§ Nice Art: Okay I was ragging on All Time Comics yesterday, but this portrait of Blind Justice by Noah Van Sciver and Steve Bissette is pretty cool.
§ Steve Morris talked to McDuffie Award winner Ezra Claytan Daniels about Upgrade Soul and winning the award:
The two main characters, Hank and Molly, are based on my grandparents, Leon and Barb. They were like second parents to me growing up, and we were super close. I wanted the main characters to be people you don’t see in comics very often. I wanted to try to put myself in the shoes of people I knew very well, but who were very different from me. I wanted to make a book that didn’t feel familiar. Something I personally would’ve been really excited to see on a comic shelf as a reader. The story introduces Hank and Molly as wealthy investors in an experimental cellular rejuvenation procedure. Their only stipulation for support of the project is that they be the first to undergo the procedure.The drama begins when a the procedure fails and Hank and Molly are faced with clones of themselves who are severely disfigured, but intellectually and physically far superior. The story is thematically about which counterpart better represents the identity of the individual; the one that looks and sounds like the person, or the one that’s, by every non-aesthetic metric, a perfect idealization of that person.
Upgrade Soul is still looking for a print publisher — trust me, it’s good!
§ The Fourth edition of Short Box, the curated box of indie comics goodies, is available but only until Friday morning, UK time, so get those orders in. Contents include
– Super Itis by Richie Pope, 24pp, full colour.
– Write, Write, Kill by Shivana Sookdeo, 40pp, full colour.
– 404 by Dilraj Mann, 28pp, two-colour.
– Ready Salted by Becca Tobin, 52pp, full colour.
– A Hollowing by Sloane Leong, 56pp, black & white.
– ShortBox exclusive A4 print by Nicolas Delort.
– Kick Don’t Twist zine by Molly Fairhurst, 18pp, full colour.
As usual, curator/editor Zainab Akhtar is killing it.
§ There was a big front page of section story in the NY Times about how comics are reflecting the real world, spinning out of Marvel’s new America book, about a gay Latinx women which is written by a gay Latinx woman.
While the comic book industry has been making great strides in its efforts to reflect the real world in its characters, the same has not always been true of their creators, who have typically been straight, white and male. But the ratio of representation continues to change. David F. Walker, who is black, is writing a new Luke Cage series for Marvel that begins in May; that same month introduces a superhero universe from Lion Forge, with a diverse team of creators and characters, including Noble, the flagship hero who is black; and this summer will see the return of Kim & Kim, from Black Mask Studios, about two bounty hunters, one a trans woman, the other bisexual, written by Magdalene Visaggio, who is transgender. They join the growing list of comic book series with diverse characters at the forefront.
For a long time, “the American comic book industry has marginalized and excluded the voices of writers of color,” said Joseph Phillip Illidge, a senior editor at Lion Forge Comics. That has caused some fans to ask that characters of color have their stories done by creators of color.
§ Dr. Naja Later looks at Why We Should Take HYDRA-Magneto Seriously, finding much that’s problematic about this controversial storyline. She also suggests how publishers can do better:
It’s why we need creators who aren’t numb to these tropes and their implications. We need people from outside the bubble, whether because they weren’t welcome before, or the bubble was never appealing. We can keep supporting writers, like Yona Harvey, Ta-Nehisi Coats, Roxane Gay, and Chelsea Cain, who are making their first forays into superhero comics. We have artists like Kevin Wada, Adrian Alphona, and Nicola Scott redrawing the lines of super-bodies in ways that don’t assume there’s a fixed style. Beyond that, there’s a generation of fanfiction writers and fan artists who aren’t waiting for contracts from Marvel and DC to continue serial storytelling. This is a boat worth rocking and a bubble worth bursting. When we look at histories being recovered by writers like Saladin Ahmed, we start to see a far greater diversity in popular comics, from creator to content to reader, stretching much further back than the recent steps being made in visibility.
§ At Blastr Swapna Krishna looks at 9 up and coming women comics writer/artists.
§ Gabrielle Bell will be at at MoCCA this weekend:
For some reason there is no information about it on the website, but I can assure you: I will be at the MoCCA festival this weekend, and furthermore, there will be a limited number of copies of my new book, Everything is Flammable, available. I’ll be at table number E167 with my publisher Uncivilized books, also selling mini comics and artwork, and after my new book sells out I’ll be selling tiny portraits.
