This is a just a mess, due to the pressing matters I alluded to earlier. Man, I sound like Edwin Drood.
§ We kept meaning to link to The Comics Reporter’s interview with Faith Erin Hicks. We were having lunch with a comics figure the other day and we both agreed that Hicks is “the real deal”—or as Tom Spurgeon put it, “It’s just that it’s hard to deny that the young cartoonist has put together a style and a way of working that suits the stories she wants to tell, and that’s a significant accomplishment in any artist’s career.” In other words, she’s a born storyteller; even the things she puzzles over are great:
I find panelling very puzzling, actually. Sometimes it drives you into the story, but not in ways that you expect. I remember how Urasawa used panelling in Pluto, especially in this one scene where robot detective Gesicht is accused of killing a man, and there was just a single panel of his reaction, but the bottom of the panel was slanted downwards, like it was collapsing… it was really, really striking and made the moment impact on me in a much larger way than if it was a simple rectangular panel. I felt sucked into the scene. But then there's guys like Jaime Hernandez who use more simplistic paneling, and I feel very engaged in their storytelling too. I can't put my finger on why they both work, since they're both so different. I'm still learning, still experimenting.
§ A tribute to ’80s minicomics master Steve Willis as viewed in the “screwball comics” tradition. I’d put Marc Bell at the top of the even more modern screwball tradition.
You get the sense reading his twisting, winding, totally unpredictable stories that Steve was totally in the moment as he made these — they are barely channeled explosions of the chaos of creativity. Instead of directly working in a tradition of screwball comics, which Steve may or not have absorbed into his psyche, I think he probably taps into the same sources are many of the older screwball artists and thus his work is related. It’s a sort of “pure” screwballism. The ever-shifting, dreamlike, cosmic-absurdist world of Morty the Dog is a neighboring county to Gene Ahern’s Foozland and Bill Holman’s nonsensical fire station.
§ This is an old link, but a report on a Women in Comics symposium in Edinburgh brings up the Ally Sloper Case:
One of the first works Heather brought up was the famous very early comics work Ally Sloper, often credited to Victorian writer/artist Charles H Ross. I had some vague knowledge of the strip – I’d certainly heard of it and Ally himself is a pretty distinctive comics creation, very iconic (no wonder he expanded out into his own comic and was one of the early comics characters to rake in money through widescale merchandising too, such was his popularity). However I had no idea that Ross’ wife, French woman Emilie de Tessier, usually working under the pen name Marie Duval, worked on the strip inking then taking over the art duties fully for many years. And the reason I didn’t know that, Heather explained, is because she has been largely airbrushed out of the Ally Sloper story, right back during the height of Ally’s success, with things going as far as removing her initials from the artwork for collected editions in later years. A women comics creator was pretty unusual in the Victorian era, a woman comics artist who was behind a hugely successful creation that was a pop cultural icon was even more unusual. And yet she was effectively painted out of her own story…
Art Spiegelman once told me he thought Duval was the most important woman cartoonist pre-1950. So there.
§ Frank Santoro’s next comics correspondence course is ready to be signed up for. You will learn a lot about panelling, for sure.
§ Jim McQuarrie, the guy who called our Hawkeye’s archery, is back with a review of [I am Curious Green] Arrow, who is just fine:
The actual archery isn’t bad; he’s got a decent form, though he might want to work on rotating that elbow away from the bow a bit. The big fail here is the equipment. Starting with the dusty old crate: who stores their bow in a big wooden crate?
BTW, after seeing THE AVENGERS, McQuarrie thought Hawkeye wasn’t so bad when in action.
§ Local artist story of the day/week: Greg Land lives in a mancave.
§ BATTLESHIP, the movie, foundered at the scuppers, but Helmer Peter Bergis working on a prequelish graphic novel:
“We have a whole graphic novel that we want to come out with that explains who the Regents are, what they’re looking for, the details of the trouble they get into — because they’re in trouble from the moment they land — and we could take it in several different directions,” he teased during the recent “Battleship” press junket. So does that mean he’d be willing to return to the property if “Battleship” ends up being a massive success this summer? “Definitely, yes,” he said.
Berg has long had graphic novel tie-ins—he was attached to some Radical project a while ago. BATTLESHIP’s sinking at the box office may scuttle this project, however.
§ While Drudge and Fox have been angsting over the possibility of Superman turning gay, this post from conservative blog Hotair takes a more lighthearted and fanboyish view of the DC Character Who Is Really a Friend Of Dorothy:
Now I can see how they could change Batman into liking dudes (I mean, the Wertham Commission thought he was having “improper relations” with Robin), but despite that, some of Batman’s key subplots involve his flirtatious interactions with Catwoman and his issues with Talia al Ghul. A gay Batman wouldn’t work the same and he’d be a less effective character. This dismay isn’t related to male characters only. No matter how much a part of me would like to see Black Canary spend more time with the ladies, she belongs with Green Arrow. I think DC is just trying to garner publicity with this gimmick and that is what this is, a gimmick. I have no problem with a homosexual superhero character if it serves the story and he/she is interesting, but this is an attempt to get headlines.
Seriously, no one seems to be able to gin up much outrage over this…yet.
§ On the other hand….someone at Marvel said something stupid dept: Joe Quesada gave an off the cuff quote that “he’d love to make a tentpole [sic] movie with a female lead, but that he really doesn’t think there is an actress right now who could carry it, or a character that would work either.”
Oops. The very next day it was announced there is actually a Ms. Marvel movie in the works. OOPS. We’ll let Kelly Thompson carry the rage bucket on this one:
You cannot continue to let the people in powerful positions of your organization say such galactically stupid shit that alienates female fans, fans of your beloved characters, and every actress in Hollywood, including the one you should currently be BEGGING to begin a franchise with at this very minute. I’d like to go so far as to say you should make sure not to HIRE people and PROMOTE them when they obviously feel this way about female characters (and every actress on the planet) since that would make the REAL difference at Marvel…but since that seems unlikely I’ll at least beg you to stop letting them actively promote these ideas to the press and whoever else will listen to them.
§ We did not cover the Dallas Comic Con 2012 in our previous con roundup, so here is a nice story.
§ The Globe and Mail tells us:
Graphic-novel illustrator Michael Cho’s new book, Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes, chronicles his studies of Toronto’s hidden spaces, laneways and dingy corners.
§ The LA Weekly profiles Valiant Comics fanboys made good who resurrected the company
Shamdasani and Kothari, meanwhile, had moved to the United States to follow their respective passions for film and business. But they also began googling their favorite childhood pastimes, and their nostalgia for Valiant reignited their obsession. Dinesh rejoined the Valiant fan community and began tracking what had happened to the company. To average fans, Acclaim’s filing for bankruptcy would have been noteworthy trivia, but to Shamdasani and Kothari it was a calling. “I wasn’t going to sit back and watch another conglomerate feed these characters we loved into their corporate machine,” Shamdasani recalls. “When I heard Valiant was for sale, I knew I wanted to help the universe of characters that had inspired us as kids return to prominence and inspire a new generation.”
§ Everyone wants to know how they made the Hulk:
“Even though you may never realize that mole came from Mark Ruffalo, just having a mole there on the Hulk makes him look more realistic,” ILM artist John Doublestein, 28, said. “A lot of people criticize computer graphics for being too clean. We were looking to introduce asymmetry because people can innately recognize when something appears a bit too perfect. It’s really important to find the little details that we all look for intrinsically and recreate them on a digital version. We try to trick the eye a little bit there.”
§ Dept. of Sad: No one wanted to have tea with Gerard Butler.
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.