Paul Bettany Talks "Age of Ultron," Working with James Spader & More
Awards | Cartoonist Roz Chast is one of six recipients of this year’s Heinz Awards, which recognize “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” The honor comes with an $250,000 cash prize. “‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” says the author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.” [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | In a radio interview, Afghan political cartoonist Habib Rahman Habib talks about his work. [NPR]
Publishing | Archaia founder Mark Smylie will leave the company he founded in 2002 to focus on his writing career. Creator of Artesia and author of the 2014 novel The Barrow, sold the company in 2008 to Kunoichi Inc., but remained as an acting principal. BOOM! Studios then purchased Archaia in 2013, transforming it into an imprint of the publisher. [press release]
Conventions | Filmmaker John Waters says the organizers of Shock Pop Comic Con, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the weekend of Feb. 14, owe him $6,250 — and they have told him they don’t intend to pay. Waters said the con seemed legit, if lightly attended, and they paid the first half of his fee up front. “I didn’t think that they were gonna – in a very short time – send a letter from a lawyer that basically was just like, ‘Don’t bother even trying,’” he said. But that’s what they did: The letter said the company that organized the event “had to close their doors and had no assets within which to satisfy its debts.” Freelance talent manager Shade Rupe said the con had “an incredible lineup,” but it was poorly organized; he got stuck with the limo bill for one of the people he represents, actor Danny Trejo. [Broward/Palm Beach New Times]
She launched Templar, Arizona at a time when the webcomics business model was still being hammered out — and a lot of people were still dubious about it. However, Trotman not only made it work, she expanded the scope of what she does, running a Kickstarter for the Poorcraft graphic novel, then curating and publishing the Smut Peddler anthology, which was also funded on Kickstarter. Her small press Iron Circus Comics is now publishing its first creator-owned work, an omnibus edition of EK Weaver’s webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, which was just successfully funded on Kickstarter — in fact, the project raised $65,000, far exceeding its goal of $18,500.
This seemed like a good time to talk to Spike about growing her own small press—and what the future holds for Iron Circus.
IDW Publishing will release a hardcover collection of American Barbarian, Tom Scioli’s Jack Kirby-inspired post-apocalyptic adventure.
Debuting in 2010, the webcomic chronicles the saga of Meric, who sets off across New Earthea to seek revenge against Two-Tank Omen, a half-tank/half-mummy creature who murdered his family. Along the way, the young barbarian — the last American — faces all sorts of threats, ranging from the risen dead to mutant motorcycle gangs to robotic dinosaurs.
The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies have announced the shortlist for the third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, which honors one print comic and one webcomic released in 2014.
The shortlists were selected by Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, the faculty and students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, represented by CCS Fellow Sophie Yanow, and this year’s guest judge, cartoonist Paul Karasik. Each winner receives $1,000.
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
What Pumpkin Studios has released the first in-game screenshots from Hiveswap, the point-and-click adventure game based on Andrew Hussie’s insanely popular webcomic Homestuck.
Developed with proceeds from a $2.4 million Kickstarter campaign, the game will debut this spring with the first of four episodes for PC, Mac and Linux. Attendees of the March 2-6 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco will get to see Hiveswap in action; public demos are planned for Emerald City Comicon, Denver Comic Con and other spring conventions.
Manga | The 72nd and final volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, released in Japan on Feb. 4, topped the weekly sales charts, with 874,120 volumes sold in its first week. [Crunchyroll]
Conventions | With 10 fan conventions coming to Indianapolis this year, David Lindquist takes a look at the business of comics-themed entertainment, with interviews with Wizard World CEO John Macaluso and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz. [Indianapolis Star]
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
Launched globally in July by NAVER, South Korea’s premier Internet portal, LINE Webtoon offers nearly 70 webcomics. It in turn introduced Challenge League, a free webcomic publishing platform where creators can upload their comics with a chance to become a featured artist, meaning they receive monthly pay and promotional support.
