§ The classic and essential Comic Book History of Comics by Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey is being rereleased in a color edition at IDW, and taking a cue from the shocking historical events contained within, Brian Cronin has rounded up Fred Van Lente Presents: 15 Unbelievable Moments In Comic Book History. And let me give a compliment to the new CBR. This piece is initially presented in the annoying “slideshow” format so beloved of pageviews. However there is a link to see it all on one page! Good for CBR! That was truly brave.
Anyway while the 15 events contain many of the classics — the Yellow Kid was the origin of Yellow Journalism — some of it was unknown even to the Beat! Incredible! Among the stories I did not know: lesbian author Patricia Highsmith went on a date with Stan Lee! And hated it! She also wrote comics for a while before turning to such classics as Strangers on a Train, but later repudiated that part of her career.
The second issue is of the series is due out later this month.
§ MUST READ! Speaking of history, over at Newsarama, Jim McLauchlin is looking back at 1996, a year second only to 1954 in the amount of terror it inspires in comics historians….or people who were there:
Imagine a year where Marvel and DC absolutely crush their sales, but the House of Ideas almost implodes and the industry is wracked by business failures. And in the background, your computer starts talking to you. This year happened, 20 years ago. Remember 1996? Many titans of the comics industry still do.
Superman and Lois’s marriage, Kingdom Come and the implosion at the end of the distribution wars…McLauchlin lays it all out with quotes from the major players of the day, including Steve Geppi.
Heroes World hung on into 1997 before collapsing, and Diamond took on Marvel’s distribution. But make no mistake: In the interim, between a general market collapse and stores being pushed out of business in the distribution wars, the comics business lost 62% of its volume.
“In 1993, when Diamond was 45% of the business, the entire business was $500 million at wholesale. After Marvel came back and we were just about the whole world, we were only $186 million at wholesale,” Steve Geppi says. “The industry capsized in the middle.”
§ Best ofs! Slate rolls out its Top 10 best comics and graphic novels of 2016. These lists are all over the place this year.
^ Paste came up with a whole list of The 25 Best Comics of 2016. Someone is keeping score, right?
§ And a site called Junkee has Are Comics Still A Niche In 2016? A Roundtable On New Voices, Old Stories And Superheroes – kind of scanned this. It’s long and I’m sure it’s got some good points.
§ And Magdalene Visaggio wrote a piece called Why the New Sincerity Has Forever Changed Comics for Paste which is one of the clearest statement on how the current comics audience engages with the material and vice versa, that I’ve read yet:
Stylized, youthful, increasingly female and often queer, these books are almost (read: explicitly) a deliberate slap in the face to a toxic fandom culture and a broken business model that has focused exclusively on 45-year-old white dudes. And I find it interesting how much these books joyfully and deliberately dance right past everything we’ve always been told American comics are supposed to be—serious literature—while wearing a Walkman and a high-top fade.
§ EW reviews The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg. Both of Greenberg’s books have come out in December which I think, has mitigated them getting some of the praise they deserve.
Much of Hero’s tales are Greenberg’s own original, yet familiar-feeling feminist yarns. One, in particular, is an adaptation of a fairly popular fairytale. But all of them feature brave, intelligent women, each trying to chart their own course in a world that is less than kind to them. Greenberg doesn’t pull any punches on this front. Instead, applying her dry wit to underscore the unfairness of the circumstances her characters are subjected to. In doing so, she is able to touch upon themes of betrayal, love, loss, and even madness, approaching the reality of each situation with a touch of humor and honesty.
§ An interview with French art duo Kerascoët , known here for Beauty and Beautiful Darkness. They’re working on a picture book with Pakistani hero Malala!
How do you work? Do you both pencil, ink, and color?
Marie: Yes. Sébastien: We don’t draw the same but we are complimentary. Marie: We don’t have the same style.
Sébastien: We don’t separate the work–sketches, inking–like comic book artists sometimes do. It’s more like in animation or some Japanese manga-ka. She works essentially with the characters. I mostly do the backgrounds and things like that. But she also makes the mise-en-scéne, the storyboards, sketches, inking, coloring. It’s always different with each project because we don’t draw with the same style.
Marie: And we change our process.
§ Michael Tisserand’s biography of George Herriman, Krazy, just out this month, looks to be a fascinating look at one of the all time greats, one long overdue, and bringing with it some mythbusting. TCJ recently ran a two part interview with Tisserand:
Michael Tisserand: I didn’t set out to be a Bubblespiker and disprove any of these long-held beliefs, but in this case, I found no direct evidence that Hearst specifically protected Krazy Kat from editors wishing to drop it. I did learn that the story of a lifetime contract is a myth, because Herriman repeatedly expresses concern in letters that his contract won’t be renewed, and he’s not joking. At the same time, it makes sense that Hearst would want someone who was so critically adored in his papers. I did find a letter from Hearst’s editor, Arthur Brisbane, stating that Brisbane thought everything in the newspaper should appeal to all readers, but Hearst liked keeping some highbrow material in there, including the City Life page. And Krazy Kat was running on the City Life page. So, on the Herriman Truth-O-Meter, I guess I’d have to give that a “half true.”
§ I bookmarked this process piece on Eric Skillman and Paul Pope’s work on the Criterion edition of Lone Wolf and Cub. Purty.
§ On Facebook Gail Simone asked artists which characters are the hardest to draw and the answers may shock you!
§ The retail corner is very sad this time. Here’s an elegiac look at the last days of Mirvish Village before it’s gone, a Toronto neighborhood of Seth-like frame houses and quirky businesses that will soon be brand new condos and coffee shops. It is just like a Seth comic. Actually, Seth does’t make anything up, he just draws Toronto neighborhoods. The neighborhood is also the home of The Beguiling comics shop, which is moving next year. According to a report from Tom Spurgeon, Little Bird, the kids comic shop nearby, will merge into Panel and Page, the amazing store at the Toronto Reference Library.
§ Book Court, a much loved bookstore in Cobble Hill that hosted many graphic novel events, is also closing so we can have more coffee shops. But hopefully a new book store will be opening in the neighborhood.
§ And finally, Politics and Prose, the also beloved and groundbreaking bookstore in Washington DC, ALSO site of many, many graphic novel events, is near the pizza parlor that a gunman recently threatened, and has been caught up in the whole looney tunes conspiracy theory about the place.
§ So yeah, not a great time for bookstores. Just what we need.
§ Speaking of which, Liana Finck sums up the zeitgeist in this comic for Catapult, When We Were Whole: A Comic About Us.
§ Turning back to the frivolous distractions that everyone is getting sunk into now, if you are the type who wants a frame by frame breakdown of the latest Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, along with speculation over what every single thing means, this article is for you.
§ Speaking of GotG, the new trailer was the most viewed Marvel trailer ever. . Yep that movie is going to be a success.
§ Apparently http://www.emmastraub.net/booksaremagic said that sure, maybe Bucky had a crush on Captain America once. Stucky lives and a million Tumbler users cried out in awe.
§ Question of the day: Is this graphic novel STEM education’s secret sauce?
Curly Bracket, from Ashoka fellow and Swedish social entrepreneur Johan Wendt, is a combination textbook and graphic novel that builds students’ computational thinking skills. It takes advantage of the graphic novel format to engage students with visual representations and active movement, and it shows with clarity each problem students must solve and why those problems are important.
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.