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After making some noises about it for a while, Tom Spurgeon has joined the crowdfunding world for his award-winning Comics Reporter site with a Patreon that is up to over $500 in less than 24 hours. I think I might have been in the first 10 supporters, and I urge all Beat readers to go over and pledge their support. Spurgeon, who also runs the CXC show in Columbus in his spare time, explains his reasons in a post that it was time for a new way of covering comics. but future goals include a return to long form reporting and on general doing it better. But your $2 doesn’t just support Comics Reporter, it gets you whole new thing: a PDF magazine:
I’m going to try and do a monthly publication — The Comics Report — that reflects my best ability to put together a PDF-style magazine. I plan on keeping The Comics Reporter much the same as it always has been. I think I can make site and magazine independent reading experiences with very different purposes, experiences that key on what each form has to offer. I think this will lead to better coverage, and I hope it may serve a growing need for a way into comics that doesn’t count on your full immersion every second of every day. I hope it becomes destination coverage.
Everyone that signs up for the Patreon at $2 or over will get the next month’s issue: starting on September 1 with #1 (there will be a scattered “bonus issue” #0 on the first of August; it will be cool). You can also just send me the cash direct via pay pal for a sub as long as you want one. (send me an extra dollar, too: so $25 for a yearly; $13 for six months, etc.).
A couple of notes on this: I noticed a small spike in my own Patreon,
with at least one contributor explaining that he wanted to be even steven—a guess a few people felt guilty for now supporting one site and not the other? Anyway thanks to whoever thought this was fair.
The other thing I that I noted was that Spurgeon had not contributed to any other Patreons, which I thought was interesting given that participating in crowdfunding is thought to be the best groundwork for running one. He told me that would soon be changing though.
You can also just paypal Tom (at email@example.com) if you want to support him without Patreon taking its cut. I support about 9 other patreons and it’s a not insignificant cut of my monthly takings, and some of the people I support also support me, so we’re literally fassing the same $5 back and forth, diminishing with each transcation as micropayments extracted.
Does that make any sense? I think it does for several reasons. I feel Patreon and Kickstarter and the other crowdfunding platforms are valuable institutions and giving them a cut of that single $5 that circulates endlessly to support the comics industry seems beneficial to me.
Also, less altruistically, there’s a certain aspect of the crowdfunding world that’s built on getting in on hot stuff, so the more money that’s spent, the more people think it’s worth spending money on. So the $5 buys some prestige as well.
Anyway, my campaign in about a year old so I’m going to look at it in another post, what worked, what didn’t, what I’m doing next.
Also, please support Tom and Zainab when you have a moment and a dollar.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Comics Media
, SDCC '15
, Top News
, Art of the Brick
, dc collectibles
, DC Comics
, jim lee
, Nathan Sawaya
, San Diego
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Moderator Victor Lucas and Lego Artist Nathan Sawaya
By Nick Eskey
“Lego” is the toy that let’s allows kids and adult to build from premade manuals, or to create out of their imaginations. Complete miniature sized cities, even worlds, can be made. But what about a something larger than life?
Nathan Sawaya is the artist behind the nationwide touring exhibit “The Art of the Brick.” Instead of tabletop pieces, Nathan has created life sized sculptures that defy everything people think of when they hear “Lego.” One of his best pieces is a scale sized T-Rex skeleton. His exhibition has been touring city after city. Soon we’ll be treated to his newest work, a collaborative effort with Jim Lee and DC Comics.
Yesterday at San Diego Comic-Con, Nathan Sawaya and Jim Lee were present to talk about the upcoming exhibit and more. Nathan first explained how he always had a love for Legos as a kid. When his parents refused to get him a dog, he took his sets apart and made one instead. Later in life, he kept his love of the toy alive as a hobby, building after work on his free time. Eventually his few statues turned into over a hundred, and later a touring exhibit.
Co-Publisher of DC Comics Jim Lee
Jim Lee and DC Comics came into the picture when Nathan wanted to build a particular piece for the exhibit: the Batmobile. However Nathan wasn’t comfortable with designing it. He asked Jim for help, and after the comic artist checked out the sculptures and spoke of bigger things with the Lego artist, they approached DC with an idea. And so, the “DC Comics Meets Lego Arts” exhibit began.
Nathan and his team spent the last year putting together this exhibit, using much of DC’s well loved franchises. He said only one thing is still needed to finish it up. Yup, the very Batmobile it started with. This is where Jim Lee took to the sheets of paper taped to the wall. “We’re going to design it here today with your guy’s help.”
