Well, file this under “we knew you when!” The Beat’s former New Media Editor/Managing Editor Alexander Lu has just announced his first graphic novel! Goodbye to All of You will be drawn by Tara Kurtzhals with colors by Maarta Laiho and it’s coming from Abrams in 2022.
This middle grade graphic novel follows two Chinese American siblings who feel untethered by the death of their mother. The night of her funeral, they wake up in a place that looks like Chinatown but is actually a space between Earth and the afterlife, populated by animal spirits. Terrance and Delilah must adapt to a new world while learning to make peace with their mother’s passing—and with each other.
The deal was repped by Inkwell Management’s Charlie Olsen and Jessica Mileo.
This sounds totally awesome and we couldn’t be happier for Alex!
Since leaving the Beat last year, Alex has been very busy working on this and also editing graphic novels for First Second — including the multiple award winning Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. In fact it’s definitely Alex Lu Week since you can also listen to him talk editing on the podcast Portrait of an Editor!
Feeling a little teary here — Alex was such a huge support for me and the rest of the team as an editor, contributor and friend during his time at the Beat — we’ve shared so many ideas, convention adventures, and spicy Chinese soups. I knew immediately on meeting him that he was a comics lifer, and seeing his career take off is no surprise — his talent and dedication guaranteed that.
I’ve said this many times in interviews and podcasts and panels, but seeing talented people forge their creative journey, and being a part of it, no matter how large or small, is the best thing about being in comics for me, and the main reason I keep doing this.
Congrats, Alex, Tara, and Maarta! I’m sure there will be much more to come from them all.
Tomorrow it’s Comic Arts Brooklyn from 11-7 at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and as is Beat tradition, we are here to presentn the 2019 CAB Debuts! These are by no means the only new books debuting at the show, but it’s a parade of fresh faces, fresh books and fresh looks, and perhaps something here will tickly your comics reading fancy.
An absurdist, art brut rumination on society’s structures presented in Patrick Kyle’s singular style.
After the sudden death of a beloved patriarch who promised eternal life to his followers, a topsy-turvy society attempts to reconcile the deluded teachings of their late leader with the harsh reality he left behind.
Hands Up, Herbie! follows the author’s father, Herb Perr, from a mob-linked Jewish family in Brighton Beach of the 40s and 50s, through the studios of Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, Reagan-era art activism, and a reckoning with the responsibilities of raising a family.
This book is the product of Kriota’s artists residency at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, and it includes a graphic memoir and her images of embroidery based on historical medical illustrations.
16 year-old Justin wants to forget a humiliating robbery while his father is hell-bent on getting even, so they embark on an ill-conceived, all-night manhunt that exposes glaring differences in their attitudes toward conflict, violence, and masculinity.
VENOMYTHS 00 is an arts and culture mag from the underground intergalactic resistance at least three hundred years in the future. When every thought and even biological minutia are regulated via a vast digital network, a printed book is an act of rebellion in and of itself.
In five short stories Anna Haifisch blurs the boundaries between humans and animals in a subtle way: carnivores and herbivores meet at a nerve-wracking congress, we get to know a merciless, art-collecting lizard, meet dancing ostriches and a melancholy meditating octopus.
In the second installment of this quirky, heartfelt LGBTQ adventure comic, war is brewing across the thirteen planes, and as always, haunted house attraction (and portal to hell) Dead End is right at the center of it.
Boutique Mag #4 is a community newsletter written for these, our end-of-empire times. Steeped in a half-hearted nihilism, and geared towards a community that may or may not even exist, this mag is packed full of plenty for it’s hypothetical audience to pour over!
A book edition with work by over twenty artists from across the world. The theme centers around ambiguity in spiritual encounters, religious icons or worship imagery.
Ron Rege Jr.
Juli Majer & Cristian Hernandez
Enormous Face/Kalan Sherrard
Joel Skavdahl/Seagull Invasion
Hayley Dawn Miur
Say “white savior” and images of a messianic, hunky white guy comes to mind with the rescue of some savage, uncivilized populace. He’s on some epic journey to fulfil his destiny and find some semblance of peace in his previous life. Put “white savior” in the hands of two wise-cracking guys eager to break genre and you have mayhem, madness, and the onset of a geeky superhero who doesn’t quite score with the chicks. Folks, meet the new comedy duo of Scott Burman and Eric Nguyen, the guys testing the limits of this done-before trope in White Savior.
Colored by Iwan Joko Triyono and lettered by Micah Myers, White Savior could be considered a mix between The Evil Dead and The Last Samurai. Nathan Garin is the token white guy who leads the feudal Japanese Inoki clan against a rival clan with devastating historical consequences. Enter the fish-out-of-water token Asian American Todd Parker, whose grandfather waxes poetic about this time in Japan, and who also happens to chase a pick pocket (Maggie) into this past. Todd manages to wreak all sorts of havoc in this timeline while invoking a bumbling William Wallace vibe in the process.
Burman and Nguyen take vicious joy in trading puns between the many characters and in satirically deconstructing this cinematic trope. They sat down with The Beat to talk about White Savior and who they would most want to see playing the titular characters on the small or big screen. And they’re sending out a call to Tom Cruise and Matt Damon on playing the role of Nathan Garin!
Nancy Powell: How did the idea for this story come about? Did Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai as Todd Parker or Matt Damon in the Great Wall ever factor into the equation?
Eric Nguyen: So we thought of this idea around the time The Great Wall with Matt Damon came out. And we just thought, what if the guy destined to save everyone was an idiot? And the idea just sprang from there.
Scott Burman: Funny enough, Tom Cruise’s name in The Last Samurai is Nathan, and Matt Damon’s last name in The Great Wall is Garin, so that’s how we came up with Nathan Garin, the quote unquote “white savior.” Originally it was a placeholder name, but Eric was like, let’s just leave it like that. And thus, Nathan Garin, the white savior, was born.
Powell:Given the potential controversy in this present social climate, don’t you think the title was a bit ballsy?
Nguyen: Yeah. But if you’re going to go there, why not go all out, that’s what I think. The comic book world is growing and with that, so is the competition and the ability to get your book out there. There are so many great comic books being lost in the shuffle, so when you have a name like “White Savior,” you’re bound to at least get noticed.
Burman: Eric didn’t waver once on naming it white savior. I, as a white guy, didn’t necessarily want my name being Googled with “white savior” next to it, but if we named it something else, we may not have gotten noticed and probably wouldn’t be here talking with you.
Powell: There is a lot of breaking of the fourth wall. What influenced how you approached the story?
Nguyen: We play around with so many different tropes and spoof so many common themes in movies and literature, so breaking the fourth wall seemed like the right thing to do.
