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A week’s worth of reading:
§ Has Manga Become a Niche Category? Johanna Draper Carlson examines some opinions on this, and quotes comments by Vertical’s Ed Chavez that I missed:
The fact that shonen continues to be the only category that is consistently strong, and that moe has kinda catching up to shojo for second is interesting. Knowing that seinen still lacks, even though vocal fans ask for it, kinda tells me that readers either grow out of manga or only stick with a specific type of it… Essentially pigeonholing it (turning it into a niche). Having talked to some comic/media critics I think it is becoming harder for them to get into manga also. Will kids still consume the stuff? Sure. I mean, most manga pubs are seeing growth while stores are cutting manga shelves. But unlike the 00’s, where a shojo boom introduced a whole new demographic to manga, there hasn’t been a culture shifting movement recently to break manga out of this current position it has settled into.
I think Manga has become a “mature” business as they say, but it’s still chugging along, if not at the heights of the 00s. On the other hand, even in Japan
where sales have long been in decline, there was a 1% uptick last year. Not exactly enough to make people knock over cars with joy, but at least it isn’t a decline:
According to the recent report by Research Institute for Publications, which is operated by AJPEA (All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association), the manga sales in Japan for year 2014 was 1% up from the previous year. The modest growth was supported by new top sellers including Haruichi Furudate’s Haikyu!! and Io Sakisaka’s Ao Haru Ride, both had very successful TV anime or live-action film adaptations last year, in addition to the continuously popular series like Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece and Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan.
Manga is hanging in there in the US, but it has competition from actual American comics. If you look at Bookscan’s top 20 from ICv2 for November 2014
you see six manga in the list. The list from November 2013 has eight
, a number more typical of what I’m used to seeing. OTOH in actual numbers, a lot of things we thing of as successful are niche.
§ Whit Taylor talks to Chuck Forsman about Revenger his new action comic:
Charles: I think the inspiration for Revenger is a combination of things. First are the comics that I read when I first started reading them at 10 or 11 years old. This was during X-Men’s heyday with Claremont and Jim Lee and the launch of Image Comics. The second are movies. I got back into watching John Carpenter movies like Escape from New York and Assault on Precinct 13. And even new movies like The Guest which came out a few months ago. The Guest actually made me scrap the first completed version of Revenger #1 and I started over almost from scratch. That movie reminded me that what I wanted to do was something much leaner without any fat. My original version of Revenger had a much larger world. I was worrying too much about the made-up world politics and trying to make an interesting mystery with the story. Sometimes after experiencing someone else’s work that connects with you it makes what you want much clearer.
§ Darling sleeper quizzes Sean Ford and Leslie Stein.
§ Zainab Akhtar reviews the new US edition of Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese and falls under his languid spell:
His name are the very first words of the text and Pratt goes on to declare him a ‘man of destiny,’ but more than any other quality, here he imbues cool. The closes iconography I’m reminded of is the coiled looseness of heroes in westerns- the hint of swagger but an assumed relaxed pose: quietness, cockiness, and surety all hinted at simultaneously. Take a look at the composition and body language here: head and torso positioned centrally in the panel, feet up, cigarette in hand, cap and hair shielding his eyes. He’s watchful perhaps lost in thought. The immediate next panel is a close-up side profile, and the narration is semi-admiring, semi-mocking him as he lights up ‘as if he were performing for an invisible audience.’ In fact for the whole first page he doesn’t say anything -until he’s interrupted by a drunken brawl-, an interaction that involves the reader just looking at Corto, feeling the atmosphere, the presence of the man, serving to set him up as this strong and silent type, in the know, someone cool, someone to be admired, someone to beware of.
§ This fellow, Indian artist Hetain Patel, has made a sculpture of Spider-man covered with words.
§ Ng Suat Tong has Best Online Comics Criticism 2014 and declares it a bad year for onlien comics criticism. There are some cracking good pieces there, however, including many I missed first time out. Click through! Also this:
Apart from the perennial issues of racism and sexism in superhero comics (or maybe in general?) there weren’t many critical controversies in 2014. I can’t say that this failure to engage with fellow critics and their ideas is a positive sign of health; especially if this reticence is symptomatic of intellectual torpor or a lack of breath in comics thinking.
But I think that will kick off an entire post at some point.
§ And speaking of the perennial issues of racism and sexism, Marvel Has A Serious Problem Merchandising Its Female Characters
But when you look at the merchandise for those properties, it feels like they barely exist. Despite being introduced in Iron Man 2, it would take until The Avengers for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow to get an action figure: even then, she was shortpacked in the third wave of figures that came out months after the movie hit, with the prime first wave spots going to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk. It took until The Winter Soldier last year for Widow to show up in both Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Infinite 6-inch line and Funko’s wildly popular range of Marvel Pop Vinyls for the first time, a whopping four years after the character first appeared. Fast forward to Age of Ultron today and she’s once again seemingly missing — she doesn’t show up at all in the new action figure playsets. She’s not in the first set of Pop Vinyls, and neither is Scarlet Witch, another prominent female member of the cast. She appears in one of the six new Lego sets for the film (Cap’s in three, Iron Man is in four). She doesn’t appear in the team shots on the boxes of merchandise (to be fair, neither does Hawkeye. Poor Hawkeye.). Hell, the first action figure we’ve seen for her for AoU specifically is Diamond Select’s, and even then, that was revealed in a way that still, almost hilariously, managed to avoid showing an actual figure of the character.
§ Finally, as part of a piece on second acts for publisher personnel, Calvin Reid catches up with Joan Hilty.
Hilty, who is also a member of 5E, teamed with Pete Friedrich, a cartoonist and designer, in 2011 to launch Pageturner, a packaging house that develops “comics projects outside of the comics industry.” Pageturner develops projects with and for a variety of institutions, among them the ACLU, which created a comics series about the Bill of Rights. “Now we’re getting lots of interest from nonprofits and arts organizations,” she said. Pageturner has worked on projects with Chronicle Books and TBS/Turner Networks. As a freelance contractor, Hilty has worked with comics publishers like Boom! and Dark Horse Comics, and with Forbes magazine, which published the Zen of Steve Jobs in 2011, a webcomic and print graphic biography of Jobs that examines his 30-year pupil-teacher relationship with a Zen Buddhist monk.
§ Finally, after 15 yearsAndrew Sullivan has announced he’s giving up blogging. (He did it once before.) I could only nod my head in agreement at his reasons—he wants to spend time with actual humans and the toll of always being on call impacted his health. Now tat Sully’s done, the rest of us can quit with our heads held high!
§ Vaneta Rogers quizzed a bunch of comics retailers about Secret Wars and describes them as wary but hopeful:
“Customers are curious, but as usual, Marvel is being very vague about the whole thing,” said John Robinson, owner of the nine Illinois locations of Graham Crackers Comics. “And I have no answers for [customers] as to any of the specifics on how this is going to be handled.” “On the surface, I think it sounds absolutely awful!” laughed Mike Wellman, co-owner of the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California. But the retailer added, “I tend to lean more positive on these massive events and I’m sure there are some things that Marvel isn’t telling us. Their batting average is pretty high when it comes to these things and I fully trust them to make something awesome.”
As usual, everybody says they hate events, but everybody orders them anyway, and that’s why they keep doing events. A lot of comparisons to the New 52, which was a titanic sales hit, and it’s hard to imagine that Marvel won’t get a lot of attention for whatever it is they’re doing as well. However, sometimes a long memory is no friend:
“Without specifics on how they’ll be handling it, it can go either way obviously,” Robinson said. “Handled well with a clear path and understanding for the customers, then this can be great. Handled like Secret Wars II, then it can be a disaster with unnecessary tie-ins, and event that ends up doing nothing. Marvels ‘soft-reboots’ have only hurt the industry, in my opinion, over the last 10 years.
Secret Wars II, for the uninitiated, came out in 1985. I know Ralph Macchio was around then, and apparently he’ll be involved in the new Secret Wars in some capacity, but otherwise it’s a whole new ballgame.
§ Meanwhile Steve Morris
has some predictions for what will happen,
and I like Steve’s version of the future.
§ RK Laxman is a very famous cartoonist in his native India. He’s 95 years old and has been in ill health for quite a while, and is now in very critical condition. He’s best known for a comic strip called The Common Man which ran from 1951 until he become to ill to continue it. You can see some of his cartoons here. It’s hard to get a sense of Laxman’s cultural place, but newspaper give daily updates on his health.
Headline of the day from the Spanish language San Diego Red: ¿Comic-Con International abandonará San Diego?
§ Wizard World Portland was this weekend and D.M. Anderson took many pictures, some of them of cartoonists. Meanwhile, KOIN’s Tyler Dunn had to sit down from time to time from being overhwlemed:
An experience I won’t soon forget, that’s how I would best sum up my time at Wizard World Comic Con. It was my first time at the Portland convention — or any like it, for that matter. I spent all of Sunday there, along with thousands of excited fans ready to celebrate their favorite pop culture icons. My goal was simple: do as much as possible, turn down nothing, get the most out of my time in the hopes that (for those thinking about going next year) I might gather some helpful tips.
§ Another headline of the day: How’d A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries
§ Todd McFarlane came out on FB and said he would never draw Marvel or Dc corporate characters again, not because of dislike but because of duty:
No… …the reason I don’t and won’t draw for them is that one of the many titles I have, at my various business interests, is that of President of Image Comics. And I take that responsibility very seriously. Image Comics is the THIRD largest comic company in North America, and as such we are in direct competition with both Marvel and DC Comics. As President of Image, I personally think it would be a conflict of interest for me to do work for a direct competitor. And in fact in some states being the President/CEO of a company forbids you to work for a direct competitor (The president of Microsoft won’t/can’t do freelance work for Apple Inc.) So, for me this isn’t any different. In 1992, a handful of us decided to form Image Comics, and ever since then I have not worked at either Marvel or DC Comics, and as long as there is an Image Comics, I will continue to give all of my comic book efforts towards the company I helped form.
§ Here is a sad story about cartoonist Jim Wheelock’s comics being stolen from a storage unit in Vermont.
It looks like my entire collection of several thousand comic books from the 1950s – 1990s is gone. These were in about twenty white “long boxes” about three feet long and 12 inches by 10 inches or so. The boxes had distinctive handwritten labels by me with titles (Spider-Man, Thor, etc). This includes a collection of underground comics from the ’60s, including Zap Comics and others. There were also comics in shorter and odd-shaped boxes, including at least one reading “Published Work” (I’m an artist and illustrator). This includes multiple copies of the horror trade paperback, Taboo. Most of the comics were in clear plastic bags, and the boxes were lined with plastic trash bags. Some were also labelled by artist’s names (Joe Kubert, Alex Toth and others). The books largely did not have backboards. Some were packed several to a bag, and some were not in bags, As I say, the boxes would be identifiable by me. The books probably also have a distinctive “barn” odor, making them less valuable, and possibly harder to sell. I had some of my own artwork in portfolios. It’s unclear if any of that is missing. Much of it would have my signature on it. Also some film lobby cards and posters.
§ BTW, Wheelock is the artist of a graphic novel called Inferno Los Angeles, which is really quite a thing. Check it out.
§ Finally, even in the world filled with cruelty, horrors and intolerance, the story of how Hershey has halted importation of superior Fritish chocolate inspires outrage and disgust. Basically, Hershey successfully sued a company that imported Brit choccies, and you will no longer be able to buy an Aero or Lion bar at a specialty retailer. The infuriating thing is that it’s because Hershey basically admits its chocolate is shit:
What many Britons and British-chocolate lovers are most incensed about is the difference in taste between chocolate made in Britain and chocolate made in the United States.
Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk. In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar.
American Cadbury bars also include PGPR and soy lecithin, both emulsifiers that reduce the viscosity of chocolate, giving it a longer shelf life. British Cadbury bars used vegetable fats and different emulsifiers.
An informal blind taste test comparing Cadbury Dairy Milk bars — muddled by this reporter’s garlicky lunch — suggested that Ms. Perry had reason to be upset.
The British Dairy Milk was slightly fudgier, allowing for a creamier taste and texture. The American Dairy Milk bar left a less pleasing coating and somewhat of a stale aftertaste.
Having just finished the last crumbs of a cache of UK Cadbury’s brought home from the holidays, I can attest to the superior smoothness, full flavor and finish of the British versions. There is no comparison. Thanks a lot, America.
§ What it says. Artist Tommy Castillo, best known for his Batman work, is in danger of losing his sight:
Sammy Castillo here. As many of you may know, the World almost lost my husband, Tommy Castillo, in October of 2014. His ongoing battle with Diabetes took a horrible turn for the worse nearly killing him. While on the outside and to everyone it may seem like Tommy is doing better, in fact, things aren’t progressing very well. Because of this recent down turn in his health, the Diabetes is now attacking Tommy’s eyesight -which is an artist’s worst fear. To put it plainly, the diabetes is destroying the small blood vessels in the back of Tommy’s eyes causing them to bleed. Without surgery this will cause Tommy to go blind within a year- maybe less. Each surgery is $ 4,000 per eye. The doctor told us that he will need AT LEAST two treatments in each eye plus perscriptions and recovery time.
You know the drill.
§ Cartoonists from Albertine to Dylan Horrocks to Jaime Hernandez to Trondheim have signed a petition asking the Angoulême comic festival to drop Sodastream as a sponsor. Sodastream is a drink company that has opened a bottling plant on the West Bank in Palestine (although it is set to close).
We, cartoonists, illustrators, writers, editors, distributors, translators, critics and workers in the comic book industry, alongside people of conscience from countries all over the world, re-affirm our February 2014 call for the Angoulême International Comics Festival to drop all ties with the Israeli company Sodastream. Furthermore, we urge the Angoulême Festival, and all festivals, conventions, and celebrations of comics and cartooning art in which we participate, to reject any partnership, funding, or co-operation with any Israeli company or institution that does not explicitly promote freedom and justice for Palestinians, as well as equal rights and equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians, including the Israeli government and its local consulates, so long as Israel continues to deny Palestinians their rights.
There was a live protest at last year’s fest, and I expect there will be more about it this year. Zainab Akhtar has more context.
§ Egmont’s US branch is shutting down. Although a powerhouse publisher in Europe, including a lot of Disney licenses, their kids/YA line just never caught on in the US:
The U.S. division of Egmont, which published children’s titles in the elementary, middle grade and teen categories, was established in 2008. Now, the division’s spring 2015 list (distributed by Random House) will mark its last, and its office will close on January 31. Egmont USA’s six staffers’ final day in the office will be January 30. Rob McMenemy, CEO of Egmont Publishing International, said the U.S. business, ultimately, “does not fit” with the company’s strategy, as it has not been able to become a market leader in the States. He added that Egmont was “hoping to succeed with selling the business, unfortunately this has turned out not to be possible.”
§ Also from PW, Diamond Books was down a bit in 2014 due to losing Dark Horse, who moved over to Random House:
Diamond Book Distributors, the trade book distribution side of Diamond Comics Distributors, reports sales in 2014 were “slightly” down, blaming the decline on the loss of a major publisher client. Adjusting for that loss, sales were up in all channels with DBD citing continuing international growth and plans to focus on college bookstores in 2015. Dark Horse switched distribution from DBD to Random House Publisher Services at the beginning of 2014 and the loss was felt “across the board,” at the distributor said DBD v-p Kuo-Yu Liang. “We came close to making up the loss of Dark Horse,” he said. DBD distributes titles from about 50 publishers as well as pop culture merchandise. Despite the decline, Liang said the pop culture market was strong in 2014 and DBD’s core business, “is great. Graphic novels are growing, toys and other merchandise also did well.”
§ And Dreamworks Animation is shutting down one of its main studios, PDI/DreamWorks, and laying off 500 people.
They’ll scale back to two films a year and undergo other belt tightening. You’ll recall that the studio has been trying to sell itself off, but several potential deals, including one with Hasbro, have gone bust. There are almost certainly some cartooning crossover folks who are caught up in this, and that will cause ripples as well. In the link above there are some offers from Pixar and Blizzard for potential employment. Good luck to everyone who is caught up in this very sad event.
§ Torsten covered the new “Is Comic-Con leaving San Diego???” drama quite well, but while I was digging around I recalled that the first time I wrote about the planned convention center expansion was 2010. Yikes. This is the Second Avenue Subway of the west. I get the feeling that the Chargers situation is more of a factor this time around—they have the oldest stadium in the NFL and it’s pretty decrepit, and they could also move to LA, although unlike Comic-Con, the Chargers threaten it directly and constantly. So the city of San Diego needs both a new stadium and more room for Mrs. Fields cookie kiosks. I suppose that Anaheim could make a great play for Comic-Con but as Mark Evanier points out, there are actually fewer hotel rooms in Anaheim in the summer than in San Diego.
The CCI folks seem to have been making wider use of the entire area around the convention center, and have stated that the expansion isn’t necessarily as essential right now. I suppose a move to Anaheim for a while would function in the same way a dog shakes off water…a lot of stuff would go flying away and normal functions could resume. But while it’s fun to imagine such things—or somewhat fun in the case of LA—the city of San Diego wants the con of San Diego IN San Diego, and I suspect a deal will be hammered out.
§ Meanwhile, here’s a nice round-up of the comics shops of Philadelphia, from foundational stores like Fat Jacks to nouveau comics outposts like Locust Moon.
§ George Elkind interviews Dash Shaw, one of the great modern formalists of comics, and Shaw gets right to it:
Sometime around 2010, I had a thought “comics are a collage medium — they’re collages that you can read.” Everything I’ve done since then has been extrapolating from that idea in different ways. With Doctors, I started with clips from different sources, mostly old romance comics. The first page I drew was the diver page. I clipped that diver from an old romance comic. I loved how stiff the drawing of the diver was. It was a dynamic, splash moment but it was so frozen. That’s the kind of drawings I like, like Pete Morisi and coloring book drawings. I’d alter old advertisements or general flat, clip-art like images, and add my own panels drawn in a baseline style, to connect, say, a drawing from an old romance comic of a couple on a bridge to, like, an Adidas ad for a pair of shoes.
§ Here’s a nice report by Jamal Flores on the Schomburg Center’s Third Annual Black Comic Book Festival .
§ Really, Comicbook.com?
§ Matt Singer continues his history of comic book serials with Spy Smasher.
§ Chris (Starlord) Pratt is from Seattle and Chris (Captain America, Johnny Storm, Lucas Lee, Jensen, Casey) Evans is from Boston, so the two have made a generous and handsome bet over the Super Bowl.
Both football fans and friends, Evans and Pratt made very public and very charitable bet: If the Patriots win, Pratt will don a Patriots jersey and make an appearance at Christopher’s Haven, a non-profit organization that provides support housing for families whose children are receiving outpatient pediatric cancer treatments in Boston. If the Seahawks win, Evans will show up to Seattle Children’s Hospital as Captain America, brandishing a 12th Man flag.
§ Infographics are a sneaky way to get people to pay attention to some utilitarian product, in this case blinds, but this one from Terry’s Blind on superhero lairs is really thoughtful and imaginative.
§ It’s long been known that cartoonists David Rees and Michael Kupperman didn’t have a great time when they were cartooning for the New York Times last year, and it ended badly. Now, Kupperman recounts the whole sad story which involves a lot of editorial meddling (or censorship) and not the greatest deal:
Then there was the money. The New York Times- get this- refused to come up from the fee for one artist, which we were to split. We finally got them to come up a little, but only a little. These strips are done in a very short time period- basically between Wednesday night and Friday morning, and I stayed up all night for a couple fo them. We were going to be making very little money, but still, it was an opportunity to do good work, maybe make some statements on serious issues and have them be seen by people. And the Times still stands for something in peoples’s minds, some kind of editorial quality.
Of course, it didn’t work out at all; their nitpicking, antiquated style of editing got more oppressive until they were killing entire strips. And it’s quite clear they were refusing to print them because they didn’t understand them. It was like being edited by hobbits.
Some commenters on the post suggest that cartoons weren’t as brilliant as the creators thought, but the main takeaway seems to be that the Times has a very very old school take on editorial cartoons in general. Anyway, thank God for The Nib and now Jen Sorenson’s section at Fusion.net.
§ One of the things I learned reading Kupperman’s piece is that David Rees now has a TV show for National Geographic, Going Deep with David Rees. HOW did I not know this? Not quite as crazy as Dan Piraro narrating the failed Utopia show, but a lot more successful.
§ Comics & Cola is now running Missy by Daryl Seitchik—comics at comcis blogs = good! Also just in case you missed it, C&C also ran a great list of people picking notable comics of 2014.
§ I don’t necessarily endorse the total validity of every entry in Nathanial Hood’s 10 Times Comic Book Creators Were Screwed Over. For instance, Bill Mantlo seems to have been compensated for the use of Rocket Raccoon in some way since the Guardians of the Galaxy movie went into production. However, it’s a handy guide to some of comics most shameful moments.
§ Augie De Blieck writes about a the most terrifying topic of all: purging comics.
In the meantime, ask yourself: What comics do you really need? Which ones will you never read again? Which ones are just taking up space? Which ones do you own more than once? Save the trade, ditch the issues. If they’re valuable, put them up on eBay and get rid of them. Take that money and invest in a better storage solution. Buy better comics, not more comics.
Easier said than done.
§ Before all the tragedies of the last week, I had bookmarked this link to Josh Neufeld’s comic on a Muslim American man who was detained for eight hours when returning from Canada for having an old traffic ticket involving a crooked license plate. It was troubling then, and it’s even more troubling now, because even more innocent people are going to get treated very badly.
§ People enjoyed this Nathan Fairbairn process post on creating the covers of Nameless.
§ Natalie Nourigat wrote to say she’s selling her skethbook on Gumroad:
This Gumroad package includes 100 pages of artwork from Natalie “Tally” Nourigat’s sketchbooks (gesture drawings, character designs, short comics, environment studies, fan art, and doodles), broken into 4 PDFs for easy downloading/viewing. These pages were drawn August – December 2014, and they consist of ALL-NEW, unpublished material, drawn after the material in the “Tally Marks: Eurotrip” series available from MonkeyBrain Comics.
§ There is a tiny but notable subset of gentleman comics publishers who happen to be former or current football players, and here’s another one, Phillip Buchanon:
On this day, Mr. Buchanon, 34, is playing a far-less hazardous position, sitting at a table with stacks of the children’s books he’s written. He chatted with kids and parents at the Bell Tower Shops, signed some books and also talked with Florida Weekly in between the youngsters and the moms and dads. Book sales weren’t particularly brisk on this special night where Mr. Buchanon and his books were only part of the attraction. “I’m competing against Santa, a bounce house, music and free food,” Mr. Buchanon said good-naturedly.
Why notable? Well, baseball, basketball, hockey and soccer players do not seem to start comic book companies. They also suffer less head trauma than football players. Discuss.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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§ After watching the new Avengers trailers several dozen times, going frame by frame, I think I can reveal a shocking twist: The Avengers will be fighting Ultron! Whoa! If you wat a more conventional breakdown, Russ Burlinghame has a breakdown of the dark brooding and forest shuffling. Also, Hulkbuster.
§ If you have read this site for a month or two, you will already have figured out 4 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Graphic Novels and the People Who Read Them. Did you know that comics aren’t just for kids? Eye opining, I know. But perhaps you can beat someone who is intractable over the head with this if necessary.
§ Fantagraphics has revealed the cover to Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 3 by Ed Piskor and it’s time for Run DMC. These books look so nice shelved next to one another.
§ ICv2 has the BookScan–Top 20 Graphic Novels list and now non fiction is added, making Ros Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More PLeasant? The #1 book for December, beating even The Walking Dead and Saga. This also means that many people may have received this funny but bittersweet memoir about aging parents as a holiday gift. Think about that for a while.
§ I know you have all seen Neil Gaiman’s amazing advice on how to become a writer but for the five people who didn’t, it’s a classic.
§ Dark Horse is publishing a hardcover edition of Cory Levine’s Bowery Boys: Our Fathers! with art by Ian Bertram (Detective Comics, Batman Eternal) and Brent McKee (Outlaw Territory). It collects the web series about rapscallion adventure in rough and tumble 19th century New York City. The book is due in August. The pr described Bertram as “up and coming” and he really is.
Just a reminder coming on yesterday announcement of ECCC being acquired by ReedPOP, that Special Edition is coming back, the smaller artist focused NYC show. Date is TK.
§ Retailer Brian Hibbs wrote in the other day to chide me and another prominent comics writer for not linking to his latest column for CBR, entitled Too Much Competition. The column features dark warnings as well as a lot of charts. Hibbs’ central thesis is that there are just too many comics books, and the sheer volume is what is driving down sales.
We’ve at very least doubled, and maybe as much as quadrupled, the number of titles produced each month, so it shouldn’t be any major surprise that circulations have dropped by 50-75%. The real answer, most of the time, to “Why didn’t the market support [your favorite comic]?!?” is “There is too much competition!” I’ve been struggling with a way to really drive this message home, because this title growth has kind of been incremental over the life of the Direct Market and so is maybe less obvious than it could be. So, perhaps, the way to discuss it is in terms of consumer behavior, and the ordering mechanism.
Hibbs does the math, offering charts for all publishers that shows how many of their books in November had no order, which had a moderate number of copies ordered, which had a lot, and how subs do or don’t fit in. Hibbs makes a good case that there is too much dross out there—and despite this being a Golden Age of Comics, few would argue that we need a little trim. He also offers a clear explanation of something that every comics creator or publisher I have hung out with for more than 15 minutes has complained about for the last 25 years: that not ordering shelf copies of books means that no one will ever discover them on the shelf. The world of pre-ordering has been criticized here and elsewhere ad nauseum but it’s how things are done. The economics don’t support a shelf copy, Hibbs says.
You’re going to see a lot of crazy low numbers, so I want to reiterate what I said earlier — retailers are committed to selling as many comics to as many people as possible. I know I am! There are, at least, fifteen publishers of which I try to stock one hundred percent of their new launches until the market shows me that it is futile. We have hundreds of customers coming in each and every month, and more than half the comics coming into my store can not sell three rack copies. That’s pretty sobering. Three copies is an important line because that’s the point where the math against having any unsold copies starts to work against you. Order four, don’t sell one, well, at 75% sell-through you, at least, haven’t lost money. Order three and only sell two? Then you’re probably, after costs, losing a few pennies. You don’t want to lose money on products in retail; that’s not your winning formula.
My little alarm bell went off a bit on this piece when Hibbs referenced Comico, which stopped publishing 25 years ago—NOTHING has the exact same business model as it did 25 years ago!—but it’s a sobering reminder for publishers that a lot of books aren’t ever going to cut it in Brian Hibbs stores, and looking at the numbers, they probably don’t make much money.
In the comments, people ask “Then why to these books get published?” and Hibbs suggest many reasons including market share. I’d also allow that other shops may have oddball customers who happen to like some of the books Hibbs can’t give way. As long as we’re using the long ago past to reference the present, those who read Krause’s Comics & Games Retailer may recall the monthly retailer surveys that ran in every issue, and how one comic sold here another there. Sure there are Sagas and Harley Quinns that sell everywhere, but marginal titles depend on marginal audiences.
§ A new Teen Boat book is coming from John Green And Dave Roman! Teen Boat! The Race for Boatlantis! Huzzah!
§ Josie Campbell has a fine historical piece here looking at how “Agent Carter” deals with real world history and the role of women:
“Agent Carter” is a superhero show about the postwar erasure of women from American culture — which is incredibly fitting, as after World War II the comics industry erased women on the page and behind the scenes. As a comics community, we need to address the fact that women in comics is not a new occurrence. Women have been here since day one, a fact that is often ignored because this postwar erasure of women from our culture worked so well.
I’d agree this aspect of the show is a pleasant surprise.
§ At ScreenCrush, Matt Singer offers The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies, which sounds like a lifetime project, but starts off with the Captain Marvel movie serial. More actual history! Nice.
This Bizarro World is a long way from the 1940s, when comic-book superheroes first transitioned to the big-screen as the subjects of serials. These series of episodic shorts were often cheaply made and sometimes shockingly unfaithful to their source material. Comics were ahead of their time, at least at the movie theater; too adventurous and imaginative to be accurately reproduced with the tools of the day. As technology improved, so did the comic-book movies, leading to a series of watershed films—‘Superman,’ ‘Batman,’ ‘X-Men’—that reshaped the entire industry. How did we get there? All superheroes have an origin story. So do comic-book movies. This column will attempt to find it, one film at a time.
§ Jack Katz, 87, creator of the oddball self published space fantasy epic The First Kingdom, and Golden Age artist, is indiegogoing a new project, called, encouragingly, Beyond the Beyond. It will run to some 800 pages, but he’s good for it. The tale is streamlined from an original 1000+ outline, but his agent told him he might not have time to finish it. Not much is revealed of the story, and the art shown is obscure, but…it is certain to be wild.
The First Kingdom is available from Titan.
§ This has been going around for a while, but just in case you missed it, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan lay out the numbers and process, or Numberwang, if you will, for their Kickstarter for Oh Joy, Sex Toy. They grossed $69.000 but can you guess how much they netted? That’s Numberwang!
§ EW gave royal comics couple Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick the deluxe profile treatment, meaning it actually ran in print.
This comic-book power couple, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, are camped out in zip-up pj’s among piles of books in the Portland, Ore., home their two children have just vacated for school. This sounds like a surprisingly prosaic (if cozy) morning for people whose minds are constantly flitting off to distant galaxies or warping through the time-space continuum and giving Death a daughter or gender-bending a classical hero. Stuff like that.
§ Turkish cartoonist MK Perker (Air) defends Charlie Hebdo.
§ Evan Narcisse gives us The 12 Best Comics Coming Out Right Now at io9 and it is a well written and very good list of comics periodical.
§ The second of the two Wonder Woman books is now out, Noah Berketsky’s Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peters Comics, 1941-1948 (The first was Jill Lepore’s history of Marston and his world, which we covered here many times.) Berlatsky’s focus, as the title hints, is more on the kinky stuff that everyone has felt awkward about for years and years. He talks about it at CBR, including one issue which he broke down in depth.
I read all the issues of “Wonder Woman” and that was my favorite. I knew I wanted to talk about one comic closely at great length. I talk about several comics, but I really wanted to look at this one in particular. I think it’s so wonderful, but also because I am trying to make the argument that these comics are worth thinking about as art and have things to tell us — in this case about issues of sexual violence and sexuality. One of the things that Marston is trying to do — with [his assistant-turned-writer] Joye Murchison and Harry Peter — is talk about sexual violence to an audience that is composed mostly of kids. They’re talking to young girls and boys, so they’re talking about sexual violence but also trying to talk about the way that sexuality or sex can be fun and good. They want to show the evil of sexual violence while showing the value of sexual fantasy, which is a really tough thing to do!
§ Not comics: Steven Soderbergh is now making fan films.
§ Finally, The Comics Reporter has updated its photo for the coming event column, and I feel like that bald guy with the knapsack will never get his drink now.
§ The March crew of Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell talk a little about why we need this message and these reminders now with EW’s Joshua Rivera.
Congressman Lewis is aware of this, and it’s his hope that people will take the time to reflect on what came before. “This book is a guide, we can use it,” says Lewis. “This is what people tried to do, this is what people did in the late ’50s and the ’60s to try to make things better.”
§ Kelly Thompson previews some of the upcoming 2015 books that look good. It’s going to be a busy year!
§ A Funky Winkerbean/Dick Tracy comic strip crossover is HAPPENING. And Chris Sims is on it.
§ Hilary Brown has an interview with Michael DeForge mostly about First Year Healthy, and some GAWJUS preview pages.
Paste: This project also continues your interest in rural settings. You didn’t grow up in the country, right? Where does your fascination with it come from? DeForge: I’ve only lived in cities. For First Year Healthy, it was important that the story be about reintegrating into a small community, and a rural town seemed like a good setting for that. I wanted to write about the ways a tight-knit community can be supportive, and the ways it can be suffocating. There’s also something very romantic and Canadian about rural settings, which has probably wormed its way into my work.
§ I know I shouldn’t link to something that was shared over a million times but Here’s What The Cast Of “Scooby Doo” Looks Like Now.
§ Mariah Huehner, one of a handful of people that I can go full Quenya with, is recapping The Silmarillion for The Mary Sue and she gets right on it with the story of Fëanor, the jerkiest elf of them all. I can’t wait until she gets to Thingol, who might have been the second jerkiest.
If you got the impression that, at worst, elves were just kind of aloof and mopey from LOTR, well, I’m here to tell you: they can be EPIC assholes, too. And one of the biggest jerk elves, one might even call him The High Elf King of Douchebagdom, is Fëanor.
§ Cartoonist Brian Fies (Mom’s Cancer) went to all-ages oriented show LumaCon I and liked it.
What it was was charming, and the most positive experience I’ve had at a comic con in a long time. Small, simple, low-key, unpretentious. One old comics hand told me it reminded him of the San Diego Comic-Con when it started in the ’70s. The whole thing fit into one large round room at a fairgrounds, with a raised platform for panels and speakers, an Artists’ Alley, a hands-on craft zone, LARPing (live-action role playing) outdoors, and a bake sale. I’ve never been to a convention with a bake sale before.
§ Speaking of con reports, this Blerds preview of last weekend’s two big diversity-themed shows was excellent, but I couldn’t find any actual reports on either the Black Comic Book Festival here in NYC or the Black Comix Arts Festival in SF. Did you go? Send links or reports!
However, here is a video of a panel on publishing from the BCBF, with moderator John Jennings (of SUNY Buffalo and creator of “Kid Code”), and panelists Zetta Elliott (“The Deep”), Alex Simmons (“BlackJack”), and Tim Fielder (“Matty’s Rocket”).
§ An unknown woman with very nice nails has made nearly $5 million by posting videos of her opening toy boxes on YouTube.
An unidentified individual or group responsible for uploading videos that simply show a woman opening Disney toys made an estimated $4.9 million last year, more than any other channel for 2014, according to OpenSlate, a video analytics platform that analyzes ad-supported content on YouTube. Almost nothing is known about the person or people behind the channel, DC Toys Collector (DC), which exclusively features a young woman in intricately painted nails removing the toys from their packaging and then assembling them. The account did not respond to a YouTube message.
Here is some nice rope to hang yourself now.
§ The AV Club’s Noel Murray look’s at Matt Groening’s Life In Hell, and compares it to the tradition established by Zap:
In 1977, shortly after Groening moved to Los Angeles, he started drawing little cartoons for his friends to illustrate how miserable he was in his new home, using nervous-looking rabbits as his characters. He titled the comics “Life In Hell,” and eventually started publishing a weekly strip under that name in the Los Angeles Reader (where he was also writing an offbeat, highly personal music-review column). Sometimes Groening used his space in the Reader to produce one huge single-panel cartoon. Sometimes he broke the space up into more conventional multi-panel strips, with dialogue and narratives. Often he just squeezed in art and text everywhere he could, dumping all of his ideas about culture and politics onto the page and treating Life In Hell like his weekly sketchbook.
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§ A new Abhay Khosla review, this time of The Names by Peter Milligan and Leandro Fernandez is always a Cadbury Milk Tray of unexpected flavors, and this one includes a brief but smooth swipe at The Vertigo Brown:
A quick note to Vertigo colorists: If you are working for Vertigo, there is a belief that both Vertigo and you get a gross, throbbing weiner-boner everytime you get to make a page all brown. People believe that because it’s 100% true, and the only possible explanation for why all Vertigo comics ever published have been so drenched in the color brown. Nothing else makes sense; no other solution to that equation. Please consider defying your brown-obsessed masters. Look into your hearts. You know what you see? If you see the color brown, something has gone horribly wrong. I’m not a doctor, but that probably means someone has shit into your heart and you have feces pumping through your arteries. At the very least, it just sounds unhealthy from a cardiac-perspective.
Why are Vertigo comics so brown? I’ve never been able to answer that question and I worked there, and all my books were brown, too.
§ Several attractive covers were floating around on my social media yesterday:
Bill Sienkiewicz for Jupiter’s Circle, the sequel to Jupiter’s Children by Mark Millar and Wilfredo Torres.
Goran Parlov also for Jupiter’s Circle.
And a teaser image and cover for Invisible Republic #1 by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman with colors by Jordan Boyd. It hits March 18. Lookin; good.
§ Jennifer Sorenson contributes a comic about Charlie Hebdo and all the rest. If you haven’t been following the comics section at Fusion.net you need to.
§ Robert Kirby has the lowdown on New Minis from Kus!
Kuš! (pronounced “koosh”), the Latvian comics collective launched in 2007, released this new quartet of minicomics late 2014. Each Kuš! mini is a 24-page stand-alone story culled from their growing roster of international artists. Many stories feature elements of fantasy, science fiction, or magical realism, but even the ones that don’t exhibit fanciful or otherworldly qualites. The artists featured by Kuš! tend to dwell in the conceptual rather than the actual, using the art of cartooning in unique and sometimes challenging ways.
These books are so awesome. I’m not really into mail order but the Kus gang doesn’t often some to my hemisphere so…
§ A British politician totally ripped off the ‘V for Vendetta’ logo for a new nationalist party he’s trying to get off the ground. If you’re going to rip off some one rip off the best, but come on.
§ Matthew Meylikhov has announced he’s stepping down as EIC of Multiversity Comics. I always enjoyed my interactions with Matt so I’m going to miss him but send my best regards.
To some this may seem a bit of a shock. I told a few people about this before our public announcement, that I had made the decision to move on, and the most consistent response I got was, “How are you feeling?” I think people expect me to say that I am sad, which is perhaps inevitable; how could anyone not be in this situation? After all, when you spend over five years of your life working and developing something like this, it’s not exactly easy to just pack your bags and go. But I’m not sad, nor do I think should anyone else be. If I could, I’d make a video montage of all the fun memories and things I’ve gotten to do because of this site overlayed with “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles, because I have nothing but warm thoughts and fuzzy feelings for the site, its past with me and its future without me. I couldn’t be more proud of the site and everyone here, all the accomplishments and the adventures we’ve shared; from our various annual charity events at conventions, to late nights out until 3:00 AM or that time I got food poisoning at a White Castle while rooming with 5 other staffers during a con. This site and its staff encapsulate some of my favorite people and fondest adult memories.
§ Fashion retailer Poprageous is offering an outfit made from Benedict Cumberbatch images. The complete outfit sells for $125 but just the leggings—which are the essential fashion item of this time and place in the universal meta stream—are only $80. completely your red carpet look NOW. Bam! Benedict Cumberbatch leggings. BAM!
Kibbles ‘n’ Bits has been away for a while because tasks. It was decided in a Beat executive meeting that I would bring it back only if I could do Upworthy style headlines. So now is the time to send in those link suggestions, people! The more uplifting the better.
§ Many people commented on this transcript of a panel with Howard Chaykin at a sparsely attended convention. Chaykin is most recently the creator of Black Kiss 2 and the artist on Satelite Sam, written by Matt Fraction. He also draw the very first Star Wars comic for Marvel, but was famously on an awful deadline and scribbled—but ARTFULLY—in a few places. Anyone who has ever spent much quality time with Mr. Chaykin knows that this panel is but a sampling of his tasty stylings.
The discussion then made the first of many detours when an insistent fan in the front row raised his hand and attempted to ask a question about Spider-Man. Chaykin immediately cut him off, saying he hadn’t read any Spider-Man comics in at least 20 years. “Anything after Ditko is not really Spider-Man, it’s somebody pretending to be Spider-Man,” he said. The fan kept his hand up for another five minutes to no avail, eventually leaving.
Although Saunders attempted to guide the panel through Chaykin’s career highlights chronologically, the creator frequently digressed, tackling whatever topic came to mind. On the subject of European graphic novels and their influence on his work, Chaykin was blunt. “The writing in those things was just as shitty as ours, but it was in French, so we didn’t know.”
Looking back on his stint drawing Marvel’s “Star Wars” series in the 1970s, Chaykin called it “the worst work I ever did in my life. I’d like to think if I knew it was going to be a bigger deal, I would have done a better job.” Chaykin mentioned that he had been approached by Marvel to work on the company’s upcoming “Star Wars” comics, but declined the offer.
Ladies and gentleman, Howard Chaykin!
§ Jim McLauchlin has a mild piece called Here’s Everything Wrong with ‘Comics Journalism’:
Professionalism tends to help any industry. Dentistry is now better with Novocain than it was in the days of bloody pliers and a shot of whiskey. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to everything that’s wrong with “comics journalism,” with some hopefully helpful suggestions on how to make things a little better.
I have already taken his precepts to heart and have started by learning how to properly spell “McLauchlin.”
§ Today we’re recording a More to Come podcast for PW Comics World, and our proposed topic was catching up on all the comics-inspired TV shows this fall. That meant I had to watch back to back episodes of Gotham, Agents of SHIELD and Constantine. Which was…a lot of sinister industrialists and strong female characters. And in answer to your question, definitely Matt Ryan. Listen to the podcast to hear more of my thoughts.
§ This Gene Luen Yang about his daughter, Wonder Woman and Raina Telgemeier is worth a read.
§ I also had this link in my queue: Twenty Years Ago Today: Marvel Buys Malibu Comics both for being an interesting snapshot of where the industry once was, and also as a contrast to what is, all things considered, a pretty stable landscape right now. Oh there are a few companies on shaky ground, some slow payers, and some change to come, but when I started this site it seems like I was writing about some company going out of business every other month, and that hasn’t happened in a while.
§ Speaking of perspective, here’s a little piece on the recent Geek Girl Con
On the organization’s “About” page, the creators reference a panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, “Geek Girls Exist”, as a primary motivator for the invention of their event. This panel is a rhetorical variation on the now archetypal “Women in Comics” session that has become common place at conventions, both big and small.
It’s hard to believe that only four years ago, people had to be persuaded of the existence of geek girls. Oh lawdie how things change!
§ And speaking of the ladies, here a nice summation of some of the women who have won cartooning awards this year.
§ A man in prison sued to keep his copy of Art Model 7 which contains naked people which makes it porn even though it isn’t actually porn. However, maybe Milo Manara has seen this book too?
§ This is old, but Brian Cremins wrote a very good essay about “The Curse of the Werewolf”.
§ The great Juanjo Guarnido has directed an animated video for Freak Kitchen’s song “Freak of the Weak”. And it’s gawjus.
§ I had bookmarked this story about America’s slow internet and this one about high speed internet access because streaming is now such an important element of all entertainment. I recently got a high speed modem upgrade and it’s great when it isn’t getting knocked off line by some freak electrical current, which happens every other day or so. Also, BTW, Net Neutrality, yo. Although with streaming becoming so important, you can bet that removing net neutrality will be a priority of the job creators.
§ The Oatmeal has a cartoon about Net Neutrality spinning out of some comments by Rand Paul. I’m sure you’ve seen it but here’s a link in case you were in a coma.
§ There is this cosplay ripoff artist going around. The Mary Sue has his mug shot.
§ The Mary Sue also presented this How to Get Into Reading Comics piece, which is a pretty decent primer.
§ Marvel is putting out a Thor Annual and they pulled out all the stops to get the wackiest mix of creators ever. Wrestler CM Punk will write one story, that Chew’s Rob Guillory will draw; Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson is writing another, with Marguerite Sauvage on art. And regular dude Jason Aaron is writing yet a third tale, with Tim Truman drawing it.
Punk, a long time comics fan, has been absent from the wrestling scene since he walked away from the WWE so he’s had lots of free time to learn how to write a comics script. In the ultimate perk for any writer, he even got a Marvel.com story with the hallowed title Welcome to Marvel, CM Punk – Hope You Survive the Experience. Wow that is a lot to live up to. Punk reveals he got the gig by pestering editors at cons, just the way most folks do.
Stevenson is well on her way to being a huge star, and this is her first Marvel work. Smart move, Marvel. The cover, above is by Rafael Albuquerque.
§ Best title of the day: Top Ten Comfort Comics For Fall by Megan Byrd.
§ The AV Club has a preview of that Gilbert Hernandez Wonder Woman story in Sensation Comics #14. The story saw print before it went digital which is…I missed the memo explaining that.
§ I have hitherto neglected to link to this comic which was presented on Boing Boing called Lichtenstein’s Theft and the Artists Left Behind contrasting the modest means which artist Russ Heath lives under with the immense price a painting by Roy Lichtenstein based on his work has fetched. But I got a chance to remedy that when Albert Ching wrote more about the story and its origin, Turns out it was actually drawn two years ago for a Hero Initiative publication.
Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin reached ROBOT 6 to clear the air on a couple of elements of the “Bottle of Wine” coverage. First, the comic strip (colored and lettered by Darwyn Cooke) was initially published in May 2012, in IDW’s Hero Comics 2012. (In fact, ROBOT 6 ran the comic that month.) Also, the Lichtenstein work cited in the comic, 1963’s “Whaam!,” was actually based on a panel by Irv Novick in 1962’s All-American Men of War #89, published by DC Comics — Lichtenstein lifted from Heath in 1962’s “Blam,” with a panel also from All-American Men of War #89. Same issue, different artists.
As several folks have p[ointed out, the real message of the strip is that that drawing comics has not traditionally been a great line of work for those who want hefty retirement funds. I’ve said it many times—supporting the Hero Initiative
is one of the most important things you can do in comics.
§ Thought Bubble, the much loved indie focused show in Leeds, UK, is this weekend. Steve Morris is spotlighting some of the comics and cartoonists of the show.
§ Zainab Akhtar spotlights Daryl Seitchik’s Missy, a striking mini comics about a young girl.
The rehabilitation was sparked by Daryl Seitchik’s Missy comics- a diary comic of a Daryl persona (I’m not sure to what extent this may be auto-biography) starting as a young girl and jumping forward in years as she grows. I like the ‘straight’ superficial reading of the Missy comics -especially Missy 1 when Daryl is still a kid- as this sharp young girl observing people, the way they behave, relationships, and working through her thoughts and feelings, as much as I like digging into it a bit deeper.
Missy was definitely one of the buzz books at CAB. You can read it online here.
§ Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli have a new graphic novel out called Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague Here is a review.
§ And now, turning to SHOWBIZ, some stills from Constantine give us a first look at Emmett J. Scanlan who will play Jim Corrigan also known as the Spectre. Look, all I wanna know is DOES HE HAVE WHITE LEGS? The episode will air on 11/21, and also stars Doctor Midnite. It is a voodoo themed episode.
§ I always get a kick out of these celebrity interviews where they reveal what comics they read or read (past tense.) In this case is Joaquin Phoenix, who doesn’t really explain why he didn’t go for Doctor Strange, but reveals a very famliar reading pattern:
“There’s some great Batman stuff and classic Frank Miller Dark Knight stuff and Arkham Asylum. But I was always a big Wolverine guy. I love Wolverine—big [frick]ing great dramatic character. They’re all conflicted, and they’re really interesting.”
Everyone loves Frank Miller.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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Look, The Beat had a bad day yesterday and made lots and lots of mistakes. Tonight we’re getting a full five hours of sleep and things should be much better. Okay? Sorry about all that, but it happens. Our “hire a copy editor” fund is to the right in the box marked “Patreon.”
Also, it is going to snow soon, so send hot cocoa.
Photo of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold via Geoff Johns’ Instagram
§ The Wrap looks at all the LGBT actors being hired for superhero roles, like Ezra Miller in that far off Flash movie, Ellen Page in the X-Men movies and Wentworth Millar as Captain Cold:
“I’d like to believe the industry is more LGBT-friendly,” openly gay actor Wentworth Miller, who stars as villain Captain Cold on CW’s “The Flash, told TheWrap, “I see LGBT characters on TV and I can think of actors who are out and paying the rent. Again, mostly on TV. Most out actors I can name are either exclusively or primarily associated with television. I don’t know why that is, why I can’t think of more out movie actors. It feels like change might be coming more slowly on the feature side.”
§ Do you remember the first time that comics tried to break the internet? Brian Cronin does. It did not involve photoshop nor an oiled up butt, but it did involve a superhero believed dead!!!
§ First Seconds’s blog questions some of its authors on self publishing vs publishing. Self-publishing involves many trips to the post office so be forewarned.
§ Dr Naif al-Muawa describes the time he had to go to the police station and defend himself on charges of being a heretic:
“Leading up to it, there’s been a whole series of death threats.” Mutawa chatted with Al-Monitor on the margins of the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) last week in Doha, where he was on the opening panel. He’s facing a lawsuit by a self-proclaimed defender of the Sunni faith as well as a recent fatwa from the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, both of whom have attacked “THE 99″ for allegedly disparaging Islam — even though both the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments gave their blessing for the project years ago. “I went there with my lawyer and when I was asked the question at the police station, I just burst out laughing,” Mutawa told Al-Monitor. “It’s just so ludicrous what’s happening. I’m the one who’s giving Islam a bad name? I’ve been giving Islam a good name for over 10 years.” “It’s very schizophrenic,” he added. “They keep honoring me from here, and then they sue me from here — it’s like they don’t know what to do with me.”
§ Comics news I missed in yesterday’s meltdown — a new comic from the Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy team called Chrononauts. It is very very pretty and will look great when they turn it into a movie as they do with all Mark Millar projects.
Described by Millar as “Apollo 13 meets The Time Machine,” Chrononauts aims for big sci-fi fun that will appeal to fans of last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy. “‘Man’s first step into the past’ was really the starting point for this, planting an American flag in the soil the day before even Columbus arrives,” Millar says. “But of course it all goes horribly wrong and so we have these two guys stranded in the time-stream, trying to get home, but at the same time at this incredible advantage the people around them don’t have.” It’s a deliberate step away from the grounded and more serious sci-fi fare of recent memory, an escapist time travel adventure in the vein of Doctor Who. “It’s essentially a buddy story about two best friends who can jump around between 16th-century Persia, the American Civil War or New York in the ’20s,” Millar says.
§ Comics event in Riga, Latvia, courtesy of kuš!
§ I was cleaning out some links and was reminded that Meathaus has a blog, mostly posting really cool art, like this from Christine Bian. In case you weren’t around 15 years ago, Meathaus ws a comics/art anthology that featured early works by Brandon Graham, Tomer Hanuka, Farel Dalrymple and James Jean among others. No big whoop.
§ The Batman tv show DVD is out and I have a copy. That is the only thing I wanted for my birthday so I’m super happy. Mark Evanier has a few comments including photographic evidence of him Adam Ward was made to look dumpy via the positioning of his Bat logo.
§ Evanier’s piece led me to this well researched and somewhat definitive piece on how the show finally got released after decades of legal wrangling and neglect.
The wait is over. Next week, Batman hits retail in all its kitsch-laden glory just in time for the holidays. After decades of rumors, corporate wrangling, and the foresight of an actor who recorded his commentary early in case he dropped dead before the collection materialized, the series finally escapes legal purgatory. But don’t give much credit to corporate lawyers. Instead, it’s due to a tireless, clever campaign by a small band of fans that started when Stacks started digging into the show’s archived paper trail. “That’s when one fat guy in Florida shook the whole thing up,” he says.
Indeed in reading the story about the conflict—which pitted Warner and Fox against one another with the scattered heirs of producer William Dozier in the mix—one is struck by just HOW LITTLE CORPORATIONS WANTED THIS TO HAPPEN. If it hadn’t been for dogged fans and the vision of Eric Ellenbogen at Classic Media this might never have happened at all, and Warner and Fox execs were mostly engaged in a war of “I don’t want the other guy to have the money!!!”. Ellenbogen, who was briefly a high level mucky muck at Marvel, is a preatty smart executive when you look at all the deals he’s made. But see the next post for more on that..
Among the fun facts in the piece: Mark Hamill had Fox make him a special VHS copy of the entire series; and Adam West recorded audio commentary years ago before there was even a DVD in case he passed away before it was finally put on the media storage of the moment. West is 86 and we’re very glad he lived to see this, even if his uniform was dumpy.
§ A look behind another nerd lore classic: James Dallas Egbert III, a troubled teen whose dissapearance in a bunch of tunnels in 1979 sparked protests against D&D. Police believed that Egbert had wandered into the tunnels as some kind of role playing thing (The term LARPing may not have been invenetd then) casting a lot of shade on the then-underground game. The truth, however, was much sadder.
§ Finally, Ellen Pao, a Silicon Valley whistle blower who filed a lawsuit for harassment which laid open a lot of the tech industries sexism, is now acting CEO of Reddit. Good luck with that!
§ MUST READ!!! Brigid Alverson has a write up of last October’s Cv2 Conference. and boils down the many statistics that were presented that day about new readers from retailers, publishers and convention organizers. It’s a LOT of information but fascinating stuff.
§ The Outhousers Christian Hoffer was at ICAF this weekend, and it was a hotbed of sedition and intrigue new comics organizations, including a scholars groups and yet another new CAF, this one in Columbus, OH:
BREAKING: Jeff Smith (of Bone fame) has announced a new major comics festival called Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), which will be held in the city of Columbus, OH starting in 2016. A soft “beta” launch event will be held in 2015. Organizers have compared the planned event to the Toronto Comics Art Festival. Full news story to follow.
Details to come, but the era of the CAF is in its full flowering.
§ The Outhouse once again has a succinct write up of several stories regarding race in comics. The LA Times has a substantial look at diversity in comics, and got some comments from writer Christopher Priest on the new Sam Wilson is Captain America, which he thought was a stunt.
Adding that he’d be “delighted” to be wrong about the Cap change being a stunt, Priest laid out what his former employer is facing: “Marvel’s challenge is to deliver something so affirming and positive that the work overcomes that cynicism. I assure you, Black America will be watching: Does this have real depth, or is it just surfacey costume-switching?”
And he had some other advice for Marvel: “Hire some actual black people.”
Tom Brevoort responded in the weekly CBR debriefing, and said., yes it’s a stunt…but isn’t everything?
In terms of it being a temporary thing and not being a stunt, everything we do is storytelling. Everything we do, on a certain level, is a stunt. [Laughs] It’s all stories. Is it likely that at some point Steve Rogers will be Captain America again? The tide of history tells us that’s probably the case, but that didn’t make it any less of a stunt when Bucky was Captain America. And the people that loved Bucky in that role weren’t any less served because of the fact that, at some point, the day might come when the original guy would pick the shield up again. To me, it’s not about having that office forever, it’s about what you do when you’re the guy. In just a few years, we’re going to have another election, and it’s a certainty that Barack Obama will not be President. Somebody else will. And who that somebody else is, at this point, is completely speculative, but that doesn’t change the impact or meaning that that guy in that job had for people.
§ Why do we care about these stunts and commercial, movie driven comics? Because once in a while, it does matter. Along related lines, NPR looks at the Black Panther, and why the character has such resonance:
Depictions of Wakanda have varied over the years, but the country is consistently described as a technological mecca built on a foundation of magic and metal. Disease and poverty are eclipsed by scientific innovation and economic prosperity. Put simply, Wakanda is the perfect example of Afrofuturistic science fiction.
§ Editor Ellie Pyle is leaving Marvel (to go to Vertigo, it’s been reported) but she got a whole Women of Marvel podcast to say goodbye. I thought when you went to another company they just shoved you out the door, so this is very cool.
§ Bill Roseman is also leaving East Cosat Marvel to take over as Creative Director of Marvel Games
§ Tim Beyers has a an all new Marvel Movie Report up at his site The Full Bleed, which shows how profitable all the MCU films have been, YOu will not be surprised to find out that The Avengers was the most proftable, but can you can what was the LEAST profitable? Hint, it had giant scary poodles in it.
§ Chris Arrant talks to Ivan Brandon, and it must be said that DRIFTER, Brandon’s new book with art by Nic Klein is absolutely spectacular.
I tend not to think as much about genre in and of itself … which is to say, I love a lot of genres but I don’t really care about the established tropes except where they’re completely essential. When I get attracted to an idea my brain will often take a weird route to trying to bond with it. Likewise, when trying to get inside a character’s head I’m looking for really basic human connections that are hopefully recognizable to anyone regardless of where or when they grew up. The more I read about Vikings, the more they felt to me like gangsters. For Drifter the part of the future we’re envisioning carries a lot of similarities with frontier expansion. So it’s all organic to the way my brain works.
§ And Tom Spurgeon interviews Eric Haven whose UR is coming out from AdHouse.
But after seeing what I made on the first issue (precisely $100, still by far the most money I’ve ever made for a comic book) I realized there was no hope for me to make a living at it. So I went back to the day job and continued to draw comics on evenings and weekends and holidays. It was depressing to think I couldn’t make a living as a comic artist. But I also feel that it worked out for the best: I could draw whatever I want at my own pace, not being tied to a strict deadline or a regular title. I did one more issue of Angryman before quitting that and focusing on creating mini-comics.
§ Marvel’s comic characters make more from licensing than DC’s ICv2 reports.
§ Roz Chast did not win the National Book Award—Evan Osnos won for Age of Ambition— But she’s still a winner in my book! There ceremony also saw Neil Gaiman presenting Ursula K. LeGuin with a lifetime achievement type award. LeGuin had things to say:
As she delved into the state of the publishing industry today, Le Guin’s speech was not without message. “Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and a practice of an art,” she said. Le Guin, too, referenced the Amazon issue, citing a “profiteer trying to punish publishers for disobedience.” She continued, “I have had a long career and a good one, in good company. Now, here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds. But, the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”
§ Rob Salkowitz recently summed up Five Trends In Digital Comics To Watch including Google maybe not being in the mix on digital comics yet. And also this blunt assessment that sort of points out the elephant in the room:
Dark Horse Digital needs… help
There is no polite way to say this: Dark Horse’s app was already falling behind in 2012. The company has left piles of money on the table by cutting itself off from the broader market and denying readers a decent digital experience.
On the upside, this situation has kept Dark Horse from getting entangled with Comixology, even at the level of core technology (Comixology tech powers most of the industry’s “white label” publisher apps, including DC and Marvel). Dark Horse would be well advised to get out of the app business and turn its digital distribution over to a competent partner. That presents a good opportunity for anyone ready.
§ I loved this post: Ines Estrada looks back on 2014 and it was pretty great from the micro press/small press/ indie side…at least artistically. I assume everyone is living on a single can of tuna a day as they share precious Risograph ink cartridges, but the comics look great.
§ Welp, that new Wonder Woman by the Meredith and David Finch team came out yesterday. Tim Hanley was underwhelmed. Tech Times felt it
“deliver[ed] some captivating mysteries” and Graphic Policy felt it “does what it needs to have done.” One thing is for sure, WW is back to having that whole “boobs and butt” look.
§ Speaking of BnB, J. Caleb Mozzocco comments on the return of 90s icon Jim Balent:
Here his art isn’t even recognizable (to me) as that of the same guy, but I guess it has been 20 years or so. I’m guessing it’s largely the coloring, which gives the figures a sickly, wax dummy-like appearance. The way Catwoman’s kicking though, that’s definitely a Balent pose. And, looking closely, they’ve definitely got Balent proportions…although, like I said, Harley’s breasts look remarkably realistic, at least in the way they get smooshed like real breasts when wearing a super-tight corset (Also, that’s a really nice background and, if you look closely, you’ll find a cat shape hidden in it, something Balent used to do with his covers for the Catwoman).
§ The 4th Letter Blog, mainly run by David Brothers, with help from Gavin Jasper, is closing up shop. Brothers now has a busy job with Image Comics, and it had fallen into silence, so it’s no surprise, but let’s give it the 21 kb salute…or whatever you ive when a website goes away. Brothers was a passionate advocate for Manga and for diversity and lots of other stuff. He’s taken his passion behind the scenes now and that’s good, but so few really strong “personality blogs” remain…their time has passed I guess.
§ - Andrice Arp interviewed Simon Hanselmann for Gridlords and it was highly amusing. Hanselmann totally has the comics rock star thing down pat.
§ A look at this years Best American Comics by Paul Morton is called Emancipation from Irony—and Scott McCloud did catch a certain zeitgeist, even if it is a bit normcore.
The Best American Comics 2014 reads as a sequel to McCloud’s theoretical studies. Previous guest editors instructed readers to thumb through the anthologies and choose work that interests them most just as they would browse the shelves in a comics shop. McCloud asks that you read his anthology in order, cover-to-cover, and that you treat it as a critical narrative. He divides his book into discrete sections, presenting a taxonomy of genres. The book is an argument on the state of comics in the second decade of the 21th century.
§ As a counterpoint to the above there’s the upcoming The Mammoth Book of Cult Comics which collects a bunch of lost comics. I was particularly happy to see Gregory Benton’s Hummingbird and Jeff Nicholson’s Through The Habittrails resurrected here.
§ Peoples like to make lists. Here’s Paste Magazine’s 10 Great Comics for Adolescent Girls.
§ Cartoonist Ted Slampyak drew Little Orphan Annie until it was cancelled, and his own Jazz Age Chronicles. He also draws occasional informational comic strips for The Art of Manliness, such as this truly essential one showing How to Gird Up Your Loins which tuns out to be a very practical and important thing.
§ Finally a followup to that Matt Thurber Letter to a Young Cartoonist that we were all talking about a few weeks ago in the form of a letter FROM a young cartoonist :
I am a 19 year old young cartoonist who lives in Malaysia. WHAT? MALAYSIA? If not for the two airplane incidents, I am quite sure the majority of the US population will not know where Malaysia is at all, let alone comic creators in Malaysia.
Which is interesting isn’t it? Here’s something to consider: would people like you, the comment reader, be able to notice Malaysian creators if not for the internet? Would people like you know who Hwei (lalage) is? Would people like you be able to know who I am (well, hello, I am here and I don’t mind work)? Let’s take this further: would people like you be able to read European comics, South American comics, Indian comics, Russian comics, Australian comics, Indonesian comics, African comics, even some AMERICAN comics, if not for the internet?
Would we even have this comic surge right now without the internet?
The reason why we even have a comic surge in the first place is because we’ve finally opened up doors for creators of different races, cultures, nationalities, identities, opinions, political parties, viewpoints, EVERYTHING to express themselves. And that’s good! Because this opens up the audience too!
To shift away from the internet is to reduce opportunities for young cartoonists like me. To reduce flavour in an increasingly globalised industry.
§ Rat Queens artist and co-creator Roc Upchurch was arrested last month on charges of assault and battery against his wife, who posted an account on a blog and then removed it. It’s a sad familiar tale, but hasn’t gotten that much attention among comics folk. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do when one of our own transgresses. Women Write About Comics’ Megan Purdy also received information about the assult and the arrest and offers some very important perspective:
Many have suggested that the arrest is a private matter, and that his ex-wife’s more extensive allegations have the potential to ruin Upchurch’s career. But domestic violence is not a private matter — it’s a criminal one — and rare is the man’s career that has been ruined by it. Upchurch stands to lose little from our merely speaking about an arrest that hasn’t been further pursued. Rat Queens, remember, is a creator-owned book published by Image, and it has been hailed as a breath of fresh air, a genuinely and breezily feminist comic, around which Kurt Wiebe and Upchurch have been a vibrant and supportive community. That community is unlikely to suddenly disappear in the wake of this news. Some readers may stand to lose more, though, should we shy from reporting the matter honestly — they may lose whatever sense of safety and trust they have found among us.
We must not shy away from reporting unpleasant facts.
We must not cultivate a culture of silence and polite withdrawal.
As I said, there is often foot shuffling about these matters, but bringing them to light is often the surest way to begin recovery for all involved.
And now back to more trivial matters.
§ That big Saga hardcover with extras is just out and Brian K. Vaughan offers the potential problems with the breast-feeding cover:
Anyway, Eric Stephenson was concerned that we might be limiting our audience with this kind of cover, and we had a lot of back and forth with him until he finally said, “You guys know I’m not your boss, right? You can do anything you want at Image, I just wanted you to be aware of the climate out there.” Which is one of the countless reasons why Image is the best publisher in the world. And to Eric’s credit, as soon as he saw Fiona’s gorgeous execution of our cover idea, his response was the same as mine: “However many of these we print, it’s not gonna be enough.”
Thankfully, retailers have been equally supportive, and we haven’t had a single complaint. Sounds like one national book chain is even going to feature the hardcover at the front of their stores for the holiday season, so we’re enormously grateful for everybody’s approval of horned babies and milk-engorged boobs.
§ Did you know that New Yorker cartoon editor Robert Mankoff stars in a video series called The Cartoon Lounge? In the above episode Mankoff fiddles with his gizmos.
§ DC Comics is suing the Valencia football (soccer to Usains) club because their traditional “bat logo” has been altered in such a way as to resemble Batman’s. Valencia has included a bat in the logo since 1919 so this is hardly a new thing. Another local team, Levante, also has a bat in their logo because apparently, Valencians are in love with bats:
The symbol of the bat has a long history with Valencia that dates back to the 13th century when the region was conquered by King James I of Aragon who added the image of the bat to his coat of arms as a symbol of good luck. Bats are common in the region of Valencia and the Balearic Islands and the coat of arms of the city of Valencia still features a bat.
Perhaps DC should send Bruce Wayne to team up with these guys instead—it seems they are all on the same side.
§ A new Egyptian comic called Shakmagia or “ewlery Box” includes comics focusing on the problems with sexual harassment and volence in Egypt. The link includes a history of Egyptians political cartoons which go back 100 years.
§ Cinemax’s pilot for Outcast,the Kirkman/Azaeta comics has been cast.
Rounding out the cast is an ensemble of season television and film actors, The Hollywood Reporter notes, many of whom who have starred in recent television hits. The cast include Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl), Philip Glenister (Big School), Reg E. Cathy (House of Cards), Julia Crockett (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire, and Kip Pardue (Ray Donovan).
§ Acclaimed cartoonist Kevin Huizenga has updated his activities. Haven’t really seen much from him of late which is sad, but Ganges will continue with a new issue out next spring. YAY.
§ Noah Berlatsky has his own book on Wonder Woman coming out next year, and some thoughts on the current Jill Lepore book:
That issue is…the title, and in many ways the thesis of the book, are misleading. Lepore presents the Marston family history of polyamory, and therefore the connection between Wonder Woman creator William Marston and his lover Olive Byrne’s aunt Margaret Sanger, as unknown. If this was the first book you’d ever read about Marston and Wonder Woman, I think you’d come away with the impression that Lepore is the first one to reveal that Marston and his wife Elizabeth lived in a polyamorous relationship with another woman (Olive Byrne).
§ In case you missed it, that half million dollar Tezuka Kickstarter missed the mark by a huge margin. Johanna Draper Carlson has commentary. DMP publisher Hikaru Sasahara will probably have more to say about his, as they are examining their whole Kickstarter policy.
§ A misleading headline obscures the fact that a piece of Corto Maltese art sold for a record amount—a record for a piece of HUGO PRATT art. A page from “Les Ethiopiques” sold for €391,800 ($485,500), more than twice the estimate.
§ John Kane looks back at TWILIGHT, a “prestige” mini series that came out from DC back in 1990, written by the greatHoward Chaykin and drawn by the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. DC is releasing a collected edition next month, and you may just want to pick it up.
TWILIGHT is the story of a bunch of people who all get what they want and it ends up doing none of them any favours whatsoever. The bunch of people in question are mainly rejigged DC sci-fi characters who had lain mostly fallow since the ‘50s and ‘60s. Tommy Tomorrow, Star Hawkins, Manhunter 2070, Space Cabbie, etc. Even Chaykin’s own Ironwolf appears briefly, and his ridiculous wooden space ship proves pivotal to events. (If Adam Strange seems conspicuous by his absence; Richard Bruning had first dibs there). There are plenty of new characters but the gist of the thing was that these were yesterday’s characters of tomorrow, today. Oh, you know what I mean.
So yeah, Watchmen for Adam Strange. In all the talk last week about Morrison and Quitely’s Pax Americana, I recalled that there have been a LOT of Watchmen-type reëxaminations of the superhero. Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack, John Ridley’s The American Way, Dawryn Cooke’s The New Frontier, The Twelve by J. Michael Straczynski. NOT all of them are even negative. CALLING ALL THESES.
§ First Second editor Calista Brill remembers late copy editor Manuela Kruger.
§ Juliet Kahn interviewed Noelle Stevenson who will probably be an even bigger breakout comics star in 2015.
I don’t think that webcomics and Kickstarter and Patreon have made print comics obsolete by any means; god, no. If anything, we just have so many more paths to succeed. We’re defining this new wave of comics for ourselves. How can you not see how exciting that is? There’s no right or wrong way to do it. That’s why I like comics! They are limitless. There are people with webcomics who are pushing the limits of what comics can be — Emily Carroll, Ava’s Demon, etc. Some comics are made to be displayed digitally and it doesn’t degrade them. And there are innovations happening in print comics too. Anyone resisting that, clinging to some kind of idea of a golden age that we’re defiling somehow… well. That’s what’s becoming obsolete. Also I think one of the big sore points that the Sturm comic inspired — and honestly, the comic itself referenced this, so I think this may have been the point that it was trying to make — is that this idea of competition isn’t actually healthy for creativity. Someone else who succeeds isn’t ‘stealing’ your success. You gotta keep your eyes on your own board and do the best you can. The more good stuff exists, the better we make the field, and the more people can succeed within it.
§ I’m not sure if I linked to this before, but Megan Byrd
has a very useful The Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching Your Comic For Review
§ Tom Spurgeon interviews Andrew Farago about his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book and Farago touches on not TMNT affected so much of late-80s-early90s comics history
I could have spent a lot more time talking about the black-and-white publishing boom of the 1980s, but had to settle for making sure that I fit Dave Sim and Wendy and Richard Pini into the book. There was probably another full chapter to be had on the dual influences of Jack Kirby and Frank Miller on Eastman and Laird. And Tundra! Can’t forget about that. I’d have loved an entire chapter on Tundra and The Words and Pictures Museum and all of the fun stuff Kevin Eastman did during the Turtles’ biggest years. Every cartoonist I know swears that if he had millions of dollars, he’d start a publishing house and give all of his buddies all the money they needed so that they could focus on making comics without having any financial worries or editorial interference. And Kevin Eastman actually did that, and it was a wonderful, amazing, chaotic mess. A few all-time great comics came out of it, at least. Thank Kevin Eastman the next time you read From Hell or pull a copy of Understanding Comics off your bookshelf.
§ This interview reminded me that TMNT co-creator Peter Laird has a very active blog.
§ The Comics Reporter also ran one of those weekend listicles about Howard the Duck and I was reminded that the above comic is the favorite comic of 13 year old me until the universe ends.
§ Speaking of Howard the Duck, Steve Murray, whose pen name is Chip Zdarsky, get the Hometown Hero story of the weekend with “Marvel revives Howard the Duck with help of Toronto artist/”
§ Many people in my social networks were sharing this Name that Comic Book Artist quiz. I got 21/25 which, considering m profession, is pretty bad. I confess, I guessed the ones I wasn’t certain of by thinking “Who would be most likely to make that drawing error?”
§ Along similar lines, CBR is poling people on their all time favorite Wonder Woman artist. The top vote getters will Shock you! NOT REALLY.
§ And as for Wonder Woman, the new creative direction continues to be…controversial. Geek Mom Corinna Lawson writes Memo to DC: Wonder Woman Likes People. Honest And J. Caleb Mozzocco writes:
As a comics critic, I never quite know what to do with terrible comic books when I come across them. I never go out of my way to read a comic book that I suspect will be terrible without any mitigating circumstances, and, when I do read one, I then wonder if it’s better to just not mention it anywhere at all, under the ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away school of thought, or if I should go out of my way to discuss the book and its negative qualities, so as to not let the only reviews of the book to get written by positive ones.
§ KONVENTION KORNER. Rob Kirby went to Short Run in Seattle and wrote a super chatty, comprehensive piece for Festival Season:
Tabling for me is above all a social event – I don’t make a living through my comics so I can be a little more relaxed and less mercenary about the money thing than others (though perhaps I could stand to be a little more mercenary, but let’s not talk about that now). MariNaomi and I have been friends for several years now, having met at APE back in 2008. She’s great to table with. She brought an extra tablecloth (I hadn’t thought to bring one) and shared snacks with me. She helped me through a couple of Square mishaps: I kept swiping the card wrong before finally getting the hang of it. I hadn’t tabled since SPX last year and was a little rusty. She didn’t mind if took off to take photos and hobnob a little (like John Porcellino, Zan Christensen and other cartooning people I know, Mari doesn’t like to leave her table too much). What more can I say, she’s the best. Her new book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2D Cloud & Uncivilized Books), did brisk business all day long and yay, because it’s one of the finest books of the year and you should totally get it. And just because I’m biased doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to me on this.
§ BTW someone once complained to me about a con report here that began with getting up and getting to the train on time, and what he ate for breakfast and all that stuff. I find this kind of quotidian minutiae boring in most cases but for con reports it seems traditional! What do you think, readers?
§ Maia Kobabe has a list of Small Bay Area Comic Conventions that shows that the region isn’t entirely comics free.
§ 35,000 attended a comic in in Birmingham, UK that had nothing to do with comics, but did include stars from Red Dwarf and Breaking Bad. NEWSPAPER EDITORS: please include some teeny tiny mention of comics in your coverage of “COMIC CONS”.
§ Finally, according to my ancient obsolete RSS feed, John Jakala blogged for the first time in 10 months. Combine this with a coffee I had the other day with Matt Maxwell and the dream of the Aughts is alive in cyberspace.
§ Reportedly, the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, will sell 1 million copies, the most single issues of a comic since Batman #500 in 1993. Comicsbook.com reported this, and didn’t mention Loot Crate, which has been behind a lot of the massively selling comics of late. I know people like Star Wars, but if this number holds steady, I expect to hear that there were some kinds of massive extra-DM sales involved. That would average out to 333.33 copies per DM store, which is, I suppose, possible.
The book takes place between the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, so expect a lot of “We’ve got to get to Hoth” talk. Also, Jason and John, you’re buying.
§ A comic-con was held in Sao Paulo last weekend. About 20,000 people attended. What did they see?
In addition to seeing the original comic strips that inspired many major superhero franchises, guests also got a sneak-peek at future releases. There will be an exclusive preview of the next Hobbit film, “The Battle of Five Armies”, at the event, with a special appearance from Thorin actor, Richard Armitage. This mixture of attractions caused great excitement.
§ Meanwhile they are planning the first Comic-Con Portugal soon:
The Portuguese convention, which is being held for the first time, is “to make this event a national and international benchmark and to position itself as the biggest pop culture show in Portugal,” according to its organizers. Some highlights of the conference are an appearance by Clive Standen, the actor who plays Rollo in the TV show Vikings, actor Natalie Dormer from Game of Thrones, as well as Seth Gilliam, known for playing Father Gabriel in The Walking Dead.
OH BOY! COMICS.
And WHY do they call these things comic cons any more?
§ Looking for your smoking gun on Lichtenstein? this photoset from his studio has it!
§ Multiversity has chosen its breakout writers and artists for 2014.
§ Zainab Akhtar also picked 10 artists she liked in 2014 and…she nails it. Kris Mukai and Ronald Wimberly. So there.
§ Tom Spurgeon has explained more about his move to Columbus and his new job running CXC the new Columbus based CAF. The good news is that he isn’t giving up running The Comics Reporter! Running even a spuriously comprehensive blog like The Beat with another job is no easy task so, good luck! He’s also contemplating changes:
* CR, completely independent of my taking the gig in Columbus, has been experiencing trouble for quite some time. I’ll be announcing several changes in the way I do CR, changes that are long overdue and may help me to continue doing it and make for a better publication/source in the next few weeks. The model we started in 2004 and still use today doesn’t really work anymore. I hope you’ll bear with me and I hope you’ll be open to me pitching a few things at you at an appropriate time. Watch this space.
Tom is the only other blogger who does kind of the same thing I do, so if he’s changing it means our day is truly over.
§ Hilary Brown interviewed Olivier Schrauwen becuase Arséne Schwauren is one of the books of the year.
Schrauwen: The meaning of the color changes is not fixed; it depends on the context. For instance, the red can suggest a sweet and romantic feeling, but it can also illustrate hellish torment. The choice to work with two colors comes from the fact that I printed it first by myself, on a printer that can only print two different colors at a time. When you overlap the colors you can have quite a rich palette, but I figured it was more appropriate for the story to just juxtapose the colors. It’s a bit crude and brusque, but so is the story.
§ SPOILER. Apparently there is a petition to bring back **** who was shockingly killed in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead. Sorry to say, she looked pretty dead to me.
§ Director Ridley Scott has mumbled something about why he won’t direct a comic book movie:
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities and I tend not to do that. They’re the hardest single thing to write,” he said. “Taking a comic strip character is very hard to write, because comics are meant to work in one page, to work in frames with minimalistic dialogue. And a lot of it is left to the imagination of the reader. To do that in film you’ve got to be a little more explanatory. And that requires a good screenplay and good dialogue.”
You know, I love Ridley Scott, but there’s a reason they don’t let him say things, because unless he was offered a movie version of Henry
, people can say things in movies. On the other hand, the first four movies he directed were The Duelists, Alien, Blade Runner and Legend (with the Apple 1984 commercial thrown in) so…he can kind of do whatever he wants.
And now a bunch of things I had kicking around since before Thanksgiving.
§ For some reason I bookmarked this Gerard Jones account of a trip to DC in the 80s and meeting Julius Schwartz.
§ I also bookmarked this quotes from Johanna Draper Carlson on Lumberjanes:
Lumberjanes is to today what the Dark Knight Returns was to another generation — a book that’s bringing in a whole new audience, an outreach book to a group that can love comics, once comics exist for them. Then it was older readers, those looking for mature content; now, it’s young women interested in active adventures, not appearances. It’s great to see a group of female lead characters (still rare in comics). Being a gang, they’re allowed to have different personalities and interests, instead of just being The Girl.
§ How do superhero costumes fit so well in the movies? they basically scan the actors and manufacture them to the micron. Only Kate Beckinsale and Bradley Cooper can really stand up to this kind of scrutiny.
§ James Gunn obviously hasn’t let his success as a marvel director get in the way of speaking his mind, which is pretty impressive, as with his widely quoted FB post on the flaws in the shared universe idea. He also loves posting mash-up art like Steamboat Yondu, above, and pictures of cure animals. What Gunn doesn’t really mention is that the entire Hollywood system is broken at the moment, along with everything else. It’s basically either small >$10 million films or $150 million blockbusters. No in between.
§ Finally, I greatly enjoyed this in-depth review of the Ellis/Shalvey/Bellaire Moon Knight by Beat alum Steve Morris.
There’s a real lack of baggage in Moon Knight, which is emphasized through Shalvey’s artwork. Whilst out of costume, Moon Knight looks gaunt, tired, and human. But within the costume, nothing interests or bothers the character beyond getting through his latest mission and finishing things. Shalvey puts an incredible amount of blank space in many of his panels, particularly in the fight scenes. Moon Knight’s costume at times is just an outline, with no definition – he’s an empty space within a busy confluence of fantasy, noir, action — whatever genre Ellis’ mood takes the series in. This creates a really distinctive sense of presence, even if that presence seems distant.
§ According to a recent interview, Norman Reedus and his fellow Walking Dead crew mates have their own little Comic-Con ritual, just as do you and I. Like, mine is going to the CVS in the mall and eating the berry pancakes at the Hyatt. Yours may be breakfast at Cafe 322 or buying a piece of original art from a favored booth. But because celebrities aren’t really just like us, they are god-like being made of light and peach nectar, their Comic-Con rituals are epic and recall ancient Norse manhood rites:
“We all do actually. All of us do that. I was doing it [the other] night with Greg [Nicotero] and Steven [Yeun] and Andy [Lincoln] and Chandler [Riggs], because I found all these pictures that when we were in Comic-Con, in San Diego, we have this ritual where we get up super early, and we meet down on the beach in bathrobes and then we just run into the ocean and it’s freezing, but it’s like, it’s become a tradition now, so I found all these photographs, and we had a little text chain going on,” Norman told Access. “Yeah, we do it all the time.”
The ocean in San Diego in July isn’t exactly “freezing” though, so maybe it’s all a terrible terrible lie?
§ I think the most consistently well written site about comics that I check every day is Women Write About Comics. And not just one or two writers but the whole site. I was happy to see Claire Napier get some mentions in the Comics Spire best comics writing list, but I also greatly enjoyed Megan Purdy’s piece on est em’s manga version of Carmen.
em est’s Carmen, an erotic, gay manga, is a story that works on the heart more than it does the head, but her reinterpretation is clever too — and not just because she found a way to put a new spin on it. In her Carmen, Jose is in a relationship with the toreador, here called Lucas, after the character in the Prosper Mérimée novella, rather than the opera which calls him Escamillo. Oh yes, did I fail to mention that Carmen is also a novella? It’s the source for the opera and leans quite heavily on Carmen’s unfaithful nature and Jose’s meanness. (So hard out here for a man.) In em est’s Carmen, she’s still the object of Jose’s obsession, but rather than being possessive of her, he is fixated, befuddled, and frustrated by her: “I envied her. She was everything I’m not. Perhaps I even wanted to be Carmen.”
§ Liz Prince
had a heck of a year, and her Tomboy got all kinds of attention. And now an interview on Comics Alliance with the also excellent Juliet Kahn
CA: What do think is the “state” of autobio comics today? It has very DIY roots, but with creators like Lucy Knisley, Alison Bechdel and yourself growing in prominence, it feels like a whole different ballgame than even a few years ago.
LP: I actually think that there have been ebbs and flows as far as autobio comics, and their visibility is concerned. In the early 2000s there was Craig Thompson‘s Blankets, and American Elf by James Kolchalka was very popular. Jeffrey Brown became astronomically popular because of Clumsy and Unlikely. Incidentally all of those books are Top Shelf, and that’s why I felt like my work fit with them. Then it seemed like there weren’t that many autobio comics being published, although there were a lot of diary comics online. I think the focus now is on “graphic memoirs”, and it’s really great to see that women cartoonists have been leading the charge; some of my favorite books in the genre are Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges, Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and Tangles by Sarah Leavitt.
§ TCJ spotlighted a book that I had not heard of or even received a galley of: Funnybooks: The Improbable Glories of the Best American Comic Books by the noted comics historian Michael Barrier which examines the cozy, security-inspiring world of 50s funny animals comics.
In mid-20th century America, the comics published by Western Printing & Lithographing Company under the Dell label were inescapable. It had the market cornered on non-superhero licensing: comics with characters from the Disney, Warner Bros., MGM and Walter Lantz animation studios; Marge Buell’s Little Lulu; Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann; Tarzan; the Lone Ranger. Popular characters were the pull, but master cartoonists and storytellers like Barks, Walt Kelly and John Stanley were the reason people kept staying and kept certain titles’ circulation up to a million copies.
I think Barks, Kelly and Stanley inspired the most readers, but it’s instructive to recall that THIS is the era that the folks who ran comics in the 80s and 90s grew up surrounded by. It wasn’t all Carmine Infantino.
§ Many people linked to this piece on the dearth of mid-level moviemaking that I alluded to the other day. It’s a must read for laying everything out in a clear, numbers-oriented way. But the ascendance of superhero movies looms large. Steven Spielberg went on record with some dark foreboding thoughts a while ago, even if hearing the guy who INVENTED huge summer blockbusters with Jaws fret about their takeover was being hoisted on a box-office blasting petard. But, cycles end eventually:
How long, then, will the current filmmaking model hold? No less an authority than Steven Spielberg predicted last year, “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm again.” Ted Hope agrees. “You look at the worst summer attendance [in 2014], box office dropped 15 percent, people like [DreamWorks Animation CEO and former Disney chief Jeffrey] Katzenberg saying that movies aren’t a growth industry, everything pointing toward the collapse of the foreign sales model.”
So, where does he think it’s going? “It feels incredibly vulnerable to me,” he says. “Look, I’m surprised the superhero stuff has the legs that it does, but you look at what Warner Brothers and Marvel have mapped out, you add into it all of the Universal monster movies and all these others platform plays, and you better hope that nobody’s taste changes for the next five years, you know? That’s not a diverse portfolio!”
Some suggest (hopefully???) that the studio system will implode as it did in the 60s, leading the amazing blossoming of the 70s. Certainly, Sony has to be reeling from having all its dirty knickers aired for everyone to see, and we haven’t seen the last of that drama. I don’t think Disney and WB are going to implode, though. BUT…people may get sick of superheroes sooner than you think.
§ Autostraddle had this list of 25 Queer and Trans Women Comic Creators to Support this Holigay Season!, but really these creators would all be good even if they were straight white men.
§ I asked for reports on Comic Arts LA and there were several, generally painting a sanguine picture.
§ It seems that Winter Con was also a hit, prompting some to seek the freedom of the outside world:
Among the numerous attendees dressed as their favorite comic book characters was Rafael Vargas, 30, an employee of Brookdale Hospital and resident of Ozone Park, who was in character as Venom, one of Spider-Man’s fiercest enemies. “This is my first show dressing up, but it’s great. I’m nervously excited,” said Vargas, whose words were muffled by his mask. “It’s awesome to see all these artists come together. It gives people who are into comics and sci-fi a reason to leave their house.”
§ In all the excitement of late, I neglected to link to this charming video of Dick Cavett & Al Jaffee talking about cartooning in a limo.
§ A terrible crime was committed in Wichita when someone stole $300,000 worth of old comics. Police continue to hunt for the culprit.
Mark Rowland, owner of River House Traders, says he lost more than $300,000 in the theft. But Rowland says he’s more upset because he’s owned some of the items for more than 50 years. KAKE-TV reports there is no description of the suspect, only that he left in a dark-colored car. Rowland now has a security system and says he will store some of his more valuable collectibles elsewhere.
BEWARE THE DARK CAR.
§ I link to The Digital Comic Museum every coupe of years, but here’s a longer appreciation of this repository of public domain comics.
The Digital Comic Museum knows that feeling and has obliged by making a vast quantity of vintage comics available for download free of charge. These are not just ordinary comics, but rather genuine vintage editions, many of which are exceedingly rare and obscure. That’s because all the comics featured are in the public domain and copyright free — which also means they’re old. The cutoff copyright date is December 1959, for example. Not surprisingly, many comics represent the mindset, politics and concerns of their era and some are not particularly politically correct, at least by current standards.
These comics are also the source of many reprints from Dark Horse, IDW and elsewhere. It’s a trove of treasure!
§ A white, straight man named Grant Morrison said something that wasn’t stupid. I think.
Q: I love that the first issue of “The Multiversity” is full of people of color, from black superheroes and politicians to aboriginal gods and gay geeks. Why did you do this, and does it have anything to do with the super-white superheroes who have made the jump from comics to film and TV?
A: To be honest, it happened quite naturally and wasn’t something I did consciously. A couple of characters were ones I’d created for “Final Crisis” and others were new, but all of them were introduced to play specific roles in the story and it wasn’t until I’d finished writing the first issue that I realized my team of superpowerful, multiversal justice champions didn’t include a single straight white man.
I live in a world defined by a diversity of skin color, sexual orientation and opinion. I think it’s important to reflect the influence of that world in my “art.” An accident of birth has made me what I am — a middle-aged and obviously decaying white dude from the west of Scotland — so I’d never presume to elect myself a spokesperson for any minority or group. I’m not trying to make political points here but I do feel it’s important to reflect a world in the comic books that more closely approximates the world in which I find myself living. And basically, I identify with everyone who ever felt like an outsider.
§ Steve Ditko is alive and still making comics…and Kickstarting them. Long time Ditko collaborator Robin Snyder is the enabler here. hey have two 22 page books in the works, #22 and Tales of the Mysterious Traveler. The latter is making his first appearance in 30 years.
§ Speaking of long waits, the second issue of Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer has been finished! It’s been three and a half years since the first issue appeared from Image Comics. Back in 2011, Nonplayer was a beautifully illustrated comic that fit in squarely with the neo-Mobius movement that was taking place. Now Image is awash with gorgeous books, and it doesn’t stand out quite as much. Simpson spent the last three years on his day job in video games recovering from a bike accident and staying up every night until 4 am drawing one precious line a night.
§ The Comics Reporter offers many picks for books that people enjoyed in 2014.
§ Johanna Draper Carlson only blogs once a week now, but she plays catch up looking at some misdirections in comics marketing:
The problem is that so many readers are looking at exactly the same ordering material as the retailers are. Retailers like it when their customers preorder, since that reduces their uncertainty. But to have them do that, they give them the Previews catalog (or an equivalent). There isn’t a retailer-only information channel, so retailers are often left unaware of why a publisher thinks a particular comic will be a big seller if that turns on a plot event (like a death) that the publisher doesn’t want to reveal early. The publisher can’t tell their actual customer because there’s no way to keep the information from going wide to the public. That’s been an issue so long as the direct market has been around. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. (Long digression, huh?) What I want to point out is three examples of material where the publisher can and should have given retailers information that would definitely affect their ordering patterns, but chose not to.
§ Rob Kirby rounds up the rop 10 mini comics of 2014 but throws in many other picks.
§ And going back to the past, Retailer Joe Field passed along this video from 1988 of an interview with the late Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald from WonderCon of that year.
§ SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. In a recent Marvel comic it was revealed that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are no longer related to a character from another studio. Brett White points out that all this synergy is beginning to break down the things we love most about Marvel.
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§ Actually, Julian Darius wrote the headline used in this KnB title, but it’s the essential comics match up of all times, right? Also, Winsor McCay wasn’t a very good letterer. IN case you’re wondering where I stand, I love them both, but I’ve always been a Krazy Kat girl—there was just more substance to it.
§ Speaking of great early 20th century comic strips, here’s a write up of Peter Maresca’s recent talk on this topic, which I really wanted to go to, but couldn’t, luckily…here’s a write up by Monica Johnson.
§ In Malaysia, they are introducing the ‘Kampung Boy Award’ to recognize local talent.
Malaysian Cartoonist Club executive council member Ahmad Hilmy Abdullah said the idea to introduce the award was mooted by Malaysian cartoonist icon Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid or Lat, together with other cartoonists in the country. He said with the involvement of many cartoonists and animators in the country’s arts industry now, it was time for such an award to be introduced.
§ This Janelle Asselin interview with Archie Comics Publicity VP Alex Segura is a must read, just because Alex is one of the nicest guys in comics and one of the very, very best at his job. HOW DOES HE DO IT?
CA: What sort of responsibilities are at the top of the list for someone in your career?
AS: You have to be a good communicator, writer and people person. I’ve met people who are very organized, detail-oriented and know a lot about comics, but they can’t have a conversation. That’s fine, but you’re probably not going to be a publicist. Like I said before, you can have all the contacts in the world, but if you don’t know how to talk to them – as honestly as possible – then it’s pointless. Writing skills are key – you have to be able to craft convincing text, whether it’s an email to a reporter, a pitch letter with a review copy or a presentation to your internal staff – you have to know how to string sentences together that are clear, easy to understand and that have a point of view. We’re on a 24-hour news cycle now. I know that’s a tired term, but it’s true. If that email you send to a reporter is long-winded, doesn’t get to the crux of your pitch right away or is confusing, you’ve lost that moment and you may have lost that reporter. Also, if you make a mistake, own up to it. We’re all people, we all have bad days – I think being human in a situation where your job is all about interacting with people inside and outside your office is really important. I’m not perfect at this, but I try to be as understanding as possible. You have to be a social creature. You have to know how to have a conversation with a complete stranger without too many awkward pauses. You should be a good listener, because publicity isn’t just about telling, it’s a conversation. You should go into a pitch knowing that the detailed thing you’re offering isn’t going to come out exactly the way you planned it because it’s going through the filter of someone else. But, knowing that, you should let the people who are also waiting on the story from your side know the chance of this.
§ Graeme McMillan is back at Newsarama? Here he takes down Tim Burton and Grant Morrison for recent pooh-poohing of things they did themselves in the past:
In its way, it’s oddly disheartening to see both men — who, to different degrees, owe much success to the very things they’re campaigning against — make these comments. Part of it is the uncomfortable feeling of gratefulness that ensues, sure, as well as that awkward sense that maybe all creators eventually become curmudgeonly and begrudge that which they’re no longer a part of (See also: Alan Moore, Frank Miller). But even moreso, there’s the fact that, really..? Both men are wrong.
§ Future Wonder Woman director Michelle McLaren is interviewed at Vultere and let’s slip that Wonder Woman hasn’t actually been green lit yet. Ok.
§ Zainab Akhtar looks at The Speed Abater by the great Cristolphe Blain:
I have two favourite books set on ships (it’s a rather specific thing)- Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Leviathan, and this. Both manage to convey the monumental size of the engines, the scale of pipes and machines, the heat and grime, the noise, the knots of metal, the atmosphere. Much like spacecraft in sci-fi films like Alien, the ship here is a character in itself, and these are the innards; the belly of the beast which set the tone of what’s to come as the men become lost and confused, delving further into their psyches. Blain’s gone hatching happy in this panel: it’s the first time the men are seeing below deck and the combination of impressive grandeur and realistic depiction is on point- all twisty, bronze pipes, looming space, steam and shade.
I also have a soft spot for comic books set at sea where people slowly go nuts or have horrible, horrible things happen to them, including both of these. Among the others: Mattotti’s Fires, Drew Weing’s Set to Sea (just rereleased), Sammy Harkham’s Poor Sailor, and Tony Millionaire’s Maakies much of the time. There’s also Chris Wright’s Blacklung, which I didn’t enjoy as much because his character designs seemed inexpressive to me. I know that’s part of his style, but it just didn’t work for me.
§ BEST OFS! •Hugh Armitage at Digital Spy has a pretty good list.
• The Vancouver Sun
• Abraham Riesman at Vulture
• And Sean T. Collins who has the most PARTICULAR list I’ve read. That’s a panel from Koch’s Configurations above.
Sex Fantasy, Sophia Foster-Dimino
911 Police State, Mr. Freibert
Baby Bjornstrand, Renee French
Palm Ash, Julia Gfrörer
Configurations, Aidan Koch
§ And for those ready to move on to 2015 (and who isn’t?) the Comics Reporter’s Five For Friday has a bunch of lists of stuff coming out next year people are looking forward to.
§ First second twofer! Gina Gagliano addresses Should You Quit Your Day Job When You Get a Book Deal? and also I interviewed senior Editor Callista Brill for Publisher’s Weekly More to Comic podcast. She talks about the making of The Wrenchies, Andrew the Giant, and Jay Hosler’s upcoming Last of the Sandwalkers, which is all about beetles.
§ I would imagine many folks would be interested in Tips for getting ‘Staff Pick’ on Kickstarter.
§ Cosplay from the The 36 best cosplay from Mumbai Comic Con 2014. Spoiler: it’s good.
§ Peter Jackson is quoted saying he never read a comic book in his life so he can’t direct a comic book movie. Except he’s supposed to direct the next Tintin, isn’t he? I haven’t seen much talk about that in the Hobbit pr tour. Also, I think it is safe to say that Jackson has read Tintin, so…something is amiss.
§ I guess this could be construed as concern trolling, but Bleeding Cool’s makeover is actually a text only “makeunder” that goes back to the good old days of Geocities. YUCK. I mention this so I can quote the Outhouse headline: North Korean Hackers Strike Again, Deface Bleeding Cool’s Website. In protest, I made the image on the Beat’s front page BIGGER.
§ I tend to take the Good E-reader site with a grain of salt but here’s ae-Reader Industry Year in Review
§ TWO from Bob Temuka. A long interview with Dylan Horrocks and a review of the beautiful disgust of Charles Burns: X’ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull. The finish of Burns’ “Nitnit trilogy” as I like to call it, was one of the most perfect and amazing books of the year.
§ Finally, Norwegian cartoonist Jason reviews Lethal Weapon.
Final housekeeping of 2014: I keep trying to use WordPress’s new “lite editor interface” but it keeps posting things when I meant to save them as drafts which is why odd things popped up in the feed of late. BETA, people. The new editor does seem to be the way forward—it’s nice not to have to scroll through my huge and arbitrarily nested list of caategories— but the way forward is also a dirt road. I also discovered that the plug in Tumblr Crosspostr created more than 2000 duplicate posts on this site without me noticing. Takeaway: Do not use Tumblr Crosspostr.
§ Happy New Year, everyone!
Final Best of round up:
• A weird but endearing list from The Village Voice with some books I never heard of:
Vincenzo Ferriero and Ray Chou’s Skies of Fire (Mythopoeia, $5) focuses on Captain Helen Pierce, the only officer in the royal fleet of brass and wood dirigibles with the balls to chase bloodthirsty pirates into the Expanse, a realm of perpetual storm clouds and nihilistic gods. This steampunk epic is given believable visual heft by Pablo Peppino’s sweeping vistas and Bryan Valenza’s vintage coloring.
• I loved this list from Shea Hennum atThis Is Infamous because it covered so many things.
• At comics Alliance Steve Morris cared to say the unsayable:
Frank Quitely may be great at drawing people walking around backwards (or whatever was going on in Pax Americana) but The Society of Super-Heroes was the actual best issue of Multiversity this year.
• But I have to be honest, I think I liked Nick Gazin’s list at Vice the best as it veered unselfconsciously from Michael DeForge to Dick Briefer, and included other cartoonists’ favorites AND a sharp interview with Ed Piskor. ALSO, a reminder that Milo Manara can draw the crap out of anything, above.
The 50 Best Comic Book Covers of 2014 from Paste — I like all of these but the list could probably have been 100. That’s Deadpool’s Art of War, Cover Art by Scott Koblish above.
And: The 10 Queerest Moments in Comics of 2014
§ This article about how Fno one remember Avatar just five years later was a bit shocking.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the theatrical release of James Cameron’s 3D action spectacular. Avatar earned rave reviews, went on to become by-far the highest-grossing movie of all time, and won several Oscars. It absolutely almost immediately vanished from the popular zeitgeist leaving almost no pop culture impact to speak of. It did not inspire a passionate following, or a deluge of multimedia spin-offs that has kept the brand alive over the last five years. Few today will even admit to liking it, and its overall effect on the culture at large is basically non-existent. It came, it crushed all long-term box office records, and it vanished almost without a trace.
I guess when you’rea deep sea diving autuer who has time to make toys. I seem to remember this was the first part of a trilogy, but…would anyone want to return to…wherever it was set?
§ Several people in my feed linked to this piece called The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur which does ties up many themes I’ve been mentioning on this site all year but…come on, weren’t folks like Mozart and Picasso entrepreneurs, too? All the tools and socials available mean there is less and less time to be creative, and more and more to promote oneself, but Mozart didn’t have indoor plumbing or a car, and that took up a lot of time, too.
§ Vulture’s Abraham iesman has a very flattering profile of Valiant Entertainment which compares it to Moneyball.
Today Kindt isn’t just a fan — he’s one of the company’s star writers. He’s participating in one of the strangest experiments in comics history: the resurrection of Valiant, a brand that had long been a failure and a punch line. It’s an experiment that involves message boards, mysterious auctions, time-traveling Visigoths, filthy cubicles, and Moneyball. The goal is to create a superhero universe that can challenge Marvel and DC’s supremacy. It’s an experiment that could very well fail. But right now, against all odds, it’s working.
the piece does acknowledge Valiants lack of diversity, which some people think is hurting it in the marketplace.
However, he thinks Valiant still has a big hurdle to overcome: “The only knock I have against them right now is the lack of diversity that is cropping up in their line, both in terms of characters and the creatives behind them.” He has a point: Few of its titles star women (and the ones that do are either team books or limited series), and its creative staff is overwhelmingly male. Even Kindt, who’s currently writing three Valiant series, thinks his company has catching up to do on diversity. He recalled going to his first Valiant writers’ retreat, which was “maybe six or seven guys, and the first thing we said was, ‘We need to get a woman in here, it’s ridiculous.’”
§ Dara Naraghi’s Indie Cover Spotlight is celebrating its 200th post today with a proto-nerdlebrity comics that features likeness of Mark Hamill, Julie Strain, Kevin Eastman, Walter Koenig, Bill Mumy, and more. It also has a woman with extra breasts in the shape of hawks heads.
Dig back in the achieves of this feature for some of that 80s goodness like the time that Bill Willingham drew….and very well. Oh comics, will you ever cease to amaze me?
§ Wanna catch up with the tangled tale of Cassandra Cain? CHris Sims is your man.
§ A great career spanning interview with Society of Illustrators director Anelle Miller with a lot of information on her tim win the fashion industry:
FR: When did you transition out of Estee Lauder?
Anelle Miller: I transitioned out in 2005, about 9 years ago. I wanted to again make a change. I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. I needed to be more creative and surround myself with creativity. I started two companies on my own. One company did creative marketing for nonprofits. I was still consulting with Estee Lauder working on the archives for Origins and then started another company called Original Women that focused on female artisans around the world. I did that for two years and then I got a call from a headhunter who wanted to know what I was doing and where I was. She mentioned there was a top position at the Society of Illustrators and of course, I was beside myself, because I had been coming here to draw for 30 years.
§ Fan Expo, the 3rd biggest convention on the continent, wrapped this weekend but one smaller comics website complains that they are clamping down on press passes: now they don’t even give out Saturday press passes.
I don’t believe Fan Expo needs or really wants any press coverage: they have 100,000 or more email addresses of people who attend their show. A built-in captive audience they can sell to whom they know like the product they offer. One free pass means one body in the show who didn’t pay and is taking a spot in a packed convention centre that could have been occupied by a paying customer. Our site’s audience is interested in hearing about what back issues were available, how they were priced and what that means for the coming year. No cosplay, no toys, no video games. Just comics. End rant.
§ The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s most respected news outlets, either a) punker everyone or b) brought shame upon their nation by using fated font Comic Sans in a from page fumetti, that , to be honest, looks like I did it. THe paper was unrepentant.
“As for the newspaper, the decision was made to match the surreal nature of the shocking revelations at the ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) — and it was felt the font would best depict the comic-book feel we were trying to give to the front; as if to make a mockery of the appalling displays in the witness box from a former politician and a current parliamentarian. I am very pleased with the result, but that’s about it.” In a show of total disrespect to design guidelines and the year 2014, Goodsir then described the font as “underrated.”
I’ve been travelling for the last three weeks and there are even more kibbles and bits than usual piled up. Some of these are pretty old, but it would be so sad to let all those bookmarks I squirreled away go to waste. But first…
§ Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Tony Auth has died at age 72.
§ Cartoonist Liza Donnelly profiled at Forbes..
§ Headline of the day! Comic book convention comes to Ramada Inn
§ Headline of the day 2! Comic books enjoy a surge in popularity
§ Related! At Dragon Con, Beat contributior Kyle Pinion and a couple of others explained why
Why the comics industry is doing better than ever:
The panelists unanimously agreed that it’s a great time to be a comics seller.
“You just keep thinking it’s going to go die down,” said Tarney, speaking of what he described as the slow ascension of comics into the mainstream over the last three decades, “but then, bam! Arrow is huge and Walking Dead is huge, and you’re seeing more people into more things, and more people are exploring comics as a genre and as a form of media.”
Ludgood agreed, but pointed out that while comics have never actually left the cultural spotlight since the golden age of vintage superheroes, the current trend of adapting non-native characters into comic book form means more people wanting to buy the comic book versions of their favorite characters. (Think recent comic and manga adaptations and continuations of Twilight, The Last Airbender, Buffy, and other pop culture favorites.)
§ Michael Dooley takes a look at two recent books about cartoonists, the Monte Beachamp-edited Blab-like, Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed the World and Drew Friedman’s Heroes of the Comics.
§ One site that should be bookmarked is Women Write About Comics , which has lots of excellent writing including some from an academic or library viewpoint. Two pieces I enjoyed are Ivy Noelle Weir’s 741.5: So, You Want To Host A Comic-Con At Your Library a step by step guide to doing just that, fearful moments and all. And also Katherine Tanski‘s Comics Academe: How Do You Teach Comics? which goes into some details:
If the department, colleague, or student balks at a 224-page text (although McCloud’s text is also not particularly expensive, especially compared to textbooks generally speaking), the first chapter of McCloud’s Making Comics, which did its best to condense Understanding Comics into one chapter, is probably sufficient for teaching purposes. (Sidenote: There is really nothing worthwhile to be find in McCloud’s follow up text to Understanding Comics,Reinventing Comics, except as a historical footnote, since it’s mainly theorizing about the possibilities for comics with the advent of computers and the internet, which did, in fact, happen.) However, the reason I did, and still would today, advocate for using the full Understanding Comics as a supplementary textbook to whatever comic you want to assign is because, in my experience, students take comics more seriously as a medium if there is an entire book they have to buy in order to understand it. It quickly disabuses them of the notion that a comic is going to be easier to read than a novel.
§ Back before Sin City 2 tanked so bad , there were many assessment’s of Frank Miller’s comics output, including this look at the new The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot , which actually was only by Geof Darrow.
Grantland’s Alex Pappedemas looked at Miller’s entire oeuvre.
On the first page of Daredevil No. 158, the Black Widow wipes away blood from a split lip, preparing to enter a melee already in progress. A text box in the corner trumpets the arrival of “Lanky Frank Miller,” a “truly great new artist” poised to “explode upon the Marvel scene like a bombshell.” This was hyperbole even by the hucksterish standard set by Stan Lee. It also turned out to be true.
§ A little while back a copy of Action #1 sold for $3.2 million; the buyers were Metropolis Comics, who expect to make a profit on it someday.
“We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go,” Zurzolo tells The Hollywood Reporter. While declining to say how high they would have taken the bidding, he adds, “All I can say is we were determined to buy it.”
§ I had bookmarked this piece on the Salt Lake City Comic Con which detailed them having trouble proving a local economic impact.
§ I’m glad Vaneta Rogers exists so she can pore over all the evidence about Blood Moon an upcoming DC event.
§ 29 years ago, semiotician Umberto Eco was excited about Krazy Kat and Peanuts, and you can still read his essay.
§ Oh, this one is old but it says so much: The Drab Palettes of Modern Superhero Movies.
I don’t mean to pick on one synergistic chunk of intellectual property. Based on the images released so far, 2016’s Batman vs. Superman will max out its hues at a vibrant brown. The collective monomania of these superhero movies is bizarre and sad—if you must make so many of the things, why not cast your eyes beyond a couple of decades-old Frank Miller comics?
§ Congrats to our good buddies at Green Brain Comics on moving to a nice new store.
§ Here’s a blog post by by the winner of the Women’s Costume at the Baltimore Comic Con costume contest. You don’t often see these winners mentioned, so I did!
§ People were amazed by this video of Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth with a broken pair of giant loppers that was found in a long abandoned closet…but there will be more Gary Groth videos to come.
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Cartoonists doing thing, blabbing about it.
§ Reminder — we’re doing our 31 Days of Halloween countdown of spooky art, comics and animation. Send us your links!
§ Congratulations to Noelle Stevenson on finishing Nimona, her webcomic which will be published by Harper Collins in May of 2015. Reminder: the link is a spoiler so beware!
§ Simon Hanselmann continues his press tour with a revealing interview in The A.V. Club.
§ I wanted to do a more in depth analysis of this piece enumerating the Top 100 Events in the United States 2014; Comic-Con in San Diego is listed as the top entertainment event, beating out Sundance. The Academy Awards are the #1 awards event and SXSW is the #1 music festival. (Does CMJ even exist any more?) But then I ran out of time.
§ Steve Morris reprints an excellent list of how to submit writing samples to comics publishers—in many cases you can’t. Breaking in as a writer is still an uphill battle.
§ David Hine writes for the Huffington Post on his comics adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Man Who Laughs.:
The Man Who Laughs is not an easy read. It was written late in Victor Hugo’s career when he was living in exile on Guernsey, and his contemporaries dismissed it as an inferior work. It’s certainly a pretty turgid read, crammed with long-winded exposition and with a non-linear timeline that annoyingly gives away all the best plot twists too soon. I felt like scrawling “Spoiler Alert!” in the margins when I wasn’t skipping the endless inventories of titles, ranks and possessions of the English aristocracy. But while I was often infuriated by the book’s structure I found myself gripped by the underlying story. Here was a truly enthralling tale of love and humanity, of ordinary people struggling to survive in an unjust and unequal society. At it’s core is the story of a young man who is kidnapped, mutilated and sold to travelling entertainers, yet who retains his integrity and his dignity through the love of his adoptive ‘family’, the eccentric philosopher Ursus, his pet wolf Homo and the beautiful blind girl, Dea.
§ The Boston Globe reviews Michael Cho’s Shoplifter:
In order for a graphic novel to be memorable, it must fulfill both parts of its genre label: The graphics must be arresting enough to justify their presence on the page, and the words must be well-composed. Michael Cho’s “Shoplifter’’ is that rare thing, a graphic novel debut in which text and illustrations fit together like two halves of the same mind; as a result, the taut story told here makes an impact and manages to show distinctiveness while doing so.
§ Also in Boston, a cartoonist claimed making a watermelon joke in a comic strip about President Obama wasn’t racist; many disagreed. Eyeroll. SMH.
§ Gilbert Hernandez has a wide ranging chat with CBR about his two graphic novels out this fall, Bumperhead and Loverboys.
This year you’ve made “Bumperhead” and “Loverboys” plus a new “Love and Rockets” plus a reprint of “Fatima.” Is this your new normal pace?
It’s something that I can do. It’s work and it’s tiring. I don’t plan on doing so many graphic novels at once, let’s put it that way. It’s just the way that things are scheduled with the publishers. After I finish a book, I can’t just go back to the same publisher and do another one. I jump to another and start a new project. I have to be ahead all the time, producing material. That’s why it ended up coming out at the same time. “Loverboys” might be the quickest long story that I’ve ever done. The time that I put into it was pretty brief, just a couple months. None of it’s rushed. I put the same care into it that I put into everything. But I can imagine a day when I go, “Hey, I can’t put out two new graphic novels a year anymore.” [Laughs]
Disclosure: Gilbert Hernandez is tied as my favorite cartoonist ever, so I’m just gonna keep plugging his stuff until they make me stop. Bumperhead is easily one of his best works ever and serves as a perfect entre to his work without having to plunge into the deep end of Palomar’s tangled generations. I have no idea what Loverboys is about but the cover looks like primo Beto, and what more would you ask for?
§ Is Stan Lee The Watcher?
§ And NOW a Beat VIDEO FILM FESTIVAL!
Cartoonist Cat Staggs and her partner are featured in the Target video about building a nursery for a new baby.
This ad for a bankish thing features a woman who hangs out in a comics shop. The Mary Sue was excited by this example of normalization.
Ed Piskor (Hip Hop Family tree) returns to his family home, which is in tatters, after 19 years in this video for Pittsburgh Magazine. Sorry about the game last night, Pittsburghers. You can’t go home again and here’s more proof.
Beat Pal Christopher Moonlight made this half hour film at the San Diego Comic Con in 2012 about Hollywood encroachment. Among those seen, David Mack, Camilla d’Errico and Batton Lash. Learn more about this film at the FB page.
Professor X';s habit of grasping his temples in pain could give the impression of being a whiny wimp, as this supercut displays.
Did you like our film festival? Send more video links and we’ll do it again!
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§ Congrats to Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth for winning the Stranger’s Genius Award for Literature. Many would say Gary is strange, many a genius so it all cosmically came together. The Stranger is Seattle’s resident culture paper, and each year it gives out its Genius Awards. Groth prevailed over Ms. Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson and poet Shin Yu Pai.
§ Retailer Brian Hibbs is fretting over the standard attrition that Big Two events are subject to
As this market has shown again and again over the decades, consumer interest in “events” is a fickle thing. Sooner or later every publisher hits a few foul balls, or the public gets tired of oversaturation, or the story just doesn’t work, or whichever of the myriad of reasons… and the retailer is the one left holding the bag. It used to be that when, say, “Secret Wars II” turned out to be a pile of lox, we weren’t that over-extended with orders in the pipeline — 2-3 issues out, sure, but that’s very different from “order forty-six different comics and tie-ins before you’ve had any real amount of time to judge how the first one did.”
People have been saying events are done for as long as there have been events. This also applies to variant covers. Normally I would just say it was ever thus and move on, but this is a changing industry. Where are we going? Damned if I know.
§ Zainab Akhtar and Steve Morris both went to the Lakes Festival this weekend, and they both blogged about it. I understand The Lakes is held in a small picturesque town and the goal is to make it a sort of Angouleme type fest were comics take over the town. I sounds adorable, but read on. Steve had A Quick Nip Round The Lakes Comic Art Festival and noted the many comics themed displays around the town:
Having captured several strongpoints across the city centre, the Festival had not only won a battle of occupation – but one of propaganda. Everywhere you walk (not that there are MANY places to walk in Kendal, which is a teeny tiny nice little place) the shops had transformed themselves
Zainab had a more mixed time:
Foremostly, my whole experience was coloured by people’s reaction toward me. Kendal, and the Lake District by large, is a very white, very middle class region. We saw -I think- maybe 6 people of colour in the time we were there (yes, I counted), and the festival, being located in the town center, on a Saturday with bright, dry weather- was busy, as was the surrounding area. I got stared at a LOT, and if you’re visibly ethnic minority, you will instantly understand the hostile, open up-and-down hard stares of which I speak although some people prefer a eye-contact off. We went into a fish and chip shop for lunch at one point, and people turned their chairs around to simply gawp/glower. As far as I could tell, it seemed to be the headscarf and being overtly Muslim, because the few poc I did briefly pass didn’t seem to be under the same scrutiny, but I could easily be wrong about that. It was deeply unpleasant.
The comics part of the visit was welcoming and tolerant, she notes, but she doesn’t plan to go back either.
§ Grant Morrison was interviewed for Interview magazine and said many Grant Morrison like things.
§ R. Orion Martin has a look at another facet of the vast and unknowable world of comcis culture with a history of Lianhuanhua: China’s Pulp Comics. You probably didn’t know that China had a comics culture but of course, they do.
In 1985, there were 8.1 billion pulp comics (lianhuanhua) printed in mainland China. Most lianhuanhua were black and white paperbacks with a single illustration and a few lines of text on each page. They looked similar to the Big Little Books published in the United States from the 1930s to 1950s, but they were published in quantities that make the US comics market look tiny. Brian Hibbs analyzed the 2012 BookScan report and found that there were about 9.5 million comics sold in the US throughout the year. In the mid-80s, some lianhuanhua titles had single printing runs of more than 1 million copies. We usually don’t think of China as having a rich tradition of making comics, and discussions of Chinese comics focus on manhua, the Chinese comics that were inspired by Japanese manga. While it’s true that most of the comics being produced now are manhua, this was not the case for much of the 20th century. From their beginnings in the 1920s until their popularity bottomed out in the 1990s, lianhuanhua were some of the most widely read literature in the country.
§ Speaking of world comics, someone sent me this link, which is in Turkish, but Google Translate tells me it’s about the Turkish comics festival being held in December.
§ Okay cleaning up the last bits of New York Comic-Con here. You can not get a more overview-like overview of ay event than those written by Augie DeBlieck. Here’s a profile of Lance Fensterman. And a survey of expensive things you could have bought at the con. And here are photos from the Multiveristy/Image party. BTW in case yu didn’t figure it out, the parties a this year’s NYCC were as packed, vibrant and friend filled as other years. So much so that it’s taken me week to be able to sit upright again.
Mashable looked at some of the issues surrounding cosplay and harassment:
Partly, the issue is the characters themselves. Many of the revealing costumes are based off characters who were originally designed, at least in part, to be sexually provocative, for example, princesses, superheroes in spandex and sexualized anime school girls. As a result, many onlookers view them as the sexy characters they emulate rather than individuals wearing costumes, who should be treated with respect. But most real-life cosplayers are more concerned with the authenticity of the costume than sexual attention.
Hm. I’m not sure that de-sexualizing cosplay is any better than the reverse. It’s pretty obvious that many cosplayers (of all genders) are sexy and they know it. That doesn’t mean they should be touched, catcalled or made fun of, of course. I’m sure someone else has written way more wisely than myself about this, so I’ll leave it at that for now.
§ Matt D Wilson looks at how Southern Bastards captures its southern setting.
But, you might say, there are lots of crime comics out there. Heck, Jason Aaron, the writer of Southern Bastards, has penned a good many himself. Scalped and his Punisher run, to name a couple. Southern Bastards is something really special, though, because of the way Aaron and artist Jason Latour embrace its setting so deeply and wholeheartedly. Specifically, the book takes place in Craw County, Alabama, but it also serves as a deep dive into the culture of the South as a whole. There are aspects of the story that could only occur in a the setting of a small, Southern town. The creators, both Southerners themselves, do an amazing job of presenting a story that could be compelling to anyone but hit exactly the right notes for people who have lived in or near places like Craw County.
§ This gallery of Comics Journal covers brought back many memories.
§ Finally, James Jean does the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and you can buy the toys. Nuff said.