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In case you missed the first portion of this special two-parter, it was revealed that Batman has conquered America and has established his black Bat-capital in a cave in Branson, Missouri.
That is not entirely true, but I do hope something of the story in the Bald Knobbers (cringey name aside) rang true for Batman fans. The vigilante story is old and real in America.
But is it enough to explain Batman’s popularity? We know many possible fictive sources for Batman – detective stories, operas, and movies – but what about other real ones?
There are a few possibilities. Both Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the co-creators of Batman, probably attended the 1939 New York World’s Fair. One of the Fair’s regular attractions was the skydiving “Bat-man”:
There were many “Bat-Men” who jumped all over the country. They were so popular that Major Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson (who basically invented comic books), urged America to “consider the possibility of bat-man troops!” in a 1941 article.
But this might just be distraction, like billowing smoke from a Bat-capsule. We don’t really go to air shows that much anymore, after all. Is it Batman’s design motif? The vampire bat doesn’t even crack the top 25 of National Geographic Kids’ most popular animals. Certainly the car and Kevlar help, but you can’t last 75 years with just a black cape and pointy ears.
Batman’s creators might help provide answers. You probably know Batman’s artistic origin already, but the general public may not, so we have to keep repeating it. Bob Kane was a fledgling New York artist supposedly jealous of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two creators of Superman. Kane pleaded to editor Vin Sullivan, who gave him a weekend to create a new superhero.
Kane needed help, so he approached Bill Finger, a former shoe salesman whom he had worked with previously on some Western comics. The result of their new collaboration was Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Finger wrote the script and Kane drew the action. Kane got the byline. How and why this happened is not fully known. Kane was a hustler and Finger was meek, though there was probably more to it than that. After all, most of this story, if not all of it, was first told by storytellers.
In that first issue, Kane swiped liberally from Henry Vallely and copied poses from “Flash Gordon.” Finger’s first script was probably inspired by pulp stories like “The Black Bat,” movies like “The Bat Whispers,” and a Shadow story. Superman had been crafted over several years and was something really brand-new. Batman was a smoky concoction of vigilante stuff thrown together to create a quick, commercial superhero.
Finger worked on Batman comics, including the first telling of the origin, in complete anonymity for decades. Kane drew only sporadically and wore ascots to parties. Finger is acknowledged by many as being responsible for some of the major chess pieces of the mythos. Kane appeared on The Tonight Show and died rich at 84. Finger died poor and alone at 59. This year, Kane is going to receive a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As a consequence, fandom has not been kind to Bob Kane. Any mention of him at a Comic-Con panel usually results in some story about him stiffing a dinner bill forty years ago or bragging about supposedly dating Marilyn Monroe. In his autobiography, Kane even waxes breathlessly about fighting a gang as he swung around a lumberyard. Kane also claimed to have drawn the monthly Batman comic for decades when he positively did not. And he didn’t publicly recognize Finger’s contributions to Batman until after Finger was dead.
Still, there is no question that Bob Kane is the co-creator of Batman. He drew the first appearance of the character. For comics – which are words combined with images – that is half the whole world.
Still, Kane (and to some extent DC’s) treatment of Finger is considered by many to be wrong, even criminal. It is well-documented and crusaded upon, as it should be. But I am interested in crime of a different sort here.
Bill Finger’s early days have been mostly lost to time. Born in Colorado in 1914, Finger grew up with his immigrant parents and a sister. His father Louis, according to his World War I draft card, was a “cloak-maker.”
Bob Kane was born Robert Kahn in 1915. When he was born, his parents ran a candy store in New York City. His father later worked for the Daily News as a typesetter.
Both Kane and Finger grew up on the Grand Concourse, a nearly five-mile stretch in the Bronx. They stared up at art deco buildings and gargoyles.
They were not friends as kids. But they both saw bad things. Real things.
Crime in New York City during the twenties and thirties was on an escalating slope. On August 1, 1931, the New York Times ran a table titled “Homicides by Shooting.” In fifteen years, the number of murders in New York City tripled from 108 to 316. By 1939 – Batman’s debut – the rate had reached nearly two murders a day.
Every day, the papers were a blotter of theft and murder. Gangsters, passerby, and children were robbed and killed in streets and doorways. In April of 1939, the papers reported the tragic story of a brother and sister coming home from the movies to find their parents shot dead on the floor.
People lived in sadness and fear. It eventually turned to anger. When five children were struck down by stray bullets in the Bronx in 1931, Police Commissioner Mulrooney vowed that “We’re going to meet force with force…If they want war, we’ll give it to them.” Several articles urge the formation of “vigilante committees” to enforce the law themselves.
This is where Batman began.
In late 1937, when Kane was just breaking in and earning around $25 a week. A small article appeared in the November 28, 1937 issue of the Times titled “Woman, 75, Killed in Street.” It read:
Mrs. Augusta Kahn, 75 years old, of 1,160 Grant Avenue, the Bronx, was fatally injured shortly after 5 P.M. yesterday while crossing Broadway at 115th Street. She died on her way to Columbus Hospital . . . Alexander Novinsky, 26 years old, of 6,802 Nineteenth Avenue, Brooklyn. Novinsky was held on a technical charge of homicide.