Burman: I think a lot of these questions come down to “we thought it was funny at the time.” The main character, Todd, essentially is a sounding board for the audience who have seen these tropes before, and so it seemed both funny and important to the story to just let the audience be in on the joke with us.
Powell:And why set the story in feudal Japan?
Nguyen: (laughing) That’s an interesting question. Scott, you want to take this one?
Burman: So we wrote this seven years ago. And Eric’s not only writing it, but he’s doing the art. Of the two of us, he’s the one with the actual talent. So, while we were working on it, he’d get a cushy gig from Marvel, drawing Wolverine or Quicksilver or something like that, and have to take months off from working on White Savior. At the same time, we also didn’t have a publisher lined up. I came up with the idea, hey, let’s try reaching out to famous Asian Americans – actors, entertainers, etc. – and maybe we’ll convince one of them to let us use their likeness in the comic to both get it sold and hey, a quicker movie deal wouldn’t hurt either. We had a Japanese actor interested, which made Eric start drawing feudal Japan, but… the deal with the actor fell through. Drawing is a lot more time consuming, and Eric already started with feudal Japan, so we said, “you know what, let’s make it feudal Japan.”
Nguyen: Plus, drawing samurai stuff is always cool and badass. That’s my answer. I think it’s a better answer.
Powell:Throughout the books you play with the stereotypes of what it means to be white and Asian. Eric — how did you feel about Todd’s portrayal as the self-deprecating, wise-cracking Asian?
Nguyen: We envisioned Todd as just an everyman. We knew we didn’t want him to be a stereotypical Asian karate expert, or something like that. We wanted everyone in the audience to envision that they could be Todd. And he’s very similar to me in that, I don’t know kung fu, I can’t do math, I’m just a regular guy. And I think everyone out there has that feeling like “wait a minute…something isn’t right here.” And that’s just perfect for the character. To be this wise-cracking guy who can call out the things that we don’t always call out. He’s fearless in the sense that he’ll say the things that everyone is, or should be, thinking.
Powell:Scott — how did you feel about the portrayal of Nathan as the “loud and obnoxious chosen one”?
Burman: Can I do a “no comment” here. Ha. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll throw a “no comment” out here and avoid any Twitter crazies writing anything based on my response.
Powell:Did you both whip up the dialog? Who was at the quick and ready with the punny one-liners? And ever think a comedy duo could be in the works?
Nguyen: Scott’s a crazy person in general. And with one-liners, he’s definitely a maniac. In a good way. Like, every idea we’d have, every joke setup, he’d have five different punchlines. He’d have more ideas in a minute than most writers I’ve worked with would have in a year.
Burman: Eric was actually the one who pushed the envelope with the jokes a lot more. I wrote a bit more defensively with this – with a bit of fear like, are we going too far? And whenever I’d ask that question, Eric would take the joke a little bit further. And it worked every time.
Powell:Let’s talk about the process of working together. How did you both approach the script and art? Were long Zoom sessions involved? In-person meetings required?
Burman: We’ve actually never met in person.
Nguyen: Yeah. Seven years we’ve been working together, and never in the same place at the same time. I’m in Northern California, he’s in Southern. Everything we did, we talked on the phone.
Burman: The last few years, I probably talked to Eric more than anyone else in my life. It’s probably the worst thing that could have happened to Eric. To partner with me and have me text him all the time.
Nguyen: Yeah, I thought about changing numbers at one point…I’m just kidding. We worked great together. It was just an environment of fun. So many books are so serious, and we just had a good time doing this one. We wrote an outline together, I’d draw it, and then we’d sit down and just go back and forth sharing ideas for jokes. We wanted to fill the pages with jokes. I’d sometimes get a text at two AM, and Scott would have just thought of the perfect punchline.
Burman: And Eric would text back “leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep.”
Powell: And did you find yourselves thinking, let’s throw Todd in this situation and see what ridiculous thing could possibly happen?
Burman: Maybe subconsciously we thought like that. I think knowing the plot, the beats came pretty quick and easily to us.
Nguyen: Yeah. It was kind of like, let’s look at similar movies, present the same problems they had in those movies, and turn them on their heads. Let’s twist them around a bit and see how Todd, aka a rational human being, would react to some of the crazy situations other characters found themselves in.
Powell: Eric, how was this process different than working on a Marvel comic? Was it more relaxing? More pressure?
Nguyen: In some ways, more pressure, some ways, less. The fact that I wasn’t getting paid upfront and hoping for success later was definitely the major source of pressure.
Burman: Eric was turning down work for this. And while I thought, “this guy is nuts not taking the easy paycheck,” I definitely didn’t say anything cause, hey, I wanted him to get White Savior done.
Nguyen: But the fact that I took part in writing and creating the story – this is my first time, I’ve always just done the art – actually made the process a lot easier. Early on, Scott was like “let’s make this fun. Do what you want to do. Draw what you want to draw.” And once I turned on my mind to think like that, it made the whole process a lot easier and a lot more freeing.
Powell:Ok, so let us get serious. Suppose there is a movie deal out there. Who plays Nathan if you can’t get Tom Cruise? Todd, Maggie, Neal? And Yoshihiro and Kenzo?
Nguyen: We actually have been talking to various film/tv people about this already. Especially in the Asian American community. So, it’s been a wild ride so far. It’s amazing the people who have responded to this and are interested in making a film/tv show. So, we’re not sure what we can and can’t say. And there may be some people already interested, so… we have to be a bit tight-lipped.
Burman: I can say this. We have not heard from Tom Cruise or Matt Damon… yet. So guys, we’re not hard to get a hold of. Tom, Matt, give us a call anytime.
Nguyen: The one role we can say for sure we want – is George Takei has to be the Grandpa. I mean, that’s a given for us.
Powell:Bigger question – which of the main characters do you see yourself as most like in your personality?
Nguyen: I mentioned this earlier. Todd. All the way.
Burman: I’ll be a bit more diplomatic. I see a little of myself in every character. Kenzo, the bad guy, is very insecure. Nathan, the white savior, can be a bit obnoxious sometimes. Maggie’s a little bit crazy. And Todd, the wise-cracking protagonist hollering at the world to be seen… I’m a little bit of all the characters.
Nguyen: Neither one of us is like Neal. He’s the super-fit, lumbering ass-kicker of the group.
Burman: Yeah, I left him out of my answer on purpose.
Powell: Finally (because enquiring minds want to know), is there a sequel in the works?
Nguyen: Not just a sequel, but a few sequels, a spinoff, different takes on other various white savior tropes. African American, Latino, there’s so much you can do with this, and we hope to work with other under-represented creators on telling their versions of the “white savior” story.
Burman: I’ll say amen to that. For now, we just finished White Savior and are trying to figure out what our next project will be. We have a few ideas for Marvel and DC – As a matter of fact, that’d be a good headline for this article… White Savior Creators Working on a Jimmy Woo book for Marvel. Or White Savior Creators In Talks With DC Comics to Update Keith Giffen’s The Heckler!
Nguyen: Yeah, but neither of those stories are true.
Burman: Yet. They’re not true yet.
Nguyen: I did tell you he was crazy, right? But then again, we just released a comic called White Savior, so maybe we’re both a little crazy. Either way, be sure to check out our book by Dark Horse Comics, in stores now!
Individual issues of White Savior are in comic stores now, and a trade paperback of the series will be released by Dark Horse Comics in September 2023.
Today, Hasbro lifted the curtain on its upcoming Build-A-Figure wave centered on the new film The Marvels coming to theaters later this year! The Hasbro The Marvels wave includes 3 figures based on characters as they appear in the upcoming film including Captain Marvel, Photon and Ms. Marvel, as well as 4 comics-inspired figures to round out the set. Each figure comes with at least 1 Build-A-Figure part, so fans and collectors can create a comics-inspired Totally Awesome Hulk figure.
With over 80 years of entertainment history, Marvel has become a cornerstone of fan collections around the world. With the Marvel Legends Series, fan favorite Marvel Comic Universe and Marvel Cinematic Universe characters are designed with premium detail and articulation for posing and display in collections. Available for pre-order 6/7 at 1PM ET at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon and other major retailers.
Check out the images and details for the Hasbro The Marvels action figures below:
Captain Marvel is a powerful solo act, but now has a real shot at redemption as team member of The Marvels! Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES CAPTAIN MARVEL figure. This quality 6-inch scale Captain Marvel figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in The Marvels! Includes figure, 4 entertainment-inspired accessories and 1 Build-A-Figure part.
Monica Rambeau’s life changed forever at Westview, where her exposure to reality-altering energy imbued her with the power to perceive and manipulate all energy along the electromagnetic spectrum. Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES PHOTON figure. This quality 6-inch scale Photon figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in The Marvels! Includes figure, 2 entertainment-inspired accessories and 1 Build-A-Figure part.
Kamala Khan has encountered much in her Ms. Marvel adventures, but nothing could prepare her for a cosmic adventure alongside her idol Captain Marvel! Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES MS. MARVEL figure. This quality 6-inch scale Ms. Marvel figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in The Marvels! Includes figure, 3 entertainment-inspired accessories and 1 Build-A-Figure part.
A Kree warrior from an alternate reality, Noh-Varr aka Marvel Boy is the self-appointed protector of Earth and member of the Young Avengers. Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES MARVEL BOY figure. This quality 6-inch scale Marvel Boy figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in Marvel comics! Includes figure, 2 comics-inspired accessories and 2 Build-A-Figure parts.
Through mental discipline, the Inhuman known as Karnak has mastered the ability to perceive the flaws and weak points in any person or object. Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES MARVEL’S KARNAK figure. This quality 6-inch scale Karnak figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in Marvel comics! Includes figure, 2 comics-inspired accessories and 2 Build-A-Figure parts.
Steve Rogers is chosen to take a lead role in global security after the dissolution of Norman Osbron’s corrupt H.A.M.M.E.R. agency. Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES COMMANDER ROGERS figure. This quality 6-inch scale Commander Rogers figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in Marvel comics! Includes figure, 1 comics-inspired accessory and 1 Build-A-Figure part.
Following his apparent demise at the hands of Onslaught alongside the other Avengers, Tony Stark returns home with a new armor and new focus. Celebrate the MARVEL UNIVERSE with this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES IRON MAN (HEROES RETURN) figure. This quality 6-inch scale Iron Man figure features deco and design inspired by the character’s appearance in Marvel comics! Includes figure and 4 comics-inspired accessories, including alternate hands and 2 blast FX.
This week sees the premiere of Hailey’s On It!, the newest Disney animated series. The show follows risk-averse teenager Hailey Banks (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) on a mission to complete her long list of tasks in order that will save the future of the world. Along for the ride is Hailey’s best friend and secret crush Scott Denoga and Beta, an artificially intelligent operating system from the future, voiced respectively by Manny Jacinto and Gary Anthony Williams .
The series was created by writing/producing duo Devin Bunje and Nick Stanton. Friends and creative partners since they first met while attending USC’s undergraduate screen and television writing program, Bunje and Stanton are no strangers to Disney. Previous projects include Gamer’sGuide to Pretty Much Everything, Phineas and Ferb, and Zeke and Luther. However, Hailey’s On It! marks their first time creating and executive producing an animated series.
Ahead of the show’s premiere, we had the pleasure of chatting with Bunje and Stanton about developing the series, wrestling, and so much more!
Taimur Dar: I’m a sucker for time travel stories. It dawned on me how many of my favorites were from the ‘80s like The Terminator, Back to the Future, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I have a strong feeling those movies influenced Hailey’s On It!, especially Bill and Ted. Is that indeed the case?
Devin Bunje: A hundred percent! You hit the nail on the head. We love all those movies. When we were developing this, we realized what worked so well was an ordinary character thrushed into these extraordinary circumstances. Bill and Ted and Marty McFly were just normal high school kids. But then they get put into these cool situations. We also liked the idea of comedy coming out of small actions that have huge stakes. In Bill and Ted, it was all about passing that history test but it meant the future of the world would be saved. We wanted to use those elements in a whole new show.
Nick Stanton: Good catch on the Bill and Ted because that was a big influence of ours! Like Devin said, it’s two kids on this big adventure. And it’s just a really funny movie.
Dar: I was able to see some episodes in advance. Without a doubt, my favorite has to be the convention episode. It’s funny since I know you worked together on the Turbo Fast cartoon which actually featured a convention episode that you both wrote. Can we assume you’re both comic fans or at least regular convention attendees?
Stanton: [Laughs]. Good pull! We wrote the “Tur-Bros” episode of Turbo Fast, which took place at a convention. Strangely enough, Devin and I have both never been to Comic-Con. We want to go but the stars have just never aligned where we’ve had that week free or a project.
Bunje: We’re usually working! [Laughs]
Stanton: We leaned on a lot of our other writers who do panels there and are big on the Comic-Con culture. In that particular episode of Hailey’s On It!, we didn’t write but it was written by a really talented staff writer named Lindsey Reckis who is huge into the cons. We think that will be a fan-favorite too because we do some parodies. There’s a pretty clear Avengers scene at the end that will be fun and surprising for the audience.
Dar: Music is an incredibly important aspect of the series. It incorporates a variety of genres like K-pop, pop-rock, and EDM. The show also features original songs composed by Matthew Tishler and Andrew Underberg. Was music always a major part of Hailey’s On It! or something that grew as you developed the show?
Bunje: A little bit. In the original pilot, we wrote the “Tunnel of Love” song which we thought was pretty funny to have a song that’s narrating exactly what was happening on the ride. During the pilot process, Disney got us a couple of options for different composers to take a swing at that. Matt and Andrew’s version was just amazing and hilarious. We loved it so much. We met with them, and we clicked immediately. Not only are they incredibly talented in a multifaceted way of different genres, but they have the same sense of humor. Knowing we had them allowed the freedom of seeing what else we could do. Adding on to that is the fact that we got Auli’i who is one of the most incredible singers who exists. Having her at our disposable certainly encouraged us to do even more music than we had planned.
Dar: That leads perfectly into my next question. You just mentioned Auli’i Cravalho who is probably best known for the title role in Moana and her superb singing skills. You also have Manny Jacinto as Scott Denoga, Hailey’s best friend and secret love interest. As fans of the The Good Place can attest, Jacinto is a brilliant comedic actor. How did you go about casting the voices?
Bunje: Our whole cast is phenomenal. Cooper Andrews, from The Walking Dead, and Halt and Catch Fire, plays Hailey’s dad and he’s been great. We got lucky because in our first auditioning process, the two names that immediately went to the top of both mine and Nick’s list were Auli’i and Manny. Like you said, she’s an incredible singer and she’s an incredible actress. It turns out she’s a great comic actor too. I call Manny a unicorn because he’s just so unique in his rhythms and the way he can sell punchlines. He’s just so likeable. They were the perfect fit for those who characters. When we got them in a booth together for the first episode, they just played off each other amazingly and made it even better. We’ve got a bunch of fun guest stars.
Dar: On that subject, I know Mick Foley is guest starring in an episode. Quite a number of people on The Beat team as well as our readers are big wrestling fans. I don’t know how much you can reveal, but can you say if he’s in a wrestling related episode and if he’ll be voicing himself?
Stanton: It is a wrestling related episode but he’s not playing himself. He’s actually playing a character called Rowdy Russ Stanton, which happens to be my dad’s name as well. Not the “Rowdy” part. [Laughs]. He plays a wrestler who is Beta’s favorite and they get an opportunity to see one of his matches. Mick was so great to have in the booth. I was a huge wrestling fan and a huge Mankind fan. I saw him wrestle in person twenty years ago. He’s got that gruff wrestler thing but he’s also funny. He’s done standup. He was really leaning into the humor of it and adding some inside wrestling stuff that I didn’t even know. It was a great experience for me as a wrestling and comedy fan. I think it’s going to be a fun episode.
Dar: I’ve noticed a lot of your previous projects have a large sports or action component. I mentioned Turbo Fast earlier but there’s also Zeke and Luther as well as Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything. Is that of your brand and style.
Stanton: Yeah, I guess it is. We’re both big sports fans and big fans of physical comedy. That’s the bread and butter of kids television whether it’s live-action or cartoons. Physical comedy is a staple of all those different shows. Skateboard spills are the common thread.
Bunje: Competition naturally leads to conflict so it’s an easy way to make for fun, comedic situations. Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything was about elite video game playing and in Zeke and Luther they wanted to become the world’s greatest skateboarders.
Dar: Something that’s definitely changed in animation and children’s media since I was a kid is the increase of serialized storytelling. Obviously, the advent of streaming has played a huge role in that. TV comedies and sitcoms as well, like The Office, if they’re not completely serialized have definitely embraced linear narratives. Is there a serialized narrative to Hailey’s On It! or is it more episodic?
Stanton: There is a serialized narrative to it. That was something that we thought would be really interesting. Like you, we grew up watching cartoons that would reset every episode. The characters didn’t really change but that was how shows were made back then. You also mentioned The Office which I think is a good example. Our two main characters have the kind of Jim and Pam relationship in Season 1 of The Office. Without spoiling anything, that relationship is going to change over the course of the first season. There are a lot of twists coming up and we thought that was interesting. With a character that had trouble getting out of her own shell, her journey is going to be from that to doing great things. That was an interesting question for us. This character is going to grow and evolve. How does that happen? We’re having a lot of fun with it.
Dar: Finally, what item from Hailey’s list are you excited for viewers to see?
Bunje: One of our favorite ones that we gravitated to early was spending all her old gift cards. Not only does it have super low stakes but it’s also a fun shopping spree. It’s also the perfect example of how the show doesn’t have to be formulaic. The twist of the episode is she has one gift card left for a placed called Butter Burger and it’s out of business except for one location out in Flagstaff. So, they have to travel to Flagstaff and of course Scott invites his new girlfriend and it becomes a “three’s a crowd” road trip episode. The list item becomes secondary because it’s really about how do you navigate the third wheel aspect of Scott and his new girlfriend.
Stanton: I would say the list item I’m most excited about is an episode where Hailey has to become “Sheriff for a Day” at this corny Old West town. She put that on her list when she was 7 years old. So she shows up to be “Sheriff for a Day” and has to compete against little kids! But she gets into the spirit of it and becomes “Sheriff for a Day.” But then she realizes, in our twist, you actually have to be sheriff if bad guys show up and this motorcycle gang ends up showing up and trying to take over the town. It’s another episode that goes to a crazy place but those are the kinds of stories that we like.
Hailey’s On It!premieres June 8 on Disney Channel and Disney XD, and next day on Disney+.
THIS WEEK: The fastest man alive hits another milestone as The Flash celebrates 800 issues with stories from an all-star lineup of creators.
Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comic in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
The Flash #800
Writers: Jeremy Adams, Mark Waid, Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, and Si Spurrier Artists: Fernando Pasarin & Oclaire Albert, Todd Nauck, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Scott Kolins, and Mike Deodato Jr. Colorists: Matt Herms, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, and Trish Mulvihill Letterers: Rob Leigh and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou Cover Artist: Taurin Clarke
It feels like not that long ago that we were treated to an oversized Flash anniversary celebration, though this week’s The Flash #800 is a little different. 2020’s issue 750 was an 80-page, 80th anniversary spectacular with a heavy focus on the Barry Allen version of the character – natural, considering Barry was the star of the series at the time. This week’s #800 is much smaller, a 38-pager featuring four stories from creators who have all worked on the series in the past, plus a prelude story from a new creative team who are coming onto the series later this year.
