Conventions | A group of 21 events companies, including New York Comic Con and BookExpo America organizer Reed Exhibitions, are opposing a plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In a letter to the governor that was also distributed to 600 other officials, the Friends of Javits said they would not patronize the much larger venue that’s to be built in Ozone Park, Queens, primarily because of its distance from Manhattan. [Crain's New York Business, via ICv2]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is just six weeks away, and you know it’s coming when Tom Spurgeon posts his annual list of tips for enjoying the convention. It’s a wealth of information, compiled over 17 years of con-going, so go, learn. [The Comics Reporter]
“Jack Kirby worked for Marvel until 1970, and then he returned for another three years in 1975. But since then. in the 30 some-odd years since he left Marvel, hundreds of creators have added to the mythos and stories of the characters that Marvel owns and Jack helped create. Hundreds. And many of them added integral aspects to these characters which are just as important to their legacy as Jack and Stan ever did. Take a look at Walter Simonson’s run on Thor and tell me that he doesn’t deserve as much credit as Jack or Stan when it comes to the lasting mythos of that character as a modern day super-hero. Or how could you have the Tony Stark we saw on screen in Iron Man without David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s ‘Demon in a Bottle’ run on Iron Man in the late 70’s?
Nick Fury was co-created by Stan lee and Jack Kirby. A fictional WW2 army hero. He was reintroduced later as a cold-war spy. A Jack Kirby creation. But then Jim Steranko got a hold of him and transformed him into something else entirely. Steranko injected 60’s pop-culture and sensibilities into the character and his book. Fast forward to 2000, when Marvel decided to reboot their entire universe in a separate line of books called the ‘Ultimate Universe.’ In 2002, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch launched The Ultimates which reinvented the Avengers. A team assembled by a very different Nick Fury, modeled with the actor’s permission after Samuel L. Jackson. You tell me. Are any of these guys even the same character? Or are they different characters with the same name?”
– Scott Kurtz, on renewed calls for proper credit, and compensation, for
Jack Kirby’s contributions to the Marvel Universe
Most papercraft dolls, as cool as they are, are stumpy little blocky deals, but My Paper Heroes has an Avengers set that smashes the old look. The link will lead you to downloadable PDFs with everything you need, including a variant hairstyle for Black Widow’s Iron Man 2 look, a helmet for Captain America and more. Unlike Widow’s feelings about giant, flying leviathans, I can totally see how that’s a party.
Organizations | Tom Spurgeon reports that The Hero Initiative has now received close to $3,000 so far due to campaigns asking those people who watch Marvel’s The Avengers to donate money to the organization. The Jack Kirby Museum, meanwhile, reports it has received $1,300 from Avengers-related giving. [The Comics Reporter, The Kirby Museum]
Conventions | Chris Butcher, co-founder and director of the Toronto Comics Art Festival, reports that about 18,000 people attended this year’s TCAF-related events: “TCAF 2012 was the most ambitious festival yet, and my most ambitious personal undertaking. With more off-site and lead-up events than ever before, more partnerships than in previous years, an additional day of programming, and more than 20 featured guests, I worried in the weeks leading up to the show that perhaps we’d bit off a bit more than we could chew. Luckily through the talent and support of some wonderful folks we had varying levels of success on every front, and as always, lessons were learned and we think 2013 will be even stronger.” [Comics212]
Combining joy over The Avengers movie with sadness about the death of children’s book illustrator Maurice Sendak, Hannah Friederichs has created a wonderful tribute to both. You can see the entire image — including what Hawkeye is so concerned about — below.
After the super-success of Marvel’s The Avengers, everyone in the world knows who Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are. And now Netherlands-based cartoonist Junaid Chundrigar is showing you just how funny they can be (and we’re not talking shawarma here).
Not to be confused with the Brian Michael Bendis-Dave Finch comic book arc, Chundrigar’s “Disassembled” makes Marvel’s heroes, not just the Avengers, bouncy, funny and sometimes creepy.
Crime | Michael Lewis, owner of Rocket Comics in Pensacola, Florida, is being held on a $11,000 bond after his store was raided by police for allegedly selling “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis. [WEAR ABC]
Publishing | The Economist’s Babbage blog takes a look at R. Stevens’ successful Kickstarter for his webcomic Diesel Sweeties, which raised $60,000, far overshooting his initial goal of $3,000. [The Economist]
Creators | Gary Groth previews his interview with renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away last week at age 83. The interview, conducted in October, is scheduled to appear in the next issue of The Comics Journal. [TCJ.com]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh has been sentenced to 25 lashes for a cartoon he drew that depicted Arak Member of Parliament Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani in a soccer jersey. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview, Dynamite CEO Nick Barrucci talks about the comics market, the demise of Borders, digital comics and the slump in book sales: “[T]here are more and more trade paperbacks and hard covers coming out, so there’s less chance of getting as much attention as you’re used to, and reorders are down because of it. As the number of trade paperbacks and graphic novels increases, the number of SKUs increases, the number of units sold per SKU is decreasing. There are very few exceptions to this. I remember looking at the Diamond chart from a month or two ago and the bestselling trade paperback that month was 7,000 units. It might even have been a Walking Dead trade paperback, and as much as two years ago the bestselling trade paperback sold 12-15,000 units.” [ICv2]
“Take the character of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. Like the character of Katniss in The Hunger Games, she has skills you might not expect from her if you mistook her for what her unlucky Russian interrogator did—just another pretty face. Black Widow, or Natasha Romanoff, is a more complicated character than Katniss, though. Possessed of numerous languages, secretive, a spy from childhood with a ‘very specific skillset,’ she’s not all good, though she’s working for good now—she has, as she says, “red on her ledger.” Flawed as she is, as they all are, that only serves to make her more empowering as a role model. You can imagine a young generation of girls watching this movie and thinking they want to be like her, now fighting for good, able to take down aliens and bad men and get bruised and bloody but never give up. As a woman, she’s outnumbered in her gender (the other badass woman in the group is S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, who gets fewer lines but still manages to escape and outsmart certain death over and over again while looking beautiful, as does Natasha). Maybe they’re pretty girls, but they absolutely get their time to shine alongside and on equal footing with the guys in a non-sexualized way. While they do wear tight-fitting black clothes that reveal their femininity (this is a big-budget movie based on a comic book, after all, and the dudes are wearing some skintight stuff as well), they are not considered “less” either by the men or by each other—or even, gender-equally so, by the villains.”