More than 1,900 webcomics were reportedly submitted to the contest. The winners are:
Grand Prize $30,000 Winner
Space Boy, Stephen McCranie
Second Place $10,000 Winner
ShootAround, Susanna Ada Alice Nousiainen
Although the contest has ended, each month LINE Webtoon will continue to select a comic submitted through the Challenge League platform to feature as a partnered series, with the creator made an official artist, “eligible for monthly payments.”
Intended to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, the seven comic strips depict Americans living vastly different lives — from the fitness nut to the adrenalin junkie to the hipster — who have one thing in common: They have health insurance. Each four-panel strip has at its center a badge encouraging readers to joint that person at HeathCare.gov.
Being a webcomics creator has its challenges, but here’s one you don’t see too often: finding out the title of your long-running strip is being used by someone who tweeting bomb threats to airlines. That’s the surreal situation Mark Mekkes found himself in on Saturday.
Mekkes is the creator of the long-running Zortic, which he describes as “a weekly science fiction, comedy adventure comic with a lot of parody and popular references.” The comic has been running for 14 years, but on Saturday, Mekkes noticed a spike in traffic and social media mentions. He didn’t think too much of it until he got a phone call from his brother-in-law, who had seen “Zortic” mentioned on the national news. The reason: Somebody using the Twitter handle “King Zortic” had tweeted bomb threats to Delta and Southwest airlines, resulting in two planes being escorted by fighter jets to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and then scoured by bomb squads. The threats were ultimately determined to be a hoax.
Although the book was teased in Drawn & Quarterly’s Free Comic Book Day listing, the publisher has now officially announced the September release of Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops, the follow-up to her bestselling 2011 collection Hark! A Vagrant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 160-page book will combine new material with strips from Beaton’s wildly popular webcomic, including her “Broadside Ballads” series. The cartoonist talks briefly with the newspaper about Hark! A Vagrant, its historical and literary influences, and how she settles upon topics.
“Kate’s wit is sharper than ever in Step Aside, Pops,” acquiring editor Tom Devlin said in a statement. “She’s found the perfect way to explore her love of history, while effortlessly deflating the pompous, self-righteous figures of authority we were taught to respect in school. Her restlessness has made her drawings even funnier.”
Beaton, who’s been producing her webcomic since 2007, has won four Harvey Awards for her work. The 2011 collection of Hark! A Vagrant spent five months on The New York Times graphic books bestsellers list.
Step Aside, Pops will be previewed along with Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy in Drawn & Quarterly’s FCBD offering.
The creator of Skeleton Key and Love Fights, cartoonist Andi Watson has worked in more recent years on his all-ages series Gum Girl and Glister, which are better known in his native United Kingdom than in the United States. However, he’s about to make a big splash with young readers on this side of the Atlantic with Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, a lighthearted romance with creepy characters to be published in February by First Second.
We asked Watson to talk a bit about the book and where it fits in with the rest of his work.
Brigid Alverson: First of all, can you tell us what Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula is about?
Andi Watson: It’s a spooky-themed romance story about love, responsibility and desserts. Princess Decomposia is princess of the Underworld whose father, the king, has taken sick and demands constant attention. The Princess has to run the Underworld, the palace and take care of her father. It’s all getting too much when the king’s fussy eating habits drive off another chef. Fortunately, Count Spatula gets the job and he helps the princess tackle the Underworld’s problems while they grow closer … only the king’s not too keen on their friendship.
If the title doesn’t give away what the comic is about, then the latest strip (above) certainly does: It’s three panels, typically starring a Batman who’s not quite as grim and serious as his DC Comics counterpart. For instance, one installment finds the Dark Knight practicing intimidation lines before heading out, while in another he enjoys his own rendition of the classic Batman TV theme.
It’s a pretty funny comic that sometimes hits at hard truths — like, say, the apparent low intelligence of Metropolis’ populace. Maybe it’s something in the water.