The issue’s first story, “Don’t Come to Central City,” comes from the outgoing creative team of writer Jeremy Adams, artists Fernando Pasarin & Oclaire Albert, colorist Matt Herms, and letterer Rob Leigh. It’s a fun story with a group of lower-tier villains swapping stories about why not to commit crime in The Flash’s hometown, and it’s perfectly representative of the rest of the creative team’s run on the series. Adams’s script is light, contrasting The Flash’s adventures against those of other heroes in the DC Universe in a way that’s humorous and character-driven. Pasarin, Albert, and Herms’s artwork throughout their run on the series has been highly-stylized and energetic, capturing comedic and dramatic moments equally well, and their work on this story is no different. It’s a nice capper for a strong run on the series from creators who will be missed.
Next up is by far the issue’s highlight, an Impulse-centric story called “The Max in the Mirror” by writer Mark Waid, artist Todd Nauck, Herms, and Leigh. This story, set in the early days of Waid and Humberto Ramos’s Impulse solo series, is a sheer delight, as in a few short pages, this team captures the dynamic between Impulse, Max Mercury, and Flash clearly and hilariously. Bart Allen has come a long way from his first appearances, but after reading this story from Waid and Nauck, who for years drew Impulse’s adventures in the pages of Young Justice, you’ll want to go back and read those stories in a single synapse.
Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, and Leigh’s story, “Flash Family,” focuses on the relationship between Barry Allen and Iris West, an interesting choice for a Wally West-centric issue. The Flash Family as readers know it came into being during Wally’s time as DC’s lead Flash, but this story, narrated by Wally, frames Barry and Iris as the inspiration for it. It’s a celebration more of Williamson & co.’s pre-Infinite Frontier run on the series than of Wally, but it’s a fine reminder of how solid their grasp of Barry and his world continues to be.
If there’s a dud to be found in this issue, it’s Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Luis Guerrero, and Leigh’s “Blitz Back,” a story focused on Hunter Zolomon, the time-manipulating speedster known as Zoom. Johns and Kolins created the character back during their run on the series, and this story is largely a rehash of Zoom’s origins and history under Johns’s pen. The Flash is barely present in this story, which seems like it’s maybe meant to set something up for Zoom but there’s no indication of what that might be. As teasers go it’s pretty weak, and there’s just generally not much to this story at all.
The issue concludes with “Between Love and You,” the teaser story from the new Flash creative team of writer Si Spurrier, artist Mike Deodato Jr., colorist Trish Mulvihill, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. This story, which has Wally ducking out on date night with Linda at super-speed and getting stuck in a weird, hyper-science-y trap set by a powered-up old foe, is an intriguing introduction to the new team’s plans for the character. Spurrier’s Wally is, at his core, a man trying to maintain a decent work-life balance, a relatable struggle even for readers who don’t get caught in extra-dimensional traps between the ticks of a clock. The science aspect of the caper has largely been a Barry trapping in the past, so seeing it applied to a Wally story is an interesting surprise. Deodato Jr. and Mulvihill certainly bring a unique look to the story, but the artwork is at times hard to decipher, especially when a brand-new character is introduced and you can’t tell what body part is what or even how many parts they have. The art team brings a bold departure from previous Flash visual styles, for better or worse.
With some great highs and one notable low, The Flash #800 is an uneven collection of stories that also feels like it misses the mark at its stated mission statement. The cover touts the issue as “A Celebration of Wally West,” but the collection of stories ends up being more a celebration of characters and concepts created during Wally’s time as The Flash than of Wally specifically, which is a little disappointing given Wally’s history and the important role he’s played in the DC Universe over the decades. It’s a mostly enjoyable assortment of stories, just maybe not what was expected.
Final Verdict: Browse.
This week also sees the arrival of Steelworks #1, the DC Comics writing debut of legendary voice of Steel Michael Dorn. Dorn is joined by artists Sami Basri and Andrew Dalhouse and letterer Rob Leigh for the series, which spins out of recent events in Action Comics and Superman. This first issue largely sets up John Henry Irons’s status quo for the series, with John almost feeling like a reverse-Lex Luthor in this issue, and it’s an interesting angle for the character as he tries to help Metropolis rely less on super-people than on themselves.
The new adventures of The Captain continue in Mark Waid, Dan Mora, Alejandro Sánchez, and Troy Peteri‘s Shazam#2. Just as with the series’ first issue, this latest installment is a ripping fun superhero yarn that deepens the mystery of The Captain’s startling behavior from the first issue. There’s also a talking alien T-Rex bureaucrat who’s dressed like the Mr. Monopoly. If that’s not enough to get you into a comic I don’t know what is.
Poison Ivy #13 is the first issue of the series as an extended ongoing affair. Writer G. Willow Wilson is joined by the regular art team of Marcio Takara & Arif Prianto, as well as by guest artists Guillem March, Kelley Jones & José Villarrubia, and A.L. Kaplan for a story that finds Ivy attempting to put roots down again in Gotham after having been away for a year. This series has been really strong from the very beginning, and the upgrade from miniseries to ongoing doesn’t appear to have broken its stride. This issue also has Kelley Jones drawing Batman again, which is always a welcome sight.
The Top Comics to Buy for June 7 list was a tough one for me to narrow down. This happens from time to time — there are just too many good books (or, at least, books that really appeal to me personally) hitting in a given week. This time out, I could have probably put together an entirely different top 5, consisting of books like Almighty, Love Everlasting, Sins of the Salton Sea, and You’ve Been Cancelled. Just a great week.
As always, you can find the usual lists below…enjoy!
Top Comics to Buy for June 7, 2023
The Flash #800 Writers: Jeremy Adams, Mark Waid, Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, and Si Spurrier Artists: Fernando Pasarin (with inks by Oclair Albert), Todd Nauck, Carmine di Giandomenico, Scott Kolins, and Mike Deodato, Jr. Colorists: Matt Herms, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, and Trish Mulvihill Letterers: Rob Leigh, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou Publisher: DC Comics Written by Jeremy Adams, Mark Waid, Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, and Simon Spurrier Art by Fernando Pasarin & Oclair Albert, Todd Nauck, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Scott Kolins, and Mike Deodato Jr. An oversize anniversary issue concludes writer Jeremy Adams’s acclaimed tenure, with special guests Mark Waid, Joshua Williamson, and Geoff Johns joining the celebration! As the Adams run races to the finish line, get a prelude to the new Dawn of DC chapter of the Fastest Man Alive’s adventures from the dream team of Simon Spurrier (Coda, Detective Comics) and Mike Deodato Jr. (Avengers)!
