TIME Comics

Bill Watterson Drew a New Comic, and It’s Really Funny

WATTERSON
Bill Watterson, creator of the syndicated cartoon strip "Calvin & Hobbes" is shown in this Feb. 24, 1986 file photo at his home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. C.H. Pete Copeland—The Plain Dealer/AP

The 15-panel comic was created by Watterson for France's 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival

Bill Watterson, the reclusive cartoonist behind Calvin and Hobbes, has created a new comic. But don’t go looking for it in your local newspaper.

Watterson’s latest strip was created in celebration of France’s 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival. In 2014, Watterson received the Grand Prix award at the festival, its highest honor, for his esteemed comic about an imaginative little boy named Calvin and his wise stuffed tiger Hobbes. Since retiring the cartoon in 1995, Watterson rarely illustrates strips. One exception is a poster he drew for the recent comic strip documentary, Stripped.

In an interview, Watterson said he drew his latest comic without text in order to break any language barriers. “Telling a story only in pictures is one of the great strengths — and greatest pleasures — offered by comics,” Watterson said.

TIME movies

Meet Captain Marvel: Fighter Pilot, Feminist and Marvel’s Big Gamble

Captain Marvel Marvel

The Gloria Steinem-inspired character will be the first woman to get her own Marvel movie

If you’re not a comic book fan, you probably hadn’t heard of Captain Marvel before last week — and you likely wouldn’t have guessed that she’s a woman.

Last Tuesday, Marvel Studios announced that the Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, will be the first female superhero to get her own Marvel Studios movie in 2017. She will be in good company: Both Wonder Woman and a unnamed female character from the Spider-Man universe will get their own treatments that year too.

The decision came as a shock even to the Captain Marvel comics writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, who after neglecting to return a phone call from her editor, found out through her Twitter feed. She responded by tweeting, “Did not see this coming.” And if the movies stay true to the comic books, the fighter pilot with half-alien DNA and a passing resemblance to Gloria Steinem in both looks and feminist conviction will be a far cry from the damsels in distress audiences have grown accustomed to seeing in superhero films.

The former Air Force pilot — who DeConnick says is meant to have the swagger of record-setting pilot Chuck Yeager — can fly and shoot beams out of her hands. And she fits nicely in the universe of cocky, wisecracking heroes that we’ve seen since the first Iron Man movie: She’s a control freak with a big ego and a quick temper. In fact, Danvers may prove to be a lynchpin in the Marvel universe. In the comics, she’s a member of the Avengers and works closely with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel Studios has yet to announce whether Danvers will appear in either of these series, but it’s safe to assume that tapping someone connected to both universes wasn’t a mistake. Plus it can’t hurt that the company’s name is in her title.

In short: she’s more than just a sexy spandex uniform.

DeConnick has a personal mission to put an end to such reductive characterizations of women in pop culture. “The test that I always give young writers is if you can take out your female character and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still functions, you’re doing it wrong,” says DeConnick. “You would be surprised how many times this is actually done. These women are purely there to inspire or motivate or reward or sometimes decorate. I don’t want all of our female characters to be good or to be role models. I just want them to have an interior life. If you can’t answer for me what does this character want in this scene, you’re not writing a woman, you’re writing a lamp. Start over.”

Seems simple, but in the long history of superhero franchises, audiences have seen a lot of sexy lamps. Until recent years, the accepted wisdom has been that young men (the target audience for these superhero films) will not watch movies with a female protagonist. Naysayers cited flops like Catwoman and Elektra to back up this claim.

It’s entirely possible that no one saw these movies because they were terrible (Catwoman scores 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and Elektra scores 10%). But DeConnick also points out that women have been trained from a young age to cross-identify with male characters simply because of the dearth of strong female protagonists in our culture. With thousands of male protagonists on TV and in movies, men have never been forced to do the same. This makes it harder for them to relate to women characters, so studios make fewer movies starring female protagonists, perpetuating the cycle.

