§ It’s a pretty crappy and violent world out there. It’s hard not to just go back to bed and cry about everything. But we try to carry on because that’s the only way to make a better world someday. A few links that were going around.
• Kris Straub with all houses matter: the extended cut
• And Nelson Blake II, artist on the upcoming book Romulus with a letter to Cameron Sterling, son of Alton Sterling who was killed outside a convenience store.
§ Regine Sawyer is a real dynamo here in the New York comics scene, as head of Lockett Down Productions Publications and founder of Women in Comics Collective International. After the announcement the new Iron Women, Riri, there was a lot of outcry about the fact that no black women have ever written a Marvel comic. Sawyer reminds us WE’RE HERE: BLACK WOMEN WORKING IN COMICS As she recalls, everyone dreams of working for Marvel and DC.
I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. My mother recalls me sitting quietly in the living room taking construction paper, a hole puncher, yarn, crayons and writing and illustrating my ‘first’ book at 6 years old. As I grew, the stories I wrote became more thoughtful, more complex and somehow I landed in the arena of comics. Comics became my refuge at an early age; granted I’ve always read different types of books and novels, but comics stole my heart. They combined art with the written word; I was just thunderstruck by the perfection of the blending of the two. Creating characters was an ongoing practice for me, at 10 years old I was certain that Marvel or DC would want to buy my characters. My mother even called the Marvel offices for me to see if they would be willing to. Now here I am several decades’ later, writing, creating and selling my very own line of comic books.
Artwork above by Micheline Hess from Malice in Ovenland.
§ And a very strong piuece by Emma Houxbois about the need for people to tell their OWN stories:
There are comics with transgender characters in them that I enjoy, but no one should be fooling themselves into thinking that any of them are comics for a transgender audience or can speak to one directly. Titles like Bitch Planet, Batgirl, Angela: Queen of Hel, and The Wicked + The Divine offer a sense of participation and inclusion that tell us we can share in these worlds, feel present and accounted for, and that’s worth something. But it is in no way equal to transgender writers speaking in our own voices about our own experiences, however we choose to portray it. Even the most widely acclaimed portrayals of trans characters in recent comics have all been, at their heart, little more than educating a cisgender audience about the transgender condition.
§ Here’s a long interview with Neal Adams, conducted by the excellent Alex Dueben (occasional Beat contributor). One of the things he talks about is Adams and his long hiatus from the comics industry, a hiatus that is hard to quantify becuase Adams is always at conventions sketching and chatting. Plus: Batman Odyssey. But indeed, Adams has spent most of his time as head of his own Continuity Studios:
Has most of the work that Continuity does is advertising? What exactly do you do here?
There are people in the world who think that I’m smart. A guy who runs an amusement park ride design company might call and say, we’re trying for licenses and we’d like a comic book guy who can illustrate and do these designs and then fulfill them. Which is what happened. Then the same guy asks, do you know anything about amusement park rides? I say, I grew up in Coney Island and I studied engineering. So we bounce some ideas back and forth and I started to design rides. I designed the “Terminator” T2 3-D ride. I designed much of the Spider-Man ride. In the last year and a half I designed seven rides meant for Indonesia. When you say design a ride, you either do the initial design, the creation of the ride, and then you possibly do the delineation of the various ways it’s going to be done. Then they do the engineering, which is a totally different thing.
Lots ore in a very entertaining interview. § Here’s a long and, ultimately, depressing piece where RC Harvey talks to editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes about the online abuse she received over one of her cartoons.
Since my cartoon ran in December, I’ve thought a great deal about the role of social media in stoking the resulting outrage. Although passionate criticism over a provocative cartoon isn’t new, the introduction of social media into politics and election campaigning has dramatically increased the speed and intensity of those reactions, and the repercussions for the editorial cartooning profession. This has been especially true during the volatile 2016 presidential campaign.
Editorial cartoonists are a thick-skinned group; we’re used to getting negative feedback from irate readers telling us we’re idiots and how terrible our cartoons are. Many of my colleagues have received death threats as well—but this was different. In my almost 25 years as an editorial cartoonist, I have never received the level or amount of misogynistic vitriol I did over that cartoon. In addition to comments like the ones above, I was Twitter trolled, my archived cartoons doctored, and my photograph tweeted with the caption: “Makes fun of Ted Cruz’s children, aborted all of her own.”
§ Welp, I’m just all sunshine and light today, aren’t I. Interestingly, media theorist, comics write Douglas Rushkoff has a theory about how social media fueled so much anger on every side of every issue.
Most of us thought digital technology would connect the whole world in new ways. The Internet was supposed to break down those last boundaries between what are essentially synthetic nation states and herald a new, global community of peers.
National governments were considered extinct. Internet evangelist (and Grateful Dead lyricist) John Barlow dismissed them in his Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace 20 years ago: “I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.”
But the Internet age has actually heralded the opposite result. We are not advancing toward some new global society, but instead retreating back to nationalism. Instead of moving toward a colors of Benetton racial intermingling, we find many yearning for a fictional past when people like to think our races were distinct, and all was well.
It’s as true as it is troubling. Many more interesting thoughts in this essay.
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.