Thursday, October 20, 2011

In The News-Indiana Anime Convention Raises Money for a Good Cause

Ramencon 2011, held August 19-21 in Merrillville, Indiana, raised $1,160 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The convention, which attracted fans from northwest Indiana and as far away as Texas and California, was a celebration of Japanese animation or Anime.

The three-day convention featured numerous events and fundraisers, including games, musical performances, a silent auction, and a fashion show, as well as appearances by notable speakers and merchandise offered by vendors. Anime fans and fundraising staff alike were pleased with the outcome. 

Anime Crossroads, the next major convention scheduled for Indiana, will take place in Indianapolis, December 16-18, 2011. 

For more information on Ramencon 2011, visit the Merrillville Community story “Ramencon2011 raises $1160 for St. Jude,” by Ramona Jarvis, August 22, 2011. 

To learn more about Anime Crossroads, visit their official website, here.

By Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In The News-Cartoon Controversy Revisited: Is SpongeBob Bad for Kids?

According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the popular animated Nickelodeon TV series SpongeBob SquarePants is detrimental to children, specifically, to children’s ability to focus, solve problems, and remember details. The study, which was released in the September 12, 2011, issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, involved sixty participants, all of whom were four-year-old children. One major fault with the study according to a Nickelodeon spokesperson is that participants were significantly younger than the show's target demographic, as SpongeBob is designed for children between the ages of six and eleven.

Findings of the study suggest that fast-paced programs like SpongeBob leave children who view them at a disadvantage, particularly when compared to those who spend time viewing more slow-moving educational programming or exercising their creativity with paper, crayons, markers, and other art supplies.

This isn't the first time that SpongeBob SquarePants has come under criticism. The program has been targeted by many special interest groups over the course of its twelve-year run, as have other animated programs such as The Ren and Stimpy Show, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Powerpuff Girls

SpongeBob SquarePants was created by Illinois native Stephen Hillenburg, a former oceanographer. Originating one state to the east, Indiana cartoonist, illustrator, and animator Mark O'Hare has worked on the SpongeBob show as well as SpongeBob books for children. Mr. O'Hare graduated from Purdue University and drew the comic strip Citizen Dog, distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from May 15, 1995,  to May 26, 2001. His other animation credits include the less controversial Dexter’s Laboratory and Hey Arnold! 

To read more about the recent study, take a look at:

“Pediatricians' group finds fault with ‘SpongeBob’,” Reuters, by Daniel Frankel, September 12, 2011,

And “Is SpongeBob SquarePants Bad for Children?” The New York Times, by Roni Caryn Rabin, September 12, 2011,  

Or review the findings and details of the original study, “The Effects of Fast-Paced Cartoons,” by Dimitri A. Christakis, Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, September 2011.

By Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In the News-Jim Davis and Garfield

Garfield Software Launched

Garfield Comic Boom, a new cartooning software from Toon Boom Animation, made its world debut at the Montreal ComicCon, September 17-21, 2011. The software, a collaborative effort between Toon Boom Animation and Garfield creator Jim Davis, allows children to create their own storylines and comic illustrations by using digital art tools and an extensive library of props and scenery. 

Davis, an Indiana native born in Marion and raised in Fairmont, calls the program a “jet pack to creativity” and muses that the software may soon leave him unemployed by the next generation of computer-savvy cartoonists. The program even makes it possible for users to create voice-overs and sound effects, and includes simple-to-use options that allow users to share their completed cartoons via social media sites and mobile devices. The software, which was released for sale in early August, also includes a bonus tutorial from Davis himself, imparting tips and wisdom on cartooning. 

Davis, who began his career as a cartoonist in 1969 by assisting Tom K. Ryan, creator of Tumbleweeds, is also the creator of Gnorm Gnat, a strip featured in the Pendleton Times for five years in the 1970s, as well as U.S. Acres, an internationally syndicated strip (known outside the U.S. as Orson’s Farmfeaturing Orson the Pig.  

