Retailing | The financially troubled Borders Group reportedly could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as today or Tuesday, setting the stage to close about 200 of its 674 Borders and Waldenbooks stores and eliminate thousands of jobs. [The Wall Street Journal]
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors revealed that 98 percent of the more than 500 direct market stores visited by secret shoppers during the first month of day-early delivery were found to be in compliance with the program’s street-date requirements. According to Diamond, of the 10 stores discovered to be in violation of the agreement, one was reported by another retailer while the others were discovered by secret shoppers. [ICv2.com]
Comic-Con | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday during a marathon online-registration session that taxed the servers of convention sales partner TicketLeap and frustrated ticket buyers. Four-day passes were gone by about 2 p.m. PT; the event sold out by 6 p.m. (Additional passes may become available as cancellations are processed.) As we noted earlier, San Francisco comics retailer Isotope is memorializing Saturday’s experience with a “San Diego Comic Con 2011 Registration Disaster Commemorative Fail Frog button,” featuring a modified version of the TicketLeap logo that frustrated users saw every time they refreshed their web browser.
On the TicketLeap company blog, CEO Chris Stanchak acknowledged that “our platform experienced capacity issues for a 4 hour period” on Saturday: “While we knew the event was going to put significant demand on our system, we did not expect the traffic we received. [...] The traffic we received yesterday was several orders of magnitude higher than our high end estimate. Due to the heavy strain on the system, users for all events across our system received ‘Over Capacity’ errors. This prevented ticket buyers from buying tickets and it prevented event organizers from managing their events.” Tom Spurgeon offers commentary. [Comic-Con International]
A couple of years back I attended a panel at the Alternative Press Expo featuring Jason McNamara, writer of the Martian Confederacy, interviewing the books’ artist Paige Braddock for her spotlight panel at the show. It was an interesting discussion, so when Jason approached me about the possibility of doing an interview on the follow-up to the book, I asked him if maybe he’d be willing to interview Paige instead. And here it is. You can check out a preview of the book here.
by Jason McNamara
She’s an incredible talent, a generous collaborator and a very good friend. I’m talking, of course, about Paige Braddock.
Raised in the South, Paige graduated from the University of Tennessee and spent years working as a journalist before being recruited by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to join his studio, where she’s now the Creative Director.
After hours, Paige is also the Eisner-nominated creator of Jane’s World, the saga of hapless journalist Jane Wyatt, cracking jokes and suffering one lesbian misadventure after another. Paige employs a classic Sunday-morning approach to modern relationships, creating a natural entry point for all readers. Created as an online strip in 1998, JW became a comic book in 2002 when Paige founded Girl Twirl publishing imprint. Jane’s World continues to be published twice a year as a series of graphic novels and is serialized at Comics.com.
A few years ago, Paige approached me about collaborating on a project. The result was 2008’s The Martian Confederacy, a futuristic Sci-Fi romp, equal parts Noam Chomsky and Dukes of Hazzard. With the upcoming release of our second volume, I thought this would be a great time to catch up.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Happy holidays everybody and welcome to another edition of our monthly Comics College feature. As our holiday gift to you, dear reader, this month we’re examining the career of one of the most beloved and acclaimed cartoonists of the 20th century, Mr. Charles M. Schulz.
The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon breaks the welcome news that Barnaby, the classic comic strip by Harold and the Purple Crayon writer/artist Crockett Johnson, will be collected by Fantagraphics beginning in April 2012. Designed by Wilson and Ghost World cartoonist Daniel Clowes, the collections will include the strip’s entire ten-year run from 1942-1952, including the strips created by Jack Morley and Ted Ferro after Johnson assumed a story-consultant role on the comic.
