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.

Continue reading “John Byrne helps Tom Batiuk wrap up the final week of ‘Funky Winkerbean’”

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:

Continue reading “Sunday Comics | Comic strips pay tribute to Charles Schulz’s 100th birthday”

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.”

Continue reading “Alex Segura + Nickolej Villiger launch ‘Mara Llave – Keeper of Time’”

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.”

Continue reading “Quick Hits | 2021 comic sales topped $2 billion”

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.

Continue reading “Nominees announced for the 2021 Reuben, NCS awards”

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.

Continue reading “75th annual NCS Reuben Awards nominees announced”

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.

Continue reading “Comics Lowdown | A Charlie Hebdo survivor speaks”

Comics Lowdown | Tarzan swings to the web

Plus: Graphic novel sales soar, a look at comics NFTs and more!

Bullish on Manga: Graphic novel sales were up by 4 million units in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the first quarter of 2020, according to news released by NPD BookScan and reported by ICv2. Sales of all print books, including graphic novels, increased by 29% to the highest sales numbers recorded in the first quarter since NPD started keeping track in 2004. The top driver for graphic novel sales was manga, which increased by 80% from the first quarter of 2020.

Watch Out for that Tree! The Tarzan syndicated newspaper strip will end its 92-year run in June, reports The Daily Cartoonist, killed off by two factors: The low number of subscribers, and the fact that the strips, which are reruns from the 1950s (daily) and 1980s (Sundays) are, well, not exactly in tune with today’s readers. That’s not the end of the line for the Lord of the Jungle, though: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., is transitioning Tarzan to a subscription webcomic, with new strips picking up where the old ones left off. (That subscription is a pretty good deal, as it includes a number of other webcomics based on Burroughs’ work.) In addition, Dark Horse will publish collected editions of both the new strip and Roy Thomas’s Tarzan of the Apes: A Classic Adaptation.

Continue reading “Comics Lowdown | Tarzan swings to the web”

Comics Lowdown | Special Nazi-punching edition

In an unprecedented week in American history, comics were all over the place.

After seeing a rioter in Captain America gear during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby, has condemned the use of his father’s character by the far right. “Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump,” he wrote, later adding “My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images.”

The problem with the Punisher: The Punisher’s elongated skull logo (and specifically, the version used in the 2004 film) has become an icon for white nationalists, Proud Boys and Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts. At Inverse, Eric Francisco offers a brief history of the alt-right’s use of the skull and Disney’s failure to assert its IP rights. At CBR, Cass Clarke summarizes the thoughts of Gerry Conway, who created the character. At SyFY Wire, Mike Avila calls on Marvel to retire the logo and “give the Punisher a makeover.” He also reached out to former Punisher writer Garth Ennis, who had this to say:

Continue reading “Comics Lowdown | Special Nazi-punching edition”

Our favorite comics of 2020

See what comics, graphic novels, comic strips and more the Smash Pages team enjoyed in 2020.

As we continue our look back at 2020, the Smash Pages crew offer their personal picks and perspectives on their favorite comics, comic strips and graphic novels from the year. Hopefully you’ll see something in this post that you haven’t read yet but will take some joy in discovering.

Continue reading “Our favorite comics of 2020”

New York Times pulls Ronald Wimberly comic

Wimberly’s ‘Diary Project’ submission proved too controversial because it depicted a burning police car.

The New York Times has been running a series of comic strips over the last few months from some top-notch comic creators, including Jillian Tamaki, Ben Passmore and more. Titled “The Diary Project,” the “weekly visual assignment series” features a recent “diary” entry by the artist. Many have focused on COVID-19, Black Lives Matter and other recent newsworthy events.

Artist Ronald Wimberly of Prince of Cats and LAAB fame created the final piece for the series, but says that the New York Times has decided not to run it.

Continue reading “New York Times pulls Ronald Wimberly comic”

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.

Continue reading “Comics Lowdown | IDW ‘has parted ways’ with Publisher Jud Meyers”