Sunday Comics | Guard Dog from ‘Mutts’ is finally free

Check out recent webcomics by Grover, Chris Eliopoulos, Joshua Barkman and more.

Here’s a round up of some of the best and most interesting comics we’ve seen online recently. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below.

Followers of the comic strip Mutts by Patrick McDonnell will recognize Guard Dog, one of the strips most enduring and popular characters. Introduced about a year after the strip debuted, Guard Dog has been tethered to a stake in his owner’s yard ever since, a symbol of the cruelty of dog chaining.

After being abandoned by his owner and left to fate, Guard Dog is finally free and has a new home — not to mention his own web page.

“I started in my sketchbooks drawing a tough dog,” McDonnell told AP News about the dog’s origins. “I drew a big gruff dog and I put a studded collar on him. And then I drew a chain. And when I did that, it changed everything. I realized that it wasn’t a villain. It was a tragic character.”

McDonnell said fans of the strip have asked for the dog to be freed in the past, while animal welfare groups would ask him to keep the dog tethered as a way to bring attention to the dangers of animal neglect.

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Comic strip news: Flash Gordon returns, Spider-Man canceled

Dan Schkade takes over Flash Gordon, bringing us new strips for the first time in 20 years.

This Sunday the Flash Gordon comic strip returned with new strips for the first time since 2003, both online and in print.

King Features has enlisted Dan Schkade, creator of Lavender Jack, to write and draw the strip. For the last 20 years King Features has offered reruns of the strip, as drawn by Jim Keefe (which can still be found online).

“The initial version of Flash I pitched was a little more purposefully a himbo,” Schkade told the Washington Post. Schkade won a competitive tryout earlier this year to take over the strip, and he agreed to make Flash less of a himbo and “a more classic, straightforward hero.”

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Jeff Smith will collect his college paper comic strip ‘Thorn’

A Kickstarter campaign for the strips that serve as the precursor to ‘Bone’ will launch in October.

Prior to the release of Bone as a comic book — and it eventually becoming a worldwide phenomenon — Jeff Smith had a college comic strip called Thorn. It introduced several of the characters who would eventually evolve into the ones we know and love in the Bone series, including Thorn and Phone Bone. In fact, Smith would reference many of those early strips directly in the early issues of Bone.

Thorn has never been collected in its entirety, but that will change when Cartoon Books launches a Kickstarter later this year for Thorn: The Complete College Strips.

“Talking Jeff into this book wasn’t easy, but fans have been asking us for years,” said Cartoon Books Publisher Vijaya Iyer, Smith’s partner.

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Quick Hits | ‘Dilbert’ fallout

Also: news on Dina Norlund, Cartoonist Cooperative, the Minicomic Awards and more.

With the comic strip Dilbert being dropped by both newspapers and its distributor after its creator’s racist remarks on YouTube, many newspapers have a gap to fill on their comics page. The Washington Post will fill their Dilbert-sized hole with Heart of the City by Steenz, and Women Write About Comics caught up with the cartoonist at the Emerald City Comic Con to talk about the change.

“I think it’s a big deal because of two reasons,” Steenz told WWAC. “Reason number one is that I’m Black, and he hates Black people. [laughs] No, but it’s a nice way to just stick it to him, you know? But it’s also a big deal because we still rarely see a new influx of creators and syndicated comic strips, and I would like to see more of that. Obviously, legacy comics are there for a reason. Everyone’s going to want to keep reading Zits, everyone’s going to keep reading, you know, Jump Start, because those creators are still around and they want to keep making those comics. But I also want to see some new things. You should be able to get a newspaper and find someone new and not just have the old standards.”

In related news, the Associated Press spoke with several cartoonists about Scott Adams and his remarks, including Candorville creator Darin Bell, who is running a response to Adams in his comic strip this week.

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Andrews McMeel severs ties with Scott Adams, drops ‘Dilbert’

“… we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate.”

Following a racist rant by Scott Adams on YouTube last week, comic strip publisher/syndicator Andrews McMeel Universal has said they will sever their relationship with the Dilbert creator. “The process of this termination will extend to all areas of our business with Adams and the Dilbert comic strip,” they said.

The statement, which was signed by both Chairman Hugh Andrews and CEO and President Andy Sareyan, said that while the company values free speech, “we will never support any commentary rooted in discrimination or hate.”

Here’s their statement in full:

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John Byrne helps Tom Batiuk wrap up the final week of ‘Funky Winkerbean’

The 50-year-old strip ends its run with a look into the future.

Tom Batiuk ended 50 years of Funky Winkerbean today with a strip guest-drawn by former Superman and Fantastic Four writer/artist John Byrne.