Bob Kane’s mother was named Augusta Kahn.
But this wasn’t her. It was a different woman. It was someone else – a double somehow– who was very real. Was Kane even aware of the story? Who knows, though someone surely must have noticed it in the paper and told the family. Kane was living with his parents at the time. If he did know of it, it must have provoked a visceral response. Especially because of what would happen next:
Alexander Novinsky, 27 years old . . . arrested Nov. 28, last when an automobile he was driving struck and killed Mrs. Augusta Kahn . . . was discharged yesterday by Magistrate Edgar Bromberger in Homicide Court for lack of evidence tending to show culpability.
The driver who killed the other Augusta Kahn — someone else’s mother — went unpunished. Novinsky walked scot-free. Was it an accident, or something else? The courts ruled that there was not enough evidence to pursue it.
Just as forty unpunished murders provoked a solider to don a mask in the Ozarks, so might crime in the Bronx have inspired a fictional character to do the same. The cowl, the cape, the symbol and all the pulp stories and films that inspired the look of Batman — is a smokescreen. Crime is why it stuck.
I think that much of what we claim to like about Batman is a complete cop-out. The most common explanation of the character’s popularity is his “humanity.” What that usually means is that anyone – if they had enough money, ninja training in Nepal, gadgets, and a sidekick – could be Batman. But none of us really believes that. Batman is not real, even though we constantly act like he is. The only thing real about him is his genesis in crime, whether it is a story in a comic or the story of his creators.
When James Holmes killed twelve people at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012, the press made connections to the killer being inspired by the Joker. Most of this has since been dismissed, but it speaks volumes that this explanation was the first one that made any kind of sense to the general public. Not that Holmes was clearly psychotic and a killer, but that our response to him, at first, involved Batman. When Holmes first appeared in court several days after the shooting, survivors of the massacre showed up to the courtroom wearing Batman t-shirts.
The current writer of the monthly Batman comic, Scott Snyder (who also teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College) has a theory about Batman that might help. In Batman #27 (note the number), Snyder (alongside collaborator Greg Capullo on art) has Alfred dramatically assess Bruce Wayne’s mission:
You keep us all around to bear witness, to see that you can do the thing that none of us could do for you. That none of us were there in the alley that night, not Gordon, not me, not anyone in this city. And you’re out to punish us for that every night.
What Batman has made us watch for seventy-five years – an epoch in pop culture – is a one-man war that most of us don’t know how to fight. Batman isn’t about hope; it’s about fighting back against things bigger than us — crime, characters, and the Batkid’s cancer. It is not a place of light or peace or even nobility. It is a street in a city. Most of us can’t jump around on rooftops. But we can imagine that action — that rebellion — when we wear the black t-shirt. That we can do.
Batman is the most popular superhero in America because we all want to hit something sometimes. This applies to fandom as well. Sometimes it can be fairly vacant — Affleck, nipples — but sometimes it is more important. When Batman character The Spoiler, a teenage girl, was killed in the comics, fans began protesting the lack of a memorial to her in the comics’ Batcave. Marc Tyler Nobleman (with Ty Templeton) produced a book about Finger and led a massive campaign to get a Google Doodle to honor the writer. Filmmaker Kevin Smith (who has built an empire around a Batman podcast) also helps to run The Wayne Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to help stop the sexual traffic of children. Finger documentaries are being funded, Glen Weldon has a cool new book on the horizon, a new Batgirl is making waves, and for the first time, Bill Finger’s name was credited on a Batman comic. That last one has a simple explanation.
What matters is that these endeavors – all of them real – are small vigilante acts done in the name of Batman. It is not the fictional character or the dead men we rally around, it is that central story in Crime Alley. That’s the one that gets us. That’s the one that inspires us to do things, try to help, or just like Batman. That is where the humanity — and popularity — of Batman really lies: in the detective and the crusader, not the pull-ups in a cave.
On November 24 of 1939, just a few months after Batman’s debut, the winners of a kids costume contest were announced in the Times:
I won’t argue that “The Bat Man” is an infinitely better costume than “cotton picker” or “camera,” but Angelo Carbone didn’t just want to win a free chicken. With the exception of the boxer, all of the other costumes sound parent-selected. Not “The Bat Man.” Angelo saw something in a comic he liked and went for it. He saw something he needed to be.
As I write this in Cleveland, there was a break-in last night at the university I teach at. Three students – all studying – were robbed at gunpoint in the common room of their dorm. A few weeks ago, in the middle of a sunny day, young men walked into my favorite neighborhood bar, The Colony, and shot the owner, Jim Brennan, dead.
Why is Batman so popular? Look around you and read the news.
This is Batman Country. That should both empower and terrify us.
Speaking of detectives: there is one last mystery to bring up.
