If the Heritage Auctions staffers were not comics fans before, it’s safe to say they are now. Seemingly mere minutes after HA finished selling off a collection of classic comics for over $3.5 million, they broke six figures with this single item, an original Calvin & Hobbes drawing for the 1989-1990 calendar, featuring the eponymous boy and tiger in an unusually restful pose. Final price: $107,550. The name of the buyer was not disclosed. (Will? Was that you?)
This was a rare find indeed, as it was the only purchasable piece of original art by the strip’s reclusive creator, Bill Watterson, who is well-known for deliberately refusing to commercialize his work. Watterson made a gift of it to the comic-strip historian, Rick Marschall. Though the buyer is presumably happy with the piece, if you’d like to make a better offer, Heritage Auctions is happy to forward your message along. They can smell those juicy commissions now.
Digital Comics-Making: Another financial winner this week is Pixton Comics Inc., which has won a $30,000 grant (Canadian dollars) in a British Columbian competition for new business ventures. Pixton uses a click-and-drag interface to digitize many aspects of comics creation, and while the results can’t compete with the best that the art form has to offer, they would represent an improvement over many beginners’ efforts.
Elsewhere, Xiaoyang Mao and colleagues at the University of Yamanashi in Japan claim they can digitally automate speech balloon placement in comics, by tracking readers’ and viewers’ eye movements. This is part of a larger ambition to automate the conversion of entire films to manga, about which Mao has already published some research. Mao will present his latest findings at a Santa Barbara symposium next month.
Ill-Advised Lawsuits Against Marvel: Julie Taymor, the former director of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark seems to think the copyright on her work allows her to forbid Marvel/Disney to perform the musical in non-Broadway venues. Taymor ended up with most of the blame for the show’s disastrous early run, which, since her departure, has become a genuine smash hit. So now she’s taking on Marvel, and the Mouse. How do you think that’s going to go down, exactly?
Black Widow: Yes, Mr. Fred Van Lente, it is indeed a first to debut a comic in the pages of Maxim Russia. We would never suggest that you shouldn’t be proud of exploring new frontiers, or proud of your script, but the choice of venue is not exactly a great moment in feminist comics history.