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1. Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club and “the toxic ever present white gaze.”

There’s no question but that in American culture the predominant view is one that is rich, white, male, straight and Christian. And while “The male gaze” is pretty well known, we’re getting to learn about the “white gaze” as well. Have you ever wondered what it looks like? Now we know. Except it’s from New Zealand AND America.
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Shocking isn’t it? Here is some more of that toxic white gaze:

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The gaze in question is Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club a newish webcomic by New Zealander Katie O’Neill and American Toril Orlesky. Or rather it WAS, because despite praise and anticipation, the duo pulled the plug on the comic after a mere 13 pages after it was accused of cultural appropriation because it was a comic set in Japan with Japanese story lines that was by two white kids from across the globe. And also because one of them responded to a troll on Tumblr in a way that the Tumblr police deemed inappropriate. Here’s that crime again.

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Deb Aoki has heroically (and I mean it HEROICALLY) compiled the entire saga, which played out on Twitter, in one epic epic Storify. Normally I would embed it, but it’s so huge and epic it would crash your browser. Anyway I cannot recommend enough that you read the whole thing because the wise Aoki takes this molehill and tackles an entire mountain of the question “Do You Have to Be Japanese to Make Manga?” which is a huge one that this Storify doesn’t answer…but it does raise more and more questions.

For the digest version, shortly after MSBC began running, an ANONYMOUS questioner on Tumblr asked on O’Neill’s tumblr:

Anonymous asked: God damn this is why I hate it when ignorant white people like you try to make stuff about Japan just because it’s trendy. Learn how to write kanji that isn’t so awkward before you even think about making a story set in the place the language is from. 嫌なら自分の文化を使え それとも世界で他の文化が色々があるんだろう。

Hey! I actually have a BA in Japanese and speak it with some fluency (though it’s been a few years since I graduated), and the kanji in the logo is based off a font I got from a Japanese website! Thanks for your concern, but if you’re basically saying that white people should only write about white people that’s kind of messed up. We’re always going to be open to criticism and concerns, so if we get something wrong let us know!

O’Neill’s answer was deemed to be flippant and somehow racist (even when other people pointed out that ANONYMOUS wasn’t that great with Kanji either.)

Things intensified on the twitter and tumblr of cartoonist Iasmin Omar Ata, theirself the author of a well-received webcomic Mis(H)adra:

Anonymous asked: oh my god thank you for calling out msbc i’ve been side-eying that project since forever….

 

hey! i’m glad you’ve noticed the issue, too. honestly, i’m shocked at how people haven’t really called out the creators for a) their blatant cultural appropriation, and b) the awful “it’s fine” response to that ask. the whole thing is garbage and unfortunately is just another reminder of how toxic the ever-present white gaze is. i hope that soon we can do away with this kind of thing in comics because i for one am up tohere with it.

Orlesky and Ata also hashed it out on twitter:

And even if they had a point, Ata was definitely being a jerk about it. The response did not fit the crime.

While some people—even Japanese people—said they saw nothing wrong with MSBC, unfortunately, O’Neill and Orlesky decided to pull the plug on the comic even though it is not clear from anyone anywhere aside from anonymous trolls what they did wrong:

Note on Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club

As I’m sure you’ll know, last month we launched our webcomic, Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club! We were very excited about it, however we absolutely do not want to hurt anyone with it and we are concerned that this is unavoidable. From the outset we tried to be aware of issues such as cultural appropriation, fetishization and stereotyping and did our best to avoid them and write in a nuanced manner. We hoped that extensive research and experience living and working in Japan would be enough to make a portrayal that wasn’t hurtful. We can see now this was incorrect and not possible, and we don’t wish to create a comic that will hurt people, so it seems the solution is to simply stop. We sincerely apologise to anyone who was upset by it.

Thank you everyone who had faith in our comic skills before we even started, and who has given us kind feedback about the art especially! It means a lot to us that people feel this strongly about us as creators, and we will absolutely be working together again in future! Feel free to keep following the strangestarcomics blog if you’re interested in our other projects!

Now I’m willing to write part of this off as young, insecure cartoonists who are still figuring things out and not really being able to take possibly faulty criticism well. There are lots of tweets around that subject on the Storify above. I know we live in a time of identify politics where cultural appropriation is a terrible crime. Of course that didn’t stop Osamu Tezuka from culturally appropriating Walt Disney and Robert Louis Stevenson to invent manga in the first place, or Naoki Urasawa from drawing a manga about half English half Japanese insurance inspector, or any of a thousand other example of the cross pollination that makes cultural exchange a wonderful thing. Culture isn’t a bag of potato chips —you don’t chomp it up and then it’s gone. It’s an ocean that flows and ebbs and freezes and evaporates and becomes different things everywhere.

Which isn’t to say that, YEAH, people from one culture can misunderstand and fetishize people from other cultures. And it’s good to point that out.

But did Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club ACTUALLY DO THAT???? Japanese-New Zealand Cartoonist Jem Yoshioka wrote about this and this is possibly the most well meaning and infuriating document I’ve read this month.

Yoshioka runs down a FAQ of why she agrees with O’Neill and Orlesky shutting down the strip, but fails to explain any reason why the critics were correct. For instance.

In the case of MSBC too much hinged on the Japanese setting, so they have decided it’s best to stop making it.

WHAT NOW? Because a story is set in Japan and that setting effects the story it is bad? God forbid she ever watch Lost in Translation.

Also, here’s a great straw man:

Isn’t this exactly the same as when Japanese people write about western countries or white people?

 

No. Western countries and white people occupy a significant place of power within our global world, economically and culturally. To put it simply, the whole world is drowning in white culture, so it’s not culturally appropriative to write a story about white people or set in a western country. There’s a strong power imbalance in favour of western countries and white culture(s).

If anything I find this attitude MORE dismissive of Japanese culture than a wee tribute. Hundreds of millions if not billions of people are influenced by Japanese culture, billions more by other Asian cultures which are strong and thriving and, yeah, ignored by Westerners who think that US culture is the be all and end all of world culture. That just isn’t true. Posing Japanese culture as a timid weak hothouse flower before American aggression is just an insult to Japan, as American children clutch their Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers cereal spoons while playing with their Transformers.

But then we get to the meat of the matter:

What are the issues with MSBC specifically? It seemed fine to me. I’ve seen way worse stuff get made.

 

MSBC doesn’t necessarily look like cultural appropriation. The kanji is correct, the landscapes are representative of real Tokyo landscapes, and while there were a couple of inaccuracies around the reality of the voice acting industry, that’s an acceptable leap to make for the sake of storytelling purposes (see all movies ever that feature computers, science, engineering or hacking as plot points).

OK so aside from being an actually awkward story, nothing wrong here.

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However, even though it was respectfully well-researched and executed, MSBC did personally make me feel a bit weird. MSBC intentionally draws on anime and manga tropes, which can be problematic and reductive in their representation of women, gay men and often focus on specific elements of Japanese culture. There is also a lot of white western readers of this material who are still early on their journey of understanding the difference between respect and appropriation, often with a heavy side of racial fetishisation and overly romanticised ideas of Japan.

Now what tropes would those be that were revealed in the 13 pages of Masou Shounen Breakfast Club? The TROPES that CAN BE problematic and reductive.

CAN BE

Not were. It isn’t shown that MSBC used these tropes in any problematic and reductive way. Just that they COULD HAVE BEEN.

It’s fine to use these tropes, but it’s important to take the overall environment into account when writing them as a white westerner. While Katie and Toril were obviously aware of this when working on MSBC and worked hard to make sure they didn’t fetishise or stereotype, the genre itself and the wider effect it has within the community makes it difficult to achieve that.

Get that now? Because other people fucked it up, Katie and Toril probably would too, so they had to shut things down after just 13 pages before they did it. Once again, no actual crime, we’re talking total pre-cog here.

For a lot of people MSBC won’t be considered anywhere near appropriative or fetishistic, and that’s just where you are on your own journey. For me personally it does approach a line that makes me uncomfortable. I would have kept reading anyway because I enjoy the storytelling and illustrative style, but I think that feeling would have stayed with me the whole way through. The weird thing is that if they had kept going I likely would never have said anything about how I felt, because I would have been too scared of being instantly shot down about it, feared I was being silly and felt I’d never be able to properly articulate my issues. I am overjoyed to know that Katie and Toril are the kind of creators who are respectful and listen to this kind of feedback this seriously.

Yoshioka seems like a very nice, reasonable person, and I totally dig her art, but…what exactly is the crime here? The comic made Yoshioka feel uncomfortable because…feelings.

And eventually someday she would have been upset by it.

