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2014 Cartoonist Studio Prize shortlists announced

beautiful darkness

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.

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Comics A.M. | Roz Chast’s memoir tops bookstore chart again

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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]

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‘Homestuck’-inspired ‘Hiveswap’ game debuts first screenshots

hiveswap4

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.

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Comics A.M. | Final ‘Naruto’ sells 874,000 copies in its first week

Naruto, Vol. 72

Naruto, Vol. 72

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]

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Comics A.M. | Taipei comics festival expected to draw 400,000

From the 2014 Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival

From the 2014 Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival

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]

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LINE Webtoon announces winners of $50,000 comics contest

From "Space Boy," by Stephen McCranie

From “Space Boy,” by Stephen McCranie

LINE Webtoon, a webcomic service for mobile devices and web browsers, has announced the winners of the $50,000 content to kick off its Challenge League platform.

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

Third Place $5,000 Winners
Roar Street Journal, Pang Hong Yi Bonnie
Catharsis, Cheryl Dawn Fontanilla

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.”

White House uses comic reminders about Obamacare deadline

healthcare2-cropped

For a gentle reminder about the Feb. 15 HealthCare.gov enrollment deadline, the White House turned to comics and Curls creator Carolyn Belefski.

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.

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Suspect in plane bomb hoaxes used webcomic for Twitter handle

Zortic last panel

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.

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Kate Beaton’s ‘Step Aside, Pops’ officially announced

step aside popsAlthough 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.

In Andi Watson’s ‘Princess Decomposia,’ romance is undead

Princess Decomposia coverThe 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.

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‘Everyone in Metropolis is dumb’

make it wayne1

Luckily, I didn’t end 2014 without discovering — thanks to Steve EkstromMake It Wayne, the occasional webcomic by Josh Adams.

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.

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Comics A.M. | Tokyo’s ‘Astro Town’ still celebrates Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka

Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]

Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]

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Emily Carroll webcomic delivers a few nightmares before Christmas

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 10.20.15 AM

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is currently making the rounds on various year-end “Best of” lists and no doubt will be under a few trees later this week. But if you want a little horror in your holidays before you get to the unwrapping, the webcomics creator has posted a brand new holiday-themed horror tale titled “All Along the Wall” on her website.

So grab some eggnog, curl up with your favorite electronic device and beware the monster in the corner …

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The kids are on the case in ‘The Case of the Simple Soul’

PrintBad Machinery is an all-ages webcomic about a group of British schoolchildren who solve mysteries and generally act like normal kids.

When I say that, I mean it as the highest compliment. Too many children’s books, both graphic novels and prose, exist in some sort of never-never land where all families are happy and all the children are well-behaved, except for one or two who are explicitly evil. The kids in Bad Machinery aren’t like that. They don’t do anything truly horrific, but they do disobey their parents, talk in slang, and best of all, poke their noses where they really shouldn’t. Each story arc is a supernatural mystery of some sort, and the supernatural creatures are real, but usually pretty benign in the end.

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Comics A.M. | Store suffers reported $300,000 loss in burglary

Mark Rowland

Mark Rowland

Crime | Wichita, Kansas’ KWCH TV is showcasing the Nov. 19 burglary of comics and collectibles store Riverhouse Traders as its Crime Stoppers crime of the week. The thieves apparently knew what they were looking for, and stole a reported $300,000 worth of rare comic books and memorabilia, leaving owner Mark Rowland with an unwanted shift in priorities: He has always given free comics to local children who get As on their report cards, and he provides gifts to local families at Christmas, but this year he has to cut back to pay for a security system. [KWCH]

Creators | Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Terry Dodson discuss their new graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth One. George Perez and Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans were Lemire’s gateway to comics, so he was particularly enthusiastic about this project, and, he that affected his choice of a cast: “My decision early on was just to use the unique characters that Marv and George created that weren’t sidekicks, and that freed me from having to establish the adult superheroes in this world.” [Comic Riffs]

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