In the late nineties, a story surfaced out of Boston suggesting that another artist may have created Batman well before Kane and Finger (and not Siegel and Shuster, as I’ve half-suggested before).
Frank D. Foster II was a cartoonist who worked with Al Capp in the thirties. When he couldn’t get regular work, he abandoned comics for a job at what would become the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Supposedly, Foster had samples of a character named “Batman” that he shopped around New York before leaving for Washington — well before 1939. When Foster later saw fully-realized Batman comics in the forties, he was stunned — had they stolen his character? Foster and his family talked to an attorney in 1975, which was also when Siegel and Shuster’s plight was all over the news. After Foster died in 1995, his son Frank continued to ask questions. His website. OriginalBatman.com, reads: “Although there is no hard physical evidence, there is little room for doubt that people at DC saw the drawings. Most likely it was Bob Kane himself who was at DC at the time and claimed credit for creating Batman.”
The problem is that there were no superheroes in 1932. Not til Superman. And these sketches are definitely of a superhero – the bottom face also looks very much like a Bill Everett Sub-mariner (thanks to fellow Beat contributor Jeff Trexler for that). At one point, Foster places the drawing even earlier, in the twenties. None of this is impossible, of course, but if true, then Foster’s Batman would have been the first superhero.
There are other problems of dates and letters, but take a look for yourself. Foster’s 1975 interview with the lawyer provides fascinating insight into how artists worked back then. And how the fallibility of memory complicates everything.
Is there any way to prove that Kane and Finger saw Foster’s drawings? They never mentioned him. Or did they?
In 1960, when Batman was well-established, Bill Finger wrote a script for Batman #135 called “Crimes of the Wheel.” In the story, the Dynamic Duo breaks up a gambling den, sending its leader, a man nicknamed “Big Wheel” to jail. He escapes and puts on a bright costume that is a garish copy of Batman’s. Now a villain with who uses wheel gadgets, he calls himself “The Wheel” (hey, it’s still better than “Bald Knobbers”).
His ridiculous costume looks like a garish version of Batman’s. But he’s a moron and soon gets tossed back in jail. He gets made fun of — by other criminals, by Batman and Robin — for the entire issue. The character’s name who steals Batman’s shtick but fails? Frank Foster.
Is this pure coincidence or a hidden in-joke? On his website, Foster’s son says of the original drawings by his dad:
I know he created Batman. It’s the first Batman. It was there, at the same place, at the same time Batman was published. There has to be a connection. The possibility of two men in 5,000 years of history arriving at the same character who’s a hero of the night, with the same name of Batman, at the same time, at the same place on the earth, is zero.
I don’t know what to make of Foster, but I do know that the possibility is never zero when it comes to talking about comics and culture. If we think of Batman as a cape and cowl, then sure, but as the fictional embodiment of our own fear of crime and desire for vengeance? That is more universal than zero. Perhaps more than we’d like to admit.
If you’re at Comic-Con, come to “Who Created Batman?” on Fri. from 2:30-3:30 in Room 26AB for a panel with Travis Langley, Tom Andrae, Athena Finger, Marc Tyler Nobleman, Denny O’Neill, Jens Robinson, Arlen Schumer, Michael Uslan, Nicky Wheeler Nicholson, and myself. PW is calling it one of the 14 Best Panels at Comic-Con.
Brad Ricca is the author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster – The Creators of Superman, now available in paperback. He also writes for StarWars.com. Visit www.super-boys.com and follow @BradJRicca.
A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between July 25 and July 31 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
A very happy birthday to Dan Radcliffe, who turns 25 today. Please join Leaky in wishing him many happy returns!
St. Louis based Lion Forge Comics has been around for a couple of years with a lot of ambitious plans, some well known licenses and a line of here-to-fore digital comics. But recently they announced they are getting into print, with IDW picking up their Air Wolf and Knight Rider comics. They’ll also publish a print version of a comic inspired by MMA fighter Quentin “Rampage”Jackson called Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier. That should be PLENTY wacky. More Lion Forge titles are impending from IDW, possibly including such classic licensed fear as Miami Vice, and Punky Bewster.
Lion Forge also announced a deal with AG Properties, the likening division of American Greetings, to put out three kids comics as part of the Roar kids line: Care Bears, Madballs and the Disney XD animated series, Packages from Planet X.
“Our library has grown immensely in the past year bringing a unique selection of comic books to readers of all ages,” said David Steward II, CEO, Lion Forge. “Bringing the lovable characters from Care Bears with the humor and action from Madballs and Packages from Planet X to our collection further diversifies our offerings while teaching and interacting with our younger fans in new, creative ways.”
Lion Forge will have a booth (#1903) and a panel with Jackson, writers Joelle Sellner, David Gorden and Brandon Easton, and Yaya Han and wrestler Chavo Guerrero. IN other words, just a typical panel at San Diego.
