– In recent years it has become a common sight to see or hear of a long running newspaper comic strip coming to an end, such as LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE or CATHY in recent times. It is thus a rarer sight to see one of those once beloved strip characters make a return after years away from the printed medium; yet that is exactly what is happening now at IDW. After 28 years in exile, former syndicated newspaper strip boxer JOE PALOOKA is returning to the printed page – only remade as a mixed martial arts fighter to capitalize on the success of the UFC. The writers for the comic are Mike Bullock and Matt Triano with Fernando Peniche on art and Jace McTier as colorist. The premise of the series is a man accused of a murder he didn’t commit assumes the name “Joe Palooka” and enters the world of MMA to make money as he seeks to clear his name around the world. The debut issue shipped last week with IDW’s usual price of $3.99.
JOE PALOOKA started out as a newspaper strip in 1930 created by Ham Fisher and at its peak ran in over 900 newspaper. Initially altered to reflect the look of then current boxing champions every year, his design became consistent once African American Joe Louis became champion. Flanked by secondary characters such as manager Knobby Walsh, society girl Ann Howe, mute kid character Little Max and blacksmith Humphrey Pennyworth, Palooka would have no end of adventures as a boxer as well as an overall athlete who embodied the rigid moral ideals of the time. The character was featured in comic books, a short lived radio serial as well as several films throughout the 1940’s. When Fisher committed suicide in 1955, the strip was continued by a series of assistants and and other artists until November, 1984 when the strip bid farewell. It will thus be interesting if IDW can wrangle new life out of an old character like this, even with a premise similar to a 1980’s drama series.
– Devil’s Due Entertainment, formerly Devil’s Due Publishing, is continuing on its attempt to revive its once hot company. Its heyday was from 1998-2004 when it had several 1980’s licenses; since then IDW has claimed many of those licenses and left many creators without pay. The main website is now up and several projects have been announced there. Initial projects will be print editions of the web-comic PLUME, a return of MERCY SPARX, as well as a book by founder Josh Baylock called HOW TO SELF PUBLISH COMICS, NOT JUST CREATE THEM. The company’s mission statement includes being “an incubator and producer of pop culture content” and seeking to produce original content as well as aid creators in promoting already created content. While Valiant Entertainment has managed to revive itself with modest success, it will remain to be seen if Devil’s Due can rise upon creator owned content in an era when Image Comics has seen incredible success at such things.
– ComiXology has undergone beta testing of their new submissions program, which allows creators to submit their content directly to ComiXology for sale as digital comic collections. It was announced at the New York Comic Con this year and among their first 14 submissions are a new collection of TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN stories by creator Shannon Wheeler. The submissions program isn’t open to the public yet, but interested creators can contact ComiXology and apply for the beta phase. This is another step forward for ComiXology’s control of the digital comics market, as well as giving opportunities for promotion to many smaller creators who wouldn’t otherwise have access to such things.