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 2013. 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.
Although beans were spilled when this year’s Free Comic Book Day comics were announced, Dark Horse officially announced yesterday that it is collaborating with Nickelodeon to publish a series of comics and graphic novels based on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series will launch with a 240-page graphic novel collecting the Avatar stories that ran in Nickelodeon Magazine as well as 70 pages of new material. The stories are set in the Airbender universe but outside the continuity of the series, and some of the creators also worked on the cartoon.
Dark Horse will follow up, starting in 2012, with a line of digest-sized graphic novels about the Airbender characters that will pick up where the animated series left off. It’s a logical program for Dark Horse, which has several lines based on popular movies and television series, and produced the Avatar: The Last Airbender art book, but it’s also interesting that the Avatar franchise seems to have moved away from Del Rey, which published a prequel to and a novelization of the movie last year.
The new series kicks off on Free Comic BOOK Day with a free comic featuring two stories, the unpublished “Relics” and the already-seen “Dirty Is Only Skin Deep…” The Airbender comic will be packaged as a flipbook with a Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic, giving readers plenty of licensed goodness in a single hit.