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Art by Domitille Collardey

§ Now this is incredible! Pizza Island has reunited! What is Pizza island you ask? Well as we plow right into the heart of Aughts comics nostalgia, nothing could more clearly sum up the spirit of the era. Pizza Island was a studio in Brooklyn that was composed of cartoonists Sarah Glidden, Julia Wertz, Domitille Collardey, Kate Beaton, Meredith Gran, Lisa Hanawalt and Karen Sneider. If you can hardly believe that such a grouping of talent was ever collected under one roof well, it happened! I was there!

These creators have gone on to even greater success in many media, and several have acquired babies or puppies  – Wertz is about to give birth any minute now as you know if you follow her hilarious Instagram comics. Not everyone has shown up at the virtual, quarantine-aided reunion yet, but Hanawalt posted:

The other Pizza Island girls are my sisters and my blood beldams, and we continue to meet every half-moon at The Ugliest Tree on Earth, where we perform our snacking rituals. We’ve set up this blog as a virtual space to f*ck around in and we’re honored to have you visit, do please come back soon! We’re bringing blogs back, baby!!! DOWN WITH NEWSLETTERS!! UP WITH BLOGS!! STILL DOn’t fully understand WhAT RSS FEEDS are!

and so did Beaton with a wistful comic,

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and Wertz. 

It’s been awhile – over 8 years, to be exact- since Pizza Island has been in the public eye. We’ve missed you! We have not missed each other, however, on account of we all still talk on a daily basis. Well, we still miss the crew now that we all live in different cities and states, but we’ve kept in touch and decided that now would be a good time to do a public digital reunion. Since many of us are now on lockdown during the global pandemic, we’d like to entertain you the best we know how! We’ll be posting stuff here regularly, mainly comics and doodles, and we’ll update you with what we’ve been up to over the last eight years.

Pizza Island as a collective arrived just at the right time to betide the coming waves of lady cartoonists who changed the face of comics. Click on the links on About page to see what everyone is up to – games, books, cartoons – and just be thankful we lived in an era where we could behold such gathered greatness.

§ Marvel is releasing a semi-random bunch of comics via digital only, and maybe because the news hit late in the day and we’re all torpid, pitchforks were barely raised –  or haven’t been yet. I should note that several of these are kind of “mop up” titles that will finish up in the collection. This has been done by a few publishers before – a series is in print but sells so poorly that the last few issues are done in digital and you have to buy the collection to get the story. I honestly can’t recall just what, but I do recall that readers are always annoyed. This is definitely one of the harbingers of the Doom of the Periodical, but we seem to be harbingered out, as well.

§ WonderCon@Home is a virtual collection of panels and so on that might have been IRL once. Sit at home and you will never have to eat a convention center pretzel again!

We’re back with more WonderCon@Home content! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be uploading new and exclusive videos, featuring special guests and panels that would have been featured at WonderCon Anaheim 2020. These videos have been specially created for our WonderCon@Home section. It’s the next best thing to being there! Scroll down for the original content we posted during WonderCon Anaheim 2020 weekend (April 10–12), including videos from 2019’s event, a pair of Activity Booklets, featuring puzzles and coloring pages, and much more. Remember to visit our Online Exhibit Hall and check out all the companies, creators, and vendors who have links to their own websites. And also visit our online WonderCon Merch Store for exclusive (and very limited) WonderCon Anaheim 2020 items! For more WonderCon@Home fun, search #WCA2020 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back often for new videos. Capture the magic of WonderCon Anaheim from your couch!

I’m in one of these panels – I’ll link when it’s up.

§ The Brooklyn Library is also going digital with Making Comic Book Characters this Friday, presented by Cathy G. Johnson.

How can fun characters be a jumping off point for developing our own comic book stories? In this workshop, graphic novelist Cathy G. Johnson will lead teens through fun drawing games, brainstorming activities, developing our own characters, and starting to write our own stories! Participants must register and a Zoom link to join the program will be emailed in advance. 

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§ Many new volumes of The Drops of God the cult manga about wine, are now available on ComiXology! If you are like me, during quarantine you have been enjoying many drops of value priced Oregon pinot noir.

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§ Here is the kind of success that keeps the motors running on all the dreams that keep comic book publishing going. We all love the Rock and Emily Blunt, right? Well, they are teaming up again for a Netflix (maybe) film called Ball and Chain which is based on a comic book! It’s yet another “Mr and Mrs Smith” riff, with a script by ‘The Big Sick’ co-writer Emily V. Gordon:

The project is being described as a superhero story meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith, where a couple struggling in their marriage are equipped with superpowers. However, their powers only work when they’re together.

But you may struggle, like me, to remember the comic Ball and Chain. Turns out it came out…21 years ago, from Homage Comics, a “creator focused” imprint of Wildstorm. The comic was by Scott Lobdell and Ale Garza and ran for four issues. And yet, this little scrap of IP has been floating around Hollywood for years, THR tells us:

The high-profile package was shopped around with interest from multiple studios, but is looking likely to land at Netflix. Still, no deals are done. Johnson will produce under his Seven Bucks banner with Dany and Hiram Garcia. Kevin Misher, who worked with Johnson and Seven Bucks on Fighting With My Family, will also produce, along with Blunt. The comic hailed from comics scribe Scott Lobdell with art by Ale Garza and was published in the late 1990s. It was twice before in development as a series, the last time in 2010 at Syfy.

Like I said, if an obscure comic can stay alive for 20 years, be optioned twice and end up with Duane Johnson and Emily Blunt starring in it, you know why all those Hollywood types will still keep financing those comics lines. Hope springs eternal.

§ Tis the season for very long, very powerful profiles. Yesterday Josh Trank, today Val Kilmer, in a haunting profile by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. There are some Batman bits:

He remembered a story from his time as Batman. One day he was filming and about to take off the Batsuit when Warren Buffett and his grandkids came by. They wanted to see Batman, so Kilmer stuck around in the suit, but they didn’t want to talk to him. They wanted to try on the mask and ride in the Batmobile. He understood then that Batman isn’t meant to be a real guy. Batman is meant to be so anonymous that the person who is looking at him can see himself in him. “That’s why it’s so easy to have five or six Batmans,” he says now. “It’s not about Batman. There is no Batman.” And so what kind of thing is that to play, a person whose job is to be as nonspecific as possible. He looked good in the Batsuit, but wearing it was torture. When he took it off, he was finally free.

But this is really the nut graph:

With each project, Kilmer gets a little closer to making the universe conform a little bit more to what he wishes it were: a place where the two historical figures he loves most, Mark Twain and Mrs. Eddy, are finally no longer polar opposites but magnetically aligned.

Go in peace, Madmartigan.

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