It’s been a while! So a lot to catch up on!
§ This does not qualify as nice art but it does sum up the working state of the freelancer better than any other Clint Eastwood/Lee van Cleef stills I’ve ever seen.
§ In the wake of the deaths of Marie Severin and Gary Friedrich this contemporary profile of the Marvel Bullpen from Rolling Stone from 1971 has been making the rounds and its just incredible:
Hundreds of letters came in every week from fans, and Flo was the one who opened them. One time there was a letter addressed to Sergeant Fury from a man in Texas, a real rightwinger, who said, “I notice in Sergeant Fury that you’re anti-Nazi. Well, if you’re anti-Nazi, that must mean you’re pro-Commie, and you’re all a bunch of no-good dirty kikey commie pinko people, and I have a gun and I’m going to come to New York and shoot you.” It was addressed to Stan Lee and the Marvel Comic Group.
Flo passed the letter around the office, and everyone got hysterical because this guy was going to come and machine-gun everybody. Flo didn’t know what they were hysterical about because she was the one who went out to meet the people. Flo was loyal, but for a hundred bucks a week you don’t get shot. So they called the FBI and a man came down. He said, “Wilkins, FBI,” and Flo said, “Steinberg, Marvel.”
§ Speaking of work, the excellent indie comics site Your Chicken Enemy seeks writers. Hopefully you will not to go van Cleef or Eastwood to work it out.
§ The delightful Connie Sun retiring from doing a daily comic.
Today, I’m starting a new full-time job.
I’ll continue writing and cartooning, but I decided to let go of my daily cartooning practice.
It makes me a little sad, but I think it’s necessary for me to grow and make room to to take on other creative projects. Maybe this will make me a better artist.
It’s not really a goodbye. For now, I’ll scale back to doing comic strips on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Still two strips a week! She’s a dynamo.
§ A display of books for Banned Book Week is itself under fire in Rumsford Maine for displaying books with LGBTQ themes, including several graphic novels. The CBLDF is on it.
§ The newish website Popula continues to have some fine comics, although they are very hard to find. Here’s a nice one by Kelly Froh How It Is Now
§ Ryan Cecil Smith’s post about mailing things out included these great drawing he did of how to mail things but…wow they are not by Smith they are from the USPS website. Talk about applied comics!
§ Last month archivist/librarian Karen Green revealed she’s acquired Gained access to
the research archives of Hames Ware, co-editor (with Jerry Bails) of the WHOS WHO OF AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS. It contains publisher histories, journals, correspondence, and these amazing ledgers of Golden Age comics credits:
If you’re a comics historian you just got excited.
§ Alex Dueben spoke with the great Carol Tyler about her Beatles book.
Do you want to talk about putting this book together?When I was in elementary school – I went to Catholic school – the nuns said to make a booklet about anything of value. That for me in earnest began we’d been given these special bic ballpoint pens – these were new – and we wrote in our own handwriting about Vatican II and we made a cover and then we gave it to our parents. The parents needed to know what their tuition was paying for. [laughs] I made a booklet about eighth grade and then a week before seeing the Beatles in concert I made a booklet about the week leading up to it and seeing them. Because by god there wasn’t anything more important in my mind than that event. [laughs] That’s how it came about.
§ Jog talks to the great Jim Woodring about Poochytown and well…
Well, what happened is… by that point I had come to realize that the Unifactor, which is where the stories are set, was calling the shots and dictating the stories to me, and that all I had to do was take them down and work them up into comics. Drawing Frank stories had always been an easy gig for me, because all I had to do was do what the Unifactor told me to do, and I had these nice enigmatic comics that were as interesting to me as they were to anybody else, since their origin, unlike the rest of my other art, didn’t come from my conscious mind saying ‘I would like to see this image in the physical world.’
§ Ngozi Ukazu and Taneka Stotts talked to each other about Kickstarter. Ukazu:
Fulfillment, I always warn people, is the worst part of doing a campaign, even though I have a weird love of spreadsheets. I spend a lot of time doing that, but the opportunity cost takes away time from the things I wanna do, which is make comics. So I think every time something gets overfunded now, there’s this little voice in the back of my head saying, “Be excited, but just know that this is creating more work that you will be able to handle, but it is more work nonetheless.”
