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§ Fusion’s comics page has some great content, for example this piece where 8 LGBT cartoonists share their reactions to legal same-sex marriage, with comics from Hilary Price, Sophie Yanow and Howard Cruse’s which is really marvelous. The one from Christopher Keelty, above, made me laugh the hardest though.
§ Cartoonist/educator Frank Santoro has announced his third Comics Workbook composition competition which has PRIZES:
1st place – $750 cash prize to the winner
2nd place – $200 credit at Copacetic Comics and 150 cash
3rd place – $100 credit at Copacetic Comics and 100 cash
plus four $50 honorable mention prizes from Big Planet Comics
Create a 16 page signature comic book narrative to the specifications below
This being Santoro the specifications are quite specific so read the ink carefully!
§ Jennifer DeGuzman reports from the ALA with and its big push for comics and diversity and comics diversity
In a year marked by breakthroughs for graphic novels and comic books in libraries, a recurring theme in the comics programming at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco was pushing the boundaries of the medium’s acceptance. Comics programming at the conference, held at the Moscone Center June 25–29, kicked off with GraphiCon, billed as “The Minicon at ALA Annual.” This show-within-the-show was devoted to discussing gender, sexuality, and racial diversity in the comics medium, and reaffirmed the ability of graphic novels to present thematically challenging material to readers.
Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung of the We Need Diverse Books campaign hosted GraphiCon, which was organized by the ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Member Interest Group and branded with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseComics. Other artists making appearances at GraphiCon and for booth signings included comics writer Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy), artist/writer Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy, Southern Cross), alternative comics mainstay Ed Luce (Wuvable Oaf), rising star Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes, Nimona), and comics historian and creator Trina Robbins.
§ Stan Lee, a man of 92, was taken to the hospital on Sunday but then showed up in fine fettle on Monday night for the Ant-Man premiere. Is this man immortal?
§ That Wilson movie with Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern, based on the Dan Clowes graphic novel, is actually being filmed!
§ Leah Hayes has a new graphic novel about two women who seek abortions, a topic that comics haven’t covered in a while. It’s called Not Funny Ha Ha. Right wing website Newsbusters reports on the book with a ton o’ scare quotes:
It’s a new notion to make abortion “funny”: draw a graphic novel about abortion that doesn’t actually show an abortion. Because, well, the sight of baby remains is anything but. Hailed as the “first graphic novel about abortion,” Not Funny Ha-Ha by artist Leah Hayes illustrates two women going through the “abortion process.” In it, Hayes attempts to show an “often funny,” “even humorous look at what a woman can go through during an abortion.” Already some in the media have recognized the “abortion story that needs to be heard.”
§ Although Mad Max: Fury Road was an amazing example of bringing feminist themes into an action movie, the subsequent comic, published by Vertigo and created entirely by men without Eve Ensler to watch over them, has a lot of very problematic elements,
including rape scenes that the movie avoided. Sigh.
§ And over at Wired, Laura Hudson has a very calm eyed look at why rape scenes are usually a signal for lazy storytelling. In laying out rape tropes, Hudson doesn’t even mention the one that was way more prevalent back in the day: rape as the “heroic turning point” for a female main character, much as having their family killed is the inciting incident for men. I guess we’ve moved beyond that.
§ Finally, I reckon Zainab won the internet this week by taking her Patreon money and using it to commission a comic by Jane Mai about ELCAF.
§ All things Comic-Con: The Unofficial Comic-Con blog laid out all the sizes of all the panel rooms so you can guess if you’re going to get in or not. My advice: just get in line now.
§ As I expected, Torsten investigated the new Marriott Hall exhibit area with maps and such, but I still can’t figure our where it was. I guess I’ll find out when I see a hole in the ground.
§ Even for a governor, Maine’s Paul LePage is a batf*ck wacko. Last week he threatened to shoot a cartoonist he didn’t like, a fairly mild sin on his list. Luckily, now LePage may have done something that is actually illegal, and people are talking impeachment. Given that the guy got elected twice, I’m not optimistic, but you never know. Meanwhile, the Bangor Daily News responded to the threat with “9 times George Danby was funnier than Paul LePage.” I think you have to be up on your Mainer politics to get these (my family lives in Maine), but I’m pretty sure they are funnier than threatening to shoot someone.
§ Ken Parille has more interpretations of that surprisingly controversial Chris Ware Minecraft cover for the New Yorker.
§ Paul Levitz’s exclusive with DC is over, as he’s now writing a book for Dark Horse called Brooklyn Blood with art by Tim Hamilton. As a sidenote: a book by Paul Levitz was announced on Bleeding Cool, so anything in the world is actually possible.
§ Zainab went to ELCAF last weekend and she has a survey of opinions on the show from exhibitors and attendees and a list of what she bought, and as usual she managed to find the most mind boggling art, in this case Pablo and Jane and the Hot Air Contraption by Jose Domingo.
§ Not comics, but Joe Gonzalez, occasional co host of the Comic News Insider podcast, announced that he’s moving upstate, and summed up all the reasons that no one can live in New York City anymore. Pretty much everyone I know is moving to LA, and in the past I would have been alarmed but now it seems only sensible.
§ Zainab Akhtar’s essential Comics & Cola site now has a Patreon. You know what to do and you’d better do it.
§ Former Marvel and DC staffer Christine Slusarz passed away on Monday at the age of 49 and she is fondly remembered by many people. Scott Lobdell offered some thoughts:
Over the last few days you may have read some memories from different industry people who had the good fortune to work with and know Christine over the years (okay decades) at either of the two companies. Certainly, anyone who knew her can tell you what a great job she did… … but the other constant you’ll read over and over again is Christine was one of the sweetest, most supportive and generous people they’ve ever met. So many people will tell you she was their first friend when they started their job — because Christine reached out to them in the hallway or at lunch or at a party, always there to make the new person feel welcome.
It isn’t just the biggest jobs that makes a difference.
§ Yet another convention that was held this weekend was the first New South Festival in Austin. Robert Boyd has some photos and thoughts. It looks like a good show, but it was held outdoors and Austin in June can be a bit sticky I think. A lot of sunhats in evidence.
§ I am kind of fascinated by this comics strip by John Scully that has the exact same punch line strip every day. And it runs on GoComics. Now how did that work out?
§ Sean Kleefeld found some boxes of comics on the street a few weeks ago…and it turns out someone is just putting their comics out on the curb, and Kleefeld having the compulsion to not leave comics on the street that so many of us have, he picked them up and went through them, and does some ratiocination on the results:
Do you recall a few weeks ago when I found six long boxes of comics out by the curb? What I didn’t mention here on my blog was that a week later I found another six long boxes. Then last week, I saw another six out by the street, although by the time I was able to get back there with a car, they were gone. But last night, I came across another five boxes, which I was able to pick up. That’s 23 long boxes in total, in case you’ve lost track. Of the 17 that I picked up, they were primarly Marvel and DC, mostly dating from the early 2000s to about 3-4 years ago, but there were a number that went back to the mid-1980s. All of them were in excellent condition, many of them bagged and boarded. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, I figure the guy (I’m assuming it’s a guy, judging by the contents of the collection) spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 on these over a five-to-ten year period. From what I can tell from the collection, he was mostly just buying new stuff off the racks as it came out to the tune of $150-$200 a month (that is, most of the major titles both Marvel and DC would put out) with an ocassional bulk purchase of some 1980s runs.
§ This link has been getting some play
on sites with far greater traffic than this. Basically it’s an author going HAM one one middling review on GoodReads that shows why YOU SHOUL D NOT COMMENT ON REVIEWS OF YOUR WORK EVER.
EVER EVER EVER
Valerie, I’m not humiliated. At all. I’m sticking up for my work that I create, and defending it against those who try to suppress the consciousness of humanity, which is exactly what you’re doing right now. And I WANT you to avoid my work. It’s not meant for people that would leave a 1 star review and defame the work of someone who didn’t attack them. You’re immoral for defending this 1 star review.
§ Artist Sean Gordon Murphy
is offering an apprenticeship, and submissions are open
§ I don’t always link to reports of panels I moderate, but this one by Jemal Flores on the Comics Are Awesome panel at BookCon is kind of cool because it captured the gag with Jenni Holm that we set up. Basically, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier and Ben Hatke, the other panelists, all drew one of their characters, and then Holm got up and…did something else. I get flustered by any stagecraft beyond showing slides, but this one worked out, mostly thanks to the showmanship of the panelists. Comics are awesome and so are panels with these creators.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Swedish randos (aka Dongery) from SPX 2005
§ There’s been some chatter over the last week or so over this public FB thread by Stephen Bissette about what he sees as exclusion of certain creators at indie comics shows. It sprang out of an older thread, and the conversation eventually includes Bill Kartalopoulos, who works with SPX and MoCCA, as well as Zack Soto of the just concluded Lineworks NW, Tom Spurgeon of the upcoming CXC show, and a lot of exhibitors past and present. The main complaint, it seems, is that there isn’t enough room at shows like SPX (the one which hurt the most feelings) and TCAF and Lineworks NW and so on and this leads to exclusion. Or as one Carl Antonowicz puts it:
If one’s work doesn’t meet the unstated aesthetic of the committee, one is out of luck.
Which is…yeah. If you’re gonna spend the money to put on an indie comics show—an undertaking so bereft of big profits that many of them are crowdfunded—you do get to choose what kind of comics you want to showcase there, and it turns out that people dedicated enough to actuallly put on a show generally have a pretty clear idea of what kind of comics they want to promote.
There are some sad stories in the comments—veteran cartoonist turned educator Don Simpson can’t get into the local indy show in his native Pittsburgh, and 90s mainstay David Chelsea was denied a table at Linework but gets a free table at the local Wizard show. And other people can’t get in and so on and so forth.
I have my own comment there, but if you read this site at all you can probably guess what I say: there are a zillion small shows out there and more coming. If you can’t find a local place to get set up and show your wares, you must live in a very remote spot. And yes, tables are expensive at some of these shows (but see next couple of items), but guess what: NO ONE PROMISED YOU’D BE ABLE TO MAKE MONEY AT THIS THING. There are more good cartoonists than ever and old-timers do have to compete against the new kids, who often have strong support networks via social media and colleagues from art school. And even if you build it, they may very well not come because you could be set up between Todd McFarlane and Kate Beaton.
Is this a competition? Sort of. While comics people are generally inclusive to a fault, the moment you put your first line on paper/screen you started competing for attention and acclaim (which come in unlimited amounts) and for money and space (which come in more limited amounts.)
One aspect of CAFs/indie shows that gets thrown around a bit in the thread is how they have become an alternative distribution system. It’s true a lot of publishers rely on CAFs to make a lot of their profits. This is far from healthy, but we’re still talking work that is of a niche appeal, and we have an indie comics reading audience that really likes buying their comics at shows where they can get a signed edition, have a personal transaction and maybe even buy some other stuff they didn’t know about that is normally warehoused in a shoebox under the creator’s sofa.
So while I understand the frustration of people who can’t get in to certain very popular events, there are lots of other ways to get out there. And all of this is going to change more. A column by the late great Dylan Williams from 2011 where he’s rethinking his convention strategy shows now much the landscape has changed in a more four years..and in four years it will have changed some more.
I think another underlying aspect of this is the youth movement in comics, and older creators feeling very much left out of the picture. But that deserves a post all its own.
§ Meanwhile, Bissette himself was a guest of the Big Wow Con in San Jose and reunited with the old Swamp Thing crew of Rick Veitch, Tom Yeates and John Totleben.
§ AAANNNNNNNDDDDD speaking of CAF/con economies, Barry and Leon, the Secret Acres boys, have posted their MoCCA Fest 2015 report and confront the money things head on. You’ll notice that MoCCA isn’t on the “dream list” for comics folks because tables are very expensive:
We’ve talked a bit about the con economy on this blog before. But let’s go there again. MoCCA has the highest table cost of any show we attend at $460 per table. That’s a whole $110 above SPX and a whopping $64.50 above TCAF. TCAF costs attendees nothing. MoCCA is five bucks. SPX is three times that, asking a whole fifteen dollar bill of everyone coming through the door. They look alike from here. Or do they? Tony Breed, a Chicago guy and our RIPE neighbor of a couple weeks ago, came by and said the most interesting thing: his sales at CAKE were slow, but he makes more money at that show than at any other. This year, we brought home something less than half of our take from MoCCA 2014. We made money. We can’t not make money. We live here.
Our most expensive show, by far, is TCAF. Believe us, if we could afford to skip customs and ship our books to Canada, we sure as shit would. Depending on the exchange rate, food and shelter and gas, we need to clean up every year or we go broke. We’re pretty sure Annie Koyama is making more money at TCAF than she could at any other show and, at any other show, break-even has got to be way up there for Koyama Press. We’ve enjoyed a couple of years of making more money at TCAF than we have at MoCCA, but we took home less money every time. And we’re a publishing company, micro or no. If you’re an artist making mini-comics, you’re not making table at MoCCA without a gang to split costs – and profits – and if you can’t make it there, you’re not making it anywhere else, either. How much are you saving traveling to Toronto or booking a room at the SPX Marriott? If not for the money, why bother with shows at all? Do we really need to answer that question?