“And when you get into the sociology with status, everyone wants to identify up, to aspire up,” she says. “So if you are female and therefore lower status in terms of your cultural power, it’s much more comfortable to identify up with a male hero than it is for men to identify down to a lower status.” That’s problematic given how popular superhero movies are. Marginalizing half the population teaches young girls that men’s values and aspirations should come before their own, DeConnick says, and it teaches young boys not to view the women in their lives as fully rounded human beings. Unfortunately, movie studios are motivated by money, not by equality issues.

But then The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence burned down the box office, and everything changed. Studios started wondering how they could mimic the success of the Girl on Fire. The obvious answer: Superheroes, hence the rush to fill 2017 with potential blockbusters starring ladies with superpowers. And before those movies hit theaters, networks are testing the waters on TV: Agent Carter, based on the female character from the first Captain America movie, will premiere in January and a Supergirl TV series is slated for sometime next year.

The change can’t come soon enough. In 2013 — the year of The Hunger Games sequel and Frozen — just 30% of all speaking roles went to women and only 15% of all protagonists were female. Marvel has done a better job than most at rectifying this issue by featuring kick-ass heroines who pass the “sexy lamp” test as part of the ensemble in several films. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has become a fan favorite after appearances in the Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America films, and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora debuted as the “most dangerous woman in the universe” in Guardians of the Galaxy.

“If you can take out your female character and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still functions, you’re doing it wrong.”Still, there’s a lot to be desired, even in the most progressive blockbusters. Many critics have said, for instance, that Black Widow is just eye candy in the Avengers movie. “That’s objectively untrue!” says DeConnick. “I think The Avengers is a Black Widow movie. She saves the day. And if you take her out, the plot does not function.”

It’s true that without Black Widow’s success, Marvel never would have greenlit a Captain Marvel movie. But the popularity of Black Widow does not guarantee that Captain Marvel will be successful, especially considering Carol Danvers’ background is as political as it is supernatural. Danvers only became Captain Marvel in 2012 after a push from DeConnick’s former editor Steve Wacker. Before then, she was Ms. Marvel, created in the 1970s with a nod to the feminist publication Ms. Magazine. In one plotline, Carol Danvers leaves NASA to take a job as an editor at Woman Magazine. “She wore oversized glasses and blond, middle-parted hair and neck scarves,” says DeConnick. “It was Gloria Steinem fan fiction in the most literal sense.”

Decades later, Ms. Marvel had lost some of her luster. Wacker liked the character but felt the name was a little dated. He wanted to transform Danvers into a character his daughter would aspire to be, much in the same way his son aspires to be Peter Parker (Spider-Man). “As sappy as it sounds, I couldn’t imagine her or other little girls dreaming of being Ms. Marvel. But Captain Marvel. She sounds like the greatest hero in the world,” says Wacker. The original Captain Marvel had died about 20 years before, and though some characters had picked up the name since (including another woman) none had stuck.

In 2012, the female Captain Marvel premiered to much fanfare and controversy. In fact, Marvel Comics has come under fire several times in the last couple of years for promoting female heroines, including when they gave the old title of Ms. Marvel to a Muslim woman in 2013 and when a woman took up Thor’s hammer earlier this year. “The usual suspects get very angry, and they’re certain Marvel is ruined forever, and then everyone forgets about it and we just keep going,” says Wacker. “It’s been the same way for 75 years.”

Embracing diversity, Marvel executives say, has been a mission of the company since the years of Stan Lee, when the former Marvel president would pen essays about diversity and feminism in the back of the comics. But the imperative has become more pressing in recent years thanks to the Marvel Studios movies. The Marvel name has become more influential than ever and, to quote a Stan Lee Marvel comic, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

But the question still remains: Will she make any money? If Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman fail in the same way that Catwoman did, it will be hard to convince movie executives that it’s worth gambling on female superheroes again.

Wacker isn’t worried. “I think if we can sell a talking raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy to the masses,” he says, laughing, “we can do this.”

