How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
Apparently not content to operate behind the scenes of Gotham City, the Court of Owls was spotted Wednesday night attempting to infiltrate the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We can only guess what the ancient cabal had planned: An assassination to change the direction of the NHL? The kidnapping of a future Talon?
Publishing | Papercutz, which has had an extremely successful program of LEGO graphic novels based on the Bionicle, Ninjago and Legends of Chima properties, is losing that license to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which will have its own graphic novels in bookstores by the end of this year. Papercutz reveals it will continue to publish Bionicle and Ninjago through the end of this year, and Legends of Chima through mid-2016. [Publishers Weekly, ICv2]
Passings | Fred Fredericks, who drew the Mandrake the Magician comic strip from 1965 to 2013, has died. In addition to his daily newspaper work, Fredericks drew comics for Western Publishing and Marvel. [ComicMix]
For many, stars of professional sports are the closest things to real life superheroes. They’re bigger, stronger, and faster than seems humanly possible. They’re able to perform feats beyond the capabilities of your average individual, jumping and twisting and barreling through opponents.
But just imagine: If the stars of the NFL really were superheroes of comic book lore, who would be whom? The folks at NFL Memes went and matched up the biggest names in football with the biggest characters in comics to answer that question with these incredible mashup renditions. Some are obvious, like Calvin Johnson as Megatron and Cam Newton as Superman, but others are pretty spot on. There’s Odell Beckham Jr. as Spider-Man, Peyton Manning as Iron Man, Rob Gronkowski as Thor, and – perhaps best of all – Andrew Luck as the Beast.
Tonight, basketball fans will be looking to New York City, where the NBA is hosting its annual All-Star Weekend. The traditional midpoint of the league’s season, the schedule of events includes everything from celebrity appearances to skills competitions to a “Rookie/Sophomore” game, all leading up to Sunday’s All-Star Game. But even for the most casual of NBA fans, one of the biggest draws of the weekend is the annual slam dunk contest.
While the throwdown sets some of the hottest players against each other in a “flash over fundamentals” battle, we’re doubting this weekend’s contest will push nerd buttons quite the same way the 2008-2009 rivalry run between Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson did, drawing as it did on Superman iconography for one of the most dastardly finishes in dunk history.
Happy Labor Day weekend, America, and welcome, everyone, to another round of Shelf Porn. Today’s collection comes from Shane in South Dakota, who shares his graphic novels and sport memorabilia with us.
If you’d like to see your collection featured here on Shelf Porn, check out the submission instructions for complete details.
And now let’s hear from Shane …
I’ve always been interested in the intersection between comics and sports. The stereotypical comics-reading nerd isn’t much of an athletics buff, but there are many, many people who enjoy both. Even those who don’t can recognize that comics and sports seem to scratch similar itches for their fans by offering bottomless rabbit holes of involvement. Final Four brackets and fantasy football leagues require and celebrate the same kind of obsessive knowledge that comics fans enjoy sharing and discussing.
Ron Marz is a great example of a combination comics/sports aficionado: His Twitter stream is just as likely to discuss the Mets as Metropolis, and he’s even written a sports comic, The Protectors, created by Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije and drawn by Bart Sears.
It was also Marz who pointed me toward the NFL Heroes posters below, also drawn by Sears, featuring “rocket-armed quarterback” Jay Cutler, “defensive dominator” Julius Peppers, and “legendary linebacker” Brian Urlacher. They’re available from Idonije’s Athleta Comics.
Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]
Conventions | Boston Comic Con is coming this weekend, and founder Nick Kanieff talks about how it has grown from 900 attendees at the first con, in 2007, to an expected 15,000 for this year’s event, which was rescheduled because of the Boston Marathon bombings. [MetroWest Daily News]
Publishing | Denis Kitchen discusses the return of Kitchen Sink Press to publishing as an imprint of Dark Horse. It kicks off in December with an anthology, The Best of Comix Book. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Peter Steiner’s cartoon, captioned “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” is the most-reproduced cartoon in the history of The New Yorker. On the 20th anniversary of its publication, Steiner looks back on its creation, which came about almost by chance, and the ways the world has changed in the interim. One interesting nugget: The most-reproduced cartoon in The New Yorker has brought its creator a total of $50,000 in royalties over the past 20 years. [Comic Riffs]
Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]
If you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks, you know the score–I’ve got 36 random questions that need to be answered, and every week I throw six of them at a different comic creator. What questions they answer is determined by the fates–or, more specifically, a random number generator.
Now let’s get to it …
In what The Wall Street characterizes as a low six-figure deal, Valiant Entertainment has signed as a sponsor of USA Luge for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The comics publisher has also designed the team’s uniform to look like the armor of X-O Manowar.
“The sponsorship is going to help the team in a couple of ways,” explained Gordy Sheer, USA Luge’s director of marketing. “… They’ll look good and they’ll feel fast, but also Valiant is helping the team with financial support. We’re a small sport, and every bit of help that we get is absolutely meaningful and directly affects our ability to perform.”
In the video below, Wall Street Journal reporter John Jurgensen notes that while movie studios (including DC Comics parent company Warner Bros.) routinely promote projects through NASCAR sponsorships, this appears to be the first time a company has used a national athletic team to advertise a character.
“For Valiant the idea is to kind of become a household name,” Jurgensen said. The publisher relaunched its comics line in May, with X-O Manowar as its flagship.
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
Legal | A judge refused to dismiss DC Comics’ lawsuit against Gotham Garage, a manufacturer of custom-made Batmobiles, ruling that the design of Batman’s vehicle is indeed copyrightable. DC sued the California company in May for copyright and trademark infringement, claiming Gotham Garage is confusing the public into thinking the cars are authorized products. The manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles.” The judge disagreed, ruling that Gotham Garage “ignores the exception to the ‘useful article’ rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Nancy Hass provides a broad overview of the legal battle at Archie Comics that pits Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit against each other for control of the 73-year-old company. Silberkleit, who spoke briefly to Hass before a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order last month, called claims that she’s threatened and harassed the publisher’s employees and vendors “completely untrue.” [The Daily Beast]
Creators | Out magazine has included writer Charles “Zan” Christensen and artist Mark Brill in its 17th annual “Out 100″ list highlighting the 100 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of the year. Christensen and Brill are the creators of The Power Within, an anti-bullying comic book published by Northwest Press. “Inspired, or rather upset, by Tyler Clementi’s tragic death last year, the pair set out to create an empowering story of an eighth-grader picked on for being gay,” the magazine writes. Northwest Press has distributed over 700 free copies of the book to more than 50 gay-straight alliances, schools, churches, community centers and other youth organizations. [Out]
Creators | Uncanny X-Men writer Kieron Gillen considers the accessibility of the relaunched comic in light of reviews he’s read around the web, particularly the fact that some people were thrown by the X-Men living in San Francisco: “Of course, I can see the reason why it’s thrown the people … they know the X-Men live in a mansion in Westchester. That they’re not living in Westchester is the problem. It’s not about giving the information to read the story that’s there. It’s about correcting pre-existing assumptions. In other words, it’s not a problem about being accessible to new readers – because a genuinely new reader would accept the fact the X-Men live on Utopia in the same way that they except that Bilbo lives in the Shire – but rather a problem with the readers being old readers. They feel lost not because of the story on the page, but the gap between the old story in their heads and the story on the page, and wanting to know what connects the two.” [Kieron Gillen]
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.
Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …