Do we link to just about every piece of art Paul Pope posts? Well, maybe, but when it looks as good as this page of STRANGE ADVENTURES art for WEDNESDAY COMICS, how can anyone resist?
Here is the first of the 12 episodes of STRANGE ADVENTURES (starring Adam Strange) which will appear in Wednesday Comics, with coloring by Jose Villarrubia, who collaborated with me on Batman:Year 100. Jose is using only the fabled 144 colors available to newspaper printers circa 1940.
The Flog Blog at Fantagraphics previews one of this summer’s must-haves: Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me by Peter Bagge, which reprints his various comics for Reason and other places. The site has a slideshow, ordering info, and a ton of other extras, like a screensaver. And here’s a link to a 12-page preview.
So what’s the deal at Archaia Press? The company foundered about a year ago as it sought new investors, and was rumored to be purchased by Devil’s Due at one point, but it ended up being acquired by former DD partner PJ Bickett, whose current title is President. Founder Mark Smylie is in place as Publisher. There was a lot of confusion at the time, but obviously, Archaia is back and putting out books, and even hiring people. We mentioned that Mel Caylo had come on board as Marketing Manager, and that means we should see a lot more news coming out, including another hire, Stephen Christy, who is joining the publisher as Director of Development. Christy was formerly at Devil’s Due, where he negotiated deals, such as the Humanoids license. More info in the PR:
In his role as Archaia’s Director of Development, Christy will be responsible for acquiring new comic book properties, overseeing the reverse engineering of previous “made for” scripts, strengthening partnerships within the entertainment sector, and ensuring that Archaia remains true to its reputation of providing the highest caliber of content. Previously, Christy headed IP Development for Devil’s Due Publishing and successfully oversaw the negotiations of nine development deals with major Hollywood production companies over a 14-month period. Prior to Devil’s Due, Christy worked at both Marvel Comics and DC Comics in various aspects of the business.
“We are pleased that Stephen will be joining the Archaia family,” commented Mark Smylie, Publisher and founder of Archaia. “His keen eye for quality content and his outstanding relationships with top-flight creators are the hallmark of what we have built with the Archaia brand. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to run our development slate.”
Everyone is talking about this career-spanning interview with writer/BOOM! EIC Mark Waid at AICN. In a comics media drowning in promotional interviews, the long, in-depth interview is a thing of the past (or a TwoMorrows publication) but this one pulls out the stops, and Waid spells out his version of some of the most colorful comics incidents of the past decade, like…Crossgen:
[Mark Alessi's] idea of creative guidance was to; quite literally, scream until he was red in the face that there wasn’t enough detail on the page and that he wanted to see every single blade of grass, Goddamnit! He’d punish guys who drew perfectly well without his help by focusing on some detail or another on one of 22 pages–some face that somehow wasn’t exactly what he saw in his head, whatever the hell that was–by berating them at the top of his lungs and then sending them home for the day, “and don’t come back until you can draw it right!” That, people, is art directing at its finest. Despite his inappropriate behavior, which was deservedly notorious, there were some damn good Crossgen books put out–but I swear to you, none of them were issued by Crossgen so much as escaped FROM Crossgen.
And…the Jemas Years at Marvel:
Are you counting down to the theatrical release of X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE? Or at least to a few hours of shirtless Hugh Jackman? Well, so is everyone else. We’ll try to survey some of the best stuff around the web. Living Between Wednesdays has an excellent overview of the flood of Wolvie products out there, including alarming things like cologne, pictures belts, a product with the slogan “Let’s slice some CAKE!” and so on. And the claws just haven’t successfully been visualized yet, have they?
A rubber band with nails on it?! What the hell is that thing? But it’s hard to fault this product because that kid on the package RULES.
Carlton Hargro at Creative Loafing has absolutely the best guide to Wolvie’s best comics we read:
The big problem with Wolverine comics is that they usually don’t focus on the things that make the guy cool. Just like he was portrayed in the X-Men movies, Wolverine is the super-powered self-styled “best there is at what he does” — and what he does is slice people up with a set of razor sharp claws that pop out of his hands. He’s a tough, ruthless, mysterious loner with metal bones (seriously) and mixes the best aspects of Han Solo, James Dean and Hannibal Lecter (minus the propensity to eat flesh). But, unfortunately, most of the comics that star Wolvie focus on the fact that, as seen in those previously mentioned X-Men films, the character has no memory of his past; consequently most books show him trying to uncover his lost history. And, for a hero who’s been in print since 1974, that search for identity can get kind of boring and hampered with decades of confusing people, places and things. Bottom line: As a lover and collector of comics, I didn’t want anyone getting their hands on crappy products. And to help alleviate that potential problem, I felt it was my duty to direct folks to Wolverine’s “greatest hits” — the comics that even the most casual fans of the rough-and-tumble super guy would understand and enjoy.
