§ The Labor Day weekend was an insane one for nerd events around North America with Salt Lake City Con, PAX in Seattle, Dragon*Con, Star Trek Mission New York, Fan Expo in Toronto, Baltimore Comic Con and the brand new San Francisco Comic Con all taking place. WHEW. You may sounds tired reading about it, but only actor William Shatner actually hit FOUR of these cons, as he tweeted to Rob Salkowitz:
Just as a reminder, William Shatner is 85 years old (he was born in 1931) and this would tax a person one quarter his age! I could not find any embeddable photos of his Salt Lake appearance, but here are links to photos.
And more appearances:
Star Trek Mission
And winding things up at Dragon*Con without even a change of clothing!
What a trouper.
Shatner’s new TV show, Better Late Than Never is on Tuesdays, in which he jaunts around the world with other old timers, including Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman. I’d guess that Shatner is the liveliest of the bunch.
§ Shatner schooled Salkowitz over a piece the wrote about the con glut for Forbes, a glut that is beginning to lead to fierce competition for minor nerdlebrities and (gasp!) even cartoonists!
Insiders in the events industry say that it’s getting more difficult and more expensive to lock down talent. Only a year or two ago, B- and C-list celebrities could be coaxed to appear at shows on the promise of a guaranteed minimum for photos and autographs, where con organizers would top up the total if actual sales fell short. Now, these same celebs are getting guaranteed money regardless of sales, with top names bringing in $500,000 or more.
That’s rippling down the chain to well-known artists, YouTube celebrities and cosplayers as conventions seek out – and pay – any name familiar to fans to cram onto their marquees. That in turn pushes up the costs to attendees and exhibitors. Single-day badges to big shows now run $50-100, with VIP packages featuring preferred admission to certain events and exclusive signings and photo-ops going for as much as $750 or $1000.
I heard a few comics types at Baltimore talking about the strain of confluence, and quite a few creators who were at the Diamond Summit or on Friday and Saturday did double duty, jetting off to Dragon*Cn for the rest of the weekend. Busy times indeed. If only frequent flyer programs were still good.
§ The new San Francisco Comic Con went off pretty well based on the social media postings I saw, but the Cartoon Art Museum has yet to find a permanent home, as this story reveals.
§ Speaking of cons, a shocking claim in this piece on the Hyderabad Comic Con!!!!
Get set and Pokémon Go! In just a few weeks, Hyderabad will play host to Comic Con, the world’s largest comic convention. The two-day fest promises an amazing line-up of events and celebrity guests like Afshan Azad, Nicole Marie Jean, David Lloyd and Dan Parent. So what can first-timers to Comic Con expect? Pro cosplayers in the city offer a few tips.
LARGEST IN THE WORLD???? Prove it!
§ Image Comics’ move to Portland, first reported here, has been confirmed in a podcast, of all things! Image will be move early in 2017, and they’ll relocate to the Montgomery Park Building. While cost was a factor, it’s also about culture, according to publisher Eric Stephenson.
He sees Portland as much more focused on small businesses, creative industries and employees, values Image believes in. Not to mention the city is a longtime hub for comic publishers like Dark Horse (the industry’s fourth largest) and ONI, thriving comics stores, and, of course, numerous comic artists of all stripes.
“Since we have so many creators here, we’re going to be able to talk to them face-to-face instead of over the phone or email or at conventions,” Stephenson says, guessing that at least 24 Image creators now call Portland home. “We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing, but hopefully better, thanks to our proximity to creative people.”
This feeling persisted throughout the con, not only between me and my friends, but also between everyone around us. People of all genders–inside of shiny, elaborate cosplay and out–donned the pronoun tags from the table outside of the exhibitor’s hall, hugged each other in the aisles, and flocked from table to table in groups. I finally met Blue Delliquanti, creator of the wonderful webcomic O Human Star, and managed to tell her how much I adored her art. I drank in Ignatz Award nominee and The Other Side anthology editor Mel Gillman’s enthusiasm, amazed that one person could be so open and bubbly. I made eyes at a cute redhead perusing comics with her friends at the same table as me. I decided that after the con, I would ask an acquaintance out. (Also I got art commissions of DC Comics characters Midnighter and Apollo from more than ten different artists, which is less deep, but also one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.)
§ FIGHT! TCJ.com co-editor Dan Nadel has a way of tossing off bombshell opinions and in this daily link round-up he basically buried Joann Sfar:
Sfar has a fine cartoon line but he’s not a terribly good cartoonist based on what I’ve read in English. As illustration, these drawings are fine approximations of, one the one hand, Crepax eroticism and on the other, Grosz weirdness. But they don’t have any narrative urgency or discipline. There’s no sense of the page as a whole, and how a scenario might shift from panel to panel, and Pascin’s body language is generic. Think about the nuances of Gabrielle Bell, Sammy Harkham, Lauren Weinstein and other masters of cartoon naturalism. Sfar just doesn’t have that kind of talent and so Pascin never comes alive as a character on the page.
