We’re a whole week into the new year and stuff is coming at you like a burbling popcorn machine:
§ What was that you guys were saying about webcomics being out of the mainstream and all? Webcomics merch and distribution company TopatoCo just bought a building to house their operations. So there.
§ Jackie O, comics editor—how JFK’s widow edited comics for Doubleday.
§ Warren Ellis chats with Chris Arrant at Robot 6. He’s entered a career phase of mostly writing novels and not paying attention to the comics industry. However, he still gets off a few sharp ones:
Creator-ownership isn’t a thing the marketplace responds to. If Steve Niles and Jimmy Palmiotti had called their anthology anything but Creator-Owned Heroes, it’d probably still be running. I loved the idea of that book, but the title just sounded like the comics version of organic granola. Neither the majority of the audience nor the comics stores give a shit about creators owning their work, I’ve found. What the audience responds to, still — the retail community tends to be a little further behind the curve, due not least to the nature of the direct market’s mechanism — are new ideas, done well.
§ The future of YA comics is going to be digital, Valerie Gallaher argues, and she’s got a point:
But I think the future for YA comic book material is largely in Digital. Even little kids are handy with e-reading devices and iPads. These are the formats they are growing up using. If they are reading their picture-books on the iPad now, chances are they’re going to be using similar devices for most of their reading material as they get older; and to think otherwise is to be seduced by the comforting allure of our own childhoods.
I’ve had a few field observations on this recently, as more and more of my friends have kids. It’s hardly scientific because most of my friends are already book lovers and keep giving their kids books. It is interesting thought. The other day I brunched with a friend with an infant of nearly a year and of course he played with her iPhone but he also enjoyed looking at pictures in a book, especially when the pictures included a tractor or an elephant. When kids are given still images, they still respond, and toddlers will still pick up a crayon to draw before they start coding apps. Still, you’d be dumb not to go into the kidgital space if you’re aiming at young readers.
§ Scott Lobdell yells at puppies urges crowdfunders to support Siike Donnelly’s SOLESTAR, which is a few grand short with a few days to go. Give it a look—it’s inspired by Donnelly’s own efforts to overcome a brain aneurysm and features a bunch of different artists drawing a fairly heartfelt superhero story.
§ I’m waiting for the big post that links to all the Comics Reporter Holiday interviews, but here are some pull quotes. KRAMERS ERGOT pioneer Sammy Harkham::
Who wins? You hear so many horror stories of cartoonists who sign on with a major company, a major publishing house, and it doesn’t make sense. [laughs] As comics become more and more like the rest of the publishing world, the only people that are going to become more successful with book sales are going to be people doing sports books, or sensationalistic autobio or political books. That’s exactly the same as the regular book world. And that’s fine. To me, it becomes a matter of embracing what it is. If you have a compulsion to draw comics, that’s something you can’t change. That’s a fucked-up thing inside you. You’re a talented writer and you’re a talented artist, and you’re now going to spend time making work that’s barely going to be seen? You’ve got to own that, and embrace it and say, “Okay. This is what I do.” It’s for 500 people or less, or maybe a little bit more. But who cares? It seems… it’s kind of ending now, but it seemed people were having these outsized expectations of what comics can give you. It’s a niche thing. And that’s cool.
And if you’ve ever wanted to know more about frequent and passionate Beat commenter Matthew Southworth, this is it. (that’s his art above.)
Like all love affairs, though, my relationship to comics has grown more conflicted and complicated over time. I’m frustrated to see a bizarre addictive buying pattern among readers, that everyone will scream and shout that so-and-so’s being killed or the Big Two are doing another event that requires the reader to buy piles and piles of comics they don’t even like, but then they go out and buy them, if only for fodder for their critical blogs. There are so many great comics out there: some of them are published by Marvel and DC, a great many of them are not. That there are readers out there who check out comics web sites every morning but still have never read an issue of Love and Rockets or who won’t sit down and read something by Chris Ware or Dan Clowes or Charles Burns… that won’t read Paul Grist’s great superhero comics like Jack Staff or Mudman just because they don’t have the Marvel or DC logo up in the corner — I just think that’s downright stupid. And I’m not saying that they should give up Marvel or DC — I haven’t, I still buy things from both companies, and I enjoy working with them a great deal — just that there’s so much else out there that is fantastic and that is withering on the vine because readers and retailers don’t try it out.
§ Here is your “They Hate Us” story of the month; Alan Moore’s NEONOMICON has been officially banned from a Greenville,
NC SC library, after the head librarian decided it had to go. She can be seen in the above video, and yes, she seems to have stolen Dolores Umbridge’s jacket. She made the decision despite the book having won the Bram Stoker Award and others standing up for it. The CBLDF has some background on the case here.
§ And yet! Schools embrace graphic novels as learning tool—you don’t say!
There’s no data on precisely how many schools nationwide use graphic novels. But no one disputes that in other markets the popularity of the comic-style books — adapted to classic literature, biographies, science, math and other subjects — is on the rise. Karen Gavigan, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina who has focused her research on graphic novels, points out that their sales have increased by nearly 40 percent over the past 10 years. And public libraries have seen significant increases in circulation after adding such material to their collections. “A whole range of kids just love these,” Gavigan said.
§ Cartoon Brew attempts to quantify the most viewed animation of 2012; a Minecraft take-off beat out that video of a CGI hawk stealing a CGI baby.
§ Tucker Stone offers a fairly manly 19 Best Comics of 2012.
§ Doctor Who in the style of Edward Gorey—via everywhere.
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.