Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Retailing | After nearly 30 years in business, Comic Kingdom — the oldest comic store in Sydney, Australia — will close its doors for good. Clayton Wildridge, who’s worked at the store for two decades and now manages it, points the finger at digital comics: “The culture has changed. It’s all internet and downloads now. The last thing I read said readership of comics was actually up, but purchases of hard copies were down. People download them instead and read them on the phone.” [The Daily Telegraph]
Superheroes | Dave Itzkoff looks at the growing interest in female superheroes in comics as well as in TV and movies. The article includes interviews with writers Gail Simone and G. Willow Wilson, and Wilson speaks poignantly about Ms. Marvel: “If you wanted to work in the business, you kept your head down – you did not want to be seen as having an agenda. I would never have pitched that, because I frankly would have worried that it would have prevented me from getting other work.” [The New York Times]
Comics | David Harper examines why Marvel and DC remain important — “indispensable,” even — despite the ascendance of creator-owned comics. “Opposite to what it was before where you’d form yourself in your own comics and then graduate to the big companies, now the big companies are going to form you in order to graduate you to your own comics,” Marcos Martin explains. “That’s why I think Marvel and DC are indispensable. They’re great. That means there is an industry. We need that industry in order to bring creators and form them so they can at one point put together their own stories.” [Sktchd]
Faced with an angry Superman, every Tom, Dick and Dark Knight knows to break out the Kryptonite (it’s usually next to the bandages and antiseptic in the first-aid kit). Likewise, if cornered by Electro, most of us might make sure we’re well-grounded, and then reach for the nearest water hose. But what about those myriad other superheroes and villains?
Glad you asked! MorphSuits, which ruffled so many feathers with its breakdown of Marvel’s most badass female characters, now scrutinizes the Achilles’ heels of costumed characters, probing for a weakness that might help out in a pinch.
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.”