Jim Lee making the Batmobile from a shoe
The first thing he asked of the crowd was what shoe we wanted to use. “One of my tips is that cars all start as shoes.” Jim showed the room by taking suggestions such as slippers to high-heels, and then transforming them into Batmobiles. The panel’s moderator gave the suggestion of a “Dr. Martin” boot, and Jim “kicked” into gear. As Jim Lee sketched, Nathan quipped “I hope he doesn’t decide to change the color to something like chartreuse, cause I bought maybe a million black Lego bricks.”
As one would imagine, the process of building one of these sculptures isn’t always easy. “I have to glue the bricks together. If I make a mistake or if things don’t look right, I have to chisel it apart. And I hate capes by the way.” One of the hardest pieces he had to make for the project he said was the “Superman #1” cover when DC was Detective Comics. The background was in 2D, with Superman and the car he’s holding in 3D. “And of course that cover has a cape,” he said.
Jim Lee and Nathan Sawaya
One of the greatest things though about the project said Nathan and his team was the ability to bring such icons to life in such a new way. “Warner Brothers and DC gave us such leeway so that we can show these characters and give them new life.”
What does it take to be a Lego artist? An engineering degree perhaps? Sometimes it just takes imagination and hard work. “I started life as an attorney,” said Nathan. I would come home and work on my Lego sculptures. I had a website that exhibited my work. When my website broke because it got too many hits, I knew I had to make a life change. So I quit my job, and started making art.” As for his scales, the reason why he does life sized sculptures is because he feels he expresses himself better that way. “The larger the sculpture, I might have to use support beams made of Legos. But because I glue the pieces, that tends to be enough.”
When the DC Lego art exhibit launches this November, it will start in Sydney, Australia. From there it will go on its worldwide city tour. As an extra treat for the audience, Nathan revealed a piece that will be a part of the tour: A two faced Batman and Joker.
Never before has art, Lego, and DC been merged into a cohesive medium. I sure can’t wait till it eventually makes its way here to San Diego.
Many people ask me, “Why don’t you do a podcast?” and I reply, “I do!” It’s called More to Come and it’s produced by Publishers Weekly. This week, I chat with Matt Hawkins, president and coo of Top Cow. Matt is more than just an inimitable Facebook poster (if you’ve read his stories about standing in line at the grocery store, you know what I mean.) He’s also an industry veteran who’s seen the highest highs and the lowest lows, and in this talk he dishes on the early days of Image and much more.
He also gives small publisher’s perspective on the recent discussion of page rates: basically these are low margins we’re talking about.
It’s something I’m sympathetic to even though it makes things rougher for all of us. It’s a big problem for the entire industry and it will take a group effort to change the status quo.
As a sidebar, here are links to the free #1 issues of a bunch of books Hawkins talks about in the podcast:
Think Tank #1
Tales of Honor Bred to Kill #1
Top Cow has always been very aggressive about free samples of #1s; it’s a tried and true method to get more eyeballs.
Disclaimer: As you can see if you look around, Top Cow is an advertiser for The Beat, however no promotional considerations were made for this post.
In the past 12 months, Newsarama, The Outhouse, Comics Alliance, Multiversity and Broken Frontier have all had changes at the top, with various editors in chief leaving. Well, you can add The Mary Sue to the mix, as EiC Jill Pantozzi has just announced she’s moving on.
Pantozzi has a long history as a comics/nerd culture journalist, and worked incredibly hard to make The Mary Sue one of the leading voices for diversity and the female fandom for all things nerd. She’s a gem of a person, as well as a writer, and she’s really earned some rest. I’m sure she’ll move on to bigger and better things, very soon, however.
However in shocking news, earlier this month Chris Arrant was actually HIRED as editor at Newsarama! Like Jill, Chris is a former freelancer for yours truly at Publishers Weekly, and he’s also awesome, with an unsurpassed knowledge of the industry. I congratulated him on DM and even asked what he’s be working on and he replied:
As editor of Newsarama, my immediate goals are continuing in what Mike Doran, Lucas Siegel, Matt Brady and others have done. This won’t be ‘All-New All-Different Newsarama,’ but that being said Mike and I do see areas and avenues to grow in terms of the depth and breadth of coverage we can do.
Doran remains as senior editor at Newsarama, and George Marston is a staff writer.
