§ Nice Art: THE VACVVM is selling a new print by Becky Cloonan called “None Outlive the Night When the Norns Have Spoken,” which might be the best title of a print ever.
§ In all the excitement I forgot to plug my podcast appearance on Actuality, which is produced by Quarts and NPR’s Marketplace. I discuss the rise of the superhero film. Michael Uslan is also a guest.
§ Twitter is like the greatest cocktail party ever and the worst prison yard ever at the same time. Many great conversations happen and then vanish into the great digital ether. The other day Hope Larson started a conversation about how comics writers should try to thumbnail one of their own scripts at least once to learn how an artists works with the material. You may be able to find that on Twitter but just in case you can’t she put an addendum on Facebook which I’m taking the liberty of repeating because it’s a great topic:
Here’s a quick addendum to yesterday’s twitter comics discussion. I tweeted that comics writers should thumbnail out a comic script at least once, using stick figures, as a learning exercise. The reason I suggested this isn’t because I think comics writers need to include thumbnails for artists. IMO that’s above and beyond; writers rarely have time to thumbnail everything, and because that’s a visual element of the process, it’s part of the artist’s job.* If I was the artist on a book written by someone else, I would rankle if a writer handed me a bunch of thumbnails. The important part of thumbnailing is learning how beats land on a page, and how much or little content will FIT on a comic page. It’s not easy.
In spite of the fact that I’m always complimented on my “visual” scripts, I don’t think in terms of page layout or design. I think in terms of 1) action beats, 2) physical environment, and 3) the characters’ emotional headspace. I break my scripts down by page and panel, and I generally let the artist take it from there. I know from experience that what I’ve written won’t always work when it gets to the drafting table. I make it as clear as I can to the artists I work with that I am not some kind of crazy dictator, and if the script isn’t working, we can always talk about it. The thing that’s not working is almost certainly my mistake. After like 12 years of making comics, I still make plenty.
So, why should writers thumbnail, at least once? To get a better idea of the challenges their collaborators are up against in breaking down scripts. To expose the holes in their writing process, so they can write scripts that are better and more useful to artists. Find some empathy, kick your ego to the curb, and do better.
*Unless writer and artist have agreed on some other division of labor that works for both parties.
Many of the greatest comics writers started out as artists; learn from the greats.
§ Yet once in a while, people try to preserve those Twitter gems. Here’s Alex de Campi on how to pitch your writing to an artist. HInt: don’t just walk up like you’re the greatest thing since gluten free crackers.
§ Artist Frank Cho loves attention, and he’s found the best way to get that is to draw a woman with her butt in the air. It works every time. However this week’s transgression did result in a pretty hilarious piece by Andrew Wheeler, so I guess some good came of it.
§ BTW, like it or not, Milo Manara’s Spiderwoman butt in the air pose is part of comics history now. Do you remember when that was all we had to worry about? What an innocent time that was.
§ Gizmodo published The Ultimate Guide to All of This Summer’s Awesome New Comics if by ultimate you mean periodicals only.
§ Steve Morris and J.A. Micheline looked at Valiant’s current output with entertaining results.
§ Matt White made a list of 10 Great Animal Comics, and there have been a lot more than 10 but by god all 10 of these ARE great.
§ Barnes and Nobles founder Len Riggio is retiring. Find out what that means for the chain in the link
§ Sktchd and Bing Bang Comics collaborated once again on that comics shops DC Rebirth Pre-Order Survey. It’s only one store and results may not be typical but it’s cool to peek…
Let’s start with the most interesting point: the highest orders were not for the DC Universe Rebirth Special, which starts Rebirth off and lays the entire thing out. The book that generated the highest amount of responses was actually Batman: Rebirth. There’s a simple reason for that: our shop is a big Batman shop. That title has been our #1 seller consistently so it’s no surprise our customers feel invested in the character and its future. In fact, Batman: Rebirth had nearly twice the orders as the next individual character, The Flash. We expected to see Flash up there too as the TV show is still very popular, with new people always coming in asking for Flash comics looking for a jumping-on point. It speaks volumes to how popular Batman is with us that his book nearly doubled up his Justice League peer.
§ Every year some people wonder how on earth the Eisner judges could come up with THIS list of Eisner nominations, so here’s this year’s judges talking about the process, and there are pictures so you can see what a dirty job it is. Danny Fingeroth’s comments reveal one key to the whole process. Secrets of the comics awards!
One simple yet ingenious aspect of the judging was that we didn’t just vote “yes” or “no” on whether a given comic or graphic novel should be a nominee. We used a 1-to-5 system, where 5 was for items we thought had to be nominated and 1 was for items we felt should never be nominated. Then the total points granted by all the judges were counted and submissions ranked that way. This enabled judges to give nuanced votes as opposed to just straight up or down, so we didn’t have to “love” or “hate” an entry (although there were plenty that we did), but could express generally positive or negative feelings about it. I think that gave the judging process important nuance.
§ This weeks interview with Chester Brown is at Vice and it digs in.
Why tackle the Bible?
There’s a spiritual dimension of prostitution: it’s sex, and there is always potential for a spiritual connection in sex. It’s two people uniting. In that, there’s always the possibility of transcendence.
There’s lots more including all kinds of details of Brown’s dating life, including his ongoing 15 year relationship with a sex worker, who, he admits, doesn’t have any romantic feelings for him.
§ BTW, Brown was in town on Tuesday for a reading at Housing Works, and I really love going to Chester Brown readings, as his readings are a lot funnier than his often deadpan work. He read the story of Cain and Abel, the parable of the Three Talents and the parable of the Prodigal Son. In the latter two, Brown switched things up a bit so that whoever slept with the most prostitutes got the most praise. Twist endings! As someone in the audience pointed out during Q&A, Brown seems to deliberately choose the stories with the most unexpected outcomes. This is one of my favorite books of 2016 thus far; big foot cartooning naked God and women of the Bible who fret and struggle with how to survive; it’s quite a package.
§ That fellow who tried to talk his way into the VIP room at the Salt Lake CIty Comic Con is getting a new lawyer and a new hearing after the original judge thought he didn’t understand the import of his plea bargain. The stories about this no longer mention the non-existent $10,000 VIP room, so a tiny bit of truth has been added to the world.
§ Gilbert Hernandez is taking commissions again! You’ll want to get right on that list.
§ Finally, it’s been a pretty crappy week for comics, but Marvel editor Heather Antos feels secure enough to cosplay as Gwenpool, so let’s end this on an up note.
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.