Category Archives: Spotlight

Writer Brenden Fletcher: Motor Crush, Robotech & Isola

Brenden Fletcher is a bestselling writer of comic books and animation. Current projects include the Eisner Award-nominated series ISOLA and MOTOR CRUSH for Image Comics as well as the upcoming ROBOTECH Remix series for Titan. Previous work includes BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE and the YA mystery/adventure series GOTHAM ACADEMY.

Learn:

  • Of the creation of Catball: Nova Honda’s cutest robot/cat/ball
  • Robotech already IS a remix
  • Crediting the geniuses behind Robotech
  • Motor Crush Vol 3 goes Terminator (& I’ll Be Back)
  • Barbara Gordon fighting gentrification
  • The etiquette of fan art about creator-owned comics
  • A possible return for Gotham Academy?
  • Robotech’s legacy as a diverse series

Listen to our 2015 episode for more from Brenden on his Batgirl, Black Canary and Gotham Academy runs.

Comic Creators Want You to Sign Up for the Library during Library Card Sign-Up Month

Steenz Library Card

The American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) is partnering with comic creators in support of Library Card Sign-Up Month in September. 

For the month of September, the GNCRT will be featuring a new creator each day posing with their library card. Showcasing comic creators in this #GetLibraryCarded campaign spotlights the mutually beneficial relationship between creators and libraries in support of literacy, intellectual freedom, and creative expression – we are stronger together. 

This is the first advocacy campaign of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table. The GNCRT coordinates ongoing advocacy and outreach at several national comic conventions including hosting professional development sessions and booth or pop-up libraries including at Comic-Con International: San Diego, C2E2 and New York Comic-Con. The GNCRT is committed to professional development within librarianship – and committed to public outreach and advocacy around comics and graphic novels and comics readership at all levels. 

Follow @libcomix and @ALALibrary on Twitter to see your favorite comics creators #GetLibraryCarded! Participating creators include writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Marvel Knights, Painkiller Jane), cartoonist Dav Pilkey (Dog Man, Captain Underpants), artist/editor Christina “Steenz” Stewart (Archival Quality, Rolled & Told), and writer Lilah Sturges (Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass, The Magicians: Alice’s Story), and more.

Fantoons’ Tío Simón ABC Raises Money for Venezuelan Children’s Charities

Musician Simón Díaz, known throughout Venezuela as “Tío Simón” remains a vital part of the country’s cultural legacy, and forever in the memory of all who knew his musical work. To celebrate his immense cultural impact, Fantoons will release a bilingual children’s book of Spanish and English words with a Venezuelan twist, to encourage children to both learn the words themselves, as well as the culture behind them.

In this beautiful book, Tío Simón—beloved Venezuelan folk musician and children’s TV personality—will teach you words of every letter in both English and Spanish! Children will be able to learn with Tío Simón about his home, Venezuela, as well as traditional food like Arepa! with a beautiful full-color illustration on every page that will spark joy in families of every kind. 

Assembled by Fantoons’ David Calcano, the Venezuelan-born creative director, recognized for his work with Disney Channel, alongside projects in publishing and animation with Rush, Frank Zappa and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Calcano, and his Fantoons team of illustrators and designers, assembled 60 beautifully illustrated pages inspired by images of Venezuela.

$1 for every book sold will be donated to charities dedicated to help Venezuelan children in starvation. It’s a small gesture to help a country, and its children, in need.

Simón Díaz, a.k.a. Tío Simón, has been a cultural fixture for Venezuelan and Latin culture worldwide since the 1960s. His children’s TV show, Contesta por Tío Simón, aired for a decade, and its messages and popularity earned him the unofficial title of “the Mr. Rogers of Venezuela.” His music has been covered more than 200 times in a dozen languages, and Diaz is a known influence on artists such as Julio Iglesias, Plácido Domingo, the famous Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and The Gipsy Kings. He was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy from the Latin Grammys in 2008.

Features a foreword about his life and legacy by Tío Simón’s (Simón Díaz) daughter Bettsimar Díaz

Tío Símon ABC will be released in finer bookstores everywhere on October 15, and is available for preorder now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will carry a cover price of $12.99.

Tío Símon ABC

Dark Horse Parts Ways with Writer Brian Wood After Third Harassment Accusation

Brian Wood

Earlier today, Laura Hudson became the latest individual to accuse comic writer Brian Wood of improper conduct and sexual harassment. She is the third individual to do so over the years. Wood is accused of forcibly kissing her and then pursuing for weeks after attempting to have sex with her.