Byrne, who not only has drawn the strip before but has also appeared as a character in it, actually drew the past five strips, as Batiuk wrapped up his story with another of his patented time jumps. This time he jumped to a future where a robot bookstore keeper sold two books to the granddaughter of “Nanna Summer” — Westview, by Summer Moore, and Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe, written by Les Moore.

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Sunday Comics | Comic strips pay tribute to Charles Schulz’s 100th birthday

Family Circus, Macanuda, Broom Hilda and many more featured the Peanuts in their strips on Nov. 26.

Yesterday Charles Schulz, the legendary creator of Peanuts who passed away in 2000, would have turned 100 years old. And to celebrate this milestone, cartoonists and artists paid tribute to Schulz and his most famous creations in the panels of their own comic strips and on social media.

“Schulz is the only cartoonist ever to receive this honor—a fitting tribute for a man who devoted his entire life to cartooning,” The Schulz Museum posted.

Here’s a look at a few of them:

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Alex Segura + Nickolej Villiger launch ‘Mara Llave – Keeper of Time’

The pulpy sci-fi comic strip is available on Comics Kingdom.

Secret Identity and The Black Ghost writer Alex Segura has teamed up with artist Nickolej Villiger for a new comic strip on Comics Kingdom called Mara Llave – Keeper of Time.

Described as a “sci-fi/time travel romp,” the new strip has only had three installments thus far, but already has introduced a world overseen by a group called the Time Keepers.

“In the wake of what many call ‘The Great Schism,’ (though the remaining Keepers themselves refer to it as ‘The Giant Eff-Up’) the Keepers are all but gone, leaving the time stream vulnerable to an assault that could destroy the universe as we know it,” the description reads. “But one keeper survives – an aging human man named Kent Gordin, stranded in the 21st century. As the life he’s known falls apart, Gordin holds on to one sliver of hope – a child, an alien from a distant world, shunted to Earth to escape a militaristic, fascist regime that threatened to destroy her family.”

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Quick Hits | 2021 comic sales topped $2 billion

Last year was the best year ever for comic sales, according to a new report. Plus: News on Oni/Lion Forge, Substack, Zestworld, Henry Barajas, Kieron Gillen and more.

Comics sales | Milton Griepp of ICV2.com and John Jackson Miller of Comichron.com have released their annual assessment of the comics and graphic novel market for last year, noting that sales grew 62% in 2021 over the prior year in the U.S. and Canada to approximately $2.075 billion. They were also up 70% when compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“Publishers made more selling comics content than in any year in the history of the business, even when adjusted for inflation,” Miller said of the 2021 estimates. “The biggest year in the modern era, 1993, saw sales of around $1.6 billion in 2021 dollars — and the pricier product mix puts 2021 ahead of what the colossal circulations of the early 1950s brought in, also adjusted for inflation.”

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Nominees announced for the 2021 Reuben, NCS awards

Winners will be revealed in September.

The National Cartoonist Society has announced the nominees for the 2021 Cartoonist of the Year, commonly known as The Reuben Award, as well as the many divisional awards they give out each year.

Keith Knight, Edward Sorel, Bill Griffith, Hilary B. Price and Mark Tatulli are all up for the Reuben the year, with several of them being nominated in years past. Last year Curtis creator Ray Billingsley won the award.

The divisional awards cover everything from comics and graphic novels to comic strips, editorial cartoons and even greeting cards. They also nominate the cartoonist or artist, vs. the work or the entire creative team. I’ve included the nominations that are relevant to the world of comics below, but you can see the full list on the NCS website.

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75th annual NCS Reuben Awards nominees announced

Winners will be revealed in October.

The National Cartoonist Society has trickled out the nominees for this year’s Reuben Award and the accompanying NCS Divisional Awards over the last few months, as they prepare for the big awards ceremony in October.

The divisional awards include categories that cover comic books, webcomics, political cartoons and more. I’ve included the nominations that are relevant to the world of comics, but you can find the complete nominations lists here and here.

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Comics Lowdown | A Charlie Hebdo survivor speaks

Plus: Lost Charles Schulz comics emerge, new graphic novel from Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford, and more!

The New York Times profiles cartoonist Corinne Rey, who was working in the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that two masked gunmen massacred the staff; Rey, who uses the pseudonym Coco, was just leaving the offices of Charlie Hebdo when two masked gunmen arrived and forced her to unlock the door. Her new graphic novel, To Draw Again, recently published in France, depicts that moment and its aftermath. Rey is now the resident cartoonist at the newspaper Libération, the first woman to hold that post.

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