Lion Forge – Saturday (July 26th) 11:00 AM – Noon Room 29A
Lion Forge Comics Presents: Knight Rider vs. Airwolf, Rampage Jackson and debuts new projects with Yaya Han and Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
Lion Forge returns to SDCC! Senior Editor Shannon Eric Denton (Lion Forge) is joined by the next generation of creators; Joelle Sellner, David Gorden, and Eisner Nominee Brandon Easton to discuss their projects – Airwolf vs Knight Rider! Andre “The Giant” original creations Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: Street Soldier, and more!!! With Special Guests; Hero of Cosplay’s Yaya Han, MMA Champion Rampage Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and WWE & Impact Wrestling Champion Chavo Guerrero, you never know what surprises will be in store when you enter The Lion Forge so be sure to stop by!! #LionForge Moderated by Miami Vice writer Jonathan London
By: Susanne Gervay
Blog: Susanne Gervay's Blog
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, author Mark Greenwood
, award winning and much loved illustrator Sarah Davis
, Bruce Whately
, SCBWI Australia East and New Zealand
, Scott Chambers writer
, Susanne Gervay
, The Hughenden Hotel Woollahra
, Tracey Hawkins author
, Vincent at The Hughenden
, Connie Hsu Commissioning Editor Roaring Brooks USA
, James Foley
, literary NZ agent Frances Plumpton
, Melina Marchetta
, Nerrilee Weir Rights Manager Random House
, Peter Taylor
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What a buzz – writers, illustrators, publishers – pitches, publishing panels, brilliant masterclasses, launches, the magnificent illustrator duet with Stephen Axelson and Bruce Whately …
Melina Marchetta’s outstanding keynote about the adaptation of On Jellico Road into a Hollywood feature film – watch out for it …
and wonderful food by Vincent at The Hughenden …
the dinner dance party with the fabulous Beatnickers of Meredith Costain, James Foley, Scot Chambers and on drums Mark Greenwood – thankyou Wolfie for being a ring in – and the wild singing and hilarity
…. and more and more and more … best ever SCBWI Australia and new Zealand Conference at The Hughenden!!!!!
The post Exhilerating, Amazing Friendships Across the Kids’ Publishing Industry at Sydney SCBWI appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.
By: Scott Westerfeld,
Blog: Scott Westerfeld
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Behold the new website, reskinned in honor of Afterworlds (which now has its own page at last). I hope you enjoy the new look.
Let me know in the comments below if anything is broken anywhere, especially in the Forum.
Next week I’ll be at San Diego Comic Con, so if you’re there come see my panel, Sunday at 1PM or come to my signing at the Mysterious Galaxy Booth (#1119) on Saturday, 1:00p.m. – 1:30p.m.
If you’re in San Diego but not going to Comic Con, come see me at the The Yellow Book Road Bookstore, where I’ll be talking about Leviathan and Afterworlds.
The Yellow Book Road Bookstore
2750 Historic Decatur Road
San Diego, CA 92106
Sunday, July 27
And finally, here’s the awesome animated cover for the UK edition of Afterworlds:
Pretty cool. See (some of) you on San Diego!
At the recent Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, J. K. Rowling revealed that there will probably be more Cormoran Strike books than there were books in the Harry Potter series:
The author, who recently released her second novel featuring detective Cormoran Strike, said that she wants to publish more than the seven books released as part of the Harry Potter series.
"It's pretty open ended. I really love writing, so I don't know that I've got an end point in mind," Rowling explained.
"One of the things I love about this genre is unlike Harry Potter, where there was a through line, where there was an overarching story, a beginning and end, you are talking about discreet stories.
"So while a detective lives, you can keep giving him cases."
A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.
Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between July 18 and July 24 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
War Some of the Time
by Charles Bukowski
when you write a poem it
needn't be intense
can be nice and
and you shouldn't necessarily
concerned only with things like anger or
love or need;
at any moment the
greatest accomplishment might be to simply
up and tap the handle
on that leaking toilet;
done that twice now while typing
and now the toilet is
solve simple problems: that's
satisfying thing, it
gives you a chance and it
gives everything else a chance
we were made to accomplish the easy
and made to live through the things
Now that Franki got me (and apparently most of the rest of her social network) started with the daily news digest theSkimm
, I finally feel like I know a bit about what's going on in the world. Unfortunately, most of what's going on in the world seems to be war, now that the World Cup is over. Depressing. I'm with Bukowski. Wiggling the toilet handle or making the perfectly browned piece of toast -- the little things in life -- are keeping me grounded and positive.
A teaser trailer of the upcoming film, "Ghosts of the Pacific," which stars Tom Felton, has been released. You can watch it here or below.
The film does not yet have a release date.
"Horns," which stars Daniel Radcliffe, has its first teaser poster, which you can see here:
Radcliffe plays Ig Perrish, the never-convicted prime suspect for the violent rape and murder of his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Hungover from a night of hard drinking, Ig awakens one morning to find horns growing from his head and soon realizes their power drives people to confess their sins and give in to their most selfish and unspeakable impulses – an effective tool in his quest to discover the true circumstances of his late girlfriend’s tragedy and to exact revenge on her killer.