I wanted to prove that I do it on my own and that it was something that I was very dedicated to. Elements: Fire became me proving that everyone can do it on their own and that nobody needs anyone’s assistance — aside from maybe your comics community family — to put a project together that is so focused on our blackness, our queerness, the varieties of who we are at our core and making it into a book, something that is so beautiful that, when you hold it, it already wins awards in your heart. So, it doesn’t matter what accolades are slapped upon it. It’s just something where you know that you’ve invested so much of yourself into that people will recognize it just by seeing the cover.
WSWD: Comics is an art form that can require many years’ worth of work to make something that can be consumed in 15 minutes. Do you ever find the trade-off of time invested against the limited return to be frustrating?Bell: I think that’s a false equivalency. If a comic I write takes 15 minutes to read and it’s a story of some meaning, perhaps that many more people will read it. So each person who reads it expands its reach and its impact beyond that individual 15 minutes.
THE VAST CULTURE OF THE INTERNET
§ Coffee Shop AUs, threat or menance? A coffee shop alternate universe is a fiction where popular characters instead of saving the universe sit around a coffee shop and talk. I don’t get it but some people do!
I’ve had two major career goals in my life: becoming a writer and working at a coffee shop. If you’re laughing, that’s cool; I get why that seems kind of silly (on both counts). The truth is, having grown up in fandom, I’ve spent a decent amount of time reading fanfiction for my favorite fandoms. Since not every TV show, book, movie, or comic has a built-in coffee shop setting like Friends or Gilmore Girls, recreating these worlds in “coffee shop AUs” (alternate universes where the same characters and situations play out in an entirely different physical setting and/or time—in this case, coffee shops) has become an integral part of fandom and fanfiction. Coffee shop AUs are one of the pillars of a fanfiction community, to be quite frank. Every time I dive into a new fandom, one of the first things I look for is the token coffee shop AU. Usually, I find several; that’s how I know I’m going to be in a fandom for the long-haul. Reading coffee shop AUs as a young person convinced me of something that turned out not to be true for me, but has definitely proven to be true for people I work with: true love can always be found in a coffee shop.
§ Also from Your Chicken enemy, a thoughtful review of GRASS KINGS by Matt Vadnais
Published during the first 15 months of the Trump administration, Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins’s Grass Kings – a fifteen-issue chronicle of the final days of a survivalist compound – might be understood as an attempt to humanize the ostensibly invisible population that has, in actuality, already been serving as a “universal” stand-in for humanity.
And yet, despite the flurry of pieces about how American media has supposedly ignored the anger and resentment of characters like the Godkins brothers at the center of this book, Grass Kings is a tough sell to folks who believe that these stories are not only already ubiquitous but that such ubiquity has served to exclude the anger and resentment of actually marginalized populations. However, Grass Kings does succeed.
§ This link is very old, but kind of good: FanX emcee offers these 7 tips for being a successful emcee which can be extended to being a panel moderator. Jokes are expected but canned one can be dangerous…until you know how.
The audience greeted my muffler joke with complete silence. Not one laugh. I remember a lady in the back yelled “’A’ for effort!” I thought her comment was hilarious and so, undeterred, I began telling other, similar jokes. For the most part, I was just trying to kill time until Lee arrived. My jokes and style worked, though. People began to email me, message me on social media and walk up to me on the street and other places, sharing with me their jokes and asking me to tell them at the next FanX.
§ In my long list of news alerts I have one for Karl Urban – don’t judge!!! – but it’s always stuff like this: Karl Urban Still Wants To Return as Judge Dredd In Mega-City One Show Mega City One is a new Dredd show shooting a pilot for the Euro market, I guess? I guess Urban just says this all the time because he knows people want him to be Dredd again? He’s quite busy with The Boys right now.
§ The Big Bang Theory is fairly going into the sunset and here’s a nice piece that explains why it was horrible. The Big Bang Theory Fostered Toxic Nerd Cliches For Over a Decade
Though it does have fans in the self-subscribed nerd/geek community, TBBT was fundamentally never made for the people it poked fun at, which is why Sheldon Cooper and co often come across as live-action cartoon characters that have stepped out of an era where “poindexter” was still a legitimate insult. At best, they’re silly caricatures — wind-up toys that spout out things about string theory or Star Trek for your amusement. You don’t have to understand the references, because they’re just decorative — like the posters and action figures that cover the set — but the canned laughter will tell you that, for some reason, babbling on about the science behind the Tardis or the Flash’s powers is a joke. And, back in 2007 when the show first started airing, these name-drops were still just about niche enough to be a novelty.
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.