§ Speaking of Secret Acres, they’ve joined the gang of small presses (Koyama, Uncivilized, Alternative, Nobrow, Enchanted Lion Arsenal Pulp, etc) that are being distributed by Consortium. Consortium seems to do good things for small comics publishers so good for them.
§ And speaking of Linework NW, it sounds like it went well:
And it’s a good one at that. In its first year, last year, Linework packed 3,000 people into the Norse Hall in northeast Portland. This year they expanded the festival to two days in an effort to thin the crowds, but if Saturday was any indication the event is only getting bigger. “I love it,” Portland artist John Black said at his booth. “It’s more of an illustrator’s (event), you know what I mean? It’s for people who make stuff.”
§ BUT over in Binghamton, NY, everything was coming up Milhouse for the local comic con:
More than one thousand people attended the River Road Comic Expo Sunday at Tioga Downs. The event was free and open to the public, and featured industry artists as well as local independent artists. “It’s great to have a place to come and be able to get a little face-to-face time and shake hands with the guys who make your day,” said illustrator Mike Capprotti. There were also vendors selling both new and old books and related products. “One of the great things about the pop culture community is that everyone’s really enthusiastic,” said expo organizer Jared Aiosa.
§ George Lucas has felt a tingling in the force and thinks Marvel might reboot Howard the Duck for the screen!!!
During the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, Lucas commented on negative movie reviews, noting how even the worst reviewed films can “float up to the surface of the lake, and then they become cult classics. … It means you made an interesting movie or a weird movie, and a small group of people love it.” He continued by saying, “Even Howard the Duck is a cult classic. I have a feeling that Marvel’s gonna redo it because of the technology they have today.”
§ In less frightening news, John Ridley, showrunner of American Drime and OSar winner for 12 Years a Slave, may be working on a show for Marvel/ABC reinventing an existing Marvel superhero character or property.” Vague as hell so it could be anything, even Howard the Duck.
§ Reminder, Bart Beaty and co. are analyzing the hell ouf of comics over at What Were Comics? including Fun Home and more.
§ I forgot to link to this cool of page of interviews from the pages of Frontier Hellen Jo, Sascha Hommer, Ping Zhu and Sam Alden.
§ Here’s an old link I had to an investigation of a crappy scraper site.
§ And an interview with Keith Knight who has seen it all and then made a funny comic strip about it. .
§ Juliet Kahn offers a list of The Best Anime And Manga For Beginners and i think it’s pretty solid, but she left out …..(enter a list of 1000 names)
§ Finally, Zainab Akhtar reviews Jillian Tamaki’s SexCoven, the small press book of the year thus far.
§ I got a note from Incachild Creative stating that in remembrance of Spectacular Spider-Ham, they made a tribute video called Deerdevil. You can watch it above. I guess it’s funnier if you remember Mark Armstrong’s Spider-Ham, which was part of the kid-oriented Star line, but it might be funny without that. I love it.
§ Another email directed me to this TEST PRESS MoCCA 2015 Review by – Jefe aka Johnny Chiba y la mocca loca. This is a fantastic line-up of comics by about 75% I never even heard of so go rootle around and have fun!
§ Legendary Last Gsap publisher Ron Turner is doing a Reddit AMA today from 12-1 pm (PDT? or EDT? unknown.). Turner is a legend of the Bay Area and he knows a LOT of things that you can ask him about.
§ Hazel Cills interviews Jillian Tamaki about Super Mutant Magic Academy:
You describe on the comic’s Tumblr that the series is kind of like a diary of sorts, too?
It is for sure the most personal work of mine. As an illustrator I’m used to interpreting other people’s content although with Mariko’s books I don’t consider myself just an illustrator, they’re definitely collaboration. But this, just because it was installments and I made them unprompted, did feel like a diary. In 2007 I started a sketch blog when that was sort of a more novel idea than it is now. That was great for just putting things online and building a relationship with people that was more than just finished pieces. You’re sort of showing a peek behind your personality, but eventually I got sick of putting up just sketchbook work. So I feel like the comic kind of replaced that.
§ Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) and DC Entertainment (DCE) got together thousnads of people worldwide to participate in a 24 hour “dress like a DC superhero” event. Can this be a new comics holiday?
The DC Comics Super Hero World Record Event kicked off on April 18, 2015 in Queensland, Australia, and came to a commemorative close in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Within the same 24-hour period, additional events took place around the world in: Manila, Philippines; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Madrid, Spain; Rome, Italy; London, Birmingham, Warrington and Cardiff in the UK; São Paulo, Brazil; Paris, France; “Smallville,” USA (Plano, IL) and Mexico City, Mexico.
Fans are highlighting their participation in the heroic event using #DCWorldRecord on Facebook and Twitter. The official Guinness World Recordcount will be available in the coming days.
§ Luz, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who sirvived the January attack, is quitting the magazine in September, he revealed in an interview on Monday. It’s hard to blame him.
“Each issue is torture, because the others are gone,” Mr. Luzier said. “Spending sleepless nights summoning the dead, wondering what Charb, Cabu, Honoré, Tignous would have done is exhausting,” he added, referring to cartoonists who were killed by two Islamist brothers by their pseudonyms.
Although Renald Luzier, to use his full name, drew the post-attack cover that showed a weeping Mohammed he also said that he’s not going to draw the prophet any more, as it doesn’t interest him. He has other projects to work on, including an autobiographical comic and an adaptation of The Shining. I think we can all wish him some peace of mind.
§ Here’s a very goofy story: pop star Rihanna and DC are clashing over the trademark of the word “Robyn” which is her given name—her full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty. DC thinks that’s too close to Robin. The tussle flared up when RiRi sought to trademark the word for some business interests:
Rihanna, or as us good friends apparently call her, Robyn, owns a company, Roraj Trade LLC that owns the trademarks associated with her businesses like her cosmetics and perfume line. In June 2014, Roraj Trade filed a trademark registration application for the term ROBYN used for “providing on-line non-downloadable general feature magazines”. So it appears Rihanna wants to use her real name in association with some online magazine. DC Comics has its own Robin, of course. Batman’s sidekick first appeared way back in 1939 and since that time, the Dynamic Duo have had an on and off relationship but DC Comics still uses the character and trademark to this day. In 1984, DC Comics received a trademark registration for ROBIN for action figures and in 1995 received another for comic books. DC Comics use of the ROBIN trademark is well established and DC Comics has invested a lot of time and money establishing the character and the trademark.
The Outhouse has the legal filings on the matter.
While this all seems silly, both Robin and Rihanna often go out in public wearing briefs, so we can see how the public might be confused.
§ Here is a new site called ComicsChicago that lists comicksy type things to do around the Windy City. Here’s one that sounds promising: Sex & Gender Empowerment in the Comics.
§ J. Caleb Mozzocco is now writing for Comics Alliance! They have all the cool kids. And here he is reviewing Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona:
Noelle Stevenson‘s Nimona is not your typical fantasy comic heroine. I say that not because of her style, which includes a partially shaved head, with dyed hair and piercings; and not because of the way she dresses, which is in practical chain mail and leather adventuring gear; and not because of her build, which is short and stocky, in sharp contrast to the tall willowy male characters.
No, Nimona is not your typical fantasy comic heroine because Nimona is not a hero period. She’s a villain.
§ And speaking of Nimona, it’s been optioned by Vertigo. SAY WHAT?!? Oh Vertigo Entertainment, which is run by Roy Lee”
Lee will produce the adaptation through Vertigo, with production president Adam Stone overseeing. Vertigo most recently produced the Ryan Reynolds horror/comedy The Voices, Warner Bros.’ smash animated hit The Lego Movie, and the Liam Neeson starrer Run All Night. Vertigo is currently producing a number of high-profile projects, including The Lego Movie sequels and spinoffs, the Adventure Time adaptation, and Stephen King’s It. Vertigo’s latest, the Poltergeist remake, is set to bow this weekend.
§ And just to wrap up this Nimona discussion, I’ve mentioned a few times that I think this is one of the most important graphic novels of the year from a publishing standpoint as it’s a major house—HarperCollins—getting back into original comics content after some early missteps. Graphic novels for younger readers are definitely the hottest category out there, but a strong showing by this book would show that Smile isn’t just an outlier. So how’s it doing? Not bad as of right now:
Amazon sales rankings are of course only a snapshot, but this is a pretty solid indication that it’s finding an audience.
As well it should. Stevenson is so young and has that out-of-the-box talent and confidence that presages a very long and successful career. And Nimona is a wonderful book, as Mozzocco suggests above, taking fantasy tropes and recasting them in fresh and funny ways. You should check it out.
§ Luvable Simon Pegg suddenly turned into a snarling wolverine when he dared to criticize nerd culture for being “childish.” Nice one, Scotty. Just who is paying your salary again. But in a thoughtful op-ed, the Spaced co-creator explained that he was talking about the co-opting of media for marketing puposes among other things:
Recent developments in popular culture were arguably predicted by the French philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard in his book, ‘America’, in which he talks about the infantilzation of society. Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc. It makes sense that when faced with the awfulness of the world, the harsh realities that surround us, our instinct is to seek comfort, and where else were the majority of us most comfortable than our youth? A time when we were shielded from painful truths by our recreational passions, the toys we played with, the games we played, the comics we read. There was probably more discussion on Twitter about the The Force Awakens and the Batman vs Superman trailers than there was about the Nepalese earthquake or the British general election.
This is very true. I have seen way more discussion in my Twitter feed of the fictional rape of a fictional character than the real horrifying systematic rape and impregnation
of kidnapped girls and children because criticizing fiction is fun, but trying to fix the actual world of brutality and suffering is hard and depressing. I will just direct you to The Project Solution
, a charity run by my friend Joe Gonzalez, of the podcast Comic News Insider, that tries to do little things like build a well for a village or buying a computer for some orphans. Small measurable things that do make a difference. Calling out HBO for its gross pandering is a good thing, but I’m pretty sure Boko Haram doesn’t watch Game of Thrones. Anyway, we have to be vigilant on BOTH fronts, but don’t forget, there is so much misdirection out there.
§ And speaking of which, obligatory Marvel section. They’re the best at what they do and what they do is market stuff like crazy: How @Marvel Perfected the Integrated Social Campaign | Simply Measured
…OR DO THEY? I know you are sick of AVENGERS: AFE OF ULTRON think pieces but this much linked piece by Sady Doyle explains How Marvel Is Killing the Popcorn Movie that lays out some of the fatigue many are feeling:
The movie also has a pre-determined narrative, which we know because it’s the same narrative every Marvel movie adheres to, which is, roughly: There’s a thing and a bad guy and the bad guy steals the thing, so they fight. They lose one fight and then they lose another fight and then they win the last fight. The end. We also need to end the movie in such a way that all of the characters with ongoing franchises can go back to those franchises, alive and more or less unchanged.
True enough, but all hot dogs are pretty much the same and people still like hot dogs.
§ It’s the week of Book Expo/Book Con, the latter of which could possible be called “sitcom co-star with a new book con” but that’s how it goes. Anyway, I’ll be at both events pretty much non stop so may not have as much time as I’d like to be posting, but the Elite Beat Operatives will be around to help out, so keep those cards and letters coming.
Anyway here’s a few little newsy notes:
§ Vulture’s Abraham Riesman has just completed another one of his “hero histories” and this time its The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, with quotes from just about all the main players.
“When I got hired, I literally thought I was going to be writing one of the last — if not the last — Marvel comics,” says now-legendary comics writer Brian Michael Bendis, who wrote the first comic of the Ultimate line and will be writing the final one, too. When he wrote that first issue in 2000, the once-venerable Marvel was in chaos. “It’s so the opposite now, that people don’t even know.”
Here’s some context to understand the red-alert disaster the comics industry had become by the eve of the Ultimate experiment. In 1993, annual combined comics sales across all publishers had been close to a billion dollars; in 1999, that same number was a microscopic $270 million. In 1989, Batman was the most-talked-about movie in America; by 1999, the disastrous Batman & Robin had squirted a stink on the very idea of a cinematic comic-book adaptation. Marvel especially was feeling the burn: It went through a humiliating Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late ’90s, saw wave after wave of layoffs, and executive leadership was shuffled every few weeks. In 1999, after years of comics-publishing dominance, the company lost its top spot in industry market share and watched its rival, DC Comics, take the throne.
The Ultimate line kicked off the whole “reboot for a day” or a month or a year or whatever world we live in now. It’s basically kind of what Julius Schwartz did with the Silver Age Flash back in 1958, and we’re having a sort of thing again at both companies. Anyway, get ready for the new day by looking back, because those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it and also have to look up what happened on Wikipedia.
§ A little bit more con fatigue? Wizard World Albuquerque, which had been planed for June 19-21, has now been pushed back a year to June 24-26, 2016. The show had only been announced at the beginning of April, bringing an existing Albuquerque event under the Wizard brand, but it was slated for the same weekend as Wizard World Comic Con Sacramento. The double booking for Wizard staff and very late start in promoting the show are the reasons for rescheduling. Refunds will be automatically issued to those who had already purchased admissions, photo ops and autographs, and people who brought tickets for 2015 will be admitted for free to the 2016 event.
§ The Denver Comic Con was held over the holiday weekend, with announced attendance of 101,500, up from 86,500 in 2014. Early reports indicate that the crowd was handled pretty well unlike past years where there were epic waits to get in. Sounds like it was a fun show, except for one tiny kerfuffle:
Janelle Asselin unpacks that here.
§ Some folks analyzed a year of New Yorker cartoons WITH CHARTS AND GRAPHS and found that most of them concern white dudes, the default human for all humor, laughter and storytelling in US society.
Out of 1,810 total characters, 1,277 (about 70.6 percent) were male, and 1,714 (94.7 percent) were white. As Michel notes, this is similar to the under-representation of non-whites in newspaper comics (which have about 2 to 4 percent non-white characters) and worse than children’s books (which have 5 to 10 percent).
While this is no surprise, gender roles were pretty stereotyped in that Henny Youngman, 20th century way. “Women are most often parents, assistants, or spouses.”
§ However this is changing. Deborah Vankin reports for the LA Times that even animation students at CalArts are increasingly female:
Maija Burnett scanned her California Institute of the Arts classroom as nearly 60 new students filtered in, empty notebooks in hand. It was the start of the 2014-15 school year, and Burnett, director of CalArts’ character animation program, was meeting this crop of freshmen for the first time in her largest classroom, nicknamed “the palace.”
Surrounded by walls painted entirely black — more conducive to drawing — the students stood up, one by one, to introduce themselves. That’s when it hit Burnett that almost all of them were women.
“Where are all the guys?” she recalls thinking.
CalArts’ blind admissions process meant administrators had reviewed portfolios without considering names or gender. “We were shocked to see so many women,” Burnett says.
Let’s spell that out in NUMBERS:
When CalArts debuted its character animation program in 1975, it had just two female students. Today women make up 71% of its animation student body, and this month 16 women and 10 men graduated from the program. USC’s John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts is now 65% women.
Now THAT’S gender blind.
Wow last week was as arduous as Comic-Con, between Book Expo and BookCon…but I survived, and I never bought any food at the Javits! Okay, I did buy some Pinkberry on Friday afternoon because I saw Christine Dinh eating some and she looked so happy, and after I got some I was happy too even though it cost $8. Otherwise I survived on breakfast at home (oatmeal), trail mix, Kind Bars and a long, grueling succession of wine and cheese receptions. According to my phone app, I walked about 6 miles a day, which often included walking crosstown to the Javits because the 7 train extension still isn’t open.
So near and yet so chain link fenced off.
ANYWAY…back to the kibbles. First some creator health updates.
§ Writer James Hudnall has updated his GoFundMe page with one final push. Back in October, Hudnall had his foot amputated just as he had moved to Austin for a new job, and since then he’s had a lot of setbacks, but he’s been approved for disability but needs one more cash infusion to get back to San Diego for further treatment. Please consider helping him out.
§ Artist Norm Breyfogle suffered a severe stroke back in December, which left his drawing side severely impaired. He’s been updating his FB page, and he has also been approved for disability and recovery continues, although his drawing style will probably not return.
First of all, the basics: my recovery continues at a snail’s pace. I actually can’t see it occurring until I look back at a number of months ago, after which I see that I have come quite a distance. The other day I walked one third of a mile: about 1700 feet, with a cane. I felt very strong and could have continued even further if not for the windchill factor on the walk back which became pretty unbearable since I was not dressed adequately for it. My left hand continues to lag behind everything else, causing me to realistically aim, creatively, for publishing my writing and maybe training my right hand for drawing, as my new career. Call me Norm.2. I may be signing comics from now on with a “PS Norm”, meaning “post stroke” Norm. I don’t realistically see myself drawing or writing comics in the way that I used to do. Instead, if I do any more comics, they will probably be semi-autobiographical in nature and with an entirely different style: call it an “underground” style, if you will.
And now the news…
§ Here’s a very detailed report on the Book Con 2015: Women of Marvel panel which featured Adri Cowan and Margaret Stohl, who’s written a Black Widow prose novel.
§ Douglas Wolk returns to the NY Timeswith reviews of the seasons top books, including Unflattening.
§ Mark Paniccia has been promoted to Senior Editor of the X-Men Line at Marvel, Congrats to Mark!
Marvel’s X-Men line is now under new leadership. CBR News can confirm that Marvel Senior Editor Mark Paniccia has moved to the X-Men titles, joined by veteran X-books editor Daniel Ketchum. Paniccia has been at Marvel for a decade, but hasn’t previously worked on any X-Men series. He’s overseen the Ultimate Comics line, promoted to wrap up with the currently unfolding “Ultimate End” miniseries, since 2009, and has also recently edited “Hulk” and “Fantastic Four.” He’s already credited on the X-books, with his name appearing in “Old Man Logan” #1, released this past Wednesday.
§ Okay here’s is the latest “Comic-Con should leave San Diego!” piece from a site called Moviepilot.com. I have no idea what the pedigree of that site it, or writer Chris McKinney’s background, but I have decided that this article now stands in for every inane piece about why Comic-Con should move to Vegas EVER. McKinney examines all the options—SD, LA, Anaheim, Las Vegas—and decides Vegas is the best because it’s huge and has hotels and that’s all you need. His argument that Comic-Con has outgrown San Diego is partly true—there are lotteries for hotels and badges—but, HONESTLY THERE WOULD STILL BE LOTTERIES NO MATTER HOW BIG THE PLACE IS. SDCC and NYCC are huge, popular events that soak up all the people that can be thrown at them, and just getting bigger isn’t the “answer.” The answer is making the shows so shitty that no one actually wants to go, and that is not a serous suggestion.
Actually, I’m not sure what the problem is. It is true that a bigger San Diego Convention center would allow 25,000 more people to get badges and stand in line for Hasbro toys and Pinkberry. But it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t sell out just as fast or that hotels wouldn’t be at a premium. The CCI folks have been doing a great job at expanding programming and events to hotels, and the festival has taken over the entire downtown, from parking lots to nail salons.
The greatest advantage of a bigger SD convention center is that OTHER trade shows could come to a very desirable location, but none of them have the popular appeal of Comic-Con. And yes there are not “enough” hotels nearby for Comic-Con, but building thousands of hotel rooms for one weekend a year doesn’t make economic sense either.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the unique layout and seaside atmosphere of San Diego is what MAKES the show so successful and desirable. Now that the city admits that con is a huge event with a huge economic impact, they are playing ball, and that alone should ensure that the show stays in San Diego.
If for some reason, Comic-Con ever did “move to Las Vegas” all you’d get is 200,000 people wandering around air conditioned hallways where desolate old people gamble at 3 in the morning, and everyone eats at buffets full of Jell-o.
Can you imagine for one moment all the complaints and moaning about the “good old days” if SDCC moved to Vegas? Sure people would go but it would be awful and I’m willing to bet that Chris McKinney would be complaining too.
So people, come on. Get real. The San Diego Comic-Con is set in San Diego and that’s how it was always intended to be.
§ All that said, a lot of people I talked to at BEA were wondering how WonderCon will transition to LA. Because talk about no hotels, no food options and an often inhospitable climate. Yes yes, I know downtown LA is undergoing a renaissance, but the hotel options makes San Diego look like Anaheim.
§ And while we’re talking cons, while the Javits Center is a hellish facility that was never made for crowds of consumers, once the Hudson Yards development opens next door, this is going to be one of the best venues in the nation, with a host of shopping and eating options right next door, and the Highline as a walking option to other areas. All of which will be possible IF the subway’s 7 line extension ever opens!!! And now I’ve come full circle so let’s move on.
§ The Lammy Awards were presented last night, aka the Lambda Literary Awards, which honor LGBTQ literature in many categories from lesbian romance to transgender fiction. The Graphic novel nominees were:
100 Crushes by Elisha Lim
Band Vs. Band Comix Volume 1 by Kathleen Jacques
Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by A.K. Summers
Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague by Joyce Brabner, Illustrated by Mark Zingarelli
Snackies by Nick Sumida Snackies
And the winner, courtesy of Cecelia Tan who live tweeted the awards is
I know The GLAAD Media awards are meant to recognize mainstream work with gay themes, but I liked all the Lammy nominees much more.
§ Speaking of things LGBTQ, yesterday’s Caitlyn Jenner debut brought a lot of talk about transgender people and Boing Boing has a GLAAD guide on what various terms mean, what should be used, what shouldn’t and how to talk about this without being an asshole. I know there is a lot of sensitivity over these matters, and it can be confusing but this guide is very useful and (to me anyway) very clear on being sensible and sensitive. I’ve known several people who transitioned and yeah, the pronoun thing does catch you up now and then, but you know, the main thing is: don’t be an asshole.
§ Fantagraphics Books has redesigned their website! It looks great and all the feeds now work in my ancient RSS reader.
§ And one of the things the site has is a preview of this weekends debut New South Festival of Literary Arts & Cartooning Austin. TX’s entry in the Comics Art Festival parade. IT’s Saturday at the French Legation Museum. There’s a kickoff party on Friday.
§ Michael Cavna examines cartoon plagiarism , but not the cutting off the signature on Tumblr type thing, or the stealing from Deviant art for t-shirts thing. No this was an “editorial cartoonist” who passed of a lot of other people’s work as his own:
Particularly striking in recent months, though, has been numerous examples of unoriginal cartoon art appearing in the Montgomery Sentinel, a community newspaper that covers Maryland’s Montgomery County in suburban Washington. In example after example, cartoons appearing in the Sentinel have featured art clearly lifted from the work of top cartoonists, but now re-labeled and re-captioned — and re-signed “William Charles.”
The Sentinel re-labeler obviously found the art of such cartoonists as Jeff Parker, Walt Handelsman and Mike Shapiro, as well as the late New Yorker cartoonist Leo Cullum. Cagle calls the Sentinel case “pretty blatant.”
The cartoonist, who went by the name “Charles William” was an unpaid freelancer, but still. The plagiarized cartoons have been removed and the Montgomery Sentianel has apologized.
§ Zainab Akhtar on the year’s best comics… so far.
§ Here’s another story I didn’t cover that another webste has a good piece on. Panel Patter writes about Short Run’s “The Dash” Grant — this is a $250 grant given by the Seattle CAF; deadline for submissions is June 30th.
All details on the grant are available here.
This year, in addition to putting on the show, Short Run is offering grant, which they’re calling The Dash, giving a creator a chance to receive $250 in order to help them create and exhibit a new comic project at the show on October 31st. There’s a complete breakdown of the rules for the grant at this link, but they’re all pretty straight forward. You have to be able to attend the show, for example, and if you do not finish the comic on time, you are required to return the grant money, which is split into an advance and a completion bonus. In addition to the money, you’ll receive mentoring from one of the Special Guests, be featured at the show, and get your half-table for free. So there’s definitely some added value above and beyond the $250 cash. You can’t just wing it, either–you must show them 10 samples, provide an outline and timeline, and explain your experience with making a comic. One of the things I like about this is that while it’s an open opportunity, you do need to show your seriousness and commitment–it’s not going to be tossed off to someone with a fly-by-night idea.
§ At BookCon Jeff Smith told me a few tidbits about this fall’s CXC festival in Columbus (which I’m told is pronounced “sexy”.). I’m sworn to secrecy until the big reveal, but the show sounds like a must do. The dates are October 2-3…which is the weekend before NYCC, but it isn’t a long trip so…I guess I have to go?
I told everyone at BEA/BookExpo that I’ve cut way back on cons this year, which sounds great but there are so many events in and around NYC alone that it’s almost meaningless. While every week is now insanely busy, there are several times of intense busyness for all. The spring’s ECCC/WonderCon/MegaCon/C2E2 mashup sounded grueling. Despite not “going anywhere” I have three shows back to back, following BEA, there’s Special Edition and then Eternal Con. In the fall it will be
SPX September 19-20 (Same weekend as the Brooklyn Book Festival)
Baltimore Comic-Con September 25-27 (followed by the Diamond Retailer show)
CXC October 2-3 (same weekend as APE)
NYCC October 8-11
…four shows four weekends. How are you supposed to do laundry any more?
§ 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.
§ 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.
§ Olivier Schrauwen’s Mowgli book is out from Retrofit and it’s large and magnificent.
§ 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)
§ 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.
§ Deb Aoki is the Charles Dickens of Storify, You may know her from that other one we mentioned recently, but she also put together an epic compilation on manga translation based on her being a judge at the Manga Translation Battle in Tokyo. ONce again, if you are interested in manga at all this is all a must read, but here’s themost interesting graphs for you sale chart freaks:
As you can see, manga magazine sales are down, while tankobon (collection) sales are pretty steady. But it’s a huge decline for serialized manga. Meanwhile, the US market is growing. But don’t get too cocky.
§ As for the Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club kerfuffle, a few more posts of interest have been made. Matt Thorn, a well known manga professor who lives in Japan, planted a flag with Why it bugs me that you call your comics “manga”, whihch discusses the high standards for being considered a “mangaka” and why he feels it should mostly be applies to actual Japanese cartoonists. The competition is fierce:
When our program began, the entrance exams for the “story manga” program were so competitive that we sometimes accepted less than one in twenty applicants. The students who get into the story manga program are good. They are quite good. They draw well. They have a good sense for page layout and pacing. Their characters “pop.” Do you know how many of these excellent students ever get published in a commercial manga magazine? Probably about one in twenty. And do you how many of those will go on to become true pros, getting their own serials and making a living doing only manga? Maybe one in twenty. Do the math.
To the surprise of no one, this rubbed some people the wrong way and a long, thoughtful discussion ensues in the comments. Without getting into any of those touchy appropriation issues, it’s a fact that manga has taken off worldwide over the last 20 years (European publishers in particularly are shocked by its popularity) and ti should come as no surprise that people will want to create more in the style of work that they enjoy. You can argue that the manga influence is a good thing or a bad thing, but it sure is a thing.
§ There’s also a super tumblr storify rounding up all the discussion about MSBC here.
§ Shockingly, Missouri Sentaor Claire McCaskill showed her support for MSBC:
§ Finally, here’s a piece on a US artist who went to Japan to work in the Japanese animation industry and ended up being paid $25 a week, and that’s not even the toughest part of the experience:
Thurlow, whose credits at Japanese studios include Nakamura-Productions and Pierrot Studios, has ended up in the hospital three times due to exhaustion and illness. Amazingly, he still thinks the experience has been worth it because the anime projects he’s worked on in Japan have been more creatively satisfying than American productions.
§ It was International Woman’s day yesterday which sent us a feast of linkage and comics. The irreplaceable Zainab Akhtar presented 10 great cartoonists you need to know and presents 10 names as fresh as they are talented, including Seo Kim, Tiffany Ford, Hwei Lim and Bianca Barnarelli, above.
§ The Nib Celebrated with a bunch of cool comics under the banner Whatever We Please including
“We Are Entitled To Wear Cowboy Boots To Our Own Revolution” by Ellen T. Crenshaw
and Sophie Goldstein’s fascinating Girl Talk which uses audio embed in word balloons to describe “vocal fry.” “Future comics alert! (Also didn’t Bette David pretty much fry long before it was fashionable and/or hated?)
§ The New Indian Express suggests Five Feminist Webcomics You Need to Follow ncluding Lucy KNisley and Girls with Slingshots, but I was most intrigued by Aarthi Parthasarathy‘s Royal Existentials which is sort of a Dinosaur Comics for India that takes classic art and adds contemporary balloons.
§ Finally, the excellent cartoonist once known as Ross Campbell is now Sophie Campbell. Congrats!
§ While all this was going on, men in comics also managed to stay busy. The NY Times has a great profile of retailer Socko Jones of Comic Book Jones on Staten Island. Soko is a pal and the store is one of the best laid out we’ve ever been to.
“We encourage loitering,” Mr. Jones, 41, said, heading inside and sitting next to a rack of vintage Jimmy Olsen comics. “We let customers read our comics cover to cover.” He added, “I never understood that boys-only, dark-basement approach to running a comic store where if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s like you don’t belong.” Mr. Jones was born Michael Rivas, but everyone in his life calls him Socko, including his wife and even his mother, who works in the shop, basically keeping her son in line.
§ Dark Horse is promoting Fight Club 2 with a contest for people to do cleve things under the Project Mayhem banner. Hopefully this will not include peeing in people’s soup?
§ And You can stream the new Lightning Bolt album ‘Fantasy Empire’ featuring sometimes cartoonist Brian Chippendale.
§ Many people know of the Rose City Comic Con in Portland, but there’s also a Rose City Comic Con in Tyler, Texas? WTF??!?
§ And Martha and Alan Giroux of Phoenix, Az have successfully Kickstarted moving their store All About Comics to a new location.
§ Hall of fame artist Bernie Wrightson has had a bunch of recent health setbacks, and now what appears to be a cancerous brain tumor. However the prognosis is excellent and he hopes to make upcoming con appearances. Best wishes to Wrightson for a full recovery.
§ This story about George Lucas stopping by Midtown Comics in NYC to pick up a few of the new Star Wars comics is pretty adorable. You’d think that somewhere in Lucas’s giant mail bin the comics may have been sent out as a courtesy, but Marvel is very stingy with comps. Equally adorable: Lucas also purchased a copy of Heavy Metal. We never really outgrow our 12 year old selves no matter how we try.
§ Say, what’s up with that “Museum of Narrative Art” that Lucas is planning to open?
§ Speaking of Marvel, they will soon be offering a line of small appliances with waffle makers, kettles and more. This is their first foray into this area of hosuewares. Disney’s Consumer Products division is running this show, but it does bring up a question I often ponder when looking at licensed superhero goods—which version to use? Animated characters are ideal for any product because they have been designed to a T and have rigid style guides. With Marvel and DC there are so many versions. While I see a lot of the current Bryan Hitch-y Marvel look on licensed items, just as often its the throwback John Romita-era version. The version shown on the above toaster mock-up is actually a Disneyfied style developed for some kids books they published. I think. What do you all think? Which Hulk on a toaster would you prefer?
On a more serious note, I’ve been hoping to purchase an immersion blender soon, so I hope Marvel makes one of those.
§ I keep forgetting to mention that the Baltimore Sun’s cartoonist KAL won this year’s Herblock Prize. That is a big prize and deserves more than this little notice.
§ Here’s a must read: Ward Sutton interviews Warren Bernard and Bill Kartalopoulos about the amazing exhibit of Alt-Weekly Comics that they curated whish is now on display at the Society of Illustrators. This is a groundbreaking, once in a lifetime show that deserves a lot of attention. Bill K:
The audience for alt-weeklies was broader than the self-selected countercultural audience for underground comix. Some of these papers even received negative letters about certain comics, and that’s kind of thrilling! On the internet, everyone can curate their own reading experience and every audience becomes self-selecting by default. That’s democratic and great, but there’s also something really stirring about an editor or an art director standing behind a contentious comic strip running in a paper that’s engaged in a dialogue with a local community. These papers had physical presence: in newspaper boxes, at coffee shops, etc. In retrospect, that physical dimension seems valuable. As culture moves increasingly online, it seems that only advertisers have retained the power to broadcast messages into our physical environments. And of course that move online has also disrupted the advertising-based economic model that allowed the alt-weeklies to play host to such a rich pool of talent. Unfortunately for artists, while online publication brings with it a potentially large audience, the economic model has not been as reliably functional.
§ Christies is having a sick comics art auction with Bilal, Edgar P. Jacobs (Above), Uderzo and more. You can probably spend a LOT of time clicking around on the above link.
§ MEANWHILE, Sotheby’s the other auction house, just held a sale of comics art that netted around $4 million. Paul Gravett discusses just what that means for anyone hoping to run a comic art museum. Unless you’re George Lucas.
§ Here is a nice interview with romance comics historian Jacque Nodell, conducted by Ginnis Tonik. Lots of insight here and more on Nodell’s blog Sequential Crush.
§ I guess that Yebeos for Yanquis is a blog tumblr focusing on Spanish comics. And it kicks off with Twenty-Five Good Spanish Comics from the 2010s—a few of cartoonists spotlighted are known here—David Rubin, Max and Paco Roca—but most remain to be explored. The Spanish comic scene has blossomed quite a bit in the last decade or so, so more excitement. More comics!
§ Jackie Estrada has a nice look back at Friends of Lulu in the 90s at the Geek Girl Project.
§ Speaking of Estrada, her Comic Book People book has been funded but you have only 24 hours to get a copy. Go!
§ Webcomicker Jeph Jacques is best known for his comic Questionable Content. But he also has a Dadaist side, as revealed by his launching a site with the address walmart.horse. This move displeased Walmart, which filed a sternly word cease and desist, though the site contains only the above photo of a horse and a Walmart and not aisles and aisles of shopworn children’s rattles, vats of pickles and black polyester hoodies,
§ Headline of the day: “Incest and country dancing” cartoon causes outrage.”
§ A site called Memeburn got very excited about this comic set in Lagos, and it does look good.
We don’t often feature graphic novels on Memeburn, but we reckon this one deserves a special mention. It’s called EXO: The Legend of Wale Williams and one of the things that sets it apart is the fact that it’s set in a futuristic Nigeria. Created by Nigerian-born Roye Okupe, the graphic novel takes place in the year 2025 and follows Wale (Pronounced Wah-Leh) Williams as he returns to Nigeria after a five-year absence. Drawn back to the country by his father’s mysterious disappearance, Wiliams inherits a suit which grants him superhuman abilities.
§ Although the practice of selling Marvel’s digital download codes has traditionally been one that is not frowned on, Ebay has been removing these listings for some reason, and one man, hoping for justice, is trying to find out why.
§ A very interesting ComiConference was held at the Central Michigan University recently.
The third ever ComiConference on CMU’s campus brought several speakers to the Charles V. Park Library auditorium to speak to more than 300 guests. The speakers included Carol Tilley, Amanda Garrison, Gene Luen Yang, Lee Francis and Laura Jimenez. The event was organized by English professor Joseph Michael Sommers, with some assistance with the CMU Program Board. Sommers said the conference started three years ago as a way to showcase his students’ work. “It was more of an academic conference on comic books,” Sommers said. “The first year was just CMU students, the next year we opened it up to everyone. This year was more of a ‘ComiCon’ presentation where we had big hitters from academics come in and talk to students and faculty.”
§ I thought that internet culture had peaked, but now they’ve made a video of Earl Sinclair, the dad in the 90s sitcom Dinosaur, singing the Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize and now I realize that life has many more wonders to offer, so we shall continue down this road, you and I.
§ Ryan Holmberg’s obituary for Tatsumi Yoshihiro is a must read, not only as a personal remembrance of the man and who he affected the author, but as a history of how one creator can influence an entire medium. Tatsumi is obviously a great cartoonist and an important cartoonist, but the road was bumpy, sometimes misunderstood and went off in different directions. However, it’s thrilling to read about its early development:
The gekiga style caught on like wildfire. Within a couple of years, most artists working in the mystery genre were using the term and a Tatsumi-inflected language. One publisher after another began emulating the detective anthologies Tatsumi contributed to, namely Shadow (Kage, founded in 1956) and The Street (1957). For a time, Tatsumi edited these and similar publications, thus shaping the manga scene not only as an artist but also as a mentor and curator. Shadow, no. 12 (1957), and The Street, no. 12 (1957), art for both covers by Tatsumi Yoshihiro. In 1959, Tatsumi and many of his peers moved to Tokyo to be closer to the big publishing houses. There, he helped formed the Gekiga Studio (Gekiga Kōbō), an artist-run publishing collective based on profit-sharing and editorial control, with a view ultimately to self-publishing. Amongst the many publications produced by the Gekiga Studio was the mystery and gangland anthology Skyscraper (Matenrō) from Togetsu Shobō. The organization was short-lived, disbanding after just six months, but its influence was great. It catalyzed the formation of some of the manga industry’s first formal production studios. Its publications established its contributors’ reputations in Tokyo, paving the way for the creation of their own (again short-lived) publishing houses and subsequently their move into the big time of mass print magazines.
Holmberg notes that Tatsumi’s earliest groundbreaking work is not available outside of its earliest publications, which were rental comics, and not easily archived. It would be fascinating to compare Tatsumi’s development in the late 50s to the earlier but sort of contemporary EC comics, a similar step forward for US comics. Of course the US development was mutilated into silence by the comic book hearings, It’s a common US comics parlor game to wonder how comics would have developed without the code. Gekiga was influential but still a small part of the vast manga factory system. Anyway read and ponder.
§ Area woman will not be attending Wizard World Raleigh.
§ Joe Quesada has started a tumblr and kicks it off with some nice Daredevil process stuff—it’s mostly to promote the upcoming Daredevil Netflix series, but I hope Quesada can update it now and then ongoing.
§ Copacetic Comics found some copies of Rubber Blanket #3 by David Mazzucchelli in the warehouse. Hurry up before they’re gone!
§ Hello Kitty for HIM? YES. Japanese clothier Nendo has designed a line of men’s t-shirts featuring the iconic kitty, but the take is male like the Le Corbusier, take off. Because men love architecture.
§ The Outhouse has reset its “Has DC Done Something Stupid” clock. One reason is those new costumes for the Big Three we showcased yesterday. Honestly, that’s just typical “we beginning, let’s change clothes!” stuff and after predictable outrage everyone will go back to their regular closet after a while.
Another reason is ire from normally good natured Walt Simonson over a disjointed reprint of his Orion stories.
However, I was dismayed when I began looking through the book and discovered that all of the backup stories for the issues, although included in the volume, have been separated from their lead stories and stripped of their context by putting them in the back of the Omnibus, in a separate section behind all the lead stories. And they aren’t entirely in order in that section either.
To say I was dismayed at these discoveries is probably too gentle a word, but what’s the point of going further? What’s done is done. It seems unlikely that there will be future collections of the same material. I feel it’s some of my best work, and I am very unhappy that the stories in this collection are never going to be read in the correct order by anyone except perhaps by extremely die hard fans of the work, or by people who simply go back and buy the original back issues.
The one bright note is that Dan Didio told me, after I spoke to him about the matter this afternoon, that if the book is reissued in paperback at some point down the road, he would do everything he could to see that all of the stories are printed in the correct order in that edition.
Simonson has published a “concordance”
of sorts of the correct order.
That’s unfortunate, but sort of to be expected in all the moving tumult.
The final matter is the hints that DC will be raising the price of their comics to $4.99 at some point in the future. “Sending the trucks out with five bucks.” I know there is a lot of concern about profitability and all, and the last price rise was supposed to come with extra pages and all, but prices have been creeping up for a while across the board. $5 is not a cup of coffee. It’s a venti salted caramel with coconut milk and whipped cream. But when you get a venti salted caramel etc, it’s a treat, a special experience. Most regular periodical comics are very far from special experiences, but are most a tiny piece of the puzzle that will eventually get collected as part of a multi volume continuity experience. Not to sound snobby but I get all my periodical comics for free in one way or another but I often purchase smaller indie comics to support the creators. For $10 I can often get a small squarebound graphic novel of 40 pages or so with a complete, thoughtful story.
For instance, for a mere $5.99 you can purchase True Stories by Derf, a 40 page collection of his humorous strips for The City. Good value!
For $10 you can purchase Jeremiah by Cathy G. Johnson, a 160 page graphic novel about a young man growing up on a farm. It’s a beautifully realized piece about self-awareness, denial and other perennial themes. COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME. 160 pages.
For $17.99 (less on Amazon) you can Buy Andre the Giant by Box Brown, a great biography of a fascinating historical figure.
And so on and so on. I haven’t even touched the digital side of things.
Anyway, $4.99 will be a tipping point for many readers. There are so many other options now, just in comics. I understand that economic factors play into this, some of them inevitable, but…yeah. Changing times .
§ For everyone foaming at the mouth over the new DC costumes, here’s a reminder that Wonder Woman once wore biker shorts, people. In other words, changing clothes is like death in comics—it’s all temporary.
§ Greg Matiasevich at Multiversity has a very thorough round-up of thoughts and developments in the New Mexico mother who had Palomar pulled from a high school library after claiming it was child porn on the local TV station. Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds is interviewed:
ER: I don’t much care whether Palomar is in one particular library or not, but I do care about one rogue parent bypassing appropriate channels to remove it, instead escalating via a media that was all too enthusiastic in egregiously mischaracterizing the content of the work, fueling community outrage with flat-out falsehoods. It’s unproductive for everyone involved.
As is the CBLDF’s Charles Brownstein — the CBLDF has joined with the Kids Right to Read Project to file a letter
defending Palomar as the literary work that it has always been recognized as.
CB: It’s vitally important that libraries have formal policies for challenges and collection development, and that those policies are followed. Following these policies is all the more important in cases where media attacks are involved. Comics have a legitimate place in contemporary libraries and schools, but are more vulnerable to attack than other kinds of books both because images are easier to take out of context, and because there is still a diminishing, but lingering stigma that the medium is of low value. Good policies indicating how content is selected, and how challenges are heard are a powerful guiding force in situations where challenges occur, particularly when they are contentious or public.
As it stands now, a committee is reviewing the book this week, but it remains off the shelves. It is common for libraries to have procedures to challenges set up, as Brownstein alluded to above, so hopefully this one will come to a judicious conclusion.
§ The NY Times ran an obituary for Irwin Hasen and the portrait it paints of his later years is pretty good. I think he lived a pretty good life.
For the past 35 years, Mr. Hasen lived on East 79th Street in a rent-regulated apartment. Next to the entrance was a drawing of him standing with Dondi.
It was a bachelor pad with a wet bar, his shopworn drawing table and many photographs attesting to a life spent gallivanting with his artist crowd.
Instead of family pictures, the walls were covered with his sketches of the naked likenesses of former girlfriends, often in haremlike groups, with Mr. Hasen caricatured impishly serving them cocktails.
For decades before his death, Mr. Hasen would eat breakfast daily at the same Madison Avenue diner — he called it Cafe Hasen and called himself its staff artist — and drew “Dondi”-style sketches for the staff to post on the walls. His evening routine included a martini at a nearby Third Avenue bistro.
§ Here’s a French language story on the latest developments over the Angoulême comics festival, who runs it, who owns it and who owns the trademarks. As I understand it, this is a three way rumble between the city, the festival and the company that RUNS the festival. The latter entity, which is run by a fellow named Franck Bondoux, is asking for the trademarks to the fest, which has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Also Gilles Ciment, who formerly ran the festival from the comics side, left last year under clouded circumstances, which some blame Bondoux for.
I can’t begin to unwind this from my vantage point, but it all sounds very messy.
§ Last night I was watching The Shining for like the 10th time, and yet for the first time I noticed that Jack Nicholson really looks like Reid Fleming, the World’s Toughest Milkman. And that made me wonder “hey wasn’t there going to be a Reid Fleming movie or something?” and then voila! the trailer for a documentary about Reid Fleming and his creator, David Boswell, just popped up like that! I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! was directed by Charlie Tyrelland features appearances by Matt Groening and Ad Asner among others. And it’s narrated by director Jonathan Demme.
Reid Fleming is one of the great 80s comics, with an unforgettable protagonist, unduplicable humor and a dense post-underground style that won’t quit. I understand that Boswell is a hero in Canadian comics circles, and he should be.
§ Here is a Storify that was kicked off by Sophia Foster-Dimino when she asked “Why does everyone hate auto-bio comics?” A lot of great cartoonists chime in. I’m one of those people who thought that bad auto-bio was a little too prevalent a while ago but that was 2005 and now the bar has been raised quite a bit by all the skillful younger cartoonists flooding the field.
§ Charming Jason Momoa tooks a swipe at Marvel in a very sly, subtle fashion: he wrote “fuck marvel” on a picture he was autographing. Like I said, sly and subtle.
And so they are; as I mentioned last week, I am so tired of writing about controversies in comics, I just want to concentrate on THE COMICS for a few days…but in order to do that we must wrap up some controversy news. But then IT’S ALL COMICS.
§ Wonderful comics! CBR is rolling out its Top 50 Female Comic Book Writers and Artists list as voted on by CBR readers. First, writers #21-25 and artists #21-25. Some surprises on the lists, but all good, and I look forward to the countdown. The next lists should be up by the time you read this. That’s Rumiko Takahashi above.
§ It is only a matter of time before another nerdlebrity dies at a comic con (I believe the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, was the first.) But that person won’t be Mini Me Verne Troyer, who collapsed after a seizure at the Heart of Texas Comic Con in Waco but is reported to be fine now.
Troughton was warned by his doctor not to exert himself, but he didn’t listen, and died of a heart attack while ordering breakfast. If you are told by your doctor not to exert yourself, do not go to a comic con because they are exhaisting.
§ All off Darling Sleeper’s cartoonist interviews listed on one page.
§ The late great comics editor and writer Archie Goodwin is being inducted in the Hall of Fame of his high school and here are some of the reasons he’s always known as the late great Archie Goodwin.
§ Alex Dueben directs us to two recent interviews:
Rhianna Pratchett on Tomb Raider, comics, video games and Doug TenNapel on Nnewts, VeggieTales, Armikrog.
§ The Comic Con India award nominees have been announced. Above it the cover to one of the nominees.
§ Here’s a cute story from PW about a teenaged cartoonist who has gotten a lot of attention for a self published work: Christine Mari Inzer and her book Halfway Home.
All this began in the summer of 2013, when fifteen-year-old Christine Mari Inzer traveled alone to Japan to rekindle her interest in her mother’s culture—her mother is Japanese and her father is American—illustrating her travels along the way. Leaving her parents and siblings for eight weeks, Inzer stayed with her mother’s parents in Kashiwa, a small city outside of Tokyo. She also traveled to attractions like the Zen temple Ryōan-ji in Kyoto and the Asakusa district in Tokyo. The resulting graphic memoir shares moments of vulnerability, appreciation for family, culture shock, and adaptation, creating a humorous and contemplative travelogue beyond her years.
§ I forgot to link here to this excellent report on the London Super Comics Convention by Steve Morris.
§ Some of these links are oooooold, but I liked this story about football player Israel Idonije and his comic book company. Why do more football players than any other kind of professional athletes start comics book companies? I don’t have a good answer for that.
§ I also meant to link to this interview with the showrunner of the Indiana Comic Con—the last show had crowding issues but it isn’t going to happen again.
Q: In 2014, the convention ran into some unexpected hiccups. Would you care to talk about that?
I think the biggest and most commonly referenced issue we faced was the overcrowding. It was our first year in Indianapolis, which was sort of untested waters for our company. We did not anticipate the amount of people that would show up, and when everyone filed into the hallway there wasn’t much we could do but try our best to keep them organized.
§ After a year, Evan Dorkin has finished the final issue of The Eltingville Club. There’s a lot in the whole post about being a creator in mid career, making a living, stalled projects (Beasts of Burden, sniff sniff) and more so go read the whole thing.
§ OKAY Controversy Wrap-Up section:
§ The Outhouse continues its up to the minute coverage with a full report on Valerie D’Orazio’s plans to quit twitter after some truly gross threats. What is wrong with you people?
§ Marvel’s EIC Axel Alonso discussed the Sims/D’Orazio thing and the Ron Wimberly thing in his weekly address:
Alonso: In his Nib cartoon, Ron posed a question, “Is this racist?”, casting a shadow over his editor and, by extension, Marvel. Here’s what happened: The issue in question was “Wolverine and the X-Men” #10, a jam book that featured 8 different artists — 14, if you include colorists — one of whom was Ron Wimberly. The editor simply asked Ron to match the skin-tone that had been established for the character — Melita Garner, a Latina — on previous pages. She would have done the same if Ron had made Melita’s skin too light. To suggest that the editor or Marvel was uncomfortable with the character having dark or darker skin flies in the face of who we are and our history. Just last night, Sana Amanat, Marvel’s Director of Content & Character development appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show” to speak about the growing diversity of our publishing efforts. We are the home to Storm, the Black Panther, Miles Morales [Ultimate Spider-Man], Sam Wilson [the All-New Captain America], Robbie Reyes [the All-New Ghost Rider] and Kamala Khan [Ms. Marvel], and our ethnically diverse staff of editors spans the color chart Ron cites in his Nib cartoon. I am Mexican-American, so that makes me #caa468.
§ ALSO, Joshua Rivera has my favorite wrap-up on the Betgirl cover.
§ Not comics: Google is not a charity, just FYI.
§ Many people in comics have a a deep abiding hatred of Roy Lichtenstein, who appropriated comics panels for paintings that are now worth millions of dollars. That antipathy will grow more as the above painting, taken from a panel by Ted Galindo, is being auctioned off with a value of $50 million. Scott Edelman has more, and the above image, which was created by David Barsalou, who has long been cataloging the Lichtenstein/comics connection. According to Sotheby’s
In its 53-year history, the painting has only ever had two owners. It was consigned from the collection of Chicago businessman and philanthropist Stefan Edlis. The Ring “encapsulates all of the major themes of the artist’s most acclaimed and sustained body of work,” according to a statement from Sotheby’s.
“Major themes.” Okay.
§ Chris Sims is taking a voluntary hiatus from Comics Alliance, as revealed in his War Rocket Ajex podcast.
Like I said, it’s not something that I went back and tried to hide, but it is something that I’ve tried to move away from as a writer and as a person. I got called out on it. I did it – that is not in question – and it was not OK. It was not OK then, it is not OK now. I never apologized for it then, because at the time, I felt like it was better to just let someone who was trying to disengage disengage. I have apologized now. I regret every part of it, and it was all me. There was a part of me that enjoys being a jerk. And a lot of the mistakes I’ve made in my life come from that. They come from a refusal to acknowledge that other people have feelings – in my personal life, and my professional life.
§ The CBLDF continues it look back at women in comics with a profile of Lee Marrs:
Lee Marrs, who would become one of the first and most outspoken women creators of the underground comix movement, got her start working in the comics industry as a part-time assistant on the strips Little Orphan Annie and Hi & Lois. Although this was her beginning in the industry, her entrepreneurial drive ultimately led her to San Francisco in 1971 where she worked alongside other underground legends like Trina Robbins. Her passionate approach to comics and desire to create works that spoke to all kinds of women became a major inspiration for other women creators to get involved in the comics scene. In a time when mainstream comics were still being heavily regulated and censored by the Code, the fledgling underground scene was really the only place where creators could express themselves freely and produce the books that they wanted. Although it was still heavily perceived as the proverbial “boy-club,” this didn’t stop Marrs. Instead of trying to be exclusively included in their comix, Marrs made her own. The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp was born and would run from 1973 to 1978—an incredible run for an independently created work.
Marrs has such a long and important career in comics and later animation. It’s a shame her work is so little known now.
§ Blossom did not like Frozen.
§ Wonderful comics! Remember that stuff! Comics Alliance profiles Aatmaja Pandya, whose name I have been hearing for a long time as one of the most talented recent SVA grads. She had a new comic coming out for MoCCA. Check it out.
CA: What are some comics that have inspired you either growing up or as an adult?
AP: Growing up, it was manga and video games and cartoons that made me want to draw/tell stories. Stuff like Fullmetal Alchemist, The Legend of Zelda series, lots of anime. I feel like this is the case with a lot of younger people in the industry? I read Calvin & Hobbes and Tintin when I was a really little kid. Then I got really into webcomics as I got older – Bobwhite by Magnolia Porter, especially, was the comic that made me want to start making my own comics. Then in my late teens I started reading some of the graphic novel classics, like Maus and Persepolis and Blankets and Asterios Polyp, and finally had the realization that the “mainstream” comics world existed beyond superheroes. Recently, I’ve been looking at Ranma 1/2, Kuragehime, Studio Ghibli movies, and slowly re-reading the Earthsea books, which aren’t comics but are super inspiring.
§ Speaking of comics influences, Boom! Editor Shannon Watters, one of the driving forces behind the introduction pf the “Adventure Time/tumblr” style to “mainstream” comics publishing, talks about the #ComicsForward thing and touches on a lot of the new culture clash of comics buyers:
It’s kind of why I put it as Wednesday comics buyers. It really is a cultural thing. It’s less of a group of people; you can’t really say that everyWednesday comics buyer is a white male between the ages of 30 and whatever, you know? You can’t pigeonhole that, but what does set those people apart is they’ve learned the status quo of the direct market system. They are used to the ritual of going to a comics shop every week on Wednesdays and picking up books. Or going once a month and picking up their stack. I think that has been the most interesting thing, and Kelly Sue [DeConnick] has really done an incredible job with this, educating people who are not Wednesday comics buyers on the importance of preordering within the direct market system to support a book. I think that’s really where the education and honestly the separation is coming from. Not everybody knows how the direct market works and how publishing within the direct market works.
§ CBR is hiring an entry levelLos Angeles-Based Editorial Assistant
JOB DESCRIPTION: CBR is looking for a part-time Editorial Assistant. Duties will include: Data entry General office work, filing, organizing, trash take out General errands including shopping for supplies and more Familiarity with content management systems a plus. Basic knowledge of Photoshop also a plus. Previous journalism experience preferred Knowledge of comic book storylines, creators and culture a plus
§ There is a controversy going on over all the money that was donated to Charlie Hebdo after the January attack. The magazine is owned by several different entities, but the surviving cartoonists want to share in the revenue because it’s quite a bit of money: 30 million euros. Oh boy.
§ Remember Lost? Remember Mark Coale’s weekly recaps? And polar bears and smoke monsters? And endless theorizing? So long ago. Staff writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach has a long remembrance of the first few years. This one is hot beverage worthy.
If you are reading this, it might be because you asked me how it all began and I sent you here. Or it might be because — as still happens with depressing regularity — one of the show’s detractors, be that a critic, or, more vexingly, someone who has just created a show and wants to make sure the media realizes that they are above making the mistakes we made (all the while cribbing our best moves) has come out purporting yet again to have some sort “proof” that “the writers of Lost did not know what they were doing.”
§ MUST READ: Laura Hudson enters the world of Jason Shiga, who is probably one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists. If you don’t believe me, go read Demon, or Fleep. He’s surely one of the great visionary thinkers about the possibilities of comics storytelling, his comics unfolding like tesseracts in real time and space, with codes, traps, mysteries and more.
The first time Shiga blew my mind was with an interactive graphic novel called Hello World. The story is simple enough: You’re a little boy sent to the store by his mother with a grocery list of items and a suitcase to carry them home. But the moment you open the cover, it’s obvious this is unlike any comic you’ve ever seen before. Every page is sliced in half, separating the comic into two parts. The top half is where the story unfolds, while the bottom half displays the contents of your suitcase. The two sides are connected by an intricate system of page-turning: When you see a number inside a square, you flip to a page in the top half of the comic, advancing the story; when you see a number inside a circle, you flip to a page on the bottom, adding and removing items from your suitcase. That’s when you realize that this isn’t just a choose-your-own-adventure story: It’s a comic with a functional inventory system.
Much more in the pprofile, including Shiga’s post -Demon plans.
§ A very nice story by Margo Dabaie about a class she taught for aspiring cartoonists:
I loved hearing the stories they had in mind because they were always really ornate and involved (I definitely had to drop some gentle reminders that there’s only one page to work with!). It was clear the students were fans of comics and were excited to make work.
§ Another cool story about how comics worpshops are being used in the Mumbai district of Dharavi to educate and improve, as reported by Ryan Holberg.
Usually, World Comics India, wherever it goes, collaborates with local activist groups. A trained “comics tutor” will be sent to conduct a workshop, the composition of which, in terms of age and sex, differing widely according to locale. The tutor first gets workshop participants to speak about social and political issues important to their daily lives. The participants are then instructed in the basics of how to make short four panel comics, from step one of conceiving a story idea, to breaking the story down in panels, and finally inking the drawings. The finished comic is then photocopied and pasted onto walls. Other formats like eight-page booklets are also produced. The range of topics depends on the locality, and the nature of the collaborating NGO: from concerns with water shortages in states like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, to illegal deforestation in Mizoram. Political corruption, male alcoholism, discrimination against women, and health problems due to bad sanitation have been treated in workshops in many states, giving you a sense of how extensive these problems are in India.
§ Speaking of improving, the once great state of Indiana has passed an odious law that allows discrimination, and it’s sad to think we live in an era where this is playing to the basest of bases. Anyway, the large gaming show Gen Con is threatening to leave the state because the law may allow attendees to be discriminated against:
The so-called “religious freedom” bill, passed in the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday, would give business owners free rein to refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim doing so would go against their religion. That could mean a baker could refuse to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, for example. Gen Con CEO and owner Adrian Swartout sent a letter to Pence on Monday in which she said the state will stand to lose the $50 million the convention brings to the city of Indianapolis each year if the bill becomes law.
She wrote: Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years. We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.
Other, non nerd associated companies are also warning that they will stop investing in the state.
§ President Obama won the internet this week by posing with the above Girl Scout troop who has arrived at the White House for a Science Fair dressed as superheroes. Perhaps emboldened by this, he talked about his interest in comics in a letter to supporters;
I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman. Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.
We got our milk board!
Here is a video of Dan DiDio talking about Convergence which I understand imparts important information about this event. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.
§ Headline of the Day #1: Comic Con Event Takes Over Nutter Center. Why how DARE you? Nutter center! Oh wait, that is a venue in Dayton Ohio and it was the site of the Gem City Comic Con over the weekend. As you were.
§ Headline of the Day #2: New Comic Book Series is Launched. Whoa exciting! Possible best press release ever.
“The Alternative Energy Man” series has hit shelves. “Alternative Energy Man” is an environmentalist taking to the streets to save the world. Issue 1: “Don’t Call Me Alternative Energy Guy” and Issue 2: “Alternative Energy Man Vs. The Dumper,” by Evan W. Taylor, have been published by BrickWarriors Publishing. They are both now available for free on BrickWarriors’ website. Action packed, this comic book series will surely sweep you off your feet. Three more installments will come out later this year. Begin following Alternative Energy Man on his world changing journey.
§ The first ever Otaku summit was held in Makuhari, Japan. Self identified geek culture fans from more than 18 countries attended the two day event.
The Expo is part of a special comic book fair held every five years, which attracts about half a million visitors, but this year’s event marks the first time that groups from outside Japan are invited. About four dozen overseas Otaku groups were expected to attend. Briton Katie Carter, 23, was dressed as Usagi Tsukino, a character from the popular “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.” “This is amazing. There are so many people of different cultures are coming together,” she told AFP.
§ A new comic strip launched this week, Dana Simpson’s Phoebe and Her Unicorn. The strip features a child and a fantastic best friend, drawing comparisons to Calvin and Hobbes, but Simpson says such talk comes with the territory:
“If what you’re doing is reminiscent of the greatest cartoonist of the last 40 years, well, that’s a huge compliment,” she said.
Most of Phoebe’s experiences (minus the unicorn thing) are based off Simpson’s childhood — she said she spends an inordinate amount of time wandering through her elementary school memories, mining for little absurdities and antics that she can use in the strip.
“You have to write what you know — it’s the only place where you’re ever going to find enough material,” she said.
§ Writer Hayley Campbell is now the author of a book about Neil Gaiman and staffer at Buzzfeed, but in a past life she worked as a comics shop clerk for three years, and so here is the Buzzfeed article you’ve been waiting for: 37 Things You Learn From Working In A Comic Shop. They’re all true, but I’ll only quote this one:
- If stacked wrongly, a volume of the Dynamite Vampirella Archives is a genuine health and safety hazard. Dynamite Entertainment / Via dynamite.com The last thing you see before you die is Vampirella’s crotch.
§ Carol Tyler is one of the finest cartoonists of the last 30 years, and her “You’ll Never Know” trilogy is perhaps her masterpiece, a rich biography of her father, including his real life heroics in World War II, and his adaptation to civilian life. It’s a rich, multi-layered portrait of a generation and family relationships. Charles Tyler, Carol’s father, is 96 years old….but he is dying of cancer. But in his last days, he’s being honored by local media:
The city of Clinton is honoring a dying World War II veteran. 96-year-old Charles Tyler is actually the oldest WWII Veteran in Vermillion County. Charles, or better known as Chuck, served in the army from 1939 to 1945. Recently, Chuck found out he’s dying from cancer. But, before he goes, his town wanted to honor him and friends say he may look old but he’s as sharp as a tack. And quite a jokester. “[Chuck tell me about being in the military, what do you remember most?] Chasing girls!” And, there’s plenty more where that came from! Chuck definitely has charisma! Coming up tomorrow on News 10, we will share some of Chuck’s life adventures, more of his spit-fire personality plus his many talents!
It’s a sweet twilight tribute to The Greatest Generation.
§ Meanwhile, with the Going Clear documentary on Scientology getting talked about every where, Abraham Riesman looks back on That Time the Avengers Battled Scientology, sort of. It was a four year long Avengers storyline by Kurt Busiek.
Okay, let’s take a step back. Technically, the religion in question wasn’t the Church of Scientology; it was an extremely thinly veiled stand-in for it called the Triune Understanding. The story line about it was the brainchild of Avengers writer Kurt Busiek (who fully admits to the Triune Understanding’s status as a Scientology pastiche), that story line ran for an astounding four years, and — perhaps most remarkable of all — this bizarre narrative thread was oddly tender and empathic toward Scientologists. In honor of the current barrage of criticism lobbed at Scientology in the wake of the documentary Going Clear, let us revisit this strange chapter in superhero history.
§ On the off chance you did not see Saturday Night Live’s take on a reimagined Bambi starring Dwayne Johnson, here it is. And the funny thing is…this doesn’t seem far from the truth.
§ If you’re looking for a Beat April Fool’s Post…honestly I couldn’t think of anything that would strain incredulity that wasn’t just mean. I’ll work on one for next year.
§ Eric Orchard update: while no details have emerged regarding his injury on Monday, he is now safe and his family has asked for privacy. We wish him all the best and hope he continues to make a lot of awesome artwork. And he has a Patreon!
§ Several comics companies —DC and Dynamite — carry a certification from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Reed Beebe investigates this certification. It’s kind of technical, but it would be nice to know that the paper out comics are printed on come from swell managed forests.
§ I don’t agree with all of these 8 Reasons Why 2015 Is Already A Better Year for Comics Than 2014 but they aren’t bad.
§ International Women’s month is over so but the CBLDF has an archived page of their Women who changed free expression and it’s a gret list from the well known—Bechdel and Barry— to lesser known but notabe figures such as Caol Swain and Dori Seda. Check it out!
§ Paste Magazine also wraps up the month with 12 Women Who Have Helped Transform the Comic Book Industry and it’s a pretty good list. No spoilers!
§ CBR also wrapped up its Top 25 Women Writers and Artists lists, as chosen by readers. You can argue—no Posey Simmonds or Elaine Lee!—but both lists go way beyond The Usual Suspects.
§ The Supreme Court has turned down the latest Zombie Stan Lee Media appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear Stan Lee Media’s case against Stan Lee and POW! Entertainment, bringing to a definitive end at least one part of a legal battle that’s been waged for the better part of a decade. The action lets stand the 2012 dismissal of a lawsuit seeking million in profits and ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Lee, co-founder of the failed dot-com. Stan Lee Media had argued in its petition to the justices that the Ninth Circuit erred in October when it upheld the lower court’s decision.
Zombie Stan Lee Media has never won a suit.
§ The NY Times profiles the French Robert Moses graphic novel by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balaz.
Wandering the city, “I discovered the world done by Moses,” Mr. Christin said. “And I thought, ‘It is so visual, I will treat it like a graphic novel, not an article, because there are so many places I can show.’ ” The book, illustrated by a French artist who lives in Chile, Olivier Balez, tells Moses’s story in lushly nostalgic sepia-toned colors: the bridges and beaches and pools and parkways, the clubby back rooms where deals were done, the Batman-worthy lair on Randalls Island where he plotted his campaigns. Mr. Christin originally wrote it in French and it was translated for the Nobrow edition by Leopold O’Shea.
A confession time: I saw this book at the Glenat stand at Angouleme last year and thought “I want to read this book! And Nobrow should publish it!” I laid it on thick with Nobrow’s publisher and voila! It came to pass.
§ I love George Miller. He’s a wackadoo visionary.
§ Before we get into the news, a reminder to follow @ComicsBeatCons on Twitter for live tweets and inside dirt from all the shows that Elite Beat Operatives attend. Our little tweeters were very busy at WonderCon including scooping the move to LA.
§ Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s clash with the law continued my Friday as he was charged with nine counts of sedition over tweets he wrote critical of the government’s prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Malaysian authorities to drop the charges and to cease using the Sedition Act to intimidate and threaten journalists. Sessions Court Judge Zanol Rashid Hussain agreed to hear the state prosecution’s case against Zunar over nine tweets he made on 10 February criticising a Federal Court decision to jail the country’s main opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, on sodomy charges, reports said. The trial is scheduled to begin on 20 May.
Zunar could be sentenced to as much as 43 years in prison if convicted. After being released on bail, Zunar tweeted the cartoon below.
§ Indie publisher Secret Acres has the best con reports, and here’s there account of RIPE in Providence.
§ After I went on and on about French comics writer Fabien Vehlmann the other day, Zainab Akhtar reveals his series ‘The Marquis of Anaon’ is coming from Cinebook. The artist is Matthew Bonhomme.
§ ICv2 digs in more on IDW’s earnings report, a preliminary to getting listed on the stock exchange. For instance:
IDW’s increase in digital sales of $679,000, despite the disruption to the market caused by the elimination of iOS in-app purchases by comiXology around the time of its acquisition by Amazon (see “Amazon Acquiring ComiXology”) is an impressive accomplishment.
Comics publishing numbers are always hard to come by, but IDW has been more transparent than most, so be prepared for more of this kind of thing.
§ Duke University has chosen “Fun Home” as summer reading for incoming freshmen. A similar decision by South Carolina colleges led to threats to cut their public funding, so it’s great to see Duke standing up for free thought.
“Fun Home” has been selected as this year’s summer reading book for incoming freshmen. The book is an autobiographical graphic novel written by cartoonist Alison Bechdel. It chronicles Bechdel’s childhood and her relationship with her father and deals with issues ranging from sexuality to family to mental health. The book was selected by the Common Experience selection committee, which is composed of students, staff and faculty and which selected the book from a list of recommendations by members of the Duke community. Members of the Class of 2019 will receive copies of a special printing of the book in the mail during the summer. “I think it will be a great vehicle for conversations among the incoming class about art and storytelling; about personal and sexual identities; about truth and lies, and the harm both can cause; and about judgment and forgiveness,” said selection committee member Simon Partner, a professor of history and director of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke, in a Duke News press release Wednesday.
Duke actually has a pretty large library of comics, and it’s not just about Basketball. That said, go Duke! (I have family members who went to school there so I’m allowed.)
§ Spike Trotman is one of the most savvy comics creators/publishers/rainmakers around when it comes to using all the tools available to get her own and other books published, and she has two interviews out, one with Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 and one with Rich Schivener for Publishers Weekly where she talks specifically about her kickstarter for the webcomic TK and Amal, which raised more than $65,000.
§ They are making Batman Moleskine notebooks. How many Moleskines are one person allowed to own? You can also download a Batman logo template and enter a Batman drawing contest. And win more notebooks.
§ It seems that as soon as the move of WonderCon from Anaheim to Los Angeles was made public, the LA convention center peeps issued a press release. I didn’t get it, but Tom has the whole thing, and what’s notable to me is that LA mayor Eric Garcetti is at the head of the welcome wagon, standing right there holding a tasty casserole:
“Los Angeles is honored to have been selected as the destination for WonderCon 2016. We look forward to establishing a long-term partnership with Comic-Con International, the presenter, and helping them establish a home-base in L.A. We anticipate the show to be highly attended and to set the precedent for future successful Comic-Con events in L.A.,” remarked Mayor Eric Garcetti.
It’s not too surprising that the mayor of Tinsel Town is totally up on the whole Comic-Con thing, but it is a change from the days when comics artists arrived quietly in the night, hoping not to be beaten back with sticks, and left just as silently. I don’t know what Garcetti means by that “the presenter” language though. It sounds like some character that Mark Hamill would do the voice for.
And obviously, Garcetti is in on the whole “Let’s move Comic-Con International to Los Angeles!” scheme. My fellow long time con-watcher Lori Weisberg writes about the move for the SD Union Trib, and wonders if this is indeed a warm-up for SDCC moving to LA, esp. since the con’s contract with San Diego is up next year. SD’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer is mentioned, but he didn’t bring a casserole.
I generally subscribe to the Evanier Doctrine , which holds that if you move the San Diego Comic-Con out of San Diego, it won’t be the San Diego Comic-Con any more, and there are good reasons for it not to move. That said, CCI’s David Glanzer talks a lot in Weisberg’s piece about the importance hotel room availability (holla!), and moving WonderCon around shows that the CCI folks are not afraid to decamp to a new locale should need arise. I haven’t been to WonderCon in a few years, but I’m carving out some time in 2016 for the LA version! I have to know!
§ Fun Home is opening on Broadway later this month (and The Beat has tickets!) and as opposed to the conventional staging of the first version, this will be theater in the round. And here’s a look at how the designers dealt with the challenges of that. (That’s Beth Malone as adult Alison, above.)
That’s the only choice, really. The show by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron based on artist and cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir is performed in the round. Having the audience viewing from all sides is a big change from the 2013 proscenium staging at the Public Theater. “It’s like going from Google Street View to Google Maps,” says scenic designer David Zinn, who has filled the set with objects that speak to the real Alison and to authenticity’s sake. In the show, she’s played as a young girl, a college coed and an adult by three actresses. Here are secrets from the set of “Fun Home.”
§ Writing for Business Insider, Gus Lubin lays out all the ways that Marvel has deemphazied the X-Men , the franchise whose film rights are owned by rival studio Fox. The piece includes charts of best selling titles from 1991 on that show how the mighty X-men have fallen from the 6 million copies of X-men #1 to….now
Now the more you look, the more you’ll see just how much Disney is burying the mutants, even while continuing to publish several X-titles to keep fans from freaking out. For instance, go to marvel.com and you’ll find very few prominent articles about the X-Men. The top stories on the site right now feature Daredevil, the Avengers, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, and the Agents of SHIELD. Marvel owns the exclusive film rights to most of those characters, along with rights to its own versions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and a profit-sharing deal for Spider-Man with film rights holder Sony. Marvel’s shop page includes only three X-Men items in a list of 60 featured product popular picks. Marvel’s subscriptions page currently features more than 50 titles, and only four of them star characters from the X-Men. Marvel’s movies page prominently features the Disney movies, and only by clicking the “All” tab and scrolling to the bottom can you find Fox’s movies. Games like Marvel’s “Mighty Heroes” apparently don’t have any X-Men.
It’s true that if Marvel/Disney is the Lannisters, then Sony is the Baratheons—they can do business together when need arises. But Fox is more like House Tyrell—a cunning and strong rival. It’s a shame that the great mutant characters that cut a broad swath through three decades of Marvel comics history are now feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect, but this is Hollywood we’re talking about, and no prisoners are taken.
§ Speaking of Marvel, here’s an insidery look at the making of the Netflix Daredevil series which goes live on Friday, and gets binged watched imediately there after.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said of striking the deal with Marvel, “We were taking what I thought was a pretty measured bet on someone with a great track record of serving a very discriminating fan base.” Mr. Sarandos said that he was drawn to the characters Marvel was offering because “these were all nonconventional heroes — really grounded, not capes and codpieces.”
No codpieces! Big relief.
§ The Comics Journal has really been on a roll lately with some really great content that I forgot to call out so here’s a little of it:
Zack Soto, Mike Dawson and Isaac Cates talk about Kingdom Come.
This book was a tricky one, because it’s very hard for me to reconcile how I feel about it. Which is apt, given that so much of that probably has to do with nostalgia, and Kingdom Come is nothing if not a several-hundred-page long, lushly watercolored wallow in the nostalgia pond. Zack and I spend a good amount of time talking about Alex Ross, and how unlike many Image cartoonists from those days (most notably Rob Liefeld), Ross doesn’t seem to have enjoyed a redemptive reevaluation amongst what you’d call the current “art-comics” crowd.
§ Brian Nicholson chats up experimental cartoonist Connor Willumsen:
First of all, you said I don’t have problems with mainstream comics. I do have a lot of problems with them. I think they don’t necessarily have to exist, is my thing. There’s a lot I can say about them, and in regards to my relationship with superhero comics, which I think is what you’re asking about, yeah, I grew up reading those, that’s my introduction to drawing and comic books, and yeah it’s a funny relationship, and it’s so pervasive, the idea of these images, and the way they’re proliferated in these large spectacular but hollow movies that are coming out, and it’s just kind of incessant. and I grew up interested in them and excited by them. It was something to focus on, and the more and more I grew up, the more I thought of the relationship between these superheroes and exploitative commercial practice, the more I felt betrayed by the culture in general. But the isolated focus of the idea of a superhero as an image is a relevant part of our culture and worth focusing on at times. And yeah a lot of times I question what it was I was I learning from reading all these superhero comics and how it was specifically influencing me in my personality, for better or for worse, so those are the terms I’m thinking of it now, questioning of the extent of cultural betrayal I feel at these kinds of things.
§ And Gary Groth interviewed the late Irwin Hasen several years before he died:
GROTH: Tell me.
HASEN: He became my idol after Roy Crane and for some reason or another I was a pissy kid. I went on the subway down to the World-Telegram and I went around with samples of my work—you’ll get a kick out of this—and I said to the secretary at the office, “Can I see Mr. Mullin?” Nobody was allowed to go into the main room where Mullin was. But she got a phone call from somebody, and I lurched in. I ran into the city room and I looked for Mr. Mullin. And I sat down with him and he liked what he saw and he started to play chess with Will B. Johnstone, another cartoonist, and while he was playing chess he said, “Fill in the blacks [on this drawing], Irwin.” To make a long story short, we became friends at the Cartoonists Society. One night Willard Mullin got bombed. You know what bombed means?
I know Gary Groth is one of the best interviewers out there, and not too sound too ageist but…damn aren’t those old cartoonists just really FUN to read about? I guess it’s the patina of time that make who was zooming who at the Iger studio more interesting to talk about now. Or else they were just better raconteurs.
Sorry there haven’t been any kibbles ‘n’ bits this week. It’s just been too cold at Stately Beat Manor, and that’s the truth. All we want to do is pile on the blankets and chug hot cocoa. But we’ve been storing things up and now there are so many we must break this into sections.
§ Retailer William Insignares of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, FL was saddened when he found a flood has ruined some of his valuable comics, including a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. But he’s determined that the comics live on as something beautiful:
His plan is to now preserve these valuable comics for all to see. “I thought, why not take these valuable pages, beautiful comic art and preserve it forever,” he said. William teamed with his own Avengers from Seriously Fun LLC to redecorate starting with the front door. “What we are going to do is take some of the comic books and fuse them to the front door using a proprietary modge-podge method we use, that way they can be immortalized for life,” said David Noll, co-owner of Seriously Fun, LLC.
§ Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the Borderlands SF book store, which announced plans to close because of California’s new minimum wage law, has come up with a sponsorship plan to keep the store open.
Starting immediately we will be offering paid sponsorships of the store. Each sponsorship will cost $100 for the year and will need to be renewed every year. If we get 300 sponsors before March 31st, we will stay open for the remainder of 2015.
§ Not quite retailing, but the Outhouse looks at the ever increasing cost of comics books with many solicited titles for May going for $4.99
When we last met in this column, I discussed the possibility of giving it up. Five dollar comics routinely top the sales charts, and the most recent round of Big Two solicitations paint an even bleaker picture. Marvel’s solicits list eleven comics at $4.99, with two more at $5.99 and one at $7.99. Of course, as predicted, as $4.99 becomes an accepted “regular” price for comics, we start seeing more “special” comics at six dollars and up. DC, for their part, lists most of their books at $3.99 in their recent solicitations. This is disturbing because DC’s books, prior to the Convergence event, were overwhelmingly priced at $2.99. Will that price point return after Convergence ends and DC soft-relaunches their universe? Or will they use the opportunity to catch up with Marvel in the $3.99/$4.99 pricing bucket? Just this week, we see eight five dollar comics on the stands, and that’s without any from Marvel. Dynamite even has an eight dollar Red Sonja 100th issue spectacular on the stands this week.
§ Often jailed Malaysian cartoonist Zunar will speak before a UN human rights conference in Geneva conference and plans to vilify the current regime:
Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque or ‘Zunar’ as he is popularly known, has been invited as a speaker at the forum to touch on human rights in Malaysia as well as the welfare of cartoonists following the bloody Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last month. “I will explain in detail… some people think Malaysia is a democratic country but I want to tell and expose how the government uses a law to intimidate and how they use the judiciary to detain a political prisoner,” he said in reference to jailed Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
§ Iranian cartoonist Maya Neyestani was jailed over a cartoon which some in his native country took offense to. he talks to The Comics Journal about this and his new book on the subject:
What is the role of cartoonists in Iran? Do people pay a lot of attention to comics and cartoons?
You know that editorial cartoons depends on the media, and the media in Iran are strictly controlled and censored therefore it is not easy to find a place to present your work as a cartoonist. Also there is no tradition of comic books in Iran for some reasons: it is a risky job for publishers to invest on comics. Books need to get kind of license or permission from ministry of culture to be published and they might be rejected due to their sexual or political or social point of view. As a comic artist you need to spend a huge time for a book and get almost nothing financially. Anyway, people like cartoons if they can access them.
§ Here’s an article someone sent me about comics in Poland, which gives a nice capsule history of their comics tradition. Seriously check this out — some beautiful panels in there. More comics and cartoonists to discover!
The first Polish comics date back to the early 20th century, when the country regained its independence. As a free press started to develop, newspapers included image boxes with text in verse underneath. They were called image films, or stories in images, and were often copies of foreign comics. The comics’ main audience was the uneducated inhabitants of big cities. They dealt with many different topics: social and political affairs or customs, always with a touch of humour. The best known titles are: Ogniem i mieczem, czyli przygody szalonego Grzesia (With Fire and Sword, or the Adventures of Mad Grzes), Przygody bezrobotnego Frącka (The Adventures of Jobless Frącek). The best comics of the period can be found in the Dawny komiks polski album series (edited by comics historian, Dr. Adam Ruska from the National Library of Poland).
That’s a panel from Janusz Christa and Henryk Jerzy Chmielewski’s Kajtek and Koko in Space above.
§ Any piece called The Carl Barks / Osamu Tezuka Connection is right up my alley—two of my personal favorite cartoonists, who separately came up with a similar style based on Disney animation. The piece is byDuy Tano but it’s in support of Peter Schilling Jr.’s Carl Bark’s Ducks is a monograph coming out from Uncivilized. SOLD.
§ When I glanced at this piece on Axel Alonso talking about various Marvel/hip-hop crossovers I thought the first quote was from Alonso and became alarmed. Luckily it was not.
“I grew up reading comics with my dad—my stepdad, but I don’t use that word—he let me just have his comic collection. So this is a very big deal for me, man,” Killer Mike told Rolling Stone. “I look forward to when this shit drops, taking him up and driving him to the comics store in North Dekalb, just to let him get out and not even tell him that it’s going down. I know he’s gonna be so proud he could fuckin’ cry, bruh.”
§ Jill Lepore’s history of Wonder Woman won the annual American History Book Prize.
§ And Olivier Schrauwen and Jaime Hernandez won medals from The Society of Illustrators.
We just received word that two of our new graphic novels have received Society of Illustrator awards in the Long-Form category! Olivier Schrauwen’s surreal look back, forward and beyond Arsene Schrauwen was awarded the gold medal while and Jaime Hernandez’s The Love Bunglers, the apex of the love affair of Maggie and Ray, has received the silver medal!
THINGS THAT HAPPENED
§ June Thomas reports on a recent Matt Groening and Lynda Barry summit.
JIMMY PALMIOTTI AND AMANDA CONNER
§ The duo are interviewed about Harley Quinn and will appear TONIGHT at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.
§ Just to finish up the Oscars, which everyone has probably already forgotten —I had to look up what won Best Picture last year — DO YOU REMEMBER? Hint: it wasn’t Gravity — cartoonist Liza Donnelly live drew them on her twitter feed, and got a big write up in her local paper about it, and also did some nice drawings.
§ That said, Birdman winning is a real sign that Hollywood is in such a tizzy that the rules have changed. In the olden days, something like Unbreakable (with a less contentious director) would have been a lock. There were so many mixed messages about superhero films—Birdman’s win is definitely part of the resentment against “comic book movies” but about 70% of the presenters have one on their resume. Also, “Everything is Awesome” was awesome. Devo and Batman!
§ Meanwhile, cartooner Amy Reeder got the New York Times how do you spend your day? treatment. Hint: Karaoke is involved as the above drawing by Reeder suggests.
§ And G. Willow Wilson was interviewed on NPR about the new A-Force book.
§ Speaking of Marvel, in his weekly fireside chat, Axel Alonso summed up the changing tastes of the readership in response to Albert Ching’s question:
Marvel’s May 2015 solicitations came out on Tuesday, and while there weren’t necessarily a ton of surprises — most of the big news was announced in the days and weeks before — when looking at them as a whole, it’s striking to me that with “Secret Wars” beginning, we’re seeing things that are staples of the Marvel lineup — “Avengers,” “New Avengers” — not around for a bit, along with fewer X-books. Basically, fewer of the things that are seen as “sure things” at Marvel, and in their places are new concepts, and different takes on revisited concepts. What’s the mindset at Marvel of the risk/reward of giving a rest to some of these tried and true concepts, and bringing out some different material — has Marvel become confident that’s a worthwhile risk to undertake?
Alonso: We have. And the proof that it’s worth undertaking is in the numbers. Who could have predicted the response to “Spider-Gwen?” We’ve sold upwards of 250K. And the numbers on Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez’s “All-New Hawkeye” #1 and Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones’ “Howard the Duck” #1 are also ridiculous. I think all of this is a symptom of a changing market — the changing tastes and changing demographics of our readers. I also think it speaks to the confidence that retailers and fans have in the strength of our publishing line at this moment.
§ ComicBook.com named the five worst Superhero movies ever and Catwoman and Superman IV are locks, but what about the other three?
§ I’ve already referred to the incident where 11-year-old girl Rowan Hansen complained about DC’s lack of female superheroes, and DC responded back in the affirmative. BUT THE PR DIDN”T END THERE! Hansen actually appeared on the Today Show to talk about her letter, and DC sent her a very swell portrait of her as a superhero by Dan Panosian. But Hansen is one media savvy kid. She knows that one big PR event isn’t a solution:
“I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh they responded to her, now it’s over,’” she explained. “I want people to keep trying to make this happen ‘cause it’s really important to me.”
§ SPACE, the long running small press show located in Columbus, is moving to a new venue and time frame this year: July 18 &19, 2015 at the Northland Performing Arts Center. The date is the weekend after San Diego, which is not ideal, but SPACE had no choice, as organizer Bob Corby explains in an email:
The hotel which hosted the show for the past 5 years has closed its door. This was done without any notification and less than a week after they assured us we were all set for our original contracted date. We knew the hotel was having problems and were about to sign a contract with the Northland Performing Arts Center for 2016 when the closure occurred so we contacted them about a date this year. NPAC’s next open date was July 18 &19, 2015. With the support of the vast majority of our exhibitors we accepted the date. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes anybody especially all our exhibitors and ticket holders. The exhibitors were contacted the day after we were aware of the situation. We are refunding money to any exhibitors or ticket holders if they cannot attend on the new dates. We really appreciate the overwhelming support we have received form exhibitors and other business contacts we have advertising deals with.
On the plus side the new venue has more space and will fit more exhibitors so we have opened up sale of exhibitor tables again. Info on the new venue is at http://www.npac614.com/index.asp.
The show is still in good financial shape and the transition should not be difficult thanks to Brain Kerr NPAC’s general manager. We also like to thank all the hotel employees who were very good to us for the past 5 years and are probably real victims in this closing. We wish them the best of luck in the future.
From here out only positive news as we look forward to a new era for SPACE!
While holding any comics related show in July is problematic, we’re guessing that the Comic-Con/SPACE crossover of attendees and exhibitors is very small.
§ Speaking of small presses, just about the most daring and exciting on around is Breakdown Press which consistently puts out some of the most forward looking comics available. Matt Colgeate talks with Tom Oldham, Simon Hacking, and Joe Kessler
about art and business:
Do you have anyone handling your distribution?
S: We have very good relationships with quite a lot of stores here and in the states, that we’ve generated by emailing them and meeting them at shows, which is how we do our distribution at the moment. We are in the process of organizing more sophisticated distribution networks.
T: The big offset books get printed and we send them out to our network of shops. We’re working on getting national and international distribution. But with the risograph books it’s different depending on the artist and the project.
S: There’s obviously an economy of scale, so we print significantly more of the offset books than the risograph books, which brings the unit cost down which means we can afford for the distributor to take a bigger chunk. Some of the risograph books – in fact most of them – we couldn’t distribute because it would be too much money considering all the discounts you have to give. It astonishes me how many small publishers you speak to that don’t operate under those assumptions.
§ The nominees for the Bram Stoker Awards® 2014 have been announced and here’s the comics category:
Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel
Emily Carroll – Through the Woods (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Joe Hill – Locke and Key, Vol. 6 (IDW Publishing)
Joe R. Lansdale and Daniele Serra – I Tell You It’s Love (Short, Scary Tales Publications)
Jonathan Maberry – Bad Blood (Dark Horse Books)
Paul Tobin – The Witcher (Dark Horse Books)
§ Comic-Con announcedtheir fourth wave of guests:
Michael Cho, Writer/artist, Shoplifter
Tom Grummett, Artist, Fantastic Four, X-Men Forever, Teen Titans
Chip Kidd, Designer/author, Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Batman: Death by Design
Jen Sorenson, Editorial cartoonist
Bernie Wrightson, Artist, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein
§ A few days ago we told you about Space Goat’s new line of comics ; now they’ve announced that industry veteran Dave Olbrich joining them as Senior Vice President – Publishing & Business Affairs. Olbrich’s resume includes helping found Malibu Comics and founding publisher of Image Comics.
“Shon and I have been talking extensively about the evolution of the comics market and the changes in the readership in recent years,” Olbrich said. “The audience for the kinds of comics Space Goat will publish is growing, and I’ll be working to streamline the ways we can reach readers and retailers.”
§ Bleacher Creatures is putting out fuzzy DC characters. Huggable Harley. Here’s the complete line-up:
MAY (comic book line)
JULY (film line)
Superman from Superman
Batman from Batman (1989 Theatrical Film)
Batman from The Dark Knight Trilogy
Superman from Man of Steel
Zod from Superman
Zod from Man of Steel
AUGUST (TV line)
The Arrow from Arrow
The Penguin from Gotham
The Flash from The Flash
How Crazy Am I to Think I Know Where MH370 Is? — NYMag
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§ High Moon, the werewolf/cowboy comic by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis is back. After running on DC’s Zuda webcomic site (remember that?) and seeing a print edition, four new pages will be posted every Monday, in a mobile responsive interface, and available on Tapastic and Comixology as well. Nerdist has a preview , and artist Ellis, who’s also drawing the Better Call Saul comics for AMC, did a Reddit ama yesterday. The story involves bounty hunter and Pinkerton agent Matthew Macgregor investigating the spooky goings on in a Texas town seeing hard times while trying to hide his own supernatural secret. This is a good looking comic!
§ Broken Frontier examines Six UK Small Press Creators to Watch in 2015, namely Rozi Hathaway, Jess Milton, Danny Noble, Emma Raby, Alice Urbino and Adam Vian. I didn’t know any of these creators but now we know who to watch for!
§ Multiversity’s Small Press Spotlight month has wrapped.
§ The comic-Con experience is coming to every corner of this nation of ours. The second Camden Comic Con takes place March 7 at the Camden Rutgers campus:
Camden Comic Con, an annual convention that celebrates the art and culture of comic books, returns to Rutgers University-Camden for a second time on Saturday, Mar. 7. This year’s event will feature nearly 100 vendors and a host of special guest comic creators, artists and writers, such as Dave Bullock, Bryan Glass, Shawn Martinborough and Mark McKenna. Get ready to geek out on a full day of workshops and forums. There will be demos and workshops on comic art, lettering and character design, as well as special effects make-up.
….and there’s even a Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con for North Dakotan fans:
Graphic novel fans won’t have to wait months to get their fantasy fix as the Fargo-Moorhead Comic Con delivers this weekend. Illustration fans can check out vendors selling books, games, videos and more, like a costume contest for kids and adults. The fun runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., then again from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday at Baymont Inn & Suites, 3333 13th Ave. S., Fargo.
§ Various tish and tosh over the superhero tedium evinced at the Oscars. While everyone was turning up their noses at the way superhero films have taken over Hollywood, even as NINE of the 20 acting nominees have played roles in superhero films. James Gunn, who has taken his place as the nerd auteur, was first to spring to the defense.
Whatever the case, the truth is, popular fare in any medium has always been snubbed by the self-appointed elite. I’ve already won more awards than I ever expected for Guardians. What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films. I’ve made B-movies, independent films, children’s movies, horror films, and gigantic spectacles. I find there are plenty of people everywhere making movies for a buck or to feed their own vanity. And then there are people who do what they do because they love story-telling, they love cinema, and they want to add back to the world some of the same magic they’ve taken from the works of others. In all honesty, I do no find a strikingly different percentage of those with integrity and those without working within any of these fields of film.
Badass Digest also pointed out the hypocrisy
It was destined to be an awards season heavy on superhero hate when Birdman became the front runner. After all, this movie starring some people who were bankable enough to get the film made because of their work in superhero movies was all about the idea that the bad side of Hollywood – the blockbuster side – was killing art. Or something. I’m not really sure what the movie was trying to say about that stuff, except that it’s bad. Superheroes are bad, and Birdman proves it by making one of its best scenes an action battle and another a flying sequence.
But Sujay Kumar at The Daily Beat ponders How Superhero Movies Lost Their Humanity
while suggesting Sam Raimi’s 2004 Spider-Man 2 was the highpoint of the genre and it’s been callow thrills since then.
To be honest, SM2 WAS a highpoint, and since then the Marvel Studios formula which dominates the genre has evolved into a fairly generic stylistic mold, even while allowing for some genre departures like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier. Entertainment is entertainment, but Kumas has a point that I’ve often made here as well: Spider-Man 2 was about a young man trying to keep his girl, while superheroics kept intruding, while every current MCU movie is about saving the world/universe. It’s kind of refreshing to switch now and then to the Fox/Mark Millar formula that involves more personal angst.
At any rate, I think most of this anxiety stems from the 20-30 superhero movies coming at us from now until 2020. That is plenty of time for the spandex set to overstay their welcome.
§ In such a milieu, it is refreshing to leave them wanting more, and that’s just what happened with Agent Cater. After an 8-episode run that gained a very fervent following—and blew Agents of Shield out of the water for quality—the show’s future is uncertain. an who’d like to see more are urged to follow the instructions in this post. Myself, I’d rather see another quality 8 episodes mini season than water it down with universe saving.