In 2013, artist Tess Fowler alleged that Wood sexually harassed her at a convention years before. Wood admitted to having “made a pass” but denied harassment or abuse. Anne Scherbina accused Wood of “making a pass” as well and then threatening her career when she didn’t agree. Scherbina says Wood then retaliated by posting a blind item that she provided sexual favors in a DC stockroom.

Wood currently writes Alien comics, as well as some creator-owned series, for Dark Horse. The publisher has made a statement that they will be parting ways with the creator.

In a statement to The Beat, Dark Horse said:

Effective immediately, Dark Horse will not pursue any new projects with Brian Wood. Dark Horse has cancelled the upcoming series Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat.

It’s unknown why this THIRD accusation has caused the parting of ways as opposed to the previous two preventing them to begin with. Since the Fowler accusation, Wood has worked with Dark Horse, BOOM!, Image, and Marvel.

Disney’s Fox Purchase Already Impacting Small and Independent Theaters

While others were celebrating the X-Men and Fantastic Four‘s return to Marvel, it was clear that Disney‘s purchase of 20th Century Fox would have dire effects on the film industry.

Already there’s been job losses and film cancellations but over the past few days there are more reports of Disney pulling film runs at theaters.

While it might not seem like it but screenings of older films can be a solid business. Midnight screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show has been a regular thing for decades. In more recent times Die Hard and Home Alone have become an event for theaters around the holiday season.

Older film runs are being impacted by Disney’s different policy than Fox’s. The studio is no longer licensing its old films to commercial theaters. The speculation is those films will be used to entice individuals to purchase Hulu or Disney+.

Disney’s policy is to not allow first-run theaters or commercial discount theaters to screen movies from its library. That policy now extends to Fox’s catalog. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the exception from this policy (I guess even the Mouse is afraid to piss those fans off).

Theaters who specialize in just screening old titles still have access to Fox’s movies.

This policy shift has forced theaters to cancel already planned screenings. It also puts theaters in a bind as these special event screenings can fill the theater at times it normally wouldn’t do good business. Alamo Drafthouse as an example regularly holds these events as well as shows first-run movies.

The policy shift also extends to 2nd date runs. Disney has handled those to be when video on demand/Blu-ray has already been released and their demands are much higher than the 35-40% industry standard.

There’s not just the business aspect but the cultural impact as well. Art is made to be experienced and hiding it in a vault defeats the purpose. It also leads to greater piracy as individuals seek to “free it from its captives.”

Add to the confusion is the lack of clear guidance from Disney. Fox contacts have been fired without outreach to theater owners as to who their new representative is. There also seems to be inconsistency in approval with some theaters being approved, others being denied and then eventually approved.

Other studios are much more open to the business simply offering the ability to play Blu-rays for a licensing fee. Fox has always been on the more restrictive end of things but the sudden shift is pulling out the rug from an already shaky business.

This is surely the start of the House of Mouse putting even greater pressure on the theater industry. With Disney+, Disney has a second digital distribution channel, and like Netflix, is running original movies with big names on the service. As that service grows Disney will need theaters less and less and can demand more and more making Disney the villain its heroes would fight against.

The moral of this story is to support your independent theaters and don’t be too quick to cheer on corporate consolidation.

Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion Deal

Hasbro logo

In a deal that feels like it came out of nowhere, Hasbro has acquired Entertainment One in a $4 billion deal. The all-cash transaction will bring brands like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks to Hasbro as well as expand Hasbro’s television and film abilities. Hasbro has been focused on expanding their properties to film and a “Hasbro Universe” has long been gestating.

eOne shareholders will receive $6.86 in cash for each share. In the announcement, Hasbro CFO said they have identified $130 million in “cost synergies” by 2022. That’s savings and not revenue and an example would be bringing licensing in-house. PJ Masks toys are made by Just Play currently.

Top eOne executives will join the Hasbro team and eOne’s Canadian TV and film operation will continue to be a distinct Canadian-controlled business.

eOne is a Canadian company founded in 1973. Its focus is in music, television, and film and has investments in Amblin Partners and acquired a 70% stake in British animation studio Astley Baker Davies (Peppa Pig) in 2015. in 2018, eOne acquire the remaining 49% of The Mark Gordon Company, it acquired a 51% stake in 2015.

Notable productions include Hung, Rookie Blue, Haven, Designated Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, and Criminal Minds. It also has a multi-year international output deal with AMC and Sundance that involves such shows as Halt and Catch Fire, The Walking Dead, and Fear the Walking Dead.

