Things are slowing down for the holidays. Even at Stately Beat Manor. Those presents won’t buy themselves. But news of a new comics company and many best of lists are here for you to peruse in your spare time.
§ Jennifer De Guzman has an excellent round-up of respected authors who like comics, including Umberto Ecco, Junot Diaz and Doris Lessing, who jumped right in. I’m a little surprised this book isn’t better know to be honest:
DORIS LESSING Being a future Nobel Laureate didn’t make it easy for Doris Lessing to break into comics. Three artists turned down collaborating with the prolific author of novels, short stories, nonfiction, and opera libretti before Charlie Adlard (currently the artist on a little indie book called The Walking Dead) signed on to draw the graphic novel she wrote, Playing the Game. It was published in 1995.
§ A new comics company! Brendan Wright has been hired as editor for SBI Comics, a new line published by Starburns Industries, an animation studio founded by Dan Harmon, Dino Stamatopoulos, Joe Russo II, and James A. Fino which produces Rick and Morty and the upcoming Charlie Kaufman stop-motion animation film Anomalisa.
Several details remained to be hammered out, but the arrangement we put together was a freelance gig as one of Starburns’ two comics editors, along with Oré. Initially this covered a handful of projects generated by Starburns writers and artists, but over the following months more were added, along with the ability to accept pitches for Starburns’ consideration. With Starburns on the rise between the success of Rick and Morty and early buzz for its feature film Anomalisa, written by Charlie Kaufman and codirected by Kaufman and Duke Johnson, these were busy days, and the agreement wasn’t ready to be announced until last week, but we’re now full speed ahead.
§ Not comics: I know we’re all jealous of the YouTube stars who make millions for paying video games and opening boxes, but even having 90,000 followers on Instagram doesn’t mean you make any money as this sobering story reveals.
The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown L.A. The next week, I sat faceless in a room of 40 people vying for a menial courier job. I’ve walked a red carpet with $80 in my bank account. Popular YouTube musician Meghan Tonjes said she performed on Vidcon’s MainStage this year to screaming, crying fans without knowing whether she’d be able to afford groceries.
The attention economy is a harsh mistress.
§ On a related note, K. Thor Jenson, sometime cartoonist, goes behind the scenes of his years running Portal of Evil, an early aughts den of iniquity and Two Girl, One Cup reaction videos. I cannot stand these things myself, but the power of shock is a basic human emotion:
Disgust has a long and proud evolutionary history. It has the power to draw and heighten attention, developed as an evolutionary warning system to keep us from endangering our bodies. One of the leading theories in evolutionary biology postulates that we learned to feel disgust as a defense mechanism to keep us from eating rotten food. As the risk level of human existence has steadily dropped, the feeling has metastasized into something quite different — and yet disgust can still instill a sense of urgency perfect for the internet age: A 2014 study from the University of Florida indicated that we’re not only more likely to give our attention to disgusting things, but also to share them with others.
§ Drifting towards the positive, Cuyahoga County in Ohio has given out forty grants of $15,000 each to artists, including Derf, who, I believe, is using it to fund publication of one of his comics. Two other cartoonists got grants, which were funded by a cigarette tax. The comments roil with alarm at this waste of taxpayers money, but a community that supports its artists is a community that is a community.
§ The Tick is coming back. Spoon. And Patrick Warburton will return in the role that made him Patrick Warburton. Photo above from the first, epic incarnation.
Tick creator Ben Edlund will return as writer and producer, though no word yet on whether Warburton — whose other credits include Family Guy, Venture Bros and Rules of Engagement — will be joined by fellow cast members David Burke, Liz Vassey and Nestor Carbonell, better known, respectively, as Arthur, Captain Liberty and Batmanuel.
§ The Guardian reviews The Eternaut .
§ The Lucifer TV show is coming, and the star, Tom Ellis, was caught holding a copy of the comic! How meta can you get!
§ Here is a video of the installation of Star Wars art by John Cassaday up tat the Metropolis Gallery here in NYC. The gallery is open to the public and the comics art on display is pretty amazing. Key pieces by Kirby, Shuster, Jerry Robinson and many many more. The art is beautifully presented and every page tells a story, just in the lifework and occasional notes in the margins. A visit to this gallery will make you feel like you’re standing in the first Golden Age of comics. And the Cassaday show is fantastic as well. It’s up until the 23rd.
§ David Harper is presenting The SKTCHIES, with substantial essays on many books. I can’t find a link to the whole thing but if you go to this one and click round you’ll find them.
§ The Trouble with Comics gang looks at the Best Work by New Creators, defined as people who joined comics since 2010. Already a lengthy list.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.