The film, which is based on Joe Hill's book of the same name, will be released on October 31st, 2014. You can read more of the article here
By: Susanne Gervay
Blog: Susanne Gervay's Blog
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, author Deborah Abela
, author Mark Greenwood
, Author Meredith Costain
, James Foley illustrator
, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
, Renae Gibson author
, SCBWI Australia East and New Zealand
, SCBWI Australia West
, Scott Chambers writer
, The Hughenden Boutique Hotel Woollahra
, Tracey Hawkins author
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Kids’s authors and illustrators, publishers and editors rock and rolled at the Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators’ Conference at The Hughenden in Sydney – with the BEATNICKERS – the SCBWI band of James Foley, Mark Greenwood, Meredith Costain, Scott Chambers and the fabulous ring in on guitar and drums and … Wolfgang!
Best ever -amazing, wild, hilarious, brilliant night of the craziest dancing and partying!
Go kids’ authors and illustrators!!!!!!!
The post SCBWI Australia New Zealand ROCK and ROLL!!!!! appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.
On International Workers’ Day, the 1st of May, Jonathan Cape published Sally Heathcote, Suffragette, the second graphic novel written by Mary Talbot
, a semi-fictionalised history of the Women’s Suffrage movement in Britain, and a really well researched and gripping piece of work, in my opinion, and should be read by everyone, everywhere, as it is still hugely relevant to the times we’re in right now. On her previous book, Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes
, the artwork was all done by her husband,
, but he was committed elsewhere this time ’round, so they needed an artist who they could work with, and who would understand what they were trying to do. They chose
, a Scottish cartoonist who had cut her teeth in the heady days of the British gay rights struggle, back in the 1970s and 1980s. So, when I got the chance to interview her – having previously interviewed both the Talbots [Bryan here
, but Mary not online, I'm afraid] – I jumped at it.
Pádraig Ó Méalóid: how did you become involved with the Sally Heathcote project?
Kate Charlesworth: In 2011, Bryan told me that Mary was working on the script of her second graphic novel – with a Suffragette theme – and would I be interested in drawing the pages, as he was committed to his Grandeville series, and just didn’t have the time.
And yes, I was interested!
PÓM: have you know the Talbots for a while, then? Or is it just that the comics world is a small one?
KC: Well, I’ve known Bryan for years, though our paths didn’t cross very often. And I’d never met Mary until I began working on her script. I suppose the comics world was a much smaller world back then. But Bryan knew my work.
PÓM: Any idea why Bryan asked you to do this, specifically?
KC: Hmm. given that he wasn’t available – Grandville – I think both he and Mary felt that it would be appropriate that a script written by a woman about the Suffragettes might be also illustrated by a woman. Although he was familiar with my work he found a drawing of mine – Virginia Woolf at Home, a sort of Bloomsbury pastiche; very detailed, very realistic, black and white line (not my usual style at the time) – which convinced him I could achieve the effect they were after.
PÓM: What other work had you done, before this, which we might have seen?
KC: I was one of the contributors to Nelson, from Blank Slate Books, edited by Rob Davis and Woodrow Phoenix, and some years ago I was involved with Carol Bennett’s Knockabout imprints – Fanny and Dykes’s Delight – plus a couple of Knockabout editions, um, 7 Ages of Women and Women Out of Line. There’s a theme emerging here.
But most of my working life has been spent drawing cartoons, strips and illustrations in the mainstream press. I had a strip in New Scientist which ran for years, up til 2001, Life, the Universe and (Almost) Everything. I put the Almost in, in case Douglas Adams objected, which, amazingly, he did – or at least, his agent did. But you can’t copyright a title, and I carried on for a few more years. I had strips in the gay press from very early on – when there was a hard copy gay press – Gay News, The Pink Paper – very political times they were too. And I had a strip in The Guardian for a couple of years – Millennium Basin – pretension and nonsense in Islington, really.
There’s lots of stuff on the website.
PÓM: is there no longer a hard copy gay press in the UK, then?
KC: Not much. A couple of mainstream glossies (though they don’t ignore politics and important issues) and, I suppose, some small press and indie zines. And I’m guessing a bit there.
A combination of the internet and changing social attitudes pretty much removed the need for the papers and magazines which informed the community, acted as a lifeline for isolated LGBT folk (posted in plain envelopes) and, massively important, personal ads and contacts.
In its heyday, Gay News, a fortnightly paper, carried a 24-page literary supplement!
The golden age of the gay press…
PÓM: I’m guessing there wasn’t much money to be made working for small press at the time, or am I making a massive – and incorrect – assumption about that?
KC: Has there ever been? I was lucky enough to earn a living in the mainstream – newspapers, magazines, publishing (so different today – digital, less illustration commissioned for fewer hard copy publications, commissioning rates dropping like stones) so I didn’t really do that much small press stuff, if by small press you mean comics. The gay press was more about community, identity and politics. I sometimes worked for small mainstream publishing houses, and their rates could be perfectly decent. But mostly, not a great deal of dosh around.
