Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney Acquires Marvel Comics!

Wow! Disney went and bought out Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion.

In a blockbuster deal that brings together two of the biggest brands in American film, animation and comic books, the Walt Disney Co. has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in cash and stock. The sale now puts such classic characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Wall-E in the same entertainment stable as world famous superhero characters like Marvel’s Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and Iron Man.

Indeed, Disney will take ownership of more than 5,000 Marvel characters. Disney CEO Robert Iger said the acquisition will allow Disney to “maximize value across multiple platforms and territories.”

Aside from the revolutionary possibilities across publishing, merchandising, TV cartoons, and the successful Marvel movies, I wonder what this means for the Marvel-character-themed rides at Disney's theme-park competitor, Universal Studios?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amazon hosts contest to find new comic strip artists

I have mixed feelings about the McMeel Publishing/UClick Universal "Comic Strip Superstar Contest."

Comic Strip SuperstarAre you the next Comic Strip Superstar? There's only one way to find out--enter an international search for the next popular comic strip artist, sponsored by Andrews McMeel Publishing and hosted by The winner will receive a publishing contract from Andrews McMeel Publishing, a $5,000 advance from Universal Uclick, and a monthly stipend for the development of 20 comic strips that will be considered for syndication.

From the submissions, Universal Press Syndicate will narrow the entries down to 250 quarterfinalists. The quarterfinalists will then be narrowed down to 50 semifinalists by John Glynn and Lee Salem, seasoned Universal Press Syndicate editors. In the semifinal round, popular comic strip creators G.B. Trudeau (Doonesbury), Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse), Scott Hilburn (The Argyle Sweater), and Mark Tatulli (LiĆ³ and Heart of the City) will choose 10 finalists and post feedback for each on customers will then have the opportunity to view the finalists' submissions and vote for the grand prize winner.

Sounds great. I LOVE that people are still encouraging the art of the comic strip, which is what really got me into comics in the first place (more so than comic books). But the fine print does make me more uneasy.

8. PRIZES. One Grand Prize will be awarded consisting of the following:

A. A full publishing contract with Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC to market and distribute a collection of the Grand Prize Winner's comic strips or comic panels as a published book. Upon the full execution of the publishing contract (and delivery by Grand Prize Winner of a minimum of 200 comic strips or comic panels approved by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC editorial staff), Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC will pay the Grand Prize Winner US $5,000. The approximate retail value ("ARV") of the publishing contract is US $5,000 for the advance. This US $5,000 payment is an advance against the royalties to be earned by the Grand Prize Winner under the publishing contract. Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the publishing contract, which will depend on the format in which the book is published. Publishing contract with Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC is not negotiable, and Grand Prize Winner must sign "as is" upon receipt of the executable contract as described in Section 9 below if he/she wishes to enter into the publishing contract being awarded.

B. A development contract with Universal Uclick to develop the Grand Prize winner’s comic strips or comic panels into a feature suitable for syndication. Universal Uclick will pay the Grand Prize Winner a monthly stipend of $300 for each month during the term that Grand Prize Winner submits 20 comics for feedback and evaluation by Universal Uclick. The maximum term of the development contract is 24 months, but it is cancelable by Universal Uclick prior to the stated maximum term in the event of a breach by the Grand Prize Winner, an election by Universal Uclick to discontinue development or an election by Universal Uclick to proceed with early launch of syndication. The ARV of the development contract is US $7,200 based on the maximum term of the stipend. Development contract with Universal Uclick is not negotiable, and Grand Prize Winner must sign "as is" upon receipt of the executable contract as described in Section 9 below if he/she wishes to enter into the development contract being awarded.

The Grand Prize Winner must also enter into a full "syndication" contract with Universal Uclick. The syndication contract is open for good faith negotiation, but if the Grand Prize Winner and Universal Uclick cannot timely come to terms on a syndication agreement, Universal Uclick retains the right to match any bona fide third party offer of syndication made to the Grand Prize Winner during the 24-month period following the start date of the development contract.

