§ What it says. Artist Tommy Castillo, best known for his Batman work, is in danger of losing his sight:
Sammy Castillo here. As many of you may know, the World almost lost my husband, Tommy Castillo, in October of 2014. His ongoing battle with Diabetes took a horrible turn for the worse nearly killing him. While on the outside and to everyone it may seem like Tommy is doing better, in fact, things aren’t progressing very well. Because of this recent down turn in his health, the Diabetes is now attacking Tommy’s eyesight -which is an artist’s worst fear. To put it plainly, the diabetes is destroying the small blood vessels in the back of Tommy’s eyes causing them to bleed. Without surgery this will cause Tommy to go blind within a year- maybe less. Each surgery is $ 4,000 per eye. The doctor told us that he will need AT LEAST two treatments in each eye plus perscriptions and recovery time.
You know the drill.
§ Cartoonists from Albertine to Dylan Horrocks to Jaime Hernandez to Trondheim have signed a petition asking the Angoulême comic festival to drop Sodastream as a sponsor. Sodastream is a drink company that has opened a bottling plant on the West Bank in Palestine (although it is set to close).
We, cartoonists, illustrators, writers, editors, distributors, translators, critics and workers in the comic book industry, alongside people of conscience from countries all over the world, re-affirm our February 2014 call for the Angoulême International Comics Festival to drop all ties with the Israeli company Sodastream. Furthermore, we urge the Angoulême Festival, and all festivals, conventions, and celebrations of comics and cartooning art in which we participate, to reject any partnership, funding, or co-operation with any Israeli company or institution that does not explicitly promote freedom and justice for Palestinians, as well as equal rights and equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, including the Israeli government and its local consulates, so long as Israel continues to deny Palestinians their rights.
There was a live protest at last year’s fest, and I expect there will be more about it this year. Zainab Akhtar has more context.
§ Egmont’s US branch is shutting down. Although a powerhouse publisher in Europe, including a lot of Disney licenses, their kids/YA line just never caught on in the US:
The U.S. division of Egmont, which published children’s titles in the elementary, middle grade and teen categories, was established in 2008. Now, the division’s spring 2015 list (distributed by Random House) will mark its last, and its office will close on January 31. Egmont USA’s six staffers’ final day in the office will be January 30. Rob McMenemy, CEO of Egmont Publishing International, said the U.S. business, ultimately, “does not fit” with the company’s strategy, as it has not been able to become a market leader in the States. He added that Egmont was “hoping to succeed with selling the business, unfortunately this has turned out not to be possible.”
§ Also from PW, Diamond Books was down a bit in 2014 due to losing Dark Horse, who moved over to Random House:
Diamond Book Distributors, the trade book distribution side of Diamond Comics Distributors, reports sales in 2014 were “slightly” down, blaming the decline on the loss of a major publisher client. Adjusting for that loss, sales were up in all channels with DBD citing continuing international growth and plans to focus on college bookstores in 2015. Dark Horse switched distribution from DBD to Random House Publisher Services at the beginning of 2014 and the loss was felt “across the board,” at the distributor said DBD v-p Kuo-Yu Liang. “We came close to making up the loss of Dark Horse,” he said. DBD distributes titles from about 50 publishers as well as pop culture merchandise. Despite the decline, Liang said the pop culture market was strong in 2014 and DBD’s core business, “is great. Graphic novels are growing, toys and other merchandise also did well.”
§ And Dreamworks Animation is shutting down one of its main studios, PDI/DreamWorks, and laying off 500 people. They’ll scale back to two films a year and undergo other belt tightening. You’ll recall that the studio has been trying to sell itself off, but several potential deals, including one with Hasbro, have gone bust. There are almost certainly some cartooning crossover folks who are caught up in this, and that will cause ripples as well. In the link above there are some offers from Pixar and Blizzard for potential employment. Good luck to everyone who is caught up in this very sad event.
§ Torsten covered the new “Is Comic-Con leaving San Diego???” drama quite well, but while I was digging around I recalled that the first time I wrote about the planned convention center expansion was 2010. Yikes. This is the Second Avenue Subway of the west. I get the feeling that the Chargers situation is more of a factor this time around—they have the oldest stadium in the NFL and it’s pretty decrepit, and they could also move to LA, although unlike Comic-Con, the Chargers threaten it directly and constantly. So the city of San Diego needs both a new stadium and more room for Mrs. Fields cookie kiosks. I suppose that Anaheim could make a great play for Comic-Con but as Mark Evanier points out, there are actually fewer hotel rooms in Anaheim in the summer than in San Diego.
The CCI folks seem to have been making wider use of the entire area around the convention center, and have stated that the expansion isn’t necessarily as essential right now. I suppose a move to Anaheim for a while would function in the same way a dog shakes off water…a lot of stuff would go flying away and normal functions could resume. But while it’s fun to imagine such things—or somewhat fun in the case of LA—the city of San Diego wants the con of San Diego IN San Diego, and I suspect a deal will be hammered out.
§ Meanwhile, here’s a nice round-up of the comics shops of Philadelphia, from foundational stores like Fat Jacks to nouveau comics outposts like Locust Moon.
§ George Elkind interviews Dash Shaw, one of the great modern formalists of comics, and Shaw gets right to it:
Sometime around 2010, I had a thought “comics are a collage medium — they’re collages that you can read.” Everything I’ve done since then has been extrapolating from that idea in different ways. With Doctors, I started with clips from different sources, mostly old romance comics. The first page I drew was the diver page. I clipped that diver from an old romance comic. I loved how stiff the drawing of the diver was. It was a dynamic, splash moment but it was so frozen. That’s the kind of drawings I like, like Pete Morisi and coloring book drawings. I’d alter old advertisements or general flat, clip-art like images, and add my own panels drawn in a baseline style, to connect, say, a drawing from an old romance comic of a couple on a bridge to, like, an Adidas ad for a pair of shoes.
§ Here’s a nice report by Jamal Flores on the Schomburg Center’s Third Annual Black Comic Book Festival .
§ Really, Comicbook.com?
§ Matt Singer continues his history of comic book serials with Spy Smasher.
§ Chris (Starlord) Pratt is from Seattle and Chris (Captain America, Johnny Storm, Lucas Lee, Jensen, Casey) Evans is from Boston, so the two have made a generous and handsome bet over the Super Bowl.
Both football fans and friends, Evans and Pratt made very public and very charitable bet: If the Patriots win, Pratt will don a Patriots jersey and make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven, a non-profit organization that provides support housing for families whose children are receiving outpatient pediatric cancer treatments in Boston. If the Seahawks win, Evans will show up to Seattle Children’s Hospital as Captain America, brandishing a 12th Man flag.
§ Infographics are a sneaky way to get people to pay attention to some utilitarian product, in this case blinds, but this one from Terry’s Blind on superhero lairs is really thoughtful and imaginative.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.