As you may have heard, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush — who has been criticized for not being as sharp as he should be at this point in the election out on the campaign trail, proved that with a series of gaffes in responding to what in no way have been a gotcha question. It all started Wednesday night at a Las Vegas whistle stop, when he was asked to name his favorite Marvel superhero. While this topic is not as serious as, say, Putin puttering in Syria, Bush revealed that he hadn’t spent much time studying nerdy matters when he clutched for an answer before saying, “I like watching the movies. I wish I owned Marvel, as someone that believes in capitalism.” But perhaps thinking he needed to name an actual superhero instead of invest in one, Bush tried again with “I like the old school guys like Batman, a little dark these days.”
Perhaps someone pointed out that Batman is published by Marvel, and third time the charm:
Then Bush tried again, saying he saw a commercial for the new CBS show Supergirl while he was working out earlier in the day. Still DC, but give the man a point for naming a current TV show! Then get ready to take it away. “She looked kinda … she looked pretty hot,” Bush said. “I don’t know which channel it’s on, but I’m looking forward to that.”
In one way this was good, because it humanized Bush by showing that as a middle aged man, he is still alert enough, especially while the blood courses through his veins on the exerbike, to find a teenage girl in a short skirt hot. In most other ways, this was kind of bad. But then again, this is also the guy who said, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” while out on the campaign trail, showing a sure grasp of understanding a woman’s place in society: worth looking at but not worth spending money on for wasteful things like health care.
I understand that Trevor Noah was all over this, so we’ll just leave it to the pros now.
§ Meanwhile many attempts in the media to position Supergirl and Jessica Jones as the final triumph of diversity…or at least finally two ongoing shows with female superhero leads. Vox had a long, thorough piece talking about DC’s diversity efforts, via the success of Bombshells…which appeals mostly to DC’s older male audience—like, says a mad campaigning for president—but offers a more cheeky context via its female creative team. DC is totally into the diversity thing:
“At the end of the day, [diversity] was just critical for us,” co-publisher Jim Lee told me. “This is something that we’ve been working on for years. We acknowledged that it was an issue. We could be doing a better job of it, and this is the first step toward that eventual goal.”
Dan DiDio, Lee’s co-publisher, expanded on this idea. “We’ve seen a more diverse talent pool. You see more people coming in — more women joining — wanting to be involved in comics than ever before,” he said. “That’s a great thing; we can build out from there. We’re reaching out and identifying people who we think can really help bring new voices to our line and to our characters.”
& And the NY Times also got involved talking up SUPERGIRL the TV show while offering lots of fodder for ire:
Melissa Rosenberg, the show runner of “Jessica Jones,” the Netflix series about a superhero and private investigator, recalls once being told by a movie producer that “women can’t open at the box office.” Ms. Rosenberg, who wrote the screenplays for the “Twilight” movies and was a writer-producer of the Showtime thriller “Dexter,” said that when she asked him for proof, “He cited ‘Catwoman’ and ‘Elektra.’ I told him, ‘You just cited two not-very-good movies.’ ”
The time is now.
§ This week’s Humble Bundle is $600 worth of Top Cow comics! Proceeds benefit the Hero Initiative and the CBLDF. That’s a page from SWITCH #1 by Stjepan Sejic above.
§ At Sktchd, David Harper looks at the idea of binge reading comics, something I used to do in my hammock back on the homestead in New Jersey growing up. He suggest Marvel Unlimited offers the most binging possibilities for now:
The product that has most changed my reading experience has been Marvel Unlimited. Regardless of how highbrow I may try to position myself, Marvel was my gateway into comics and they are still the publisher I read the second most comics of. Once upon a time, they were the publisher that led my considerable pull list, but Unlimited changed that. While I’ve long had an itchy trigger finger when it comes to dropping comics – comics can be expensive and there’s a lot more going on in life than just sequential art – Unlimited and its routine of releasing new comics six months after initial release has completely changed my approach with Marvel. My friends in retail will hate me for saying this, but if it’s a bigger Marvel title that I’m riding the fence on – say, Rick Remender and John Romita, Jr.’s high-profile Captain America relaunch from a couple years back – I’ll wait to read the first arc on Marvel Unlimited before diving into singles if I really like it. While I still back the smaller books in print, like Ms. Marvel or the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Marvel Unlimited’s ease of use and low time/monetary cost has dramatically reduced the high-profile releases I’m pulling.
§ Librarian and livewire Robin Brenner went to NerdCon and reports on it for SLJ:
The NerdCon experience created a strong synergy between presenters and attendees. On the Main Stage, attendees roared with laughter while watching Sarah Mackey (director of community engagement for NaNoWriMo), Lev Grossman (author of The Magicians), Desiree Burch (Welcome to Night Vale voice actress), and M.T. Anderson (author of Symphony for the City of the Dead) play the Superfight game, refereed by its creator Darin Ross. The game invites players to draw characters and attributes from a deck of cards and then argue which created contestant would triumph in a fight. Would Burch’s Batman inside a giant robotic two-horses-inside man suit defeat all comers? How about Grossman’s 10-foot-tall Martha Stewart? Other lighthearted events included a suitably disgusting round of “What’s in My Mouth?”, a round of creators reading unedited versions of embarrassing prose written in their teen years, musical performances by wizard rockers Harry and the Potters and author Steven Brust, and a puppet show led by Liz Hara (Sesame Street).
§ And speaking of events, here’s a look article on how bookstores are putting on YA events that with a bit of squinting could be applied to some comics events as well.
Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.
E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.
Publishers, seeking to capitalize on the shift, are pouring money into their print infrastructures and distribution. Hachette added 218,000 square feet to its Indiana warehouse late last year, and Simon & Schuster is expanding its New Jersey distribution facility by 200,000 square feet.
Penguin Random House has invested nearly $100 million in expanding and updating its warehouses and speeding up distribution of its books. It added 365,000 square feet last year to its warehouse in Crawfordsville, Ind., more than doubling the size of the warehouse.
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.