C. A "Feature" contract with Universal Uclick including distribution on desktop and mobile applications. The Grand Prize Winner’s comic strips or comic panels will appear on and will be advertised on the sites both web and mobile, featured in a daily email and promoted within mobile applications. Universal Uclick will determine the royalty rates to be paid under the Digital Rights Agreement. The agreement with Universal Uclick is not negotiable, and Grand Prize Winner must sign “as is” upon receipt of executable contract as described in Section 9 below if he/she wishes to enter into the publishing and syndication contracts being awarded.
Part B, to my mind, is quite good. Universal is willing to pay a minimal stipend (don't quit your day job, kiddos) during the development period—a 24-month stretch during which the creator will work out the kinks in his/her comic strip and try to satisfy Universal's editors that it's commercially viable—and will negotiate a syndication contract in good faith once they think you've got something.

Parts A and C are more troubling. Only a $5,000 advance on the book, and all terms of the contract are non-negotiable? The online feature is similarly non-negotiable?

I guess, really, this is comics school. If you're good enough to get syndicated (which would have to be very good in the current newspaper comics climate), you can probably do so through normal channels, and forget this contest. But if you're not quite good enough, you get two years of Universal Press Syndicate editors critiquing your work. And a book of some sort, for which you should be grateful.

Just make sure you get an agent to negotiate your second book contract.

EDITED TO ADD: The deadline is Saturday, September 12 to submit:
1. 10 daily comic strips
2. 2 Sunday comics
3. A title
4. A brief synopsis


BookMoot gives a lovely, rousing review of BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER! Some highlights:

So, I'm looking at books in the children's section at Boulder Bookstore and I hear a snicker, then a cough of laughter, then that sort of sustained snort that morphs into a laughing guffaw. I looked over my shoulder and saw a boy, I would peg him at 5th grade, reading ... a Babymouse book. He was smiling as his eyes darted across the pages which were being turned eagerly.

... I completely identify with Babymouse's wail, "But I'm not good at math!" The dragon that Babymouse must slay is MATH.

... It is important to realize that just because we do not understand a subject or it is difficult does not mean we cannot get better at it with practice and stick-to-it-ness. The Holmes sibs never hit the reader over the head with "the lesson" or "moral of the story" though. They just tell a hilarious tale of an endearing and brave everymouse who is doing the best she can. I will NOT give away a single one of the extremely witty allusions because their appearances will delight the reader.

I *heart* Babymouse. I am Babymouse.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Babymouse: The Musical reviewed at Library Queue

Tricia over at Library Queue recently reviewed Babymouse: The Musical:

Reading these books is kind of like watching a Disney movie. My kids and I both enjoy them, but we are laughing at totally different parts. I loved the Narrator and references in this book to A Chorus Line, Grease, and Phantom of the Opera. My daughter doesn't really get that, but it doesn't matter to her. She loved the references to High School Musical and the situational comedy.

I love that Tricia describes herself as a "non-practicing librarian." Doctors get to say that ... why not the rest of us?

- Matt Holm, non-practicing magazine editor

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interview with BABYMOUSE's creators at Graphic Novel Reporter

Jenni and I recently did an interview with Graphic Novel Reporter, which they published as "The Mouse Roars." Some highlights:

Did you read comics growing up?
Like crazy! We were more of a “strip” house, though. Major influences were Prince Valiant and Flash Gordon (our dad had the bound collected editions), Peanuts, B.C., Wizard of Id (courtesy of our eldest brother), and later Bloom County, and, of course, Calvin & Hobbes. Jenni had a brief Cathy phase, which she regrets, and Matt went through both a Ziggy and Garfield period.

Does any sibling rivalry ever rear its head?
Nah, because Jenni always gets her way (she’s older).

How did Babymouse come about?
Jenni was pretty unimpressed with most of the female characters that were in comics when she was a kid. So, we were both living in New York City and she had a bad day, and this image of an irritated little mouse popped into her head. She scribbled it onto a napkin and gave it to Matt. And—voila!—Babymouse was born. And then Matt promptly lost the napkin (way to go, dude).

You’re now on your eleventh Babymouse book. How long do you see the series continuing?
As long as Matt can keep drawing! When his hand falls off, it’ll be hard to keep up the same schedule.

Babymouse: DRAGONSLAYER book release fans!

