• Today’s must read: Michael Cavna interviews Steve Tippie, Tribune Media’s VP of licensing on the end of Little Orphan Annie, the comic strip:
MICHAEL CAVNA: “Little Orphan Annie” was said to be down to about 20 newspapers. Was 20 clients too few to make the strip cost-effective to syndicate?
STEVE TIPPIE: Each [strip] is somewhat different. First, we want to pay the creators a decent wage for the work they do. And Ted Slampyak and Jay Meador did terrific work — some of the best in the “story strip” line. That need combined with the production costs of getting a strip distributed just crossed the profit-loss curve this year. Believe me. This wasn’t a decision we took lightly.
But we also felt that Annie, unlike many strips, has such wide, almost iconic presence in our culture that it would serve the character and our business best if we focused on other channels more appropriate to the “kids” nature of the property.
• Ellen Forney has sold a graphic novel to Gotham/Penguin:
Having spent another morning writing and thumbnailing, I figure it’s time to announce: I sold my book to Gotham/Penguin. Hooray! The storyline combines autobiography and studies about artistic creativity, and brilliant cartoonist Megan Kelso agreed to help comb over my roughs.
It’s been a long time in the works: two writing retreats, a reading at Richard Hugo House, lots of late nights at the tea house with my laptop. Now I have until August, 2011 to get it done. Sleeves rolled up, nose to the grindstone!
The LA Times looks at the fertile soil of the Marvel-Disney partnership, which it is hoped will follow the Pixar model, with greater independence allowing for a snappier product:
During a climactic battle late in “Iron Man 2,” the titular superhero saves a boy who’s wearing an Iron Man mask and “repulsor ray” and is mistaken by killer robots for the real thing. It’s a dramatic moment but also an example of how Disney hopes its high-stakes bet on a comic book company will pay off. The same items that the child wears in “Iron Man 2” are now stocking the toy department shelves of Target and other retailers. “The movies were what drove mass-market awareness of Iron Man,” said Simon Philips, president of worldwide consumer products for Marvel. “Before them you had to go into a collector’s store to find something around the character.”
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.