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By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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The Nightly Show
Last night’s The Nightly Show, the show hosted by Larry Whitmore, examined nerd culture and diversity. Guests included Marvel’s Director of Content & Character Development. Sana Amanat, artist Phil Jimenez (Spider-Man, Wonder Woman), comedian Mike Lawrence and rapper Jean Grae. The show included a “black Batman” sketch and some other discussion of nerdly topics—including a sick burn of Cyclops. (Rachel Edidin powers unite!)
Amanat and Jimenez acquitted themselves quit well, to no surprise, but Grae’s tale of resisting the rap name “Storm” (as a black woman from South Africa) was also of note.
Or: the harassing call is coming from inside the blog
If you are not up to speed on all this Jude Terror has done an incredible job summing up 90% of the most important points up until about 10 pm last night. I was going to do the same but I would literally do the exact same thing as Terror. So if you just want the juicy links go there and then come back. Teresa Jusino at The Mary Sue (great new hire, btw) also has a great piece up with original comments from Sims and D’Orazio.
If you want the short version, without speaking to the principals, here’s what I think happened in the last few weeks. (For details of what happened 7-8 years ago, you’ll need to scroll down.) First the personae: In one corner, Valerie D’Orazio, a former editor at Valiant and DC, a long time blogger, former editor in chief of MTV Geek, and writer of several comics including a Punisher one shot and the recent Edward Snowden biography.
In this corner, Chris Sims, a long time blogger at his own The Invincible Super Blog and a long time columnist and writer at Comics Alliance known for his “Ask Chris” feature as well as co hosting a podcast and many many humorous pieces on comics over the years. He’s also a comics writer with the gn Down Set Fight to his credit and probably more. (I have to admit I know much less about Sims career than I do D’Orazio’s, so you can fill in the blanks in the comments.)
Okay, let’s get ready to rumble!
• Last week it appears that some G*mergater types unearthed what was a well known at the time feud from 2007-10 between well known blogger Chris Sims and writer/editor Valerie D’Orazio as shown in the above tweet by D’Orazio’s husband, David Gallaher. The GG mischief was aimed at showing how Comics Alliance, a site very well known for its emphasis on creating more diversity and speaking out in often passionate terms against sexism, racism, transphobia and anti-gay sentiments, was in fact harboring a writer (Sims) who had harassed a woman (D’Orazio) online.
• Gallaher wrote to Sims warning him that this was being unearthed. Apparently CA staff also received warnings.
• Sims wrote an apology for his behavior towards D’Orazio to Gallaher in response.
• Earlier this week, Sims was named as the writer of X-Men ’92, a digital first Secret Wars spin-off.
• Without mentioning the GG outing, but mentioning the X-men gig, D’Orazio tweeted that Sims had harassed her online for the period above. You can see the tweets in the link. An excerpt:
• Sims blogged about it, apologizing for his past behavior:
If you’ve been reading my work for long enough, then you probably remember that I had what I used to refer to as a “feud” with Valerie D’Orazio a few years ago. That’s the wrong word, since it was more one-sided than anything else, and I was in no uncertain terms the aggressor and a complete jerk. I was needlessly harsh about her comics work, I left jerky comments on her site, I talked trash here and elsewhere, and while in my head I justified it as as purely being critical of her writing, I know I stepped over the line into making it a personal attack more than once. What I said is a matter of public record, and frankly, my intentions at the time don’t change what I actually did. At best, I was making someone’s life harder when I had no reason to, and at worst I was giving others a reason to do the same that went far beyond just me being an asshole and contributed to and validated the harassment of both Ms. D’Orazio and of women in general. When I finally realized that, long after I should’ve, I stopped, and I’ve tried to be better going forward.
• D’Orazio expanded in a blog post.
I had several cyberbullies during that three-year span, but Chris Sims was one of the worst. Not so much for what he said about me directly, but because he had a popular forum from which to direct harassment to me by many other people.
I never could figure out what I did to Chris personally to be singled out for this type of treatment. But week after week, he would have posts focused on me in which he would be a ringleader for others, who would then go off and harass me personally via my blog, social media, and emails.
This hit its peak when it was announced that I was to write a one-shot for The Punisher. Apparently Chris thought this was the wrong choice, and he made his opinions clear.
• MEANWHILE…social media is beginning build up steam like a pressure cooker that’s about to blow. Up until this point, none of the GGate association had been publicly made.
• Yesterday afternoon Janelle Asselin and Andrew Wheeler, the co-editors of Comics Alliance, released a statement, that, while clearly stating that the Sims cyberbullying and harassment was wrong, they felt that Sims had evolved as a human being and he was being targeted by GGaters:
Someone was targeting Chris not out of a sense of justice, but because they wanted to destroy his success. The campaign may also have been one of several efforts we’re aware of to discredit ComicsAlliance. These are not the tactics of progressives concerned about harassment in comics, but of agitators looking to tear down progressive voices — of which Chris is certainly one — using methods of harassment. (Notably, the messages referred to D’Orazio as “David’s wife,” rather than recognizing her as a person in her own right.)
No doubt these people also see themselves as the heroes of their stories. They are not. We cannot lend legitimacy to their behavior.
Chris is not the man he was when he directed his vitriol at Val D’Orazio. If he were that man, or if he felt no remorse for his past actions, he wouldn’t belong at today’s ComicsAlliance, given our strong avocation against harassment in the industry.
• Later in the day Sims wrote a longer blog post at CA, expressing more remorse:
Between 2007 and 2010, I harassed and bullied Valerie D’Orazio online. It’s recently become a topic of discussion, and to the people who weren’t following me then, I know this is at best disappointing, and that I’ve rightfully lost a lot of the respect I’ve built up in the years since. I don’t blame you, and I accept that judgment. To paraphrase a friend of mine, this isn’t about whether I did it (I did) or whether any part of it was remotely okay (it wasn’t), but talking about anything else right now would be disrespectful and disingenuous. Believe it or not, this is something I care about quite a bit, so this week’s question is one that I’ve had to ask myself: What do you do when you realize you’re part of the problem?
OK YOU GOT ALL THAT? that was the short version.
And now the conflict began. Because we all hate harassment and bullying and threats and bad online behavior. But what do you do when it’s from a FRIEND OF YOURS?
Rachel Edidin, a writer and editor, and Laura Hudson, the founding EIC of Comics Alliance, who, I believe, hired Sims in the first place, had their own responses. Edidin is a close friend of Sims’, and learning your friend was (to put it mildly) a total jerk is hard:
So: Chris Sims is one of my best and closest friends, someone I trust implicitly. Chris Sims is also a person who has done some really shitty things that have resulted in some very real and serious harm. I think he’s done a really good job of owning that today; and I think he should have done it much sooner; and I understand why he didn’t; and—at least for me—none of those things cancel each other out. I would absolutely not tell anyone for whom what Chris did was a moral or personal event horizon that they were wrong. That’s a really personal call—for you, and for me.
I don’t know what I’d have to say about this if I weren’t friends with Chris; because I am, and there’s no question that’s influencing the terms in which I am thinking about it.
I will say: my stance in the past has been that harassment is never okay; that public accountability is important; that the loss of nuance is incredibly dangerous and benefits nobody; that significant cultural sea change is less dependent on people not fucking up than on people owning their shit, learning from their mistakes, and working to do better. I stand by those positions.
And I will add: Anyone whose response to this whole thing is to be shitty to Val can go straight to hell.
Hudson stepped in to address online comments about how adding the whole GGate element to the apology was a red herring which deflected attention from the damage done to D’Orazio.
But it’s also hard for me to ignore that this conversation is happening in large part because of an anti-progressive campaign. Valerie has every right to come forward and speak about her experiences, but it’s also true that the conversation was initially sparked by the skeleton digging of people seeking to discredit ComicsAlliance as a progressive site. This is particularly upsetting for me, not only because I created ComicsAlliance, but because I’ve spent the better part of the last year living in fear of these exact sorts of people, receiving death threats from them, and watching them try to destroy my friends and colleagues in games. Some people have expressed that this context should not be mentioned—that doing so is merely a way of mitigating or excusing Chris’s behavior. I disagree. Understanding it or acknowledging it in no way makes Chris less accountable. We can and should have accountability, and I’m glad that we’re seeing that. But I don’t believe holding people accountable has to be mutually exclusive with nuance, or that offering context is necessarily a way of making excuses. I think that it is both possible and important to do both.
So as you see, we now have, by some counts, THREE victims here. D’Orazio, Sims AND Comics Alliance.
But HOW? WHY????? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? How was a man allowed to bully a woman in public without anyone caring until now? I mean that happens all the time, but why THIS time?
To understand this, we must return to the Last Days of the Glory Days of Blogging. 2008. Our great nation was wondering if a woman or a black man would be the next president of the US and getting to know a spunky Alaskan governor named Sarah Palin along the way; movie fans thrilled to The Dark Knight even as they mourned Heath Ledger; and comics fans were reeling from Final Crisis! What a time it was. And Blogging, emerging about five years earlier with free, effective platforms like Blogger and Live Journal, was the future of journalism. The comics blogosphere was a lively place, as fans and readers became major voices commenting on the industry, while a few “pros,” such as myself, Tom Spurgeon and Dirk Deppey, were the morning newspaper of the industry, It was also a world where social media was just taking off. People still communicated via message boards, email and blog comments. although all of that would come to an end very soon.
From the early days of blogging in 2002-on it was an easy time to make a name for yourself as a blogger in a community that loved to comment on itself. A strong personality and writing skill went a long way, and people who had just been buying their comics every Wednesday were now independent industry pundits. I actually don’t know when Sims started his site—I never read it, and I’ve never had much interest in his writing because I stopped reading superhero comics before most of the people I’ve quoted in this piece were born. 90s Marvel nostalgia doesn’t hold much interest for me…but it does for a LOT of other people, and Sims’ evident passion knowledge and great sense of humor gained him quite a following.