PÓM: I know you’ve done at least one other book-length comics work, The Cartoon History of Time. Was this an out-growth of the strip in New Scientist?
KC: Yes, it was. And the New Scientist strip in turn rose from the ashes of a weekly black and white strip in The Independent, basically about Quantum Physics – I can’t right now remember it’s exact name… But it was pretty heavy going, no chickens. The science editor had done astrophysics at uni, so that’s what the strip was about. The Cartoon History of Time has recently been republished by Dover Books!
PÓM: I’m also very impressed to note you are in AARGH! I have a couple of copies of that somewhere, including one that I occasionally attempt to get the contributors to sign.
KC: Why thank you. I think that came after Strip Aids, which was put together by Don Melia, a gay cartoonist who was incensed by the attitude of the Evening Standard‘s cartoonist (Jak, I think) to the AIDS crisis (Don alas himself had AIDS, from which he subsequently died). He contacted comic artists – Hunt Emerson, Mark Buckingham, Dave Gibbons, for instance, and cartoonists – Steve Bell, Frank Dickens, Kipper Williams – 80-odd artists reflecting a positive attitude to HIV/AIDS. Several of us were working in the gay press at the time (1987) and we were invited to contribute too. I mention this in particular because that was my first contact with comics. I met Tony and Carol Bennett from Knockabout; Woodrow Phoenix too. Don and his partner Lionel Gracy-Whitman also published the fabulous Heartbreak Hotel series.
PÓM: Did you actually have a background in science, or did you just become the default science cartoonist, the way Bryan Talbot was the default Adam Ant cartoonist, at one point?
KC: Not in the slightest. In fact, a couple of folk who knew me at school didn’t believe it was me, I was so rubbish at maths, chemistry and physics. Though earlier I’d been pretty good at something called ‘science’ – had the maths taken out, y’see.
I suppose the strip worked because I was interested in a lot of stuff – it was so flexible – I had everything in it from quantum physics to cutlery. It was a good excuse to draw things I liked. Animals, birds, ponds… Drawing instruments… Women in science… daft jokes…
PÓM: At what point did you get involved with Sally Heathcote? I know Mary Talbot did the writing, but had Bryan done some sort of breakdowns on the art before you got to it, or were you involved before that?
KC: Mary also broke down the script into pages and panels, and Bryan prepared the layouts, designed the panels and did the lettering. The only thing I did before that was to send some character sketches. Once we’d agreed that I’d do it, I did a couple of sample pages and we took it from there.
Mary Talbot’s script for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette
I’d get a batch of around 8 pages in Photoshop layers – page grid, lettering layer and layout – he drew direct to screen with a tablet.
Bryan Talbot’s layouts for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette
PÓM: Do you draw electronically, or the old-fashioned way?
KC: Actual drawing, 100% ‘traditionally’. But in Photoshop, I often clean them up, colour them up, add effects… fun but painstaking.
Kate Charlesworth’s finished art for Page 74 of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette
PÓM: How much research did you have to do at your end? I presume Mary Talbot already had her own research done – and this is very much right slap-bang in her given field, anyway – but I presume there was research for contemporary clothes, backgrounds, and the like?
KC: Yes, Mary – and Bryan too – supplied most of the specific reference material – architecture, particular photographs and set-pieces – transport – various bits of background – and all the posters. They form an important element of the book. Some as visuals, giving the flavour of the period, others as important parts of the narrative.
I had reference sources of my own, too – apart from the internet I’ve accumulated a pretty good reference collection, which I used to augment the reference I’d been provided with – sometimes I found a clearer image, which was helpful; there’s an awful lot of detail in there.
Costume was really up to me, and I tried to use outfits from source photographs wherever I could – very few of the characters in the book are invented – though Sally herself is, of course.
Although Bryan was very clear about the look and feel of the backgrounds, he always encouraged me to add extra touches. We were all rather obsessed with accuracy, and constantly checked images and ideas.
PÓM: Now that I’ve finally had a chance to read the book: Sally Heathcote is, I’m guessing, a fictional character who’s there as our Point-of-View character, with pretty much everything going on around her, and most of the people, being genuinely historical?
KC: Yes, Mary created Sally as a character who could take us through the story without being tied to any particular aspect of it, as would have happened if she’d focused on, say, Christabel Pankhurst or Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. So in this narrative Sally, a young girl from the poorhouse, taken on by Mrs Pankhurst as a maid-of-all-work, observes the movement from the early days, becomes an activist, witnesses the movement split, and the beginning of war. She also represents a working class voice in what is perceived as a predominantly middle class movement.
PÓM: Just a brief technical question: Who did the colours and the final lettering?
KC: Bryan did the lettering.
Sometimes he specified colour and tone on the layouts – firelight, night scenes, for instance – early on he came up with the idea that Sally should be a redhead – she stands out wherever she is on the page.
