§ On this auspicious day, no need to waste time with art. We have a genuine comics history mystery on our hands here, one involving one of the medium’s most heralded artists. The mystery started with a tweet by the Worlds of Wildstorm account harkening back to a 1999 “Wildstorm Special” published by Wizard Magazine, with a contest. Not just any contest. The “Win Jim Lee’s Pants!” contest. Such a stunning prize must have led to piles and piles of entries. But who won the pants? And what did they do with them?
— World Of WildStorm (@WildstormsCCG) February 22, 2022
From there…well, the mystery of these celebrity slacks doesn’t really go anywhere, although Jimmy Palmiotti had an idea:
We pass them around , each of us taking a turn.
— Jimmy Palmiotti (@jpalmiotti) February 22, 2022
What we do know is that the youthful Lee is holding up what looks like a typical pair of turn of the century pleat-front khakis. These dad pants are indeed a prophecy, as Lee is now a father of nine.
Sadly we cannot see the facing page, but we can see that runner’s up would at least get some WildC.A.T.S. trades – this was the Travis Charest era, so some nice art, anyway. In 1999, Wildstorm was already owned by DC, and this promotion is definitely a little out there for DC – but Wildstorm still played by its own rules. And while Wizard Magazine had many detrimental effects on the comics industry during its run, you can’t say the staff wasn’t clever and didn’t put out some entertaining ideas. And all these years later, the idea of a staff of dozens of human people working on an actual paper magazine that was ALL ABOUT COMICS is bizarre enough on its own.
The contest rules, from a subsequent tweet, supply a little more information – and a reminder that once upon a time you had to cut things out of a magazine and mail it in to enter a contest, a process so exhausting it’s a wonder our ancestors even had time to raise children.
But the central mystery remains: Who got the pants? 23 years ago, a self-addressed stamped envelope would have gotten a list of winners…now the answer to this mystery to lost to the sands and trousers of time….
§ Sometime Beat contributor Johanna Draper Carlson knows more about comics and Sherlock Holmes than any living human, so she has started the Sherlock Holmes in Comics subsite of her long running Comics Worth Reading site. It’s “A guide to Sherlock Holmes in comic books, graphic novels, and manga” and it will probably become th last word on this topic.
§ Last week The Nib’s Matt Bors released news of his latest project: Justice Warriors, a comic book with art by Ben Clarkson and colors by Felipe Sobreiro, published by Ahoy (above)
A satirical series, Justice Warriors follows Swamp Cop and Schitt—Swamp Cop’s new partner, who replaces one killed by a Bubble City self-driving bus—as the former slowly becomes traumatized by having witnessed the closest thing to a crime Bubble City has. Swamp Cop finds himself facing two choices: arrest the bus that killed his old partner, or drag his new one out into the Uninhabited Zone to enact a very loose sense of justice outside of Bubble City’s walls. With everything from white collar crime to a cyberpunk gang using social media to go to war against Bubble City’s pop star mayor, suffice to say the duo’s policing career is about to get busy.
Along the way, Bors presented his exit interview for editorial cartooning, and it’s an incisive obituary of the profession:
Later, I would come to see that convention and its open bar as a last hurrah. The event was a financial disaster for the AAEC, leaving it mired in debt. Over the next decade-plus, the organization’s venues became smaller and humbler, and the number of attendees dwindled and aged. I watched my peers move into other careers like graphic design and animation, which came with higher and steadier paychecks. Meanwhile, my promising start in syndication never paid me more than twenty thousand dollars a year. It turned out I wasn’t the future of editorial cartoons; I was one of the last people making a go at it.
§ Comic Book Herald’s Dave has his own run down of the Amazon/Comixology debacle:
I’ve been covering the digital comics landscape since CBH was founded in 2011, and in that entire time, Comixology has been *the* competitive leader in the experience of reading digital comics. Truly, I’ve watched over the years as Marvel Unlimited has slowly and steadily tried to emulate Comixology, from their smart panel technology to their smooth transition between double page spreads, and how they’ve never, not for a second, quite caught up to the wizards at Comixology. I cannot emphasize this enough: If you wanted the best experience reading digital comics, you read them on Comixology. The rushed, crass, and careless feeling updates of this past week really muddy those waters. App libraries are more difficult to sort and arrange, Comixology’s desktop reader has migrated to Kindle’s non-comics friendly version, DRM-free downloads are going away, and if you’re a non-US reader, you literally cannot (at least at this point) even subscribe to Comixology Unlimited (their digital comics “all you can eat” streaming service). And honestly, that’s not even close to the full suite of changes.
You can read the Beat’s analysis of the situation here.
§ In news that will shock anyone who doesn’t have kids, the beloved animated series Arthur was still running on PBS until yesterday, when it ended a 25 year run. The final episode went 20 years into the future to show the character’s adult lives. Among the revelations: Arthur himself grew up to to be a successful graphic novelist, making comics based on his own childhood. Was he successful enough to give away his pants, though?
§ Arthur is definitely onto something though. According to the news, Graphic novels, comic book popularity rises. This story is actually a transcript of a short video report from Newsy, and features quotes from the head of B&N about graph novels, who is excited by the young folk flocking in to buy Chainsaw Man.
That growing variety of titles is especially exciting for long-time fans of graphic novels, but it’s also good news for bookstores. No one knows that better than James Daunt, the CEO of Barnes & Noble. “The rise of an increasing popularity of Manga and graphic novels is bringing our stores — our stores are just full of young people, and that’s exactly the demographic that you want in your stores.”
§ A related but different story about comics insists that the Comic book industry continues to thrive, in a profile of the Willards, co-owners of Tardy’s Collectors Corner in Grand Rapids, who are opening a new store.
“We were always just avid customers,” says Willard. “It’s such a part of my life that it’s like breathing. I don’t even think about it anymore.” And business has been booming. So much so, that for the first time in the more than 40-year history of the store, they’re opening a new location, this time in Allegan County. “The dominoes just kept falling in place, so it just worked out perfectly,” says Willard. “And you don’t ignore that many signs where you’re like, oh my gosh, this is going to work out excellent.”
§ Finally, we all heard THAT VOICE in the Doctor Strange trailer, but was it really Patrick Stewart? Interviewed at ComicBook.com, Stewart is masterfully cagey about whether or not he appears in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
“You know, people have been imitating my voice ever since I came on the stage 60 years ago,” Stewart said of the trailer. “So, I can’t be held responsible for that.”
Given the squirming misdirections and outright lies that the Spider-Man: No Way Home cast employed to conceal their participation, we can take Stewart’s hand wave as a ringing confirmation.