That would be the Joann Sfar of The Rabbi’s Cat, a book I found pretty lively, but then, I like cats. The comments also bury the rest of L’Assoc: Blaine, “David B, Trondheim, Menu, Larcenet, etc.”
However, an unlikely figure rides to the rescue! Chester Brown! Brown’s Patreon has become a soapbox for his own opinions!
(1) Does cartooning have to convey narrative urgency to be good? Dan Clowes brilliantly communicated narrative urgency in his recent Patience (which I couldn’t stop reading once I’d started) but surely we can also embrace cartooning that allows the reader to sink into a milieu in a leisurely, relaxed way — cartooning that’s not in any way urgent. No, the drawings in Pascin aren’t disciplined — they’re loose, in what one might call a “cartoony” way. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with cartoons being cartoony.
TBH, Pascin is not my favorite Sfar book, and Nadel’s crit is worth considering. But I was amused by the fact that on the same page he praised Dash Shaw, though, an artist for whom “narrative urgency” definitely comes second to deliberately awkward and static compositions at times. Well, different strokes and all that. Oh, bonus, John Porcellino chimes in on the comments:
I also wonder if the contemporary idea of “the page as a whole” isn’t just another rule that works for some artists and not for others. I’m more concerned about the flow from panel to panel, perhaps because my work is structured around narrative. To compose each page “as a whole” is maybe giving in too much to the notion of “art first” in comics, versus “writing first” or I suppose a more equal interplay between the two.
§ PS: does anyone really care about indie comics, L’Association, page layout, narrative urgency or any of that stuff any more? All I ever see people arguing about is mainstream comics.
§ Milton Griepp digs into Pew’s 2016 Reader Survey which doesn’t talk about comics but does talk about paper vs digital, and paper is winning.
Implications for Comics? The persistent popularity of print for most readers is likely good news for retailers concerned that digital distribution directly cannibalizes the audience for printed comics and graphic novels. Even among the 28% of readers who consume e-books at all, very few (6%) prefer that format exclusively. The shift to tablets and phones also looks like a positive development for publishers and creators trying to reach the digital audience. The premier dedicated ebook reader, Amazon’s Kindle PaperWhite, is text-only and doesn’t display comics; for that, you need a color Kindle Fire, which is essentially a cheap, heavily branded Android device. Meanwhile tablets and larger format phones/phablets (sorry…), plus notebook computers with detachable displays, offer a much better reading experience for graphic literature.
§ of course, profiles Dan Mora, and the Costa Rican comics scene. Mora is the Artist on Klaus and won this year’s Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award.
Dan Mora is living a life that few of his countrymen could dream about. A native of the small Central American nation of Costa Rica, Mora comes from a place with almost no comic book tradition. But that lack of tradition hasn’t held Mora back in developing his career in American comics. With a detailed and expressive art style that feels thoroughly traditional and modern at the same time, the young artist is receiving raves for his work on BOOM! Studios’ Klaus from fans, critics, and – maybe most exciting of all – Grant Morrison. Morrison is, of course, the writer on this modern-day reimagining of the classic tale of Santa Claus, as well as perhaps among the most popular creator in comics today. He’s also a fan of Mora’s art. In the recent Pen & Ink Klaus, Morrison calls Mora “brilliant” and praises the artist’s ability to bring settings and characters vividly to life. In fact, Mora makes Morrison’s work easier; as the writer declares in Pen & Ink, “reacting to the thoughtfulness of Dan’s work on this project has been a great pleasure.”
§ Seemingly unbowed by the Nighthawk turmoil. writer s of the comiis working on Occupy Avengers.
Clint Barton is set to be a key player in the new series (spinning out of his controversial role in Civil War II), and Walker told us Hawkeye is essentially a superhero fed up with the superhero world. So he starts up his own team of Avengers — but this isn’t the gang you call when Galactus is threatening the world. Instead, Hawkeye’s new team is a working-class take on the Avengers, where they’ll tackle street-level problems for regular people in the Marvel Universe. Walker likened it somewhat to the A-Team, which just sounds awesome. Not surprisingly, Hawkeye will be dealing with some existential issues due to Civil War II, and setting out to fix the world one small problem at a time seems like a really interesting story to tell through the lens of the comic universe. We can’t wait to see who rounds out the roster.
§ Finally, sad news. The upcoming Black Panther film will be “gritty.”
Actor Chadwick Boseman says “Black Panther” will be grittier than other Marvel films. The 39-year-old actor, who is set to star in the upcoming Marvel movie, said he is thrilled about the project, reported Female First.
Gritty is often the gateway to sorrow, but as long as no one eats their own puke maybe there’s a chance.
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.