§ Nice Art: OMG here’s the cover to the indie Free Comic Book Day Sampler from Retrofit Comics (USA), Peow! Studio (Sweden), Avery Hill Publishing (UK), Uncivilized Books (USA), kuš! komiksi (Latvia), and Big Planet Comics (USA). If you are into good comics, you know that these six publishers alone, are responsible for an amazing array of cartoonists, may of them in the “indie periodical” format that I think is totally revitalizing the form. FREE 2016 is co-published by Big Planet Comics and Retrofit, and Big Planet’s Jared Smith says “Free Comic Book Day has become the biggest day of the year for our Big Planet Comics stores and many other comic book stores, both financially and in the amount of new customers a store will see. We had a lot of success with our first FCBD release last year, and are proud to bring in an even more international selection of comics in this years with many like-minded publishers.”
The cover is by Peow!s Patrick Crotty and the insides are 40 pages of comics from the likes of Max Baitinger, Berliac, Tim Bird, Tara Booth, Leela Corman, Eleanor Davis, Paloma Dawkins, Mike Dawson, Luke J. Halsall, Liva Kandevica, Kickily, Mathilde Kitteh, James Kochalka, Jesse McManus, Ricky Miller, Simon Moreton, Roman Muradov, Maré Odomo, Luca Oliveri, Owen D. Pomery, Donya Todd, and Tillie Walden. If at least one name in there didn’t excite you, give up now.
Copies of FREE 2016 are available to retail stores for 40 cents each but will be available free to customers in retail stores on Free Comic Book Day. Orders can be placed by email to email@example.com or through Tony Shenton at Shenton4Sales@aol.com
Free Comic Book Day is May 7th.
§ About a million people pointed out to me this piece from the Guardian analyzing comment trolls and abuse, which found that
Although the majority of our regular opinion writers are white men, we found that those who experienced the highest levels of abuse and dismissive trolling were not. The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the “top 10”, one was Muslim and one Jewish.
And the 10 regular writers who got the least abuse? All men.
Fashion was the one section of the paper that has a majority of female writers…and also one that got the most abuse. Can you figure that?
As a woman on the internet for more than 20 years, this is remarkably unshocking to me. As you all know, I have zero-tolerance for personal abuse on this site and always have and have spent many hours trimming comments. Articles about women in comics in the early days of this site always got more hate mail than anything else. TBH, I never really thought about this in personal terms, although I remember Steve Morris, former managing editor here, telling me that when readers thought I wrote an article that he posted it got more “mansplaining” in the comments. Still, the hideous chilling effect of this on women and non white males should concern everyone who values an open society.
Sometimes it’s hard for a confident, opinionated old broad like me to remember that not every one is as thick skinned as I am. I’m still baffled as to why men hate listening to women talk so much? Is it just because we want them to ask for directions or a more hard-coded biological reason?
§ Speaking of mansplaining and me being opinionated, I was interested to read Mark Evanier’s discussion about the ongoing gay subtext that is so common in the Batman oeuvre. Evanier wrote this in response to Glen Weldon’s excerpt from his book on Batman that discusses this very topic, with the wit and humor that Weldon is known for that I seethe with jealousy over every day:
But gay subtext managed to insinuate itself into the Dynamic Duo’s dyad from the very start. The opening page of Robin’s debut story in the April 1940 issue of Detective Comics No. 38 featured an introductory scroll jammed with breathless declamatory copy about “THE SENSATIONAL CHARACTER FIND OF 1940 … ROBIN, THE BOY WONDER!”
It began, “The Batman, that weird figure of the night, takes under his protecting mantle an ally in his relentless fight against crime …”
But the page’s letterer, tasked with squeezing a hell of a lot of text onto said scroll, unwittingly shoved the words “an” and “ally” so closely together as to effectively elide the space between them.
Thus, the first thing readers ever learned about THE SENSATIONAL CHARACTER FIND OF 1940 was that he was someone whom Batman “took under his protecting mantle anally …”
It’s not too often that I must take issue with Evanier, who wins the internet more often than anyone besides Kurt Busiek, but he kind of dances around the whole topic of why the gay innuendo is so rife in Batman, blaming it on all the different freelance writers who didn’t like each other:
For the reader who wants to view it all as a collective work and to see Batman as the sum of the various creators’ input, there’s a problem. Those writers were not all working in the same building, not all consulting and collaborating. A few of them never even met each other. Many of them were actively trying to not do the other guy’s interpretation and to make Batman their own sub-creation, at least in their stories if not everywhere.
In my own experience talking with most of them, I’d say most of them thought that Batman (and Robin and the Joker and Batgirl, etc.) as written by certain other writers was terribly, terribly wrong and in desperate need of course correction. A number of artists, when called upon to illustrate those adventures also changed the way Batman and his world looked and that further changed the way writers approached their work. The biggest artistic changes probably occurred in 1964 when the old “Bob Kane” art style was dumped and replaced a look set by Carmine Infantino, then beginning in 1968 with a grittier look set by Neal Adams. And then later, Frank Miller made it grittier still.
Interesting, but it still does not explain why Batman and Robin slept in the same bed (Weldon suggests it’s because they had a father-son relationship and this would be normal in that context.)
I have a different theory that I’ve often pondered. If you watch the films of Billy Wilder, Mae West and Preston Sturges, or even the pre-Code movies from Busby Berkeley, you will find that even in the olden days, sophisticated men and women enjoyed dirty jokes, innuendo and mocking propriety. And they knew a lot more about sex, even gay sex, than we like to think because both of those things were invented long ago. My guess is that some of the hilarious double entendres of the old comics were intentional, as the the people writing them were often quite smart and witty and knew they could get away with it because comics were tomorrow’s birdcage liners any way, and no one would expect such things from these throwaway entertainments. Or something like that. This isn’t anything I ever discussed with an old timer, it’s only a guess. Of course, Wertham ruined it all with his subtext bunker-busting bombs, but by then, as Grant Morrison said, gayness had been “built into” Batman.
§ Speaking of Grant Morrison and the gayness, although his Wonder Woman Earth One graphic novel (drawn by Yannick Paquette) drew some pre press bad reviews over rapey tropes and other pitfalls of white men drawing a women-led utopian societies, but since the book came out, reviews have been more mixed, but not dire. Emma Houxbois, who writes about gender issues with as fine toothed a comb as anyone, gave it a 10 out of 10. So perhaps it is safe for Morrison to leave his house after all. (I have a profile of Morrison coming up in an upcoming issue of Publishers Weekly where he talks about all of this.)
§ I cannot vouch for the content of this comedy video, but it has a great title; perhaps no more is needed: ORANGE is the New BLACK PANTHER
§ The RFID (radio frequency identification) badges at WonderCon worked very well but not perfectly. The SDCC Unofficial blog talks to the makers of the badges to get an advance look at how they might work at SDCC. The tapping of the in and the out was pretty quick at Wondercon but there were fewer people, so they’ll need to get check points set up to allow traffic flow, for sure.
§ Oh yeah, once more thing about SDCC. In announcements of the new Comic-Con HQ streaming video service, it’s been suggested that Hall H panels are going to be streamed, but that does not exactly seem to be the case:
“That is the big question,” Laderman said. “The short answer is yes. We’re going to be working with every single studio, every single panel host to be able to take the content and put it on our platform. We’re not going to be live streaming anything because we really don’t want to take away that experience of people who are the first to see and be there for it, but we can put things up shortly after.”
One option to maintain some exclusivity at Comic-Con is to offer the panel session on Comic-Con HQ, but not the footage shown in Hall H. “That is one of the options as well and we’re going to be working with all the studios and the panel hosts to figure out what would be the best way to handle that,” Laderman said. “Because a lot of these studios have their marketing plans and how they want to control their assets. We’re really just here as a conduit to be able to help promote everyone, similar to what Comic-Con is, so whatever’s best for them will be good for us.”
§ Nicole Georges is teaching a course on making memoir coimcs at William & Mary
§ Albert Ching asked Gerard Way more about his Young Animals imprint:
Gerard Way: I saw it as an opportunity to create a big piece of art, or a big art project, with collaborators. I wanted to form this little group, like a band, and then make crazy art — take these characters to places they haven’t been in a long time, but also new places. Personally, I think it’s my job to get in there and completely mix it up, really take risks and all that. I think that’s the job of everybody at Young Animal. That appeals to me. Stuff like that appeals to me. I can do my own books, and I love doing my own books, and they sell well, and I have a day job. If I do something, it’s because I really have a lot of passion for it.
§ Speaking of comments and trolls and what not, last year a fellow by the name of Jacques Hyzagi ran an interview with R. Crumb in The Observer that Crumb totally disowned as being inaccurate. Hyzagi now has a piece on the making of that interview called Robert Crumb Is Dead—to Me– and if you want to read a totally rational, not at all objective piece by a really level headed writer with no axes to grind, please do not read this piece:
What is it about me that had him lower his guard and give me probably the best Faustian interview he had ever given? I think people when they meet me perceive me as this young dumb French fuck. Insecure but enthusiastic, meek and harmless. I don’t tell them that I’m also a cynical American citizen, it might throw them off the scent. Crumb published his blog attacking me but by then the harm had been done. The piece had come out. He said in his stupid blog that he rewrote the whole piece since it was written so badly but when you look at it closely it is a big Q&A so what he attempted but failed to do was to rewrite his own answers. How sad.
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.