Comics Lowdown | IDW ‘has parted ways’ with Publisher Jud Meyers

Plus: How the pandemic has impacted Scholastic and VIZ Media, the ‘Thundarr the Barbarian’ comic that almost was and more!

IDW Publishing has “parted ways” with Jud Meyers, who they had named as their new publisher on July 22.

“IDW Publishing has parted ways with Jud Meyers and would like to thank everyone for their discretion,” the company said in a short statement. Meyers was named publisher after longtime publisher Chris Ryall departed the company, but was then placed on administrative leave a few days after the announcement.

Publishing: Publisher’s Weekly looks at Scholastic’s fourth-quarter and full year results for fiscal year 2020, which ended May 31 for the company. Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, they were down significantly compared to last year. Revenue was down $187 million, or almost 40%, leading to a 10% drop in their full-year revenue for FY20.

The fourth quarter is an important one for the company, and these declines resulted in an operating loss of $88.5 million for the full year, compared to earnings of $25 million a year ago. Scholastic makes a lot of money selling books directly to kids through school book fairs and book clubs, and with schools shut down, these events were cancelled. Looking toward FY21, their CEO, Richard Robinson, called out several potential bright spots — including the release of Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man: Grime and Punishment and a new spinoff series called Cat Kid Comic Club. You can find the full press release on their earnings results here.

Publishing: VIZ Media Vice President of Publishing Sales Kevin Hamric spoke to ICv2 about their business and how it’s been doing during the pandemic. (Spoiler alert: It’s been doing very well).

VIZ has been doing extraordinarily well during the pandemic period. Our sales are beyond expectations. We started off the year strong, and then the pandemic hit, and we took a look at our business. We even had talks about, should we revise our revenue budget and our goals? And should we revise our publication schedule?

We did neither. We released everything on schedule. We have not touched our revenue budget, and we’re beating that and then some.

Comic strips: Some newspapers pulled the July 28 Six Chix comic strip, while one newspaper later issued an apology for running it. NBC News speaks with artist Bianca Xunise, one of the six women who create the syndicated strip — and the creator of the comic that was pulled — about the reaction to it.

Tea Fougner, editorial director at King Features, who syndicate the strip, backed up the cartoonist and explained the strip.

“Bianca created the July 28, 2020, ‘Six Chix’ cartoon to be a joke commenting on how Black issues are often disregarded as a personal problem and not a systemic issue,” Fougner said. “She is shedding light on two pandemics right now: one on race and another on COVID-19, and both are not being taken seriously while they are destroying lives.”

“I am being silenced over white feelings from a gag comic,” Xunise told NBC News. “This is a complete step back in the wrong direction.”

History: Why was there never a Thundarr the Barbarian comic book? Mark Evanier looks back at the history of the popular cartoon and the failed attempts to release a comic book adaptation and a comic strip.

Interviews: The Willamette Week talks to Sloane Leong about her latest graphic novel, A Map to the Sun, and how Hawaii inspired the colors she used:

A lot of my inspiration for color comes from Hawaii. The colors you see there are just phantasmagoric. You have sunsets with a million colors. You have these orchids that contain entire color palettes in one petal alone. Then from my mom’s side, I had exposure to traditional Mexican art, which is also extremely vivid [and] clashy. I wanted to fuse that into Maps. I drew the comic on paper with ink—using brush and nib pens—then I colored it digitally. And I found that color changed the scene and made some interesting, surprising twists in the atmosphere.

Interviews: Adrian Tomine talks to iNews about his latest graphic novel, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist.

Commentary: Writing for The Comics Journal, Tom Kaczynski goes in real deep on DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event series in a well-documented piece.

What is remarkable about COIE is not formal or narrative innovation, but an intensification and scope of the endeavor of super-hero comic books. It is more appropriate to speak of COIE as an endeavor rather than as a specific comic book, though it is that as well. It is more important and influential AS an endeavor than as a comic book narrative.

Events: Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, like everyone else, will hold a virtual event this year due to the pandemic, and all their events will be free to attend. They’ve announced that Dragon Hoops creator and CBLDF board member Gene Yang will be their keynote speaker, and they also revealed the poster for this year’s event, by Ben Towle

The creator of Oyster War broke down his references and process for creating the poster on his own blog.

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