§ Nice art: Apolo Cacho is one of the artists in the upcoming Mirror Mirror II anthology co edited by Sean T. Collins and Julia Gfrörer and this art is quite something. The anthology is being Kickstarted and it’s NOT funded so you know what to do! Collins was tweeting about it a while ago.
— STC@MoCCA C141/F206 (@theseantcollins) March 23, 2017
§ I haven’t been kibbling and bitting for a while because after the switch to DST I had to change my sleep pattern, meaning I had to go to sleep early and get up early and this is the last thing I do every day, at 4 am. I usually try to wake up at a 10 am (stress on try) and you can see how that doesn’t work after a while. So there is a huge backlog of stuff. But I did catch up on my sleep!
But there is more and more stuff. Maybe Steve Bannon is right and we’re heading for the Fourth Disruption – at least as far as Sounding Off On Twitter is concerned. Everyone (self included) has been going nuts tweeting about everything lately. Some of it is anxiety about the unknown future, some of it is the future of unknown anxiousness. There have been some solid threaded tweet discussions of comics economics, and Todd Allen has been reporting on some of them, with more to come. I can only imagine the state of the Secret Conclaves of Facebook these days.
§ But before we dig in, Dean Haspiel had the best review of the new Spider-Man Homecoming trailer:
§ Alison Bechdel has been named the next Vermont Cartoonist Laureate, an honor she’ll undertake starting next Thursday, succeeding Edward Koren, who succeeded James Kochalka, the First Cartoonist Laureate of the great state of Vermont.
§ The Love is Love anthology organized by Mark Andreyko to benefit the victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting has raised $165,000. Which sounds like a feel good story until you realize why they were raising funds to begin with. But still, good work!
“I am overwhelmed by the response to ‘Love is Love,’ ” Marc Andreyko, the book’s curator and project organizer, said in a statement about the new figures.
§ Alex De Campi delivered a tweet storm that could be subtitled “No One Owes You Sh*t” so thread it from here.
Okay. I should write the last 10 pages of this graphic novel but sit down because I got something to say about a working life in the arts:
— Alex de Campi (@alexdecampi) March 25, 2017
§ PREORDERING: THREAT OR MENACE?
Or essential part of comics? Nerds of Color recently preserved a series of tweets by writer David F Walker (he wrote Nighthawk, memba that?) and entitled it 10 Ways to Really Support Diversity in Comics. Here’s one tweet of the ten:
Comics & Diversity Lesson 2: Not pre-ordering comics from a direct market retailer is the same as NOT supporting a book. That's the system.
— David F Walker (@DavidWalker1201) March 13, 2017
Okay just put down that grenade and listen to me for a moment! I know I know, the preordering system is horrible! But what are we gonna do?
Well, rabblerouser Ulises Farinas recently came up with an alternative to preordering via going through the 300 page Diamond catalog and writing down codes: allowing folks to just preorder, or order his comics via a single retailer, Escape Pod Comics.
Preordering comics is annoying. I don’t do it, and when I ask readers to do it, I feel like I’m asking them to call their grocer to make sure they want to have provolone cheese in 3 months. I’m teaming up with Escape Pod Comics to solve this problem. When you want a comic of mine, you just pre-order it with me. You pay for it when you pre-order it, and it’s shipped out directly to you when it arrives in stores. No Diamond codes to memorize, no different forms to fill out. Preorder is now just ordering. To make it worth your while, i’ll include a quick pencil sketch and/or some random goodies along with it.
Ya know, when you put it like that preordering IS just ordering! People do it on Amazon every day, unbidden, unguilted, freely and of their own choosing.
Farinas’s sales page includes upcoming Judge Dredd work and Motro collection and other mainstream stuff. Seems pretty darned simple. In an interview with Nick Hanover, Farinas expands on this experiment:
CB: Why do you think the industry has been so reticent to change this system?
Fariñas: There’s too many reasons, but part of it I believe is that retailers, publishers and their distributor [Diamond] are all in a broken relationship to suck out as much profit out of a shrinking customer base rather than expand to new readers. It’s like a drug dealer: get them hooked first, and then start cutting the product more and more. They keep buying, so why change anything? New artists, new creators, they don’t want them to reach new readers, they want them to join the system and shut up. Blaming the customer is a lot easier than making a good comic, supporting new voices, and hiring more than a few diverse creators.
I dunno, this is part of the disruption, new modes of distribution like the Escape Pod/Farinas scheme and Emerald City Distro and the increased reliance on crowd funding that’s been here for a few years. More things coming, I’m sure, more things that we have never imagined.
§ Holly Rose Swinyard is writing The Whistle Stop History of Fanfiction, a much needed inquiry. In the first episode we learn that the Brontës and Jane Austen’s family all wrote fan fiction. I think you could trace it right back to Amadis of Gaul and parts of the Bible (and doubtless other religious and mythic texts) myself.
§ Chris Neill looks at Naoki Urasawa’s “Pluto”, one of my favorite comics, and one of his as well.
Someone is killing the world’s seven strongest robots, and it’s up to Europol detective Gesicht to find the culprit. But to make matters worse, Gesicht himself is one of the seven robots targeted by this unknown assassin. This murder mystery is how Naoki Urasawa’s “Pluto” starts, but calling it a “murder mystery” direly undersells it. It’s a meditation on what it means to be human. It’s an exploration of how our emotions can define us. It’s a remake of Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy” arc ‘The Greatest Robot in the World.’ It’s one of the most powerful and well-crafted manga series to come out of the last decade.
§ It’s been a while since TCJ’s Dan Nadel let loose with one of his withering blasts, but yesterday he unleashed a corker aimed at All Time Comics, the new line of retro superhero comics created by indie cartoonists for manful men who are male and macho and aren’t afraid to be rugged men in these days:
It is basically a sub-par Marvel or DC comic from the early 1980s… imagine a random issue of Indiana Jones or Legion of Superheroes written and drawn by a couple of young hacks as a try-out for the “big time.” It’s not bad-good, or kitsch, or anything on which you could hang a reason for liking it. And of course it’s vaguely misogynist and racist, but so is the amped-up pop culture world it comes from. All the publicity that money can buy positions All Time Comics as daring and both somehow new and somehow classic. It’s none of these things. Bayer’s writing is overly verbose and mostly incoherent. The drawing by old-time hack Herb Trimpe (now, along with fellow hacks Al Milgrom and Rich Buckler, somehow regarded as an important artist — so depressing) is badly composed, static, and without a trace of distinction. Even the lettering is terrible — crooked, inconsistent and crowded. Some recent superhero riffs, like, say Copra or Street Angel, have actual narrative momentum, personality, and individual points of view. This is just soulless and boring. I suppose some of this comes down to being unable to differentiate between good work and the work you liked as a kid. Or, rather, work with interesting qualities and the work you remember fondly.
If All Time Comics was just the latest eye-gouging line published by Americomics or Heroic Publishing it would be one thing, but it’s published by Fantagraphics, who boast that they publish the world’s greatest comics. I was pretty bemused when the thing was announced, and I can say with certainty that my interest in reading a line of boys-own superhero comics with sexy dames with whips riding motorcycles is exactly -0, and that’s not even a real number. I do enjoy such things as Copra, Revenger, much of Ben Marra’s work and other hardboiled action tales, but the idea that putting out a line of superhero comics by guys (and it is all guys) who read comics when they were lads is somehow transgressive and daring is blatantly idiotic. And it seems like I’m not the only person who noticed this! Nick Hanover (again) worked it over real good at Loser City:
From the previews and ads Fantagraphics put out for All Time Comics, it seemed pretty obvious that the entire project was going to be a vain, self-indulgent mess but it’s impressive how Crime Destroyer surpasses even those worst case scenario predictions. Before you even open the comic, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve been handed the floppy equivalent of those bootleg action figures everyone mocks on Twitter:
I rarely agree with Kim O’Connor but she ripped the whole thing a new one, and I couldn’t stop laughing.
§ Speaking of how comics deal with men’s issues, Rosie Knight takes on The World’s Finest Terrible Dad
When thinking of terrible fathers in comics, there is really only one man whom you begin this journey with, a man whose trauma at losing his own parents runs so deep that he has crafted an entire existence based around constantly beating up working class people who he subliminally blames for their deaths. That man is Bruce Wayne. The Batman. The Bat. The most prolific adoptive parent of small orphans and vulnerable children in the entirety of comics. And boy does he suck at it!
§ Speaking of idiotic: Aaron Sorkin In Talks With Marvel, DC – blared many headlines, all based on some blatherings while on a red carpet. I think it’s pretty clear for the context that when Sorkin says Marvel and DC he means the movie universes, NOT THE COMICS. I mean I hope so anyway. Jeepers. I detested The Social Network, BTW.
§ But it did lead to a solitary funny tweet.
Aaron Sorkin's THE AVENGERS #1. pic.twitter.com/6gHnuDBfds
— Rachelle Goguen (@rachellegoguen) March 29, 2017
§ Meg Lemke sat down with Penelope Bagieu to talk about her new biography of Mama Cass Elliot.
The basic elements are factual, but I connect the dots with my interpretation of her as a woman. I thought of how I would react in her place. For example, I knew she was overweight as a teenager, attended a posh high school, and pretended she was in a sorority. The part about her wearing a stolen pin is true—it comes from a friend of hers. That’s all I had, but I can imagine the mean girls, and I drew in the details to make her an actual person.
§ A fellow named Sandro Garbo has adapted the Steve McQueen film Le Mans into a graphic novel, which the writer brands as “gorgeous.” The film involves car racing, so the comic includes, in a like manner, many scenes of car racing. If the All Time Comics folks had been into adapting Steve McQueen movies into comics they might have been on to something.
§ Here’s kind of a little primer on Korean Webtoons Are the New Frontier in Comics from Wikia, so not a lot of hard facts and figures.
§ Tillie Walden has only three chapters of on a Sunbeam to go and here’s an interview about it:
I think the genesis came from the fact that I was interested in doing a comic set in space. But despite that, I wasn’t particularly inspired by the sci-fi genre; in fact I avoided it all together because I didn’t want to make a space comic that felt like one that had already been done before. The initial idea came from the interest in space, my love of architecture, my interest in young gay relationships, and a desire to do some fun world building.
§ Headline of the month: Holy Graphic Novels, Batman! There’s a new comic book store in Superior!
§ PW has run the Apple iBooks Category Bestsellers for March, and the graphic novels range from Old Man Logan to Ghosts.
§ One of the best reviewed comics of the year thus far is Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do and here’s one of those reviews.
§ Oh here’s an old one: AfterShock’s Mike Marts offering some very sound advice on a career in comics. Some solid stuff here.
§ Wilson is coming out soon and there have been many interviews with Daniel Clowes to mark the occasion:
What happened when you were approached to turn it into a movie? Did you think, Oh, no, now I have to go back and make an entire shoe?
Well, on the very first day I met with the first director who approached me, and we talked about the different styles represented in the comic, and within fifteen minutes we decided that that would be a really annoying thing to try to transpose to film. Because it would never be invisible. It would never be invisible. It would just feel mannered, and it would fall apart under analysis. It wouldn’t have any actual meaning. It would seem like a film-school exercise. When I sat down to write the script, I realized that the comic was like an illustrated outline of bullet points. The events represented in the comic are the moments in Wilson’s life that are worthy of dramatization. And I realized that’s kind of how I should start writing the movie script: just make an outline of all the beats. And I had this character whom I knew very well—I can hear his voice inside my head. He’s not controlled by me; he has his life beyond me. It’s something you hope for in a character, that you can just throw him into a situation and he surprises you. So I had those two things going for me, and that’s really what you want when you’re writing a screenplay: to have a sense of where you’re going and who your characters are.
