If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our years on the Internet, it’s that there’s no aspect of comics that can’t be broken down and quantified in a single definitive list, preferably in amounts of five or ten. And since there’s no more definitive authority than ComicsAlliance, we’re taking it upon ourselves to compile Top Five lists of everything you could ever want to know about comics.
These days, if people remember that they still make newspaper comics at all, they probably think of gag-a-day humor strips, like Garfield, or one of the few remaining soap opera strips, like Apartment 3G, or whatever Mark Trail is. But in the 1930s and '40s, the adventure strip ruled the roost. Two-fisted men and women sockin' jaws, flyin' planes, and rightin' wrongs, three panels at a time. This video counts down five of the best, most exciting, and most beautifully rendered adventure strips of all time.
Warren Beatty’s long-developing film about legendary director Howard Hughes is finally preparing to hit theaters, eyeing a fall / winter release this year — that’s excellent news, not only because the actor hasn’t had a major role since 1998's Bulworth, but because the Hughes film has long been a passion project for Beatty. But the untitled Hughes film isn’t the only project he has in mind, as Beatty is “very serious” about possibly returning to one of his older, beloved roles. Unfortunately, it’s not a sequel to The Parallax View.
It's safe to say that cartoonist Chester Gould, born on this day all the way back in 1900, is well known because of one strip: Dick Tracy. Though he did other work over the course of his long career --- much of it about his adopted home city of Chicago --- it's hard to deny that creating arguably the most famous fictional police detective and drawing a comic about him for 46 years is a whole career in itself.
Last weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con, the 27th annual Harvey Awards were held, and in one of the least surprising developments in the history of the Harveys, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga took home a few more awards to add to a shelf that I'm sure is already collapsing under the weight of its many honors.
Named for MAD Magazine editor and cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman (who, interestingly enough, did not win the award he was nominated for this year), the Harveys are voted on by industry professionals, and this year's winners represent a pretty interesting crop of current comics, including CA favorites like Lumberjanes, Hellboy In Hell, and even Dick Tracy. Check out a full roster of winners and nominees below!
A few weeks ago, Matt Wilson and I watched Dick Tracy, the 1990 adaptation of the classic comic strip, directed, produced by and starring Warren Beatty. It's a pretty interesting movie, something that Beatty had wanted to do since the '70s that was clearly styled as a reaction to the success of Batman '89, a strange and ambitious project with a whole lot of fascinating flaws. But what's even stranger is the half-hour special that aired 18 years later, where Beatty reprized his role so that he could be interviewed, in character, by Leonard Maltin.
Q: How would you have written the Funky/Dick crossover? -- @damnyouwillis
A: You know, Dave, it's been a long time since I've been as mad at a comic as I was at the soggy lump of anticlimax that was the Funky Winkerbean/Dick Tracy crossover last month. I mean, I'd call it a disaster, but disasters are usually exciting and have consequences. Funky/Dick was not, and did not.
Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.
I have been writing this column for four and a half years now, and I can tell you with absolutely no uncertainty that I have never been as angry with Funky Winkerbean as I am right now. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've been mad at this thing before, but never before has it been the pure, incandescent rage of betrayal at declaring the crossover of the year, only to have it stink up the joint like a bucket of dead fish. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself. Fortunately, we've got all the usual misery to take my mind off it.
Friends and neighbors, it is truly a blessed day: Funky/Dick is finally here.
A few months back, we found an announcement buried in an article in Variety, of all places, that revealed plans for ComicsAlliance's two favorite comic strips, Funky Winkerbean and Dick Tracy, to cross over at the start of the year. Now, the day has come, and there is a very good chance that Les Moore will either be violently murdered or framed for murder. If I was a betting man, I'd put money on the latter, but in my heart, I know I'm hoping for the former.
Q: How did Dick Tracy solve the case of Li'l Orphan Annie's disappearance and was it appropriately insane? -- @willwise3
A: Oh Will. Will, Will, Will. I want to take a moment to thank you for letting me talk about what is unquestionably the single greatest crossover of the year. For those of you who may have missed it, the Little Orphan Annie comic strip ended a while back with what has to be the most harrowing cliffhanger to ever hit the newspaper page. After eighty years of adventures, Annie went out in the middle of a story where she'd been kidnapped by an actual war criminal called the Butcher of the Balkans, locked up on a boat bound for an unknown shore, with Daddy Warbucks wondering if he would ever see his beloved daughter again. Seriously, that was the last strip, and Annie's final fate until it was announced that Dick Tracy would step up and solve the case last summer.
As for whether or not that story was "insane," well, let me put it this way: It involves SUPER-POWERED MOON PEOPLE, ATOMIC WEAPONS, AND A TIME MACHINE.
For some reason, Variety, the Hollywood newspaper known mainly for a tendency to go hard on pun headlines, did a piece today on the endless march of depression that is Funky Winkerbean and how the creeping despair that infests every inch of Westview is actually something of a blessing for the floundering newspaper comics page. It's an interesting take on a brand of misery that we've become pretty familiar with over the years here at ComicsAlliance, but buried towards the end of the article is one of the most exciting announcements I've seen all year:
"In January, Funky characters are slated to meet Dick Tracy, who is published by a different syndicate, the result of a meeting with Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton at a comics convention."
Please, Santa Claus, if you're listening, let this be a story about Dick Tracy being called in to investigate the murder of Les Moore.
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