Randall Munroe, creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, has joined a very exclusive group: comics writers and artists who’ve had asteroids named in their honor.
According to the cartoonist, the International Astronomical Union, which assigns designations to celestial bodies, was accepting name suggestions for small solar system objects, and xkcd readers Lewis Hulbert and Jordan Zhu submitted Munroe’s name for asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6. The recommendation was accepted, and the asteroid is now officially designated 4942 Munroe.
“The first thing I did was try to figure out whether 4942 Munroe was big enough to pose a threat to Earth,” the cartoonist writes. “I was excited to learn that, based on its albedo (brightness), it’s probably about 6-10 kilometers in diameter. That’s comparable in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs — definitely big enough to cause a mass extinction!
Unfortunately Fortunately, it’s in a fairly stable circular orbit between Mars and Jupiter, so it’s unlikely to hit the Earth any time soon.”
Munroe is now one of a relative handful of comics creators who have asteroids named after them: J. Michael Straczynski (although it was in recognition of works in other media, like Babylon 5), Carl Barks and, just this summer, The Incal writer Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Comics | After all of these years, the evangelical comics of 88-year-old cartoonist and publisher Jack Chick still stir controversy. The latest is in Buffalo, New York, where a mother is upset that a local church left on her doorstep a Chick tract that was read by her 7-year-old daughter. “It seems like a Lifetime movie or something that was put into a kid’s comic book and expose my 7-year-old to this horrible of an idea of a family life,” Brandi Gillette says. Titled “Happy Hour,” the 2002 comic depicts an alcoholic, abusive father whose wife dies following a beating (while he’s bellied up to the bar). When his two children start to go hungry because he’s spending the family’s money on alcohol, the girl smashes his liquor bottles and, after threatening to cut him with the jagged glass, convinces him to go to church, where he devotes his life to Christ. Chick Publications, which publishes the tract, says “Happy Hour” is intended for adults, not children. [WIVB]
Retailing | The Manchester, Connecticut, comics store Buried Under Comics will reopen with a new name, A Hero’s Journey, and a new owner, April Kenney. A friend of previous owner Brian Kozicki, who died unexpectedly last month, Kenney arranged to purchase the store from Kozicki’s family. [Patch.com]
Retailing | Toronto retailer Silver Snail has moved from its longtime location on Queen Street to Yonge Street. [CityNews]
Publishing | Brian Smith, the DC Comics associate editor publicly ridiculed by Rob Liefeld last month, has announced his departure from the company, apparently under amicable circumstances. Nonetheless, Liefeld took a parting shot on Twitter. [Blog@Newsarama]
Creators continue finding ways to use digital comics that print can’t replicate. The new “Click and Drag” strip at xkcd invites readers to do exactly what the title suggests as they navigate their way around an enormous world of silhouetted landscapes and stick-figure people having adventures and quiet moments alike. It’s an amazing, immersive, very time-consuming, but rewarding experience to explore the whole thing.
For those less patient, there’s also a version that shows the whole world at once and lets readers zoom in and out, moving more quickly. It’s faster, but it loses the aspect of discovery that clicking and dragging across a confined panel has. I recommend spending as much time as you can clicking and dragging (be sure to go down holes; there’s more underground!), then use the big map to go back and see what you missed.
International Digital Times and Geekosystem suggest that, at 165,888 pixels by 79,872 pixels (which takes up 5.52 MB of space), cartoonist Randall Munroe has likely created the world’s largest webcomic. Erik McClure breaks down the numbers, including estimates of how long it might’ve taken Munroe to create the comic.
It’s not exactly pirates vs. ninjas, but there has been, shall we say, some ill feeling between webcomics creators and the National Cartoonists Society over the years. But there comes a time to put away childish things, including feuds, and this year the NCS actually invited three webcomics creators—Kate Beaton, Randall Munroe, and Dave Kellett—to present a panel at their annual meeting, which was held this past weekend in Boston. Naturally, Kellett worked this event, along with some of the high points of the evening, into his daily webcomic, Sheldon.
The big news of the evening was that Richard Thompson won the award for outstanding cartoonist of the year, an honor that anyone who reads Cul de Sac can tell you was well deserved. The award for best newspaper strip went to Jeff Parker and Steve Kelley’s Dustin, Jill Thompson won the Best Comic Book Award for Beast of Burden, and Joyce Farmer took Best Graphic Novel honors for Special Exits.
Well, kinda. Animator Noam Raby and musician Olga Nunes have teamed up to create “I Love xkcd,” an animated musical version of webcomic god Randall Munroe’s xkcd strip “xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel.” (Which itself was a riff on the aforementioned basic cable network’s jingle-based ad campaign.)
(Via Ezra Klein.)
* Do not actually do this