The news is BACK, baby! The 12 days of Christmas are over, the last crumb of fruitcake has been thrown in the dustbin and it’s back to the grindstone!
§ Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo are writing a book called The Greatest Comic Book of All Time! and that’s the website the book is about
Everyone knows that comics have come a long way in recent years. Once snubbed as among the lowest of low culture forms, comic books and graphic novels are now reviewed in prestigious magazines and journals, taught in schools and universities, and generally regarded as a form of artistic expression almost (if not quite) as reputable as traditional arts like literature, visual art, music, and so on. But not all comic books are created equal. Why do some works and authors enjoy commercial and critical success while others – perhaps equally as good – languish unknown and uncelebrated? The Greatest Comic Book of All Time: Symbolic Capital in the Field of American Comics, a new book by Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo, explores these questions in a series of short, provocative essays about value and reputation in the world of American comic books. Inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s analyses of fields of cultural production, we try to understand why works have the reputations that they do and what it might take to re-structure the comics world along different principles that would recognize different works.
§ On Friday, January 22, R. Sikoryak and friends will participate in A Reading of ITUNES TERMS AND CONDITIONS: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
R. Sikoryak has drawn the complete text of the iTunes Terms and Conditions as a graphic novel, in over 90 distinct styles. It features a bearded, bespectacled man wandering through classic & contemporary comics, narrating the entire agreement.
For this show, Sikoryak will project the artwork & read from the text, accompanied by live music created by Brian Dewan. They will also be joined by special guest readers. You’ll see how far they get in 45 minutes (the show’s running time).
The reading takes place at Dixon Place, Can’t wait!
§ In case you weren’t on Twitter recently, great mirth endued when a DC comics, namely the Superman/Wonder Woman annul #2 contained the above panel suggesting that Pakistani people speak Pakistanian. They don’t.
Unfortunately for DC, people in Pakistan speak Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Urdu, and Balochi. In fact, English is also an official language in the country alongside Urdu, although last year the Pakistani government announced plans to promote usage of Urdu over it instead. At any rate, do you know what no one in Pakistan speaks? “Pakistanian”, as it does not exist.
This led to much fun at the expense of DC.
— Khaver Siddiqi (@thekarachikid) January 5, 2016
I think what made it worse is that it’s an Editor’s note. Which makes it sounds like an editor read the book. The editor listed is ￼ Andrew Marino and I’m sure he’s a fine fellow. People get busy and miss things. DC has had no comment on the kerfuffle. in same ways maybe this isn’t that bad. I’d imagine in regimes past the whole issue would have been pulped.
§ Zainab Akhtar has a year end wrap up from folks like Claire Napier, JA Micheline, David Brothers, Joe McCulluch and Douglas Wolk. A lot of good reading but a lot of it is troubling as well, especially when Akhtar lays out her own ambivalence about the hostile world she finds herself in:
Writing about comics this year was much more of a slog than ever before: one of the main reasons of which was being impacted by an increasingly virulent Islamophobic and racist culture, and seeing that permeate comics in a more overt manner, post-Charlie Hebdo. I grew tired of being upset and hurt all the time; I grew tired of my exhaustion and hurt; of being perceived as negative and aggressive, and I grew tired of being tired. I reached the point where I didn’t even want improvement, per se: just an absence of shittiness. If you’re tired of hearing about it, rest assured I am doubly -triply- tired of feeling and espousing it. Functioning in comics in 2015 on a day-to-day basis as a brown, Muslim woman has been intensely draining and damaging in a way, that to be honest, I didn’t think possible. Perhaps it’s ignorance, but I never thought writing about comics on the internet would impact my mental and physical health to a degree where I had to actively work to combat those effects. As a result, my whole year in comics writing felt like a spluttering tap that coughed and spat but never flowed. I’m still here, and the only reason I can give as to why is it doesn’t feel like the end yet. Maybe I’ve not been fully broken.
