Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Neill Cameron is many things: an accomplished cartoonist, author of How to Make Awesome Comics, artist in residence at the Story Museum and now, it appears, master of the Parks and Recreation/Star Trek: The Next Generation mashup with “Parks and Trek.”
As we brace ourselves for the Jan. 13 premiere of Parks & Rec‘s seventh and final season, Cameron is rolling out his renditions of the crew of the U.S.S. Spirit of Pawnee, beginning with Captain Leslie Knope, Commander Ronald Swanson and Chief of Engineering Tom Haverford (with Ensign DJ Roomba).
It’s shaping up to be a red-letter day for fans of free quality comics: As if that digital edition of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees #1 weren’t proof enough, this morning also saw the debut of Moose Kid Comics, an impressive children’s anthology featuring the work of more than 40 creators.
Created and edited by Jamie Smart, the 36-page digital comic boasts such talents as Roger Langridge, Tom Plant, Neill Cameron and Abby Ryder, Mark Stafford, Aaron Alexovich, Sarah McIntyre, James Downing, and Samantha Davies. And did we mention the “Young Tank Girl” strip by Alan Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell?
“Here in the U.K, mainstream children’s comics have been dying out, especially ones featuring original content,” reads the comic’s mission statement. “The Phoenix and The Beano are the only commercially available weekly titles still producing entirely original characters, but they are competing against big-name licensed titles based on TV shows or merchandising. We want to help change things. We want to be creating the next generation of loveable characters for the world to embrace, all created by artists who retain their copyrights and put all their heart into their creations. We want to remind both children and adults alike how fantastical and imaginative comics can be, and to help bring children’s comics back into the public consciousness.”
Graphic novels | Marvel and DC Comics may dominate the direct market but the bookstore channel is another story: As ICv2 points out, neither publisher landed a title on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the 20 top-selling graphic novels in February. Instead, here’s what it looked like: six volumes of The Walking Dead, six volumes of Attack on Titan, two volumes of Saga, and single volumes of some well-established titles Locke & Key, Bleach, Naruto, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That makes Image Comics the winner of the month, followed by Kodansha Comics, and the list is heavy on books with tween and teen appeal. [ICv2]
Publishing | Retail news and analysis website ICv2 breaks down November’s comics sales to the direct market and finds year-to-date sales up 9.33 percent over last year, with an 11.09 percent increase in comics and 5.55 percent in graphic novels. Batman #25 topped the comics chart with more than 125,000 copies, followed at No. 2 by Harley Quinn #0 with about 114,000. In the graphic novel category, the latest volume of The Walking Dead led with about 25,000 copies sold in November. ICv2 also lists the top 300 comics and graphic novels for November. [ICv2]
Creators | Molly Crabapple talks to Art Spiegelman, and draws his portrait as well. [Vice]
Comics | A CGC-certified 9.2 copy of The Brave and the Bold #28, featuring the first appearance of the Justice League, was sold by Pedigree Comics for $120,000, a record price for the issue (cover-dated February-March 1960). ““The sale for $120,000 is a record price for any copy of Brave and the Bold #28, almost doubling the only recorded 9.4 sale (from April, 2004) of $60,375,” said Pedigree Comics CEO Doug Schmell. “The other 9.2 copy (with off-white pages) fetched $35,850 in May, 2008. This book is beginning to rise dramatically in demand, popularity and value, evidenced by the recent sales of two 8.5 examples (in September, 2013 for $45,504 and for $40,500 in June, 2013).” [Scoop, via ICv2]
Passings | “He took me seriously”: Shaenon Garrity writes the definitive obituary of webcomics pioneer Joey Manley, who died Nov. 7 at the age of 48. She talks to a number of the creators who worked with him over the years and puts his accomplishments into perspective. [The Comics Journal]
Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]
Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]
Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]
Conventions | The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival has come to an end, after establishing itself in just four short years as one of the most loved indie-comics events. A message posted on the event’s blog under the headline “Thank You and Good Night” reads simply, “We have decided not to continue with BCGF. We had a great run and thank all of our colleagues for their support.” [The Beat]
Creators | Garry Trudeau talks about Doonesbury, supporting wounded warriors, and his Alpha House show in a video interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Michael Aushenker profiles Rutu Modan, whose The Property, a tale of a Jewish woman returning to Poland to reclaim an apartment lost during the Holocaust, debuted at Toronto Comic Arts Festival: “When I go to vote, I have to decide who is bad and who is a good guy, but when I write I can support the Poles and the Jews. I’m much more interested in the gray areas. They’re more closer to reality.” [The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles]
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.
To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
I love this: Neill Cameron is a great proselytizer for comics, regularly holding workshops for kids at any venue that will have him — schools, libraries, conventions, book fairs, shops, anywhere you can swing a Sharpie at a whiteboard. He’s also a regular contributor to the U.K.’s best kids comic, The Phoenix, and is using his blog to promote its new competition challenging children to create their own comics.
The last episode of this season of Doctor Who before it goes on a short break until Christmas is broadcast this Saturday. Meanwhile, cartoonist Neill Cameron, creator of Mo-Bot High and artist of The Phoenix‘s “Pirates of Pangaea,” has clearly been thinking long and hard about the big twist in the season opener, in which plucky computer hacker Oswin Oswald manages to delete all trace or mention of the Doctor from the collective memory of his arch-enemy, the Daleks.