Long beloved by the comics cognoscenti, Barnaby tells the tale of young Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping fairy godfather, Mr. O’Malley. As Spurgeon notes, old collections like the one pictured above have been hard to come by, making the strip one of the last great gets available in this, the Golden Age of Comics Reprints — which Fantagraphics arguably kicked off with its similar, Seth-designed Complete Peanuts collections. Barnaby joins Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat dailies on the list of eagerly awaited archival reprint projects headed our way from the publisher over the next several years. (As an aside, my suspicion is that Johnson’s fine line, the whimsy of the material, the rounded and jolly character designs, and even the typeset lettering will all find a receptive audience in the webcomics age.)
Click here to read Spurgeon’s thorough report on the announcement and the strip itself.
Nat Gertler is known by some folks as the publisher of About Comics, while others know him as the person who started 24 Hour Comics Day back in 2004. But for the sake of this interview, I email interviewed Gertler about his new book (set to be released on October 25), The Peanuts Collection: Treasures from the World’s Most Beloved Comic Strip. Here’s the official description for the book: “This fully authorized, one-of-a-kind illustrated book celebrates the 60th anniversary of the world’s most beloved comic strip characters. A compendium of rare materials from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and family archives, The Peanuts Collection comes in a sturdy slipcase and features high-quality reproductions of original sketches, comics, and photographs from the world of Peanuts. Removable film cels, stickers, and booklets are included, as well as reproduction prints of Peanuts artwork ready for framing. Written by Peanuts aficionado Nat Gertler, with quotes from Schulz family members and a foreword by daughter Amy Schulz Johnson, the text offers insight into the making of the comic strip and its impact beyond the realms of newspapers and books to film, television, and popular culture. The Peanuts Collection is a must-own keepsake for anyone who loves Snoopy and the gang. … Gertler is the founder and author of Aaugh.com, a comprehensive resource for Peanuts collectors and fans.” This interview was a fun one for me, thanks to Gertler’s thorough knowledge of Peanuts material (For example, I’m still trying to fully grasp the fact that there was once a Peanuts Book of Pumpkin Carols).
Tim O’Shea: You’re a respected Peanuts expert, but I’m curious if there was any trepidation on your part in taking on a project of this import and scale?
Nat Gertler: Does a kid feel any trepidation about getting the key to the candy store? I’d already been considering writing a book about all the angles one could look at Peanuts from. That book would’ve been a bit more academic, but I jumped at the chance to do this celebratory book, with all of its great visuals and the cool removable items.
Digital comics | Following more than two years of complaints, Apple has given developers the guidelines it uses to determine which programs can be sold through its App Store, and relaxed some restrictions on content and tools. The company recently was criticized for forcing the creators of a comic adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses to remove nonsexual nudity from some panels — Apple later changed its stance — and for initially rejecting an app from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore because his animated political satire contained “content that ridicules public figures.” Alan Gardner notes that the revised guidelines specifically exempt “professional political satirists and humorists” from a clause prohibiting defamatory or offensive material. [The Associated Press]
Comic strips | After 60 years with United Feature Syndicate, Peanuts will move in February to Universal Uclick. The news isn’t totally unexpected, as Iconix Brand Group partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz in April to buy the rights to the comic strip from United’s parent company E.W. Scripps. The $175 million deal was for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert. [Comic Riffs]
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item.
Join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and Kevin Melrose as they run down what they’d buy this week, and check out Diamond’s release list to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15 to spend, I’d buy …
Existence 2.0/3.0 trade paperback ($14.99)
I missed these miniseries when they were initially released, but the recent debut of Morning Glories has me searching out other work by writer Nick Spencer. In Existence 2.0, the consciousness of a self-absorbed physicist Sylvester Baladine is transferred into the body of the hitman who murdered him, setting up a confrontation between Baladine and the people who plotted his death. (You can read the entire first issue at Comic Book Resources.) The sequel centers on corporate warfare as Baladine’s consciousness-transfer technology falls into the wrong hands, and the owners set out to track down the only living prototype. (Image Comics)
Publishing | The 59th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s wildly popular pirate series One Piece will set a manga record with a 3.2-million copy first printing from Japanese publisher Shueisha. The previous record of 3.1 million copies was held by the 58th volume of the series. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Mary Ann Gwinn spotlights the partnership between Fantagraphics Books and Rosebud Archives to publish archives of vintage comics. [The Seattle Times]
Comic strips | Craig Schulz, son of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, discusses the “Peanuts on Parade” public art project, David Michaelis’ controversial book Schulz & Peanuts: A Biography, and caring for his father’s legacy: “Our biggest fear has always been somebody buying up the rights and us not having any control. We’d rather have this property make $10 million a year for 50 years, than make $100 million in one year and walk away from it.” [The Press Democrat, via Journalista]
As we inch another day closer to Comic-Con International, which kicks off in just 13 days, organizers have released the schedule for Friday, July 23.