For people who want the personal touch, this WEDNESDAY, there will be a Wolverine event at MoCCA with Chris Claremont and Matthew K. Manning, moderated by Peter Sanderson.
Wednesday, April 29th, 7pm
Admission: $ 5 | Free for MoCCA Members
In anticipation of the May 1 theatrical release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, join us as Chris Claremont, best known for his work on Marvel Comic’s X-Men series, leads a discussion with Matthew K. Manning, author of DK Publishing’s newly-released Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon, a comprehensive guide to the savage world of the X-Men’s most popular Super Hero.
We just don’t have time or inclination to summarize all the comics-related PR we get each and every day, but in deference to our publicist pals, every once in a while something jumps out that must be pondered. For instance here’s a good one from Archie:
IT’S CELEBRITIES AND SUPER-MODELS AS BETTY & VERONICA DIVE HEAD-FIRST INTO THE WORLD OF POP CULTURE!
What could that mean? Are they starting a website or something?
Archie Comics and pop culture have gone together forever. Singing sensations, hit TV shows, popular movies, hot fashions, the latest toys and gadgets – one look through any ARCHIE AMERICANA trade paperback is all it takes to realize all have had a featured place in the pages of Archie Comics throughout the years. Now, Betty and Veronica take pop culture to new heights of hilarity in a pair of star-struck issues shipping this July.
The razzle-dazzle fun begins in BETTY & VERONICA SPECTACULAR #90. This celebrity-packed issue offers readers a chance to see more stars than there are in solar system! In “Star Struck,” it’s a boy band brouhaha, as Betty and Veronica get jobs as reporters for Ginger Lopez’s “Glitz Magazine” and have a controversial run-in with The Juneau Brothers! Then, in “Paparazzi Problem,” “rumor” has it that the girls grapple with the age old dilemma: to gossip or not to gossip! Finally, in “Sign Me Up” Mr. Lodge reveals a sensational secret from his past: he once dated a celebrity! All this, plus pop-culture extras like a Hollywood quiz, celebrity fashions, and more!
The pop culture comedy continues in BETTY #181, with a spoof of one of the most popular movies of recent years. In “The Diva Wore Yada,” a summer internship at “Harmon’s Bazzar” fashion magazine brings Betty face-to-face with a demanding diva of a boss. Imagine Betty’s surprise when the boss demands she model for the magazine’s spring fashion spectacular! Celebrity news columnist Hal Lifson brings his fashionable first-hand perspective to this “tongue-in-chic” tale!
Could this “pop culture comedy” become a trend? Developing.
Meanwhile, Marvel informs us of a more tragic tale:
The Hulk Faces Off Against His Son
There’s one thing we’ve said a million times and that’s if it’s good enough for Turgenev, Homer and Arthur Miller, it must be good enough for the Hulk.
What will happen when these two green giants, bound by blood, collide in this savage showdown? One thing’s for sure—Skaar is coming and there will be smashing & slashing!
Will smashing and slashing become as big a trend as pop culture comedy or shirtless Hugh Jackman? We’ll remain vigilant.
§ A 30 DAYS OF NIGHT sequel is in the works, but it will probably be direct to DVD. Cinematical has deets, Actually this is a pick up from a Splash Page interview with Niles that ran last week:
According to [creators Steve] Niles, a script has already been submitted, and he is hard at work on the project with Ben Ketai (director of the 30 Days webisodes). The sequel will be based on the comic book follow-up Dark Days, and the story centers on “the character of Stella Olemaun [who] heads to Los Angeles after surviving the vampire attack in Barrow, Alaska. She intentionally attracts the attention of the local vampire population in order to avenge the death of her husband, Eben, during the Barrow incident.”
§ Megan Fox has been spotted on the JONAH HEX set. So it’s set in ancient Roman times?
BTW, it’s been scientifically proven that running pictures of Megan Fox every day will boost web traffic exponentially, but we’re trying to resist.