Nance over at the blog Wash Your Hands Afterwards recounts her daughter's very first day-of-book-release-book-purchase:

... Princess Sparkley enjoys these Babymouse graphic novels by Jennifer and Matthew Holm. For her birthday, one of her grandma's sent her a check. She decided to order this t-shirt she's wearing below from Cafe Press and buy the newest Babymouse book (since she'd already read the rest). We had to wait until today to get the book because today was it's release date. And Borders didn't have it. But it turned out they did. There was no party at midnight last night. No lines of hyperactive little girls. It wasn't on disply as a new release. They checked the store inventory and saw that yes, they were supposed to have it, so they went in back and found it for us. Nothing exciting, but she got her book.

When we arrived home Jed congratulated her on getting her first book on its release date. Can you tell we're bookworms over here? She's already read it. Probably twice.

Whew! Now THAT's an adventure in book-buying!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's D-Day ... DRAGONSLAYER Day!

Yes, Babymouse fans, our intrepid heroine's 11th adventure--BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER--is now on sale!

To kick off the debut celebration, we have an exclusive interview over at Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog.

(I like that we are described as "brother-and-sister troublemakers.")

The interview is part of a series Cynthia is doing with various authors on "Craft, Career & Cheer." Check them all out!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Babymouse: DRAGONSLAYER reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

Here's a kidlit blogger I haven't run across before: Becky's Book Reviews. (Which is crazy, because her reviews go back quite a long ways!)


...You wouldn't think joining a mathlete team and training for the math olympics would be the jumpstart into a great fantasy adventure, but then again you may not be familiar with Babymouse. She can imagine just about anything!

Do I have a favorite part of this one? ... I think I knew we were made for each other when she opens up her locker--(a locker she has a love/hate relationship with by the way which brings me back to my own school days, but that's a whole other story) and finds herself in Narnia.

Also check out her review of BABYMOUSE: THE MUSICAL.

And remember: ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT until the debut of BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER reviewed by The Horn Book

Yes, BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER got a lovely review from The Horn Book:

The intrepid Babymouse returns to slay the dragon of math phobia when she is strong-armed into joining the mathlete team in Babymouse: Dragonslayer. Readers will be drawn into the graphic novel format as author Jennifer Holm and illustrator Matthew Holm humorously interweave reality with Babymouse’s epic (and pink-tinged) fantasies. This time the message is a valuable one, too, as Babymouse learns that “just because you’re not good at something, it doesn’t mean you have to be terrible at it, either.” (8–12 years)

Only 12 more days until BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER is released!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stand tall, Heroes!

Here's an awesome BABYMOUSE: OUR HERO statue created by one young fan!

I love love LOVE the boots. So awesome. And did you see how huge this statue is? That's a 5.5-inch tall copy of OUR HERO in the background!

Her mom writes the blog UnCooked Art, and is an artist and Live-food chef! Always glad to get the attention of a foodie family!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

G.I. Joe

Why can't the G.I. Joe movie be like this?

Certainly a better list of stars than the movie!

And why do I like things when they are so preposterous yet taken so deadly serious? I'm looking at you, Dr. Horrible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Team Babymouse at the Providence Bridge Pedal in Portland

My wife, Cyndi, and I biked the full 11-bridge ride of the Providence Bridge Pedal in Portland yesterday. That amounted to 47+ miles, including getting to and from the start and finish lines. Yow! We joined 18,000 cyclists, each of whom followed one of three courses with varying numbers of bridges.

(I'm surprised we're not that sore today. Sheer exhaustion was the real culprit on the ride. It was fascinating--and tiring--to see your body do the actual calories-in-calories-out equation. The difference made by one banana or half a peanut butter sandwich was amazing. As was seeing the exact minute when that energy had been used up.)

At any rate, we decided to put on our BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER armor for the ride. Check it out!

BABYMOUSE: DRAGONSLAYER--debuting August 25!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Babymouse party ideas

We know there have been Babymouse parties before at libraries, and that folks have made special Babymouse cupcakes. But if you're wracking your brain for tips for YOUR next Babymouse-a-licious party, take heart:

I just came across a cute post at Peppers and Pollywogs about "Babymouse Party Ideas" (especially slumber party ideas). Check it out!