Richard Thompson is taking a couple of weeks off from his daily strip Cul de Sac to do some physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and he has not one but six guest artists filling in while he’s way. Mo Willems (Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate), Michael Jantze (The Norm), Corey Pandolph (The Elderberries) and Ken Fisher (Tom the Dancing Bug) will all be taking their turns on the daily and Sunday strips over the next five weeks. What’s that going to be like?
“I let them have free rein to re-create ‘Cul de Sac’ as they saw fit,” Thompson tells ‘Riffs, “hoping only that no one introduced anything too bizarre, like an angry talking Rat, or a Pigeon with some kind of bus-mania.”
Yeah, right. Good luck with that. Willems, Pastis, Peirce, Jantze, and Fisher were all contributors to the Team Cul de Sac art book, which is being sold to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The invasion of guest cartoonists begins on Feb. 20.
There have been a few glaring omissions in the newspaper comics world over the past few days.
The more serious one is the loss of Cul de Sac, one of freshest, funniest comics around, which will go on hiatus for three or four weeks while creator Richard Thompson goes through a course of physical therapy for his Parkinson’s Disease. In his usual gracious way, Thompson finds something funny in all this:
I’ve only been in for an evaluation, but the therapy largely consists of big, exaggerated movements and sweeping silly walks that will so embarrass your body that it’ll start behaving itself, I hope. Also I’ll learn ten ways to defeat a mugger by falling on him.
The gap may not be noticeable to those who don’t look to closely, as Thompson will rerun some older Cul de Sac strips during the hiatus.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Kelson Vibber, Flash fan and proprietor of the Speed Force blog. To see what Kelson and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Rather than try to write a summary of my HeroesCon 2011 experience, I have opted this year to share as many photos as possible. My camera was out-of-commission yesterday so all photos were taken during the second day of the show (Saturday).
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.
Not to mince words, HeroesCon is my San Diego. Scheduled for June 3-5 at the Charlotte Convention Center this year, I recently caught up with Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Creative Director Rico Renzi, to discuss what to look forward to at HeroesCon 2011. Anyone that has read my past con reports knows how much I always enjoy this family friendly/comics focused con, and will not be surprised to learn I will be in attendance again this year. Thanks to Renzi for the interview and for giving us the scoop that Farel Dalrymple is returning to the con this year. I was also enthused to learn the con is trying a Friday night event this year, as well as introducing a new section of the convention floor devoted to comic strip creators.
Tim O’Shea: How are things shaping up with less than a month to go before the con, starting to panic? Planning-wise, how do you and Shelton Drum (con founder/organizer and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find) divvy up the heavy lifting of making this con happen?
Rico Renzi: HeroesCon is like breathing to Shelton so I’m pretty sure he’s not panicking. This is my first time doing anything like this so, yeah I think there’s some pressure on me. Maybe I get a pass since this is my first year though? Dustin Harbin has been a great help showing me the ropes on a few things, especially the floor plan. Deciding where everyone is going to sit seems like the hardest job to me right now. Aside from that we get great help from our warehouse manager, Seth Peagler. Whether I need someone to brainstorm with or edit my blog posts, Seth is my guy. Also, Andy Mansell has been instrumental in planning and coordinating our programming. These guys keep me sane!
Publishing | As the fallout mounts from the revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff, plans to revive the Terminator star’s acting career have been put on hold — a move that now extends to The Governator, the comics and animation project co-developed by Stan Lee. “In light of recent events,” representatives announced last night, “A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have chosen to not go forward with The Governator project.” However, Entertainment Weekly notes the statement was revised two hours later, putting the project “on hold.”
Unveiled in late March, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, no less, The Governator features a semi-fictional Schwarzenegger who, after leaving the governor’s office, decides to become a superhero — complete with a secret Arnold Cave under his Brentwood home that not even his family knows about. “We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life,” Lee said at the time of the announcement. “We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor.” But even before the couple’s separation became public, producers had backed off depicting Shriver and their children. [TMZ, Entertainment Weekly]
Team Cul de Sac is that rare combination of a worthy cause and total awesomeness. Founded by the friends of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s Disease, it is a fund-raiser for Parkinson’s research in which famous artists make Cul de Sac fanart, and it just made news recently when Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson contributed a painting.
