§ Nice Art: I dare you not to cry at Gabby Gamboa‘s For My Father which talks about the legacy of the Viet Nam War and shows Popula’s comics page is something to keep an eye on.
That said, 10 years ago when I started drawing for hire I made some rules that I’ve stuck to with varying degrees of success:
1. Sleep when you're tired.
2. Any exercise is better than none.
3. Eat healthier when you’re stressed.
4. Sometimes pants.
— Jason Latour (@jasonlatour) August 12, 2018
§ I don’t know what led up to the tweet from artist/writer Jason LaTour, but he’s 100% correct.
§ Jermaine McLaughlin (occaisional Beat controbutor) continues to chronicle oral histories of some of DC’s most momentous events, and here’s the Death of Superman:
Everything surrounding the events of Superman’s death and return were predicated on a series of cascading firsts within the industry. How we came to this iteration of Superman. How the stories of the Man of Steel were being chronicled by four different creative teams for what was essentially D.C.’s first weekly on-going saga about a single character. The story of Superman’s death began with a broken engagement and a TV show that had yet to see air.
This 1993 event was indeed one of the key moments of recent comics history, with issue #75 selling in about 6 million copies. It was a highwater mark and the industry had nowhere to go but down. And the comics depression of the 90s began.
§ I must admit I’ve taken the last few days off from the internet so I can’t offer any guidance to the different side in the Ruby Rose/Batwoman controversy, but apparently, the The Meg actress is not…Batwomany enough? The criticism was such that she left twitter though.
Just days after it was announced Ruby Rose had been cast as Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, the actress has left Twitter. While Rose’s casting was celebrated by many, the news was also met with a fair amount of backlash. For some fans, the decision to cast a non-Jewish actress was problematic, while others felt The CW could have easily decided to give a lesser-known LGBTQ actress a chance to star in the role.
Many stars, including the likes of Arrow‘s Stephen Amell, as well as fellow actress Laverne Cox and singer/actress Janelle Monáe, celebrated Rose’s casting. Unfortunately, their voices were seemingly drowned out by the negative comments flooding Rose’s timeline on the popular social media site. Additional complaints ranged from The Meg star’s acting not being up to par, The CW not looking for another out actress to tackle the role, and a segment of fans believing Rose hadn’t publicly identified as lesbian, therefore making her a poor choice for the role of Batwoman.
§ Claire Napier susses out how Elfquest was long a signifier of girls who read comics, long before it was popular.
§ ICv2 has a long interview with Paul Levitz where he comments on many industry issues.
Looking forward at the comics business, what’s the scariest thing you see for the future of comics? What’s the most promising thing that you see for the future of comics?The most promising thing is clearly the growth in the different genres and content forms. When you look at the bandes dessinées, it’s about 13, 14 percent of French trade publishing. We’re still about three, four percent of American [trade publishing]. I’ve got to believe that a big piece of that gap is simply that they offer more flavors when you walk into the bookstore. A few years ago, we were offering versions of one flavor, the adventure story. We’re much better now, but we’re still way behind where they are. Every time you get a Raina [Telgemeier] who speaks to an audience that nobody’s managed to reach, that audience starts looking for more things afterwards. She’s the most dramatic case, but we’re seeing that happen in a lot of little spots, as well.
The scariest thing is that the model for bookselling in the graphic novel form is a very different economic model than it was in the periodical business: many fewer turns, a lot more cost of inventory carriage, different physical space needs, different outreach needs to get a wider range of customers.
§ Jim McLauchlin ponders the comics industry’s constant fear that it will die:
And yet, many people who care about comics seem to live in perpetual fear of the industry’s demise.
No matter how many metrics and how much anecdotal evidence shows that things are looking up, there’s a persistent undercurrent in comics fandom that seems to want things to go down. Every new storyline is lambasted. (“It’s just a gimmick!”) Every new publishing initiative is criticized. (“You’re disrespecting the real fans!”) Every single store closing is met with a strange schadenfreude. (“See? I told you it was all going to hell!”) And it’s been this way for years.
§ Sara Century’s “Marvel’s long history of canceling diverse books” is a bit more even handed than the title may suggest, but the history is a mixed bag.