§ Tony B. Kim writes about comic-cons and runs his own geek fashion line, Hero Within. The line recently introduced a Wonder Woman Jacket for men – the design is very subtle but it’s there. Kim reports that many guys just hated the jacket, meaning they are probably jerks:
I knew when I made the decision to design a Wonder Woman Jacket (and shirt) that it would be met with some resistance since men have not been the traditional target market for Wonder Woman merchandise in the past. But I love disrupting things- and enough is enough. I grew up a fan of Wonder Woman as a kid and one of my all time favorite comic book runs was George Perez’s from the 80’s. From that series I learned that it was ok to have women as heroes. Batman and Superman shouldn’t just be for boys and Wonder Woman just for girls. Being a hero is about courage, sacrifice and honor. Last time I checked, neither sex has a monopoly on those qualities.
§ For some reason, this poster from OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS just seemed funny today.
§ The Chicago Tribure looks at the fall out from Saudi Comic-Con, a recent event which reflected some social changes in the country in a big way: men and women attended together (although women could only cosplay in a women-only area) – and many other progresive signs. The magic of comic-con is changing the world!
History is also being made. The first ever Comic-Con event in Saudi Arabia drew thousands of spectators in February in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. Fans dressed up as their favorite Marvel characters. Actors Julian Glover and Charles Dance — Grand Maester Pycelle and Tywin Lannister from HBO’s Game of Thrones — made an appearance. Rock music blared in the halls. For most of the event men and women were not segregated — a surprising departure from the norm in schools, universities, mosques, restaurants and the many Starbucks and Pizza Huts across the country. Visitors enter Saudi Comic Con (SCC) which is the first event of its kind to be held in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia. (STR / AP) Though women must dress in loosely-fitted, long robes and most cover their hair and face with black veils, there was a female-only area at Comic-Con for those dressed up in colorful superhero costumes.
Many old school imams heavily criticized the comic-con for being immoral and a twitter war broke out about it. But it seems the government is in favor of some reform, and the critics have fallen silent.
§ CinemaCon, where movie studios get to talk to theater owners without all the Comic-Con riffraff, has been running this week with all kinds of previews and trailers and talks. They revealed a new trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the new Luc Besson movie which is based on the beloved French graphic novel series. It stars Dane DeHaan (Green Goblin in the last Spider-Man reboot) and Cara Delevingne (Enchantress in Suicide Squad.) This new trailer also reveals roles for Clive Owen (!!!) and Rihanna.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but DeHaan and Delevingne happen to look just like a drawing by Jean-Claude Mézières! I think that’s so cute. Also Delevingne looks so much better than in Suicide Squad – she’s escaped from those oppressive eyebrows and hair curtain.
Anyway this looks pretty imaginative and fresh.
§ In the Warners presentation, it was all about Wonder Woman:
Wonder Woman is here to save the world, and, possibly the future of Warner Bros. DC Comics universe. New footage featuring actress Gal Gadot’s lasso-wielding superhero stole the show Wednesday night at CinemaCon, which also featured some peeks at “Aquaman” and “Justice League.” It also marked Ben Affleck’s first public appearance since acknowledging he’d recently completed rehab for alcohol addiction. The “Batman” star didn’t say anything, but just stood alongside his “Justice League” director Zack Snyder and co-stars Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller. But it was Wonder Woman’s show, even though Gadot wasn’t in Las Vegas. The sepia-soaked extended clips highlighted the World War I espionage thrills as Diana/Wonder Woman adjusts to life with mortals.
§ The new season of Silicon Valley has a poster by Daniel Clowes!
§ This is really the most riveting news of the day for the comics/movie beat: Warners is supposedly wooing Jordan Peele to direct their long languishing Akira live action film. Based on the Otomo graphic novels and animated film, Akira is a masterpiece in both mediums…and those are some big boots to fill.
Peele is flying high from the success of his social horror film Get Out and maybe he could handle the tightrope of a film that has been in the works for more than a decade – and drawn accusations of whitewashing from jump. A previous attempt would have starred Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, with director Jaume Collet-Serra. But that verion faded away. Most recently Daniel Espinosa (Life) was thought to have the inside track but Life bombed (too bad; it’s a pretty decent movie). Other names floated of late include Justin Lin and David F. Sandberg — the latter is also rumored to be directing the Shazam movie.
Most of you are probably thinking Akira doens’t NEED a US live action remake. However Peele might be able to handle all the racial elements of the film and perhaps it could avoid the fate of Iron Fist.
§ While I was reading that last item at The Tracking Board, I found a six part The State of the Comic Book Industry written by fellow name of Neil Turitz. I didn’t get to read the whole thing – Mr. Turitz is quite verbose- but when I do I’ll report back to the base.
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.