Spider-Man, Doctor Strange co-creator Steve Ditko, 90, passes away

The pioneer of psychedelic surreal comic book art impacted culture like no other

by Stephanie Chan and James Vicari

Legendary comic book artist Stephen J. Ditko,  has passed away at his home at the age of 90. In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, the New York Police Department said that Ditko’s body was found on June 29th. The cause of death has not been released, but it is believed that he passed away two days prior to being discovered.

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The 2018 Joe Shuster Award Nominations

Awards celebrate excellence in the Canadian comic creators and publications.

The nominations for the 2018 Joe Shuster Awards have been announced this week.  Commonly nickednamed “The Shusters”, they are Canada’s national comic book awards that honours and raises the awareness of Canadians that create, self-publish and sell comic books, digital comics and graphic novels.

The award winners will be chosen by a jury vote to ensure every nominee is given adequate consideration.

The ceremony will take place at the Montreal Comic Con July 6-8, 2018 at the Palais des congrès, Montreal, QC.

And the nominees are:

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Celebrating local comic creators is the best thing to do today

From Eisner winning heavyweight Fiona Staples to industry newbie H.C. Gislason, Panel One’s Comic Creator Festival spotlights local talent.

In the age of Hollywood-driven mega-cons, the Panel One Comic Creator Festival promises to bring the spotlight of comic conventions back to (gasp!) comics! Now in its third year, the Festival, which is held in Calgary, seems small and humble, but truly packs a punch for local creators, that feel lost and forgotten at the big shows. In its short life, the Panel One Comic Creator Festival has been renowned as “THE” place for creators to sell comics, some noting they have larger sales at this tiny festival as opposed to the 100,000 people attended monolith cons. This isn’t Artist Alley, so you won’t find fanart here, but this is the perfect market for the curious and the diehard comic fan to discover and buy new comic books.

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Living with the King: Telling the Jack Kirby story

Jason Mehmel shares what he learned about Jack Kirby during his time directing the play “King Kirby” in Calgary in 2016.

All this week we’re celebrating the life and influence of comics legend Jack Kirby, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 28. Today we present a guest editorial from Jason Mehmel, a professional director and producer of theatre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who had a unique opportunity related to Jack Kirby.

by Jason Mehmel

I’ve known about Jack Kirby for years… his style is as unique as a fingerprint. Crazy designs, often using circles. Crackling energy balls of negative space (later called ‘Kirby Krackles’). It represented the platonic ideal of superheroes, particularly the Marvel characters he created, and the subsequent artists, composing with better anatomy, perspective or even composition, are still ultimately riffing on the energy behind Kirby’s pencil, and the choices it led him to.

Robert Klein as Jack Kirby (Jeff McDonald/Sage Theater)

Two years ago, I came across a theatre script about the life of Kirby and found myself running a theatre company. I decided to jump at it and produce King Kirby: A Play by Crystal Skillman & Fred Van Lente, which walked through the pivotal moments in Kirby’s life:

How he came from poverty, his early love of science fiction and big ideas, and of telling them visually. How he got into comics from that love, and the birth of Captain America, just before his own wartime experience. How Marvel Comics as we know it exploded from his pen, and those of his fellow pencillers, though it would be hard to compete with the sheer volume of characters and stories Kirby developed in those years.

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Comics Lowdown: Jack Kirby special edition

A roundup of some of the Jack Kirby 100th birthday news this week!

Not only is it “Kirby Week” here on Smash Pages, but the entire comic industry has come together to honor and remember one of the industry’s greatest and most influential creators, Jack Kirby, for what would have been his 100th birthday. Here’s a round-up of links related to “The King.”

The first place to check is Marvel.com, which has an entire section dedicated to Jack Kirby. The colorful articles have been posted throughout the month of August, with reading lists, character features and articles by Jim Zub, Carlos Pacheco, Mark Waid and Mike Allred. Plus there are several videos about the life of Jack Kirby.

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Comics Lowdown: Businessman wins against Marvel, DC Comics to use  the word ‘superhero’

Plus: assistant principal fired for Pepe the Frog book, new Madefire/DC Comics digital deal, and the hunt for H. G. Peter photos

When Graham Jules (pictured above) wrote his book, Business Zero to Superhero, he had no idea he would end up in a battle against the two largest comic publishers in the world. When his book was about to be published in 2014, he received a letter from Marvel and DC Comics claiming the word infringed on their jointly owned trademark since 1979. Jules, who also studies law, decided to represent himself in the case. A two-and-a-half year legal case ensued and this week, the two comic giants decided to drop the case for “commercial reasons.” The entrepreneur estimates that he spent a total of £200 and 200 hours in writing letters.

“This is an amazing result. It shows that even the little guy can achieve something with determination.”

It will not be surprising if his next book is about being a superhero of trademark cases.

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Comics Lowdown: Wakanda fashion show, marketplace celebrates artisans and Black Panther

Plus: Roxane Gay thoughts on diversity, Jeff Smith, Cully Hamner, public-domain comics and more!

Excited for the increasing spotlight on Black Panther with the feature film coming out in 2018, retailer Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C. hosted a unique event known as Move or You Will Be Moved: A Black Panther Fashion Show over the weekend. The haute couture show included cosplay and Wakandan street fashion, and a marketplace of local black creators selling their jewelry, clothing and other Afrofuturist fashion accessories. Plus of course, Black Panther comics and paraphernalia.

“Where’s all the Black Panther merchandise? We’re less than a year out, and we don’t have any Happy Meal toys or anything we can just get on hand,” Sellars asked, introducing the concept to the crowd. “So with that came this idea of what about an Afro-futuristic showcase of what it means to be great? Of what it means to be in Wakanda.”

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‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ sequel is coming… to a comic shop near you

Tokyopop will release the sequel as single issue comics, full-colour tpbs and black & white “manga”

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s Journey’ (Tokyopop)

In a surprising announcement, Tokyopop has secured a deal with Disney to publish a sequel to the 1993 Tim Burton stop-motion animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas in sequential art form. The beloved film has never had any official continuation until now.

Announced as a Hollywood Reporter exclusive,  The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s Journey will be written by D.J. Milky aka Stu Levy (Princess Ai) with art from Studio DICE (Beauty and the Beast). The story will follow Jack Skellington’s loyal dog, Zero, as he gets lost in Christmas Town.

Slated for spring 2018, the comics will be available for the 25th anniversary year of The Nightmare Before Christmas. The series will be released first as standard, serialized comic issues, then will be republished as a full colour tpb as well as black and white manga “pocket book” format graphic novels.

Comics Lowdown: Analyzing gender representation of 34,476 comic characters

Plus: Calexit sells out, climate change comics, Adam West as the Dark Knight, Becky Cloonan, Gerald Way, Jay Baruchel’s thoughts on Canadian superheroes and more!

A fascinating study takes a look at the gender representation of 34,476 comic book characters. Journalist Amanda Shendruk asks, “Female characters appear in superhero comics less often than males — but when they are included, how are they depicted?”

Wonder Woman gif by Nicole Dirksen

She examined 34,476 different characters. The study results were published with a plentiful helping of graphs, graphs, and more graphs looking at everything from the types of powers a character has, to the gender make-up of their superhero team, to the naming scheme and frequency of character’s aliases. Some of the findings include:

  • The data suggest that less-physical powers — such as empathy, intellect, and telepathy — tend to be more represented among female characters. Men however, often have highly physical powers, as well as those that involve gadgets.
  • 30% of all teams have no women, and only 12% have more female team members than male. The majority of those 12%, however, are exclusively female teams.
  • A full 30% of male characters with gendered names get ‘man’ in their name. That number is only 6% for ‘woman’. However, ‘girl’ is the third-most common gendered name for a female character (13%). ‘Boy’ only shows up sixth for males (5%).

The study was then topped with very cute pixel art by Vancouver’s Nicole Derksen.

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