Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Retailing | Online retail giant Amazon will open its first brick-and-mortar store this morning in Seattle’s upscale shopping center University Village. Called simply Amazon Books, the store features between 5,000 and 6,000 books, from bestsellers to Amazon.com customer favorites. “Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, said in a statement. “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.” As The Seattle Times notes, the opening arrives with a dose of irony: For years Amazon has been able to undercut most other retailers largely because it didn’t have any physical locations. [The Seattle Times]
In unexpected merchandising news: NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony has partnered with Nickelodeon to develop a line of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” consumer products. Announced Tuesday at the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Anthony will act as creative director of “Turtles by Melo” and oversee a variety of Turtle-inspired products ranging from video games, publishing, home furnishings, lifestyle items and more.
Scheduled to debut in spring 2016, just ahead of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2,” “Turtles by Melo” is the culmination of a burgeoning relationship between the NBA player and Nickelodeon.
“I am so excited about the opportunity to work with the Nickelodeon team on this new ‘Turtles’ venture,” Anthony said in a press release. “The Turtles were such a huge part of my childhood, so to now be partnering with Nickelodeon on ‘Turtles by Melo’ is honestly something I never could have imagined.”
Forbidden Planet has struck a deal with Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products to sell an exclusive line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles merchandise in its U.K. stores and online.
The products, which range from T-shirts to coffee mugs to greetings cards, were previewed over the weekend at MCM London Comic Con. The line will officially launch June 6 with a party at Forbidden Planet’s London Megastore.
BOOM! Studios entered into a similar first-look agreement last year with Cartoon Network.
As part of the deal, Papercutz to publish a new version of Nickelodeon Magazine, which ceased publication in December 2009. Set to launch in late June, the revived magazine will feature a mix of comics previews, new property debuts, and games, puzzles and other activities for young readers.
The first two Nickelodeon properties to make the move to comics under the partnership are Sanjay and Craig, a comedy adventure about an excitable 12-year-old boy and his talking pet snake, and Breadwinners, which follows SwaySway and Buhdeuce, two carefree ducks who fly around in a rocket van, delivering bread.
The fan-favorite animated series The Legend of Korra hasn’t had it easy, surviving a disastrous Season 3 rollout only to be bumped from Nickelodeon’s television schedule to finish out its four-season run online (although it now appears to be returning to TV). But in this new video from Gritty Reboots, which gave us the trailer for Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie, Korra strikes back against Nick executives, which here take the form of slime benders.
The location and stunts are terrific, and the special effects pretty decent, but I can’t help but think the parody could’ve been taken a lot further. Watch the the video and behind-the-scenes feature below.
I somehow missed that Geof Darrow, the Eisner-winning artist of Hard Boiled and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and creator of Shaolin Cowboy, has drawn a poster based on the fan-favorite Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra.
Inspired by “Book 4: Balance,” the limited-edition (signed and numbered) print is colored by fellow Eisner winner Dave Stewart, and available from the Nickelodeon store for $64.99.
Nickelodeon for the first time will hold an open call for original animated projects next month at Comic-Con International.
“Performance art, costumes, story boards, video, a sketch on a napkin — we’ll look at it all,” Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s president for content development and production, told The New York Times. “We’re not looking for these shorts in and of themselves to become shows. That’s too much pressure. What we’re looking for is raw talent.”
According to US Today, Ice Cream Kitty gains its powers when it eats ice cream mixed with mutagen, and it “turns into the Turtle’s secret weapon.”
Eastman’s appearance on the show is just one way the TMNT’s 30th anniversary is being celebrated. A March 14 episode reunites the voice cast from the original cartoon — Cam Clarke, Townsend Coleman, Barry Gordon and Rob Paulsen. Meanwhile, an anniversary special being released by IDW will reunite Eastman with Turtles co-creator Peter Laird, who worked together on the cover. The Turtles will also be featured this year in Comic-Con International’s souvenir book, which spotlights various comics and pop culture anniversaries.