But one of the weirder sides of blogging in its Golden Age was the whole blogging feud thing. At one point I made up a pretend feud with USA Today’s comics blogger Whitney Matheson, comparing her to the baby with one eyebrow on The Simpsons, Maggie’s mortal enemy. It was a one sided affair (the Beat could never touch McPaper) and after we both appeared on a panel at SPX together it all became a joke. Whitney is one of the nicest sweetest people I’ve EVER met, and the idea of any kind of feud was just stupid.
I have no idea exactly why Sims started his feud with Val. I can sort of guess though. I have to throw in here that I know Val very well, as opposed to having barely interacted with Sims. Val and I worked together at DC, we live in the same town, we’ve had lunch, we’ve been out drinking, and we’ve given each other support at various times…and had some major disagreements as well. We’re not best buds, but I’ve always considered her one of the smartest writers about comics, even when I don’t agree with her, and one of the most naturally talented bloggers in the whole space.
This was not a feeling universally shared. To be fair, Val is not shy about picking her own battles. I believe she had her own blog feud with Johanna Draper Carlson, and she was especially unpopular with Ragnell and Kalinara, two writers who ran a link blog called When Fangirls Attack that is very much the Paleozoic version of today’s geek girl media web. You can read all about it here and here, with Chris Sims actually showing up in the comments to take pot shots. I was going to except these but it’s like reading a transcript of a family gathering with so much calling back and self referencing. But, all that said, I can see why people took umbrage: Val has strong opinions, which although backed up by a lengthy career in the industry, stood out like a sore thumb. She was also always talking about her own victimization, and some people disliked that. TBH, I don’t remember any of the incidents that incited the WFA dislike, but I don’t actually even remember the Sims feud either.
I was a lot more complimentary to D’Orazio in this period, quoting her often because she was eloquent and honest; I’m much more personally interested in how the industry works than in comics nostalgia, but that’s me. Here’s what she wrote about when Diane Nelson took over as head of DC:
You can only place my reaction in context of the massive amount of misogyny I’ve witnessed or heard reported about in selected sectors of DC Comics during the time I’ve worked there. During those four years, I had seen strong women again and again be censured, criticized, grumbled about, and disparaged. I’ve watched my department be emptied out of females one-by-one. I was warned on literally the first day I worked there by two different people to watch my back because I was a woman and not to make any waves. I was told by one boss that females just didn’t have the natural aptitude to edit comic books. I am absolutely thrilled that the buck now stops with a woman at DC Comics. I am overjoyed – nay, almost orgasmic – that certain men will now have to regard Diane Nelson as their boss. It is karma working on the most basic level. Let these men explain to Nelson, who has worked with one of the most famous female fantasy writers in the entire world, how women don’t have the natural aptitude to edit and create comic books. Let these men explain to her the employment and dismissal history of female editors in the DCU over the last ten years. Let these men explain to her the plot of Final Crisis – I dare them. The other shoe has finally dropped. Expect a lot of change before SDCC 2010.
While I’m not sure this post was actually prophetic, it was certainly arguable and candid. But yeah, Val wasn’t out to make friends and she wasn’t popular in the blogosphere.
Sims has removed a lot of posts about D’Orazio I guess but this one survives:
And then there’s Valerie D’Orazio. The fact that I don’t personally care for D’Orazio is one of the ISB’s worst-kept secrets–it was the entire joke behind her interviewing me about Solomon Stone last year–but if Marvel wants to hire loudmouthed comics bloggers to write their comics, that can only be a good thing for me, so good on her for getting the work. But even so, the antipathy’s there, and along with the fact that there’s nothing to keep me from swallowing my own tongue and dying when the inevitable rage-induced aneurysm hit, it’s one of the reasons that I’m opting out of reviewing Punisher Max: Butterfly this week, as you can never really trust someone with an axe to grind. With the Girl Comics story, however, the problem is one that I think I can be a little more objective about.
Ah yes, Punisher Max Butterfly.
Now imagine that you have had a, by any objective standard, difficult tenure at a comics publisher and you leave to follow a writing career. Breaking in to comics writing is never easy and when you’re a woman and a LOUDMOUHED woman it’s almost impossible. But imagine you do it and you have a book come out that may be flawed but it’s your first book and who knows where its going.
And now imagine that a bunch of people on the internet don’t like you and go out of their way to say that this is the worst comic ever made, and personally belittle your efforts any way they can.
Yes, that would be a bummer alright. Because as hard as it is to break into comics writing, it’s even harder to get that second gig when you are a lightning rod for controversy (some of it because you like to stand outside in thunder storms holding a lightning rod, to be sure.)
And imagine that five years later your main accuser has his OWN debut for the SAME publisher announced. How would you feel now? Probably pretty angry. Luckily, now we have twitter and social media to play out every sentence blow by blow.
The D’Orazio/Sims feud wouldn’t have lasted long in a world with twitter…it would have burnt out pretty quick under the weight of lookie loos and people hazarding an opinion. But in the Paleozoic, it could flourish with little or no blowback.
Now, no one has tried to let Sims off the hook in any of this. Asselin, Wheeler, Hudson, Edidin and Sims himself acknowledge just how horrible, petty and damaging his behavior was. And now there are GGate psychopaths waiting in the wings to take it to a new level. Don’t get me wrong. I feel really bad for the Comics Alliance crew, past and present. They’ve come out as one of the strongest voices for a new, inclusive comics industry, one without all the baggage and inane stereotypes that D’Orazio has been writing about since she left DC. But what do you do when the call is coming from inside the house?
What an exhausting week this has been..how emotionally exhausting this job of comics blogging has become. I’ve always been one to prefer the positive to extending finger pointing, but a whole queue of nice art and happy comics news is just sitting there while I weigh in on Batgirl covers, decade old feuds, Erik Larsen, J. Scott Campbell, Pat Broderick, outrages and tone deaf responses to problems that people just began pointing out.
In an era where healthy, needed whistle blowing and speaking out has become more common, I think everyone has had uncomfortable moments. I’ve seen people who are friends of mine called out for their bad behavior, and it’s tough. When someone has been an abuser or a harasser it doesn’t really matter that they like their dog or are fun at parties. Even pointing out that “not all men” are total assholes is not seen as useful, but rather a smoke screen to avoid examining underlying biases. When I see friends nailed for their bad behavior, I hold my tongue because it was bad behavior. Many times I had even warned them about it in the past (which is what you do for a friend) but they couldn’t or didn’t want to engage in self examination and self improvement. And sometimes you just walk away because it’s hopeless. If we’re living in a zero tolerance world, then it needs to be zero tolerance, as difficult as that may be when people are a mix of good and bad and their actions are equally paradoxical.
In 2008 identity politics wasn’t the driving force it is now, and a bunch of bloggers “feuding” with a woman who writes openly about her abuse and sexual trauma would be identified as harassment and not “a difference of opinion. ” Now, it’s important to note that Ragnell, Kalinara Johanna and maybe even Sims did just disagree with Valerie, because that happens as well, but it could have been identified as gaslighting, tone policing and mansplaining.
I don’t know Chris Sims so I have no idea what his level of remorse is. Based on what his friends are saying, people I do know, I’m guessing it’s pretty high. I’ve been genuinely surprised by how many of my friends have come out and told me that Sims was a role model or inspiration for them. They feel sad and confused, and will probably feel that way for a while. I do know that—and this is just me speaking personally—I think the ongoing and petty nature of Sims’ harassment is a more serious matter than a couple of apologies can cover. It was classic “punching down” before that was even a word. It’s also endemic of the whole idea that online life is not real life, an idea from the beginning of the internet that is totally ludicrous in light of how online is intertwined in our lives. Sims would never have engaged with D’Orazio for that long if she was a real human being to him, and not just a bunch of pixels on a screen.
Anyway this is as long as a San Diego con report now, and I’m not even sure what to say any more. I’m sure there’s already dozens more pundits weighing in, more personal axe grinding, and maybe new outrage from some quarters that will make this look like a baby asleep in its crib. I do know that I would like the punishment to fit the crime, so I’ll leave with my tweet from earlier when I first read all of this:
By: Heidi MacDonald
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When people talk about saving John Constantine, usually it’s a hopeless task, as the scouser magician’s soul has long been consigned to hell for his many sins on earth. But another campaign to save Constantine is under way—and this time it’s fans attempting to keep his TV show going past a 13 episode commitment despite middling ratings.
Arrested Development has plans for a fifth season on Netflix, Twin Peaks will see you on Showtime twenty-five years from the 1991 series finale, and Yahoo Screen will bring Community closer to its promise of #sixseasonsandamovie, airing new episodes this spring. It’s a golden age of fan campaigns with the ability to resurrect dead and mostly-dead shows with measurably vocal fan bases. It’s a golden age fans of NBC’s Constantine are counting on, as the last of the series’ 13 episode initial run airs this Friday, February 13 at 10pm. The network has halted any further production on the show, prompting fans to organize on Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #saveconstantine in support of its renewal — whether on NBC or another network entirely.
Fan campaigns to save television shows are nothing new, with the late sixties fan campaign to save the Star Trek original series largely credited as the first of its kind. Still, there does seem to be a trend in the growing power of fan campaigns to have an impact on programming, even those who represent much smaller audience shares than the high-profile efforts of yesteryear, prompting fledgling networks to pick up where network and even cable channels have left off.
So what does all this mean for fans of Constantine, starring Matt Ryan as trench-coated demon hunter John Constantine? Do they feel a campaign to save the show, based on the long-running DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer, has a better chance of being saved now than it would have 10 years ago? “They definitely are more successful — especially with social networking being the way it is,” said Breanna Conklin, who has been active in the campaign to #saveconstatine since NBC confirmed in late November they would stop production on the series. “I am in a few nerd groups on facebook. You’re able to spread the word to like minded folks and your friends within a few seconds. Social media gives awareness that wasn’t available to us ten years ago.”