Got that? She was sure that someday she would get upset by the way that these two were sure to fuck things up. Two non-Japanese people—even with knowledge of Japan—doing a comic set in Japan was fetishistic no matter what the context or content. Just the concept was enough to ensure that lines would be crossed.
If O’Neill and Orlesky decided to pull their comic because they didn’t want to hurt even one person’s feelings, well then, okay. I get it. Hurting feelings is bad. I also suggest that they get out of any creative endeavor in the future because all great art hurts feelings, causes feelings and in general shakes things up. It isn’t safe and it isn’t afraid. Under these rules that Yoshioka lays out, no great comic would ever have been completed because some element of its creation MIGHT have been used incorrectly in the past.
If you have been reading my writings for any amount of time, you know that I’m a fan of multicultural diversity, and of multiple viewpoints and creators of every sex, religion, creed, race and sexual orientation getting a chance to tell their stories.
I’m also a huge fan of cultural context for stories that examine how the preconceptions of a work of art are reflected in the execution. But I never want to see these criticisms used to PROACTIVELY SILENCE ART.
The problem with a lot of the sociological criticism that we’re seeing now is that it sets up a Zeno’s Paradox race against some kind of Platonic ideal that has never been proved to exist. Nearly all art has a cultural context that insults SOMEONE. If I take all the anti-MSBC arguments above and reduce them to a fine gravy, it DOES come out that no one should ever write or draw a story about a culture or place other than their own because they might get it wrong. White people should stick to white people (aka the status quo), black people should stick to black people and Japan should never write a story that takes place in another culture (because I’ve read plenty of manga that fetishized some bizarre element of American culture.)
Fetishishing is wrong, orientalism is wrong, appropriation for cool points (Hey Iggy) is wrong. But absorbing the rich cultural stew of the entire world and trying to express it in your own art and comics is not wrong. And as far as I can tell, that’s the crime that O’Neill and Orlesky were convicted of in tumblr court, and that’s a shame.
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Concept art for Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club.

[The first version of this post misidentified Toril Orlesky as being from NZ rather than from the US,  and Iasmin Omar Ata as male. I regret the errors but it doesn’t change a thing I think because I judge people on their behavior not their identity.]

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2. Entertainment Round-Up: Jared Leto’s Joker hair, Marvel Movie Marathon, Warner Bros’ CEO claims DC Movies are “edgier”, Age of Ultron “behind the scenes” vids, iZombie premiere

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It’s been a slow news day today, post Age of Ultron trailer, but I did go see Chappie last night (it’s terrible, I suddenly fear for the Alien franchise). Here’s your quick round-up of today’s entertainment-related news:

– Per Latino Review, Jared Leto‘s hairstylist Chase Kusero just posted a picture on Instagram of a “work in progress” look at Jared Leto’s Joker hair as it will appear in Suicide Squad. From that back-shot, it looks very Greg Capullo-esque:

The end of an era

A photo posted by @chasehair on

– As we’re on the verge of Avengers: Age of Ultron debuting, in just under two months, it should be no surprise that theaters are planning big Marvel movie marathons. But it’s not just Phase 2 they’re showing, no sir/ma’am, it’s the entire Marvel oeuvre to this point. Starting April 29th at 6 pm and ending just before 10 pm or so the next day, select AMC and Regal theaters across the country will be showing all 11 Marvel Studios films in their order of release.

Here’s the full schedule:

6:00 p.m. – Iron Man
8:25 p.m. – The Incredible Hulk
10:35 p.m. – Iron Man 2
1:00 a.m. – Thor
3:10 a.m.  – Captain America: The First Avenger
5:30 a.m. – The Avengers
8:48 a.m. – Iron Man 3
11:15 a.m. – Thor: The Dark World
1:45 p.m. – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4:20 p.m. – Guardians of the Galaxy
7:00 p.m.– Avengers: Age of Ultron









As you can see, you can take a nap during Iron Man 2, and maybe run out for IHOP around the showings of Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World. Otherwise though, there’s no breaks built in and you better make good use of that unlimited refill on the popcorn and sodas!

Those who are feeling a little more time crunched can instead opt for Cinemark‘s Avengers double bill. I remember I tried to do something like this once with The Lord of the Rings movies right before The Return of the King came out. By the time I got to the third film, I was ready to see Frodo tossed into Mount Doom. But more power to anybody that gives this one a go!

Variety spoke with WB’s CEO Kevin Tsujihara for a piece about the possibility of audiences facing superhero fatigue, an assertion that he dismissed. Yet, the quote that fans are zeroing in on specifically is one that posits WB’s upcoming DC-based superhero slate against the meteorically successful Marvel one:

“The worlds of DC are very different,” he said. “They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”

“Edgier” is a word I wish he hadn’t used, as that brings to mind many of the major criticisms that detractors struck Man of Steel with: that it was film too grim for its own good, among many other complaints. Whether that will prove true for the upcoming offerings in 2016 remains to be seen. Where I feel like WB should set the DC films apart from Marvel is by making them more auteur-driven, rather than forcing an overall edict of realism onto Aquaman and Shazam!. The one big Achilles’ heel that Marvel has is that they’re a bit “samey” in their approach, in that every film has to fit the same tone, plot beats, and has to uphold the on-going universe above all else. There’s no real room for a director to really lay his stamp onto the characters the way Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan did for Batman and Sam Raimi did for Spider-Man (the good ones anyway, whichever those are, I’ll leave to your discretion). But, I can’t think of anything less appealing than a cinematic universe that operates just like Marvel but in the same gray sludgey tones as Man of Steel. For all its faults, the MCU at least has some great color throughout and is a good deal of fun to watch on the biggest screen possible. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’ll be pleasantly surprised come next year.

– After Marvel’s early Age of Ultron trailer release, today they let loose with a few short behind the scenes videos with Cineplex featuring Joss Whedon and Jeremy Renner while in the midst of filming:

-Last but not least and just in case it slipped your mind; on March 17th, the same day The Flash returns to CW, iZombie will be debuting just after, here’s a trailer for the upcoming adaptation by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) of Chris Roberson and Mike Allred‘s Vertigo comic:

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3. Review: ALL-NEW HAWKEYE…Ready…Aim…Run

ALL-NEW HAWKEYE #1

All-New Hawkeye (2015-) 001-000

 

Storytellers: Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez

Colors: Ian Herring, Ramon Perez

Letters: Joe Sabino

Publisher: Marvel

 

 

Jeff Lemire’s works have been very hit or miss for me. Sweet Tooth is a book that I still adore. His work on Green Arrow was solid, but his Constantine issues felt rushed or cut short. When Marvel announced that he would launch a new volume of Hawkeye with artist Ramon Perez, it definitely got me curious about All-New Hawkeye #1.

My immediate thought after finishing the opening chapter is that there isn’t much to go on in the first issue. The story recalls events from Clint Barton and his brother Barney’s childhood as on-the-run orphans. These events are interwoven with Clint and Kate Bishop currently invading a hidden Hydra fortress in search of the evil organization’s latest ultimate weapon. While the opening chapter definitely doesn’t lack substance, it does however leave a lot to the imagination as far as where the story is going in this arc.

There are two groups of people this book is for; fans of Lemire/Perez, and fans of anyone ever using the Hawkeye name. Just like the previous volume, while the book is called Hawkeye, it could have just as easily been called Hawkeyes, and that should tell you the value readers get in the book. If for some reason you missed the Fraction/Aja run on Hawkeye, don’t worry Lemire’s story is quite fresh and welcoming to new readers. Because of the book’s subtlety and elegance, All-New Hawkeye might put off those who expect mega Avengers scale battles in their comics, but those readers most likely never got on board with Fraction’s run either. Also, don’t worry that the last issue of Fraction’s run hasn’t come out yet, this one stands on its own.

Ultimately, All-New Hawkeye #1 is just flat out fun to read. The flashbacks of Clint and Barney growing up are gorgeous. Ramon Perez’s watercolors present an interesting dichotomy when compared to Ian Herring’s more traditional color work in the book, but both are solid and don’t stray far from what made Hawkeye one of Marvel’s most unique titles. Jeff Lemire is no stranger to writing archers, and it looks as though he’s going to infuse needed depth into Clint Barton’s upbringings, while taking anyone who has carried the name Hawkeye along for the ride. For an opening issue, the book could have used a little more setup. Based on the stellar watercolor work and witty banter between Clint and Kate; we liked All-New Hawkeye, but it still has a little bit to prove before we love it.

If you pick up one Jeff Lemire book this week, make it Descender from Image Comics. Should you find yourself with an extra $4 then give All-New Hawkeye a shot.