§ Speaking of sad, the promotion has begun for what is surely the first great comic of the year, Tom Hart’s Rosalie Lightning, a book about the sudden death of his very young daughter. It’s an excruciating yet uplifting book that is impossible to forget. Hart talks about the process of the book for Vulture:
This might sound hard to believe, but I was pretty concerned about not wanting to make a heart-wrenching book. I just wanted to make an honest book, you know? I also didn’t want to make something that read like horror. I wanted to describe. That’s it. I think that worked for me. I don’t know. Certainly as a person and not as an artist. People talk about art as being cathartic. I don’t know if it always is; if the definition of catharsis is about letting go. I don’t know the exact meaning of the word. I think the word I used before, integration, is a good one. I needed to integrate the experience because there was so much of me that couldn’t believe it and was shocked by it that I think making a project out of it sort of allowed me to deepen the belief that it did happen. In that way, working on Rosalie Lightning did lighten things. Maybe. But cathartic? Drawing her was really a kind of beautiful experience, and heartbreaking, but I felt that she could still be there a little bit if I put her on the page. It was healing. I can say that
§ Here’s an article on the Valkyries, the influential group of woman comics store employees and their spinoff organization, Valhalla, which is for librarians, bookstore employees and related folk.
The rapid growth of the Valkyries recently led to a new “branch” of the organization, known as Valhalla, in November 2015. Now, anyone who works with comics, including librarians, curators, general bookstore workers, former comic and shop workers, and has already added 200 members to its roster. Christina ‘Steenz’ Stewart and Ivy Weir, both Valkyries Valhalla co-admins and librarians, recognized the need for a bridge between librarians and comic retailers to ensure that anyone can have access to comics. Many of the ladies who were already Valkyries have joined Valhalla and as both groups expand, word-of-mouth has proven to be a viable tool to pique the interest of new members. Based on her experience, Weir knows that libraries are a perfect medium to usher in a new generation of comic lovers.
§ Steve Geppi made a strongly worded statement on his FB page suggesting that people who don’t have a lot of money just don’t work hard enough. Geppi is the owner and founder of Diamond Comics. He’s a self-made man who dropped out of school in the 8th grade, then became a mailman and saved enough money to open a comics shop. It’s a classic American story, but not everyone is able to follow this path; some find greater obstacles in their way. I’ve seen some suggesting that knowing this is the attitude that informs the biggest single element of the entire comics industry in America would be incentive to use other channels. They could be right.
§ Scott Snyder is teaching a special comics writing class and it began this week.
I start teaching this week. Excited! 1st class of the @DCComics writers development program is Wednesday!
— Scott Snyder (@Ssnyder1835) January 4, 2016
The enrollees were chosen by DC. Snyde’;s love of teaching is well known and his students seem to love him, so this is a good thing.
§ Finally I’ve had this very long list of comic book conventions bookmarked for a while and here it is. Planning begins now and Wizard World New Orleans is this weekend so the whole slog begins again.
§ A couple of comics-to-film adaptations got writers announced this week. Actor/writer Jason Mantzoukas will write the Battling Boy adaptation for Paramount. Patrick Osborne is set to direct. The film will be part animation, part live action. When he was’nt starring in The League, Manttzoukas also wrote Ride Along. Hyphenate!
And the Mark Millar film factory continues with Superior, which will be written by Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy. Matthew Vaughan and Tarquin Pack are producing.
§ If you’re still fascinated by the messy end to Frank Darabont’s tenure on The Walking Dead, there’s an ugly lawsuit about his firing from the show, and juicy depositions.
In the deposition, he is particularly harsh on AMC executives.
“When they did rarely show up on the [Georgia-based] set, [they] would … drive in from the airport in their air conditioned car, race into the air conditioned tent we had there so the actors could have a break and not pass out from the heat, poke their heads out on occasion, and half an hour later jump back in their car and fly back to their air conditioned office in New York. I had a tremendous lack of respect for them.”
Darabont thinks the AMC executives should have “put on some combat boots” to see the cast and crew working in 110-degree heat and “pick[ing” ticks off their groin and their ankles at night.”
Groin ticks. Told ya it was juicy. You can read the whole thing here!
§ Not comics: Will You Make A Suitable Bride For Oscar Isaac?
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.