And finally even here at the Beat some side bar staff box changes. Alexander Lu is working for the next few weeks as Managing Editor, helping us to survive Comic-Con, coordinating coverage from a secret bunker underneath Stately Beat Manor while the rest of us brave life and limb crossing Harbor Drive.
What’s behind all this changeover? I guess a lack of money would be #1 (just a generalized guess—I can’t speak to anyone’s motives.) Comics journalism does not pay anything at most sites (including this one) and the increased pressure on the ones that do pay to build traffic to make a penny from 90 different ad networks is intense.
Like I said just guessing.
Anyway, I’m sure there’s more to come on all this.
That nerd-themed SVOD (subscription video on demand) service from Comic-Con/Lionsgate we told you about a while ago, just got an EVP/GM in the form of Seth Laderman, formerly of Legendary and Nerdist. This new service will offer programming themed to Comic-con attendees as well as archival footage from CCI’s library. Laderman was instrumental in growing the Nerdist brand via its podcast network and on YouTube, as well as programming such as All Star Celebrity Bowling, Magic Meltdown, The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Live Show and the upcoming reboot of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. At Legendary he ran operations and oversaw content acquisition and development for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party and Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry and worked with Spotify, Twtter and Xbox. So, It’s safe to say that he knows the terrain.
The service is launching early in 2016 — to get the first info on what will be offered, sign up for the mailing list here.
Mr. Laderman, in association with Comic-Con International, will be responsible for programming the service’s broad portfolio of content, including original short-form content created exclusively for the channel’s subscribers, films and television series from Lionsgate and other studios designed to appeal to the diverse interests of Comic-Con’s fans as well as exclusive archived footage from Comic-Con’s 45-year history. The Comic-Con International SVOD service is designed to expand the comics and pop culture event of the year into a year-round online experience for longtime fans and new audiences.
“We intend to differentiate our service through the depth and diversity of its content, the quality of its curation and the joys of discovering its rich mix of programming,” said Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Jim Packer. “Seth is ideally qualified to create a line-up that delights fans and newcomers alike with a combination of beloved treasures, thrilling discoveries and unique original content designed exclusively to satisfy our audiences.”
“We are thrilled to have Seth join the team. He has the track record, skill set and creative instincts to produce programming that speaks to our fans and extends the magic of the Comic-Con International experience to online audiences around the world,” continued Comic-Con Director of Marketing & Public Relations David Glanzer. “His unique understanding of fan culture makes him the perfect choice for this position and he, along with Lionsgate, will help expand our horizons by delivering premium quality, fun, and educational content to an ever growing audience.”
“This is a world I know and love, a community I appreciate and respect. I’m thrilled to embark on this adventure with Lionsgate and Comic-Con International, two of the
boldest, most innovative and visionary brands in fan culture,” said Mr. Laderman. “It’s an incredible opportunity to engage this awesome fan base and launch a service that will expand the world of Comic-Con by bringing exciting new content to its fans.”
“I worked with Seth at Nerdist, and he speaks our language,” said Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games Peter Levin. “His understanding of the fan experience and his track record of launching great new digital shows make him the perfect choice to lead the expansion of the pop culture event of the year into a year-round online experience for future generation fans, geeks, nerds like us and newbies alike.”
It’s July 1st, meaning it’s the day we celebrate the Beat’s birthday and today marks 11 years of daily comics news! It’s a very special day—I even ganked some clip art for the occasion.
I was going to write a long essay here about the State of the Blog but frankly, I’m too wiped out by this early Comic-con stuff. The short version is that every word of this Variety piece on how movie bloggers have gone mainstream reflected everything I’m feeling. While the nerd blogs have “won” they’ve also been co-opted by the system, and the rewards are dwindling as competition increases.
Nobody goes into blogging to get rich. Editors on some movie sites earn $25,000 to $70,000 a year, and many freelancers have to contend with as little as $25 a post, if they get paid at all. And though a successful site can sell for more than $3 million and make $50,000 in ad revenue a month, many owners struggle to keep the lights on. Take Gordon and the Whale, a well-regarded site that closed its doors in 2011, when the roughly $1,200 to $1,300 it generated in advertising revenue monthly barely covered the $900 it was shelling out to run its server.
“I was at Cannes, and it hit me that we had gone about as far as we can go,” said Chase Whale, the site’s co-founder. “There was still no money. We had like 21 people writing for free, and it made me feel like sh-t that I couldn’t pay these people.”
For those still toiling in the trenches, it’s more difficult to stand out from the armies of pundits who keep cropping up.
