SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
“I think it’s amazing that all of those things have become part of our culture. He did not set out to write the great American novel, or to do a comic strip that will last 100 years … I think when people asked him, ‘did you ever think your characters would become part of the culture’ it puzzled him a bit and he didn’t have a very good answer for it … I think his answer was something like, ‘I just tried to put everything I had into the comic strip and do the best I could every day.’”
— Jean Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, on the “classic” status of the comic strips. In an online chat, she also confirmed that her husband could be as “bitter” as you’ve heard. “Yes, he could be cranky particularly if he had person after person after person interrupting him from things … But he was overall a pleasant person.”
Legal | Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo has filed a legal complaint against his daughter Sylvie and her husband Bernard Choisy, claiming “psychological violence.” The dispute began in 2007, when Sylvie and Bernard were dismissed from their positions at Les Éditions Albert René, which published Asterix; a year later, Uderzo sold his stake in the company to Hachette Livre. The two filed their own legal challenge in 2011, claiming Uderzo, who is now 86, was being exploited by others. In this week’s filing, Uderzo says he is perfectly capable of managing his own affairs, and adds, “The sole purpose of these acts is to undermine our psychological integrity and to hasten our debility, in order to get their hands on our legacy, which they covet.” [The Guardian]
With Halloween just around the corner, Forbes has released its weird (and probably a little morbid) annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities, led by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. But at No. 3, for the second year in a row, is the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
The cartoonist, who passed away in 2000 at age 77, is estimated to have earned $37 million this year — or at least his creations did. They’re owned by Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture formed by Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz, which in 2010 bought the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co. (it was part of a $175 million deal for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy). The property’s 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide.
You can add Charles Schulz to the long list of artists who have been featured in IDW’s Artist’s Edition series. Along with the Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America editions, the Dave Gibbons Watchmen edition and Jack Kirby’s New Gods edition came the news that IDW will release a Peanuts Artist’s Edition.
“Having grown up with Charlie Brown, Linus and his blanket, Snoopy and the Red Baron…I could not be happier about bringing them into the IDW family,” said Ted Adams, CEO and Publisher of IDW Publishing, in a press release. “In the world of comic art, it does not get any bigger than Peanuts.”
For a few weeks it appeared as if This Charming Charlie, the popular blog that mashes up Peanuts panels with The Smiths lyrics, was heading nowhere fast, as Universal Music Publishing Group began inundating Tumblr with takedown notices, claiming copyright infringement. However, the blog’s mastermind Lauren LoPrete stood her ground, and with a little legal help filed counter-notifications with Tumblr, insisting the mash-ups fall under the fair-use exception of U.S. copyright law.
Now, not only has Universal apparently backed away from efforts to yank the parodies, but former Smiths frontman and lyricist Morrissey has given This Charming Charlie his endorsement. He also made clear in a statement to the True to You fansite that he had nothing to do with the takedown notices.
As Morrissey once wrote, “I know it’s over/And it never really began”: This Charming Charlie, the delightful blog that mashed up Peanuts panels with The Smiths lyrics, has closed (at least for now), less than two months after its launch. But the culprit might not be who you think.
Techdirt notes that the blog’s mastermind Lauren LoPrete announced last week that The Smiths license holder Universal Music Publishing Group — rather that Peanuts Worldwide — began inundating her with takedown notices, leading her to advise her readers that she’s ending the Tumblr. However, she isn’t giving up without a fight.
LoPrete tells Motherboard that as soon as she posted the farewell, she began getting offers from lawyers to accept her case pro bono. And so now, with a little help, she’s filing counter-notifications with Tumblr, insisting the mash-ups fall under the fair-use exception of U.S. copyright law.
The first is Batter Up, Charlie Brown, another in the series of Peanuts collections organized around a theme, rather than chronologically. It’s due in April, just in time for Opening Day. As Tom notes, this must mean that last year’s Christmas-themed book went over pretty well, and he also points out that the 65th anniversary of the strip is coming up in 2015.
Next up is The Complete Eightball, collecting the first 18 issues of Daniel Clowes’ comic in a deluxe format, two hardcover volumes in a slipcase. Eightball has been collected before, but not like this: In addition to the prestige format, the new edition, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of Eightball‘s debut, includes material that has only been published in the original comics. Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds told Spurgeon there is “a not-insigificant amount of strips that for whatever reason, Dan never wanted to collect.” The book will also include additional commentary by Clowes, making it sort of the director’s cut of Eightball. Watch for it in August 2014, and start saving now, as the list price is $95.