Tell us what you thought of Hawkeye here or @bouncingsoul217 

As always with Marvel, first come first served.

Marvel.com/Redeem

code: TMA7S7Y6PUVS

 

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4. Maestro Comes to SECRET WARS and CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS

One of the more obvious teasers run by Marvel in the build up to announce Secret Wars was Dale Keown’s image of Peter David’s Future Imperfect series. Back in 1992, David and George Perez told the tale of a dystopian future where an evil version of the Hulk, known as Maestro, laid waste to the heroes of the Marvel Universe in the Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect mini series. While he was killed in the  series by the Hulk we know, the character has recently appeared in Spider-Man 2099. Today, Hollywood Reporter announced that a new Secret Wars tie-in would revisit the world of the Maestro.

Set to release on June 3, Future Imperfect by Peter David and artist Greg Land will tell a stand alone tale of the Maestro wreaking havoc on Battleworld. David has also promised a big surprise when readers find out who’s leading the charge against this out of control monster, “I will tell you this: there’s a character in the series referred to as ‘the boss,’ a person who oversees the battle against the Maestro. I feel pretty confident in saying that no-one will be able to guess that person’s identity until it’s revealed on the last page.”

An interior page from the book was also displayed and shows a female Red She-Hulk. Though the writer would not say if the character was Betty Ross as in the current Marvel U.

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It was also revealed today that the Maestro is officially the big boss of Marvel’s Contest of Champions mobile game. Currently available on iOS and Android the mobile fighter lets you build a team of heroes or villains as you fight through a tournament in the game’s own Battleworld. The game is free to download and actually is one of their more interesting titles for fighting boredom in convention lines.

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5. Review: Big Con Job is a dark, meta, fandomy heist: and I can’t look away

BIGCONWritten by: Jimmy Palmiotti and Matt Brady

Art by: Dominike “Domo” Stanton

Colors by: Paul Little

Letters by: Jim Campbell

Publisher: Boom Studios

I came into Big Con Job #1 cold: Amanda Conner’s lively cover art shows a bunch of aging space-opera stars at a convention table. Their larger than life TV personas are depicted on banners that stretch high behind their real life counterparts; looming over the actual people behind the clearly much younger characters. The images overwhelm and diminish them. It’s a great piece of art because on first glance it has a self-aware, lighthearted look to it. After reading the issue, however, that cover takes on a much darker tone.

Palmiotti and Brady have created a group of characters instantly familiar to fans of comic books, science fiction and fantasy in general: aging TV stars wearily working the convention circuit to earn their daily bread. There’s the buxom, Princess Leia-like love interest to the pulpy, Captain Kirk-ish Buck Blaster in the aptly-named series ‘Treck Wars’. The pair look out into a sparse audience that has turned on them: asking accusatory, confrontational questions and demanding answers from the actors (Blaze Storm and Danny Dean) who obviously had very little input on their character’s development.

There’s nothing lighthearted about the look Big Con Job’s writing team provide into the hardscrabble lives of the increasingly obsolete actors. They can’t pay their rent and are getting evicted; they’re getting stiffed on promised appearance fees and drooled over by the invasive fans they must cater to. In one particularly gut-wrenching scene, Poach Brewster, the man behind the show’s Spock-esque scientist, breaks up with his younger partner. She’s a beautiful actress on the rise, and he knows his melancholia is holding her back. As he clutches her pillow to his face the next morning, I actually turned my face away from the panels. I keenly felt the anguish of these characters. I’m sure the recent loss of Leonard Nimoy added poignancy to Brewster’s story; thank goodness Nimoy had a rich artistic life post Star Trek.

Some intensely heartbreaking scenes are still to come. A warning: if you struggle with depression, or are just having a rough day, you might want to read this issue when the clouds disappear. But you should read it. I was shocked by the unexpected depth, not just of the plot but also of Dominike Stanton’s art. It seemed to subtlety change from page to page, morphing so the characters and settings matched the tone of the story. In the convention scenes, where the actors put on their best imitations of happiness and nostalgia, the art becomes rounder, and more stylized. When Dean and Brewster try to drink away their pain, the images seem to stretch slightly, giving them a more strung-out look.

It all lays the groundwork for a strange heist scheme, which name-checks the San Diego Comic Convention just before the book ends. Most heist narratives waste little time in defining the “why” of the robbery or con-job; it’s enough to know that money is at stake, or perhaps a loosely-sketched blackmail scenario. Not so in Big Con Job. The why is painful, understandable and relatable. Comic readers may not be washed up actors well-past their 15 minutes of fame, but they have loved the characters portrayed by those people. Have traveled with them in their hearts and minds to distant lands and planets; but will they follow them past the adventure scenes and epic battles through the dismal struggles of the real-world people behind the fame?  To see what likely-illegal schemes that desperation and tragedy can push a person to consider? For my part, I’m ready to watch this group break bad: I can’t look away.

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6. Good luck to Tom Spurgeon on his halfway cross country move

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Tom Spurgeon is relocating from New Mexico to Columbus, OH this week. I can only imagine how stressful that is—some tweets posts about a cancelled last minute comics sale show just one aspect of it. I think he said he had something like 75 boxes of comics…just having a lot of stuff makes moving traumatic, let alone moving in the middle of a winter which resembles the White Witch’s plans for Narnia. I know moving my least favorite thing in life. (I’ve only moved three times in my adult life. )

In Columbus Tom will be an even more important force in comics than his already formidable position as he spearheads the new Cartoon Crossroad Columbus event. Anyway, good luck to him!

(Photo via Facebook)

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7. Los Angeles Times Book Prize graphic novel nominees announced

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Awards season is barreling along now. And here are the nominees for the LA Times Book Prizes, which added a graphic novel category several years back. It’s a prestigious literary prize, and the winners over the years—Duncan the Wonder Dog, Finder, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life among them—have definitely lived up to the billing. This year’s five books chosen include what I would almost call the usual suspects for 2014:

 

The Chast and Tamaki books were THE graphic novels of 2014, and The Love Bunglers is a masterpiece. Arsene Schrauwen was much admired and deserves all the attention it gets. The Neyestani book doesn’t quite have the same profile, but it’s gotten a lot of recent ink and it’s also a pretty damn fine book.

In other words, good picks.

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8. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/5/15: Area woman finds comics are not as she remembered

§ It would be easy to mock this Jen Teasdale-style column in the Norfolk Daily News where a woman goes to find some comics in her local bookstore but finds only superheroes and not Little Lulu, but I think there is a lesson in it. The tone is not the anger you sometimes find —”That’s not MY Aquaman!”—but rather curiosity.

My own collection of comics is now quite old, and it only contains a few superhero stories. When I was young, I wasn’t interested in those types of comics, and I admit that I’m not interested in them now.

In fact, I went searching to see if I could find newer editions of the comics I’d read as a child — Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Little Lulu, Richie Rich, Yosemite Sam, Rocky and Bullwinkle, the Roadrunner, the Pink Panther, Tweety and Sylvester, and my favorite, Uncle Scrooge. Sadly, I couldn’t find any of those in the drawer after drawer full of action comics I encountered.

The closest I came to finding comics like those I loved as a kid was a small selection of Archie comics. I bought a “Betty and Veronica” double digest book for a whopping 99 cents! Believe me, that’s a major deal when you compare it to the average price of $5.99 I saw on most of the comics.


This woman actually really likes comics. While manga isn’t to her taste, she remembers the pleasure she found in picking up what sounds like The Smithsonian Collection of Comic Strips—who wouldn’t?—and vows top hold on to her very old collection of comics and says “If anything, I’ll add to the collection whenever I can.” It is perhaps too much to expect that she might enjoy Powerpuff Girls or Adventure Time…or maybe Operation Margarine. The point is she is a comics fan, but when there were no comics for her tastes, she moved on. One of the benefits of having a strong and varied world of kids comics now is that as these readers age they will find a lot of material to choose from. Comics are for everyone.

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§ Speaking of Operation Margarine, the enjoyable girls on bikes romp by Katie Skelly, she’s done a pin-up for the collection of the apes on bikes romp The Humans.

§ 18 drawing tips from Moebius! BOOKMARK

§ Moebius’s collaborator on a Silver Surfer novel, Stan Lee is schooling us on superheroes at the Smithsonian. And it’s online and its free. Gather and learn, children.

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§ Olivier Schrauwen’s Mowgli book is out from Retrofit and it’s large and magnificent.