“If I was starting a movie blog now, I probably wouldn’t do it,” said Neil Miller, the founder of Film School Rejects. “It’s so hard to be noticed, especially if you don’t offer clickbaits and salacious headlines.”
While I often feel like sh-t too, I’m too dumb to quit and too stubborn to walk away. As this year’s comics media diaspora has shown,
you’ve got to really love doing this
and/or have a cheap rent to continue. It’s increasingly absurd for one person to continue to run a website, even a person with a staff of excellent (but mostly volunteer) writers who do their comics writing between their paying jobs. And instead of teaming up to fight evil, everyone insists on being a lone vigilante like me. I begged David Harper to team up with me so together we could rule the galaxy but no, he insisted on doing his own excellent and already necessary site.
See you can still do good things!
Like I said last year, I keep doing this because I don’t see anyone else doing it the way I want to do it. And I’ll keep my archives online for as long as I possibly can so people can see what went on back in the day.. (I see the mysterious new owners of Comicon-com have wiped the servers, Goodbye cromlech.) This is hard work but I still think it’s valuable work.
There’s a lot more to be said about the devaluation of writing (does ANYONE make a living at it any more?) the generational shift from boomers to millennials taking over comics, but you’ll have to catch me at a party at Comic-Con to hear all about it.
Not that I’m complaining! We’ll celebrate our birthday the way we always do, with some cracking good content, including what I believe may be the first ever look at comics in Almaty coming later today, a Terminator Genisys review, a sales chart and all the usual fol de rol. I like to complain but this is still the best job in the world and part of the reason is the Beat’s Elite Operative staff: Kyle, Hannah, Alex, Alex, Torsten, Edie and the rest. Wait until you see what we have cooked up for Comic-Con! You’ll need to go buy some new socks because your old ones got blown off.
And I invite you to attend our annual comics journalism panel to see who’s left standing:
Thursday, July 9 • 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Comics Journalism: It’s About Ethics in Comics Journalism
Gamergate, cheesecake covers and the objectification of women, barking puppies at the Hugo Awards, punching down at Charlie Hebdo, diversifying the multiverse – ethics has become one of the hottest issues in pop culture today, and fandom has converged on comics news sites as a battleworld for debating who should win the culture wars. The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, CBR’s Joe Illidge and Casey Gilly, Comicbook.com’s James Viscardi, Hitfix’ Donna Dickens and other leading comics journalists discuss what, if any, ethical principles should shape news stories affecting the comics community. Attorney and ethics professor Jeff Trexler moderates.
I ceded the moderating to an actual ethics professor so this should be a good one! Sadly the Bleeding Cool panel is at the very same time (qua?) so Rich sends his regards.
Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by every day or so, thanks for commenting intelligently 90% of the time, thanks for advertising, thanks for the many kind words on show floors and in email. Thanks for the tips and hints. Thank you INCREDIBLY for supporting my Patreon. Thank you thank you thank you. Stick around, there is always more to come, and it’s going to be fascinating.
Drawing by Igor Zakowski
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Top News
, Charlie Cox
, Matt Murdock
, netflix for comics
, Steven DeKnight
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Full disclosure: I was hotly anticipating the premiere of the Marvel and Netflix team up on the Daredevil television series. Daredevil is a huge part of my comics origin story: I cut my teeth on the Guardian Devil story arc penned by Kevin Smith and expertly drawn by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. I fell hard for the Man Without Fear and soon discovered Frank Miller’s Elektra Saga arc, realized my childhood heroes of TMNT had written themselves into the Daredevil origin story and that was it: comics officially had my heart.
It’s a nice move to open on Matt’s origin and play it for all it’s horror and sadness. Little boy does the right thing, saves a man’s life by pushing him from a speeding truck and pays for it with his vision. The POV shot of young Matt’s vision slipping away while focusing on the face of his father was chilling and effective. Actor John Patrick Hayden strikes the right tone on “Battlin'” Jack Murdock, trying to do the best thing for his son while constantly aware of his own limitations.
Some of the early action was a tad stilted, in the way of pilot episodes since time immemorial. The human trafficking scene leaned heavily towards cliche and away from actual menace, but was saved by the beautiful fight choreography. Kudos to the fight coordination/stunt double team for their thoughtful work in representing both Daredevil’s radar and boxing background in his fighting style.
