§ MUST READ: Laura Hudson enters the world of Jason Shiga, who is probably one of the world’s greatest living cartoonists. If you don’t believe me, go read Demon, or Fleep. He’s surely one of the great visionary thinkers about the possibilities of comics storytelling, his comics unfolding like tesseracts in real time and space, with codes, traps, mysteries and more.
The first time Shiga blew my mind was with an interactive graphic novel called Hello World. The story is simple enough: You’re a little boy sent to the store by his mother with a grocery list of items and a suitcase to carry them home. But the moment you open the cover, it’s obvious this is unlike any comic you’ve ever seen before. Every page is sliced in half, separating the comic into two parts. The top half is where the story unfolds, while the bottom half displays the contents of your suitcase. The two sides are connected by an intricate system of page-turning: When you see a number inside a square, you flip to a page in the top half of the comic, advancing the story; when you see a number inside a circle, you flip to a page on the bottom, adding and removing items from your suitcase. That’s when you realize that this isn’t just a choose-your-own-adventure story: It’s a comic with a functional inventory system.
Much more in the pprofile, including Shiga’s post -Demon plans.
§ A very nice story by Margo Dabaie about a class she taught for aspiring cartoonists:
I loved hearing the stories they had in mind because they were always really ornate and involved (I definitely had to drop some gentle reminders that there’s only one page to work with!). It was clear the students were fans of comics and were excited to make work.
§ Another cool story about how comics worpshops are being used in the Mumbai district of Dharavi to educate and improve, as reported by Ryan Holberg.
Usually, World Comics India, wherever it goes, collaborates with local activist groups. A trained “comics tutor” will be sent to conduct a workshop, the composition of which, in terms of age and sex, differing widely according to locale. The tutor first gets workshop participants to speak about social and political issues important to their daily lives. The participants are then instructed in the basics of how to make short four panel comics, from step one of conceiving a story idea, to breaking the story down in panels, and finally inking the drawings. The finished comic is then photocopied and pasted onto walls. Other formats like eight-page booklets are also produced. The range of topics depends on the locality, and the nature of the collaborating NGO: from concerns with water shortages in states like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, to illegal deforestation in Mizoram. Political corruption, male alcoholism, discrimination against women, and health problems due to bad sanitation have been treated in workshops in many states, giving you a sense of how extensive these problems are in India.
§ Speaking of improving, the once great state of Indiana has passed an odious law that allows discrimination, and it’s sad to think we live in an era where this is playing to the basest of bases. Anyway, the large gaming show Gen Con is threatening to leave the state because the law may allow attendees to be discriminated against:
The so-called “religious freedom” bill, passed in the Indiana House of Representatives Tuesday, would give business owners free rein to refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim doing so would go against their religion. That could mean a baker could refuse to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, for example. Gen Con CEO and owner Adrian Swartout sent a letter to Pence on Monday in which she said the state will stand to lose the $50 million the convention brings to the city of Indianapolis each year if the bill becomes law.
She wrote: Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years. We ask that you please reconsider your support of SB 101.
Other, non nerd associated companies are also warning that they will stop investing in the state.
§ President Obama won the internet this week by posing with the above Girl Scout troop who has arrived at the White House for a Science Fair dressed as superheroes. Perhaps emboldened by this, he talked about his interest in comics in a letter to supporters;
I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman. Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.
We got our milk board!
Here is a video of Dan DiDio talking about Convergence which I understand imparts important information about this event. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.
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.