Originally the plan had been only to use the green and purple of the WSPUs as spot colour, but early on in the process we (more or less collectively) decided to expand the palette – purple for Mrs P, brown hair for Em Pethick-Lawrence; red for blood, flame etc. I coloured the artwork up first in watercolour and finished it off in photoshop.
PÓM: I have to say, I loved the book. I have a young lady friend who works in publishing in London, and who is active in union activities, and I want to get her a copy. How has the reaction been to it, so far?
4-5 star reviews so far – really good reception. Bryan and Mary doing [BBC Radio 4's] Woman’s Hour tomorrow morning, which is brilliant. They only wanted two, which suited me. Should shift a few more copies!
PÓM: One thing I noticed in the book was that there are several instances of threats of sexual violence against the suffragettes. Was there a lot of this at the time, do you know? Considering that there has been a lot of talk recently about rape threats to women online, do you think this is all just part of an ongoing use of threats of sexual violence against women, by men, and that, in a way, there’s nothing new under the sun?
KC: Threats of sexual violence against the suffragettes – there must have been. Any references in Mary’s story – well, same old, same old. Exactly your comment ‘there’s nothing new under the sun‘. Online threats are just easier to make. Some men (and some women too, alas) will always be threatened by women trying to achieve any sort of equality.
Perhaps overt threats of sexual violence were more taboo in Edwardian Britain – what seemed completely acceptable was the depiction of extreme violence towards Suffragettes, and what we’d today describe as torture – often taking the form of comic postcards. Women having their tongues cut off; jokey force-feeding. But hey, they were jokes! So that was all right, then. Very often on these cards, it’s suggested the woman ‘can’t get a man’ she’s invariably an ugly ‘old maid’; she neglects her children, she’s a sexless old freak.
PÓM: Am I right in thinking that this was finished and ready to go a good few months back, but Jonathan Cape wanted to hold it until Mayday, for fuller impact?
KC: Sally was finished in early June, last year. We’d been expecting a Christmas/New Year publication, so were surprised by the turn of events.
I don’t know if May 1st was deliberately chosen for the connotations of that date or not, but I heard that the Spring publication was brought forward from October 2014!
PÓM: Did you enjoy doing all this? It’s quite a different end of the business from what you usually do, isn’t it?
KC: Yes, I enjoyed working on Sally very much indeed. I’ve always pretty much made all the decisions, at all stages, myself. Once I realised that I didn’t have to make any of the basic decisions about layout, placing characters, emotion – even light and shade (and it didn’t take long) – I relaxed into it and concentrated on realising Mary and Bryan’s vision of Sally, with a sort of overwash of my style and contributions. I was conscious of becoming very proprietorial towards someone else’s character, and it was rather a wrench when I finally finished the book (even though I’d been practically counting down the days).
PÓM: Are there any plans afoot for the three of you – or just you and Mary Talbot – to do any further work together?
KC: Well, Mary has already written and I’ve illustrated the concluding chapter of a collaborative graphic novel (IDP 2043 – ‘Internally Displaced Person’ – a dystopian, post-diluvial action tale set in the Scottish borders) commissioned by the Edinburgh Book Festival*, to be launched at this year’s Festival. Pat Mills, Hannah Berry, Irvine Welsh amongst others are also involved.
I have my own graphic narrative which I’m starting work on soon, so I’ll be pretty busy for some time – but if Mary ever wanted to make a sequel to Sally – never say never!
PÓM: Can you tell me more about this graphic narrative you’re going to be doing?
KC: It’s a combination of personal memoir and the arc of LGBT history/life (specially the L) in Britain from 1950 to the present day. Lost worlds of the 50s, 60s, 70s… Role models, heroes/heroines. A Girl’s Guide to Sensible Footwear. It’s going to take quite a while.
PÓM: Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, Kate, whilst you were running around the country signing books!
KC: Many thanks – and hope to see you in Dublin!**
[*The Edinburgh International Book Festival is on from the 9th to the 25th of August 2014, and Kate Charlesworth will be appearing there, along with Bryan and Mary Talbot, on the 23rd at 12 30, as well as at a launch that evening for IDP 2043, along with the other contributors.
**Sadly, Kate and I never did get to meet in Dublin, as she was flying in for a visit within hours of my flying out to Paris for a few days. C'est la vie!
SCBWI conference has started – with
Connie Hsu Senior Commissioning Editor Roaring Brooks USA flying in from New York;
Frances Plumpton literary agent from New Zealand flying in too,
a pile of authors and illustrators from WA and Victoria ….
it’s happening … Margaret Roc and Betty Sargent spent hours stuffing delegate bags yesterday with me ….
The Hughenden was on overload with the marquis rising from the carpark… the banner is up and we’re ready to rock and roll with the children’s book writers & illustrators of Australia and New Zealand!
Our Conference charity is Room to read www.roomtoread.org
The post SCBWI’s coming from all over Oz, NZ and US – writers and Illustrators! appeared first on Susanne Gervay's Blog.