The heart of any Daredevil story, or most of them at any rate, is the relationship between Matt Murdock and his law partner and best friend Foggy Nelson. Both Charlie Cox and Elden Henson are well cast: they not only look their parts, but revel in the well-worn patter between the two old friends. An early scene in which the two shop for an office to open their law practice hits all the right notes in script and characterization. We’re meant to believe the events of The Avengers film have left Hell’s Kitchen in ruins, and therefore rents are cheap during reconstruction. This seems more of a stretch than supersonic hearing to me, after all there is a bit of real-life Daredevil in the work of Daniel Kish, but we go with it.
The entire tone of the series evokes the noir sensibilities of the Frank Miller work I was drawn to years ago, and we have veteran director Phil Abraham and showrunner Steven DeKnight to thank for it. While pitching Hell’s Kitchen as noir in present day New York again strains credulity, it’s just right for Marvel 616 and I was happy to see it. And let’s talk about Deborah Ann Woll as the beloved Karen Page. Woll brings goofiness and charm to her performance that’s just right for Karen, and her chemistry with both Cox and Henson is electric.
We get a sneak peak at the crime syndicate that will ultimately become Daredevil’s nemesis. I’m breathless with anticipation for the reveal of Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin. We’re only teased in the pilot by his voice commanding henchman Wesley via speakerphone Charlie’s Angel’s style.
There’s a great team of talent behind the scenes of Daredevil: Buffy and Angel veteran writers Drew Goddard and Doug Petrie loom large, and DeKnight’s work on the Starz series Spartacus is some of my favorite television of the last ten years. Pulling in directors like Abraham and Doctor Who vet Eros Lyn bodes well for the tone of the series going forward.
The final scenes wordlessly convey what Matt Murdock is up against as the crime fighting alter ego Daredevil: as Matt pummels the bag in his father’s old gym we see baddies literally laying plans to build their empire in DD’s beloved Hell’s Kitchen juxtaposed with further kidnappings and dirty deeds. The final image of Matt on the roof of his building, listening to the pain of his city before pulling his black mask over his eyes got my fangirl heart beating loud enough for Daredevil to hear it all the way from the Kitchen.
Audi produced this short comedy advertisement with Stan Lee teaching how to do what he does best: appear in cameos in Marvel films. The short, directed by Kevin Smith with appearances by Smith, Jason Mewes, Michael Rooker, Tara Reid and, poignantly, Lou Ferrigno, sort of sums up where we’re at as a culture right now.
“I’ve studied a lot of acting methods,” Rooker says in the short. “I’ve studied the Stanislavski method, the method method, but I’ve never studied anything like the Stan Lee method.”
In case you’ve never seen a Marvel movie, Stan Lee shows up in almost all of them at some point as an old man in the background, eating a hotdog, driving a cart or pointing excitedly. Hey, it’s a living.
Stick around to the end for a call back to Marvel media when they didn’t rule the universe.
Also, Stan Lee may just have one of the most imitable voices of all times.
A few things going on out there in nerd media land.
§ Tripwire Magazine has relaunched their website. Spo far mostly Mad Max, which is no problemn, but comics sstuff on there too. Editor Joel Meadows writes
“We have created a website that we can be proud of and now that we have found a format that works, we shall be updating it regularly with interviews, reviews, columns and more. We’ll also be including audio and video content, making the most of an interactive website,” editor-in-chief Joel Meadows said.
“We have also brought some new faces on board for the website too. Our webmaster Leonard Sultana from podcast An Englishman in SDCC is bringing his web savvy to Tripwire to make it the best experience it can be.”
After the beta period, Tripwire has already given its visitors unique content on Mad Max: Fury Road, columns from Mike (Girl with All The Gifts, The Unwritten) Carey and Jasper Bark.
§ My alma mater Comicon.com as new, as yet secret owners, and they’ve jettisoned all the old comments and message boards and the Pulse and the Beat and a ton of other history of the internet stuff. The links go to the Wayback Machine because nothing lasts forever in the cold November rain. Comicon.com launched back in the 90s run by Rick Veitch and Steve Conley and was a true pioneer of the comics website. But now it’s going to be something else, and I’m curious to see what they’ll use that admittedly awesome URL for. Farewell, Comicon.com
§ One of the biggest movie scoopers around, Umberto Gonzalez, has left Latino Review, and partnered with Daniel Alter to launch a transmedia site called Heroic Hollywood. It’s rare to see anyone striking out on their own like this nowadays—Latino Review was sold and El Mayimbe, as he’s known, couldn’t come to terms with them—but movie scoops might be the one area where it works. While the site is still nascent, Gonzalez has been tearing it up with DC and Marvel leaks on his Instagram account.
