§ Nice art: Chip Zdarsky and Ramon Perez, good Canadian citizens, have created a variant cover for Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5 starring dreamboat Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in a fetching pose. Zdarsky and Trudeau are evidently very close friends.
“I didn’t want to do a stuffy cover — just like a suit and tie — put his likeness on the cover and call it a day,” said award-winning Toronto-based cartoonist Ramon Perez. “I wanted to kind of evoke a little bit of what’s different about him than other people in power right now. You don’t see (U.S. President Barack) Obama strutting around in boxing gear, doing push-ups in commercials or whatnot. Just throwing him in his gear and making him almost like an everyday person was kind of fun.”
Needless to say, these days just about everyone would like to chose Trudeau’s side!
§ The raging internet dumpster fire of Captain America’s turn to Hydra claimed another victim yesterday when I got embroiled in a twitter argument about it and forgot to check an ebay auction for a pair of pants I’d been dreaming of owning. I lost by one measly dollar. One dollar, people. I’m loathe to even wade into this again, but let’s separate a story from an idea. Once you understand that people were offended by the idea of Cap being a Hydra agent (and by extension, a Nazi) you see why this is inarguable. Just because you weren’t offended by this idea, doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t have been. It’s their call and anyone can be offended by whatever offends them. Also, it really doesn’t matter if the story deals with these offensive issues or not. The damage was done.
What I think the people who are mad at Marvel fail to get, though, is that these calls to “burn down the comics industry” offend a lot of people who work in the comics industry who do not want their means of making a living destroyed. They get defensive and in a dudgeon. So, impass.
Along the way, an otherwise very respected and responsible website posted a clickbait headline claiming Marvel had “backtracked” over the storyline, which obviously they never did, even though they explained it in issue #2, which is pretty fast in comics time. The explanation for Cap’s turn was alreday planned, and in fact, most people who paid attention had already figured it out. My argument was over whether people should be mad that people were mad that the misleading headline was published, and then used as a cudgel to slap all the people who were offended. And then people got mad because people were mad that people were mad. This was, I admit, a very stupid thing to argue because it caused me to lose my pants. That is the real damage in all of this.
Just kidding! Hydra Cap has touched people like nothing since Spider-Woman’s butt in the air, and for similar reasons: it is so dumb that it pushes all the wrong buttons in an emerging readership that wants a more welcoming comics industry.
Who will win this war? Probably the people who spend the most money on the kind of comics they WANT to see.
On my new scale, I rate the Cap Hydra Kerfuffle as NINE dumpster fires.
§ Meanwhile, here’s a list of The Best Comics of 2016 (So Far) and it includes Rosalie Lightning, so I can approve it.
§ Here’s a similar list of The 10 best Hellboy comic stories ever. I saw Mike Mignola reacting to this on FB and he said it wasn’t his list but it was a pretty good list.
§ Well speaking of old timers who don’t pass modern standards, Christopher Jones takes down Osamu Tezuka’s “Swallowing the Earth” , which, like most of Tezuka’s work, is awfully, awfully problematic. The guy could cartoon like a god, but he had some weird ideas, esp about rape, even if his heart was in the right place:
The validity of this question is cast even further into doubt when applied to the work of someone who is generally accepted to be a Master of their craft, like Jack Kirby or Steve Reich or Jane Austen. Maybe one can respect the craftsmanship of a Master even if their work is not good, per se, but is that ever really a satisfactory way to think about art? And furthermore, doesn’t this place these artists on a pedestal even they probably wouldn’t appreciate? Aren’t you allowed an off day even if you’re a champion of your craft? Maybe even especially? I bring this up because Digital Manga Publishing’s translation of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth begins with a disclaimer that is at once catty and portentous when read in a certain light, a paragraph stating that Tezuka’s use of racist caricature was a product of its time and that Tezuka, I quote, “probably would have appreciated the more politically correct sensibilities of the modern age.” This set the tone for my entire experience with the story: banging my head against a substandard work even as it snidely half-apologized to me for being so very, very terrible.
§ To cleanse your palette, a story called: Why queer hockey webcomic Check, Please! is stealing the internet’s heart can do nothing but lighten the mood.
Check, Please! is a wildly popular webcomic about gay hockey players at a fictional New England college. It contains a mix of elements that have proven irresistible to its many fans: thrilling hockey moments, fun college humor, and queer romance.
§ Here’s a report from the Children’s Institute on a panel about how to get graphic novels into libraries.
§ Digital Femme has the first installment of a report on HeroesCon 2016 that discusses things that aren’t often discussed in con reports so just go read it.
§ And Caitlin Roisberg looks at how Self-published comics are changing an aging industry—for the better, starting with the Eisner Awards as an example of a list that does’t go far enough:
There are a multitude of reasons why self-published works don’t end up on the ballots for awards like the Eisners, but the unfortunate truth that it shows just how out of touch with the actual industry awards and comics heavy hitters are. In much the same way that the Eisners nominations list proves a fundamental lack of understanding about webcomics, the fact that so many of the categories are dominated by such a small group of publishers speaks directly to a worrying ignorance that could have serious ramifications for comics moving forward.
§ FINALLY speaking of the Eisner’s webcomic nominations, one of them is These Memories Won’t Last, by Stu Campbell which I hadn’t read until today, and like Roz Chast’s Can’t we Talk About Something More Pleasant and Paco Roca’s Wrinkles, it’s about how older people fade away as their minds do, and the technology Campbell uses to tell this story is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s one of the best multimedia comics I’ve read in a loooong time. WARNING: When you click on the link it may freeze up your browser for a while, because the comic is huge. Anyway, it froze up mine, but my computer is literally about to explode; YMMV.
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.