"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
Passings | Brian Jacoby, owner of the Tallahassee, Florida, comic shop Secret Headquarters and a well-known presence on Twitter and comics discussion boards, died suddenly on Thanksgiving. The news was first released in a tweet from the store. His memorial service will be held Tuesday. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Bob Staake’s New Yorker cover showing a broken Gateway Arch in St. Louis, a commentary on the events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, received a lot of attention just before Thanksgiving — and even more when it got around that syndicated cartoonist R.J. Matson had drawn a similar cartoon in August. Matson brushes that aside, however, pointing out that editorial cartoonists often come up with similar visuals: “Finding a good joke is like solving a puzzle and very often there is one very best solution to the puzzle. Any cartoonist worth his salt would kick himself or herself for not finding that solution.” And when five cartoonists do it on the same day, he said, “we call it a Yahtzee.” [The Washington Post]
Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]
Presented annually since 1955 by the World Science Fiction Society, the Hugo is among science fiction’s most prestigious awards.
Author Cory Doctorow accepted on the award on Munroe’s behalf, and donned a cape and goggles at the cartoonist’s request. According to io9.com, Munroe’s speech indicated he’d asked Doctorow to read it as one word per hour, reflecting the pace of the animated comic, which updated initially ever half-hour and then every hour over the course of 123 days. (The story has its own Wikipedia entry.)
Launched in July 2012, the blog features Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, answering hypothetical physics- or math-related questions — for instance, “How much Force power can Yoda output?” or “What if there was a robot apocalypse?” — with the help of infographics and the cartoonist’s signature stick figures. The book will include a blend of new questions and answers and old favorites.
“As I’ve sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I’ve occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on,” Munroe explained this morning. “This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. (I’m also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.)”
The 320-page hardcover is available for preorder.
Randall Munroe, creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, has joined a very exclusive group: comics writers and artists who’ve had asteroids named in their honor.
According to the cartoonist, the International Astronomical Union, which assigns designations to celestial bodies, was accepting name suggestions for small solar system objects, and xkcd readers Lewis Hulbert and Jordan Zhu submitted Munroe’s name for asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6. The recommendation was accepted, and the asteroid is now officially designated 4942 Munroe.
“The first thing I did was try to figure out whether 4942 Munroe was big enough to pose a threat to Earth,” the cartoonist writes. “I was excited to learn that, based on its albedo (brightness), it’s probably about 6-10 kilometers in diameter. That’s comparable in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs — definitely big enough to cause a mass extinction!
Unfortunately Fortunately, it’s in a fairly stable circular orbit between Mars and Jupiter, so it’s unlikely to hit the Earth any time soon.”
Munroe is now one of a relative handful of comics creators who have asteroids named after them: J. Michael Straczynski (although it was in recognition of works in other media, like Babylon 5), Carl Barks and, just this summer, The Incal writer Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Creators continue finding ways to use digital comics that print can’t replicate. The new “Click and Drag” strip at xkcd invites readers to do exactly what the title suggests as they navigate their way around an enormous world of silhouetted landscapes and stick-figure people having adventures and quiet moments alike. It’s an amazing, immersive, very time-consuming, but rewarding experience to explore the whole thing.
For those less patient, there’s also a version that shows the whole world at once and lets readers zoom in and out, moving more quickly. It’s faster, but it loses the aspect of discovery that clicking and dragging across a confined panel has. I recommend spending as much time as you can clicking and dragging (be sure to go down holes; there’s more underground!), then use the big map to go back and see what you missed.
International Digital Times and Geekosystem suggest that, at 165,888 pixels by 79,872 pixels (which takes up 5.52 MB of space), cartoonist Randall Munroe has likely created the world’s largest webcomic. Erik McClure breaks down the numbers, including estimates of how long it might’ve taken Munroe to create the comic.
Well, kinda. Animator Noam Raby and musician Olga Nunes have teamed up to create “I Love xkcd,” an animated musical version of webcomic god Randall Munroe’s xkcd strip “xkcd Loves the Discovery Channel.” (Which itself was a riff on the aforementioned basic cable network’s jingle-based ad campaign.)
(Via Ezra Klein.)
* Do not actually do this