The priceless Deb Aoki has created yet another masterful Storify called Twitter for Comics Creators – Do’s & Don’ts and rather than embed here, it just go read it. But here’s the nut graph:
Be someone who gives/shares information and ideas, makes people laugh, makes them think, gives them exposure to a point of view that they may not have considered before. Be a friend and you’ll make friends — this is true in Twitter and in “real life.”
Basically what the compilation is about is how tweeting at people to retweet your kickstarter or your comic book to someone you don’t know just doesn’t work. And nether does setting up a twitter account just to promote your book. That’s now how social media works. You have to build up good will and cred and then people will be happy to help out, but you have to make a foundation for that good will first.
Basically a lot of people are annoyed by the blind-side request, as shown in the tweets Deb quotes in her storify. I’m not annoyed exactly but it’s just “one more thing.” Like most people, I try to do good things and help out where I can, and I have a low level nagging sense of letting people down all the time, but meaningless retweets don’t help me or you.
Doing it the hard way does pay off. To cite just one example, I “met” Henry Barajas through interacting through Twitter and eventually he started writing for the site, and we’re now good friends IRL. But it took time. Twitter is a firehose not a Britta filter, and building up good will is a process not an event.
That reminds me of something else that I’ve had in my drafts for a while. In addition to requests for retweets I often get “urgent notifications” on social media as stories break with “WHY AREN”T YOU COVERING THIS RIGHT NOW???!??!??!!!” The specific event that tipped me over the edge was during C2E2. On opening day on Friday there was a teeny tiny kerfuffle when one of the exhibitors (let’s call them Madison) posted on FB that his booth had been vandalized. This led to many calls for an investigation, outrage and one well-meaning website wrote a whole piece calling it an example of “disrespect for the medium.” While I was tempted to join in the outcry, another FB post by a veteran convention goer (let’s call them Dakota) also happened to pop up that complained about how Global Experience Specialists, the set-up company for the heavily unionized McCormack Place are “literally THE WORST conference services company in the U.S.” I’m told that palettes were delivered to the wrong booths, tables and chairs got mixed up and other things that made set-up a pain in the ass.
Anyway, seeing these in close conjunction and examining the picture of the ruined table, it wasn’t too hard to figure out what had happened. And indeed after a bit of outrage and outcry, “Madison” rather sheepishly admitted that probably a forklift had just knocked into the table. If you’ve ever been on the floor of a con pre or post working hours, you know that convention center workers seem to think the show floor is for forklifts what a dune is to a buggy or a mountain to a bike, and knocking things over isn’t out of the question—in fact I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more.
The rest of the show went pretty smoothly, but there was a new Fire Marshall, who took a close look at some booths and told “Dakota” that boxes couldn’t be stored behind their booth, which is as anyone who has been to a con knows, where people store their boxes. Despite these issues, Dakota had a great and enjoyable C2E2, with a lot of business conducted at the show. So basically everyone had a happy ending.
But I didn’t write about the vandalized booth. When I get an outraged call-out I don’t always cover it immediately. While in many instances it’s because I ran out of time (that happens a lot these days), in other instances it’s because the inciting post or incident just didn’t pass my sniff test. I can think of at least two times where I got called out to write about something even though I could tell that what people thought happened wasn’t the whole story, and while I posted something about what seemed to have happened, the truth was something else entirely. And I regret that and won’t do it again.
While it isn’t good for traffic to resist jumping on social media bandwagons with a “hot take,” after more than a decade of writing on the internet, I am here to tell you something very shocking: not everything you read on the internet is true. I certainly don’t do a good enough job of investigating the truth behind the headlines, but I’ll continue to at least attempt to offer a little more insight. And that takes a lot of time.
Now this doesn’t mean don’t send news tips. Please send more of them! But my goal here is to deal in information not as it happens pictures of boxes on the floor. Like I said, I don’t do a great job of it, but it’s the goal. So now you know.
The Nib is the best comics site out there, with new comics every day from some of the greatest cartoonists working. Edited by Matt Bors, it’s a model of how a comics site can be sharply observent and politically relevant, and yet still be good comics overal, with both editorial cartoons—Tis Modern World, Tom the Dancing Bug, Slowpoke, Bors own strip—and new work by folks like Emily Flake, Lisa Hanawalt, R Stevens, Ted Rall, Brian McFadden, Erika Moen, Shannon Wheeler and more more more. A whole generation of incisive non-fiction cartoonists, given a paying platform to work for.