Why It’s Cool: This is one of those landmark issues that has a bunch of stories from creators who have done prolonged runs with the character, and as such, it should have a lot that’s familiar to long-time Flash fans, from Mark Waid and Todd Nauck revisiting the earliest days of Impulse comics to the team of the most recent Flash comic putting a bow on their run. It also has a preview of what to expect from the next Flash team, Si Spurrier and Mike Deodato, Jr. This kind of comic is inherently varied, but on the whole, I enjoyed this oversized issue quite a bit.
I Hate This Place #9 Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Artyom Topilin
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: Image Comics – Skybound Questions will be answered as Gabby and Trudy face terrors from their past, present, and future in the penultimate issue of I HATE THIS PLACE! Why It’s Cool: This is a book that continues to include almost everything you can hope to find in a comic…somehow without ever feeling like too much. I’m also impressed at how all the different elements — from horror tropes to complex sci-fi time travel stuff — are being fit together in a way that builds a coherent overall plot. Great stuff here. Price: $3.99
Lamentation #2 Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Arjuna Susini
Colorist: Hilary Jenkins
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Oni Press Trapped within the Requiem Theater, lead actress Jennifer fights for her life and freedom as threats encroach from the real world and within the play. When the mysterious Prince Razide selects her as his bride, new dangers emerge, and she still doesn’t know who-or what-lies beneath the prince’s mask. Why It’s Cool: This book is a fun sendup over obsessive theater and acting culture, but moreover, it’s just a very well-executed horror comic. This issue really ups the ante for great horror imagery, with some really spooky and stunning visual set pieces. This is part two of three over-sized issues. Price: $6.99
Phantom Road #4 Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Gabriel H. Walta
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics Dom and Birdie attempt to deliver their mysterious cargo while discovering how powerful it truly is. Meanwhile, Agent Weaver finds herself on the other side of the interrogation desk, answering questions she didn’t know that she should be asking herself. Why It’s Cool: At a certain point, Phantom Road might stop being a perfectly-odd and spooky comic, but that point is not with this week’s issue #4. This book just continues to be so good. The creative team have built an intriguing and thoroughly weird story on top of a great first issue, making the reader question basically anything that is going on, while also grounding the book within characters who are easy to root for. This one was a shoe-in for the top comics to buy for June 7. Price: $3.99
Traveling to Mars #6 Writer: Mark Russell Artist: Roberto “Dakar” Meli Colorist: Chiara Di Francia Letterer: Mattia Gentili Publisher:Ablaze Roy discovers that he is not alone in space, forcing him and the rovers to improvise a strategy for survival. Eisner award-winning writer Mark Russell and artist Roberto Meli bring you a compelling new sci-fi series…a riveting story of planetary exploration and of finding meaning in your final days.
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of perfect comics, this one also fits that bill. With this now-Eisner-nominated series, the creative team is telling a forlorn, personal, and timely story that lends itself well to satisfying single issues. I love this book, and will continue recommending it every chance I get. Seriously, don’t miss out on this one. Price: $3.99
Others Receiving Votes
Breath of Shadows #5
Fantastic Four #8
Hell to Pay #5
Love Everlasting #8
Money Shot – Comes Again #2
Peacemaker Tries Hard #2
Poison Ivy #13
Red Goblin #5
New #1s and One-Shots
Archie & Friends – Hot Summer Movies #1 (one-shot)
Deadpool: Badder Blood #1
Fence – Redemption #1
In Hell We Fight #1
Joker Uncovered #1
New Talent Showcase – The Milestone Initiative #1 (one-shot)
The Sickness #1
Sins of the Salton Sea #1
Star Wars – Return of the Jedi – The Empire #1 (one-shot)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vs. Street Fighter #1
X-Men – Before The Fall – Mutants First Strike #1 (one-shot)
AWA Studios has a new highly anticipated series debuting this week, Sins of the Salton Sea. The first issue is set to hit comic shops on Wednesday, June 7. The creative team consists of writer Ed Brisson, artist C.P. Smith, and letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. Readers can look for covers from Tim Bradstreet, Mike Deodato, Jr. & Lee Loughridge, and Chris Ferguson as well as a black and white 1:15 from Deodato.
Wyatt, a professional thief living off the grid, is recruited by his brother for one last job. Their target: an armored car traveling down a desolate stretch of California highway. But when it turns out that their target is carrying not gold bars but human cargo, Wyatt is plunged into a conflict between warring factions of a doomsday cult. The cult claims that it is their solemn duty to save the world by means of human sacrifice. Will Wyatt protect the boy who has come into his charge? Or will he be swayed by the cult’s increasingly convincing claims that the end of the world is fast approaching?
Sins of the Salton Sea #1 will be available tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7. Check out a preview of a few pages and covers below!
The season finale of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur animated series ended on an explosive cliffhanger with fans chomping at the bit for the second season. While there’s been no official word when the second season will premiere, Disney has announcedEdward James Olmos will voice a main villain, Molecule Man, in season two of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.
According to the official press release, Molecule Man is one of the main villains in season two, making his debut in the premiere episode. He is a powerful being with the ability to manipulate nonliving organic matter. Often feeling like there was no place for him, he escaped to a whole new planet and used his powers to create an incredible world of natural wonder, soon making it a popular destination for aliens and beings across the multiverse!
Much like the Beyonder, the series is clearly taking a departure from the comic book depiction of Molecule Man is an existing Marvel character who first appeared in Fantastic Four #20 (November 1963) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. When creating the Molecule Man character for the series, the creative team wanted to cast an actor whose voice was powerful enough to face off with The Beyonder (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) and felt that Edward James Olmos was a perfect fit.
This isn’t the first time Olmos has played in the Marvel sandbox. He portrayed the character Robert Gonazles in the live-action Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, based on Marvel’s hit comic books of the same name, follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette (Diamond White) and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur (Fred Tatasciore ). After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City, the duo works together to protect the city’s Lower East Side from danger. The Disney animated series stars Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette, who is Marvel’s first Black teenage girl superhero, and Fred Tatasciore as Devil Dinosaur.
The series is executive produced by Laurence Fishburne. Produced by Disney Television Animation, the series is executive produced by Fishburne and Helen Sugland’s Cinema Gypsy Productions (ABC’s black-ish and mixed-ish, Freeform’s grown-ish) and Steve Loter (Disney’s Kim Possible).
Last week, AHOY Comics announced that, as part of their fifth anniversary celebration, a new 13-part prose serial will run throughout their titles this year. The serial, titled Partially Naked Came the Corpse!, will kick off with an installment written by Grant Morrison, with future installments from writers including Mark Russell, Alex Segura, Torunn Grønbekk, Bryce Ingman, Carol Lay, Carrie Harris, Hanna Bahedry, Audrey Ryer, Kirk Vanderbeek, Lisa Jonte, Stuart Moore, and Kek-W. Each installment of the series will include an illustration by Jon Proctor, and today The Beat is pleased to offer an exclusive first look at Proctor’s artwork for the first two prose pieces.