Proving that one man’s plot twist is another man’s gaping plot hole, Cameron has responded to this development with this strip. Full comic below; it’s a doozy.
Rumors have been flying that DC Thomson was considering shutting down The Dandy, and today the publisher confirmed the news, announcing it will cease print publication of the United Kingdom’s longest-running comic following the Dec. 4 release of the 75th anniversary issue.
It’s strictly a matter of numbers, with the magazine selling fewer than 8,000 copies each week. This may not be curtains for The Dandy, however: It appears the comic will continue in digital form, with chief executive Ellis Watson telling The Guardian that, “It’s what comes online then that will set the tone for the next 75 years.” Perhaps there The Dandy will find the larger audience it deserves. The website was taken down a few days ago to deter potential hackers, but the current incarnation invites visitors to leave their e-mails so they can be “the first to know,” which implies there may be news in the future.
The Dandy writer Lew Stringer offered his reactions to The Dandy‘s possible demise, and urged people to pick up a copy of the comic, although he acknowledged that may not be easy to do, as many newsagents no longer carry it. Artist Jamie Smart had an article in The Guardian about why The Dandy is important, and he has more at his blog:
The UK comics scene is bustling, with 2000AD celebrating its 35th anniversary, a new kids’ comic making waves, and tons of creators working on tons of new projects.
The indy publisher Blank Slate, home of Psychiatric Tales and the anthology Nelson, will be publishing a collected edition of Nick Abadzis’s Hugo Tate, and in anticipation of that, Abadzis has set up a Hugo Tate Tumblr for photos, thoughts, and even the odd page of comics.
The U.K. comics scene has been heating up of late, and we can only hope that 2012 will see a British Invasion of the comics variety. The BBC has coverage of the latest development: The launch of The Phoenix, a weekly children’s comic published by David Fickling (whose David Fickling Books is an imprint of Random House). The name is apt: The Phoenix is a reprise of an earlier attempt, The DFC, which garnered a lot of praise but shut down after 43 issues. The Phoenix is launching with a nice lineup of stories and talent, including Neill Cameron, Simone Lia, Gary Northfield and Jamie Smart (who draws Desperate Dan for the long-running weekly The Dandy). Unfortunately, it’s print-only and not available digitally, so most U.S. readers won’t get to see it just yet.
Meanwhile, Strip Magazine, a monthly comic dedicated to serialized action tales, has released its second issue. Unlike The Phoenix, Strip is available digitally as an iPad app, which means we Yanks can read it, too. (I think the high point of my year was learning that The Beano and The Dandy are now available as iPad apps.)
If you’re not quite ready to let go of Christmas yet (hey, it’s supposed to be 12 days!), check out the classic British Christmas comics that Lew Stringer (another talented artist) has posted at his blog. It’s a fascinating look back in time. Dandy artist Andy Fanton posts a more modern Christmas comic (very much in the Dandy style) at his blog.
And finally, we had the U.S. release last week of Nelson, the collaborative graphic novel by 54 creators, each of whom contributed a chapter about one day in the life of a young woman. The contributors include Roger Langridge, Duncan Fegredo, Warren Pleece, Posy Simmonds and Darryl Cunningham, and publisher Blank Slate is donating the proceeds from the sale of the book to the homelessness charity Shelter.
Neill Cameron is the creator of Mo-Bot High, a British graphic novel that he describes as a “giant robot high school comedy epic,” so it seems natural that he would add giant robots to the Harry Potter stories. Actually, here’s how it came about:
so aaaages ago I made a Funny Joke on twitter, announcing my delight at the news that I’d landed the assignment of producing graphic novel adaptations of all seven Harry Potter novels… but that I would of course be making some changes. This was just an excuse for me to make up lots of silly titles: Harry Potter and the Unusually Large Baby, Harry Potter and the Drunk Jellyfish, that sort of thing. Anyway, comics writer, journalist and tweeter par excellence Chris Sims chimed in with “Harry Potter and The Hell With It, They All Have Giant Robots Now.” And lo, my mind was blown.
Cameron has worked up some nice character sketches of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the others. I burned out on the Harry Potter books on volume 3, but I have to say, I would totally read Cameron’s graphic novel. Think about it, JK!
When Miles Morales was revealed as the new Spider-Man this week, David Betancourt had a visceral reaction to the news:
My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me?
Like Betancourt, Morales is half black, half Hispanic, but there’s more to diversity than ethnicity. Everyone talks about how superheroes are all white, but nobody talks about how they are all young. A middle-aged superhero is usually the butt of a joke, but outside the capes-and-tights realm, there is a growing category of comics about the trials and joys of middle age.
When I was young, I looked upon aging as a horror show—your looks deteriorate, your parents get sick and die, your kids get snottier and snottier and then move away, and every visit to the doctor carries the potential of a nasty test or a bit of bad news. Instead of daydreaming about accepting the Nobel Prize, you spend your days thinking about boring things like health insurance, car maintenance, and college tuition. The cheery nihilism of youth gives way to the humdrum of necessity and responsibility. What I am learning, though, is that as difficult as all this can be, there are also moments of grace and even humor. You don’t stop living and growing and changing once you turn 40. Every stage of life is full of stories.