Unfortunately, it’s not going to be around in the same form any more.
The Nib is part of Medium, a start up that is devoted to “long form reads.” Like many start ups, it doesn’t have any visible means of making money, so while the site employed Bors and paid cartoonists to create new work, as I all too presciently suggested, that model was too radical to work forever.
I should note that I have no idea what the changes will be. Assistant editor Eleri Mai Harris was let go a few weeks ago, the first warning sign, and now the cartoonists who were syndicated on the site, such as Tom Tomorrow and Ruben Bolling, as indicating they they will not appear there any more. Bolling wrote:
Hey, Tom the Dancing Bug ran regularly on Medium.com’s comic site, The Nib, for about a year and a half, but I’m told that due to changes at Medium, The Nib will be reinventing itself, and will not carry comics on regular basis anymore.
I’ve been tremendously impressed with Nib founder/owner Matt Bors and the way he built the site up. I’d known him as a young, very talented editorial cartoonist, and a friend, but once he grabbed the reins of The Nib he proved himself to be an endlessly energetic, brilliantly innovative editor and comics impresario. He developed a large, flexible roster of cartoonists and ran fascinating journalism comics, hilarious and fresh humor comics, heart-wrenching autobiographical comics, and on a moment’s notice he would figure out a way to round up local cartoonists to comment on international stories. He also did all this with great organization, professionalism, integrity and respect for the artists he gathered.
My comic played a small part in Matt’s grand webcomics project, but I was proud to be associated with it.
The Nib is not going away, and I’ll be watching (and maybe even participating in small ways) how Matt reinvents it, quite possibly in ways that even better lend themselves to his unique editorial talents and vision.
Just as a reminder, here are the most recent comics to appear on the site, a look at the meat industry by Mike Dawson, Longstreet Farm, that will make you uncomfortable
And Eleanor Davis’s The Highgate County Fancy Chicken Show, which, like most of her work, is a multi leveled indictment of stereotypes, fat shaming and other shade we throw at people for no reason whatsoever.
These are good comics, and The Nib was full of them.
I’ve reached out to Bors for further information, but I do know that The Nib will be continuing, so let’s not write an obituary just yet. But everytime i clicked on the site, I thought “This is too good to last” and sadly…I was right.
Here’s a selection of twitter outrage over the change — even CNN’s Jake Tapper got in on the action.
I just interviewed Jen Sorenson about her similar gig at Fusion.net the other day. Hopefully this lasts a lot longer.
The Great 2015 Comics Site Editor-in-Chief Mass Step Down continues as Broken Frontier, a long running comics news and culture site, has announced that Andy Oliver will takes over the site from Frederik Hautain, who held the position since the site’s launch in 2002. Oliver was previously Managing Editor, and they are seeking candidates for that position now. Check out the details here or send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org. Like every job in comics journalism, it is an unpaid position.
As we’ve been reporting, Broken Frontier follows Newsarama, Comics Alliance, The Outhouse and Multiversity with changes at the top in the last 8 months or so. That’s pretty much 50% of the comics journalism world right there. With the future of Comics Reporter a little up in the air due to Tom Spurgeon’s new job as festival director, Cmicon.com’s hew mystery owner and other stuff in the ether, and it’s clear that 13 years is a long time to do anything.
Hautain will move to Creative Director, where he’ll oversee branding and strategy, such as the recently concluded crowdfunded Broken Frontier anthology.
“I’m extremely blessed to be able to put the day-to-day governance of our content and staff in Andy’s talented hands,” Hautain says. “In just a few years time, he’s fast become one of the leading journalists to cover indie, alternative and creator-owned comics. On top of that, Andy’s got an amazing eye for new talent, which will continue to be one of the pillars of our coverage.”
Oliver joined the Broken Frontier staff in 2006 and became the site’s Features Editor the next year, eventually moving up to the role of Managing Editor in 2010. In 2011 he launched his popular and influential ‘Small Pressganged’ column at Broken Frontier covering the worlds of self-published, micro-published and alt comics. He is a well-known face on the UK indie comics circuit, was a judge for the 2014 Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, and a contributor to Paul Gravett’s book 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die.
“It’s a true privilege to be trusted with the task of taking Broken Frontier forward as its new Editor in Chief,” says Oliver. “This is a site that is not afraid to give as much attention to handmade DIY culture comics as it does to the seminal work of the form, and one that has never shied away from actively championing exciting new creative voices in the medium. “I am incredibly proud to be at the forefront of this new era in our evolution. After all, ‘Exploring the Comics Universe’ is not merely Broken Frontier’s tagline. It’s our promise and our commitment to you, the greater BF community.”