The first installment of Partially Naked Came the Corpse! will appear in September’s Project: Cryptid #1.
Here’s how AHOY describes Partially Naked Came the Corpse!:
THE ALL-STAR ANNUALLY CONVENING COZY DETECTIVES CLUB in PARTIALLY NAKED CAME THE CORPSE!
…is a thirteen-part epic that kicks off with an extra-long first installment by the bestselling writer Grant Morrison, whose many award-winning comics works include JLA, New X-Men, and Green Lantern, and whose first novel Luda was published last year to great acclaim. The serial will debut in PROJECT CRYPTID #1, the first of AHOY’s new fall titles.
Over the following three months, PARTIALLY NAKED CAME THE CORPSE! will weave in and out of all AHOY’s regular titles, plus the fifth anniversary specials THE WRONG EARTH: WE CAN BE HEROES #1-2 and new title DEADWEIGHTS #1. Finally, in late November, PARTIALLY NAKED CAME THE CORPSE! will conclude with a bang in the CAPTAIN GINGER: THE LAST FEEDER #1, the first of another two-part anniversary series.
Prose features have been a staple of AHOY Comics’s releases since the publisher’s 2018 launch, with each single-issue release featuring at least one piece of prose and an accompanying illustration. It’s fitting that AHOY would want to spotlight that aspect of their line as part of their anniversary celebration, and that it’s using the occasion to both run its first serialized prose story and feature work from writers both from the typical AHOY stable and who are new to the publisher.
Check out Proctor’s illustration for the Grant Morrison-written first installment of the AHOY prose serial, as well as for Bryce Ingman’s second chapter, “The Barker and the Blonde,” below. Look for Partially Naked Came the Corpse! to appear in September’s Project: Cryptid #1.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the upcoming My Adventures with Superman animated series would premiere on Adult Swim. Today Adult Swim unveiled a new My Adventures with Superman trailer and announced the release date.
Check out the My Adventures with Superman trailer and official press release below:
My Adventures with Superman, the newest animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and DC, is set to take flight Thursday, July 6 at midnight on Adult Swim and next day on Max. The official trailer and key art showcasing Jack Quaid as the voice of Clark Kent, Alice Lee as the voice of Lois Lane, and Ishmel Sahid as the voice of Jimmy Olsen also debuted today.
My Adventures with Superman is a serialized coming-of-age story catching up with twenty-somethings Clark Kent, the bright and driven Lois Lane, and their best friend Jimmy Olsen as they begin to discover who they are and everything they can accomplish together as an investigative reporting team at the Daily Planet. The story follows Clark as he builds his secret identity as Superman and explores his own mysterious origins. Lois, on her way to becoming a star reporter, teams up with photographer Jimmy Olsen to break the stories that matter. All the while, Clark and Lois are falling in love… as Lois gets closer and closer to uncovering his secret identity! Our trio share adventures, take down bad guys, stumble over secrets, and discover what it means to be heroes in their own right.
Season one will debut with two back-to-back episodes, followed by one new episode every Thursday. Encores of new episodes will air Fridays at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim and Saturdays at midnight on Toonami. New episodes will also stream Fridays on Max.
Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) serves as executive producer. Jake Wyatt (Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus) and Brendan Clogher (Voltron: Legendary Defender) are on board as co-executive producers and Josie Campbell (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power) as co-producer.
Outside of possibly Pride of Baghdad, I think the last of this month’s look at first issues penned by Brian K. Vaughan is my favourite of his works. It’s a series that heralded the zeitgeist of retro ’80s horror and sci-fi that dominated the latter half of the 2010s. And it really spoke to elements of my childhood in a fascinating and captivating way. This is Paper Girls.
“We warned you…never eat from the Tree of Knowledge.”
Paper Girls #1 by Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher introduces us to four girls in small town Ohio as they try to deliver their papers on the morning after Halloween in 1988. Things go horribly awry from the start, from the mundane of bullies trying to steal a paper to the fantastical of being transported through space and time.
Paper Girls came out before Stranger Things. About nine months before. It was funny reading some of the criticisms of the Amazon television series that tried to pin it as a knock-off. It’s also not the same thing, in terms of story, characters, and construction, but it does tap into the same well: ’80s nostalgia. While it does feature a group of kids trying to find themselves at the tail end of the decade, steeped in the pop culture and sociopolitical landscape, it feels like it takes different cues from Spielberg veering more towards science fiction than horror. And maybe a bit of The ‘Burbs.
On top of the time-specific material, a large part of the feel for nostalgia is done through Matt Wilson’s colours. Wilson uses a limited palette of soft blues, purples, and pinks that evoke that retrowave feeling. Similar the stylized washes of Ex Machina, it gives the book a unique look at the same time as reinforcing an idea that this is a different time period.
2. Cliffhangers & Shock Reveals
Surprises and twists are a common element in Vaughan’s writing. Sometimes they reveal critical plot developments, like the parents reveal in Runaways. Other times they give context for the world that they’re set in, like the final page of Ex Machina.
In the first issue of Paper Girls, there are three major shock story beats: the revelation of the space ship/time machine, the face reveal of the ninja mummy looking folks, and the Apple tech. Each of them give little pieces of the type of story we’re getting and act as a hook to keep us reading to find out what exactly is going on. The first two also give a chance for both Chiang and Fletcher to shine. Chiang with his interesting designs for the machine and characters and Fletcher with the logograms for the future language.
And there’s a homophobic slur. There’s a bit of a difference here beyond just using harmful language for shock value, though. The AIDS Crisis was a very large part of the ’80s, so it makes sense from a story perspective that something would be mentioned. Also, the character who says the slur appears to actually be homophobic as the early part of the series develops. Working through the problems with the mindset, rather than just being there for shock value.
“It’s not a symbol. It’s an apple.”
Like the first issues of Y: The Last Man and Saga, I consider Paper Girls #1 from Vaughan, Chiang, Wilson, and Fletcher an artistic masterpiece. It immerses us into a fascinating science fiction world, flavoured through ’80s nostalgia, with absolutely gorgeous artwork.
Classic Comic Compendium: Paper Girls #1
Paper Girls #1
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colourist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 7 2015
Available collected in Paper Girls – Volume 1, Saga: Deluxe Edition – Volume One, and Paper Girls: The Complete Story
Saturday has brought two things: the full moon, and Weekend Reading 163! As you might expect, The Beat Elite is celebrating by locking ourselves in side Stately Beat Manor and getting lost in a good book.