The results of the final match of the Quidditch World Cup are here! Go to the Daily Prophet offices to read through Ginny Potter and Rita Skeeter's comments from throughout the match, and see which team claimed the first place spot.
Dave Legeno, who played Fenrir Greyback, died while hiking in Death Valley. He was fifty years old. TMZ reports that his body was found in "an area so remote a CHP helicopter had to be called in to remove it."
Our thoughts are with Mr. Legeno's family at this difficult, sad time.
This week on hbook.com…
July’s issue of Notes from the Horn Book: 5 questions for The Great Greene Heist author Varian Johnson, more middle-school capers, pet picture books, nature nonfiction, and dragons and witches in YA fantasy
From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: “From the Guide: Cultural Diversity in Middle-Grade Fiction”
Reviews of the Week:
- “My gun, my foot“: so, about that early July/August issue…
- “Get appy“: Book Verdict app takes Horn Book reviews mobile
Out of the Box: A photographer to watch: Sarah Ann Loreth
2014 Summer Reading
July kidlit events in Boston
See overviews of previous weeks by clicking the tag week in review. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up-to-date on our articles!
The post Week in Review, July 7th-11th appeared first on The Horn Book.
The results of the last semi-final match, Bulgaria versus Japan, can now be read on Pottermore. Go to the Daily Prophet section to see which team will be advancing and which team will be playing the USA for third place.
Ginny Potter will be reporting live from the Patagonian desert for the Quidditch World Cup final match: Brazil versus Bulgaria. The match will take place on July 11th and Ginny will be joined by a "familiar face" in the journalist's enclosure:
It’s Brazil versus Bulgaria for the 2014 Quidditch World Cup final! The hotly anticipated match will take place this Friday, July 11 from 2.00pm Patagonia time (6.00pm BST, 1.00pm EDT, 10.00am PDT). The final will follow the play-off for third place between Japan and the USA this Wednesday, July 9.
Daily Prophet Quidditch Correspondent Ginny Potter will be commenting live from the final as it happens, so get ready for tensions and excitement as the match progresses! Can Brazil claim a sixth tournament victory, or will Viktor Krum’s team pull another win out of the bag?
Stay tuned to learn more about Ginny’s live commentary, which will be available here on the Pottermore Insider for all to enjoy.
Ginny Potter will also be joined in the journalists’ enclosure by a familiar face for the World Cup final – who do you think it will be? Vote in our poll below or tell us on Facebook or Twitter if you have an account using #QuidditchWorldCup!
As she promised at the beginning of Pottermore's Quidditch World Cup coverage, J.K. Rowling has published a Harry Potter short story. Like most new material from the Potter Universe, this short story has been posted on Pottermore as extra content. However, this time the new content is a short story of Harry as an adult. Business Insider reported that in the short story Harry, age 34, is attending the final match with his family and friends. The short story is written as a gossip column for the Daily Prophet by Rita Skeeter. Much of the short story incorporates what J.K. Rowling revealed in her documentary, A Year in the Life, when she drew out the family tree of the remaining, living characters. Please log into Pottermore and visit the Daily Prophet to read the full short story.
The Diagon Alley expansion at Universal Studios Florida opened to the public today and, as expected, Harry Potter fans flocked to the park to see it:
Parkgoers stood in a snaking queue for at least two hours to get into the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley. Many then joined yet another line to board Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, the attraction's signature ride.
By early afternoon, the park's posted wait for the ride reached 450 minutes — enough time to watch the last three Harry Potter movies.
Descriptions of the Escape from Gringotts Ride can be read here
, while pictures of opening day can be seen here
UN Women has announced that Emma Watson will be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador to promote gender equality:
“We are thrilled and honoured to work with Emma, whom we believe embodies the values of UN Women,” stated Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women. “The engagement of young people is critical for the advancement of gender equality in the 21st century, and I am convinced that Emma’s intellect and passion will enable UN Women’s messages to reach the hearts and minds of young people globally,” added Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Ms. Watson has been involved in the promotion of girls' education for several years, and previously visited Bangladesh and Zambia as part of her humanitarian efforts.
“Being asked to serve as UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador is truly humbling. The chance to make a real difference is not an opportunity that everyone is given and is one I have no intention of taking lightly. Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting. I still have so much to learn, but as I progress I hope to bring more of my individual knowledge, experience and awareness to this role,” said Ms. Watson.
You can read the rest here
The results of the match between the USA and Japan, which decides third place, are in. Go to the Daily Prophet section of Pottermore to see which team won.
The final match, between Bulgaria and Brazil, will be played on July 11th.
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A reminder to all you Quidditch fans out there - the final of this year's world cup will have live commentary. Reporters Ginny Weasley and Rita Skeeter will be reporting on the match between Bulgaria and Brazil as it happens, and their comments will appear on Pottermore Insider and the Daily Prophet section of Pottermore. The game will begin tomorrow at 2:00 pm local time (6.00pm BST, 1.00pm EDT, 10.00am PDT).
A recap of ten facts that you should know before the match can be found here