Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Creators | Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman and Alison Bechdel are stepping in as table hosts tonight at the PEN American Center gala, after a number of writers dropped out of the event to protest the organization’s decision to give a posthumous freedom of expression award to the staff of Charlie Hebdo. [The New York Times]
Collectors | Scottish collector Alec Whitelaw owns every issue of the Oor Wullie annual ever published, but he was stunned to learn his collection was worth nearly $38,000 when it was appraised on the BBC’s version of Antiques Roadshow. Whitelaw had come to the event by train, but organizers arranged for a chauffeured car for the return trip, as he had brought the books with him. “After they told me the value of the books they wouldn’t let me go home with them,” he said. “They got me transport home in a nice car and I felt like Lady Muck.” [Daily Record]
Publishing | Paul Kaminski, Archie Comics’ executive director of editorial since 2012, has left the publisher to become an associate editor for DC Comics’ Superman Group. Kaminski joined Archie in 2007, editing such titles as Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man and The New Crusaders. [Twitter]
Museums | The reason the Cartoon Art Museum is vacating its current location is familiar to San Franciscans, says curator Andrew Farago: “The price per square foot is going to more than double, and that’s just not viable for us. The landlords are giving us what considerations they can, but ultimately it’s a business decision.” The museum will remain open in its current location, on Mission Street, until June 28; a new venue has not been found yet. [SFGate]
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]
Video games | Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai has revealed a video game will be released later this year for smartphones, tablets and personal computers based on his long-running historical action-fantasy comic. Called Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin, it’s not the first video game to feature the samurai rabbit: Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo debuted in 1987 for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Expect more details next month at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Facebook]
Conventions | Organizers of the Denver Comic Con anticipate that this weekend’s show was their second-largest ever. Batgirl writer Gail Simone praised the show, noting it sold out Friday and Saturday: “Sheesh, both Friday and Saturday completely sold out, the place was packed. There are tons of interesting guests, lots of great panels, and a real emphasis on diversity. The attendees have huge percentages of females, there’s more cosplayers here than any con this size I have been to, and very welcome indeed, there are lots and lots of kids.” [Denver Post]
Oh, the delicious irony of it: Sydney Padua, creator of the delightful quasi-historical webcomic Lovelace & Babbage, has launched an iPad app, thus bringing the parents of the computer to its most recent incarnation. The app is free and includes one complete story, with another available for $2.99.
Like a long-form Kate Beaton comic, Lovelace & Babbage casts Charles Babbage (inventor of the first programmable computer) and Ada Lovelace (the first programmer) as steampunk heroes fighting a variety of evildoers under the aegis of Queen Victoria herself. Padua sets up her stories in an alternate universe but brings in plenty of real historical figures, and both the comic and the app are graced with plenty of footnotes. Padua has a talent for picking out the odd but interesting bits of history, so while the footnotes are scholarly, they are not dry.
Here’s some more good news for Lovelace & Babbage fans: Padua recently announced she is taking time off her day job to focus on her comics, an effort that has already borne fruit in the form of Vampire Poets, a prologue in rhyme accompanied by a few actual contemporary poems about her heroes.
Making fun of history has been a good gig for quite a while. I grew up reading Richard Armour’s fractured retellings of history-book standards, such as It All Started with Columbus, and of course Mad Magazine was a reliable source of misinformation. (The Marx/Marx Brothers and Lenin/Lennon confusion lingered for an embarrassingly long time, thanks to them.) And then there is Blackadder, a show whose humor content scales directly with the viewer’s knowledge of British history.
Mock history has proven to be a fertile vein on the web as well. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love Kate Beaton’s Hark, A Vagrant. Reading her irreverent takes on historical topics is sort of like sitting in the back of class drawing moustaches on the Founding Fathers.