DC Comics' July Highlights: "Batgirl," "Nightwing" and a "New Super-Man"
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]
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.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, Casanova: Avaritia #4 would be the first thing I’d pick up. I’ve been enjoying Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s return to their dimension-hopping super-spy immensely and am looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up.
If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then.
Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here: Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work; Bill the Boy Wonder, a new prose biography of Batman co-creator Bill Finger; and a Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus featuring Jack Kirby’s run. If I were in a charitable mood, however, I’d likely snap up Team Cul de Sac, the anthology/art book/tribute to Richard Thompson’s delightful comic strip featuring contributions from folks like Lynn Johnston, Mort Walker, Gary Trudeau and even Bill Watterson! Proceeds from the book go to help fight Parkinson’s disease, which Thompson unfortunately suffers from. It’s hard for me to think of a more worthy – or potentially enjoyable – book to spend your money on this week.
According to The Washington Post, the oil painting of Cul de Sac character Petey Otterloop fetched the highest bid of the more than 100 works donated for Team Cul de Sac, created to honor cartoonist Richard Thompson following his recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. All of the proceeds from the auction benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support Parkinson’s research.
Nearly $50,000 was raised by the online sale, which included original art by the likes of Sergio Aragones, Danielle Corsetto, Evan Dorkin, Cathy Guiswite, Lynn Johnston, Karl Kesel, Roger Langridge, Patrick McDonnell, Stephan Pastis, Lincoln Peirce, Don Rosa, R. Sikoryak and Mort Walker. The artwork is also collected in the book Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson’s, which arrived in stores Tuesday. A portion of the proceeds from book sales also benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Watterson explained his approach to Thompson’s character last year to the Post: “I thought it might be funny to paint Petey ‘seriously,’ as if this were the actual boy Richard hired as a model for his character. At first I intended to do the picture in a dark, Rembrandt-like way to accentuate the ‘high art’ of painting vs the ‘low art’ of comics — the joke being that the comic strip is intelligent and the painting is idiotic — but the picture went through quite a few permutations as it developed.”
With the Team Cul de Sac benefit art book set for release on June 5, Heritage has begun auctioning off original art from the project to, like the book, raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Like Fox, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Up for auction are pieces by Karl Kesel (above), Sergio Aragones, Bill Watterson, Gary Trudeau, Pat Oliphant, Evan Dorkin, Bill Amend, Roger Langridge, David Malki, Mort Walker and many more. The auctions started on Monday and will run for two weeks.
Crime | A man in Lincoln, Nebraska, told police that a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, valued at $15,000, disappeared from his home sometime between Oct. 27 and Monday morning. The 1962 issue was kept with other comics, but the man claims several people had been in and out of his home since he last saw it. A near-mint copy of the comic, which features the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold at auction in March for $1.1 million. [Lincoln Journal Star]
Creators | Writer Greg Pak has set up a page to take donations for former comics writer Bill Mantlo, whose tragic situation was detailed in an article last week. “Bill Mantlo has had a huge influence on me as a writer and reader,” Pak said. “His Micronauts stories blew my mind as a kid and his Incredible Hulk run laid the groundwork for the themes I explored my five-and-a-half year run with the character.” Money donated through the site goes directly to Mike Mantlo, Bill’s brother, for Bill’s ongoing care. [Greg Pak]
To see what Akira the Don and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
Longtime readers of Robot 6 know there is much love among the gang for Max Overacts, the popular Eisner-nominated webcomic by Caanan Grall. The webcomic came off of a brief hiatus in June 2011. Here’s the basic premise of Max Overacts: “The strip is about Max’s unbridled optimism, and his quest to be the next greatest thespian. He wears his heart on his sleeve for his self-proclaimed leading lady, Janet, and lords his ‘planned’ status over his ‘accidental’ older sister, Andromeda. His best friend is Klaus, when his ventriloquist doll, Curio, isn’t around.” In addition to discussing the strip, we also talk about his recent Muppet Thor mashup.
Tim O’Shea: How much of an effort was it to design the relatively large cast of Max Overacts? How long was it in the development stage before you found Max’s voice?
Caanan Grall: Most of the characters were pretty easy to figure out. I tried tons of different looks for Max, but inevitably ended up back at the very first one I sketched. The funny thing is, when you make up characters, and the name and character traits come first, it’s almost instinctual that the first design you do is the right one. Max’s parents probably went through the most changes, because at first, the characters weren’t defined enough. They began life on the sketchbook page as the standard harried parents, always struggling to stay one step ahead of the bank, and two steps ahead of their kids. Now, they’re still like that, but they’re fine with it. They’re not rich, but they’re happy, positive people.
Not to mince words, HeroesCon is my San Diego. Scheduled for June 3-5 at the Charlotte Convention Center this year, I recently caught up with Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Creative Director Rico Renzi, to discuss what to look forward to at HeroesCon 2011. Anyone that has read my past con reports knows how much I always enjoy this family friendly/comics focused con, and will not be surprised to learn I will be in attendance again this year. Thanks to Renzi for the interview and for giving us the scoop that Farel Dalrymple is returning to the con this year. I was also enthused to learn the con is trying a Friday night event this year, as well as introducing a new section of the convention floor devoted to comic strip creators.
Tim O’Shea: How are things shaping up with less than a month to go before the con, starting to panic? Planning-wise, how do you and Shelton Drum (con founder/organizer and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find) divvy up the heavy lifting of making this con happen?
Rico Renzi: HeroesCon is like breathing to Shelton so I’m pretty sure he’s not panicking. This is my first time doing anything like this so, yeah I think there’s some pressure on me. Maybe I get a pass since this is my first year though? Dustin Harbin has been a great help showing me the ropes on a few things, especially the floor plan. Deciding where everyone is going to sit seems like the hardest job to me right now. Aside from that we get great help from our warehouse manager, Seth Peagler. Whether I need someone to brainstorm with or edit my blog posts, Seth is my guy. Also, Andy Mansell has been instrumental in planning and coordinating our programming. These guys keep me sane!
Team Cul de Sac is that rare combination of a worthy cause and total awesomeness. Founded by the friends of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s Disease, it is a fund-raiser for Parkinson’s research in which famous artists make Cul de Sac fanart, and it just made news recently when Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson contributed a painting.
Now the writers are going to get their turn as well. Enter the Team Cul de Sac zine, with Craig Fischer at the helm. Here, I’ll let him say it:
To that end, I’m cobbling together a big, fat, old-school zine to raise money for the Team. I’ve asked an armada of bloggers, critics and fans (and maybe a cartoonist or two) to each write a short essay answering the following questions: what is your favorite comic (comic book, comic strip, graphic novel, whatever), and why? The Team zine will be a compilation of these essays, an explosion of wildly divergent opinions, and an ideal shopping list to take with you as you plunge into an unfamiliar longbox or used book store.
And he has a stellar lineup: Derik Badman, Noah Berlatsky, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Kleefeld, Joe McCulloch, Chris Schweizer, Tom Spurgeon, and our own Chris Mautner. The zine will premiere at Heroes Con, where it will sell for $5 a copy, with every penny going to the cause. After that, it will be available through the mail and at other cons.