Garfield began syndication in more than forty U.S. newspapers on June 19, 1978, and nw appears in more than 2,400 papers worldwide. In 1988, Garfield came to television in the animated Saturday morning cartoon series Garfield and Friends, which aired on CBS from September 17, 1988, to December 10, 1995. Now syndicated on the Cartoon Network, the show, which began as a half-hour program, was extended to an hour in its second season and featured two Garfield cartoons and a U.S. Acres cartoon in each episode. 

Garfield has appeared on the large and small screen, and in newspapers, books, DVDs, and video games. While certainly one of the most high-tech of Garfield-related products to hit the market, Garfield Comic Boom is only the newest venture by Jim Davis and his Paws, Inc.  Other excursions into the digital arena include the website and the site, which promotes children’s literacy.

You can read more about Garfield Toon Boom at in the story “Garfield Creator Says ComicBoom Software Could Put Him Out of Business,” posted August 8, 2011.

By Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In The News-The Addams Family Musical National Tour

The Addams Family and Indiana

Indiana native Cortney Wolfson has been cast in the role of Wednesday Addams for the first national tour of the musical The Addams Family. The cast and national tour dates were announced on August 8, 2011. Ms. Wolfson, who portrayed Wednesday for a long run on Broadway, has also appeared in the first national tour of Legally Blonde: The Musical and the Broadway revival of Les Miserables. A native of Lafayette, Indiana, she represented her home state as Junior Miss 2003. Ms. Wolfson received a degree in musical theatre from the University of Michigan.

The Addams Family was of course created by the cartoonist Charles Addams (1912-1988) and has appeared in movies and on television. Addams' ghoulish family made its debut in a cartoon for The New Yorker in 1938. Scores more drawings followed, though members of the Addams family went unnamed until the original ABC-TV show went into production in 1964.

The Addams Family connection to Indiana dates from 1943 when their creator married Barbara Jean Day, a woman seven years his junior and a recent graduate of Butler University. Described by Addams' biographer Linda H. Davis as "small and slender and feminine," Barbara Day bore a striking physical resemblance to Morticia Addams. "I think she lived to be plagued by that," said her husband. Charles Addams and Barbara Jean Day separated in 1951. She later married another contributor to The New Yorker, author John Hersey, and died in 2007.

To learn more about The Addams Family national tour, visit the show's website:

You can read more about the cast on the website and its recent article, “Douglas Sills, Sara Gettelfinger Lead Addams Family National Tour; Full Cast Announced,” posted Aug. 8, 2011.

Visit Cortney Wolfson’s website at

Written by Bridget Hanley and Terence Hanley
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, October 3, 2011

In the News-Brenda Starr, Reporter

Brenda Starr Reprints from Hermes Press

Hermes Press has published the first volume of its reprint series, Brenda Starr, Reporter, beginning with the strip's first episode, dated June 30, 1940. The book is called Brenda Starr, Reporter by Dale Messick: The Collected Daily and Sunday Newspaper Strips, and it features 288 pages of color and black-and-white art. You can read more about it on Hermes' Facebook page, here.

Brenda Starr was created by Dale Messick, a Hoosier by birth and a resident of northern Indiana's Lake Region for much of her life. Following Dale's retirement in 1980, Brenda Starr was taken over by artist Ramona Fradon and writer Linda Sutter. June Brigman (artist) and Mary Schmich (writer) carried on from 1995 until the strip was cancelled earlier this year. And there's a bit of news that slipped by me.

As 2010 was nearing its end, the Chicago Tribune announced that Brenda Starr, Reporter, one of the syndicate's longest-running strips, would come to an end on the first Sunday of the new year. The last installment came on January 2, 2011, giving Brenda Starr over fifty years on the comics page. Brenda's fans had to endure only a few months without her, as the Hermes Press collection was published in June 2011, the fifty-first anniversary of the first appearance of Brenda Starr, Reporter.

You can read more about the cancellation of Brenda Starr at the Chicago Tribune's website in an article called "Brenda Starr Becomes Collectors’ Item Sunday" by Geoff Brown, dated December 29, 2010, here.

The last installment of Brenda Starr, Reporter, January 2, 2011.
Text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley