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Streaming anime service Crunchyroll is getting into the original webcomic game with a new “Crunchyroll Originals” program, and it kicks off with HYPERSONIC music club by artist Hiroyuki Takahashi, with a story by Patrick Macias . The story line involves world of tomorrow young cyborgs fighting a mysterious conspiracy led by monster girls. Just a day at the office. Takahashi’s work is a mix of manga and music influences, and his work has a colorful explosive effect just right for HD computer screen.
According to Crunchyroll GM, Japan Channels, Vincent Shortino, “The Crunchyroll Originals line represents an opportunity to develop new and compelling content for users in addition to our licensed anime and manga offerings. Combining forces with artists like Hiroyuki Takahashi underscores Crunchyroll’s commitment to Japanese pop culture and pursuing innovation in the digital media space.”
The comic will be free to read and launches this Friday, January 30th. You can follow along on tumblr here and see more of Takahashi’s work here.
Carver is a new project by cartoonist Christopher Hunt, a talented artist whose been been seen in Dark Horse, 12 Reasons To Die, Escapo and elsewhere. But Carver is his passion project, a story that starts in 1913 Paris with Carver himself, a man with a mysterious past, and skills with both his fists and with the ladies. It’s adventurous, romantic and ready to rock and roll. You can read the first chapter here or watch the teaser
If you like what you see, there’s a Patreon campaign here , and if you really like it, there’s a launch party at Jeffrey tonight. Here’s a few pages as a teaser teaser.
Anders Nilsen sees the year out at Medium with a beautiful full color comic called On Optimisim: Why 2015 Won’t Suck. It’s a very direct and straightforward work from the often oblique (and marvelously so) Nilsen, but it has a few good words that we should all tam into account for 2015. Even though 2014 was a pretty great year for comics, for a lot of folks (The Beat included) it was kind of sucky on a personal level, and a lot of the creative personnel of the industry seem to be sinking into a “happy peasant” mind set, as living in a hovel on the outskirts of the giant corporate castle seems like a lifestyle choice worth making.
All that said, optimism is the fundamental human state and despite the setbacks 2014 had a lot of great, amazing stuff. And 2015 will be even better. As I mentioned many times this year, I’m finally living in the world that I envisioned wham I was 13 years old, a world of limitless storytelling and a return to the diversity that comics always had. A world where people don’t think comics are dumb or stupid,
So thank you for your support throughout the year, both in the form of encouragement, written and verbal, and monetary (Advertising, Paypal and Patreon) and to all my wonderful contributors—Kyle, Hannah, Zach, Todd, Torsten, Jeff, David, Kate, Kate, Jason, David, Alex, Matt and Lindsey and anyone I’m forgetting. Thanks to Steve, Zainab and Joshua who quickly moved on to bigger and better things. And thanks to everyone at Stately Beat Manor who fed the cats and made us laugh.
And here’s to a 2015 filled with ninjas, dinosaurs, kittens, iPads, shooting stars, pirates, emeralds and chocolate hazelnut Vietnamese instant coffee.
We’ll leave you with this reminder: Always don business wear before sitting down to the drawing board or keyboard. IF JAck Kirby did it, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
Long running—since 2004—and very popular webcomic Girls with Slingshots will be drawing to a close in the next few months, as announced in the strip and an essay. Creator Danielle Corsetto will be taking some time off to further her art education, but she doubts that it’s the last we’ve seen of the characters in the strip:
But I doubt it’ll be the end of GWS. And by “doubt” I mean “unless next year’s artistic experiments result in an intense interest in psychedelics and I shift my path from comics to acrylic tie-dye style paintings on turtle shells,” you will see Hazel and Jamie and everyone else again. It most likely won’t be in webcomic form; in fact, if GWS comes back, it’ll be a format that will give the characters more room to breathe.
I was a photo major in college, and despite a handful of great art classes, I never quite got the art education I wanted. I’ll be pursuing that in the upcoming year, taking classes and experimenting with paint and classic media, so that no matter what I do after this, it’ll be my best effort.
And I’ll be sharing my progress here, because uuuhhh honestly I think I’d get lonely if I didn’t. :) I’m forever indebted to those of you who read this comic every day and have been for ages; your patronage and support over the years has been unparalleled, and I’d honestly miss y’all if I didn’t stick around where you can find me.
Corsetto is part of a pretty sturdy generation of webcomic makers, but she’s earned some time off. Best of luck wherever this takes her.
Another neo classic comic for the hols as Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s homeless crimefighting skateboarder, Street Angel, teams with Santa on a brief adventure to find some missing reindeer in a bad neighborhood.
It’s all courtesy of Boing Boing, which is running new Street Angel comics regularly. And if you don’t have it already, give yourself a present by picking up the recent AdHouse edition of the original Street Angel mini series.
Every year cartoonist Kate Beaton returns to her parents house in the maritimes for the holidays, and the series of hilarious and touching comics that result are getting to be a holiday tradition, as the intersection of parental concern and parental eccentricities combine to form HUMOR. IT’s an experience that many of us are going through right now, and Beaton’s gentle, loving humor—while rooted firmly in her own family’s character—can also stand in for the universal experience.
