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Decades before Frank Miller’s adaptation of The Spirit landed with a resounding thud in theaters, a group of young filmmakers that included Brad Bird, Gary Kurtz and John Lasseter hoped to bring Will Eisner’s crimefighter to animated life. Now, thanks to producer Steven Paul Leiva, we finally get a glimpse of what could’ve been in a 1980 pencil test “trailer.”
In celebration of “The Spirit’s” 75th anniversary, DC Entertainment will release a new hardcover collection of Will Eisner’s renowned creation.
“The Spirit” has passed through the hands of several legendary writers, including Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Jeph Loeb. DC announced the book at the DC Entertainment Retailer Roadshow.
“It was like trying to stop a force of nature. He was a sponge. The last time he came, he’d gotten a six-page assignment, and I went over what he’d done wrong, how he could make it better. He said, ‘You’re saying I have to draw it over again.’ I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ He said, ‘OK, but the problem is, I turned it in, and they accepted it.’ I said, ‘In that case, don’t draw it over again; I think you just started your career.’”
— Neal Adams, discussing a young Frank Miller, who repeatedly stopped by his New York City studio for critiques. It’s from Sean Howe’s Wired profile of Miller, probably the best of a handful published ahead of the premiere of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
It’s certainly the most unflinching, touching upon the effect of 9/11 on the artist and his work — “I think many people didn’t get over it, that it will continue to affect their lives forever,” Lynn Varley, his longtime colorist and former wife, says. “And I think Frank is one of those people.” — the failure of The Spirit, the response to Holy Terror, the disappearance of All Star Batman & Robin, his tirade against the Occupy movement, and speculation about his health.
Manga | In Japan, as elsewhere, people would rather read about farming than actually do it; agriculture has become a popular topic for manga, and the Agriculture Ministry recently announced an award for manga that raise interest in farming. The article mainly focuses on Hiromu Arakawa’s Silver Spoon, which has recently been made into a movie; Arakawa is also the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, a fact the article omits. [The Wall Street Journal]
Awards | Silver Spoon was on of the 10 nominees for this year’s Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize; two manga that are published in English, Attack on Titan and Animal Land, also made the list. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Comic-Con International in San Diego is about six weeks away, so it’s time for Tom Spurgeon to post his massive list of tips for those planning to attend: “It helps to remember that the hassle of going to Comic-Con is mostly an accident of our recent cultural history — All those spectacle movies! All those fantasy franchise books! Marvel’s post-bankruptcy comeback! All those graphic novels! The toy explosion! The rise of manga and anime! — rather than something the convention itself enjoys or endorses or requires or was ever shooting for. I honestly don’t have any more fun going now than I did in ’96 or ’01, back when it was so much easier to attend the con that the worst-case scenario was registering on-site and staying in a $65 hotel ten blocks away. It wasn’t that long ago! But I also can’t stress this enough. I still have fun.” [The Comics Reporter]
It doesn’t look like there were as many comic-related announcements on Saturday at WonderCon as there were on Friday, but the second day of the con certainly brought some gems.
• IDW and DC announced that Mark Waid (Daredevil, Insufferable) and Paul Smith (Uncanny X-Men, Leave it to Chance) are teaming up for The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction. “Not many writers have been lucky enough to write The Rocketeer or The Spirit,” Waid said in a press release, “so I feel like I’ve won the lottery. This is one of the most exciting-and scariest-assignments I’ve ever undertaken. Luckily, I’ve got Paul Smith to make me look good!” The first issue of the miniseries arrives in July.