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§ Here’s a collection of Gold Key Star Trek comics covers that are pleasant to look at. According to the database the stories were written by a youthful Len Wein and the covers are by George Wilson, not a very familiar name to contemporary comics fans, but he was pretty boss. (Via Boing Boing)

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§ And speaking of Star Trek, apparently as a tribute to the late, great Leonard Nimoy, Canadian Trekkies are marking up their $5 bill to resembles Spock, a practice wich the government wishes to discourage.

Bank of Canada spokeswoman, Josianne Menard, has confirmed the stunt is not illegal, but she urges Spock fans to stop. She says in a statement, “It is not illegal to write or make other markings on bank notes… However, there are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.”


The Spock-lie personage on the bill is Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Somehow I think we need Kate Beaton to make sense of this all.

§ I know you have probably fired up Evernote and made you own exhaustive analysis of the new Avengers trailer, but just in case you got stuck, here’s the Comicbook.com one.

§ Finally, by stock photos needs have been met at last.

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9. Duggan and Shaner Travel Back to 1872 with Famous Friends

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With Agent Carter plugging up the airwaves with awesomeness, it’s time for the comics to start integrating period pieces back into the fold. Enter 1872, the newest Secret Wars tie-in from Marvel featuring two fine creators in author Gerry Duggan and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner taking our favorite heroes back a few century or two. 1872 #1 ships in May with a stunning Alex Maleev cover on the first issue.

A Western drawn by Shaner is worth the hole Secret Wars is blasting into your wallet. Don’t just take our word for it either “Doc’s first sketches blew holes in our heads,” said Duggan to the AV Club regarding Shaner. Let the saliva continue to drop from your mouth when you hear about Sheriff Steve Rogers, Blacksmith Tony Stark, and a young strapping Bruce Banner running amok in the Old West.

The best part of this entire story revealed by the AV Club might be the strapline: Real Heroes Die With Their Boots On. Duggan explained the genesis of how the off-the-wall title came to be with a few simple words “I pitched it.” This is yet another case of someone on a Secret Wars tie-in getting the opportunity to tell the stories that they want to tell.

Here’s the full solicitation and cover:

1872 #1

Written by GERRY DUGGAN

Penciled by EVAN “DOC” SHANER

Cover by ALEX MALEEV

Variant Cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER

REAL HEROES DIE WITH THEIR BOOTS ON

  • SHERIFF STEVE ROGERS faces corruption and fear in the boom town of TIMELY.
  • The only thing ANTHONY STARK seems capable of is pulling a cork, so can he pull Rogers’ fat from the fire?
  • But…a stranger comes to town that will change Timely forever…for anyone left standing, that is.

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10. Power of fan tweets unlocks thrilling new Avengers trailer

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OR

After using the powers of social media to unlock a new trailer, we see the Avengers in a hopeless battle against Ultron! He’s only one robot, what is the problem??? Nice character moments for the Black Widow and Cap, as we see the Avengers facing a host of CGI adversaries, and a ton of CGI building coming crashing down! And I nuanced take on the aqua/orange color scheme of all movies with a more robin’s egg blue and light bisque patina.

Oh who am I kidding…this is freaking awesome.

Marvel, PLEASE make a Damage Control movie! or at least a short.

What is YOUR favorite part of this trailer, readers?

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11. Art Spiegelman’s Wordless has its final NYC performance March 13th

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Wordless! is a collaboration between artist Art Spiegelman and musician Phillip Johnston—but it’s really about Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, and Milt Gross. The evening—which I was fortunate to catch last year—involves the Johnston Sextet improvising over a slide show of the wordless comics of the above as set up by Spiegelman. And Art being Art, this is also a lucid, connection making journey through comics and art history, the oppressive woodcuts of Masereel eventually coming out in Spiegelman’s own work. And for you social history buffs, the continued theme of young women who are done in by their own society flouting desires—aka getting knocked up by some cad —provides an interesting window into the time period of these comics.

Wordless! was commissioned for the same Australian arts festival which saw the astonishing The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman, Eddie Campbell and Fourplay.

Wordless! is quite an amazing piece of theater and while it’s been touring for a bit New Yorkers will have ONLY ONE MORE CHANCE TO SEE IT! And it’s this March 13th. Deets:

Art Spiegelman & Phillip Johnston’s 
WORDLESS!
***
one performance only:
Friday, March 13, 7:30 pm. Miller Theater



Columbia University Theater 2960 Broadway (at 116th Street)  

Tickets here.

If you haven’t seen Wordless, do it. You’ll kick yourself forever for not seeing it when you had the chance. And here’s a video trailer in you need any more convincing.

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12. All-New By Its Cover #2 (February 2015)

ALL-NEW-BIC

The column that judges a book by its cover, focusing on the month’s best-designed comic covers. For the month’s best-illustrated comic covers, see Best Comic Covers Ever (This Month).

 

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Ei8ht #1 by Rafael Albuquerque

This is such a fantastic cover. The diagonal angle is dynamic, and the limited color palette is striking. The only things that break from the color palette are the numeral “8” and the face of the character’s watch. Personally, I might’ve tried to make those two items the same color to unify them (and draw more attention to the watch), but it still works.

The only thing that really bothers me is the way the title logo leans awkwardly on the Dark Horse logo. If we’re committed to keeping the DH logo and barcode where they are, I might’ve tried playing with the logo placement and size to do some more dramatic and poster-esque, along the lines of this.

 

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Ivar, Timewalker #2 by Raul Allen

This is a brilliant concept, using the language of comics (panels and gutters) to represent a person literally walking through time. The muted colors and heavy use of black are so sharp, it took me a moment to realize how similar the cover concept is to the old Sega Genesis game Comix Zone, because this looks so much nicer.

I’m not sure who designed the logo (another Tom Muller creation?), but I like how ultra-modern and traditional fonts have been mixed to suggest two different time periods.

 

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The Empty #1 by Jimmie Robinson

This image does a great job of suggesting a long journey. The warm-and-cool color palette used here and on Ei8ht is one of the most effective color palettes, but that also leads to it going through periods of being overused. Right now I think it’s okay because magenta is currently the most overused color palette for covers that are trying to stick out.

The one thing that kind of bugs me is how the creator’s name is off center, while the logo itself appears centered enough that it doesn’t look like it’s intentionally flush-left. I have a feeling it was because of that difficult uppercase “Y”, where it might look odd for the name to be sticking out past the bottom. Personally, I might’ve tried playing with something along these lines instead.

 

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Bunker #9 by Joe Infurnari

I love the energy of this cover. It might not communicate anything to me in terms of story (other than the story being explosive?), but I have a soft-spot for covers that involve destroying the logo. One thing to note: a friend I showed the cover to felt it looked like the logo said “The Bunken.”

 

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Uncanny X-Men #31 by Chris Bachalo

One of my favorite things about Bachalo X-Men covers is how often he draw the logo in himself, in order to make it a more organic part of the illustration. It’s also a great way to make the logo is exactly where you want it if someone further down the line is going to be adding it in.

I’m not sure about the placement of the credits. Personally, I would’ve put them in one of the upper corners…and yet, there’s something that works about Cyclops nearly getting tossed into them. They could maybe be nudged upward just a bit, though. Right now they’re awkwardly touching the tip of one of the background buildings, and I’d kind of want the three lines to match up with the “U” in “Uncanny,” since the three lines together are roughly the same height as that word.

 

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Drifter #4 by Nic Klein & Tom Muller

I’m enjoying all the covers for Drifter, but I’m running out of things to say about them. What is it that I like so much, exactly? Is it because I love circles and grids, and every cover has grids and circles and circular grids?

 

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Divinity #1 by Jalena Kevic-Djurdjevic

I’m a big fan of minimalist logos, so this is right up my alley. The only problem is, the other design elements don’t fit into the minimalist theme. If I knew nothing about comics, I would assume this was called Valiant #1, and “Divinity” is maybe the name of the storyline, or an oddly placed subtitle (Valiant: Divinity #1).

What if we got rid of that whole blog in the upper-left, and had a version of the “Valiant Next” patch that was just a “1” above a “V,” and centered that shape horizontally at the bottom of the cover? I’m not sure where the creator credits would go, but maybe they could be spread out along the top. But I think “Divinity,” at it’s current size, should be the largest text on the cover.

 

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Lady Killer #2 by Joelle Jones

I have a very dark sense of humor, so this appeals to me greatly, yet it’s not quite working for me. If this was colored like a vintage car ad, the focus would be on the trunk being the out of place element. Instead, the sky is colored a scary red, which makes the smiling woman in the bright yellow dress the out of place element, which isn’t as funny.

