Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So without further ado, let’s get to it ...
Watterson, Otomo, Moore shortlisted for Angouleme Grand Prix
The Angouleme International Comics Festival is next weekend, and things have already gotten interesting, as the voting for the festival's highest honor, the Grand Prix d'Angouleme, has produced a remarkable trio of finalists.
Until last year, the winner was chosen solely by a jury of past recipients, but in 2013 the festival organizers changed the rules, and the jury took a final vote from a shortlist of 16 nominees. The list was very international, including Chris Ware and Akira Toriyama, but the final choice was Willem, a cartoonist little known outside the French-speaking countries, and there was some grumbling that the judges were too parochial.
This year, all creators who are registered with the show will also be allowed to vote on the final choice, and 16 of the 26 members of the academy, including the current president, Willem, have issued a statement saying they will abstain from voting. This has resulted in a shortlist of three creators, none of whom are French: Bill Watterson, Katsuhiro Otomo and Alan Moore. Since the winner of the Grand Prix is the president of the following year's show, this will make for a very interesting Angouleme 2015 no matter who wins. (Brigid Alverson)
Snoopy license plates are coming to California!
Sure, some people put Autobot symbols on their cars or a Batman logo, but soon Californians will truly be able to stand out with a Peanuts license plate featuring original Charles Schulz artwork of Snoopy. This has been in the works for about four years, and was even temporarily halted during the state's severe budget crisis. But the California Association of Museums didn't back down, and now as long as 7,500 people order a Snoopy license plate, it will be a reality!
Snoopy doing his happy dance on your license plates will surely cheer up SIG Alert-suffering motorists stuck behind you on the 405, but it's also for a good cause. Proceeds from the purchase of plates will go toward a fund to create a grant program for California museums. The state has a robust network of museums that could benefit, including the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. Buying a plate will cost you $50 for the first year, and then $40 to renew it annually. If you want a 6 or 7-character personalized plate, it will cost $98, with a $78 renewal fee.
I'm really looking forward to seeing these start to pop up during my commutes. Comics get more visibility every day, and having the DMV acknowledge the significance of Charlie Brown's beagle is a heart-warming and fun way to remember this comic strip classic. A word of warning though for those personalized plates, our own Mr. Parkin has already called dibs on IGOTAROCK. I don't have it in me to tell him it's too many characters. (Corey Blake)
(Editor's Note: Good Grief!)
Lilli Carré gets Thurber House residency
Lilli Carré, who attracted quite a few favorable reviews for her 2012 graphic novel Heads or Tails, has been awarded the third annual Columbus Museum of Art and Thurber House residency. Carré will get to spend three weeks in the house in March and April just working on her art, and the museum will host an exhibit of her work while she is there. The museum has set up a crowdfunding page to finance Carré's residency, and while it hasn't attracted many donations, the breakdown of where the funds will go makes for interesting reading.
Carré is an animator as well as a graphic novelist; her films have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival and she is one of the co-founders of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. Last year's artist in residence was Ed Piskor. (Brigid Alverson)
Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner's Flash Gordon will save every one of us
Dynamite Entertainment has been a major contributor to the pulp renaissance for years, but since teaming up with former Marvel editor Nate Cosby to produce comics featuring old Gold Key and King Features characters, the company has been especially exciting. They and Cosby put together Jeff Parker and Marc Laming for Kings Watch, the mini-series that reintroduced King Features heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake to readers in a way that was as fun and thrilling as those characters deserved.
And this week brought the announcement that Parker is continuing to tell Flash Gordon stories in an ongoing series with artist Evan "Doc" Shaner and colorist supreme Jordie Bellaire. It's perfect timing as the character celebrates his 80th anniversary this year, and I can't imagine better hands for the universe's greatest space hero to be in. Parker's one of my top five favorite adventure writers, and I've been a big fan of Shaner's work since discovering his art blog a few years ago. Bellaire has her own fan following and rightfully so. Having these three together on a comic would be amazing regardless of the character. Having them together on Flash Gordon is unbelievable. (Michael May)
Farel Dalrymple + First Second are a match made in comic heaven
Last week brought announcements of three new books from First Second, a publisher known for putting out well-crafted graphic novels from some of comics' best. While every First Second project is worth a look, the one that really caught my eye was The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple. Dalrymple is the creator of Pop Gun War and the Eisner nominated webcomic It Will All Hurt, and was the artist for the Jonathan Lethem-written Omega the Unknown miniseries a few years back. The Wrenchies takes place on the same world as It Will All Hurt and features kids fighting demons and other monsters; Hero Complex describes it as "a sort of twisted, science-fiction Peter Pan story, with time travel, graphic violence and magic thrown in." That sounds pretty fantastic. (JK Parkin)
Jim Zub to write Red Sonja and Cub
Writer Jim Zubkavich (Skullkickers, Samurai Jack) will put a new spin on the iconic comics character Red Sonja with a manga-style one-shot, Red Sonja and Cub, this April. The She-Devil with a Sword is such a perfect manga character that it's amazing no one has thought of this before, and Zubkavich is planning a samurai-type story (the title is a takeoff on the classic samurai manga Lone Wolf and Cub) that he promises will be a "big action-big emotion ride." The comic will be illustrated by Dynamite regular Jonathan Lau, whose credits include their Green Hornet and Bionic Man comics, and the cover artist will be Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, who is the penciller for Udon's Street Fighter II comics. (Brigid Alverson)
Captain Victory returns in the most awesome way possible
What's better than Joe Casey teaming up with three awesome artists to reinvent an old Dark Horse superhero property? How about Joe Casey teaming up with eight awesome artists to reinvent an old Jack Kirby comic? Dynamite (who gets our unofficial company of the week this week) has recruited Casey and a Murderers' Row of artists to resurrect Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, which was created by Jack Kirby and published by Pacific Comics in the 1980s. The artists include Farel Darymple, Michel Fiffe, Jim Rugg, Benjamin Marra, Jim Mahfood, Nathan Fox, Connor Willumsen and Ulises Farinas. It's due out in July. (JK Parkin)