She’s been posting her comics on twitter, but they’re also up on Tumblr, where they are easier to find. And should anyone be searching in the far flung future for them, here’s the direct link for the one shown above.
Talk about an early Christmas present.
Emily Carroll’s delicious and innovative horror comics are a yearly Halloween treat, and now she’s gifted us with a Christmas themed comic about two little girls who are perfect angels…or are they?
A few years ago, a simple request for a t-shirt design to artist Mike Norton grew into an Eisner Award-winning, multi-volume webcomic. Norton publishes a new page of his Battlepug
saga every week, and hardcovers collecting the series are released yearly. To celebrate the release of the third Dark Horse-published volume
, I spoke with Norton about his dog-starring epic.
Did you have a specific plan when you started posting pages for Battlepug?
Yeah, I figured if I was gonna start doing it I should know where I was going. Not having written a whole lot before, that was one thing that I did know, that you should have a beginning, middle and end for your story. I didn’t write it down but I had it in my head so it’s just kind of meandered from point A to point B but I know how it ends and all that stuff.
Did you know it was going to be published by Dark Horse at the time?
No. I didn’t know any of that. I just put it out there because I’d just done the 24-hour Comics Challenge [Note: also about pugs] and I really liked the experience of it. I have a lot of writer friends who make comics for a living and I didn’t want to go through the whole come-up-with-a-story pitch process thing; I just wanted to get it done. I was just super-excited and wanted to do something so I put it online and I think it was less than a month before people started asking me about it. I didn’t have any publishers in mind when I put it out there.
How do you write Battlepug?
It’s Marvel style, sort of. I don’t really write it. I’ve gone back and forth with writing out the plot on paper… an outline! That shows you how much experience I have I struggle with the word outline [laughs]. I have major milestone points written out and every week is kind of a page and a scene, but I also wanted it to be a full beginning-middle-end strip because it only comes out every week. So I started writing those as I was drawing them. It felt more like I was drawing a comic book because with a comic book I know where one left off and the other started so I would write them as I went along knowing where I was going. So I know where it’s going while I write it, so I kind of draw-write it.
I was going to mention they all seem to hold up as pages on their own.
Yeah. A lot of the webcomics out there tell stories in one page. And there are the old time serials where you kind of have to assume the person reading it is never going to read it again, so you wanna sorta give them something to end off.
Does it take longer to write that kind of page than a typical page?
Yeah. I mean, you have to think about that stuff while you’re drawing it. If you’re writing a comic book you already know what’s gonna happen on the next page and you know that person is gonna flip the page after that and you can leave things unsaid. You don’t have that pressure. But I’ve only written a couple things myself for comic books and those I prefer to type out so I know what’s happening from page to page.
This is kind of a technical question, but what are the dimensions of the Battlepug pages?
I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head! I kind of tried to get the ratio that you would see with the browser open so that you’d be able to see the whole thing. I looked at a couple other comics that were using it and it’s pretty much the same dimensions as I think maybe Cameron Stewart’s Sin Titulo.
I think I read that Scott Allie told you it was the longest comic he’d ever publisher at DH?
Yeah, like physically longest?
They may have made bigger by now. They hadn’t done a horizontal size like that. When I started drawing it I was thinking of something like a French album and luckily they went with that.
It looks great on the bookshelf. You’ve been very adaptable with your drawing style over the years. Would you say Battlepug is your ideal drawing style?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think I’d get bored if I just drew… it’s hard to answer that. I mean, Battlepug is the most natural for me. If I were sitting at a restaurant drawing on a piece of paper I would probably draw [in that style]. But I enjoy drawing the way I do with my straight comic work where it’s more representational and more comic book-y. But I do like cartooning. Cartooning is very natural and easy to me and I don’t think of it as work. That might be why I am hesitant to even think that I write Battlepug. It’s kind of just a thing that I do just because it’s very natural. But yeah, I would say that it’s more me than it’s what naturally spills out but I have a lot of fun doing the other things.
Battlepug is on its fourth volume as a webcomic. Do you know how many volumes the series will be in total?
Five, I think, but I’m trying to make everything work out in my head. Now that we’re close to the end of Volume 4, I have to wrap up all the loose ends in 52 pages of story. I’ve never had that kind of problem before and I said I know where everything is heading, but now I have to make everything make sense [laughs]. I mean there have been a couple of times from the past four years that i’ve allowed myself to meander and wander around the story. Now i have to buckle down and start actually paying attention.
Last question: what do you like so much about pugs?
What do I like so much about pugs? [laughs] I like the what do you call it… not the dichotomy… they don’t make sense. They descended from animals that probably hunted and stuff and now they’re just these ridiculous animals that can’t live without us. I just kind of like the absurdity of that. I think that they are ridiculous and lovable and I just like animals in general. That’s kind of why i wanted to do the comic. So I could just draw whatever stupid animal comes into my head. But dogs are a big favorite and I have two of my own pugs and I think they’re just ridiculous animals. They just make me laugh is all.