The cover of the first issue used a slightly more pastel color palette, but it still doesn’t quite work because the black lines are so overpowering. Both of these covers would work a lot better if they’d been painted in the same style as vintage ’50s advertisements, or at the very least had the linework colorized. Bodies #1 did a good job of creating contrast between vintage ’50s and blood, even if their design went more for horror than dark comedy.

Agree? Disagree?

 


Kate Willaert is a graphic designer for Shirts.com. You can find her her art on Tumblr and her thoughts @KateWillaert. Notice any spelling errors? Leave a comment below.

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13. Aaron and Mundo keep Secret Wars Weird

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Another day, another Secret Wars flavored tie-in series. Are you still with me? Good, because this is another one that is bound to raise some eyebrows. The fun starts with the series’ name: Weirdworld. The weirdness persists with the names attached to the project with the excellent Jason Aaron writing the comic with the one-and-only Mike Del Mundo of Elektra fame drawing the psychedelic covers the for the tale. Marvel took the story over to USA Today for the reveal. The comic is centered around Arkon, an Avengers creation from Roy Thomas and John Buscema in 1970. The series name comes from a concept developed by Mike Ploog and Doug Moench also from the 70’s. Arkon is a barbarian, and ruler of his people hailing from the land of Polemachus. Along the way he’ll meet up with some wizards, lizards, and dinosaurs – is Marvel attempting to one-up Where Monsters Dwell?

The author is set to utilize “a hodgepodge of the weirdest, strangest, more obscure bits and bobs of the Marvel Universe,” influenced by series like Lord of Atlantis, The Warlord, Skull the Slayer and others.

Aaron also extrapolated on why there have been so many odd titles coming from the event:

“I’ve always wanted to do my Conan story but there’s not a lot of opportunities to do those stories in comics.”

It seems that Secret Wars is opening the floodgates at Marvel, letting storytellers use some incredibly off-the-wall chess pieces. Weirdworld #1 ships on June 3. Marvel, please take my money now.

UPDATE 3:26 P.M.: After digging around this very site, we found something of great importance – Marvel stealth solicited a Weirdworld collection for April from the original 70’s stories. After patting the House of Ideas on the back, take a look at this odd solicit for the graphic novel;

Weirdworld
Mike Ploog, Pat Broderick, Doug Moench, John Busce…
FRONTLIST
On Sale Date: April 14, 2015
Ages 13 And Up, Grades 8 to 17
$34.99 USD
312 pages
Paperback
Comics & Graphic Novels / Superheroes
9780785162889, 0785162887








Summary: Welcome to Weirdworld, a land of legend and lore! Meet Tyndall, a lost elf on a dangerous quest – a quest to the heart of evil and beyond! One that will unite him with the beautiful Velanna, and forge an alliance for the ages. Together with grumpy dwarf Mud-Butt , these warriors of the shadow realm will brave the City of Seven Dark Delights, face the fallen god Darklens, and meet the Dragonmaster of Klarn. But will they ever fi nd their way home?
COLLECTING: MARVEL PREMIERE 38; MATERIAL FROM MARVEL SUPER ACTION (1976) 1, MARVEL FANFARE (1982) 24-26, MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL 11-13, EPIC ILLUSTRATED 9, 11-13

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14. Chast, Pastis and Price nominated for The Reuben Award

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This year’s nominees for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” have been announced by the National Cartoonists Society and they are Roz Chast, Stephen Pastis and Hilary Price (above.) Pastis and Price were nominees last year as well. Where there are NCS Awards given out each year, technically speaking this is “The Reuben,” a lifetime achievement award that one can win only once. The Reuben Award is chosen by

a secret ballot of the members of the National Cartoonists Society. The Reuben Award is the highest honor that the profession bestows. As with all the NCS awards, the winner need not be a member of the Society. The award was previously called the Billy DeBeck Memorial Award, and the recipient received an engraved silver cigarette box. The Reuben was introduced in 1954 and is named after longtime Honorary President Rube Goldberg. The statue is based on one of Goldberg’s irreverent pieces of sculpture.


I guess it truly is The Year of the Women when TWO lady tooners are nominated in one year for the Reuben. And that’s very cool. As far as I can remember this is Chast’s first nomination, so I think a win for Pastis or Price is more likely, but all are very worthy winners. Pastis has been nominated many times in fact so maybe this is his year.

Nominations in the divisional awards will be announced in a few weeks. The awards will presented at the annual NCS meeting Memorial Day Weekend May 23rd, held this year in Washington DC.

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15. Entertainment Round-Up: Age of Ultron stars talk to the press, The Russos ink a deal with Sony, Supergirl casts a Toyman, Community Season 6 trailer

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Your mid-week round-up of entertainment related headlines, on this gross, gloomy Atlanta Tuesday.

– Collider has been posting some great interviews with the various stars of Avengers: Age of Ultron throughout the past few days, and today, the site unveiled new interviews with Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Chris Evans (Captain America). For Clint Barton, it looks like a big major part of his arc will deal with his relationship with new teammates Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and Renner states that we’ll get some evolution to Hawkeye as a character this time around:

It’s a lot of the stuff that Joss [Whedon] and I talked about to do in the first one but it just didn’t work out that way, so it’s really exciting for me and Joss to kind of dive into the character a little bit more. There’s some wonderful secrets and relationships deepen, so there’s a lot more of him to deal with versus the hypnotized version of him.

Additionally, we’ll learn where he was during the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

As for Evans, he had some interesting words to say about the psychology of Ultron and what will make him stand-apart from the typical Marvel-villain fare:

There’s, you know, there’s an ideology behind Ultron that makes him more unique that just a bad guy. He doesn’t wanna just kill the Avengers. He doesn’t wanna just destroy the world. He has these monologues and these beautiful speeches that kind of embody a certain mentality about what’s wrong with humanity. It represents something deeper than just “I’m evil and I don’t like the good guys.” So it’s hopefully things like that. That’s what makes you care a little bit more about the story than just, “I’m an evil bad guy.”

Look at what [Tom] Hiddleston did with Loki. He made a real character. He made a real conflict and Loki could have a movie that has something to do with superheroes. It would just be a really interesting character study; like this guy needs a therapist. But it’s deep and that’s what makes you give a shit. I think that’s what we’re gonna have with Ultron.

Check out the full interviews at the links above for more.

– Speaking of the Avengers, Variety reports that Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the rumored heir-apparents to Avengers: Infinity War have just signed a three-year “first look” deal with Sony. Basically this means any original material they develop, Sony gets the first crack at it. Does this have any bearing on the new Avengers movie? Perhaps, as the three years would cover any time they might be required on set for a potential 2017 shooting date for Infinity War. This is, of course, dependent on when and if they develop an original property for the studio and if they opt to sign on in a directorial capacity.

– Supergirl has added another potential villain as Smash actor Jeremy Jordan has signed aboard as the latest television incarnation of Winslow Schott aka The Toyman. For this series, he’s described as a tech-savvy colleague of Kara’s, and I guess computers could be considered toys of a certain type.

– And just for fun, and because I have a deep abiding love for everything Dan Harmon touches, here’s the first trailer for Community Season 6, which will debut on Yahoo Screen on March 17th:

Now, let’s get that second season of Rick & Morty up and running!

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16. Interview: Shawn Daley Kickstarts a Whole New World Called TerraQuill

By Matt O’Keefe

Short stories are a dying breed in mainstream comics, so often the best offerings are found in the independent scene. Such is the case with books like Cartozia Tales and, more to the point, TerraQuill by Shawn Daley. Like Cartozia, TerraQuill builds a whole world pages at a time. Each of the ten stories delivers heartfelt truths about the human condition. “Always Comes the Day” delivers a heartbreaking story of a student who takes the role of master. “Jimmy’s Eatin’ Well” demonstrates the sometimes subtle sadness of loneliness. “Grumble McMumble challenges the early impressions that we so rigidly define others based upon. Most of the stories are about time passing by, for good or ill but always inevitably. TerraQuill is one of the best comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s a shame that more people aren’t aware of Daley’s powerful storytelling put to work in a creative form like this. Hopefully his Kickstarter to fund a collected edition of TerraQuill is a big step towards changing that. Ideally, this interview will be a small one, too.

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So how did TerraQuill come about?

It started off as two stories I wanted to self publish before FanExpo 2013, but the stories didn’t really take place in our world. They needed a world of their own, so I had to create one. TerraQuill Issue 1 had “You’ll Make Your Own” and “Always Comes The Day,” which were the first two stories. I realized there was so much more world to see, thus the additional stories.

You’re clearly committed to world building. Has that aspect of storytelling always interested you?

It has. I’ve always found the most enveloping stories take place in a world that’s nothing like ours, or a mixture of our world with supernatural or fantasy elements. The world in Stephen King’s Dark Tower books and even the island on LOST have been big influences in world building.