Publishing | DC Comics may no longer hold the rights to create new stories about The Spirit and other pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Avenger, but it does retain the license to publish The Spirit Archives for “the foreseeable future,” according to Denis Kitchen, agent for the Will Eisner estate. Most of the hardcover collections are out of print. [The Beat]
Digital comics | Third time’s the charm for retailer Steve Bennett, as he goes through three different tablets (one was stolen, one malfunctioned) on his way to the ideal digital comics experience. [ICv2]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon kicks off his annual round of holiday interviews with a lengthy conversation with Alison Bechdel, creator of Fun Home and Are You My Mother? [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Pulp heroes The Spirit, Doc Savage and The Avenger disappeared from the DC Comics lineup more than a year ago, with Co-Publisher Dan DiDio now confirming on his Facebook page that the company’s rights to the characters have lapsed. Brian Azzarello paired the vintage characters with Batman, Black Canary, the Blackhawks and other current DC heroes in his First Wave miniseries, which launched in 2010. Heidi MacDonald adds, “we’ve heard that at WB it was pointed out that DC paying good money to license old characters didn’t make much sense when they had their own catalog of little-used characters to exploit.” [Blog@Newsarama]
Digital comics | As noted here Monday, comiXology was No. 3 on the list of top-grossing iPad apps of 2012, and in the press release announcing this, the comiXology folks dropped another number on us: They have served more than 2 billion pages since their launch three years ago. [comiXology]
IDW Publishing announced yet another Artist’s Edition today at Comic-Con International in San Diego: A collection of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, to be released in 2012. The 144-page book will be shot from the original art, and the black-and-white strips will be photographed and reproduced in color in order to catch every nuance and correction — as you can see from the cover image. The book will also be in the large “Golden Age” format, which is bigger than the other Artist’s Editions.
Editor Scott Dunbier says this edition will focus on Eisner’s work from just after his return from World War II, because his work showed a new maturity in that period. “When he came back to the strip in 1946, he became, I think, one of the foremost comic artists ever,” Dunbier told CBR. “His storytelling reached such heights, he really produced a nearly unparalleled body of work during this period.” Dunbier and Dennis Kitchen, who is the agent for Eisner’s estate, are in the process of selecting the stories for the book.
Recently I was lucky enough to see a preview of Roger Langridge‘s Snarked! #0, his all ages series for Kaboom where the writer/artist uses Lewis Carroll‘s “Walrus and the Carpenter” poem (from Through the Looking-Glass) as a springboard for his storytelling. For every consumer that railed against the cancellation of Langridge’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger, here’s your chance to support Langridge again. For every pundit and website commenter who opined that Thor would have flourished, had it not been caught in the deluge of Thor titles that dashed any chance of it succeeding, take note.
A quick look at the CBR front page reveals a full court press for every new DC #1 coming our way in September. And we should be covering the DC relaunch, don’ t get me wrong. But I am fearful that some great books coming out around the same time, say this one, for example, are going to get overlooked. Roger Langridge’s Snarked! should not be overlooked. This is the comic that non-comics reading parents are looking for when they wander into a store seeking something to give their kid. This is a fun comic. This is a funny comic. This is an intelligent comic. This is a comic with puzzles, mazes and word searches. This preview issue is only a $1. This is a project that I hope to see on many folks Best of 2011 lists (I know it will be on mine).
Langridge chatted with me briefly in this email interview, and Kaboom was kind enough to give us a preview of Snarked! (provided at the end of our discussion). While the preview is not on sale until August, of course it is in Previews this month, with orders due June 30 [Diamond Code: JUN110963]. I can count on one hand the number of active creators that write and draw as engagingly a story as Langridge. If that does not win you over, the book stars a talking walrus (Wilburforce J. Walrus, as noted by Kaboom: “that’s right, the same Walrus that inspired the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus” is now in Roger Langridge’s merry, mad hands”) for the love of God. Check it out, I think you’ll agree it should be on everyone’s must-read list, no matter your age. To paraphrase Langridge fromthis interview, I hope this project is something that people will want to re-read many times–and if that’s not the definition of a great comic, I don’t know what is.
Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a fan of the work of Lewis Carroll?
Roger Langridge: It’s tempting to say “since I could read”; I’m sure it can’t have been quite that long, but I know I was very, very young when I first read the Alice books. And I’ve gone back and re-read them every couple of years since then, pretty much. They’re that rare thing, books which hit you in one way when you’re a kid, and in a different (yet equally powerful) way when you’re an adult, when you appreciate some of the really black humor and the general pricking of pomposity. They reward repeated re-readings more than most.