§ BUT Salma Hayek…that, we can get totally behind. As her young child grows, she gets even more Luba-esque! Hayek recently tied the knot and we’ll try to dig up some wedding photos…pronto.
Very much Not Comics, but we were tooling around and found this blog called If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There’d Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats, which has a feature called “When Legends Gather,” and you will probably spend a lot of time looking at it. As you might guess, it’s photos of famous people together you never thought you would see together. The archeological data on fashions and fame alone will occupy hours. A sampling:
Famed silent film star Harold Lloyd and baseball star Babe Ruth. Gosh, people were funny-looking back in the day. (PS: If you’ve never seen a Harold Lloyd movie, you need to remedy that.)
Film stars Yul Brynner and Gene Kelly yuk it up.
And another silent film star, Charlie Chaplin, chowing down with playwright George Bernard Shaw. What do you think they are talking about? Brussels sprouts?
Much, much more in the link.
We have failed to properly mark the passing of Bea Arthur, but must now remedy that. As our pal Zena pointed out, there are now as many surviving Golden Girls as Beatles. As we probably noted when Estelle Getty passed away, our step-dad produced Golden Girls for a few years, so we know all about that and still have our Golden Girls cast jacket, even if it is too hot to ever wear it again.
Arthur, always a fierce, witty presence, made her great contribution to nerd culture playing the manager of the Cantina in the Star Wars Holiday Special. You can see her crooning, serving up drinks, dealing with Rodians AND Harvey Corman in the above clip. It’s pretty amazing.
As you watch it, you realize there was never a character in the whole Star Wars canon any tougher than Bea Arthur. RIP.
Via the First Second blog:
Derek Kirk Kim, Sarah Oleksyk, and Jesse Reklaw read from their latest works at Powell’s Books this coming Monday, April 27th. Kim will debut his latest graphic novel, “The Eternal Smile” (in collaboration with writer Gene Luen Yang) from First Second Books, Oleksyk will read from a brand new chapter in her “Ivy” series, and Reklaw will read from his recently released “The Night of Your Life” from Dark Horse Comics. A Q+A and signing will follow the reading.
Some random personnel moves that have crossed our paths of late.
• Former Comics Foundry Senior Editor Laura Hudson has been teasing a new blogging gig on her Twitter, but no announcement yet.
• Likewise, former Wizard staffer Kiel Phegley has an unnamed new gig, as well, and will cease writing for Marvel.com.
• Editor Nicole Boose has left Marvel to become a full-time mom.
• DC’s Senior Coordinating Editor, Jann Jones, has left the company.
• VAMPIRELLA publisher Jonathan Rheingold has stepped down as Publisher at Harris Publications.
• Gene Luen Yang, who was nominated for a National Book Award for American Born Chinese, will serve as a judge for the 2009 National Book Awards.
• And it’s not really a coming or going, but best wishes to Jim Lee and Carla Michelle, who became engaged this weekend!
¶ An article in the email newsletter Publishers Lunch rounds up signs of book industry contraction via a lowered number of exhibitors and attendees at this year’s BookExpo America. According to the piece, organizers expect roughly 20 percent fewer exhibitors and about 15 percent fewer attendees. Among those not exhibiting, according to the piece, Tokyopop and “(a) victim of the success of Reed’s comic-cons, DC Comics is staying away, too.”
Limited to a meeting room is MacMillan — the publisher is the home of comics imprints FIrst Second and Hill & Wang and distributes Drawn & Quarterly and Papercutz — although their distribution client Bloomsbury/Walker will hold their spot on the floor. It’s unknown if the graphic novel imprints will be there. (DC could be part of the booth for their distributor, Random House, but RH has cut their space quite a bit, too.) Comic-cons are having an increasing influence on the book business, at least according to Lance Fensterman, who runs BEA, New York Anime Fest, NYCC and the upcoming C2E2:
Inspired in part by the dynamic atmosphere on the floor at the fast-growing comic cons he runs for Reed, Fensterman has been trying to “get exhibitors to think about their presence differently.” Some of the booth space not taken by exhibitors is being given over to high-profile Author Stages, one of which will host Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, and show management has encouraged publishers to create their own more dynamic in-booth events.
Developing. It is certainly a sign of the times that consumer shows like comics conventions have continued to capture the fancy of the public, while trade-only events like BEA and other book shows are languishing. The turnout of authors at BEA is always formidable, but the writers get far less media exposure at the show.
