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News Briefs for January 28 2009

» Boom Studios is bringing back The Muppets in comic form. Roger Langridge is the artist. Look for its debut in March.

» Back in August I wrote about French cartoonist Maurice Sinet who wrote a column that ignited an uproar calling the column anti-Semitic. He’s now on trial.

» Jeff Smith’s Bone will come to an end after 2.5 million volumes have been sold through Scholastic. Publishers Weekly talked with Jeff about future plans.

» Sheldon creator Brad Guiger has advice for anyone wanting to do a long-form comic as a webcomic.

» Shareholders of Stan Lee Media Inc. are suing Stan Lee and Marvel. Tom Spurgeon has review of the suit.

Correction: Brad Guiger’s webcomic was incorrectly identified. His comic is Evil Inc.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
January/28/2009
@ 11:55 am

“Boom Studios is bringing back The Muppets in comic form. ”

Some people never learn. Something that became popular on television NEVER translates to print. You can go from print to television (or theater) but not the other way around, as they aspect that made the feature popular on television or the movies cannot be done in print form, namely, the action of the figures and the voices.

It’s been tried many times before, and it never works.

#2 Nate Bramble
January/28/2009
@ 12:50 pm

Just thought I’d point out that Sheldon is created by cartoonist Dave Kellett, not Brad Guigar. Brad just used one of Dave’s strips as an illustration to his article. Brad Guigar does the comic strip Evil Inc. (http://www.evil-comic.com).

#3 Alan Gardner
January/28/2009
@ 12:53 pm

Thanks Nate. Correction issued.

#4 Ted Dawson
January/28/2009
@ 7:54 pm

Take a look at this pic of Guy Gilchrist drawing the Muppets! Also a pic of Guy with Jim Henson. Guy did an awesome job of doing the comic strip during the 80s.

http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Guy_Gilchrist

#5 Ted Dawson
January/28/2009
@ 8:00 pm

Here are some Muppet strips from when Guy drew them.
http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Muppets_(comic_strip)

#6 Ted Dawson
January/28/2009
@ 8:04 pm

“Something that became popular on television NEVER translates to print.”

From Wikia:

The (Muppets) strip is notable as being the first comic strip in history to be syndicated in multiple countries starting on the very first day of publication. Guy Gilchrist described working on a world-wide comic stating: “We had to work twice as far in advance as anyone else in our business at that time, because our strips had to be shipped via airmail and messenger (prior to the internet, of course) all around the world to be translated into every language of the 80 countries that read us each day.”

#7 Mark Tatulli
January/28/2009
@ 8:47 pm

Yes, Ted, it was initially successful but ended up losing its huge amount of papers. Going from the big screen and television to the comics page is a step backward and Wiley is correct, it always fails. THE SIMPSONS, RUGRATS, THE PINK PANTHER, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES..all successful in their own right; and all failures as comic strips. And the sad part is, when this hits papers it’s going to bump out newer strips, not older ones. And it will go on to fail…in fact, in this market, don’t be surprised if it never launches. A strip with this kind of backing would probably need a newspaper client minimum to be a viable business venture. This ain’t a run of the mill comic…it probably cost some real money to produce.

#8 Ted Dawson
January/28/2009
@ 8:50 pm

I agree with Jeff… “Bone” is not a kids comic. I would love to let my kids read it, but they’ll have to wait a few years.

I’m happy Bone has made him a millionaire, as he deserves it and that kind of success for cartoonists is rare nowadays. But America still has this thing that comics are for kids… even though it was adults that initially made Bone a success.

Reminds me of Tom Sawyer, which Twain said was not intended for kids. He was also surprised to see is marketed towards kids.

Bone is just one of the best stories ever told, regardless of the medium.

#9 Ted Dawson
January/28/2009
@ 9:13 pm

Mark, I think the Muppets comic is a comic book, not strip. I think we’ve seen the last of this kind of thing on the comics pages.

TMNT was originally a comic book, I believe.

Disney comics did pretty well for quite a long time… The Star Wars comic books of the 70s virtually saved Marvel Comics… It really depends on whether they have studio artists cranking stuff out or if there is a creative voice behind it, like Carl Barks, for example.

It’s my understanding that The Simpsons comic book is still going strong, with over 100 issues.

Again, I think comic strip cartoonists could learn a few things from comic book cartoonists. Somebody is paying Roger to draw a Muppets comic book. Would anybody pay a cartoonist to draw a Muppets, or any other, comic strip?

It’s not because the medium is inherently a bad one. Chet Gould once suggested it was the early rising upstart television, competing with newspapers, that first began putting the notion out there that comic strips were low art and whatnot. Whether that’s true, I don’t know, but we would be hard pressed to find any cartoonists doing anything out there to convince the world otherwise. It’s not enough anymore to just make a great comic strip.