[Laughs] Well, your love for them definitely shows.
Illustrated version of real torture techniques used by REAL CIA operatives drawn in an old school Basil Wolverton style for added punch.
BTW, isn’t “detainee” another word for “prisoner”?
NSFH = Not safe for humans.
As long as there have been comics, there have been people imagining what happens when Superman and Lois Lane have sex. Larry Niven’s “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” set the standard, with a sobering, scientific look at Kal-El’s supersonic baby paste, and the potentially horrific effects of a human/Kryptonian hybrid pregnancy. And now the new artist of Rat Queens made his own little version. The headline says it’s Lois but isn’t it time for more Superman/Wonder Woman fanfic along these lines? No kleenex there!
For Supes/Lois fetishists, here’s an 8-bit version of the same scene. Like I said, it’s a timeless classic of fanfic.
Web serialization of a comic intended for print is one of the standard models of comics production now (Although it still isn';t profitable but that’s a whole other post) and here’s avery insightful post by Ben Towle on the conclusion of his webcomic, Oyster War. I’ve been enjoying his account of local skirmishes between 19th century Chesapeake Bay oyster farmers since he started it in 2008, and much has changed in how he put the comics out in that period, including the rise of Tumblr and yet more social media. Towle offers some VERY practical advice including how running it on GoComics affected the comics, mistakes in character design and URLS (get a separate URL for your comic) and also preparing for print:
Assume that your comic will be printed, Part I. – You may just be planning on throwing some stuff up online and seeing what sticks, but you can make some serious trouble for yourself down the line if you wind up deciding that you want to print your comic if you haven’t been doing some basic “just in case” things. Thankfully, I did the most basic of these with Oyster War–more just out of habit than good planning. Work in CMYK. Exporting CMYK to RBG is a lot less prone to problems than vice versa. Also: work at print resolution. I keep my line art at 1200 dpi and my coloring at 300 dpi. Again, it’s easy to export all that down to 72 dpi for screens… but there’s no way to do it in reverse.
Assume that your comic will be printed, Part II. – Some print-prep things that I really should have done, I didn’t start doing until about half way through. I wish I’d done them from the get-go. First: coloring with a K-free palette. Despite Oyster War being my first long comic I’ve done in color, I knew good and well that it’s a best practice to do CMYK coloring with little if any black (K or “key”) values in your colors… but, I foolishly took a “I’ll figure it out later” attitude, and now I’m having to go back and color correct a lot of early pages. I felt especially dumb when I finally decided to remix the color palette I’d been using to get it K-free and it took all of about 45 minutes to do. Other things I should have done from the get-go that are now costing me time: digitally blacking in areas of spot blacks that didn’t scan as completely black, superblacking the color under the line art.
Some of this will be a “Duh!” for web veterans, but it’s always someone’s first time at the rodeo. There are many technical aspects to this model that keep being reinvented. But it did work for Towle: Oyster War will be coming out in print in 2015 from a yet unnamed publisher.
Gilbert Hernandez has a new weekly comic at Vice.
So one good thing happened this week.
Return with us to the simpler days of 2007 when Nicholas’s Gurewitch’s The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, a collection of his Perry Bible Fellowship comics was a best selling delight, and Gurewitch was the next Gary Larsen. AlAlthoughne more PBF book appeared—The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack—it was the last as Gurewitch investigated some television opportunities and animation, settling into a sort of “Where is he now?” status. Although the occasional PBF strip appears, it isn’t like the olden days. (I still quote “A Hit for Bobby.”)
However, Gurewitch is back with a new book, to be Kickstarted: Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little Death. The book was quickly funded, and stretch goals are now in the works. It’s not a comic, but more of a picture book, about “Death’s despair regarding his kid- an affectionate “Little Death” who simply doesn’t have what it takes to carry on the family business.” Certainly a macabre topic that pairs will with the rest of Gurewitch’s oeuvre.
I guess being as consistently funny was Gurewitch wasn’t that easy, but seeing him come back with some books is an excellent return for a singular talent.
Brian K Vaughan writes to inform us of some Panel Syndicate related business:
Hot on the heels of the release of our new series UNIVERSE! from creator Albert Monteys (which we’re proud to share has been a phenomenal global success so far), Marcos and I are pleased to announce the imminent arrival of THE PRIVATE EYE #9, the penultimate issue of our sci-fi fable about privacy in America’s future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Marcos’ ultra-phallic cover. And for our European readers, Marcos, Muntsa and I look forward to seeing you at this week’s Portugal Comic-Con in sunny Porto!
You can download PRIVATE EYE #9 in a multitude of formats and languages for any price you wish here (although not quite yet)
. The price we pay here at Stately Beat Manor is $3.99 btw, th price of a comic book.
The other day we linked to the fine Comic Arts LA poster by Sophia Foster-Dimino. Poking around her website, we found this charming comic about the band Cibo Matto, created for Pitchfork Review. Billed as two Japanese expats singing songs about food, Cibo Matto’s 1994 debut Viva! La Woman! is a staple of the 90sscene centering about Grand Royal Records, and led to the haunting Sugar Water video directed my Michel Gondry that features the same footage shown backwards in palindromatic fashion.
Cibo Matto came out with a new album this year (Hotel Valentine)—not the sample heavy, expensive to clear music of their debut, but concept album about a haunted hotel with a still fresh sound and some tasty guest playing, including the great Nels Cline. And a fun comic about it all.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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The case that landed both men in jail began in May 2012, when they were assigned to investigate attorney Anthony Chiofalo, who embezzled about $9 million from his client, a company that manufactures heavy cranes.
In October 2012, Blevins sold thousands of dollars worth of rare comic books to a dealer in Chicago who later discovered they were the same items purchased by Chiofalo from an online auction house.
An attorney representing the company Chiofalo had worked for learned about the comics and recognized the name of the seller: Harris County DA’s investigator Lonnie Blevins.
The FBI arrested Blevins in February 2013 – about two months after he left the district attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said he “cooperated substantially” in their inquiry.
Here’s the link showing all of the titles! Wimpy Kid! Smile! American Gods! Amulet! Timmy Failure!
Raina Telgemeier has posted scenes of her massive signing schedule on Facebook, where she signed eleven packages of book pages over ten days with twelve Sharpies. The pages were then shipped to Asia, where they were bound into the books. All in top secret mode.
Dunno if President Bush did the same, or if he went to an undisclosed location and signed the actual copies of his book.
…and why was he fired six years later? Comic Book Resources has the secret history!
“Since we created the Safe Ship & Zip boxes, the damage rate has dropped to nearly zero,” said Drucker. “And, we’ve received lots of e-mails from customers thanking us for making opening boxes so easy.”
“We’ve shipped comic books to 117 countries, and our damage rate is among the lowest in the comic book business,” said [CEO Jim] Drucker. “So, if you buy comic books online, or are looking for comic books for sale, you don’t have to worry about shipping damage at NewKadia.”
[I did a sample search on their website. They have a copy of “Superman Meets The Quik Bunny”, so it seems like a decent site.]
In a briefing today, Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG) chief executive officer Mohammed Khammas said the company will hold the Asia Pop Comic Con 2015 in the Philippines.
The annual event features international brands in comics, animation, toys, music and movies, and Manila’s hosting will mark the United Arab Emirates-based conglomerate’s investment in the Philippines.
Established in 1977, AAHG’s businesses range from real estate to construction, engineering and infrastructure, retail and trading, technology and logistics, lifestyle and fitness, entertainment, as well as hospitality.
The conglomerate operates in 25 countries and has a 5,000-strong workforce.
Those are not the only pleasant surprises you’ll find upon entering Subspace Coffee House, though. Living up to the establishment’s moniker, the three-year-old coffee shop is divided into diverse, uniquely designed sections—“subspaces,” if you will—that, when taken together, deliver a one-of-a-kind cafe experience for K-Pop fans, pop culture geeks, office workers, and social media enthusiasts alike.
They specialize in latte art… using the foam to make an illustration, as seen here.
Thor is also proud of the fact that, as geeks and fans themselves, they can get pretty much any latte art request right, with minimal to zero questions and at no extra cost. “Our coffee is good, but our strength is really our latte art—we transport people to different locations by personalizing their coffee.” From comic book characters to TV shows to K-Pop bands, Subspace’s artists have got latte art down to a science. “[Our regulars] know that when they come in, we ‘get’ it. No need to explain what they want us to draw on their coffee. No questions asked, we get it.”
In the “Guys Read” program, students are paired with mentors who read with them and try to introduce them to the joys of the printed page. Many of the mentors are South View High School students.
Baldwin librarian Jennifer Scott said boys were singled out for the mentor program because they tend to read less than their female counterparts. Particularly at the fourth-grade level, Scott said, boys tend to drift away from reading.
Scott said the program attempts to identify books that 9- and 10-year-old boys might like.
“They like graphic novels. They don’t want books that don’t have pictures,” she said. “They don’t like made-up stories. If they do come to the library, they spend their time in the nonfiction section.”
The school advertised the mentoring program and partnered with South View High School. Many of the mentors are ROTC students looking to earn community volunteer credits, but other people from the community have volunteered to help.
Red Bank Regional High School teacher Sara Van Ness, who has published books on graphic novels, has turned her interest in the art form into a popular course at the high school.
“Graphic novels combine both visuals and the written word, so the reader is really participating in the meaning making process,” Van Ness said. “The kids not only have to interpret the words, but also the pictures and the interaction of the two. So it’s sometimes a more challenging reading experience for students, which is not the perception we have of graphic novels of: ‘Oh, they’re just for kids’ or ‘Oh, they’re easier text to read.'”
You started selling books very young. What were you into then?