What are you planning on paging through this weekend? The Beat is waiting to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, either right here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.
AVERY KAPLAN: This weekend, I’m checking out M is for Monster by Talia Dutton. Then as far as prose goes, I’ll be diving into Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth. I remember originally reading this novel back when it was published in 2008, but I don’t recall much about it (beyond the nice, sunny spot on the public lawn when I sat and read most of it a decade and a half ago, a very long way from the nice sunny spot where I am seated now). Of course, this reading will have to be accomplished between bouts of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which to be fair, involves plenty of reading itself.
TAIMUR DAR: Yet another acclaimed comic series it recently dawned on me that I haven’t read is Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I’m going to rectify that by reading the first trade collection over the weekend.
CY BELTRAN: While I continue my weird King reading order, inspired by the Rundown’s Roundtable discussion of Spider-Man (and my own excitement for Across the Spider-Verse), I think I’m gonna check out Ultimate Spider-Man for the first time in a few years. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley have a legendary run, and I’m interested to see how my opinions about it have changed in the years since I’ve read it.
DEAN SIMONS: Manga-manga-manga! Trying out some other series that I have been meaning to give a look: Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari’s Oshi No Ko (translated by Sarah Neufeld) and Masami Kurumada’s Saint Seiya (translated by Mari Morimoto, adapted by Lance Caselman). Oshi No Ko has been selling pretty well in Japan and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Naturally, it is weird as heck – a teen pop star secretly gives birth to twins…and the kids are reincarnated fans who remember their past lives – one of which was the pop star’s murdered doctor. Meanwhile, Saint Seiya (aka Knights of the Zodiac) is a classic 1980s Shonen Jump series that I meant to read aaaaages ago and just remembered to. Old school battle manga.
MARION PEÑA: I’ve been binging Shangri-La Frontier (Ryosuke Fuji, story by Katarina) on Kodansha’s K Manga app. I’ve read about 7 volumes on my own before and recommended it on Deb Aoki’s This Manga Is Awesome panel at last years NYCC. It’s about a VR MMORPG considered a kamige or “god-tier” game with an MC who almost exclusively plays kusoge or “shit games” riddled with bugs or bad game design. Still an extremely fun action adventure romp, and I love the creativeness when it comes to introducing other game ideas that MC actively plays, like a buggy PVP arena fighter that players discover and name bugs themselves to a customizable mech game with lord and flavor text inspired and ripped from Evangelion, to a tokusatsu action game where people roleplay as heroes and villains while interacting with NPCs and environments to build their super move gauges. On K Manga they have chapters simulpubbed with the weekly Japanese magazine release so it’s been fun to read ahead from the NA volume release.
You can peruse the 162 previous entries in The Beat’s Weekend Reading archive by clicking here. Weekend Reading is edited by Avery Kaplan.
It was another bad week for comics coverage at what was once the industry’s most prominent newssite, the Eisner Award winning Comic Book Resources (CBR). As reported by Popverse earlier this week, editor-in-chief Adam Swiderski was laid off. It soon emerged on social media that several other editors had been let go, including much respected senior new editor Stephen Gerding, who had been with the site for more than 17 years, as well as senior features editor Christopher Baggett.
“CBR will be undergoing major structural changes related to turning the corner on both culture and performance,” with those changes meaning that “as a result certain roles no longer exist, and we are focusing on individuals who can create a more positive culture going forward.”
Managing editor Jon Arvedon will take over running the site, as stated by Valnet content director George Edelman. Canada-based Valnet is the parent company of CBR, as well as Screen Rant, Collider, MovieWeb, Game Rant and several other gaming and pop culture sites.
While comics news sites sort of are competitors, we all realize we’re on the same tiny floatee in a rapidly evaporating kiddie pool so there’s a pretty collegial atmosphere. We talk. I’d been hearing that Valnet was paying less and less and asking for more and more work from writers for a while, and this week’s layoffs and “culture change” brought many folks out of the woodwork on Twitter, including the Beat’s former managing editor, Samantha Puc, who tweeted:
I haven’t spoken publicly about this because I didn’t want to burn bridges, but Valnet is a monster. In 2019, I was “promoted” from one editor to position to another at CBR and given an accompanying pay increase, but six months later when upper mgmt talked about raises, anyone who had accepted a “promotion” (including me) wasn’t eligible because “we got raises when we took on new positions.” As a FT section editor expected to be available 24/7, I made $2k a month. When I asked for more money, I was fired. My “click bonuses” for articles that performed well were also about half of what I should have received. When I asked why, they told me, “bot traffic doesn’t count.”
Their entire system chews people up and spits them out for pennies all under the guise of “building portfolios.” When I was there, everyone was a freelance contractor, which the company cited as a “perk” because “everyone could make their own hours.” In actuality it allowed Valnet to deny benefits to employees working more than FT hours and to sever contracts whenever they wanted. Anyone who attempted to push back or ask for more was either pushed out or outright let go.
The statement that CBR was looking to “create a more positive culture,” as you might expect, drew a lot of comment. The Beat spoke with several people close to the CBR situation, and a picture emerged that this “positive culture” might not be so positive.
We’re told that those removed were actually standing up for writers, with Swiderski, Gerding and Baggett pushing back against more changes along the lines of what Puc reported. Writers were being asked to do more work while shrinking the Pay Per View rates. The situation was described to me by one person as “working writers to the bone.”
The situation is so dire that in addition to the three editors, I’m told two HR people were laid off, who also objected to the demands that management was making on writers, who, as a reminder, are contractors, not employees. That HR people risked their jobs – and lost them – to stand up for the rights of contract workers is a situation I’ve not heard of before, and quite the indictment of Valnet’s working conditions.
As awful as Valnet can allegedly be, in a way I understand anyone involved in creating online content for profit hitting the panic button. I don’t have the time to go into how shitty it is to be creating content on the web these days, but advertising is way down, even more so than usual with a recession or something looming. Marketing budgets are always the first thing to be cut in these times, and although advertising will bounce back (it always does, the competition for eyeballs is eternal) it’s a pretty rough time for all right now.
The other looming threat is, of course, AI, which can take over the scut work of human drones (rewriting press releases, making explainers, etc) in a frightfully efficient (but unverified) manner. Google is currently messing with its own search and possibly pivoting to AI, something that could kill sites like the one you’re reading right now with a ruthlessness Thanos would find cold-blooded.
My first thought about these Valnet changes was that the new culture might mean a pivot to AI, but insiders I talked to thought this was not directly the case – as in AI won’t take over writing the articles just yet. Google is still officially against that kind of thing. However AI might provide other kinds of optimization and “idea generation” – which sounds even worse and more generic than PR rewriting but these are the days of our lives.