– Jen Doll, writing for The Atlantic Wire on the blockbuster success
of Marvel’s The Avengers, and the importance of superheroes
Comics | With the success of The Avengers film, Kendall Whitehouse discusses the narrative techniques comics have “explored and exploited,” including “multi-issue story arcs, crossovers, team-ups, reboots and multiple title tie-ins,” noting they not only help sell more comics but also have blazed the trail for complex stories: “The story has now become a world unto its own that allows the reader to explore whichever dimensions are of the greatest interest. Follow the events from the perspective of Iron Man or Thor. Or just peruse the core series and ignore the supplementary story elements. The series presents a nearly unbounded narrative universe for the reader to experience. It is easy to interpret this with a cynical eye as nothing more than a series of cheap marketing tactics designed to pump sales. And yet, when well executed, something larger emerges.” [Knowledge@Wharton Today]
Retailing | Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day also served as the grand opening for Aw Yeah Comics, a store in Skokie, Illinois, owned (as the name suggests) by Tiny Titans creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani and retail veteran Marc Hammond. [Skokie Review, Time Out Chicago]
On the eve of the U.S. premiere of Marvel’s The Avengers, Mondo has released the seventh and final limited-edition print in honor of the superhero blockbuster. Created by Tyler Stout, the poster showcases Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (in multiple forms), Nick Fury and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and, yes, even Loki. It joins previously released prints spotlighting Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Thor.
The limited-edition Avengers print goes on sale Friday for $60; the variant is $110. Follow Mondo’s Twitter account for specific times.
“I guess the thing that I want to say about fandom is that it’s the closest thing to religion there is that isn’t actually religion. The love of something and what it’s trying to accomplish or mean are usually very separate. The people who are like, ‘Well you can’t do it. That staircase was seven steps, not five.’ They totally missed the point of this. When I first met the comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis, we were talking about comics and he told me his favorite letter was, ‘Daredevil would never say that. Die. Die. Why can’t you just die?’ [...] And Bendis can’t, by the way. Sunlight, stake through the heart, beheading, he won’t die. He’s actually very powerful. [...] Yeah, you know, he likes to get his head cut off at parties. But that thing of needing to replicate and to venerate this thing that we love isn’t about that thing’s philosophy. Those two things are separate. Hopefully, the idea in Buffy was that they were so entwined that there wouldn’t be people who loved that show excessively that didn’t get it.”
“You would think at some point that people who write about entertainment would clue into the fact that girls do, in fact, enjoy genres that they seem to think are boys-only. I mean, we fangirls rant about this shit all the time. Could someone pick up a clue? Here, I’ll put it in big letters so anyone still holding onto that dumbass, outdated, sexist notion will understand it better: WOMEN LIKE ALL KINDS OF THINGS. There’s not a contract that we sign at birth stating that we can only like stuff with glitter and princesses and romance. Guess what? We DO like stuff with glitter and princesses and romance, and we also like stuff with badass superheroes, aliens, and ass-kicking. So stop writing about genre films as if women haven’t the faintest clue that superheroes exist, and they need a cutesy little nudge in the right direction so they can please their boyfriends.”
– TDF Pamela, responding to Moviefone’s cringe-inducing “Girl’s Guide to The Avengers: What You Need to Know If You Know Nothing,” which advises “dutiful girlfriend[s]” on what to say (“Joss Whedon is the man”), and not say (“Do you think Scarlett Johansson is pretty?”), while attending the Marvel blockbuster with their boyfriends
Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]
First, a heads-up on the British Invasion of Toronto: This weekend, Toronto Comics Art Festival will host a number of creators from the United Kingdom, including Sean Azzopardi (Necessary Monsters), Darryl Cunningham (Psychiatric Tales), Joe Decie (Accidental Salad), Tom Gauld (Goliath), Lizz Lunney (Depressed Cat: Nine Miserable Lives) and Luke Pearson (Hilda and the Midnight Giant). Publishers Blank Slate, Nobrow Press and SelfMadeHero will also be in attendance. I ran into some other British creators at MoCCA this weekend; you’ll be hearing about that shortly.
Comics | Gary Northfield shows off some of the art from his comic Gary’s Garden, which runs in the weekly children’s comic The Phoenix:
Part autobiography, part made-up nonsense (well, mainly completely made-up nonsense to be fair), Gary’s Garden delves into my favourite thing ever – me spying on the comings and goings of all the little dudes and dudettes who dwell in my garden.
This makes me wish more fervently than ever that The Phoenix would get an app or somehow make itself available outside the UK, digitally or on paper. Adding to my pain: Jim Medway offers a peek at his new comic Chip Charlton & Mr. Woofles of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.