X-POSITION: Bennett Talks "Years Of Future Past's" Teenage Mutant Savior Heroes
Creators | Political cartoonist Ted Rall talks to the local news about his firing by the Los Angeles Times, which concluded a post he wrote in May for its OpinionLA blog about being stopped by police in 2001 for jaywalking contained “inconsistencies.” Rall, who worked for the Times on a freelance basis, insists the audiotape of the incident provided to the newspaper by the Los Angeles Police Department doesn’t contradict his statements about being treated rudely and handcuffed. “I would do it all over the same way today,” Rall told CBS Los Angeles. “I’m disgusted that the Times took the LAPD’s word, based on nothing.” [CBS Los Angeles]
Conventions | San Diego’s Convention Center Corp. has adjusted its estimate of how much money Comic-Con International pumps into the local economy, down from last year’s $178 million to $136 million, because of possible double-counting and other flaws in methodology. [Voice of San Diego]
Passings | Leonard Starr, who wrote and drew the comic strip Mary Perkins On Stage, died Tuesday at age 89. Starr started his career in 1942, when he was a student at New York’s Pratt Institute, and he worked for most of the early comics publishers: Funnies, Incorporated, Timely (now Marvel), Fawcett, E.C. and DC. He also did work for the Simon and Kirby studio, and both Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were admirers. When comics publishing began to decline in the mid-1950s, Starr began working on newspaper comics and crafting his own strip, Mary Perkins On Stage, which ran from 1957 until 1979, winning a Reuben Award in 1965. After Mary Perkins ended, Starr took over as writer and artist of Little Orphan Annie, bringing new energy to that legacy property until his retirement in 2000. He also wrote a series of graphic novels, Kelly Green, and was the main showrunner for the ThunderCats animated series. [News from ME]
Legal | Inventor Stephen Kimble, who was dealt a final loss Monday by the Supreme Court in his years-long fight with Marvel over royalties for a Spider-Man toy, is of course disappointed by the 6-3 decision. However, he seems hopeful that there might be a legislative solution to the outdated patent law. “We can take this opinion, go to the legislators … and say, ‘Look, the court is saying that if this needs to be changed, you’re the guys to change it,’” he said. “And there is a huge body of evidence out there that this needs to be changed.” [Tucson Sentinel]
Manga | Kathryn Hemmann looks at the ways publishers courted female readers in the early days of manga, and how their strategies led to permanent changes in the comics landscape. [Contemporary Japanese Literature]
Awards | Cartoonist Roz Chast is one of six recipients of this year’s Heinz Awards, which recognize “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” The honor comes with an $250,000 cash prize. “‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” says the author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.” [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | In a radio interview, Afghan political cartoonist Habib Rahman Habib talks about his work. [NPR]
When the call went out at BoredPanda for readers to submit “a cute photo of your baby showing their (or their parents’) true nerdy colors,” I’m not sure anyone was prepared for the avalanche of adorableness about to be unleashed. Because, honestly, how could you be ready for an actual Baby Groot (who probably won’t be dancing for several months yet), or a pint-sized Ninja Turtle, complete with pizza slices?
While I’ve spotlighted many of the superhero-themed photos, the BoredPanda thread also features plenty of babies representing Harry Potter, Star Wars and video game fandom.
For his humor-tinged series “We Can Be Heroes,” Dubai-based photographer Martin Beck focused not on the costumed do-gooders who get all the glory, but instead the ones who are simply going about their lives, some working just to get by.
Passings | Michael S. Bradley, owner of Collectors Kingdom in Huntington Station, New York, has died at age 48. The comic shop was destroyed in a fire in January, and Bradley, who had no insurance, lost all his stock. An IndieGoGo campaign to revive the store failed to meet its $25,000 goal, and Bradley’s last post on the store’s Facebook page thanked his customers and said he was “blessed to be allowed to be [the store’s] guardian.” He was rushed to the hospital on March 21 and passed away on April 6. No cause of death has been released. [ICv2]
Just because your identity is a secret doesn’t mean it has to be boring, as Pop Chart Lab demonstrates in its new print “The Vocations of Heroes and Villains.”