I was interested in one particular comic book artist who made the Donald Duck series: Carl Barks, who is one of the great American 20th century art geniuses, and he’s still totally underappreciated. I thought I was the only one collecting comic books, but I learned that others did the same but much older than me — people who were looking to buy back the lost dreams of their childhood. So I started dealing when I was still in school; I had a little mail-order business when I was 14. I have this DNA for what a collector needs or loves. What we wanted to do later on with our books was create the ultimate fetish items for the collector.
Read the entire interview to discover an exclusive announcement! (And if you’ve been good this year, Santa might bring you this.)
Kanan and Kelly Dhru still have the wide-eyed enthusiasm characteristic of fresher law students. The sisters are on a mission to foster a new generation of kids who will grow up to be socially responsible adults aware of the laws that govern them. To this end, they plan to release a series of comic books called ‘Lawtoons’.
The first volume, which was released earlier this month, is titled “A Song for Everyone” and deals with topics like the Right to Equality and Freedom of Expression. The initiative has been successfully crowd-funded, with a total of 2.75 lakhs being raised for the first volume alone.
[Now if only someone in the U.S. could produce a comic on how Grand Juries work…]
Some 400 lots of comic art were sold at the auction in Paris on Saturday, Artcurial said, with the highest price fetched by a Tintin strip from “The Castafiore Emerald”, signed by its creator Herge, going for 404,500 euros.
You can see the results at Artcurial’s website. Search for Sale 2666, held 22 November 2014. Or view the 244-page catalog here!
Okay not maybe the most chipper reading, but you’ll be thankful for you life after you read it> Dave Sim’s Judenhass (literally “Jew hate”) a harrowing, sensitive look at anti-Semitism and its horrific result in the Holocaust is now being offered for free at the website and via the Sequential app for iPad. Sim may be one of our more controversial comic masters, but no one has ever denied that he’s a comics master, or that he’s a master of emotion and composition, both evident in Judenhass, along with his historical research.
You can download Sequential, if you don’t already have it, here. And if you don’t already have it…what are you wwaiting for? it’s free and offers a lot of great free downloads and outstanding graphic novels in enhanced formats
A lot of cartoonists—and many blogs, ahem—have taken to PAtreon as a means to finance the creation of comics. There are quite a few (a round up post is called for, maybe later this week) and Patreon doesn’t make it clear who makes the most, the way Kickstarter does, but Jason Shiga recently hit $1000 a month for his Ignatz winning webcomic Demon. Given his analytic background, there’s much of that in the post, but here’s an excerpt:
I know it’s an arbitrary number, but the $1000 mark is significant for a couple reasons. First, it amounts to the opportunity cost of not going with a larger publisher for this project. Second, someone could theoretically live on $1000. They’d have to be childless, live in a hovel in Detroit with 4 other dudes eating beans and rice 3 times a day. But man, if you were to describe that life to my 20 year old self, I’d tell you that sounds pretty nice. I know a lot of my readers here are cartoonists so maybe you can relate to that feeling of knowing so clearly in your bones that you were meant to do this one thing. But then there you are screwing in widgets all day, waiting for that whistle to blow so you can bike home and draw again. When I started out making comics, I didn’t want to be rich or famous. I just wanted to make more comics. I still do.
The lifestyle that $100 a month affords you is not a very appealing one, but, as he says, it makes the project officially a success. As he explains, he started out with usual business model of selling print editions, art and digital subs. This level of income for a regular webcomic would thrill many cartoonists, but given Shiga’s 15 year career, and the success of Meanwhile (which led me to coin the term The Shiga Index when analyzing sales charts.)
My own Patreon is nearing $700, which is a pretty good number all things considered. I’m very fortunate to have this level of success and appreciate each and every patron. Obviously it isn’t enough to live on, but it had taken care of paying for the backend, investing in the site more, and yes, paying some of those New York City bills. Patreon still doesn’t have the “excitement” level of Kickstarter, but it is beginning to afford a bunch of people at least some return on their work.
PS: Demon is totally dope. It’s a cross between Unbreakable, Groundhog Day and Shiga’s own classic Fleep. READ IT.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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From L to R: Diana Pho, LeSean Thomas, Alice Meichi Li, Daniel Jose Older, I.W. Gregorio and Tracey J. John
The main stage spectacles of NYCC saw panels filled with celebrity actors and moderators alike, whipping thousands of screaming audience members into a frenzy. No less intense or enthusiastic, however, were the panels scheduled towards the end of the night in the smaller conference rooms at the Javits Center. Once such panel —Geeks of Color Go Pro —filled its room to capacity with a diverse audience of fans and comic book industry hopefuls cheering just as passionately as fans in the rooms twice its size.
“Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo,” declared Tracy J. John, writer for such marquee video game franchises as Oregon Trail and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This comment, which came later in the proceedings, proved to be a kind of mission statement for the panel as a whole. Moderated by Tor Books editor Diana Pho, the panel participants represented a diversity of gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Pho opened by asking the panel to tell their “origin stories,” referring to how they arrived at their current careers within an industry that has long suffered from a dearth of diversity. Tracey J. John kicked things off, saying: “a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…I went to NYU and got a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies.” She went on to say that she garnered an internship at MTV News, which led to a job working for MTV.com. “We wrote about these things called ‘music videos,’” she joked. This job placed her in the perfect spot to capitalize on her World of Warcraft addiction when MTV looked to launch a video game focused section of its website. She recalled thinking, “whoa, I can get paid to write about video games?” She later turned to freelance work for Wired, NY Post, and Playstation Magazine. Desirous of a more stable paycheck, she turned to a job at Gameloft and worked in game development. Recently she decided to shake things up again, and has returned to freelance work.