We wouldn’t take this piece as official confirmation that any of the named companies aren’t going to be at BEA, btw, so consider this developing.
¶ On his blog Kazu Kibuishi has some news and sales figures:
According to my latest royalty statement, Amulet 1 has sold 180,000 copies in its first year. While I know we can do better, and I have high hopes for what Amulet 2 will bring to the series, we seem to be off to a great start.
The Copper book and Flight 6 are pretty much wrapped up, which means Amulet 3 is now officially underway. The initial draft of the synopsis is done and I will be moving onto the thumbnails in the next few days. The story is shaping up to be really good, so I’m excited to get cranking on this book!
¶ We haven’t really mentioned the demise of the movie studio Fox Atomic here. The film press covered the shutdown of the boutique widely but didn’t ask about the studio’s comics division — a pact with BOOM! to produce 28 DAYS LATER comics was recently announced — and as readers may recall, over the last few years, we were hired by FA to freelance edit a number of graphic novels for them. As far as we know, the fate of the BOOM! deal has not been decided yet. However, the end of Fox Atomic gets a wider look in this piece in Variety, which points out that aside from Screen Gems at Sony, small, genre studios have been ditched by studios:
One by one, the six majors have divested themselves of the profitable but low-reward divisions that crank out horror, teen and urban fare. Before Atomic’s implosion, Universal Pictures was the most recent studio to get out of the dedicated genre game, selling its Rogue Pictures to Relativity Media in October for $150 million.
One longtime player in the genre world explains that the death of the studio’s genre divisions mirrors what’s happening in general in Hollywood. The conglomerate-owned majors are increasingly focusing their efforts on tentpoles and sequels.
“Fox would rather make ‘Wolverine’ than a Fox Atomic film,” the executive says. “They don’t need a $50 million earner. It’s not worth their time.”
See, it all ends up being connected.
Just for the record, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, working with FA’s R. Eric Lieb was always a joy, and we put out some books with a quality level we were very proud of so… no regrets anywhere.
Worth a click: A number of artists have contributed drawings of the X-Men character Kitty Pryde as part of a benefit for the Oregon Hemophilia Treatment Center at OHSU. The results can be seen online here, but can in viewed in person at an exhibit on Thursday May 7:
WHO: Over 70 artists including: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Farel Dalrymple, Nathan Fox, Vasilis Lolos, Jeffrey Brown, Tom Neely, Brandon Graham, Corey Lewis, Zack Soto and more!
WHAT: Kitty Pryde tribute show, fundraiser for Oregon Hemophilia Treatment Center
WHEN: Thursday, May 7th, 6-10pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 20 NW 5th Ave #101
Let’s start out with two excellent essays.
§ Dan Nadel looks at Brush with Passion: The Art and Life of Dave Stevens and uses it as a springboard to examine the frustrations shared by several generations of artists:
So let’s back up for a moment. There was this thing that happened in the 1960s: Incredibly skilled, visually ambitious artists like Wood, Manning Toth, et al — men who were raised on pulp imagery and the classic American illustrators like Wyeth and Pyle — decided they wanted to do something “sophisticated”. They realized that despite the still-somewhat plentiful outlets (fewer than in the ‘20s and ‘30s, but still a few) for their work, they were never going to be free of the “juvenile” implications of their subject matter. These were guys who wanted to draw comics, but, given the circumstances (generational, financial, etc.) had nowhere else to go. They were, in essence, the last true work-a-day fantasy artists of the 20th century — still basically working for the pulps, at a high level for low pay.
§ And at The Walrus, Sean Rogers examines Seth, the cartoonist and the designer:
Make no mistake: this is Seth’s Peanuts more than Schulz’s. One of the drawbacks of Seth’s omnivorous approach to cartooning is that his admiration for his peers often compels him to incorporate their innovations into his own practice. Not so with his work as a designer, which remains sui generis: his take on Peanuts is the one through which most future readers will understand the strip, and with which future critics will have to wrestle. It is, in other words, authoritative. And that he presents us with a version of Peanuts that looks so brazenly unfamiliar should come as no surprise when we consider how ready he is, elsewhere, to discard, tweak, or wholly invent broad swaths of cartooning history.
§Seduction of the Indifferent rounds up Woolly Mammoth Covers and to the surprise of, perhaps, few, most of them involve woolly mammoths trampling ordnance of some kind.
§ News brief: According to numerous Twitter and blog posts, the Calgary Expo was very well attended on Saturday; guests were awoken that night by a fire alarm, and Sunday, it snowed.
