"Tomb Raider" Finds Its Lara Croft in "Ex Machina's" Alicia Vikander
Video Games, Film
Retailing | Variety Comics, which opened in Chicago in summer 1974, will close its doors for good Halloween. “Business is down,” says co-owner Vin Nguyen. “It’s sad but you know, it is what it is.” Nguyen and his partner Victor Olivarez bought the store in 2009 following the death of original owner Rick Vitone. [DNAInfo]
Conventions | The Houston Press looks at allegations of organizational problems and financial mismanagement at the Houston-based convention Anime Matsuri, which has been growing steadily (attendance at this year’s event was 24,000), despite leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid bills and angry guests. [Houston Press]
Publishing | Todd Allen pulls the camera way back for a broad look at four challenges facing the comics market: the shift from serial comics to graphic novels, editorial changes at DC Comics and Marvel, and the virtual monopolies that comiXology has in the digital sector and Diamond Comic Distributors has in print. How could that play out? “In the best-case scenario, Marvel’s relaunch sticks with the audience, DC restaffs and regains its footing, the Direct Market retailers embrace risk diversification and increase their stock of independent comics, bookstores continue to expand their graphic novel selections. Comics enter a legitimate golden age. In the worst case, Disney and/or Warner Bros. both tinker with their formula of making monthly print comics and Direct Market retailers face a new and uncertain business model.” [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Anastasia Moreno, co-creator of the webcomic Marine Corps Yumi and a manga translator for Seven Seas, has died. Moreno was the translator of Kisses Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink, Girl Friends, and Strawberry Panic, as well as the Love Hina and Trinity Blood novels. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Political cartoonist Matt Bors has left his post as editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which he had built into a highly regarded online comics site until Medium gutted it. Bors told Tom Spurgeon he would be launching a Kickstarter for a Nib book, but he did not reveal any future plans. [Comics Reporter]
Editorial Cartoons | Political cartoonist Adrian Raeside is being laid off from the Victoria Times Colonist after 30 years. [Vancouver Sun]
Comics | I rounded up the kids’ comics news at Comic-Con. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | “I kind of understood inherently — and I wasn’t really conflicted about this — that comics were not for me or by people who looked like me,” says Noelle Stevenson. Discovering the “free for all” of webcomics, and seeing women making stories for women, changed her attitude, and at 23 she already has a solid career, as the creator of Nimona (which started as a webcomic) and one of the co-creators of Lumberjanes. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her new picture book, The Princess and the Pony, and the power and joy of making kids laugh with poop and fart jokes. [Jezebel]
Creators | Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis talks about comics and being mistaken for Robert Downey, Jr. [Huffington Post]
Graphic Novels | Leah Hayes talks about her graphic novel Not Funny Ha-Ha, which follows the experiences of two women as they have abortions; the book focuses on the procedure itself, not the decision to have an abortion or the discussion that surrounds it. [MTV]
Graphic Novels | Phil Morehart covers three creator panels on diversity in graphic novels at the American Library Association annual meeting. Trina Robbins, Brenden Fletcher, Noelle Stevenson, and Jeremy Whitley were among the participants. [American Libraries]
Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the recommendations from the Best and Worst Manga panel at Comic-Con (in which I took part). [MangaComicsManga]
Awards | Roz Chast won the Reuben Award for cartoonist of the year, presented over the weekend in Washington, D.C., by the National Cartoonists Society. Divisional award winners of note include Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother) for Graphic Novel, Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) for Comic Book, Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots) for Online Comics-Short Form, Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent) for Online Comics-Long Form, Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange) for Newspaper Panel Cartoon, and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) for Newspaper Comic Strip. [National Cartoonists Society]
Passings | MAD Magazine writer Tom Koch passed away March 22 at age 89. He was a writer for the Bob and Ray radio comedy show in 1957, when MAD was trying to broaden its reach by featuring work by popular comedians. Koch adapted some routines he had written, and editor Al Feldstein realized his work was a good fit and asked him to to become a contribute. He wrote for the magazine for nearly four decades, contributing more than 300 pages, but he said he was proudest of a 1965 work, “43-man Squamish.” It’s still the magazine’s most requested reprint. [News from ME, MAD Magazine]
Crime | Two cosplayers on their way to G-Anime were arrested Friday in Gatineau, Quebec, and their fake weapons were confiscated. The two men, who were wearing camouflage and carrying what appeared to be guns, were spotted in a parking lot near a number of government buildings (the Canadian Parliament was attacked by a lone gunman in October). Someone called the police, and they dispatched about a dozen officers who cordoned off the area and searched for the men. The cosplayers, who were both 18, were taken into custody and fined $270 for violating a municipal bylaw that prohibits carrying certain weapons in public or in a vehicle, although the law seems to be aimed at knives, bows and arrows, and swords, not guns. Their car was impounded, and their weapons are being held as evidence. G-Anime organizers posted a notice Friday asking attendees wearing camouflage or carrying replica weapons to wait until they arrive a the convention to change into costumes. [Ottawa Sun]
Bill Watterson’s original artwork from his surprise guest stint in June on Pearls Before Swine sold at auction Friday for a combined $74,040, with the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
According to The Associated Press, Heritage Auctions sold the three comic strips to three collectors, who wished to remain anonymous. The Dallas auction house had expected the pieces to bring in more than $30,000 combined (the June 5 strip alone went for $35,840).