Read next: A Comic Book Dummy’s Guide to the Marvel Universe Plan

TIME Television

Fox Is Developing an Archie TV Series

The Riverdale gang is heading to the small screen

Fox is heading to Riverdale. Archie Comics confirmed Thursday that the cable channel is developing a one-hour drama series based on the beloved comic characters.

The series will follow comic favorites Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper and Reggie Mantle, along with a newer addition to the Riverdale world: Kevin Keller, a gay character who was introduced in 2010. THR adds that the gang will “explore the surrealistic twists of small-town life, in addition to the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath [their hometown] Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

The series, which is being produced by Warner Bros. TV-based Berlanti Productions and The Arrow‘s Greg Berlanti, will be penned by former Glee scribe and current chief creative officer at Archie Comics Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

“This is something we’ve been working on for awhile now, figuring out the best way to bring these characters to life for what will be, essentially, the first time,” Aguirre-Sacasa said in a statement. “The entire team working on Riverdale is as passionate about Archie as Jon [Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO] and I are, so it feels like the stars have finally aligned for Archie and the rest of the gang.”

It seems as though the in-the-works TV series is just the latest in a string of moves keeping the Archie universe current; earlier this year, Aguirre-Sacasa tapped Lena Dunham to write her own Archie storyline for the comic.

TIME Comics

See How Marvel’s Wolverine Has Evolved Over The Years

The iconic superhero turns 40

From Logan to James Howlett, the iconic Marvel superhero most people know simply as Wolverine has gone by many names and even more costumes since he was first introduced as a cameo in The Incredible Hulk #180 in October 1974. In honor of Wolverine’s 40th anniversary in October 2014, take a look back at the many renditions he’s seen over the years since his creation.

A version of this infographic first appeared on HalloweenCostumes.com.

TIME Media

See How Peanuts Addressed Feminism, Nuclear War and More

An exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum highlights Charlie Brown's place in a changing society

Peanuts, which debuted on this day in 1950, is sometimes remembered for the cute kids and dogs that filled the comic strip’s boxes — but, as an exhibit now on show at the Charles M. Schulz Museum shows, that didn’t mean it stayed away from weighty topics.

Rather, Schulz, who created Peanuts, used Charlie Brown, Snoopy and their friends to talk about some of the most controversial issues out there. Schulz didn’t often take sides, but rather — as can be seen in the examples shown here — let his characters prompt readers to think a little more deeply.

Social Commentary is on view at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., through Nov. 2.

Captions above courtesy of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

TIME Books

New Alan Moore Comics Coming in December

Alan Moore
Avatar Press

The six-part series is based off Garth Ennis' Crossed

Fans craving new material from graphic novelist and comic book icon Alan Moore have some good news: the man behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta has a six-issue project in the works.

Crossed: +100, a spin-off of Garth Ennis’ sci-fi-horror series Crossed, takes place approximately 100 years after the original outbreak of a plague that reduces humanity to its most evil thoughts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gabriel Andrade will illustrate the author’s new set of monthly comics.

“I think people think of Crossed as a horror story, and I can see why. It is extremely horrible,” said Moore in a statement. “[But] I was thinking that Crossed is actually a science fiction story that has got a really, really high horror quotient. So that was the way that I started approaching it.”

Crossed co-creator and writer Garth Ennis likened Moore’s addition to the series as “Jimi Hendrix want[ing] to play in my band” and said it “means everything to me.”

Crossed: +100 arrives in December on Avatar Press.

[THR]

TIME movies

Watch Vin Diesel Say His Only Line in Guardians of the Galaxy in 4 Different Languages

"Yo soy Groot"

Vin Diesel’s character Groot may play an integral role in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but the tree-creature superhero he plays is only capable of saying three words: “I am Groot.”

So when the actor provided the voice for his character, he did so not just for the English version of the film but for various dubbed versions for foreign audiences. Diesel also voiced Groot in Russian, Portuguese, French, and Spanish, all of which were filmed as part of behind-the-scenes footage for the film.

Guardians of The Galaxy is now playing in theaters nationwide.

