Ripley's Believe It Or Not celebrates its 90th anniversary today and lays claim to the title of the longest continuously published daily comic.
The feature, which boasts that it has been "proudly freaking out families for 90 years," was started by Robert Ripley, an illustrator for the New York Globe, who was looking for a way to fill some space in the paper. He started chronicling sports oddities but soon expanded to other fields. His legacy has grown into a small publishing empire, selling a million books a year. John Graziano is the fifth artist to pen the comic.
Michael Cavna of Comic Riffs reports that comics publishers are latching on to Sarah Palin for her star power as both villain and inspiration.
"Tales From the Crypt" publisher portrays her as a censorious villain brandishing a mean hockey stick on the cover of their latest issue, while Bluewater Productions is preparing an issue that depicts her as a role model in their "Female Force" series.
I can't say I'm a huge Opus fan, but I know many will miss the pudgy penguin and his inner life when the strip ends on Nov. 2.
In an interview with Salon, creator Berkeley Breathed explains the impulses that drove his decision to retire the Opus cast and turn his attentions to other projects. Apparently he feels the strip couldn't thrive in the toxic atmosphere of contemporary political discourse.
"We're not a movie. In most aspects, there's no arc to the human story." he explains. "Only a line heading upward. For nearly everything. In this case, the coarsening of the National Discourse. We aren't returning someday to any sort of golden era of political civility."
See if you find his explanation convincing or just weird.
Zippy creator Bill Griffith talked mufflers, muu-muus and movies with boston.com readers this afternoon for over an hour. Here's the transcript.
Fourteen years before he won the Pulitzer Prize for "Maus", his graphic account of the Holocaust, Art Spiegelman was exploring the limits and possibilities of comics as an art form. His early efforts produced "Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!", an autobiographical account of his obsession with MAD magazine, his reaction to his family's anguish and his struggle to define himself as an artist. The 1978 collection of "comix" has just been republished, along with a seven-page afterword by Spiegelman.
Spiegelman is on tour and is scheduled to be in Cambridge at the Harvard Book Store on Oct. 23rd. He was in Texas a few days ago and gave in interview to the Austin Statesman in which he said that "Breakdowns" is his most personal book.
I talked with (and sketched) Spiegelman in 2001 when he came to Harvard to talk about the history of comic books. The interview can be found by clicking on FULL ENTRY below.
Bill Griffith, creator of Zippy, Zerbina, Shelf Life and Mr. Toad will be on hand tomorrow at 2pm on boston.com to answer questions about comics, culture and the wash cycle.
You can submit your questions here beforehand and be ahead of the curve.
Richard Thompson's daily comic strip, Cul de Sac. just celebrated its one-year birthday today. The strip, one of the freshest, best-drawn offerings in years, combines a child-centric sensibility reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes with accomplished penmanship evocative of Richard Searle. It's also falldown funny. Today's offering:
Thompson has done caricatures, political cartoons and a weekly social commentary strip for the Washington Post during several decades at the drawing board. To fully appreciate his skills, check out his blog to a look at his Sunday strips, beautifully rendered in watercolor washes. A book collection is due out this month. An interview with the cartoonist is available at Panels and Pixels.
The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia opens a retrospective show this week of the work of comix great and cultural icon, R. Crumb, creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural among other characters.
For avid fans, it might be worth the trip to Philly to see Crumb's original artwork, ranging from the early Zap Comix strips to his most recent work, done in collaboration with his wife, Arline Kominsky-Crumb, for The New Yorker. Ken Johnson reviews the show for The New York Times here.
Those who wish to stay put can immerse themelves in the roots of Crumb's weirdness in the comfort of their living rooms by renting Terry Zwigoff's 1994 film documentary, "Crumb" (not for the kiddies).
Crumb has a longstanding fascination with strong, assertive women who often dominate his graphic landscapes.
No word yet on when he might start drawing Sarah Palin.