Measuring 24 inches by 18 inches, the print imagines the business cards of the alter egos of 34 DC Comics and Marvel heroes and villains, from Billy Batson to Jessica Jones and Adrian Veidt to Norman Osborn. They’re sharp-looking, even if a couple of them probably aren’t all that necessary (for instance, Victor Von Doom’s says “Absolute Monarch” while T’Challa’s says “King’).
Stan Lee will join Batman producer Michael Uslan for a free online course that explores the history of comic books and superheroes.
Offered by edX and the Smithsonian Institution, “The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture” examines the factors that led to the Golden Age of comics, the ebb and flow of the genre, the scares of the 1950s, the acceptance of comic books as an artform, and the current popularity of superheroes in television, film and video games.
Fans and critics have long discussed and debated the unrealistic bodies of comic book superheroes, from gravity-defying breasts and tiny waists to bulging biceps and washboard abs. However, now Bulimia.com has done what it refers to as “reverse Photoshopping of comic covers,” and given the superheroes bodies that reflect average American body types.
“Today, 33.7% of men and 36.5% of women in the U.S. are considered obese, and more than two-thirds are overweight,” explains the website, a resource for people with eating disorders. “Weight gain has put millions of people at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other preventable conditions.Meanwhile, comic books depict vastly different figures: men with massive biceps and shoulders and women with toned abs and tiny waists.”
A self-trained makeup artist, Lianne Moseley of Calgary makes her living working with brides and models. However, she recently expanded her repertoire to include transforming people into superheroes who look as if they’ve stepped right off the comic book page.
“When I first did Archer, I posted it on my Facebook page and my friends liked it but I didn’t have a big following but my brother really liked it and he posted it on Reddit,” Moseley, a comics fan herself, tells CTV News. “Just last night Ashton Kutcher shared an article on my work on his Facebook page.”
While some people are satisfied to let their pricey high-end action figures gather dust, photographer Edy Hardjo puts his to good use, creating a frequently hilarious (and occasionally not exactly work-safe) glimpse into the everyday lives of superheroes.
On his Instagram and Facebook pages, Hardjo reveals Avengers hazing rituals, hairstyle mishaps, campfire memories, juvenile pranks, and a reminder of why you don’t want to ride in an elevator with Ghost Rider.
Eleven-year-old Rowan Hansen attracted a lot of attention online last month for her letter asking DC Entertainment to “please do something” about the lack of comics, movies and toys featuring female superheroes. The publisher responded, tweeting, “We agree, we’re working hard to create more superhero fun for girls!.”
However, DC didn’t leave it at that.
Danish officials have dashed the hopes of a Copenhagen toy store owner who wanted to call himself Superhero. However, like a true superhero, he isn’t giving up without a fight.
BBC News reports that 26-year-old Benjamin Preisler Herbst hoped to tack “Superhero” onto the beginning of his name, as so much of his life revolves around comic book characters. But after a four-month review, authorities rejected his request, writing, “The word superhero is a term for a fictional/non-existent figure. We don’t believe that Superhero lives up to the criteria for being approved as a boy’s name.”
I’ve always thought there’s a beautiful eloquence of having a connection to something that was designed 50, 60, 75 years ago, that is essentially undiluted. They don’t need to be over-altered for the sake of upcoming generations. They don’t have to be unified.
If you have to always make characters younger because, ‘well, young people won’t connect with older protagonists,’ well, that is such horseshit.”
– Alex Ross, lamenting the desire of some publishers to remake superheroes for a modern audience, in the same piece in which he says he’s learned not to get too attached to certain depictions of characters: “If you start thinking that your version of a thing is the most popular, beloved version, then when they go a different way, as they have with their version of Superman today, it breaks your heart.”