#10 Mark Tatulli
January/28/2009
@ 9:38 pm

Oh, sorry, I thought it was a comic strip.

#11 Darrin Bell
January/28/2009
@ 10:26 pm

“It?s not because the medium is inherently a bad one. Chet Gould once suggested it was the early rising upstart television, competing with newspapers, that first began putting the notion out there that comic strips were low art and whatnot. Whether that?s true, I don?t know, but we would be hard pressed to find any cartoonists doing anything out there to convince the world otherwise. It?s not enough anymore to just make a great comic strip.”

Not to be contrarian, but what exactly could a cartoonist do (other than making a great comic strip) to convince the world otherwise? For the last few years, I’ve worn a powdered wig and ruffles whenever I draw and it’s done nothing to elevate the artform, so I don’t know what will.

#12 Rich Diesslin
January/29/2009
@ 12:10 am

Nice look Darrin! You are doing your part.

#13 Tom Spurgeon
January/29/2009
@ 8:20 am

Ted Dawson’s right in that many television/movie tie-ins have been and continue to be quite profitable in comics form, just in comic books not comic strips.

Roger Langridge is a peerless cartoonist, and while I have my own doubts that anyone really wants a Muppets comic book, I’m sure it’s going to be great-looking.

#14 Ted Dawson
January/29/2009
@ 10:00 am

“Not to be contrarian, but what exactly could a cartoonist do (other than making a great comic strip) to convince the world otherwise?”

I like that you’re a contrarian, Darrin.

Actually, the world isn’t the problem so much as the U.S.

“A” cartoonist could do several things, but cartoonists together could accomplish even more. A couple of things I have seen… Tom Gimmell’s “Floozies” YouTube videos… Michael Jantze’s “audio” comics… Guy Gilchrist’s cartoon school… Mort Walker’s “The Best of Times”…

Other things might be doing a special comic book for Free Comic Book Day (which started out as the awful “Cartoonist Appreciation Day” and was borrowed and improved upon by comic book cartoonists); tapping into overlooked segments of the newspaper market; doing worthwhile community projects at the annual NCS events; attending comic book conventions; attending college newspaper conventions (the newspapermen of tomorrow); attending NAA conventions; staying in contact with newspaper clients; going on morning talk shows; making strips more interactive, finding ways to get readers involved beyond reading the strip; quit giving away comics on the internet; publicity stunts (like Mark Pett’s world’s largest comic strip); adding a “throwaway” panel or two into one’s strip to start encouraging newspapers to run larger comics; hiring a PR agent; occasionally making personalized comic strips for particular cities/newspapers.

Cartoonists are creative people. I just think more of it needs to be channeled toward healing a bruised industry.

#15 Rick Stromoski
January/29/2009
@ 10:35 am

>>>?A? cartoonist could do several things, but cartoonists together could accomplish even more. A couple of things I have seen? Tom Gimmell?s ?Floozies? YouTube videos? Michael Jantze?s ?audio? comics? Guy Gilchrist?s cartoon school? Mort Walker?s ?The Best of Times??

Not to be contrarian part deux but how do any of these things put money in creators pockets? Nothing you mentioned are revenue making ventures that advance REAL issues like pricing, rights or alternative marketplaces. Yes they can be fun to look at but if I’m going to devote my time to something I’d like to know it has some commercial appeal and will generate a revenue stream. Otherwise it’s a bit of a waste of time and resources.

I’d prefer artists go to art schools and tell emerging artists how to price their work and retain their rights as opposed to how to draw anthropomorphic cats. Why it’s a good idea not to give work away for free on the net. How to negotiate with a syndicate and protect yourself from exploitative practices like Comics Sherpa or stock houses. How its a good idea to diversify and not put all your creative eggs into one basket.

We’re in the hole we’re in because we allowed it to happen. I don’t think we can put the toothpaste back into that tube but suggesting drawing the worlds largest comic strip does anything than promote that particular strip is a non starter.

#16 Mark Tatulli
January/29/2009
@ 11:12 am

And Tom Gammill’s strip is called “The Doozies,” not “The Floozies”. And while his videos are hysterically funny, I think it’s hard to track who (besides us) is actually watching those things and what long term value it could possibly have. But from a marketing/promtional standpoint, it’s better than doing nothing. And if one of those videos goes viral, Tom is in a much better position to sell his strip. Plus, while it may not put a scrap of gold in his pocket, it looks like he’s having fun.

#17 Ted Dawson
January/29/2009
@ 11:35 am

Good points, guys. To me, it all revolves around improving the perceived value of comic strips.

I wonder if there’d be a market for a comic strip called “The Floozies…”

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