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, which range from a panel on AMC’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Walking Dead to spotlights on such creators as Chris Claremont, Moto Hagio, Paul Levitz, C. Tyler and Stan Lee to, of course, peeks at publishing plans for companies ranging from Marvel, DC and BOOM! to Dark Horse, IDW and Top Shelf.
The full programming schedule for Friday can be found here.
10 to 11 a.m. DC Talent Search 2 — DC’s editorial art director Mark Chiarello presents an informative orientation session that will explain how DC’s Talent Search works and discuss the different needs of DC Universe, Vertigo, WildStorm and MAD magazine publications. If you want to learn what DC Comics looks for in artists and how to improve your chances of becoming a working professional, this is the panel for you! To have your work reviewed, attendance at this orientation session is mandatory. (Please note: Not all attendees are guaranteed a one-on-one review.) Room 4
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]
The California Association of Museums has launched a campaign to have a Snoopy drawing by Charles Schulz appear on a special California license plate. Proceeds from sales of the plates would establish a sustainable grant program to support state museums.
But for that to happen, at least 7,500 California drivers have to register interest in a Snoopy plate. Once there are enough interested Peanuts fans, the state will begin collecting a $50 fee from those who want the plate (more if you want it personalized). Curiously, The Snoopy Plate website doesn’t seem to list a deadline for registration.
The Snoopy plate is being made possible by Jean Schulz, the Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and United Media Licensing, who are granting royalty-free rights to the California Association of Museums.
Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz to buy the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co.
The $175 million deal is for Scripps’ entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy.
However, Peanuts, whose 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide, represents a majority of United Media’s revenue. Iconix will control an 80 percent share of the Peanuts brand.
Iconix, which owns the Candie’s and London Fog brands, expects Peanuts to bring in roughly $75 million in annual royalties. The Schulz heirs will receive a portion of that revenue in addition to their minority stake in the partnership.
Peanuts, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, at its peak appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers. Its characters are licensed in about 40 countries by such companies at MetLife, Hallmark, Walgreen and Universal Studios.
I can’t imagine this is the first time this has ever been done, but I dig this “Peanuts as peanuts” shirt over on Threadless — mostly for the colors more than anything else.
This is perhaps both the nerdiest and most wonderful thing I have ever seen on the Internet. Using The Complete Peanuts as his Bible, Larry Granillo at Wezen-ball.com is attempting to calculate — on a year-by-year basis — how many games Charlie Brown’s baseball team lost.
Using my collection of these books (which only goes through 1970 for now – I’ve got to get on that), I’ve done my best to find every baseball-related strip produced in those twenty years and tally up any relevant stats that they reveal. For the most part this means counting wins and losses and documenting any stated scores, though there are a few strips here and there that mention other stats.
Yeah, I know, the team hardly ever won, but Granillo also tries to provide info on, for example, how many times Charlie Brown got hit by a line drive, and finds lots of fun trivia. Here he is, talking about the year 1954:
For as bad as Charlie Brown’s team is, he does manage to have some good players. Linus is often shown making amazing catches. On July 15, he makes his first (of many) eye-popping catch, snagging the ball after running through a jump-rope.