Hello and welcome to Wha Are You Reading? Today our special guest is illustrator, photographer, writer, filmmaker and jazz musician Dave McKean, whose works include Cages, Mr. Punch, Signal to Noise, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Violent Cases, Coraline and many, many more. He has a new book with writer Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, coming out in October, as well as a graphic novel called Celluloid coming out from Fantagraphics in June. Special thanks to Chris Mautner for asking him to participate this week.
To see what Dave and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
When you learn how much research and realize how interested that artist Patrick Zircher is in the 1920s/1930s era of the Mystery Men, I expect you might be equally intrigued to learn more about this five-issue David Liss-written Marvel miniseries. The first issue, which was previewed by CBR late last week and goes on sale June 8, introduces readers to the first champions of the Marvel universe. As detailed in the preview: “Before Captain America, before The Twelve, there was The Aviatrix, The Operative, Achilles, The Revenant and The Surgeon! What drives these five heroes to pull on masks and take to the rooftops of Manhattan? What dark conspiracy not only brings them together, but threatens to tear the America apart?” In this email interview with Zircher, we discuss his affinity for designing a comic and characters much in the same vein as “Indiana Jones, the Rocketeer, and the Spirit”, as well as why the word “zeppelin” is cooler than “blimp” plus many other fun details. My thanks to Zircher for his time and to editor Bill Rosemann for giving Robot 6 readers a look at pages from issue 2. Once you’ve read the interview, be sure to comment on which Marvel heroes and villains (circa 1930s) you would love to see in Mystery Men.
Tim O’Shea: In terms of designing characters, how enjoyable/empowering is it to venture into relatively unexplored territory (of the 1920s and 1930s) in terms of the Marvel universe with this Mystery Men project?
Patrick Zircher: It’s been a gas. Though we approached Mystery Men as belonging to the Marvel Universe, as part of the big, big story– working in an earlier era allows for a lot of freedom. At the same time, all the possibilities for cool ties to the Marvel Universe this series opens has the comic fan in me pretty excited.
To mark what would have been Will Eisner’s 94th birthday, Google is honoring him with a homepage “doodle” spotlighting The Spirit and the cartoonist’s imaginative blend of type and architecture. Scott McCloud, who helped design the piece, also writes a tribute to Eisner on the Official Google Blog: “For most of his career, Eisner was years, even decades, ahead of the curve. I saw him debating artists and editors half his age, and there was rarely any question who the youngest man in the room was. It helped that he never stood on ceremony. Everyone was his peer, regardless of age or status. None of us called him ‘Mr. Eisner.’ He was just “Will’.”
Welcome to our weekly “Food or Comics?” feature, where we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home for Christmas dinner and which ones stay on the shelves, sitting cold and lonely through the holidays. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week to play along. Because of weather issues, shops on the West Coast won’t be getting everything; Brian Hibbs has a list of what to expect in his store in San Francisco, which should give you an idea of what is and isn’t showing up out here.
If I had $15…
No question, I’d get the first trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger ($14.99). Back when I read superhero comics, The Mighty Thor was one of my favorites, and I’d love to revisit the character without getting tripped up by all the continuity I missed. This series has gotten great word-of-blog, particularly since it was canceled, and that has me curious as well.
If you’ve been thinking of heading to Italy and want to stay somewhere close to the water, Villa Comics has six rooms available with a private bathroom, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a comic book theme.
Located in the Gulf of Policastro – Cilento, “the theme is ‘comics,’” their website reads, “and each room is named after a comic character. There are room in honour of: Little Nemo, Tin Tin, Spiderman, Uncle $crooge, Corto Maltese, Spirit and Dylan Dog. Each room is decorated with a colourful canvas. Whether you’re a comic fan, or not, you’ll be enthralled by the attention to detail and the way in which ‘comics’ seeks to transport its guest into the world of fantasy to which each room has been dedicated.”
The proprietor, Gianfranco Martuscelli, is a cartoonist who wanted to combine his passions for comics and tourism.