Finally, there’s Buddy Buys a Dump, the latest collection of Peter Bagge’s Buddy Bradley comics, and the first to appear in seven years. The 144-page book will include some previously unpublished material, and the expected publication date is in April.
In the grand Internet tradition of combining one thing you like with another thing you like, the blog This Charming Charlie matches panels from Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip Peanuts with the lyrics of ’80s alternative rock pioneers The Smiths. The results range from funny to poignant — fitting, given both of the source materials.
Organizations | The Siegel and Shuster Society is seeking donations to repair the fence surrounding the former site of Joe Shuster’s childhood home in Cleveland and to help maintain the new Superman exhibit at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The wooden fence, which is decorated with large metal plates depicting the first Superman story from Action Comics #1, was damaged early last month by a drunken driver. Repairs are expected to cost about $3,000; any additional money will be put toward future restoration. Dedicated in October, the airport’s Superman Welcoming Center has suffered wear from visitors encouraging children to pose for photographs beside the statue. The group is seeking $1,500 to fix the damage and install a barrier to keep kids off the exhibit. Donations can be made through the Cleveland Foundation. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Conventions | It’s time for the mass media to start earnestly explaining Comic-Con to their readers; here’s one that gives a quick overview of the history of the con and gathers quotes from various notables, including Marvel’s Joe Quesada, the guy who runs the Walking Dead obstacle course, and CBR’s Jonah Weiland. [The Long Beach Press-Telegram]
Auctions | The original art for two Peanuts Sunday comics, one of them autographed by Charles Schulz, sold for a combined price of $78,200 at auction on June 6. [artdaily.org]
Creators | Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, who are doomed to be forever yoked by the parenthetical phrase “no relation,” reminisce about the days when they were paid for their work in beef, and talk about their digital-first strategy, serializing Zander’s Heck and Kevin’s Crater XV in their monthly digital magazine Double Barrel before releasing them in print. Mark Waid drops in to praise the Cannons for their digital strategy, saying, “If you let the audience access your material over the Web rather than force them to search — often in vain — for a retail outlet, they’ll be your fans for life.” [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
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]
You would think being the editor of a newspaper’s comics page, in which all the content is provided by the syndicates, would be the world’s easiest job, but in fact, it’s well known to be a headache, especially when the editors try to change something. T
his recent article from the Capitol Journal, titled “There’s nothing funny about changing the comics page,” could be put under glass at the Smithsonian as the purest example of all such editorials, a perfect distillation of all the necessary elements: reader revolt at the removal of a moribund comic (in this case, Dennis the Menace), introduction of four new comics (they’re good, people, give them a try), and finally, the editors’ courageous stand against Peanuts:
Paraphrasing Lucy van Pelt, a California judge on Wednesday sentenced the original voice of Charlie Brown to a year in jail for threatening his ex-girlfriend and stalking her plastic surgeon, and then released to a residential drug-treatment facility.
Handing down an additional five-year probation and an order to pay $15,000 in restitution, Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring cautioned former actor Peter Robbins, “If I can borrow a line from Peanuts, sir, I’m going to grant [you] probation. If you adhere to those terms, you won’t go to prison. So, don’t be a blockhead.”
Comic strip fans, rejoice! Universal Uclick’s GoComics has debuted a free app that enables you to read comics on your mobile phone or tablet. While Doonesbury, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine and The Boondocks are among the offerings, it’s Calvin and Hobbes that undoubtedly will generate the most excitement.
Slate.com‘s Will Oremus notes that it appears to be the first time Bill Watterson’s beloved strip has appeared (legally) on mobile devices; presumably it’s with the cartoonist’s blessing. However, while Gary Larson’s Far Side would seem perfect for phones, he’s yet to make the leap to digital.
Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, could face up to three years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to threatening and stalking his ex-girlfriend as well as the plastic surgeon who gave her the breast enhancement he paid for. (Obligatory “Good grief!” goes here.)
The 56-year-old Robbins was arrested in January on an outstanding warrant while returning to California from Mexico, and arraigned on four felony counts of making a threat to cause bodily harm or great bodily injury and one count of stalking. According to City News Service (via The Associated Press), prosecutors say Robbins called his former girlfriend a dozen times a day and threatened to kill her and her son if she didn’t return his car and dog. He allegedly also threatened her plastic surgeon, demanding a refund for the breast enhancement.