TIME movies

DC Comics Releases New Pic of Ben Affleck As Batman

The new Caped Crusader is here

DC Comics celebrated 75 years of Batman with a new picture of Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. The teaser photo was released at San Diego Comic-Con and features a brooding Batman akin to Christian Bale’s take on the superhero.

Affleck is facing harsh criticism from fans who are doubting his ability to step into the role. He joked early on with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night saying, “I saw the announcement. I looked at this thing. I looked down at the first comment. It’s like ‘Ben Affleck is going to be Batman.’ The first one just goes, ‘Nooooooooooooooooo!'”

DC may be trying to break through this type of fan hesitation by teasing out the future iteration of Batman.

MONEY Odd Spending

The High Cost of Being A Comic-Con Superfan

Night Elf at Comic-Con
Jessica's Night Elf Rogue outfit won an award at the 2012 San-Diego Comic-Con.

Some fans, known as cosplayers, construct elaborate costumes of their favorite comic characters. The results are amazing, but they don't come cheap.

On Thursday, the San Diego Comic-Con kicked off its 2014 edition. The annual four-day event has grown beyond comics into a geek-culture mecca, attracting fans of everything from superheroes and video games to mainstream network programming.

Of the thousands who descend every year on the San Diego convention center (at $45 a pop per session), most are just looking to meet other enthusiasts and see the latest on their favorite characters. But there’s a large number of fans who want to take their experience a little bit further—from liking a character to becoming it. They’re called cosplayers, enthusiasts who make costumes of their favorite fictional avatars. With costs that can run into the thousands of dollars, these costumes are an artistic and financial testament to the wearer’s love of a particular game or show.

Jessica Al-Khalifah is one of these superfans. She and a friend had gotten into the online role-playing game World of Warcraft and in the process grew attached their virtual avatars. Playing the game was fun, she thought, but what if they could actually be their in-game characters, if just for a day or two?

Lucky for Jessica, there was convention coming up nearby. “We decided we should make some outfits and see what it’s all like,” she says. “It turned out we weren’t so bad at it.”

“Not bad” is an understatement. Jessica’s creation, a Warcraft Night Elf outfit, took four months of on-and-off labor to assemble and involved learning a whole new trade in the process. “I just wanted to make it look really cool, so I said, ‘You know, I think I’ll learn how to leather work,’ ” she recalls. “I hurt my hand a million times.”

The finished product featured ornate leather-and-metal armor, as well as two gigantic painted scythes, and cost roughly $600 by the time she was done. The result was good enough to win her an award at the 2012 San-Diego Comic-Con, but it wasn’t even her most elaborate creation. Another costume, based around the Legend of the Seeker television show, included a leather bodysuit and fiberglass weapon that was electrically engineered to glow. The final materials bill for that one: $1,200.

That kind of price is especially common amongst contest winning outfits. Jen King, owner of Space Cadets Collection Collection, a Texas-based collectibles store, also won a an award at the San-Diego Comic-Con with a Galaxy Quest themed group costume. Jen’s Sarris (the giant green alien) attire cost $500 alone, and her whole group spend more than $4,000. This year, she flew back to Comic-Con to chase another title, this time with her husband and son in tow.

sarrisgroup
Jen King’s group costume cost over $4,000, but won Judge’s Choice at the San-Diego Comic-Con.

Luckily for enthusiasts, not all costumes need to break the bank. Lynn Chan and Sarah Bloom have been dressing up as their favorite characters for years, and tend to spend around $200 per outfit. If you’re careful about picking your subject, Lynn says costumes can be made for as low as $30 (sewing machine not included). That said, like any hobby, the costs do add up over time. When asked how much she had spent over her seven years of cosplay, Sarah couldn’t put a figure on it. “Oh god, I don’t even know,” she laughed. “Probably three to four grand?”

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.30.28 AM
Lynn Chan (left) and Sarah Bloom (right) spend about $200 per costume.

It’s a lot of money, but in the end, each designer says the effort is worth it for the feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a great costume. Jessica still remembers how she felt when she won the 2012 contest. Oh my gosh, that was awesome. It was so surreal,” she says. “All my hard work paid off.”

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