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How much do you know about TerraQuill that’s not on the page?

Everything I need to know is already in my head or written down in a huge file folder of notes. There’s a ton of other stuff that I’m playing around with, but the majority of what I want to tell exists in some form. Character sketches, unused scripts etc.

From the beginning of TerraQuill up until the eventual destruction of it. It’s no fun building something if you’re not going to tear it all down eventually.

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What do you use to organize your notes?

Either a dollar store file folder paired with loose paper and post it notes, or a notes app on my phone. I prefer tangible means myself, so I like writing things down as they pop up and stashing them away.

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One of the short comics in the collection is called “The Whittler’s War: Prologue.” Do you plan to tell the Whittler’s War proper at some point?

I do eventually, but it’ll slowly be revealed through other stories. I’m working on a long TerraQuill story at the moment called The Bridgebuilder’s Creed, which takes place in a post-Whittler’s War TerraQuill. So you can bet the war will be discussed in more detail during Bridgebuilder’s Creed. It’s a pretty important part of the mythology behind the province.

Do you know what form future TerraQuill stories will take?

The next TerraQuill story will be a 120+ page graphic novel, and then it’s back to single short stories. I’ve really enjoyed the format I’ve been working in at the moment. Releasing single issues and stories for free under a pay-what-you-want model, and then collecting them into a volume for which print funds are raised. No one can argue with free, and it’s a great way to share these stories.

Original Art

You mentioned that most of the original art you’re offering as Kickstarter rewards is hand-colored. Why did you color the pages even though they’ve largely only appeared in black-and-white?

Practice, mostly. It seemed like a perfect way to experiment with watercolours, so I couldn’t waste the opportunity. All of TerraQuill was basically exercises in writing and drawing, which definitely includes testing out new mediums and colouring techniques.

It’s definitely a nice perk for original art backers. Do you ever plan to release a full-color version of TerraQuill?

Not at the moment, but only because I prefer black and white. When it’s all said and done, I’d love to hire a colourist for a full colour release. But that’ll have to be a little farther down the road.

Are you auctioning off all of the original art in the Kickstarter?

I am. I’d be happy if I had none of the original TerraQuill art left. It does no use sitting in my room here. If there are people who would be happy to scoop it up, I’ll be happy to see it go. I only plan on keeping one piece of original art, and that’s the hand drawn TerraQuill logo.

Comissions

Your prices on the Kickstarter, for the book and the art, are very low. Was making the campaign affordable to back a priority for you?

I think that should be a priority for everyone using Kickstarter. There needs to be affordable tiers for everyone, and your rewards should be the best you have to offer. At the end of the day, it is about getting your work in the hands of others. Affordable pricing paired with a solid product and good communication is key for success.

Are you a full time freelance artist?

I am indeed.

How much of that is comics?

80% at the moment. I work on independent game soundtracks as well as some web design here and there as gigs come up. But it’s almost all comics/comic art.

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I first discovered your work through Dick Whiskey. What’s it like drawing for someone else, and on that one in particular?

Working with Hansel Moreno on Dick Whiskey is an artists dream come true. His scripts are just as descriptive as they need to be, and he’s all about letting the art work in tandem with his script. Not asking for art to be slave to a script is important and Hansel gets that. For the most part, it’s fun working with other writers’ scripts. It all depends on their appreciation and understanding of the artists role.

The writer is never just a writer and the artist is never just an artist. They’re both storytellers. One part of the same coin.

What do you think about the comic strip format you use for Dick Whiskey? What’s limiting about it? What’s freeing?

Back when the Beatles were recording on 4-track tape machines, they were forced to experiment in order to get their songs out. You only had four tracks — you were so limited. That’s why some of those recordings are so aurally bizarre and interesting.

That’s what it can be like working with only three panels. You learn how to condense effectively and cut out what doesn’t need to be seen. It’s a great exercise in editing.

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How has the experience been with the Kickstarter? What have you learned, now that it’s nearing its end?

Exhausting, and completely worth every second. The platform itself is easy to use, and they’ll promote your project if they see you working for it. I’ve learned that it’s a very good idea to bring your project to completion before Kickstarting it. People want to see that the work has been finished. When you’re asking the public to fund your ambitions, you need to earn their trust. Completing your project beforehand is a good step in the right direction. It was an amazing experience.

You can find Shawn Daley at his website and on Twitter @shawndaley. You can read most of the TerraQuill stories for free here. I encourage you to back the Kickstarter campaign for the physical edition and some amazing perks. It ends in 4 days so run, don’t walk.

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17. BATMAN: ARKHAM UNDERWORLD Announced for Mobile Devices

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Tuesday, Warner Bros. Interactive announced a slew of new mobile device games which included a brand-new Game of Thrones title, LEGO Batman Beyond Gotham, DC Comics Legends, and the previously announced Mortal Kombat X.

The big announcement was Boston based studio Turbine(Lord of the Rings Online, Infinite Crisis) will release a game for mobile devices called Batman: Arkham Underworld. This game will see players building a hideout and then recruiting and training an “army of henchman to do your bidding.” You’ll control a team of supervillians including the Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, and the Riddler. The ultimate goal is to become Gotham City’s “next criminal kingpin.” “Build a big enough empire? Maybe you’ll be ready to take on Batman himself.”

No word on release date or if the game would tie-in with the upcoming console release of Batman: Arkham Knight. Players interested in trying out the game can go its official website to sign up for the upcoming beta test.

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18. Laura Terry’s Graveyard Shakes to be published by Scholastic

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Laura Terry is a cartoonist, a graduate of Pratt and the Center for Cartoon Studies and a former Xeric Grant winner (for Overboard). And now she’s had an original graphic noverl called Graveyard Shakes picked up by Scholastic. The cover looks great and the synopsis which you can read below also sounds very appealing. What interests me most about this deal is that, generally speaking, Laura Terry is unknown outside of minicomics circles, and this never appeared online as a webcomic, but she’s had a whole GN picked up for publishing by one of the most successful publishers in the business. Having an agent probably helped, but we’ve moved on to the Third Wave of graphic novels at traditionally publishing houses: after a boom (2004-5), and then a bust (2006-2012), it appears YA graphic novels are being sold on their own merits with a real chance of being successful. Could it be that cartoonists will someday be abel to making a living making comics? I don’t want to sounds crazy but fingers crossed.

To me it’s also a reminder of just how awesome the Xeric Grant was as a springboard for talent. CCS has definitely become a greenhouse for some of the best young cartoonists around, but instead of GETTING money to be awesome, they have to pay to learn. But it seems to be money well spent.

Katia and Victoria are scholarship students at a fancy private boarding school. Try as she might, Victoria just can’t fit in, and Katia refuses to give up the quirks she’s bullied for. After a big fight with her sister, Katia runs away from school. When an unexpected storm covers the grounds with ice and snow and Katia is nowhere to be found, Victoria goes looking for her little sister in Katia’s favorite hiding place, a ramshackle graveyard.

Victoria accidentally tumbles into the graveyard’s underworld only to discover it’s inhabited by ghouls—and a necromancer named Nikola who’s preparing a devious spell missing only one vital ingredient: a child’s life. Victoria teams up with adorable Little Ghost and Nikola’s kindhearted son, and together they search for Katia, who they fear is in danger of becoming Nikola’s victim. No sooner are the two girls are reunited than they resume their squabble—and are captured by the necromancer!

Now, Victoria and Katia must not only figure out how to get away from graveyard alive, but with the help of their new friends, they have to prevent Nikola from ever using his dark magic again. Can the sisters stop fighting and work together long enough save the day?

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19. Matt Wayne on What Dwayne McDuffie Meant To Comics

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Although it’s in Playboy, it’s SFW and a must read: former Milestone managing editor Matt Wayne on his friend, the late great Dwayne McDuffie:

“I’m 22 and I haven’t done anything with my life!”

That was my friend Dwayne, speaking to me in his dorm room in February 1984. Nine years after he got his name in the papers by attending the University of Michigan at age 13 (but only for a year — turns out, even genius kids need to be around their peers). Seven years after the Detroit News named him one of its All State high-school basketball players. A year after a crisis of conscience turned him away from his undergraduate research into the properties of thermocouples — he learned his work had been applied to missile guidance systems — which started his writing career in earnest. And three years before he became the first African-American to create a Marvel comic.

 
There was only one Dwayne, but his memory lives on with the Dwayne McDuffie Award being presented this weekend at the Lonb Beach Comics Expo. I’m extremely proud to have been associated with this first award, and thrilled with the final list of nominees. We have a long way to go to live in the world that Dwayne may have dreamed of, but that doesn’t mean we should give up.