The #saveconstantine effort began to gain momentum when a slick-looking website, saveconstantine.com, went up in December. In addition to links to the petition and fan communities, saveconstantine.com offers a detailed description of the importance of the recently introduced Twitter TV ratings model from newly-formed group, Nielsen Social. An off-shoot of the more traditional Nielsen ratings, Nielsen Social “identifies, captures and analyzes conversation on Twitter in real time for every program aired across over 250 of the most popular U.S. television networks, including Spanish language networks, as well as over 1,500 brands” according to the company website.
The challenge for Constantine fans is to ensure that their awareness of the need to campaign for the continued life of the series is leveraged in a way that speaks both to NBC and their advertisers. It’s not enough to simply prove there’s interest in Constantine from the hallowed 18-49 age demographic; advertisers need to ensure that ad placements can actually have an impact on that demographic. As television consumption proliferates on an increasingly diverse group of content platforms, strong same-day viewing ratings don’t necessarily show advertisers that their ads will be seen instead of fast-forwarded on a DVR viewing post-broadcast.
It’s a challenge the organizers of the #saveconstantine effort hope to meet by being better educated on the increasingly complex world of network tv ad buys. “It’s a big group effort,” said Allison Gennaro, one of the campaigns many organizers. A fan of the Hellblazer comics, Gennaro became involved in the campaign upon hearing “NBC had capped the airing to just 13 [episodes],” which she took to mean the show was “in trouble” but also that the “ratings might not be meeting the NBC demo of choice.” Hoping to convince NBC not to cancel the series, the #saveconstantine organizers publicized a petition for the show to get a second season across social media platforms in late November. The petition cites a “38% bump in the ratings and an 87% viewer retention rating (after Grimm) with the introduction of The Spectre” as evidence of the viability of the series which currently boasts over 20,000 signatures.
The description on saveconstantine.com explains the impact live tweeting Constantine episodes can have on the Twitter TV ratings. The site believes the live tweets “denote that a show has a consistent and loyal audience,” and may show advertisers they “are being rewarded for their investment in the network…so if you want to save Constantine, please watch, tell your friends, and tweet.” Gennaro cultivated a group of Constantine fans through a mailing list to help push the #saveconstantine hashtag and live tweet campaign. “We even threw Friday night twitter parties before the show to trend and gain attention,” she said.
Fan campaigns of the past relied on letter writing, placing ads in trade magazines like Variety, even buying billboards to plead for their respective shows. While Constantine fans have also employed letter writing and email to NBC executives in this campaign, their informed approach in targeting advertisers and leveraging their consumer power is in step with more recently successful ‘save our show’ campaigns. In 2009, Wendy Farrington began a campaign to save another NBC series with supernatural overtones: Chuck. Her game-changing approach acknowledged the fact that the show enjoyed better ratings on off-network viewing platforms and galvanized fans of the series to support a major advertiser of the show, Subway.
According to a 2014 article by Christina Savage for Transformative Works and Cultures, which examined fan-run ‘save our show’ campaigns, on the day of Chuck’s season finale hundreds of fans went to their local Subway and bought a $5 foot-long sandwich featured on the series via product placement. They then left behind comment cards explaining their purchase was in support of Chuck. Savage explained that by “focusing on Chuck as a business transaction, fans used their knowledge of the industry” to support their effort. Shortly thereafter, NBC ordered 13 more episodes of the series. Savage wrote: “co-chairman of NBC Ben Silverman said that this campaign was one of the most creative he had seen, and as a result, Subway would increase its presence within the show.”
John Constantine may not eat at Subway, but fans of the demon exorcist are invoking similar brand marketing powers with their #saveconstantine efforts. Only this time, the fans themselves are the product. By targeting Nielsen’s Twitter TV ratings specifically, Constantine fans “become valuable social ambassadors for programmers and advertisers alike as they amplify content and messaging through their social spheres,” Nielsen Social wrote in a an article posted in September. But will it be enough to push NBC to order another season of Constantine? Could it make the show attractive enough to warrant a rumored move to sister-network Syfy, which has released several high-profile interviews with network executives seeking to return the channel to it’s Sci-fi/fantasy genre roots? NBC president Jennifer Salke told IGN in January that “we wish the show [Constantine] had done better live. It has a big viewership after [it airs] in all kinds of ways and it has a younger audience, but the live number is challenging.”
We spoke with Dr. Balaka Basu, a professor specializing in pop culture and fan studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte about the viability of the type of campaign #saveconstantine is waging. “Campaigns helped to save Chuck and Roswell, and gave Firefly fans closure in the less-than-successful Serenity,” she said. “ I think the key was demonstrating an understanding of how television economy works. With Chuck, for instance, fans literally gave their monetary support to the chain sandwich shop Subway…this demonstrates a comprehension of the relationship between advertisers and television producers.”
Fans like Miguel Gonzalez Cabañas, who lives in Madrid, show the global reach of the #saveconstantine fan efforts. He calls Constantine “the best series with a paranormal plot” on television. He, along with Allison, Breanna and the thousands of other fans who make up the campaign to #saveconstantine will be redoubling their efforts tonight: tweeting their support for the show before, during and after the season finale. But beyond the comic book fanbase, beyond charismatic lead Matt Ryan or the show’s arcane mythology: what is it about Constantine, or any other fan-campaigned series, that produces this kind of fan advocacy? “Whether it’s a show like Constantine, where many fans came into the show already in love with the character,” says Dr. Basu, “or shows like Buffy and Angel, where they were allowed to fall in love over the duration of the show, it’s really when the characters feel like real people that you don’t want your relationship with them to end, ever. And that’s been true since the days of Star Trek.”
Randy Duncan and Matthew Smith have published a second edition of their essential textbook on the history and business of comics — and this time, they’re joined by a new author: Paul Levitz.
At San Diego Comic Con one tends to see so many promotional flyers that they quickly become background noise, but there was one that immediately leapt up off the table and grabbed my attention: the announcement that February 2015 would bring a second edition of The Power of Comics. And now, as of yesterday, it’s here.
If you’re teaching a course in comics, cramming for one, or just want to become fluent with what has become the lingua franca of today’s mass media, there is not a better place to start. To see what’s new and get a copy for yourself, check out the publisher’s overview and the authors’ website,powerofcomics.com.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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As I was drying my tears following the dramatic conclusion of this week’s episode of Agent Carter, ‘Snafu’, all I could think about was that I wanted more. More Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, whose range and presence eats up every frame of this small-screen show that plays like a big-screen adventure. More of the fabulous, smart dialogue and fantastic supporting cast; more of the beautiful costumes and period lighting — just more! More than just next week’s season finale. If you haven’t been watching Agent Carter yet, in the name of good comic-based television I implore you: read the recaps at ABC.com, binge watch episodes 3-7 and set your DVR to ABC next Tuesday at 9pm/8c.
When we last left Agent Carter she was handcuffed to a desk at SSR, on the receiving end of what was sure to be an impassioned interrogation at the hands of Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). So it was a surprise when ‘Snafu’ opened instead on the show’s second flashback to Russia. While the last flashback showed us a young Dottie (Bridget Regan) snapping necks in 1937, this one takes place in 1943 and concerns the whereabouts of that other Russian mole: Dr. Ivchenko (Ralph Brown). It seems during WWII, Ivchenko was already in full command of the Professor X-like mind control powers he used to push Agent Yauch to commit suicide in last week’s episode. Here he uses them as mental anesthesia on wounded soldier undergoing an amputation.It’s an odd bit of exposition that serves only to define the mechanism of Ivchenko’s powers, which are pretty clearly articulated in later scenes.
Thankfully, the episode quickly plugs us back into the Carter vs. the SSR interrogation scene we’ve all been waiting for and it does not disappoint. Agent Sousa seeks to pin nearly all of the SSR’s unsolved mysteries on Carter’s double-agent machinations: the Raymond/Brannis/Krzeminski murders, theft of the Nitramene bombs and connection to Stark’s weapons cache.
Chief Dooley (Shea Wigham) looks on from behind a one-way mirror with Ivchenko by his side, pulling Dooley’s strings with every twist of his gold hypno-ring. Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) comments on Dooley’s “unorthodox” choice to allow the Doctor to view the proceedings; thank goodness someone is looking on with a critical eye. Sousa, blinded by his heartbreak over Carter’s perceived betrayal, lays into Carter in the most brutal way possible: crediting her defection from SSR to Howard Stark’s ability to “get in deep” with her.
Incredibly, the temperature is turned up still higher on the proceedings as the interrogation drags on. There’s some smart direction in cross-cutting the scenes of Sousa, Thompson and Dooley all taking their turns grilling Carter. It builds the tension so that when Carter unleashes her thus-far concealed opinions on their opinions of her it feels like a revelation. Rather than take umbrage at being seen as a “stray kitten” left at Dooley’s doorstep, a “secretary turned damsel-in-distress” to Thompson or Sousa’s “girl on a pedestal transformed into some daft whore,” Carter remains calm and stands firm. “You’re behaving like children,” she tells them, “what’s worse, what’s far worse, is that this is just shoddy police work!”
And this is the appeal of Agent Carter in a nutshell: using the rampant sexism of the 1940s as a cloak of invisibility for women who serve as double agents on both sides of the emerging Cold War conflict. This being a Captain America spin-off, Agent Carter is clearly the white hat: empowered by the integration of women into the war effort, now struggling to maintain her position. Dottie shows us the other side of the same coin: empowered by integration as a child into a super-spy program, she relishes in her amoral, powerful position post-war.
Jarvis (James D’Arcy) arrives with a half-baked plan to spring Carter from her interrogation with a faked Stark-confession, but only succeeds in throwing suspicion off of Carter long enough to buy them some time to try and figure out Leviathan’s endgame. Ivchenko continues his campaign of brainwashing the Chief. By acting as a mental marriage counselor to Dooley, whose marriage seems to have suffered from to his devotion to SSR, he hopes to gain his trust — and access to Stark’s weapons store. Carter soon realizes the only way out is through, and finally divulges the truth of her double-life to the SSR team. Sousa and Thompson both believe her confession, and that’s enough for Dooley to send the boys off on Dottie’s trail.
What follows is one of the best action sequences to date. Dottie smiles as each SSR Agent underestimates her: hesitating to attack as she disarms or kills them, one after the other. Her prowess leaves even Sousa speechless: as she escapes he watches her execute a controlled fall through the center of a ten-story staircase as effortlessly as if it were a jungle-gym. Meanwhile, Dooley clears the SSR lab of it’s staff with Ivchenko by his side, shopping for Stark technology. Ivchenko makes off with “Item 17″ in just in time for Dottie to appear driving the getaway car. But before they can truly get away, says Ivchenko, they must test item 17 to ensure it “still works.”
Unfortunately, before he left, the bad doctor talked the Chief into strapping on a glowing prototype vest of Stark design. Jarvis, apparently the wikipedia of bad baby technologies, explains it was intended as a heat source for troops in cold conditions. Like nearly all of the Stark bad babies, though, there’s a dangerous flaw: the self-sustaining battery invariably overheats when activated, eventually becoming an explosive device. Warning the team that Ivchenko got inside his head, the vest nears it’s boiling point and Dooley says goodbye to SSR. Wigham, Murray and Atwell play the scene for all it’s worth: wringing every bit of heartbreak from Dooley’s parting lines to both Thompson; “Tell my wife I’m sorry I missed dinner” and Carter: “Promise me you’ll get the son of a bitch that did this!” It’s a nice touch that he leaves the avenging in the hands of Carter, who knows a thing or two about Avengers. Dooley spares Carter a parting: “atta-girl!” before bravely taking a swan-dive through the office windows just in time, exploding in mid-air.
The remaining SSR team mourns the loss of Dooley before discovering that Ivchenko stole item 17 — one of the few bad babies Jarvis can’t identify. Dottie, however, knows exactly what item 17 can do as she wheels it into a movie theater concealed in a baby carriage. A twist of the knob and the device begins to emit gas. She abandons the carriage and locks the theater doors behind her as the gas begins to take effect on the unsuspecting theatergoers. They cough, then get angry and begin to fighting each other like wild animals. They scream and tear at each other, sparing no one and leaving behind a pile of bloody corpses. It seems we finally have our answer to the mystery of Finow! Ernst Mueller (Jack Conley) may have been a creepy Nazi but he wasn’t lying when he claimed the Russian soldiers had “already been torn apart” before he and his soldiers arrived on the scene. Whatever item 17 contains, it made those unlucky Russians and movie patrons tear each other apart.
More favorite moments (there were so many!):
- I won’t pat myself on the back too hard that my earlier suspicions of the Doctor proved correct; he was so shady I rewound episode 5 to make sure I hadn’t missed him hypnotizing Carter into bringing him back to the US.
- Funny that the episode opened on Ivchenko playing mental chess with a wounded soldier; wonder how he’d fair against Magneto
- “Howard Stark has never scrambled my mind or any other part of me!” Oh Peggy, you slay me!
- Bravo to Bridget Regan, who can even make buying a baby carriage effectively sinister
- All the switchboard ladies of the SSR telephone center giving a collective “ooh” at Jarvis’ claim to have a signed confession from Stark
- Hayley Atwell breaking my heart with: “just wanted a second chance at keeping him safe.”
- The moral of the story is: always look for street parking!
Just the other day on Twitter, I was comparing notes with Tom Spurgeon and Johanna Draper Carlson as members of a very selective club of the long running comics bloggers. AND NOW Johanna has announced that she’s starting her site from scratch because of technical difficulties::
After 10 years and well over 7,000 posts, my WordPress database has become corrupt. I’ve been trying to fix it off and on for the last three weeks, but it’s time to cut my losses and start fresh. The posts are still there, somewhere, so I’ll be slowly revisiting and reimporting the ones I found interesting — but really, who needs to read my thoughts from 2006 linking to a blog that’s no longer there? (They used to say comic readers, by which they meant kids who read superhero comics, turned over every four years or so, so you could tell the same or similar stories again for a fresh audience. In my experience, the life of a blog is similarly about five years. After that, the links go dead.) This fresh start should mean better organization for the site, a modern theme, and faster performance.
While it’s Johanna’s site to do with as she pleases, I couldn’t help but be dismayed by this. Johanna has been one of the sharpest and most observant comics commentators over the last (ulp) decade, as testified to the scores of now dead links from this very site. I have no doubt that she’ll bring some of it back but…there goes the archives. There goes the history. Historians who fret about the impermanence of the record in a world that communicates via ephemeral electronic packets are right to be alarmed and we’re not just talking about Hilary Clinton.
I’m sort of a fanatic about keeping the entire Beat archive online. (A few years of it are gone and that bothers me just about every day.) It’s led to a lot of logistical problems (there are nearly 20,000 posts on this blog, and it’s quite unwieldy to move around.) but I can’t think of doing it any other way. There are several reasons for that.
#1 — this is me, baby. Once it’s gone, I’m gone. I have my writing backed up in various spots, but it’s so much easier to just google yourself.
#2 — not that I’m the blog of record, or this is genius, lasting writing, but The Beat is *a* historical chronicle of contemporary and soon outdated views and news. I’ve had a front seat for a lot of comics history while writing about it, and it may be worthless…or it may provide some insights to smarter people than me down the line. I don’t know exactly, but as long as I have two cents to rub together I’m going to keep the Beat online. It may sound egotistical, but I really believe these contemporary records are important in some way.
I’ve seen a lot of history vanish from the internet (or be only partially available in the Wayback Machine) and have learned firsthand the value of “Command-S, yes yes yes”. I’m sure the smart folks at the Library of Congress or somewhere have downloaded all one trillion pages of the internet, but it’s easier to find right here in WordPress. I’ll stick around.
Anyway, good luck to Johanna on figuring things out, and moving forward. Hers is an important voice and I hope she keeps at it with whatever time she can give.
(Art from Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez.)
On Friday, the long running—22 years!—Brian Bendis message board shut down with the above message, and al of its archives went with it.
The Bendis Board was especially busy in the golden age of the message board (1998-2004) and hosted forums for many comics pros, including Gail Simone, David Mack, Kelly Sue DeConnick. I guess some of that will be available on the Way Back Machine, but with the CBR boards being scrubbed, the Bendis Board going away, and rumors of several other foundational message boards being shut down, a lot of comics history is vanished in a way that print just doesn’t offer. As I’m always reminding people, THE INTERNET IS NOT FOREVER.
Former forum member Albert Ching has a good look back including the reminder that it was an incubator for a whole generation of comics pros who posted and became friendly there, including Nick Spencer, Charles Soule, Joe Eisma, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain. A refugee message board has been set up here, according to comments.
I was active on the boards for a little while before time ran out, but there were some good people there…and some jerks, as always, but mostly good times.
Anyway, the Powers TV, er, filmed entertainment show, is in the works with Sharlto Copley as Christian Walker and Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim. I know Copley won;t be using that super South African accent he had in Elysium, but I can dream on. “My WAFF.”
Did I get tricked into running this somewhat non-slick infographic because The Beat is ranked #8 in a list of the top 100 comics blogs? You bet. But I did like that The Nib is #1. I think the chart went by Alexa rankings and it includes webcomics among the blogs, which doesn’t really make any sense. And essential sites like Comics Reporter, Robot 6, Comics Alliance, and about 800 more are missing. But anyway, talking points.
What do YOU think are the top comics sites? Besides the obvious—CBR, BC, Comicbook.com? Talk about it in the comments.
Former retailer and current CBLDF director Alex Cox pens a piece called How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Ignore the Internet with a quick look back at the last ten years of online comics discourse…and how it doesn’t really affect actual consumers that much:
But mostly the REALITY of making, selling, and working with comics took precedence over the bizarre parallel universe of the comics internet. When I owned my shop, and previous to that, when I worked in another high-traffic NYC store, I straw-polled customers from time to time, and found that an astonishingly low number of them spent any time reading about comics online. And even fewer still actively participated in any sorts of discussions. The percent that did read the comics internet was divided further by the percent that used it as anything past a casual scroll. I realized that the numbers of comics sold were not reflected in the amount of online chatter about any given comic, and vice versa. In other words, if two worlds existed of comic fans, the people shopping every Wednesday and the people on twitter all night, the twain were not necessarily meeting. There is a great value in sites like CBR, and the myriad of other news outlets, but too often people convince themselves that comics begin and end on tumblr, and the world is a much bigger place than that.
While I don’t doubt that Cox is correct with the vast majority of readers being immune to the passionate arguments on ComicsSpecialSauce.com, it’s also true that social media enables creators who are good at it to capture and hold a fanbase. I’d point to Matt Fraction and KellySue DeConnick as two of the best, and certainly Chip Zdarsky, Fraction Sex Criminal co-conspirator, as models of this. It’s not entirely clear how much of their audience came for the social media inetraction, but it’s a good bet that some STAY for the brimping and Carol Corps.
BUT MEANWHILE, there is still good writing about comics on the internet, against all odds. Steve Morris, no stranger to good writing himself, has rounded up some examples in The Best Comics Commentary of 2014 with nods to David Harper, Zainab Akhtar, Paul O’Brien, Robiun McConell, Claire Napier and many more. Just head over and click the links and do exactly what they say.