While Marvel has introduced many of the best female characters of all time, the company has not always treated them well. Marvel has launched multiple series for She-Hulk, but these often miss the mark with fans. The first She-Hulk series was more about the two men that fall in love with Jennifer Walters than it was about Walters herself. The second, written primarily by John Byrne, was full of demeaning jokes and the over-sexualization of the character, going so far as to dedicate several pages of an issue to her jumping rope naked—just one particularly gratuitous example of how the series was not even slightly concerned with attracting a female readership. Microaggressions towards women were laced throughout the series, with She-Hulk declaring more than once that women didn’t read comics. In these stunningly blatant panels, we see Marvel’s position on its female readership spoken via one of the company’s most intrinsically feminist creations.
§ But there were some better moments, as Keith Silva celebrates the cult comic Dakota North:
As shocking as it is to imagine the lack of female representation in comics … in the mid-1980s, Dakota North went one heel-toe step further; she arrived as a fully-formed character existing outside Marvel continuity. Think about that. Here was a new character in her own standalone series sans super powers or superheroes published by Marvel Comics. Think. About. That. No good deed goes unpunished! A little over a year after her eponymous series is cancelled, Dakota was subsumed into the maw of the Marvel Universe when Jim Owsley i.e. Christopher Priest wrote her (and her brother Ricky) into Web of Spider-Man #37 where she assisted in the capture of The Slasher, a serial killer who murders fashion models
§ I guess we’re all inured to those Taboola links at the bottom of every story on the internet – “You won’t believe what Honey Booboo looks like now!” – but I’ve found that Looper’s pieces are actually pretty good. And this one on actors who hated wearing superhero costumes is actually a litany of discomfort. Poor Chadwick Boseman hates wearing that Black Panther mask, for instance. And finally, definite proof that OSCAR ISAAC DID NOT ENJOY BEING UGLY for X-Men Apocalypse!
As described by Rolling Stone, Isaac had to wear giant boots that added over three extra inches in height. His suit weighed 40 pounds, and then there was all that makeup and prosthetics. Producer Simon Kinberg confirmed that the suit was indeed a “nightmare contraption,” and while Isaac was a trooper, he needed to take frequent breaks in a cooling tent. Every time director Bryan Singer yelled cut, the actor would head for the AC where he tried “to breathe and not freak out that sweat was pouring into my ears and I couldn’t touch them. It was rough.”
Among the other torture devices: Tom Holland’s Spider-Man costume which is hot and has to be taken off entirely to pee. Reading this whole list makes it clear how clausterphobic and unpleasant masks and spandex are in the real world
§ We know that video game and “nerd” culture can be a sexist place and this piece on The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games lays it out in horrible detail.
One day, Lacy conducted an experiment: After an idea she really believed in fell flat during a meeting, she asked a male colleague to present the same idea to the same group of people days later. He was skeptical, but she insisted that he give it a shot. “Lo and behold, the week after that, [he] went in, presented exactly as I did and the whole room was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing.’ [His] face turned beet red and he had tears in his eyes,” said Lacy. “They just didn’t respect women.”
§ I never thought I would see a tribute to Dinosaurs!, the Henson/Disney sitcom about dinosaurs, but here it is, and it’s as germane as ever.
Twenty-four years ago this summer, ABC aired one of the most shocking and unexpected finales in TV history. You’d be forgiven for not knowing that, though: It aired in the same programming block as Full House and Family Matters, it was a show about anthropomorphic dinosaurs, and it foretold the end of the world. The show was called Dinosaurs, and it was essentially an inverse of The Flintstones. A sitcom set in prehistoric times, it followed a family of dinosaurs that used technology, got married, had kids, and went to work, all while humans lingered around as stupid creatures worthy of ridicule. But in its finale, the show’s creators twisted that premise to give a grave warning: Driven by ignorance and greed, the dinosaurs accidentally spark an Ice Age that causes worldwide extinction.
§ Finally, I haven’t been paying much attention to Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series. It all boils down to a simple question for me: Will it have Imrahil or won’t it? But apparently, it’s going to be about Young Aragorn, a simple, seemingly crowd pleasing idea. Young Aragorn and Gandalf teaming up to track wargs, maybe they can meet Imrahil along the way. But John DeLillo has a well thought out essay on why Aragorn should NOT be a protagonist:
In the annals of Tolkien mythology, there’s plenty of material to be mined from Aragorn’s past. And he’s a character that fans love, a natural choice to ground Amazon’s new showcase program. But Aragorn was never the lead of The Lord of the Rings, and any push to ground him at its center constitutes a massive misinterpretation of what makes the material work to begin with. Make no mistake: Aragorn is a central character in Tolkien’s epic. He’s an integral part of what makes the books and films work, but his appeal as a character requires that he be kept on the sidelines, not at the center of the story.
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.