I.W. Gregorio, who claims she’s still getting used to being addressed by the pen name her day job requires, opened by speaking the question on the minds of many an audience member: “How did a urologist end up being a YA author?” She went on to explain she felt the better question to be “why would an aspiring author become a doctor?” She spoke of her racially isolated childhood where she knew immediately she wanted to be a writer, but felt family pressure “like a lot of kids of color” to enter either law or medicine to be deemed a ‘success’ culturally. Her talents in math and science led her to choose the path of medicine, “enough people had told me that I wanted to be a doctor that I ended up being one.” She did attempt, in her words, to “try to have my cake and eat it too” also studying English while in college. She went on to pursue medicine and take a 10 year break from writing before her passion was reignited during her residency. She is, however, grateful to be a doctor because it “enables my writing career…and gives me a lot of stories.” She described how her new book None of the Above was inspired by an intersex teenager she treated during her residency.
Daniel Jose Older, author of the upcoming Half-Resurrection Blues, the first book in what is to be an ongoing urban fantasy series for Penguin Book’s Roc imprint, began by saying that Gregorio’s story “actually really connects to mine. In 2009 I was a paramedic and community organizer doing work on gender violence and intersections of racism. I was trying how to figure out how to have a voice and what that meant as a writer.” He explained that he loved Star Wars and Harry Potter, but that he and the kids of color he was working work didn’t see themselves in those stories, “and there was a disconnect.” This inspired him to “sit down and write Shadowshaper which got picked up by the folks at Scholastic that put out Harry Potter, so it was this really big dream come true.” He went on to explain that the process of publishing that first work took over 6 years and that “publishing will make you learn patience” which drew a big laugh from the crowd. He continued to work on stories during that time, and work on adult fiction, which led him to Half-Resurrection Blues, due out in 2015. He explained that his background as a paramedic directed inspired the new book, saying: “a lot of this comes from being on the front lines…dealing with life and death.”
Author Alice Meichi Li knew she wanted to be an artist since the age of five. “I grew up in a Chinese restaurant in a really rough part of Detroit,” she said. She explained how this kept her indoors for her own safety, drawing on the back of the placemats of her parents’ restaurant. She also felt pushed towards a career in more economically dependable fields like law, medicine, or IT technologies. “When faced with the prospect of applying for college, all I could think about was arts school. I was in Army Junior ROTC and my Staff Sargent saw some of my art and he said: what are you doing here? You should be taking art class, you should be pursuing this.” She eagerly took his advice, worrying her family regarding her future. As she graduated High School at the top of her class, they told her she should be making “six-figures somewhere”—not becoming a starving artist. She conceded that’s “pretty much what happened” to the amusement of the audience, “I did have to end up balancing a day job,” with her art career, working at the well-known comic book store Forbidden Planet. “But I was doing Artist’s Alleys and that’s how I made a lot of my connections. If you’re trying to be an artist in comics that’s pretty much your best bet.”
“Everybody’s got all these cool stories,” remarked Black Dynamite producer and director LeSean Thomas. “I was born and raised in the South Bronx, John Adams projects at 152nd Street,” some in the crowd applauded at this mention—then laughed as Thomas joked that he was in the part of the Bronx that exists “past Yankee Stadium” where most New Yorkers’ familiarity with the Bronx begins and ends. “I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, reading comics books, “ he recalled, saying that he felt comic books was a more realistic career path for him, as the tools used to produce comics were more affordable than that of cartoon animation: “they don’t sell light-boxes at the bodegas,” he quipped.
Thomas ended up in a High School arts program called Talent Unlimited. Following High School he took a job at a sporting goods store to make ends meet. While working there, he was spotted sketching by his store manager whose wife worked at a children’s accessories company. The company quickly employed him to work on designs for accessories featuring licensed characters. Through his work there, he met Joe Rodgers who mentored the young artist and eventually Thomas “became a flash artist/storyboard artist on this web-cartoon called WorldGirl, and it got picked up by Showtime, I think it was the first cartoon to get picked up by a major network.” His success there led to his meeting Carl Jones, who moved to Los Angeles and teamed with The Boondocks creator Aaron MacGruder on the now famous Cartoon Network series based on MacGruder’s comic strip of the same name. “He needed people who could understand Hip-Hop culture, Anime, and social political racial satire, and it was very hard to find that kind of talent in Hollywood,” he paused as the crowd laughed before putting it bluntly: “let alone somebody who could draw a black person.” This led him to move to Los Angeles to work on the show, which he feared would soon be canceled due to its controversial and sometimes “wildly inappropriate” content.