With a new EiC now in place, Broken Frontier is actively looking for a new Managing Editor to join its ranks. If you’re interested in helping to closely shape the future of the website, check the detailed profile description at http://br.oken.fr/joinus and send your application to email@example.com.
As reported last week, The Nib, the political comics site edited by Matt Bors and run by Medium, is undergoing some changes, and on Friday, Bors explained what’s what. Basically, the site is moving away from daily publishing—and won’t be running weekly comic strips any more—but will continue to publish editorial, satirical and journalistic pieces.
We will no longer be running certain work on certain days or with the same regularity. It’s a departure from what we’ve been doing, for sure, but I came here to experiment with publishing. You’ll see more of it in the coming weeks: response driven features, a new collective I’m building, and anything else I can think of to create interesting comics.
Here’s what isn’t changing: The Nib is always going to be a place for the sharp political cartoons, great journalism and essays that other media outlets are too uninventive or shortsighted to be commissioning themselves.
It will always be that.
In his time at The Nib, Bors has proven himself an exemplary editor, and given a platform to some powerful voices, so I have no doubt that as long as he’s running the ship, the Nib will remain a vibrant site. The once daily Nib newsletter will now go out once a week and spotlight other work by Nib contributors, among other chagnes. In his Friday post, Bors also mentioned a future Kickstarter to collect some of the work from the site—he successfully Kickstarted
a book of his Pulitzer Prize finalist comics back in 2012.
With all this talk of change, I wondered what was going on with Darling Sleeper, the indie comics site edited by Jesse Lucas, but it updated today so it seems to be carrying on as before.
Medium was launched as a site for “long form content” by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams two years ago, and like many start-ups is still looking for a revenue source, In december Williams was interviewed by USA Today and talked about the need to clarify what they were doing:
The 75-person start-up started by Williams and his Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, is used by up to 17 million people a month, including President Obama and Elon Musk. It has become an impressive forum for essays on tech and design, book chapters – even poetry.
“It’s easy to jump in and publish something aesthetically pleasing,” says Natalie Bartlett, community and content lead at Rough Draft Ventures in New York. For the past year, she has posted items of entrepreneurs on Medium.
Yet the 2-year-old writing platform is a work in progress amid so many content outlets online, summarily characterized by some as another vanity project by a tech exec dabbling in journalism (see Pierre Omidyar, First Look Media; and Chris Hughes, The New Republic).
In April Williams spoke with Wired about the site, bravely championing quality content before clickbait
. The Nib was definitely the former, and hopefully it will continue to develop in that direction.
By: Heidi MacDonald
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Fans of the Sandman scribe rejoice: Starz announced today that they have officially green lit an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s New York Times bestselling novel American Gods. Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Heroes) is officially attached, as is Michael Green (Heroes). Both will serve as writers and showrunners. Gaiman will serve as executive producer. FreemantleMedia North America, who has been developing the series for some time, is also attached to produce. Starz has noted that the start of production on the television series, which Gaiman has been talking about for the past few years, hinges on the casting of Shadow Moon. Shadow, a sympathetic ex-con with a penchant for coin tricks, is the central character in Gaiman’s strange tale of old Gods brought to America in the hearts of those who immigrated and their battle with the Gods of modern America like Media and the Internet.
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said, “STARZ is committed to bring American Gods to its legions of fans. With our partners at FremantleMedia and with Bryan, Michael and Neil guiding the project, we hope to create a series that honors the book and does right by the fans, who have been casting it in their minds for years. The search for Shadow begins today!”
Gaiman said: “I am thrilled, scared, delighted, nervous and a ball of glorious anticipation. The team that is going to bring the world of American Gods to the screen has been assembled like the master criminals in a caper movie: I’m relieved and confident that my baby is in good hands. Now we finally move to the exciting business that fans have been doing for the last dozen years: casting our Shadow, our Wednesday, our Laura…”
“Almost 15 years ago, Neil Gaiman filled a toy box with gods and magic and we are thrilled to finally crack it open and play,” said Fuller and Green, “we’re grateful to have STARZ above us and FremantleMedia at our backs as we appease the gods, American or otherwise.”
Starz has encouraged fans of the novel to tweet @AmericanGodsSTZ and @STARZ_Channel using the hashtag #CastingShadow to share who they think should play the role of Shadow.
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
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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?
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
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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.)
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:
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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.