For the next little while, I won’t get to cover the news on this site as much as I’d like (I’m still recovering from a minor flu bug, and catching up with work in other areas). So let’s have some fun with this and try something different: THE TOP TEN STORIES OF THE WEEK!
10. Marvel And Apple Introduce “Graphic Novels” To The iBookstore. Just in time for Apple to debut its “Comics and Graphic Novels” section in the iBookstore– what a coincidence, it’s almost as if they planned it– Marvel rolled 80 “graphic novels” into the store, ready for purchase. We’re using quotes here because many of these books are actually considered “trade paperback” collections in their print incarnations… but if Marvel wants to use Will Eisner’s term on Spider-Man Masterworks Vol. 1, it’s not like we’re in a position to stop them.
8. Stan Lee… May?… Become A Playable Character. In the latest Spider-Man video game set for release this summer, Stan Lee will be a playable character… at least according to Stan Lee himself. Video game developers Beenox have not yet confirmed or denied this statement. Lee is given to hyperbole and occasional misstatements, so treat this one with a grain of salt. The reaction so far, however, suggests there may be sufficient demand to make this a true statement if it isn’t already.
7. Joe Palooka, Most Popular Sports Strip In History, Returns. Joe Palooka ran in newspapers for over 50 years, but if you’re saying “Joe who?”, that’s because he hasn’t done that much for the last 28. Boxing announcer Joe Antonacci (no relation) aims to change that.
In his day, Joe Palooka was a boxer who didn’t enjoy fighting but always stuck up for the little guy. The comical nature of his adventures may explain why the word “palooka” became synonymous with an inept boxer, whereas Joe himself was anything but.
Antonacci’s version retains the same essential character, updating his sport to the world of mixed martial arts. However, the tone of the art is very different (see accompanying image, juxtaposing old and new versions of the character), and the plan to only share strips with those willing to give out their e-mail address is a questionable marketing strategy.
6. Three Words: “Shane’s Last Episode.” AMC’s marketing division let slip a little “who lives and who dies” spoiler in their efforts to sell episodes of The Walking Dead that hadn’t aired yet. The phrase “Shane’s last episode” revealed that Shane would not be returning to the show after Season 2. While we suppose this could be because he finds a nice farm somewhere and decides to stay put while the group moves on, it’s rather more likely that his fate, as it was in the comics, is to become zom chow.
5. Jan Berenstain Dies. Though her work isn’t often labeled comics, let’s give honorary status to Jan Berenstain, who, with her husband Stan, turned The Berenstain Bears picture books into a 300-volume empire, selling 260 million copies and inspiring a cartoon series and such spinoffs as McDonald’s Happy Meals and animal crackers. And moral lessons. Don’t forget the moral lessons.
4. Someone, Somewhere, Cares Enough About a Valiant Comics Character to Adapt Him to Film. The character in question is Bloodshot, and the film‘s to be produced by Neal H. Moritz through his ironically-titled Original Film banner, and distributed through Columbia Pictures.
To be fair, the story of Bloodshot, a nanite-infested amnesiac who was once mob killer Angelo Mortalli and was supposed to be a military killing machine, is an intriguing concept that could make a fine movie. But when The Hollywood Reporter tries to convince us the character is already popular, it doesn’t do itself any favors.
“Bloodshot, who first appeared in Valiant comic books in 1992, has appeared in more than 70 issues.” 70 issues! Jump back, Wolverine!
3. The Final Humiliation of the Comic-Book Meth King. Aaron Castro of Commerce City, Colorado, one of the leaders of a 41-person methamphetamine ring, used his ill-gotten gains to buy 18,753 comic books. It gets better: the collecting was originally intended to launder the money, but then Castro and his brother Alfonzo started getting ambitions to run a comic-book store. And finally… we swear this is a direct quote from court papers… Castro “began to struggle with money because he would spend his drug money on comic books.”
This is old news: Castro was sentenced to 45 years in prison last year. What’s new is that the comics were recently auctioned off, and in the shadow of the $3.5 million comic-book auction of recent memory, the Castros’ investments brought in… $125,050. That’s about a kilogram and a half of meth.
2. San Diego Comic-Con Sells Out Virtually Instantaneously. We’re sorry we didn’t report this one more obsessively, but if you weren’t already poised and ready to buy when tickets went on sale Saturday (11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST) then you probably didn’t have a chance of getting a ticket anyway. The sale lasted mere minutes. This will do nothing to alleviate ongoing concerns that interest in the convention is outgrowing its current venue.
1. Archie Comics Finally Has Its First Political Scuffle. And surprisingly, it wasn’t over ongoing announcements about the upcoming story “Occupy Riverdale.”
The conservative group 1 Million Moms called for a boycott of Toys ‘R’ Us unless it pulled issue #16 of the magazine-format Life With Archie from its shelves, which featured a gay interracial military wedding that is simply accepted by everyone involved, without even the first concern about outside protests. (It should be noted that Life With Archie is set in the near future. The predictive implications should be obvious.)
The boycott did not merely fail, it failed spectacularly: Toys R Us ignored the matter completely, and the issue sold out within the week. It’s likely to get a second printing.
This seems unlikely to be the end of the matter, in the current political climate. In fact, it is mildly surprising that pundits on the right, who are usually quick to engage in “culture wars,” have had little to say so far about Archie Comics’ fairly unambiguous support for homosexuality.
However, company co-CEO Jon Goldwater did not flinch from the opportunity to take a stand on the issue. “Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people… He is, without a doubt, the most important new character in Archie history. He’s here to stay.”