The series proved a critical and ratings success for Cartoon Network, and Thomas felt liberated by the mostly black racial makeup of The Boondocks’ creative team. “I grew up in a society where the White male was the dominant character…to be able to work on a show where my boss was Black, the characters we were creating were Black and we were saying the things we wanted to say without caring what other people thought, Black or White, was really liberating and was one of the best experiences for me.” He went on to comment that his experience working on The Boondocks “catapulted his career,” gave him the chance to move overseas, and opened many career opportunities for him-not the least of which was his teaming up producer Carl Jones to produce the Adult Swim series Black Dynamite. He noted how rare it was to have three shows in a row to his credit that found him working under Black people, on shows starting Black characters: The Boondocks, Legend of Korra, and Black Dynamite.
“I guess I should pitch in about myself, and I thought: oh, I’m the moderator—just sit here and look pretty,” joked Diana Pho, before continuing: “I grew up in New England, in a very White town. I was always the only Asian girl in my class and my family is from Vietnam: no one knew where Vietnam was, because actually in my High School they never talked about the Vietnam War.” This statement elicited shocked sounds from the assembled crowd, but also some knowing murmurs that appeared to understand all too well the sort of erasure her statement described. Pho explained that she found escape from her outsider status through books, especially science fiction and fantasy novels. While studying English at college, she knew felt her options for employment were limited to work as a teacher, continuing her studies of Russian-her minor field-in order to obtain her Master’s Degree in it, or something else. “I chose something else,” she said, “and that was publishing.”
She explained she felt publishing to be a small field, insular in nature-and a field where it “has to do with the connections you make, that’s what I learned” and mentioned that her first job involved editing test books for college admissions for a summer. “What it did provide me was internship experience in marketing,” Pho remarked, explaining that this led to her getting a job with Hachette Press. She worked there in sales and marketing for several years before a colleague recommended her for a position at the Science Fiction Book Club making catalogues. She ended up following this with a Master’s in Performance Studies-doing her thesis in Steampunk performance-and graduated to assume her current role at Tor Books.
The panel then opened up for questions from the audience where Pho asked that the questions be “tweet-sized” to try and get to everyone’s question , but the line for the microphone grew long enough that the panel was forced to wrap up with audience members still on line. When asked: “what was one thing that you wish you knew when you started out that you know now?” Gregorio explained that as a representative of the We Need Diverse Books campaign (weneeddiversebooks.tumblr.com) “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there are obviously challenges for diverse authors, the first book I wrote had and Asian-American multicultural protagonist-and three different editors said: oh, it’s too similar to another book with an Asian-American character.” She explained that she knew other authors of color who had run into enough of the same problem that they feared they might have to only write about White characters going forward. “The We Need Diverse Books campaign is most effective because it’s been showing the gatekeepers that they are wrong. Fifty percent of children in schools today are children of color, but only ten percent of books have minority protagonists.” She also called upon the audience to open up their wallets and support works by authors of color and/or featuring main characters of color.
John added on to Gregorio’s comments by telling the audience to not be afraid of the status quo, and gave an example of her work in gaming journalism. “Things that I did…aside from asking the questions I needed to do my job, I’d throw in some poignant questions, I’ve asked Shigeru Miyamoto: why does Princess Peach need saving again? Didn’t she get some self-defense classes by then? Or the developer of a family game why there wasn’t an option to be a Black person, they just had different tans? Ask those kinds of questions. It can be intimidating: Oh I have this opportunity to interview a game developer, I don’t want to screw it up. I’d say ask the normal questions and then save those for the end.”
“When you’re starting out as a writer there’s a lot of advice given out to you, like: you have to build your platform, you have to network! And there’s this very common, very White Western narrative of breaking out as an author. Where you’re that singular rocket ship that flies away to become famous overnight…what it requires us to do, especially as writers and creators of color, is to really reimagine what success means to us anytime we’re entering into any kind of project or career.” He went on to emphasize the need to build community, outside of a “putting points on your resume” style of thinking. “What will sustain you is unity. That’s what will have your back when things are hard, and things will be hard.” He noted that more than fans, writers need people who will tell them the truth-people who will give them the “hard critique.” He also said he wanted to shout-out to: fanbros.com, nerdgasmnoire.net as well as blackgirlnerds.com, saying of the organizations: “these groups are collectives of people of color, proudly nerds, proudly of color, talking about racism, talking about Sleepy Hollow. We need to talk about these things because that’s community” to many loud cheers.
Li wished to add “a piece of advice I hear a lot: you are the average of the five people you interact with most in life. So if you have a bunch of people who are ambitious, who are trying to do what you’re trying to do you’re going to kind of automatically get lifted up with them. So you want at least three of them to be in a place where you aspire to be. I add that you should look for someone who is: 1) an older mentor, to get advice from, 2) an equal, that you can be a comrade-at-arms with and share you career path with and 3) someone you can mentor, because you can learn a lot from teaching.”
“The thing that I wish I’d known before getting into animation, that I do now is that all the animation jobs are in California,” said Thomas, to the laughter of the crowd. Thomas clearly meant the comment seriously, adding: “I wouldn’t have stayed in New York as long if I’d have known there were no real animation jobs in New York the way there are in California…I probably would’ve made my pilgrimage a lot sooner.”
Another attendee asked how the artists dealt with accusations of racism. “I just got called racist the other day, so that was fun,” recounted Older, saying that because the bad guys in a recent story were White he had the accusation leveled at him. “There’s no easy answer, but you have to go with your gut and trust your instincts because when the shit flies, you have to be able to stand up for your work. I know what I did in that story—and I have much worse stories about White people than that,” he said, laughing.
Gregorio added: “publishing is a team sport, you’re going to have editors and marketing people-they’ll catch anything really bad. And also you have to realize we’re all going to get criticism. Haters are gonna’ hate, it’s alright!”
A reporter asked if the panel felt any responsibility towards social justice storylines. Thomas replied, “You know on Black Dynamite me and Carl Jones, the executive producer, always used to joke that we were like social workers in animation, not to belittle social work, but we liked to joke that because we were one of the few [shows] that touched on those issues. The most important thing for us is that it has to be funny, that’s the golden rule. The second rule is that it has to be genuine. If it’s honest, if it comes from a good place there’s always humor in it….and the third is to make people uncomfortable, not in a negative way but to make them think outside what they normally expect.”
The final question came from a Bleeding Cool reporter who asked, “Why are we still having this conversation? I feel like we’re constantly having the same conversation: do you see an end to it, do you think? Where we’re not going to need to have ‘Geeks of Color’ in the corner at 8:00pm?”
“So you’re saying Geeks of Color needs to be at noon, is what you’re saying? I agree I think it should be much earlier.” Thomas joked.
Pho added: “we’re going to keep having this conversation until we hit critical mass,” she explained that critical mass was not when people stopped asking questions, but rather that “we need a critical mass of answers from all over the place, not just from us but from you guys—not just from you guys but from everyone at this convention, and not just this convention—about how pop culture functions, how media functions…we all have to hit that critical mass point and that’s when the conversation stops.”
“I feel your point a lot,” Older added, indicating the reporter, “we do need this and part of the reason is the industry is still very racist, still very White, and so we need to have these conversations…the job and the struggle and the challenge for us is to push the conversation forward so it’s not so circular. So that’s why we need diverse books, which is such an important way to get everyone together. We need to talk about power analysis.” Older also stressed that he felt there were necessary conversations that weren’t had before this generation of creators and it was important to recognize: “we’re here because the folks before us fought their fight, so we’re fighting our fight for the next generation of artist of color, writers of color…and that involves getting together and having ‘geeks of color’ panels which makes people uncomfortable, which is good, as it should.”
While digital comics have changed the medium for good, individual comics apps haven’t really taken off as much as you might think. But there are some good ones out there: Comic Chameleon is a webcomic aggregator that actually picks up popular webcomics like Questionable COntent, Girls with Slingshots and the like. And with permission. They’ve been around on iOS for a while, but now they’ve got a Kickstrter fo develop an Android version. It’s about halfway to a $13,000 goal, so it looks pretty solid to go all the way. But in a twist, some of the Kickstarter money will go to creators:
10% of the campaign will go to the artists of your choice
If you care about supporting independent webcomic artists as much as we do, you’ll be happy to know that when you contribute to our campaign, 10% of your pledge will go to up to 3 artists of your choice who publish with our app. We’ve always been as much about supporting artists as we’ve been about entertaining you, and our Kickstarter is no different.
We’ve talked to head guy Bersie Sou a few times and he seems like an on the level guy. This is another strong move.
How about it, Beaterati? Do you read comics on your phone via apps like Comic Chameleon? Why or why not?
The long running The Last Halloween is an engrossing tale about a girl and some monsters.
The Last Halloween is the story of Mona and her unusual friends, who must work together to defend humanity from countless horrific monstrosities! Perhaps they will succeed, and humanity will prevail as it always has. Or perhaps this will be… The Last Halloween
It’s all in the execution!
Howard came up with the idea after participating on Strip Search.
We’ve linked to a few of Jed McGowan’s wordless comics before—including Hawaii, a best in show among geological comics, and Voyager, a wordless comic about a space probe. Despite the dry-sounding material, Xeris-winner McGowan (Lone Pines) presents them in a visually arresting way.
This time out, he’s got a story to tell, and it’s a strange and eerie one entitled Control Room. What happens when that space probe lands on Mars with several sisters aboard? Hit the link to find out.
Jen Wang has built up a nice little shelf of graphic novels for herself—Koko Beware, which she wrote and drew, and In Real Life, which she drew from Cory Doctorow’s story.
And now she’s launched a new webcomics called THE WHITE SNAKE, which will update when new chapters are done.
The first chapter is a dandy one, opening with a mysterious murder by…snake? But which snake, and why, and what happened to the snake?
I think you’ll be hooked by this as I was. Follow Wang on Twitter for updates.
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Here’s a little holiday jam to get you in the mood for next week’s Turkey Marathon.