§ And another! This one talks about the Alt-Right!
It wasn’t the experience I was hoping for, which was to be able to see it as a movie without even thinking about my involvement in it. To have this completely unvarnished experience of, “Hey, I’m watching a movie called Wilson.” And of course, the second it starts, I’m like, “Wait, where’s that scene that I …” and “Why didn’t they use that line?” You can’t see it that way. But I found, I think the last time that I saw it, it was probably the third time, I was able to watch it as a movie and I really got into it. I really, really liked it. I was really laughing my head off.
§ There is a new Smurfs movie coming all too soon, called Smurfs; The Lost Village and it turns out the lost village has (spoiler) more female Smurfs! So the film is one big orgy. No not really, but I enjoyed this review by Owen Gleiberman because he noted that only Gargamel resembled the character drawn by Peyo.
§ I’ve been doing this so long, I came back to Julia Gfrörer who was interviewed at Bad at Sports Sunday Comics:
[Putting this book together] certainly deepened my empathy for people who regularly curate anthologies—it’s a lot of work, like herding cats. But it was also really a pleasure to work on, and gave me and Sean an opportunity to hone our vision of what matters most to us in art, writing, and comics. We’re honored to be able to work with so many incredible artists, many of whom are already well-known but have very different audiences, and get new eyes on their work.
§ And a talk with Ben Katchor! Unsurprisingly, the interview has a tinge of the elegiac:
I was very lucky to do comics at the tail end of the newspaper world and the publishing industry, when you could sort of eke out a living. Without an audience, I think it would be very hard to want to do anything like make comic strips or write a book. It’s too hard. When people don’t have an audience, they’re missing that last impulse, that last push to make something, because nobody’s waiting for it. It feels like a miracle of cultural timing if you can have a career making comics, so what more could I need? If I did anything differently, I would not have ended up doing what I did. I would have been sidetracked. I led a very unadventurous life in a way — just tried to do this work. If I did anything more adventurous, it would have derailed everything.
§ A lovely comic called Coming Out to My Daughter by Joey Alison Sayers
§ Artist William Stout remembers Bernie Wrightson.
If I had to describe Wrightson’s basic style at its very essence, I’d call it Frank Frazetta’s solid drawing and ability with a brush combined with the truly disturbing and demented visions of EC’s Graham Ingels. I looked at Bernie’s inking when I wanted to figure out how to depict veins on well-muscled arms. His take on dinosaurs — while not the last word in scientific accuracy — nevertheless seeded my imagination with his dramatic portrayals of these great beasts, helping me to see them anew with fresh, unblinking eyes.
I was the go-to creature designer for the movie biz until Wrightson came to town. My offers immediately shriveled and shifted (rightfully so) to Bernie. Bernie was THE master monster artist. His imagination in that arena seemed breathtakingly endless. I didn’t mind losing the work because it meant that I got to see more of Bernie’s amazing creations up on the movie screen — and I’d much rather gaze upon his fascinating creatures than my own.
§ Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Andreyko’s Torso is back on track to become a movie once more, this time called Ness and directed by Paul Greengrass who is pretty awesome. Brian Helgeland wrote the script.
§ This is pure gossip from a source I don’t know and can’t judge, but it’s pretty funny anyway. It seems that Sony has been perturbed at just how expensive it is to make a Spider-Man movie, and that could possibly mean no more Sony/Marvel crossovers:
And that has been a problem for Sony, who has been a bit snippy about the cash flow on Homecoming. There’s been some sticker-shock about the price tag on a Marvel movie—remember that Tom Rothman, who hates superheroes and has previously short-changed the X-Men movies at Fox, is in charge at Sony—and with Sony announcing plans for a Spider-Man universe separate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I do wonder if this marriage might already be over. But first we’re going to get a super fun Spider-Man movie out of it, with hopefully much improved lighting.
See, from Dean Haspiels’s review of the Spider-Man trailer to the secrets behind that trailers. I pulled it together after all.
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.