British television broadcaster ITV plc attempted to acquire eOne for $1.3 billion in 2016 but the offer was rejected due to it being “fundamentally undervalued.”

AMC’s The Walking Dead Fined $104,000 for Using the Emergency Alert System

The Walking Dead

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reached settlements this week with a handful of media outlets after they were found to have misused the emergency alert system (EAS) tone.

There’s a rule against using the tone outside of actual emergencies to “protect the integrity” of the system. The idea is that listeners won’t mistake the real tone for ones from television shows and vice versa.

The agency found that ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, AMC’s The Walking Dead, Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law, and Meruelo Radio Holdings all misused the EAS tone. The companies have agreed to pay more than $600,000 in civil penalties for the violations.

AMC’s The Walking Dead used the tone twice in the “Omega Episode” of the program in February 2019. The playing happened during eight instances. AMC will pay a $104,000 civil penalty and agreed to a compliance plan.

The Simpson’s Matt Groening is Named in Epstein Documents

Matt Groening

This past Friday, court documents were unsealed revealing thousands of documents surrounding the defamation suit between Jeffrey Epstein‘s accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Epstein associate/”madam,” Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre accused Epstein and Maxwell of sex-trafficking her and Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation in return. The case was settled in May 2017.

167 documents with thousands of pages were under seal and some are now making their way into the public. Within, numerous celebrities and politicians are named and accused of inappropriate behavior including sex with underage women (aka rape).

One story recounted by Giuffre involves Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons and founder of comic publishers Bongo Comics and Bapper Books, and creator behind the Life in Hell comic strip. Groening isn’t accused of sex with underage girls, but instead, the story revolves around a foot rub and a very specific description of his feet.

From the document:

Epstein’s many Hollywood pals include Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. Jeffrey once had me give Matt a foot massage when he was flying on the jet with us, Virginia says. He laughed and did drawings of Bart and Homer for my little brother and my dad.


Before asking me about Jeffrey Epstein speaking to celebrities at the house, the attorney for Jane Doe 102 asked me about Jean Luc Brunel, Mark Epstein, Daniel Estes, Matt Groening, and Leslie Wexner. I then listed Senator Mitchell, Prince Andrew, Princess Sarah Ferguson, Miss Yugoslavia, Miss Germany, Alan Dershowitz, Princess Diana’s secretary with her children, Mr. Trump, Mr. Robert Kennedy, Jr., Frederik Fekkai, and a couple Noble prize winners as celebrities that I had seen while working for Mr. Epstein. I also mentioned a reunion of Nobel prize winners that was held at the house, and that I met President Clinton at Mr. Epstein’s plane the last month that I was working for Mr. Epstein


We went out the next afternoon as I had suggested last night and we ate our clam chowder breadbaskets over looking the whart’s bay, watching the seals playfully barking at each other on the rocks nearby. Shortly after we were driven to the private airstrip and took off for Los Angeles. On the plane was an unexpected visitor. Matt Groening the producer of the The Simpson’s TV show was catching a ride with us. I was so excited,
as I loved watching his show and acted like a star struck fan, asking him everything from his initial idea for creating the show to where he got his
characters from. He told me it was all based on his own family make up, but without the crazy father and son scenes of Homers hand around Bart’s throat.

I was enjoying our conversation, when Jeffrey insisted that I give Matt a foot massage throughout the duration of the short flight. I never turned down a client but when I saw the shape ofhis feet, I nearly threw up at the thought of having to touch them. He had yellow crusty toenails that
even someone with a chainsaw would?ve had troubles cutting through and then there was the fluffy balls of leftover pieces of sock wedged between the crevices of his sweaty toes, now that was the real icing on the cake for me, no way could I attempt this I thought. Then I had an idea. I went to the back of the plane and rinsed a wash cloth in warm
soapy water and returned for his dreaded foot massage but not before attempting to clean them first.

In return for my services Matt was kind enough to draw me two quick sketches on blank paper from his briefcase of my two favorite characters, Homer and Bart. I asked if he wouid make them out to my little brother
and dad, the true fans of the family not missing an episode during dinner over the past ten years or so. Next to the A-4 size drawing he was able to fit in the quote To my greatest fan from Matt Groening? and their names next to it. I knew they’d absolutely love it, and it was such a nice gesture his feet were no longer an issue as I laughed it off and even made a joke to the comedian about getting a pedicure before hitting beaches.

