityPages about the controversy. [Star-Tribune]
Passings | Prolific Argentine comics writer Carlos Trillo, co-creator of CyberSix, passed away over the weekend while on vacation in London. He was 68. Trillo, whose career spanned five decades, collaborated with such artists as Eduardo Risso, Jordi Bernet, Juan Bobillo, Carlos Meglia and Domingo Roberto Mandrafina. [TN.com, via The Beat]
Retailing | Peter Panepinto turns a Free Comic Book Day preview into one of those perennial articles about the potential effects of superhero movies on comic-book sales. [Carroll County Times]
There’s been a lot written over the past couple of days about Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean’s churlish, and childish, criticism of Neil Gaiman for accepting $45,000 from the state’s Legacy Fund to speak a year ago at a library. (Dean called the author a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota,” but has since apologized, at his mother’s urging, for the name-calling.)
However, my favorite take on the kerfuffle is this webcomic by cartoonist Evil Wylie. Titled “Neil vs. The Bully,” it parodies the old Charles Atlas comic-book ads while also depicting Neil Gaiman and Matt Dean in swim trunks. Check out the full comic at EvilReads.
Politics | Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean has apologized for calling Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but contends the author and comics writer should return the $45,000 fee he received in May 2010 for speaking at the Stillwater, Minn., library (Gaiman donated the money, minus agents fees, to charity). Dean’s original remarks were made during a discussion of how the state’s tax-generated Legacy funds for the arts are spent. He was quoted as saying that Gaiman, “who I hate,” is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”
Now, however, the Republican lawmaker has dialed back the rhetoric while standing by his underlying criticism. “My mom is staying with us right now,” he tells Minnesota Public Radio. My wife’s out of town, and she was very angry this morning and always taught me to not be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”
Gaiman, who responded to Dean’s initial comments early Wednesday on Twitter, has since expanded on his remarks on his website, writing in part, “I don’t like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Underwire]
Comics | A psychologist has been brought in to a Houston elementary school after a group of fourth-graders created a comic book allegedly depicting them holding a gun to the head of one of their classmates. [My Fox Houston]
Los Angeles-based photographer Allan Amato has a unique project coming out meant to bring new attention to Parkinson’s disease. It’s a traveling gallery show and photo book about individuals with the disease, and he’s enlisted some comic book icons to help out.
Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman and Kevin Smith are among a host of notable stars that jumped in to help support Amato’s “Illuminate Parkinsons” campaign to shed new light on the condition. Initially inspired by the photographer’s best friend Becky, this unique project will hit the road in the fall with shows in L.A., Edinburgh and Berlin. To help fund this event, they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign.