Comics Lowdown: Alex Ross’ ‘DayGlo’ Fantastic Four pitch

Plus: Bill Jemas, Liza Donnelly and an IKEA comic!

Artist Alex Ross pitched Marvel on taking over the Fantastic Four last year, and you can find his pitch inside Marvelocity, a coffee-table book that highlights the artist’s Marvel work. The 13th Dimension reviews the book and shares several pages from the 2017 pitch. “It just goes to show you that even the biggest talents in comics don’t always get what they want – and what Ross wanted was an eye-popping comic that echoed the DayGlo ’60s while offering something fresh,” reviewer Dan Greenfield writes.

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Comics Lowdown: Chuck Wendig says Marvel fired him because of negative tweets

After posting a controversial interview, Bleeding Cool gets a new editor in chief! Plus Steve Ellis, Alex Ross, MAD Magazine and more!

Comics writer and novelist Chuck Wendig says he has been fired from Marvel “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring. Seriously, that’s what Mark [Paniccia], the editor said. It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.” Wendig had just been announced as the writer of Shadow of Vader, with artist Greg Smallwood, and said he had another as-yet-unannounced Star Wars comic in the works.

In addition to various Star Wars comics, Wendig also wrote Star Wars: Aftermath, a novel that included LGBT characters and was one of the first books published after Lucasfilm ended the “expanded universe” Star Wars books. After it was published, Wendig said he received “TONS” of harassment online — “harassment that has gone on for years, harassment that has required me to contact local police and warn them of SWATting attempts, harassment across all corners of the Internet, here, FB, Reddit, YouTube. Some of it was bot stuff, obviously, or sock puppets, but some of it was pretty creepy, and very personal.”

This story has been reported on widely, with stories from Deadline, io9, the Verge, Vulture and more. Update: Wendig has a post answering many of the questions he’s received since he went public with this news.

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Comics Lowdown: Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra passes away

Mark Waid sued, and gets a new job! Vertigo prepares for NYCC! Plus Ryan Ferrier, Jason Lutes, John McCrea and more!

Passings: Carlos Ezquerra, 2000 AD artist and co-creator of Judge Dredd, has passed away, the Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter both reported this week. The 70-year-old artist was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, and the disease returned this year.

“It is difficult to put this into words, but we have lost someone who was the heart and soul of 2000AD. It is no exaggeration to call Carlos Ezquerra one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, and his name deserves to be uttered alongside Kirby, Ditko, Miller, Moebius and Eisner,” reads a statement issued by 2000AD. “Yet this doesn’t really do justice to someone whose work was loved by millions and has had an influence far beyond the comic book page. From Judge Dredd to Strontium Dog, from Rat Pack to Major Eazy, Carlos has left us with a legacy of stunning and distinctive work that was and always will be 2000 AD. He has been one of the pillars, producing the same dynamic, enthralling and arresting art we always loved him for. We thought we had many more adventures to come from the master, so we are devastated to discover we were wrong.”

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Comics Lowdown: Olivia Jaimes to appear at CXC

Plus: Kazu Kibuishi, Katie Green, Zunar and more!

Olivia Jaimes, the pseudonymous artist who has revitalized the comic strip Nancy, will be a guest at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus comics festival in Columbus, Ohio, next weekend. There has been considerable speculation about Jaimes’s real identity, and CXC will be asking the 40 or so lucky attendees at her panel to check their phones at the door to protect her privacy.

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Comics Lowdown: Russ Heath, Yim Yee-King pass away

Plus: Jerusalem cartoonist fired over drawing of Prime Minister Benjamin Nettanyahu, comics at Walmart, Thi Bui and more!

Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.

In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.

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Comics Lowdown: Cartoonists entitled to freedom of expression in India

Parents fight to remove Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ from school curriculum, Hope Larson’s ‘All Summer Long’ and more!

Legal: The high court in Madras, India, has ruled that political cartoonists are entitled to freedom of expression, stating that since it is their job to sway public opinion, often by making fun of public figures, they should not be vulnerable to lawsuits:

Upholding cartoonists’ unbridled freedom of expression, Justice Swaminathan stated that the “art of the cartoonist is often not reasoned or even-handed, but slashing and one-sided.”

He went on to quote extensively from US Supreme Court Justice William Rhenquist’s celebrated judgement in Hustler Magazine Inc v Falwell (1988): “The political cartoon is a weapon of attack, of scorn, ridicule and satire; it is least effective when it tries to pat some politician on the back. It is usually welcome as a bee sting, and it is always controversial in some quarters.”

The judge and several other commentators made numerous references to American cartoons, including the New Yorker cover depicting Donald Trump naked.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘XIII’ creator William Vance passes away

Plus: Police investigate Mangamura, the world’s largest comics collection and more.

Passings: The Belgian artist William Vance, creator of the French-language series XIII, has died at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. Born William van Cutsem in Belgium in 1935, Vance served a year in the military and then studied for four years at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He began working for Tintin magazine (not the eponymous series, as stated in one obituary) in 1962, drawing four-page stories, and then launched the his first series, Howard Flynn (written by Yves Duval). He also was the artist for Bruno Brazil, and then he took over as the artist of Bob Morane, a series that had been started by Dino Attanasio. In 1984, he and Jean van Hamme launched XIII, a complex series partially inspired by Robert Ludlum’s Bourne character. Vance illustrated 18 volumes of XIII, which sold over 14 million volumes and was adapted into a television series. In 2010 he announced his retirement due to Parkinson’s disease.

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Comics Lowdown: Looking at the big picture

Comics retailers discuss the comics market, Lion Forge profiled and more.

The Biz, Part I: It’s generally agreed that 2017 was a lackluster year (at best) for comics retailers. Publisher’s Weekly’s Shannon O’Leary went to the source, asking retailers in the direct market and bookstores with a large graphic novel section to discuss what’s going wrong—and right—in the comics market. There’s lots to chew on here, with commentary about Marvel, Image, and the structural issues in the direct market.

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Comics Lowdown: The Diversity issue

Black comics festivals, indy publishers, and the history of women in comics.

Festivals: West Coast: It’s Martin Luther King Day, and this past weekend brought festivals celebrating black comics to both sides of the country. In San Francisco, Nanette Asimov writes about the Black Comix Arts Festival, which runs through today, and interviews creators Tony Medina and John Jennings as well as an attendee.

Festivals: East Coast: At the New York Times, George Gene Gustines turns his focus to the Black Comics Festival, which took place this past weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and he interviews David Heredia, the creator of the animated video series Heroes of Color and a guest at the festival.

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