A year after the murder of Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker, her family has resolved their dispute with a Cincinnati cemetery about the SpongeBob SquarePants monuments commissioned to mark the grave site.
Their disagreement drew national attention last fall after the family was told the two 6-foot-tall, 7,000-pound statues — one for Kimberly Walker and the other for her living twin sister Kara — didn’t meet the standards of the historic Spring Grove Cemetery and had to be removed. That’s despite the Walker family receiving design approval from a cemetery employee for the $26,000 monuments, which were created with the permission of Nickelodeon. The cemetery insisted the staff member simply made a mistake, and offered alternative proposals.
The family of a murdered Iraq war veteran appears to have reached an impasse with a Cincinnati cemetery over twin 6-foot-tall, 7,000-pound statues of SpongeBob SquarePants installed at her grave site.
According to The Associated Press, the headstones were erected in Spring Grove Cemetery on Oct. 10, nearly eight months after 28-year-old Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker, who had served two tours in Iraq, was found strangled and beaten to death in a Colorado hotel room, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend.
Because of Walker’s longtime love of the cartoon character — she even had a SpongeBob-themed birthday party ever year — her family decided the best memorial would be statues of the energetic cartoon sea sponge, one in an Army uniform to represent Kimberly and a second in a Navy uniform for her living twin sister Kara, an IT specialist for the Navy. They spent $26,000 on the statues, receiving permission from Nickelodeon and design approval from a cemetery employee.
Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles products have grossed more than $475 million in retail sales since the latest animated series premiered in September 2012. The announcement, made this week at the Brand Licensing Europe show in London, comes just four years after the cable network’s parent company Viacom bought the property for a reported $60 million.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, about $250 million of those sales come from the United States, with the remainder coming from overseas markets, where the Turtles are just as huge. They’re the top action figures in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and, yes, the United States (where Nickelodeon says they make up 15 percent of the action-figure market).
“Nothing’s bigger,” Pam Kauffman, the network’s president of consumer products, told the trade paper. “We are beating Iron Man, Batman, WWE.”
Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]
Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]
Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]
“For those of you who’ve been following my NICKLDN TV development journey, I’d like to virtually grab you by the shoulders, shake you dizzy, and scream into your shocked face that Johnny’s and my TV show PIGGOATBANANACRICKET just got a GREENLIGHT from the head NICKLDN honcho in NYC,” Cooper wrote in a blog post titled “Grueling 5-Year-Long Job Interview Ends in TRIUMPH!!!” “We have our own TV show, guys!!!”
One of just two animated series ordered by the network (the other is Bad Seeds, from Chowder creator C.H. Greenblatt), Pig Goat Banana Cricket is described as “a series of absurd interwoven stories about four friends and roommates, Pig (the fool), Goat (the artist), Banana (the wise-guy) and Cricket (the brain).” It’s executive produced by David Sacks (The Simpsons, Regular show), who will co-write with Ryan. Cooper will also serve as art director.
A teaser animated by Nick Cross, who directed the pilot, was released last year (you’ll note Cricket was then a Mantis). Watch it below.
Activision has announced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, a downloadable game inspired by Nickelodeon’s hit CG-animated series — which is itself, of course, based on the comic created nearly three decades ago by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.
Developed by Red Fly Studio (Thor: God of Thunder, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II), the third-person brawler will allow gamers to experience four-player online co-op play as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael battle the Foot Clan in New York City.
Teenage Mutant Turtles: Out of the Shadows will debut this summer for digital download on for digital download on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, PlayStation Network, and PC via Steam.
Following a stint last year as an art director for Warner Bros. Animation’s upcoming Green Lantern: The Animated Series, artist Joshua Middleton announced this week that he’s joined the staff of Nickelodeon’s The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra. And he does so in fine fashion, with the beautiful illustration he created for the limited-edition poster that debuted at Comic-Con International.
The eagerly awaited sequel to the hit Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra picks up 70 years after the original series, following the current incarnation of the Avatar, a hotheaded teenage girl from the Southern Water Tribe. The 26-episode series is set to debut in mid-2012. Check out Middleton’s full poster after the break.