REVIEW: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a Lot of Fun, a Little Flawed, and Whedon All the Way
Comic Books, Film
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
This will not be a post about how Saga is awesome. I’ve written 30 of those already. No thrilling over Lying Cat here, no desperation for the next issue, none of my hopes to see The Will return to action or for [SPOILER] to [SPOILER] and [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER].
Nor will I lose my cool over the fact that, right now, my bookshelf contains two excellent and weird and hilarious China Mieville (China Mieville!)-penned trades of Dial H, complete with blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em anti-MPAA digs. Or that Neil Gaiman, in the – yikes — almost two decades since I picked up my first Sandman trade, has evolved from Sensational Comic Book Writer Neil Gaiman to MechaGaiman, Devourer of Worlds, Savior of Publishing and Champion of Art. Or that Genevieve Valentine is writing Catwoman!
I won’t flip out about The Wicked + The Divine or Chew or either Marvel, Ms. or Captain.
Creators | Hajime Isayama’s hometown of Hita City has named him “Tourism Friendship Ambassador to the ‘Beautiful Riverside Location of Hita.'” Isayama, the creator of Attack on Titan (which describes a city under siege by man-eating giants and defended by teenagers), came to town over the weekend for a cultural event titled “Shingeki no Satogaeri” (“Attack on Returning Home”), and he mentioned in a speech that the area was his inspiration for the scenery in the manga. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Dark Horse announced there are 500,000 copies of its Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon graphic novel in print; this presumably means that sales are in that range as well. The key here may may be that the book is available at Scholastic book fairs, where the numbers really add up. [Dark Horse]
Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.
Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”
They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.
Matt Cowan’s handle on DeviantArt is “Matt Can’t Draw”, which isn’t necessarily true. Sure, he is more of a designer, a conceptual artist, than a straight-up “drawer.” His latest series, “Sounds Like,” is possibly a thinly veiled dig at the lack of imagination of Hollywood casting departments. Or is it just an excuse to draw his favorite characters together?
In any case, check them out below. And if you harbor some irrational prejudice against DeviantArt, Cowan’s work is also posted to his Tumblr.
Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]
Illustrator/character designer Jeff Victor has gotten some attention lately for his Evolution of Tom Hanks T.Hanksgiving piece, but it’s just one in a series of “evolution” images he’s created, a few of them comics-related. In addition to Batman above, Victor has chronicled Jack Nicholson, Uma Thurman, and Natalie Portman, all of whom have starred in comics adaptations. Hit the break to see those three and Victor’s site for many others.
Today is Guy Fawkes Day, and what used to be an occasion for bonfires and begging pennies from the neighbors has become a day of protest thanks to Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta; the Guy Fawkes mask worn by their anonymous revolutionary V has become a symbol of protest worldwide. The protest group Anonymous plans a march on the British Parliament this evening to re-enact the final scene from the graphic novel. The event, dubbed “Operation Vendetta,” will be live-streamed here.
Meanwhile, Moore will be marking the occasion with the release date of his first single “The Decline of English Murder.” The song can be downloaded from Occupation Records, the record label that came out of the Occupy movement; it’ll set you back a quid, but he also released a video, which features clips of Occupy protests. (Ironically, it starts with an ad.) The Guardian calls the song “a gloomy and at times opaque ballad that likens the stark economic inequities challenged by Occupy to the work of a killer … The song, with Moore half-speaking, half-singing his words to a musical backing by Joe Brown, is as mournful as you might expect from something that namechecks a motorway service station near Preston in its first line.”
Apparently, 2000AD group editor Matt Smith has nixed this Judge Dredd cover by Jason Latour. The specter of Frank Miller’s ill-fated cover commission was apparently raised. This must remain a sore subject with Tharg. Personally, I like this image, and can’t see anything wrong with it, but then, I’ve berated Smith for playing it safe with his art choices before and probably will again. More problematic work below — Steve Rude takes a controversial gig; Gary Erskine risks a stay in the Tower for treason; Graeme Neil Reid illustrates the most violent, foulmouthed superheroes of them all; Jim Woodring takes my theme’s title and makes it concrete, and more. And as usual, you may reckon some of this material is NSFW.
Wired has the exclusive on David Lloyd’s cover for the second issue of Occupy Comics, which shows a figure in the Guy Fawkes mask that Lloyd and Alan Moore brought to the world in V for Vendetta taunting a bull.
The second issue of the Occupy Comics anthology was released Monday, the first anniversary of the movement; besides Lloyd, the contributors include cartoonist Matt Bors, activist Bill Ayer, and artist Molly Crabapple, who lives near the Occupy site and was arrested at the first-anniversary event. (And check out the Occupy illustrations that Crabapple did for The Nation — before becoming part of the story herself.)
Editor Matt Pizzolo says the emphasis of the anthology has shifted in this second issue:
August marks the end of the New 52’s first year — and whether it’s the practicalities of collected editions or a prelude to mass cancellation, there’s a lot of finality in these solicitations.
Storylines conclude in All Star Western, Aquaman, Catwoman, Deathstroke, Frankenstein, GL Corps, Legion of Super-Heroes, Red Lanterns, Resurrection Man, Suicide Squad, Voodoo, maybe GL: New Guardians, and the main Justice League book. Big changes are coming for Stormwatch, Captain Atom and Green Lantern. August also sees the final issues of Justice League International (about which more later), iZombie and Scalped.
On the other hand, new stories begin in Flash and Batman, and the big Animal Man/Swamp Thing crossover kicks off. Better yet, J.H. Williams III returns to art on Batwoman with Issue 12, which not only starts a new storyline but guest-stars Wonder Woman. It’s somewhat ironic for a guy who drew the guest star-heavy Chase that his Batwoman work hasn’t ventured too far into the larger DC Universe, so I’m really looking forward to his Wonder Woman. (Along the same lines, I can’t wait to see what Gail Simone does with Batwoman in the latter’s Batgirl appearance.) Apparently the Next Six titles also just keep humming along.
Collectively, it may make the next four weeks a waiting game. With September set to include fifty-two zero issues, at least one of those will replace JLI on the schedule. From now until the September solicits are released, I wouldn’t be surprised if DC announced more cancellations in order to free up those zero issues for new series’ debuts.
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With so much being reported about Alan Moore’s connections to the Occupy movement — through his endorsement of its ideals, his contribution to Occupy Comics, and protesters’ co-opting of the David Lloyd-designed Guy Fawkes masks — U.K.’s Channel 4 News coaxed the V for Vendetta writer from his home in Northampton to London to meet some of the demonstrators for the first time.
“It’s a bit surprising when some of the characters you thought you made up suddenly seem to escape into ordinary reality,” Moore told some disguised protesters. “I mean, what is it about the mask — is it just useful, or what?”
The report also delves into Frank Miller’s criticism of the Occupy movement, Moore’s displeasure with film adaptations of his works and, yes, the irony that each Guy Fawkes mask that protesters buy puts more money into the coffers of Time Warner, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates.
Alan Moore, who characterized the Occupy movement as “a completely justified howl of moral outrage,” has joined his V for Vendetta collaborator David Lloyd and more than 50 other creators for Occupy Comics, an anthology project inspired by the protests.
“It’s fair to say that Alan Moore and David Lloyd are unofficial godfathers of the current protest movement,” Occupy Comics organizer Matt Pizzolo told Wired.com. “It’s really amazing to see two creatives whose work was inspiring to street protesters join a creative project that is inspired by the street protesters. It’s a pretty virtuous cycle.”
Moore will contribute a long-form prose piece, possibly with illustrations, exploring the movement’s principles, “corporate control of the comics industry and the superhero paradigm itself.”
The project, being funded through Kickstarter, is described as “a time capsule of the passions and emotions driving the movement.” It will begin as single-issue comics, followed by a hardcover collection; a making-of documentary is also being produced by Patrick Meaney, director of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts. With three days left in its fundraising campaign, Occupy Comics has raised $15,892, surpassing its $10,000 goal.
Publishing | DC Comics joins the Kia Soul, Goldfish, My Little Pony and several others on Advertising Age’s annual list of America’s Hottest Brands: “With decades of stories under their capes and utility belts, Superman — and other DC characters, including Aquaman and the Flash — had ossified. Though relaunching its entire cast and making their adventures available to print and electronic audiences might alienate some hard-core DC fans, it might also gain plenty of new ones. Making DC characters more popular is crucial for its parent company. While the comic-book business is way down from its heyday, its characters fuel big-ticket Hollywood movies that can generate millions of dollars in revenue and licensing. The pressure may be on DC because rival Marvel, now owned by Disney, has churned out superhero film properties on a regular basis for years.” [Advertising Age]
Broadway | Producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark have changed their tune on the $75 million musical; previously they predicted they wouldn’t make back the money invested in the show without franchising it in other cities and countries, but now they predict they’ll make it back entirely from the Broadway run. They also are considering adding in new scenes and a new musical number to the production every year, “making it akin to a new comic book edition, and then urging the show’s fans to buy tickets again.” [The New York Times]
One of the more interesting (at least to me) aspect of Occupy Wall Street is that it has its own library, tended to by professional librarians and providing a variety of literature, from serious works of social and economic theory to picture books to keep the kiddies happy. Check the blog for news of authors who have been stopping by and donating their books; the New Yorker even wrote a nice little piece. Libraries are springing up in the other Occupy sites as well, including Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Providence.
This sparked a lively discussion on a librarians’ graphic novel discussion group where I lurk. Gan Golan, creator of The Adventures of Unemployed Man, started the discussion:
I visited the libraries at both the Occupy Baltimore (which was tiny) and Occupy Wall St. at Zucotti park in NYC (which was huge) and the good librarians at both places lamented the lack of a strong graphic novels section that showcased comic that were relevant or socially engaged. (The libraries there are very popular, btw).