Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Having covered comics for a number of years, I always appreciate encountering a storyteller excited about pursuing what they hope is a major milestones in a long, successful career. That’s the impression I got while interviewing Ireland-based artist Will Sliney about his big break as the regular artist on the new ongoing Spider-Man 2099.
I was so focused on discussing his new series, I neglected to congratulate and him on being named Cork Person of the Month in July (Sliney hails from Ballycotton in East Cork).
While it’s not All Ages — or at least I don’t think it is — former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way has written and drawn another comic, and it stars anthropomorphized cats.
Created by the Umbrella Academy writer for The Talkhouse, “Twitter” is about, well, Twitter, featuring a cat who invites a stranger into his home, only to immediately regret the decision. It’s not a complicated allegory.
By now we’ve all seen, or at least heard about, the Twitter-rocking star-studded selfie orchestrated by Ellen DeGeneres during Sunday’s 86th Academy Awards ceremony. Snapped by Bradley Cooper (who actually owns the rights to the image), the photo was retweeted a 3.2 million times, shattering the previous record of more than 778,000 set in November 2012 with the election-night post from President Obama.
While the not entirely spontaneous stunt certainly paid off for ABC and Samsung, which was reportedly promised airtime for the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone as part of its $20 million sponsorship and ad buy, they weren’t the only ones to get promotional mileage out of the photo.
Publishing | Variety speaks with Madrigall President Antoine Gallimard about how the French publishing giant and its holdings (Gallimard, Casterman, Flammarion and Futuropolis, among them) handle the film rights to their many graphic novels, and the popularity of comics as source material: “I think that the French publishing and film industries feed on, complement, and ultimately do help each other. The number of films adapted from books that are produced every year in France is eloquent testimony to this.” Noting that, “In recent years, there’s a real feeding-frenzy for graphic novels, comic books,” Gaillimard says, “Comedy, in all its variants, is the most popular of adapted materials.” [Variety]
Legal | An Algerian judge has made a preliminary recommendation of 18 months’ imprisonment for cartoonist Djamel Ghanem for drawing a cartoon, which was never published, that government officials deemed offensive. In an odd twist, Ghanem was sued by his own newspaper, La Voix de l’Oranie, which tends to favor the current administration, and as a result, he has been blackballed by the Algerian media. The cartoon is critical of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fourth term but doesn’t even depict the president — it shows two people in conversation, comparing the fourth term to baby diapers — Ghanem said the point was that Algerians were treated like children. Pressed by the district attorney to admit the cartoon was insulting to the Bouteflika, Ghanem insisted that wasn’t his intention. [Global Voices Online]
Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]
Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]
He helped create the Marvel Universe, he’s appeared in Marvel movies, he still draws huge crowds at comic conventions, he’s been a Simpsons character and he even has his own cologne — but perhaps Stan Lee’s biggest accomplishment comes today, on his 91st birthday, as the still-working writer finally hit one million followers on Twitter.
Back in August, a Public Service Announcement was released, asking folks to follow The Man on Twitter and push him into the one million followers club. Instead of jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, though, the Internet got together in secret and decided to wait to follow him — giving Lee the ultimate birthday present. Surprise!
In all seriousness, congratulations and happy birthday to Stan Lee! Check out Kevin’s post from yesterday to see some fun shots of Stan throughout the years.
Passings | Artist Janice Valleau Winkelman, creator of the detective Toni Gayle, passed away on Dec. 8 at age 90. Winkleman, who drew under her maiden name Janice Valleau, had polio as a child and wore a brace through school. Her first work was published in Smash Comics in 1939, when she was 16. She studied at the Phoenix Art Institute and moved to New York, where she found steady work as a penciler and inker for Archie Comics and Quality Comics. She left the industry during the anti-comic crusades of the 1950; author David Hajdu profiled her in the prologue to his chronicle of those times, The Ten Cent Plague. According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Ripples of shock went through a certain portion of the Twitter/Tumblr/webcomics world Tuesday with the revelation, delivered by Susan Orlean at The New Yorker, that the @Horse_eBooks Twitter is not spam after all, but rather a work of conceptual art. The news also spelled the end of the webcomic based on that Twitter account, Horse_eComics. And a couple of sharp observers just earned some extra coolness points for catching on two years ago that something was off about the whole thing.
@Horse_ebooks was originally, as the name suggests, the Twitter for an e-bookstore that specialized in horses, one of about 170 spam Twitter accounts maintained by a Russian entrepreneur, let’s call him, named Alexei Kouznetsov. In January 2012, John Herrman wrote a post explaining how @Horse_eBooks worked: Some of the tweets were links to accounts on Clickbank, an affiliate marketing site, while the others were random bits of text that were basically there to fool the Twitter spam detectors.
Despite its relative obscurity, National Comic Book Day seems to be getting a bit of traction. With apparently zero support from the big publishers or Diamond Comic Distributors, it’s really a grass-roots holiday. As I mentioned in my post Wednesday, these sorts of occasions are useful for reporters who want to write about comics but need a news hook. Perhaps something similar is going on in the marketing department of Jo-Ann Fabrics. Here’s a roundup of National Comic Book Day observances, which may provide a rough map to geek presence in unexpected quarters.
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Ethan Rilly, creator of the award-winning series Pope Hats.
Now let’s get to it …
Of all the worthwhile causes clamoring for our attention, few tug at the heartstrings like the plight of Stan Lee, aka “The Man.” You see, while many so-called “celebrities” — Kim Kardashian! Charlie Sheen! Donald Trump! — have millions of Twitter followers, the beloved writer, editor, actor, action figure and generalissimo has … well, a lot less than that.
“How many aren’t hearing this desperate man’s cries of ‘Excelsior!’ over the Internet?” Attack of the Show! alum Alison Haislip asks in the moving PSA below. Too many, Alison Haislip. Too damned many.
But you can help: One click — one simple click — goes a long way toward making lil’ Stan Lee’s dreams of 1 million Twitter followers a reality. Is that too much to ask to bring a smile to The Man’s face? Act now; operators are standing by.
Here I am, like so many of you fine, wonderful people, relaxing at home instead of walking among the majestic masses of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic Book Resources and Robot 6 are keeping we homebodies abreast of all the news from this year’s mega-super-hyper event, so it’s kind of nice to be able to sit in a comfortable chair while still keeping informed and not having to pay $9 for a burrito.
Sure, it’d be nice to be there, wouldn’t it? To stand in line and take your chance at a microphone to tell the House of Ideas your opinion, ask questions of your favorite creative teams and get attention from the editorial team? Good news! That’s what social media can do for you! We live in an amazing time where a tweet to your favorite artist could be replied to with casual familiarity or a Tumblr post could get you a sneak peek at exclusive artwork. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has a Formspring account (now moved to Tumblr here) so you can ask him any question at any time of night. The people who produce comics are surprisingly at the hands of their public, which for Marvel, isn’t that new of an idea.
Writer Anina Bennett and artist Paul Guinan join the Monkeybrain Comics line with today’s digital re-release of first episode of their creator-owned Heartbreakers, which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #35 in 1989.
The sci-fi adventure has gathered has gathered a growing following over the years, and as it turns out Monkeybrain Co-Publisher Chris Roberson is one of those longtime fans.
Bennett and Guinan spoke with ROBOT 6 about the history and influence of Heartbreakers, its digital debut, and why they partnered with Monkeybrain. To learn how real-world events helped to change the direction of Heartbreakers makes me even more interested to see how Bennett and Guinan plan to observe the comic’s 25th anniversary next year.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego, be sure to visit Bennett and Guinan in Artists Alley at Booth CC-01.
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