Now the writers are going to get their turn as well. Enter the Team Cul de Sac zine, with Craig Fischer at the helm. Here, I’ll let him say it:
To that end, I’m cobbling together a big, fat, old-school zine to raise money for the Team. I’ve asked an armada of bloggers, critics and fans (and maybe a cartoonist or two) to each write a short essay answering the following questions: what is your favorite comic (comic book, comic strip, graphic novel, whatever), and why? The Team zine will be a compilation of these essays, an explosion of wildly divergent opinions, and an ideal shopping list to take with you as you plunge into an unfamiliar longbox or used book store.
And he has a stellar lineup: Derik Badman, Noah Berlatsky, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Kleefeld, Joe McCulloch, Chris Schweizer, Tom Spurgeon, and our own Chris Mautner. The zine will premiere at Heroes Con, where it will sell for $5 a copy, with every penny going to the cause. After that, it will be available through the mail and at other cons.
As we noted in January, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease, and Chris Sparks, of Sparking Design, are putting together a book of Cul de Sac tributes by different artists to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Now you can follow along on the Team Cul de Sac blog, where as the artists make their contributions. The artwork will be compiled into a book, which will be sold to benefit the fund, and the original art will also be auctioned off for the cause.
And here’s an extra treat for Cul de Sac fans: Alex Dueben talked to Thompson about the strip last week for Comic Book Resources.
Cul de Sac is one of the freshest and funniest newspaper comics to come along in recent years, and it’s one of the few strips to gain a foothold with general comics readers as well. Creator Richard Thompson revealed in 2009 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and this week he announced he’s fighting back—with fan art.
Chris Sparks, of Sparking Design, has launched Team Cul de Sac, a fund-raising page for a book of Cul de Sac tributes. Professional cartoonists have been invited to contribute their takes on Cul de Sac characters:
Please run with them; deconstruct them, parody them, confuse them, cubisize them, psychoanalyze them, draw them in your own strip, whatever tickles your fancy. Enjoy. Open up your heart and just create something out of the ordinary, maybe not with your own characters, but this is an opportunity for you to let your talent to shine in a wide range of ways.
The contributions will be published by Andrews McMeel, and proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox foundation, which raises money for Parkinson’s research.
Over the past few months, I’ve been introducing my son to the wonder of Calvin and Hobbes, the nationally syndicated comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1995. So creator Bill Watterson was already on my mind, when I gained access to a preview of Nevin Martell’s Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip. The book aims to trace “the life and career of the extraordinary, influential, and intensely private man behind Calvin and Hobbes”. In this new email interview, Martell and I get a chance to discuss the ground he covers in the book and the folks he got to interview in his pursuit.
Tim O’Shea: You did some advanced marketing of the book a few months back by releasing the first chapter of the book for free upon request. Did you find that helped generate buzz for the project?
Nevin Martell: The free chapter giveaway turned into an insane bonanza of buzz, which, frankly, I was totally unprepared for. My publishers told me that super successful versions of this kind of promotion in the past had garnered a couple of hundred requests. But then the offer got written up by BoingBoing and NPR, not to mention a slew of comic-related blogs and the Twittersphere, so suddenly I had hundreds of requests pouring in. Since I was initially answering all these requests individually, it turned into three days of hitting reply, attaching a file, writing a quick note, and then repeating. Ultimately over 4,000 people requested the chapter, which just blew my mind. Actually, my mind is still blown.
The Cul de Sac cartoonist announced on his blog today that he is suffering from Parkinson’s:
For the last year or so I’ve noticed a few odd symptoms; shakiness, hoarseness, silly walks, random clumsiness and the like. So the other day I went to see a neurologist and, after having me me jump through hoops, stand on my head and juggle chain saws, he said I’ve got Parkinson’s. It’s a pain in the fundament and it slows me down, but it hasn’t really affected my drawing hand at all. And it could be a useful ploy in my ever-losing battle against deadlines.
If you happen to see him at San Diego next week, please say hi and wish him well.