The three original comic strips from Bill Watterson’s surprise guest stint last month on Pearls Before Swine will be displayed this week at Comic-Con International before they’re sold at auction Aug. 8, with proceeds benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The collaboration, which came at the suggestion of the Calvin and Hobbes creator, marked Watterson’s return to the comics page after a 19-year absence. Pastis teased readers that the week’s storyline would “contain a mind-blowing surprise,” but didn’t reveal what it was. Nevertheless, some fans quickly uncovered clues that some of the strips were ghost-drawn by Watterson.
Comic strips | The art from cartoonist Bill Watterson’s surprise return to the comics page earlier this month for a three-day stint on Pearls Before Swine will be auctioned Aug. 8 on behalf of Team Cul de Sac, the charity founded by Chris Sparks to honor Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease. The proceeds benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A painting by Watterson of one of Thompson’s characters sold in 2012 for $13,000 as part of a benefit auction for Team Cul de Sac. [Team Cul de Sac]
Creators | The tech news site Pando has fired cartoonist Ted Rall, just a month after hiring him, along with journalist David Sirota. While Rall wouldn’t comment on the reason for his dismissal, he did say the news came “really truly out of a clear blue sky. I literally never got anything but A++ reviews,” and he added that editor Paul Carr gave him complete editorial freedom. While Valleywag writer Nitasha Tiku speculates that the two had rubbed investors the wrong way, Carr disputes that, as well as other assertions in the article. Nonetheless, both Rall and Sirota confirmed they were let go. [Valleywag]
Saturday, aka Day 2, of HeroesCon was much busier for creators, so I didn’t always get the opportunity to chat with them that I did on the first day of the Charlotte, North Carolina, convention. In those instances, in place of project updates I provide links to the creators and/or their related works.
Creators | Stan Lee arrived at Sydney Airport for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and was immediately presented with a “Captain Australia” shield, colored gold and green rather than red and blue. The Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicked off today, and continues through Sunday. [The Daily Telegraph]
Comics | Hussain Al-Shiblawi says he doesn’t usually mind the pamphlets he regularly receives from the local Bible Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia; even though he’s Muslim, he finds them inspirational. But he takes strong exception to the latest one, a Jack Chick tract titled Unforgiven, which claims that all Muslims are going to hell. The pastor, who declined to go on camera, says his church doesn’t create the pamphlets, it just distributes them, but he’s willing to meet with Al-Shiblawi to discuss the comic. [WDBJ News]
To answer a question that many people have been speculating on: Yes, Bill Watterson did contribute to Pearls Before Swine this week.
The creator of the comic strip, Stephan Pastis, confirmed on his blog what many people have been speculating — the Calvin & Hobbes creator did indeed return to the comic strip page and teamed with Pastis on three strips this week.
Comparing the experience to searching for Bigfoot, Pastis describes how the collaboration came about. It started with a comic strip tribute to Watterson (see above) and Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis, who worked with Watterson on The Art of Richard Thompson, giving Pastis Watterson’s email address. Pastis didn’t think he’d get a response.
On Monday, cartoonist Stephan Pastis kicked off a new Pearls Before Swine arc by teasing that this week’s strips “will contain a mind-blowing surprise.” That tantalizing tweet, coupled with artwork in a decidedly different style and a couple of potential dialogues, led some readers to speculate that parts of the storyline are drawn by none other than Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.
At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner lays out some of the evidence, both for and against, and rounds up some of the Twitter chatter on the subject. He acknowledges, “I’m not fully convinced that it is Bill.”
The mission statement for Stripped!, a documentary by Dave Kellett (Sheldon) and Frederick Schroeder, is about forging a common history between webcomics and newspaper funnies. Not comic books, interestingly. I suppose that makes sense, as the most popular webcomics (xkcd, The Oatmeal and Penny Arcade) most closely resemble the four-panel forebears. It’s starting to become standard practice, by the way, to refer these sort of webcomics as “gag-a-day” or “short-form.”
Still, it’s a delight to explore this oft-neglected corner in the world of sequential art. The days of the celebrity cartoonists like Milton Caniff and Al Capp are long past, as depicted in archival footage where they were treated as major celebrities on early TV shows. However, the list of interviewees for Stripped! are still recognizable industry titans: Lynn Johnston. Jeff Smith. Greg Evans. Jim Davis. Mort Walker. Cathy Guisewite, who hilariously has the letters “AACK” hanging in her home. And one name that brings the directors to the point of fanboy glee, Bill Watterson … the first time he’s allowed his voice to be recorded. (Charles Schulz may no longer be with us, but his influential presence looms over the entire documentary.) It’s wonderful seeing the faces of the creators behind so many iconic characters. They gather here to reminisce, sharing crude doodles drawn as a child, their cherished influences, and the highs and lows of working under the syndicate system.
Washington Post readers looking forward to a new installment of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine in Sunday’s newspaper instead found a rerun after editors pulled the latest strip over objections to the use of the word “midget.”
In the strip, which did appear on the Post’s website, Goat and Rat are discussing how the acceptability of some terms changes over time, with “flight attendant” replacing “stewardess,” “housekeeper” succeeding “maid” and, yes, “little person” becoming preferable to “midget.” It’s a setup for the duo’s meeting with Willy the Word Decider, who’s tasked with determining which terms are acceptable.