§ Scandal of the week: Rick Friday, an Iowa cartoonist for Farm News, sounds like an unlikely figure to make headlines, but a cartoon criticizing Big Agriculture got him fired from his job.
The cartoon shows two farmers, in overalls and skewed baseball caps, chatting at a fence.
“I wish there was more profit in farming,” one farmer says.
“There is,” the other replies. “In year 2015 the C.E.O.s of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers.”
After the cartoon was published last Friday, Mr. Friday said he was told in an email from an editor the next day that the cartoon would be his last for Farm News because a seed company had withdrawn its advertising in protest.
§ In happier news, Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani was freed from jail this week, after serving only 18 months of a 12 year sentence for drawing a carton someone didn’t like. Farghadani plans to stay in Iran and continue her art.
§ And Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, always a lightning rod for controversy, was presented with the Cartooning for Peace Prize this week.
THOUGH he faces sanctions in his home country, Malaysian satirical cartoonist Zunar was recognized for his work when the Cartooning for Peace Swiss Foundation awarded him the 2016 International Editorial Cartoons Prize on Tuesday. Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee Anwar Ul-Haque, received the award from Honorary President of the Swiss Foundation and former United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, alongside Kenyan caricaturist Gado.
§ ShortBox is a new quarterly box of indie comics goodies, curated by Zainab Akhtar and Thought Bubbles’s Clark Burscough. It’s not available by subscription, rather you’ll just order a bow when it becomes available around May 16th.
Each box will contain 5 comics, at least one extra item, and some sweets! The first box, for example, will contain 5 comics ranging from 20 to 60 pages in length, a sticker sheet, an exclusive, limited edition A4 print, and a yearbook-style contributors credit sheet. One of these books is rather special in that it was created especially for the box, which means that these are the only copies of it in the world. Another title we’re bringing you is an advance copy of a book that will go on wider release in late June, -the ShortBox edition has its very own special cover. Books that may have gone under the radar that we feel deserves wider attention. We’re honestly stoked for everything that’s in here.
Some folks have been spitballing an indie comics Loot Crate for a while, so this is badly needed!
§ I enjoy pretty much everything at the TCJ.com site, but I especially enjoyed Shaenon K Garity’s account of the webcomics panel at Silicon Valley Comic Con; also I had NO IDEA that the guy who wrote The Martian was a former webcomicker, and that’s how he got his self publishing chops.
What was it like making webcomics in the distant dawn times of the year 2000? For me, it was all about editing artwork on MS Paint and being home at 9:00 every night so I could upload the next day’s strip by midnight EST. In other words, ridiculous. I’ve been around long enough in Internet time to count as a grande dame, and to prove it I recently sat on an old-webcartoonists panel, kindly entitled “Masters of Webcomics,” at the Silicon Valley Comic-Con in San Jose. Moderator Chuck Whelon (Pewfell), cohost of the podcast Masters of Webcomics and himself a longtime webcartoonist, oversaw Jonathan Lemon (Rabbits Against Magic), Jason Thompson (The Stiff), Jason Shiga (Demon), and myself, as well as surprise mystery guest Andy Weir, who started his creative career with the webcomic Casey and Andy before writing The Martian. Whelon’s cohost, Adam Prosser, checked in from Toronto via a spotty Skype connection. Cartoonist Amber Greenlee (No Stereotypes) sadly had to cancel at the last minute.
§ ZOMG! Mind blown!!! This Cosplay gallery from Swinging 1970s by Ron Miller is so so so NSFW because people just walked around with their hooters and bushes out, and people actually HAD pubic hair! So weird!!!! So saucy! So brazen!
§ Speaking of io9/Gizmodo, Rob Bricken has taken over as editor; a big step up from his genre-defining work at Topless Robot back in the Golden Age of Blogging.
§ I did not know that the Society of Illustrators has a Tumblr that’s filled with art and interviews! Very nice.
§ But via that tumblr I found a link to this tribute to Audrey Munson, an early 20th century mode who modeled for tons of statues we look at every day.
§ I guess the Supergirl TV show costs too much relative to its middling ratings! So if they renew it they’re going to move production to very cheap Canada, or maybe the CW. If it survives this budget scrutiny, I expect Supergirl to begin to resemble an episode of early Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, with overcranked scenes of Supergirl tussling with a man in a giant eyeball suit.
§ Bryan Pierce wrote this piece called Why Straight Men Should Care About Gay Superheroes.
I recently saw a documentary called, The Mask You Live In. The documentary talks about how what we define as masculine is really a lie. How men from a very young age are subtly brought up, often with the threat of violence, to reject any feminine qualities in themselves. Feelings of depression and sadness, often manifest themselves as violence and anger, because men are left with very few options of expressing themselves.
Gay rights are not just about rights for gay people. The movement for equality is about all people. There has been a shift in the social consciousness of America with the rise of gay rights. The perception of being gay use to be one of the primary tools of the promoters of the masculine lie. When we remove the stigma of being gay, it also frees straight men to express themselves more openly, more genuinely.
§ And Ray Sonne wrote a very touching piece called How Representation in Superhero Comics Helped Me with Clinical Depression:
I had never experienced anything like the many innocent bystanders we see in superhero media. I never was like the little girl in the burning apartment building in Spider-Man 2 or Lois Lane yanked from a tight spot into Superman’s arms. My own mind had turned against itself, becoming a hell that quite literally embodied me. I couldn’t save myself and no one outside of me could pull me out either. Yet, every moment I wept with torment and entreated–almost prayed–for something, anything, please save me. Please make all of this go away. And when I read The Authority, it did.
§ Katie Skelly reviews Cathy G. Johnson’s Gorgeous.
If, as J.G. Ballard wrote in 1973, the car crash is a fertilizing rather than destructive event, the central car crash in Cathy G. Johnson’s Gorgeous yields fertile, if shaky, ground for an up-and-coming artist.
§ The NY Times reviews ‘The Nameless City,’ by Faith Erin Hicks:
Faith Erin Hicks’s new graphic novel, “The Nameless City,” takes place in an oft-conquered metropolis located at a key geographic crossroads. Drawn with sloping roofs and elegant symmetry, its architecture recalls ancient China, but in geopolitical terms the city is more a Jerusalem: claimed by many peoples, each with a different name for it. Natives call it the Nameless City, so as not to give legitimacy to the rule of their overlords. With this quiet act of rebellion at the center of the novel, Hicks insightfully examines the dynamic of conqueror and conquered. Along the way, she pulls the focus in tight to show how life-altering it can be when a young person learns the darker truths of his culture or country.
§ And finally, all around comics polymath and good guy Rob Clough is going through a rough patch, so he could use some help.
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.