The flight was only short and we arrived in busy L.A within the hour, saying Good-Bye to Matt, who was a pleasure to meet.

(via Business Insider)

Rockwell Museum to Host an Evening with Art Spiegelman

Maus

The Rockwell Museum will host an evening with Pulitzer-Prize Winning artist Art Spiegelman. Spiegelman will discuss his groundbreaking Maus graphic novel and its place in current global conversations in this culminating program of The Rockwell’s Year of Questioning Identity.

The event begins at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 and this Rockwell event is located at The Corning Museum of Glass Auditorium, 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY.  After an hourlong discussion, Spiegelman will engage with the audience for a question and answer segment. General admission is $20, while student tickets are $10. Rockwell members are admitted free for this event.  More details and tickets are available online.

Art Spiegelman’s impressive accomplishments have helped secure comics’ place as an important part of literature. In 1992, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful Holocaust narrative, Maus—which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus II continued the remarkable story of his parents’ survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America. In 1999, he was inducted into the Eisner Award’s Hall of Fame.

As a pioneer in underground comix, Spiegelman, along with publisher Francoise Mouly, co-edited RAW, which helped launch the careers of Chris Ware, Gary Panter and Charles Burns. His boundary-breaking career stretches from his artwork in The New Yorker to creating The Garbage Pail Kids for Topps.

His other books include In the Shadow of No Towers, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits and MetaMaus.  His comics are best known for their shifting graphic styles, their formal complexity and controversial content. 

Spiegelman currently advocates for greater comics literacy.  As an editor, a teacher at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and a lecturer, Spiegelman has promoted better understanding of comics and has mentored younger cartoonists.

My Little Pony Live U.S. Tour Dates Revealed

My Little Pony Live

The whimsy and wonder of My Little Pony is heading to your town in an all-new musical delight for all ages! Hasbro and Mills Entertainment have announced the inaugural U.S. tour of My Little Pony Liveset to premiere March 2020.

Inspired by the My Little Pony’s signature themes of friendship and magic, the original stage production features the beloved pony characters affectionately called “the Mane Six”—Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack and Rainbow Dash.  Rounding out the lineup is Spike the Dragon, a fan favorite from the hugely successful My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series, which is currently airing its ninth season.

The fantastical, sensation-filled musical tells an exciting new tale.  As the ponies prepare for the blossoming of Ponyville’s Rainbow Tree, promising another hundred years of friendship, trouble arises in Equestria.  The Mane Six must set out to save the ailing Rainbow Tree with strength, determination, creativity and — of course — the magic of friendship!  Come one pony, come all, on this unforgettable journey to Equestria! 

My Little Pony Live is the ultimate live celebration of the magic of My Little Pony – brought to life for the whole family!

The production kicks off in March 2020 and tours throughout the country with stops including Boston, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Houston and more.

Tickets and VIP packages go on sale Friday, August 9, 2019, in select cities. 

MY LITTLE PONY LIVE Tour Dates

  • 3/07/20 – The Ordway Center – St. Paul, MN
  • 3/08/20 – Riverside Theatre – Milwaukee, WI
  • 3/21/20 – Rosemont Theatre – Rosemont, IL
  • 3/28/20 – Clowes Memorial Hall – Indianapolis, IN
  • 3/29/20 – Palace Theatre – Columbus, OH
  • 4/08/20 – The Tower Theatre – Philadelphia, PA
  • 4/09/20 – Tilles Center for the Performing Arts – Brookville, NY
  • 4/10/20 – Chevalier Theatre – Boston, MA
  • 4/11/20 – Mayo Performing Arts Center – Morristown, NJ
  • 4/15/20 – Count Basie Theatre – Red Bank, NJ
  • 4/17/20 – The Hanover Theatre – Worcester, MA
  • 4/18/20 – Shubert Theatre – New Haven, CT
  • 4/19/20 – Kodak Theatre – Rochester, NY
  • 5/02/20 – Times Union Center – Jacksonville, FL
  • 5/03/20 – Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center – Tampa, FL
  • 5/30/20 – Fox Theatre – Atlanta, GA
  • 6/02/20 – Steven Tanger Center – Greensboro, NC
  • 6/09/20 – The Theatre at Grand Prairie – Grand Prairie, TX
  • 6/10/20 – Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center – Midland, TX
  • 6/11/20 – The Tobin Center – San Antonio, TX
  • 6/26/20 – Center for the Performing Arts – San Jose, CA
  • 6/28/20 – Gallo Center for the Arts – Modesto, CA
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