Today is the next to last day of Black History Month. I don’t always mark it with content here at the Beat because I think there should be 12 months a year of black history and women’s history and queer history and Asian history and every kind of history. Confining any minority to their own month is ultimately counter productive. I don’t always succeed but at the Beat I try to create an atmosphere that invites diversity….and NOT just women writing about women or writers of color writing about those issues. I think that’s confining too.

That said, there were some good BHM pieces, and here’s one: Reggie Hudlin, Jamar Nicholass Jerry Craft and Brandon Thomas talking about comics with Danica Davidson. More to come.

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20. Rio Rancho mom “incredibly disturbed” by finding “Palomar” in school library

Student finds pornographic book at Rio Rancho High   New Mexico News   KOAT Home.png
Sadly I can’t embed the local news scare quotes story here but the transcript is almost as good. A mother in Rio Rancho, NM found her son had checked out Gilbert Hernandez’ PALOMAR from the school library, and then things got dangerous!


She said her son checked out the book “Palomar” from the Rio Rancho High School library Wednesday.

The 14-year-old thought it might be a Magna, or Japanese-style comic book. There are cartoon-like characters, but Lopez said she found 30 disturbing images in the book.

“I started to find child pornography pictures and child abuse pictures and I was like, ‘No. That’s not going to happen in my house,’” she said.

Online, “Palomar” is described as a graphic novel written by Gilbert Hernandez.


Even more incredibly the book—which reprints Hernandez’s acclaimed stories set in a small Mexican town from the first 10 issues or so of Love and Rockets—had been in the library since 2006! And no one noticed! The school library is investigating to find out HOW THIS HAPPENED?

How did it happen? Palomar is an acclaimed book by an acclaimed author, probably.

That said, the Palomar tales are definitely full of pee-pees, woo-woos and lots and lots of bazingas. It is a haunting, adult story of love, sex, betrayal, memory and loss. No one in comics draws guys with their dinguses hanging out quite the way Beto does. That said, as wonderful as this material is, school libraries are under a lot of pressure over standards, and Palomar is definitely rather adventurous material.

I would link to some images by my ad network won’t allow it. UPDATE: Jen Vaughan has a dingus parade! Thanks Jen!

Anyway, this seems like a tempest in a teapot with some deliberately misleading scary inaccurate quotes. Will it blow over as virtually every similar scandal—PARENT led protests, that is, not government led ones like the removal of Persepolis from Chicago schools—in recent years has? We’ll see.

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UPDATED 2: ON a more serious note, the CBLDF is responding to this with help and information:

Needless to say, Palomar is not actually a collection of child porn — Publishers Weekly called it “a superb introduction to the work of an extraordinary, eccentric and very literary cartoonist” and it often draws comparisons to the magic realism of novelists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book collects Hernandez’s “Heartbreak Soup” stories which originally appeared in the Love and Rockets series, a collaboration with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Gilbert Hernandez’s stories focus on the interconnected lives of characters from one family in the fictional South American town of Palomar.

Although filtered by KOAT’s biased reporting Rio Rancho Public Schools officials’ characterization of the book as “clearly inappropriate” is worrisome. We certainly hope that the said officials are up to speed on their district’s policy on Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials, which says in part:


Review of questioned (“challenged”) materials will be treated objectively, unemotionally, and as a routine matter. Criticisms of print and non-print materials must be submitted in writing on a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form obtained from the librarian at the library/media center where the material is housed and submitted to the Superintendent of schools. The Request must be signed and include specific information as to author, title, publisher, and definite citation of objection.

7 Comments on Rio Rancho mom “incredibly disturbed” by finding “Palomar” in school library, last added: 3/1/2015
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21. Archie taps Obscure Video Game Licenses from Sega and Capcom for Worlds Unite

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Archie previously revealed that the Worlds Unite crossover is going to feature two huge video game characters (Mega Man and Sonic) teaming up together. The publisher confirmed several more beloved franchises from Sega and Capcom that are coming out to play in the storyline. A brand new teaser from the crossover shows some wish fulfillment that you wouldn’t believe. Everything from Golden Axe to the obscure Alex Kidd franchises are contained in the full scope of this crossover. Here’s a quick lowdown on some of the different franchises teased in the image released today from the publisher.

Let’s kick things off with Sega:

Alex Kidd

  • First Appearance: Alex Kidd in Miracle World (1986)
  • Why do we care?
  • Kidd was Sega’s answer to Mario in the late 80s, and while he hasn’t been seen in a little while, we still have a soft spot for the Kidd.

Billy Hatcher

  • First Appearance: Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (2003)
  • Why do we care?
  • Anything from Sonic Team is worth a second look.

Golden Axe

  • First Appearance: Golden Axe (1989)
  • Why do we care?
  • College.

NiGHTS

  • First Appearance: NiGHTS into Dreams… (1996)
  • Why do we care?
  • NiGHTS was one of the first games to take advantage of the video game art form featuring a heroine flying around on the Sega Saturn.

Skies of Arcadia

  • First Appearance: Skies of Arcadia (2000)
  • Why do we care?
  • The game is an early 3D RPG sporting good characters and a strong setting.

Panzer Dragoon

  • First Appearance: Panzer Dragoon (1995)
  • Why do we care?
  • Dazzling visuals and a unique approach to gameplay made this game an essential entry into the Sega Saturn library of games.

Onto the Capcom games:

Breath of Fire

  • First Appearance: Breath of Fire (1993)
  • Why do we care?
  • Breath of Fire is a Japanese title early on in the NES library that contained an actual plot and cast of fleshed out characters.

Ghosts N’ Goblins

  • First Appearance: Ghosts N’ Goblins (1985)
  • Why do we care?
  • Ghost and Goblins was one of the first games that really challenged gamers on consoles while still being fun and intuitive to play.

Monster Hunter

  • First Appearance: Monster Hunter (2004)
  • Why do we care?
  • While the game initially may seem archaic to some American gamers, there’s something mystifying and deceptively simple about the original Monster Hunter that makes it an incredible game to play.

Street Fighter

  • First Appearance: Street Fighter (1987)
  • Why do we care?
  • Street Fighter earned it’s acclaim as a staple game among fans in the arcade fighting scene.

Okami

  • First Appearance: Okami (2006)
  • Why do we care?
  • Okami took it’s time melding Japanese folklore with a more cerebral Zelda-style game design.

Viewtiful Joe

  • First Appearance: Viewtiful Joe (2003)
  • Why do we care?
  • This is one of those major gamecube built around the personality of the main character that can rewind time. Viewtiful Joe was an original idea in the space of video games.

A full prologue is launching along with Free Comic Book Day on May 2nd from Archie, after that this comic is directly spinning off into an epic 12-part crossover. Thanks to Comics Alliance for the cover. The tale is broken up into a flipbook featuring separate Mega Man and Sonic versions. Ian Flynn is writing the story. The Sonic comic includes art from Adam Bryce Thomas, with the Mega Man portion complete with art contributions from Patrick Spaziante, Jonathan Hill, Powree, Ryan Jampole and Jamal Peppers.

3 Comments on Archie taps Obscure Video Game Licenses from Sega and Capcom for Worlds Unite, last added: 3/3/2015
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22. Entertainment Round-up: Supergirl pulls a Smallville and casts Dean Cain and Helen Slater, Lucifer is cast, Thor and Aquaman speak out

Thor

Between some casting news and a few choice interviews, it was a busier 24 hours than most in the entertainment news cycle. Here are the headlines of interest for the weekend:

– CBS’ Supergirl added a few Superman franchise vets yesterday as both Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Helen Slater (Supergirl, the movie) have signed on for the series. It isn’t the first time these two have re-joined the DC Universe, both appeared in Smallville at different times: Cain as a Vandal Savage-like immortal scientist, and Slater as Lara-El. Their roles are being kept under wraps this time around.

– FOX’s Lucifer has found its lead as well, as British thespian Tom Ellis (Rush, Miranda) will be playing the former Lord of Hell who now helps the LAPD punish criminals.

– On the Avengers: Age of Ultron side of things, we have some new character posters promoting the film including The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Nick Fury:

hulk

Thor

BlackWIdow

NickFury

 

Collider also has a great interview with Chris Hemsworth that’s worth a look at if you’re curious where Marvel may be taking Thor specifically. There’s one bit of exchange I found interesting, where Hemsworth slightly hints at why Thor: The Dark World wasn’t as necessarily successful as the first Thor:

What’s something Thor gets to do in this film that he hasn’t done before in the other fims?