Derf’s cover for the Éditions çà et là 10th anniversary catalog
The other day, Tom Spurgeon linked to a Facebook post by cartoonist T Edward Bak in which he frets about the “money vs art vs oh god what the hell am I doing” feeling that many in the indie world are having, and which we’ve written about many times. In response I was about to go link to a fantastic FB post by Derf Backderf in which he talks about being a cancer survivor and what he’s done since—delivered the great book My Friend Dahmer, continued to cartoon, enjoyed life with his family, travelled the world. It was a wonderful life affirming post that puts a lot of things into perspective.
But….it was gone.
Along with the rest of Derf’s lively, informative FB page. Becuase Facebook decided that “Derf Backderf” isn’t a real name and turfed his entire account. Never mind that Backderf is his real name and Derf is a long-running nickname that’s good enough for the LIbrary of Congress. Not good enough that he’s won awards, appeared on TV and is a real life person that I and many others have had lunch with. Not good enough for Facebook.
Ever pragmatic, Backderf has already started a new page under his Christian name, John Backderf, but yeah, every other post and conversation lost.
If the Sony hack has taught us anything, it’s that maybe saving every thing on the web for all times isn’t a good idea, but we put our whole lives out in the hands of a few digital players….and they can take it all away in a heartbeat. I wrote a few months ago about how my Tumblr account was removed overnight for some infraction that was never explained to me. I managed to get it back but…oh the humanity. And of course, Google decided that I’m a porn site and took away my AdSense revenue.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: DON’T TRUST PROFIT SEEKING COMPANIES TO LOOK OUT FOR YOUR BEST INTERESTS. And Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket! A few years ago a lot of cartooners switched over to FB as their main outlet, and I can see why — instant feedback from your peers, instant community. But it can all be taken away in an instant for reasons that don’t have anything to do with real life, just silly rules made by people who don’t seem to have any interaction with real life. (Just try to contact a Real Human at Google OR Fb.)
WordPress is also a profit seeking enterprise, but at least they give you the tools to do with as you please. Setting up your own site under your own URL takes a few minutes and a few bucks a year and gives you your OWN turf to do with as you please. It’s amazing that we’ve been given all these great tools for free, and we should take advantage of them, but don’t get seduced into think it’s all for OUR benefit.
As for the malaise thing, I quite enjoyed this quote from Mark Hamill on returning to the role of Luke Skywalker:
Given a second chance at playing Skywalker, three decades after that hero’s journey, the now 63-year-old actor says he tried to appreciate the experience more than he did before. Back when he made the original trilogy, he was just launching his career and the pressure was on. This time he said it was different than when he wrapped shooting on Jedi in 1982. “It’s kind of like Scrooge on Christmas morning. ‘Oh my God, this time I’m going to appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to as a young man,’” Hamill says. “The fact that it is so special to so many people … it’s hard to believe you could take something for granted like that.”
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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by Edie Nugent
If Marvel was hoping Agent Carter would improve on its ratings from last week’s 2-episode season premiere, they must be somewhat disappointed this morning. While Agent Carter still snagged second place behind NBC’s Parks and Recreation, it’s ratings are still down 21 percent from last week. Marvel should be interested in more than just ratings, as the show has received considerable critical acclaim.
Agent Carter opens with a summary of last week’s events and the show’s premise: Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) lost “the love of her life” when Captain America’s plane went down in the Arctic. It also mentions how Carter fought side by side with Cap during WWII only to be demoted to answering phones when the war ended. It’s a nice callback to the displacement many women who joined the workforce during WWII suffered in postwar America.
“Time and Tide” builds off of last weeks’ two part premiere and finds Agent Carter confronting the beau of her neighbor Molly (Laura Coover) as he attempts to pull a Montague by climbing to her windowsill. He finds the end of Carter’s gun instead, and shakily apologizes for choosing the wrong window. These antics get Molly kicked out of the women-only Griffith housing block the following day, making way for Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) who Carter ignores but seems as if she may come to be important to the series.
The attempted break-in reminds Carter of another, more successful break-in: the heist that saw Howard Stark’s “bad babies” taken from his vault. Here this episode subverted my expectations: I assumed the pursuit of Stark’s dangerous inventions would lead to a bad baby of-the-week style plot. It was a pleasant surprise when Carter doubled back to Stark mansion to do some good old detective work, exploring how the tech was stolen in hopes of revealing more about who took it and why.
Before she can fully explore the sewers beneath the vault, however, the SSR’s Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) appears at the door & questions Jarvis about the license plate to Stark’s car found at the implosion site of the Roxxon plant. Carter hides herself while Jarvis claims the car was stolen and that he filed a police report. Thompson drags Jarvis to SSR headquarters for questioning where he threatens to reveal Jarvis’ dishonorable discharge for treason. Now back at SSR, Carter plays dumb: telling Thompson she’s found the police report the SSR pretended to “lose” on Stark’s stolen car within earshot of Jarvis – forcing them to release him. This serves to confirm the SSR’s suspicions of her incompetence, and she receives a public dressing-down from Chief Dooley (Shea Wigham).
It was a nice touch to see Carter shaken by this experience, which reflects well on her character: SSR may be a cover job that condescends to her regularly, but it’s still something she takes pride in. It doesn’t slow her down, though, and on her return to Stark mansion she deduces that the sewer floodgates beneath it’s vault provided the smuggler’s route. Sure enough they discover a tug boat moored right outside of the sewer floodgate flying a flag bearing the symbol we saw scrawled in the dirt by Leet Brannis (James Frain) before he died last week.
Upon inspection of the boat, they discover a large cache of Stark’s bad babies. While Jarvis calls it in to SSR, Carter is set upon by a thug presumably garding the boat and engages in a fabulous fight scene where she takes as many punches as she throws before Jarvis hits the thug in the arm with a muscle-contracting invention of Stark’s. Sirens wail in the background and Carter & Jarvis flee the scene. The SSR team arrive and Agent Krezminski (Kyle Bornheimer) is tasked to bring the thug back to headquarters. On that drive, the thug reveals to Krezminski that an “English broad” is responsible for his beating. This seems to seal the Agent’s fate; only moments later an unidentified hitman kills both the thug and the Agent.
A somber workplace greets Carter the following day, with the SSR now pledged to pin both the Roxxon destruction and the killing of Kresminski on Howard Stark. “Time and Tide” is a tightly written and compelling episode of Agent Carter. A great deal of the show’s appeal is how it continues to function on three levels. You have the hardboiled cop-style narrative of the SSR Agents, contrasted with the spy-thriller of Carter and Jarvis’ adventures, set against the lives of Peggy and her roommate Angie: women empowered during WWII searching for their place post-war. I find myself wishing we had more than just 5 episodes left. We can only hope that Marvel and ABC see Agent Carter’s value in more than Nielsen’s ratings and grant it a second season.
- “Mr. Stark would trust a shark not to bite him if it was wearing a short enough skirt”
- Jarvis’ house husband by-day, Agent by-night routine is a lovely play against gender expectations
- The back-story on Jarvis’ treason to save his Jewish wife following the war was lovely
What do you think of this week’s Agent Carter? Let us know in the comments!
Bookmark! Bookmark! Bookmark! Darling Sleeper is a new comics magazine hosted on medium.com. It’s run by cartoonist Jesse Lucas, who has put out books including Colloquial and works at Forest Giant when he isn’t cartooning. The site is billed as “a publication focusing on comics, art and other independent thought” and has already featured interviews with Box Brown, Aisha Taylor and Sam Alden, a comics excerpt from Whitney Taylor, new comics from J. Jonny and Keiler Roberts and Lucas’s own Guide to Self Publishing.
So it’s kind of a dream indie comics site. Got that.
Like I said, bookmark. Between this and The Nib, Medium has become a comics haven. Thanks Twitter!
We’re looking for a few writers around here and near here.
§ Jason Enright is moving on from the Marvel monthly sales charts due to some exciting but unannounced news. I know a bunch of you apply for this every time, but please reapply — previous experience with databases and a glee for number crunching required. Jason is graciously doing this month’s chart but after that, we are on our own. Email me at comicsbeat at gmail.com if interested. This is a volunteer position.
§ I have an opening or two for reviewers at Publishers Weekly, but specifically for reviewers who are familiar with small press and indie cartoonists. If you can talk knowledgeably about the post grad careers of more than one CCS student, you are the person I am looking for. These are paid reviews. Email me at the aboveThanks folks, I have more great applications for this than I know what to do with.
§ As you may have noticed we have ramped up the reviews section here at The Beat, as part of our first Patreon goal! Whoo hoo! I definitely would like to add more indie focused reviews to the site as well. These is (for now) non paid reviews, but if you have something you are dying to get off your chest, we’re always looking for quality submissions. I’ll have more to say about all that very soon.
As announced on Twitter and expanded on via Tumblr Andy Khouri is stepping down as editor in chief at Comics Alliance, and the dynamic duo of Andrew Wheeler and Janelle Asselin-Moore will shares duties.
Today is my last day as the editor of ComicsAlliance. I’ve chosen to reduce my responsibilities to that of a freelance assistant and consultant, before phasing out completely. I’m very gladly handing the keys to my top choices to run the site: Andrew Wheeler and Janelle Asselin. They will make CA better, I have no doubt whatsoever.
Stepping away isn’t an easy decision, but it’s the right one for me and for the site. There’s a lot pulling me in different directions right now, including some major, long term personal projects that have caused me distraction from my duties (nothing bad or tragic, just very big and time consuming and pretty boring to talk about — I’m fine, we’re all fine), as well as some professional opportunities that really aren’t compatible with running a media enterprise like CA. I’ve only so much time and so many resources, and I’m afraid something had to give.
This is the third comics site to lose its EIC in the last few months. We just mentioned Multiversity’s Matthew Meylikhov announcement he was moving on
, and Lucas Siegel quietly left Newsarama a few months ago. DOES THIS MEAN THE DEATH OF COMICS WEBSITES??? I don’t think so, but this is a hard life and as awesome as it is, sometimes you gotta put you first.
I really respected Andy as a fellow journo, shared several panels with him, and always enjoyed catching up with him at shows. He has definitely followed in the tracks of former DA editors Laura Hudson and Joe Hughes and made the site a very strong repository for original features, something badly needed in the hurry up internet world. All that said, Janelle and Andrew are equally awesome and there are two of them, so we have every reason to expect continued good things.
I suspected we’d see the payoff of several looming changes in the business in 2015, and if the first month is any indicator, I was right! Buckle your seatbelt.
PS: DO NOT BE A STRANGER, ANDY, DO YOU HEAR ME?
AUGHTS NOSTALGIA. Arthur Magazine was a FREE culture magazine that defined a lot of the early internet/alternative culture of the early century, before the internet drove it out of business by supplanting the advertising model that made free newspaper a thing. However, Arthur magazine is back after four years with issue #33, now with a cheap $5 cover price. And what a cover! It’s by Roarin’ Rick Veitch who is interviewed within. A launch party will be held 1/3 at Floating World in Portland.
WHO: Arthur #33
WHAT: Magazine release party and art exhibit
WHEN: Thursday, January 3, 6-10pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 400 NW Couch St.
And here’s the inside deets:
GIANT-SIZED Broadsheet newspaper
Sixteen gigantic 15″ x 22.75″ pages (8 color, 8 b/w)
This issue’s contents include…
Dream a Deeper Dream: A how-to conversation with cartoonist ROARIN’ RICK VEITCH by Jay Babcock. Plus “Cartographer of the American Dreamtime,” an appreciation of Rick Veitch and his work by Alan Moore.
JACK ROSE: the definitive, career-spanning interview with this late great America guitarist, conducted by Brian Rademaekers just months before his death three years ago. Plus: Jack Rose discography compiled by Byron Coley, and an illustration of a classic Jack pose by Plastic Crimewave.
Stewart Voegtlin on WAYLON JENNINGS’ dark dream, with an illustration by Beaver
Columnist DAVE REEVES on bath salts and border guards, with an illustration by Arik Roper
Massive reviewage of underground culture by Bull Tongue columnists BYRON COLEY & THURSTON MOORE
Columnist NANCE KLEHM on new modes of exchange—and homemade smokes, with an illustration by Kira Mardikes
Cartoonist GABBY SCHULZ explores our interstate nightmare
The Center for Applied Magick on “The Magic(k) of Money” — and how YOU can win $1000 for planning a BANK ROBBERY!
and the proverbial much much more
A must read and a must-read for masochists top our linkage today, both returning to topics that were much on the minds of anyone in comics about 30 years ago — oldies but goodies.
First and most importantly, library professor Carol Tilley has been going through Dr. Fredric Wertham's notes and found out that he was, to use a technical term, full of hooey.
Although everything seems to be forever on the internet, it really isn't. It's oh so fragile, and the prime time of your life can be crossed out by one CEO's pen swipe.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Mike Molcher is the PR Co-ordinator for Rebellion, meaning he is the man directly responsible for promoting their comics, 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. If you’ve noticed over the last few months that more people are talking about 2000AD, be it the recent ‘Trifecta’ storyline, or the ‘gay Judge Dredd’ teaser which got picked up everywhere – that’s Mike Molcher’s work. He’s also an interviewer and writer himself, who has interviewed many of the key figures who have worked at 2000AD over the years, including Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Dave Gibbons and Carlos Ezquerra.
But how do you go about promoting a company like 2000AD, which releases a new anthology EVERY WEEK? I spoke to Mike about his work with the company, to see how exactly he goes about promoting the series. And what is comic book marketing, anyway? How does it work? Is this interview secretly all part of his marketing plan?
By reading this, have we become trapped in Mike Molcher’s sinister plans for 2000AD to take over the world? Oh dear…
Steve: I’ll start with a self-sabotaging question: since 2005 you’ve been involved with interviewing some of the most influential 2000 AD creators – from Alan Moore to Carlos Ezquerra. What makes for a good interview?
Mike: Oof, tough start! I can’t say mine are particular exemplars of good practice so I can only speak about the interviews I enjoy reading – they tend to be the ones that actually stray away from what’s on the comic book page to what’s going on in the mind of the creator, what motivates them, what inspires them, what grinds their gears. By uncovering these things the interviewer can begin to form a picture of the roots of that person’s creativity. Talent and ability never exist in isolation, they have always come from somewhere (usually thanks to a lot of hard work) and it’s the people of comics that I find most fascinating. I like to think my interviews try and achieve that (he said, nervously).
Steve: Before you took on your current role, you worked as a features writer for 2000 AD. How did you first come to get involved with the company in this respect?
Mike: I think it was Matt Badham who first mentioned to me that 2000 AD was looking for creator interviews and features. At the time I was a local newspaper reporter in the north of England but had started up my own self-published magazine, The End is Nigh, which took a Fortean Times-style look at end-of-the-world theories. I’d interviewed Alan Moore about the apocalyptic aspects of his work and his ideas on the approaching human singularity, so I did a retrospective on him for the Judge Dredd Megazine. That opened the door to interviews and I’ve been doing them ever since. Fortunately it meant that when I applied for the job they already knew me and knew that I was a big 2000 AD fan.
Steve: Obviously, your goal as a features writer is to promote and flesh out the company you’re writing for at the time. Do you think there’s a natural step between journalism and PR? How do you alternate between the two?
Mike: I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but you’ll find many of the big names in PR in Britain started out as journalists in some respect. Personally, I’d say that firsthand experience of what goes on inside the head of a journalist and what makes a good story is invaluable when you’re trying to reach out to reporters and reviewers. I continue to write creator interviews in my spare time for the Judge Dredd Megazine and Comic Heroes, so personally I think one compliments the other, because it keeps me abreast of what’s going on in the industry and how we can use that to our advantage at work.
Steve: Only a short while ago you moved to become Rebellion’s PR Co-ordinator. What sort of work does this involve on a day-to-day basis?
Mike: Answering a LOT of emails, mostly. 2000 AD represents just part of my work so I spend a lot of time writing press releases for new titles and announcements, keeping the social media side of things flowing, running blog tours for our three novel imprints, keeping track of the development of the various games Rebellion are working on, plus trying to work out new opportunities to promote our products. Fortunately we’ve recently taken on a marketing coordinator, Robbie Cooke, whose focus is more on the games side of things so he’s been a massive help with that.
Steve: Rebellion don’t just publish 2000 AD/Judge Dredd, but also handle novels and computer games. How do you structure your time between the three?
Mike: With a rather heavily annotated diary, a lot of scheduling, and an increasingly wrinkled brow. Working across three different industries can be pretty mad at times and making sure I give equal time to every new title and product can be damn hard work. Ultimately I have to judge whether something needs a slight PR nudge to sell or a heavy marketing shove out the door…
Steve: The Dredd movie came out last year, giving you a unique opportunity for promotion on a wider field. How did the movie affect the way you promoted the comics?
Mike: I very quickly learned that ANY mention of movies gets people really excited – our most shared image on Facebook was one I did publicizing the fact that DREDD was number one in the DVD and Blu-Ray charts over here and even the slightest mention of the movie would get a huge response. We’re constantly asked whether there are movies coming for our other characters, so it seems the magic of film hasn’t exactly diminished in the digital age!
We obviously went heavy on the promotion of Judge Dredd to tie in to the movie and that’s really paid off – the collected ‘Case Files’ have been flying off the shelves on both sides of the Atlantic – but I have tried to make sure that when someone discovers 2000 AD for the first time they quickly see that it’s not all about Dredd, as loveable as he is. We have a huge and constantly growing back catalogue of some of the greatest characters in comics, from Halo Jones to Nemesis the Warlock and more recent things like Shakara, Low Life and Brass Sun.
Steve: Were there any promotional campaigns you were surprised to see get less attention than others? Do you find, when promoting a comic to a film audience, there was a difference in reaction than when you promote more directly to comic fans?
Mike: Nikolai Dante ended last year after 14 years. And when I say ended, writer Robbie Morrison and artist Simon Fraser brought the Russian rogue’s story to a close. In effect, we killed off one of our most popular characters. And he ain’t coming back. For a comic book to do something as bold as that, I thought, deserved more attention – alas, no-one really picked up on the announcement. It may be that he never had the right profile outside of 2000 AD, but by the time I came on board it was a bit late to change the situation.
I don’t think there’s a big difference in the way you talk to the two audiences other than reminding yourself that the film audience won’t be as conversant in the language and culture of comics as someone who’s been reading them for years. The biggest question we got was “I loved the movie, where do I start reading?”. We were very fortunate that someone can see DREDD then walk into their local comic book and walk out with a comic featuring the same character they saw on screen; Karl Urban and Alex Garland nailed the character of Judge Dredd so perfectly that it was like he’d leapt off the page. So marketing to fans of the film was a case of giving them a good starting point (The Complete Case Files #4, if you’re interested, then #5 and then pick up a copy of ‘Origins’ and ‘America’) and then letting them discover it for themselves.
Steve: You’ve spearheaded several successful campaigns for 2000 AD over the last year – the ‘gay Judge Dredd’ promo picked up a lot of attention, in particular. How do you decide which comics might be suitable for a push, and which stories are going to pick up the most attention?
Mike: I talk to 2000 AD’s editor Matt Smith about what we have coming up and he’s very good at highlighting things that are noteworthy. For example, we recently had BPRD’s James Harren do his first Judge Dredd story and we’ve got a couple of big artist announcements coming in the next few months which are quite exciting. I always do a baseline social media push for each edition of 2000 AD – teasing new stories or returning series, promoting striking covers – but quite often there’s something specific to push like new or returning talent.
The ‘gay Dredd’ campaign was a particular highlight. Not every fan was pleased with my tactics there, but the wall by my desk covered in national and international media clippings and the 30% hike in sales for that particular issue (with high retention and new subscriber rates) makes me feel somewhat justified. It was the same for the return of the Dark Judges as part of the Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos storyline – we ran a great teaser campaign with CBR and the sales graphs all blipped upwards and stayed there.
Alongside the digital explosion our print edition is benefiting from the higher profile – over the past six months, the 2000 AD iPad app has not only grown our number of subscribers overall but has also bolstered the number of print subscribers. We’ve got clear data showing that promotion has played a major part in that, so I’ve been very pleased with our work over the past year.
Steve: Similarly, the Trifecta story from Al Ewing, Si Spurrier and Rob Williams got a lot of critical acclaim. Can you plan for that sort of buzz ahead of a story being released? Ahead of the issue being released, do you try to arrange for more people to get hold of review copies? How do you manage a story which you think is going to be critically acclaimed, by fans and by reviewers?
Mike: We decided very early on with Trifecta that we wouldn’t spoil the surprise, but that once it was out in the open it was all hands to the pumps – Al, Si, and Rob played along brilliantly and once it was out there we really pushed hard on the reaction from readers and from those reviewers who picked up on what was happening. The issues of Trifecta have been some of our biggest digital sellers as people hear the hype then go back and pick up the relevant issues.
Building word of mouth isn’t much use when it’s for a single weekly issue because by the time people have heard about it it’s already time for the next issue, but when you have an exciting ongoing storyline then you can really help spread the word. We do weekly press previews to bloggers and journalists; getting those all-important reviews means getting copies in the right people’s hands, something that I think we’re much better at doing now than we ever have been.
Steve: Are there any techniques which always help drive attention to a comic? Valiant’s successful relaunch, for example, seemed to have a lot to do with the way they publicised themselves ahead of the first comic release.
Mike: On a very basic level you can’t go wrong with new artwork, the return of popular characters, and intriguing teasers. Nothing’s better for getting social media buzz going than a juicy piece of art or a surprise announcement that your favourite character is coming back. The biggest attention-grabbers are when you change the game a little bit or find a niche no-one knew was there.
Steve: What do you think about the current state of American comics, in terms of marketing? Marvel and DC seem to have become a lot more ‘stunt’ orientated over the last few months. Every other day sees about fifty teaser images get released.
Mike: In an insanely competitive marketplace, it’s small wonder that the big two have to shout louder and louder about their books. I like what DC is doing with its ‘DC family’ blog and the campaigns on titles such as Journey into Mystery, Young Avengers and Spider-Man that Marvel has been running have been spot on (and I was blown away by the skill of their digital announcements at SXSW recently), while Image has completely reinvented itself over the last two years into something a lot closer to the feel and ethos of 2000 AD than I think any of us realise!
I often get asked why we promote 2000 AD the way that we do and why we don’t just let “word of mouth” do our work for us. 2000 AD has been on a hell of a run for the past decade and the word of mouth was very positive, yet we weren’t significantly building our readership. Two years of strong marketing and new distribution and we’re adding readers. It’s not rocket science.
Steve: 2000AD must be an interesting magazine to work on, because it’s a weekly anthology series. How do you focus your PR for each issue? Do you focus on creators, or characters – or the magazine as a whole, single product?
Mike: All of the above! And yes, it’s a constantly fascinating, evolving comic to work on. We have a brilliant stable of artists and writers who’ve really knocked it out of the park over the last 18 months, plus a tiny editorial team who are just as enthusiastic and passionate about 2000 AD as any reader. It can be challenging at times because many non-readers have an idea of it that’s 20 years out of date; all those great strips and creators are fantastic and amazing, but the past ten years of 2000 AD have been universally praised amongst fans as a second golden age and that’s pretty bloody exciting.
Steve: We’ve seen 2000AD building up a reputation overseas (which in this case means America) over the last year or so. How do you approach publicising the magazine abroad? Again, do you find you have to tailor the material you offer overseas readers?
Mike: It’s been a particular aim of mine to make us as much of a part of the comics mainstream in America as any other publisher and I believe we’re starting to get some traction there. I’d like to offer more previews of material to news sites, though it can be a struggle to make people understand that carrying 2000 AD news can bring in readers. We have a great relationship with sites like CBR and Comics Alliance, and some real advocates of our comics in people like Doug Wolk, Karl Keily, and Tucker Stone. We bring out one or two collections specifically for North America every month so it’s a case of publicising them as normal while bearing in mind that American and Canadian audiences may not be as au fait with the language and culture of British comics.
Steve: Do you think digital has evened the playing field a little, now everybody has access to comics from home?
Mike: Completely. For reasons unfortunately beyond our control many comic book readers in North America can’t get hold of 2000 AD as easily as we would like, so being able to beam each ‘Prog’ directly into their hands is a massive bonus. We have a reputation as a British comics powerhouse, so we just have to make sure people are intrigued enough to give 2000 AD a go.
Steve: What would you say is the key to working PR in the comics industry, in the current climate?
Mike: Good material to work with, constant attention to social media and a thick skin (I admit mine could be somewhat thicker).
Steve: What would you like to see more of from comic companies in 2013, in terms of PR, co-ordination, and marketing?
Mike: A bit more innovation, but then that’s easy for me to say and very hard to suggest ways in which you could do it. While marketing is important, it should never drive creative choices but I would like to see marketing that pointedly pushes out into other demographics and stresses aspects of comics beyond the obvious – the industry has a lot of work to do to convince people it’s not all spandex and T&A for teenage and not-so-teenage boys. But it must always be about working with the creative teams, who are the ones delivering the material in the first place.
Many thanks to Mike for his time. Big interview! Repay him by following him on Twitter. If you’d rather see a Tharg-approved twitter feed, however, then you can follow 2000AD too. And if that still isn’t enough Tharg endorsement, head over to 2000AD online.
Tumblr users who have been reveling in its ability to share content—and block trolls via the plug-in Disqus—got a rude shock today when due to code problems, users found their custom themes disabled and their comment boards wiped out. Among the missing—DC Women Kicking Ass’s lively comments section. DCWKA’s Sue took to Twitter to mourn the loss, and just as I write this it looks like she may have found the missing posts, but others were still searching.
Tumblr is great for sharing but, amazingly, lacks a built in commenting section. Disqus enabled not only comments, but a sophisticated blocking system which enabled many diverse communities to flourish without the chilling effect of trolling endemic to most of the internet.
However, Tumblr has also never been that friendly to plug-ins. While Tumblr hadn’t responded to an inquiry as I write this, it’s mostly likely the changes had to do with Heartbleed, the terrifying vulnerability that affects 2 out of 3 websites via the ubiquitous OpenSSL interface. This weakness, discoevred just yesterday, allows hackers to access passwords, sources, cookies, emails, passwords, you name it. (Is Heartbleed another name for I Killed The Watcher?)
My ISP already closed down open SSL and fixed one of my servers…but the vulnerability was there for two years—meaning its time to change those passwords YET AGAIN. The internet is NOT a safe place.
Tumblr has long been seen as a fairyland free for all of content and anonymity…even though last May it was purchased by Yahoo, which is notorious for bungling acquisitions under its previous ownership. While the current problems showcase the weakness of specific HTTPS vulnerabilities, it’s also a reminder that unless you have access to backing up your content, it can be removed in a heartbeat.
As long as we’re harkening back to the internet of 10 years ago, as we are in this AMAZING THRILLING BEAT 10TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, one of the great hallowed traditions of the internet came under fire yesterday, with TCJ.com co-editor Tim Hodler wonderedif TCJ.com should turn off comments and encourage a “letter’s page” instead. Oddly, this inspired a flurry of comments. The “letters page” idea goes back to Blood & Thunder the letters page on the old print Comics Journal where industry titans would throw rocks at each other. Seriously these are a goldmine of Bronze Age defensiveness and invective. Would the same spirit be upheld in a world with instantaneous communication in every medium known to humankind? Not sure.
The tcj.com comment crewe is also a throwback to the original TCJ.com message board, a brutal, often trollish place. No quarter was asked, none was given on the TCJ boards. You had to live by your wits, and the same old arguments would break out on a weekly basis. Despite all this, it still qualified as social media for its day and fostered an indie comics community that survived and migrated, Elfquest-fashion, to a greener more temperate clime.
The jury still seems to be out, but while the TCJ comments maintain occasional flashes of brilliance and information—less since the death of Kim Thompson—they are also home to a nest of internet trolls, some of them ported over from the old system.
This whole argument seemed to kick off some STRONG feelings on the webz! I see a whole bunch of folks were mixing it up on Twitter but to be honest, I was watching the Belgium-USA game and missed whatever started it. I do know the vastly male make-up of the comment crewe was dissed by some, some upheld the smattering of good info, others thought killing it all would be a mercy killing. And some people suggest moderation — I’m pretty sure the current boards are moderated, but it only takes a few rampaging wackadoos to throw everything off kilter. People used the phrase “pap pap” and that’s always funny.
There was also this suggestion first voiced by
Don’t ditch comments. Moderate, limit and up/down-vote them.
Sub-reddit then! And Hodler replied:
We actually had upvoting in comments when we first relaunched the site, and it was wildly unpopular with readers. I wonder if things would be different now.
I’m a big Tim Hodler fan but doing things that are unpopular with your readers is often what’s best for them. Trolls hate moderation, controls and scrutiny by the authorities. And of course, up or down voting doesn’t assure that extreme positions won’t be supported. Yet TCJ’s audience is small enough that you don’t get general “look at me I’m being an asshole!” type posts.
I’m partial to comments, as you can see from this site, but only MODERATED comments. I check the comments here four or five times as day and have banned several people for being asshats. I’ve toyed with putting in the Facebook comment system but it hardly seems necessary right now. My vote for TCJ? Better modding. But if there isn’t time for that, try letters to the editor. It worked for Ben Franklin.
UPDATED: And Dan Nadel has announced the new policy and it’s EXACTLY WHAT I SUGGESTED!
Well, we certainly got a lot of comments about our comments. Here’s what we’re going to do until Monday, which will satisfy no one but ourselves: We will now moderate all comments and filter out anything we don’t find in some way productive or entertaining. We will be stringent about this, and thus will delete many of the types of things (Lee/Kirby nonsense, obvious bad-faith arguments, blatant trolling) argued against on the thread. Take into account that we are both devoted Howard Stern listeners (for you non-Americans, Howard Stern is a figure of wisdom and devotion who functions for many of us as a kind of benevolent spirit guide), so our standards are pretty enlightened. After Monday we’ll either decide to continue this policy or shut down the comments all together. How’s that for an anti-climax?
UPDATE: and Brett Schenker has traced the whole thing to a reader with a vendetta against Remender.
In last week’s issue of Captain America, #22, two characters were shown having a few glasses of wine and tumbling into bed only to wake up the next morning wondering what happened. The characters in question were Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, one of the few prominent African-American characters in both the Marvel comics and film universes. The woman was Jet Black, aka Jet Zola, the daughter of Arnim Zola. Although she runs around in a skimpy costume reminiscent of Leeloo from The Fifth Element, this is perhaps explained by her having been raised in an alien dimension. Although she was born only a few years ago in real world time, she has aged more in comics time.
However, one blogger on Examiner saw it as the Falcon banging a 14 year old and over the weekend—even though a panel in the comic explicitly states that she is 23 years old— a #firerickrememnder hashtag spread across the viralnets saying that he had a beloved minority character commit statutory rape. Remender has been in hot water a few times before, so this found some purchase.
Now, I’m not am expert on current Marvel continuity, but apparently a reader named Khat is in a detailed tumblr post, it was explained about parallel dimensions and time and aging and other stuff. Anyway, maybe Falcon made a mistake, but at least she was of age.
The outrage itself spawned more outrage, especially among comics pros who are sick of being held up to political level scrutiny, and for calls for the man to lose his job over a storyline they objected to for erroneous reasons.
Former Marvel editor Tom Brennan even blogged about this:
I understand there are complications to this scene that some offended comic book fans would use to argue that the scene was somehow an instance of statutory rape or that it degraded the Falcon, a major character in comics who finally got his due in this year’s Captain America movie. I appreciate how these people feel. I also think they’re wrong in their understanding of the book. The scene definitely made me uncomfortable – but that’s because it’s drama and sometimes drama makes you uncomfortable.
But arguing the story is not what I’m interested in doing right now. What bothers me – and should bother *everyone* — is that people are calling on a company to fire someone because of something that company asked him to do.
There seems to be a grave misunderstanding in today’s protest-hungry world of entertainment fans into how far their opinion should really matter. You don’t like a story? That’s fine – don’t read a story. But unless that massive dislike leads to a nosedive in a book’s sales (which has not occurred, despite how much comics journalists like to spin the numbers), then you not liking someone is not equal to a moral judgment. And to call for someone to be fired for doing a story that was approved by a group of very good, very talented and very smart editors, editors who represent the interests and opinions of a broader corporation, is offensive. Imagine saying a police officer should be fired because you don’t like that he gave out parking tickets, or if a teacher was fired for teaching a sex ed curriculum approved by a school – that’s what these people are demanding. Rick’s not writing in a vacuum here, not with a character as important as Captain America. Like the stories or hate the stories, they’re not just Rick’s stories, they’re Marvel’s stories. A fan who demands one person lose their job because they don’t like a story is a fan who has demonstrated a severe lack of understanding of how any of this really works.
It’s no secret that internet outrage is a constant these days, over matters great and small. And sometimes, as with real issues of harassment and discrimination, it’s a powerful tool. (The Skyler Page incident
is an example of a real problem being played out in real time on social media.) But a lot of people just troll around looking for something to be outraged about. And there are powerful psychological reasons
A 2013 study, from Beihang University in Beijing, of Weibo, a Twitter-like site, found that anger is the emotion that spreads the most easily over social media. Joy came in a distant second. The main difference, said Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who studies anger, is that although we tend to share the happiness only of people we are close to, we are willing to join in the rage of strangers. As the study suggests, outrage is lavishly rewarded on social media, whether through supportive comments, retweets or Facebook likes. People prone to Internet outrage are looking for validation, Professor Martin said. “They want to hear that others share it,” he said, “because they feel they’re vindicated and a little less lonely and isolated in their belief.”
I’m all for social justice, and when someone says something stupid these days they get called on it in about seven seconds
. But as the above study suggests, internet outrage can also be part of a mob mentality. And mobs aren’t particularly informed or sensitive to nuance.
This wasn’t the first misplaced outrage comics mob, and it won’t be the last. And #notallmobs. But still, come on, people. It’s better to use your energy trying to make a difference that matters than running around looking for something to be mad about.
Via Robot 6
Is the Beat obsessed with The View liking comics? Why, yes, because it represents the farthest encroachment of comics culture into the fortress of coffee klatch culture. Of course with Whoopi Goldberg on board, it’s not that hard as she’s the ultimate undercover nerd mole. A longtime comics fan, if she’s not awkwardly plugging Lady Thor, she’s showing off Vamplets, including plush toys and Action Labs comics, as the above photo, supplied by Action Labs, reveals. The incident took place on August 6th during the “Whoopi’s favorite things” segment, as she called Vamplets “A little creepy, but so fun and sweet”. Artwork from the Vamplets’ graphic album, “The Nightmare Nursery: Volume one”, was also featured.
Now if we can just get Jenny McCarthy to speculate on who should play Aquaman.
Vamplets was created by Gayle Middleton, who was also behind Hasbro’s redesigns of My little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop. The series centers around teenager Destiny Harper who is transported to Gloomvania where she must fight the cute invasion of the l’il Vamplets.
The Nightmare Nursery: Volume One is adapted by writer Dave Dwonch and artists Amanda Coronado and Bill Blankenship.
Here’s a good idea: Small Press Previews, a new site that I was informed of by Jared Smith. They have 46 publishers signed up to create a single spot to see previews of small press comics coming out each month.
For instance I didn’t know there was a new Derf coming from Alternative Press! On sale at SPX! — whoopie!
While the idea is a sounds one, if you are of the demographic that watches a lot of CBS tv shows you may, as I did, have a bit oof trouble figuring out how to access the previews. They are loaded in a fancy schmancy “virtual riffle” where you must lift up each page and go to the next. It’s fun but I might tire of it in a busy month.
I’ve had a lot of talk here about previews, and whether readers like them in an embedded format, streaming or on an iPad. Or now “virtual riffling.”
Via many media yesterday came news of USA Today laying off a bunch of folks, including Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson, following a 15 year run. A few may remember in the VERY VERY early says of this site, Whitney was a blogging nemesis, bearing in mind that when we both started there were only four blogs. The pretend “feud” lasted about five minutes, and ended as soon as I met Whit and found out what an awesomely kind, smart and talented person she was.
Seriously there is not a person on earth who is nicer than Whitney.
Just to prove it, she spent the day after being laid off not sulking or crying but answering tweets to her on Twitter with the same friendly open approach that she uses with everything.
This isn’t an obit, as Whitney’s talented will be snatched up I’m sure. But I will say that she pioneered the “nerd pop culture” blog at USA Today and covered comics along with movies, TV, film and music, and with the exact same degree of passion. I have no idea how Whitney processed all the information she did—if you think I work hard, it would take five Heidis to do what one Whitney did.
I’d also like to mention her meetups at San Diego, which the above poster is from. These ended when Gannett got to cheap to send her out there. They were great events where all kinds of people, from Hope Larson to Joss Whedon showed up. Nothing like them any more…
Anyway, good luck to a friend and colleague.
Here’s some more tributes to Pop Candy and Whitney:
I still remember handling PR for Yahoo!’s entertainment brands (which were totes ahead of its time, BTW!) and any time we’d get a mention on Pop Candy, my colleagues and I would squeal with a fervor typically seen only at One Direction concerts. Pop Candy was always our holy grail simply because we read and loved it.
The best part about PR is getting to see clients that you love covered by media that you deeply respect and often read yourself. A day didn’t go by when I didn’t read Pop Candy, and when I did skip a day, I felt like pop culture was passing me by and I was still wearing stonewashed jeans (“What do you mean Counting Crows aren’t cool anymore??”). Pop Candy was like my Facebook feed before it became Upworthy clickbait and annoying memes. I discovered things on it.
Here is one from the archives: A CNN iReport put together by Jennifer Daydreamer and yours truly, this is an impromptu interview with James Sime, owner of Isotope, The Comic Book Lounge, that segued into an impromptu interview with Whitney Matheson. The discussion here involves the state of comics, which is always evolving, and how they coexist with Hollywood. This is from 2010, the year that “Scott Pilgrim” and “The Walking Dead” were big winners at the Eisner Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
Whitney hosted some awesome Pop Candy meetups through the years. Well, perhaps there will be something similar in the future.
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We here at The Beat have long been a fan of Tim Beyer’s analysis of comics and comics-based entertainment trends at The Motley Fool and he’s just launched his own site to expand on that called The Full Bleed:
Why have a blog covering the business when I’m already writing about comics and pop culture elsewhere? Simple. There are times when I want to offer more than an analyst’s perspective. Sometimes, I just want to be a fan. The Full Bleed lets me do that.
Here, I’ll be going between the panels to offer insights on news and rumors about TV shows, films, and most of all, comics. (I’ve been reading and collecting comics since the late ’70s.)
Given Beyer’s data-driven take on the business of pop culture this should be bookmarked! (Disclosure, he calls out this site as well, so consider this full on logrolling. BUt if you like The Beat you’ll probably like The Full Bleed.)