§ Richard Krauss went to Stumpton 09, took lots of pictures of ‘tooners, and posted it all with tons of news and information.
§ For you old-timers out there: WEHT to Chris Ulm, an architect of the pre-Image comics scene.
§ At the Daily Cross Hatch, comic Timmy Williams on nerdlebrity comics:
I think there should be a publisher called Celebrity Comics and every famous person that comes up with some horse-shit comic series has to print it under there, so we can all be warded off by the logo, which should look like a big cancel sign or will maybe just be a big capital “NO!.” Maybe I’ll take a week some time and read this, Rosario Dawson’s comic, the one Nic Cage wrote with his son, and the one that guy from Heroes made, then shoot myself in the face.
§ Spurge posts a pretty sound The Top Ten All Time Best Comics Series.
The Swedish SPX just wrapped up, and Top Shelf attended with guest Jeffrey Brown, who got interviewed on a popular Swedish morning show called Nyhetsmorgon. You will learn much from this clip, including what Swedish morning TV hosts wear, and that you can show cartoons of people having sex on Swedish morning TV.
Author and comics scribe Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN) makes an appearance in Chestertown, MD, tonight at 7:30 at Washington College’s Cain Auditorium as part of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Gaiman will be talking about his literary inspiration with Washington College’s Joshua Wolf Shenk. Admission is free and open to the public. No reservations are required, and seating is on a first come, first served basis. PEN has more info.
Well, here’s a comics double play — the new DC referencing song from Art Brut in a homemade vid that shows Jeff Lemire’s cover for the new album. Enjoy.
The annual event, focused on children’s graphic book material and organized by Alex Simmons, comes to the Bronx tomorrow:
The KIDS COMIC CON 2009 is set for April 25th at Bronx Community College (181st Street & University Avenue, Bronx, NY 10453). And yep, even though the economy is struggling like Superman surrounded by Kryptonite, the KIDS COMIC CON 2009 is still FREE for children 17 and under (and hey, Mom and Dad, its just $5 for you — making the KIDS COMIC CON one of the best entertainment values around).
The guest/exhibitor roster, which includes Archie Comics, Ponent Mon, Fillmore creator Scott Gimple and many more, can be found here. Take the whole family!
Since we’re not posting much today, you should spend all your time reading Todd Klein’s blog. It’s like sitting around rapping with the Socrates of comics logo design — and there’ no hemlock at the end. Klein has a three-part examination of the logos of AMALGAM COMICS which looks at how back in the late ’90s, Marvel and Dc came together to mix up their characters…and their logos.
Since all the titles and characters were essentially “new,” all 24 books needed new logos. This called for a lot of design work, especially considering they’d most likely be used only once each, but then the same could be said for the art in each title. The two companies approached the logo design issue a little differently, but both ended up with mostly the same solution: work with the guy who’d designed many of the logos being referenced to create the mash-ups…namely, me! In the beginning, though, several of the Marvel logos were designed by JG Roshell of Comicraft, and at DC the logos were overseen and sometimes designed or assembled by Curtis King on staff.
For an even greater contribution to humanity’s legacy, Klein looks at just why Comics Sans causes strong men to weep and women to turn gray overnight. He even does a side-by-side comparison (above) of the fonts by Dave GIbbons and John Costanza that supposedly “influenced” Comics Sans, and why the result is inferior:
Keep in mind that the first two columns are many times removed from the actual original hand-lettering, and are further reduced in quality by my scanning it at a low enough resolution to use here. That said, I see much more style and consistency in both Dave and John’s letterforms than in Comic Sans, the result of many years of practice. Add in the fact that Connare created his letters by drawing them with a mouse on a computer screen, a notoriously difficult way to draw anything, and you can understand why they look the way they do. You can sit anyone down in front of a printed alphabet and ask them to copy it, but the result isn’t likely to look nearly as good as the original. Make them draw with clumsy tools, and the result will be even worse.
Must reading as always.
As always, WATCHMEN and NARUTO top this week’s Graphic Books Best Seller List. Tatsumi’s epic A DRIFTING LIFE debuts at #3 on the paperback list, reflecting the surge from the huge article in the New York Times last week.
The list has definitely calmed down now, and resembles way more closely what you would see on BookScan or Amazon. The makers are obviously refining their methodology as they go along…it’s kind of sad to not see all the oddball items on there, but hardly unexpected.