HEMSWORTH: He’s loosened up a bit. I think we lost some of the humor and the naïveté, that sort of fish out of water quality of Thor from the first film into the second one. There were things I loved about what we did in the second one too, tonally, but that sense of fun… I would have liked it to be there a bit more, and Joss I think felt the same way.  So there’s more humor in Thor or at least because he’s been on Earth, he’s a little more accessible now.  He’s off Asgard now so he doesn’t have to be as regal and kingly as he is in that world, which is nice. I enjoy that more.  It’s sort of a box, which is tough to step out of on Asgard.  You know, that stuff just looks out of place whereas here, he can have a gag with the guys and he can throw away lines and be a party scene with them in civilian clothes, which is nice.

– Speaking of regal superheroes, Jason Momoa chatted briefly with EW while promoting Sundance TV’s The Red Road, and of course Aquaman came up. At one point he compares his DCU experience with that of Conan The Barbarian:

The whole mythology of Aquaman is pretty amazing. There’s so many things to tell, and there’s a whole backstory that’s just amazing. There’s a lot of surprises coming. I think, yeah, he’s been cast aside. But, um [laughs] times are going to change now, buddy. Conan was really hard, because you have 15 different types of fans and so many things to respect and honor. To do it right it’s got to be bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody, and not a lot of people go see that anymore. It’s not the ’80s anymore. It’s a really hard format. We busted ass, but there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen on that one. What’s great about this is Zack, man. We don’t want to just reinvent it, but he’s a got a whole idea of what Aquaman should be and I’m really honored to be playing it. I’m excited for the world to see it.

He also more or less confirmed that Aquaman’s role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is fairly small and filming for Justice League has not begun yet.

 

1 Comments on Entertainment Round-up: Supergirl pulls a Smallville and casts Dean Cain and Helen Slater, Lucifer is cast, Thor and Aquaman speak out, last added: 3/2/2015
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23. Books A Million Selling Variants Online and Getting DC from Diamond

Princess-LeiaThis may well spoil things for people trying to flip variants on eBay, but it looks like Books A Million will let you order (and pre-order) variant covers off their website.  And it looks like they’re expanding how many different publishers they’re getting variants from:

And that Princess Leia link is for the sketch variant.  Yes, BAM now has variants and sketch variants for some of the Star Wars titles.  A Marvel variant will set you back $7.99, but a sketch variant is $9.99  Start saving your pennies, kids.

There are a lot more variants available than just those, with Marvel leading the way in terms of volume.  On the BAM site, the publisher of the comics is always listed as “Diamond Comic” or “Diamond Comic Magazine,” amusingly reminding use where these are coming from.  I’d take as a good sign for how BAM’s doing with non-returnable fare that they’re adding all these variants and from all sorts of publishers.

And then there’s DC.  BAM lists a few DC titles online.  Here’s Convergence #1.  It’s not listed as being an exclusive cover, but it’s got “Diamond Comic Magazine” as the publisher and an ISBN number:

  • ISBN-13: 9781492472070
  • ISBN-10: 1492472077

Here’s the link for Convergence: Suicide Squad #1, which BAM has listed as a hardcover (almost certainly an error).

DC did not get back to me about why some of their titles are showing up on BAM’s site as Diamond titles, but since they’re not listed as variants, it’s entirely possible they weren’t aware those listings existed.

In the meantime, if variants are your thing, you don’t have to pay a jacked up price for the BAM variants on eBay if the title in question is still available on their website.


Have you read Todd’s book Economics of Digital Comics?  You can also ignore him on Twitter at@Real_Todd_Allen

 

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24. 2015 Spectrum Award finalists announced

Alex Alice, Audrey Benjaminsen, David Palumbo, James Turner and Lisa Wood (aka Tula Lotay) are the comics finalists for the 2015s Spectrum 22, the awards given to fantasy influenced art in a number of disciplines. Justin Gerard, Virginie Ropars, Greg Ruth, Annie Stegg Gerard and Dice Tsutsumi were this year’s judges, and the selected finalists for Gold or Silver medla sin eight categories. Winners will be announced at the Spectrum 22 Awards Ceremony held in conjunction with the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live event in Kansas City, Missouri on Saturday, May 23th. Spectrum 22, edited by John Fleskes, will be published by Flesk Publications in November.

While the nominees above aren’t necessarily comics household names in the comics community aside from Lotay, they are pretty spectacular. Turner in particular has a solid and unusual body of geometrically inspired fantasy work in his portfolio. The full list of nominees is below and a few comics related folks can be discerned if you look.

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Johnny Dombrowski — Murder on the Orient Express
Edward Kinsella III — Vernacchio
Victo Ngai — The Cloisters
Yuko Shimizu — Tokyo Night Show
Taylor Wessling — Barbarians: Faust



Book
Dan dos Santos — Taking Flight
Scott Gustafson — Jack and the Sleeping Giant
Jeffrey Alan Love — Radiant State
Petar Meseldzija — The Giants are Coming
Sam Weber — cover for Dune by Frank Herbert




Comicslechateaudesetoiles1Alex Alice  — Castle in the Stars

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Audrey Benjaminsen — Bernadette, page 1

 

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David Palumbo — The Beast

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James Turner — Rebel Angels

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Lisa Wood — Rebels

Concept Art
Audrey Benjaminsen — Fairy 3
Sung Choi — The Parade
Te Hu — Wonders: Gate of Luxor
Kellan Jett — Meeting
Allen Williams — The Good Dog




Dimensional
Dan Chudzinski — The Mudpuppy
Mark Newman — Gallevarbe: Death’s Siren
Forest Rogers — Venetian Harpy
David Silva — Dragon vs. Raptors
Dug Stanat — A Bird From His Brim Will Guide Your Last Breath




Editorial
Sam Bosma — Critical Education
Jensine Eckwall — This Circle: Walking Into The Wind
Edward Kinsella III — Gland Monster
Victo Ngai — Cocoon
Tran Nguyen — A Distressed Damsel




Institutional
Ed Binkley — Rikshaw Pass
Laurie Brom — Bad Seed
Rovina Cai — Fake It
Jeffrey Alan Love — Skyrim
Jessica Shirley — The Child Sleeps




Unpublished
Paul Bonner — Beowulf: Mother
Donato Giancola — Descent from Caradhras
Rebecca Leveille Guay — Time and Chance
Omar Rayyan – A Night at the Races
Cynthia Sheppard — Momentum




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25. Awesome Horrible Comics of the 80s and Beyond

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Every era of publishing has had awful comics. Though we live in a golden age, they walk among us even now. But horrible comic combined with dated inking techniques and fashion sense…now those are gold.

Michael Carlyle’s The Crapbox of Son Of Cthulhu blog goes through some awful comics of the 80s, such as Rayne #4 by Richard Moore. Although Moore would go on to have more recognition with Boneyard, and he’s not a bad artist, this is to comics what Simon & Simon is to TV. Something that just looks old and wack, horseheaded fur bikini wearing babes and all.

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Even more instructive is the case of Of Myths and Men #2 which looks like a very simple webcomic but was actually typical of “the black and white boom” of the 80s that followed the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hundreds of comics like this were published, leading to speculation and the eventual market crash. But I’m guessing that they probably sold more than a typical IDW comic does now—there were a lot more comics shops and they tended to order everything.

Blackthorne Publishing came about after the breakup of Pacific Comics. The brainchild of Bill and Steve Schanes, Blackthorne was named after the street Steve lived on. It originally published cost effective comic reprints of things like Dick Tracy and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Many of these titles were over a quarter of a century old and in the public domain when Blackthorne put them out. The money garnered from these titles allowed the small publishing shop to branch out into 3D titles and original series. Legal loopholes allowed them to put out 3D titles for properties held by Marvel, like a successful Star Wars 3D series, by creating a new product category that the licensing contracts didn’t cover. The creator-driven black and white comics were a very mixed bag, but mostly low quality rip-offs of current trends. An example would be TMNT clone Pre-Teen Dirty Jean Kung Fu Kangaroos. Or this issue of Of Myths and Men.


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The book is drawn in a classic generic 80s style that one might call “unshaded post Foglio”—sketchy characters with visors and boots and musculature defined by bubble shapes, close set eyes indicated as ovals with pinpoint pupils. This is one of the “Seven Types of Bad Comics Art” which I will get around to writing some day when I don’t want friends any more.

While the comic is random, it’s also very very typical…and so unremarkable that the name of the artist isn’t even listed on ComicsVine. This era of comics is defined as “The Copper Age” by some, and like copper, the value is counted in pennies.

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