§ I know I used this joke before but it’s just so useful.
§ Logan Dalton at The Mary Sue tries to convince us that Ultimates Is the Best Team Book in Comics
The best current superhero team book doesn’t have a feature film in the works or a critically acclaimed animated cartoon. It’s not called the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans, or the Justice League of America. It’s Ultimates (not the Mark Millar/Bryan Hitch series where Captain America asks if the “A on his forehead stands for France”). The comic is written by Marvel Comics rising star Al Ewing (Loki, Agent of Asgard) with epic, trippy art from Kenneth Rocafort (Teen Titans), Christian Ward (Ody-C) and Djibril Morrisette (Zack the Zombie Exterminator), plus gorgeous colors from Dan Brown (Wolverine MAX).
To be fair, the Rocafort pages reproduced do look quite tasty.
§ Wait what’s this!!! Paul Weissburg at Trouble with Comics ALSO, loves the Ultimates! So, why is no one talking about the ULtimates?
Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a comic book series published by one of the big two comic book companies that featured well-written, cosmic-level super hero shenanigans with a cast of characters that (and here’s the twist) weren’t predominantly white males??? Well, it turns out that such a book exists. And it’s called Ultimates and it is currently being published by Marvel. And I’m convinced that only a few dozen people know it exists. Anyway, I wanted to share a few thoughts on why Ultimates doesn’t seem to be finding much of an audience and how that situation might be improved going forward.
What the heck, it’s a movement! Ultimates it is.
§ Former DC publisher and current author/educator Paul Levitz looks at the importance of looking at things from the other side in a business setting:
First of all, the long and wonderful pattern of how comic shops sell periodicals doesn’t work to maximize their graphic novel sections, which are now potentially over half their sales. Comic shops were built to cater to the very knowledgeable customer—that weekly buyer who came in with a list and a passion to steer him (it was pretty much all one gender back in those days). The graphic novel section could be all spine-out, organized by creator or imprint, with maybe a break-out section for the brand name talent that might attract a new reader, like Alan or Neil. With that super-knowledgeable customer and a modest selection of available titles, that worked fine.
It doesn’t anymore.
§ Nick Hanover extols Dakota North a five issue mini series from the 80s by Martha Thomases and Tony Salmons
Sandy Plunkett that was way ahead of its time:
But one of Marvel’s boldest and most refreshing attempts to win over new readers in 1986 remains woefully underappreciated, even as its title character has reemerged in recent years thanks to the efforts of Ed Brubaker. I am, of course, talking about Dakota North. Launched thirty years ago, Dakota North’s eponymous series was introduced in Marvel house ads that aped the look of fashion spreads and fittingly promised “STYLE.” Written by former Norman Mailer assistant Martha Thomases (later one of the brains behind DC’s Death of Superman stunt) and drawn by cult artist Tony Salmons, Dakota North looked unlike anything else Marvel has done before or since. The title didn’t just use fashion terminology and aesthetic in its marketing, it was a comic done completely in a fashion style, with Salmons utilizing the flat, minimalist tone of fashion drawings to illustrate the adventurers of the world’s first fashion focused private eye. Thomases’ script was equally punchy and simple, favoring clever dialogue and references over deep plotting and Claremontian soap opera drama.
I should note that Thomases was my roomie at Baltimore Comic Con and still is in the comics mix working at Comics Mix, so please avail yourself of the wit and wisdom of this comics original when you have a chance.
PS: I always get Tony Salmons and Sandy Plunkett mixed up. Apologies. It’s one of my cute little quirks.
§ Fall TV is here to educate us, including Art in the Twenty-First Century on PBS
“Art in the Twenty-First Century,” the flagship television series of the nonprofit arts organization ART21, is returning this week. This marks the eighth season of the Peabody Award–winning program, and it will be slightly different than the seasons that came before it. The biggest change is that the episodes will be geographically focused. The 16 artists interviewed this season hail from four North American cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Vancouver.
The first episode is set in Chicago and features a segment on Chris Ware. There’s a preview in the above link but they won’t let me embed it because what is this world coming to. The clip, like all views of Ware’s studio, is total wooden flat file porn and will provoke much jealousy as he talks about toys and Peanuts. I was gladdened to see that Ware has a few Playmobil figures in his collection, because as I’ve been saying for a while, Playmobil is a cold, bleak world and just the kind of thing Chris Ware would ADORE.
§ And speaking of libraries, they are having a La Crosse Comic Con in La Crosse at the La Crosse Public Library. La Crosse is in Wisconsin, I guess. Jai Nitz is a guest.
Comic books today are about much more than superheroes saving the day. They’re about “exploring new genres and new ways of telling stories,” according to librarians Lindsay Schmitt and Brendan Hubbs. The La Crosse Public Library will embrace the genre’s wide-appeal in its second annual La Crosse Comic Con event Friday through Sunday at the main library.
These little library comic cons are proliferating and everyone seems to love them.
§ John Kelly has been named executive director of Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum – the comics scene in Pittsburgh is heating up!
§ There was a very small kerfuffle about a SPX badge drawn by Keith Knight and it was quickly removed from the internet, but if you have to see it this is the place.
§ It’s New York Fashion Week and designer Rachel Antonoff presented a line based on Archie Comics in a high fashion setting. Over on FB Jeff Trexler has some photos and videos and here’s a longer piece on the line.
But more broadly, Antonoff — who proudly and frequently incorporates pro-female messaging into her designs and branding — was conscious of taking a more feminist view of Betty and Veronica. “We wanted to play on their friendship and highlight the fact they were really supportive of one another, even though the narrative is that they’re chasing a guy.” All the while, their #aesthetic is undeniably worth a closer look. So after a year spent working on this collaboration, we asked Antonoff to list her top five Betty & Veronica looks. Prep yourself for some intense nostalgia and see them, with Antonoff’s commentary, below.
§ Finally for those who have been cramming for SPX, or blogging about comics, the idea of just not having to sleep is probably very appealing but this comic Sleep Deprivation 101 by Olivia Walch warns of what happened when you just don’t get enough shut-eye.
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.