§ Nice Art: A lot of people have been linking to this great 2019 comic “About Face” by Nate Powell about the paramilitary mindset, the Punisher and…things we have all been thinking about.
§ Helping Out: Artist Steve Lightle died at age 61 last week of cardiac arrest and COVID complications. There is a fundraiser to help his family. Please consider giving.
Steve Lightle, a Kansas City comic book artist, husband, father, grand-father, brother, uncle, and friend was recently and unexpectedly taken from us all due to cardiac arrest and COVID complications. His family is left quarantined and unable to work during this time. They need financial assistance to cover Steve’s final expenses, as well as their own living expenses. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!
Lightle was best known for a run on Legion of Super-Heroes, but he was a wonderful artist and by all accounts a wonderful person. Mostly underappreciated, like many artists of his time.
§ With The Punisher once again being used as a symbol for domestic terrorism, creators are once again calling for Marvel to retire the character. Patrick Ross at AIPT looks at The cases for and against retiring The Punisher for good
We’ve already talked at length here at AIPT about legal routes Marvel could take to stop the proliferation of their intellectual property being illegally produced and commandeered by people with firefight fantasies (and helped make some progress!), but in light of yet another horrific demonstration of domestic terrorism in the United States this week, several comic book creators have been discussing the merits of Marvel simply retiring the character altogether.
§ Comics somehow have survived COVID-19, it seems. At The Hollywood Reporter, Graeme McMillan and Aaron Couch kind of wrap up the story of gritty survivors with How the Comics Industry Avoided a 2020 Implosion:
With comic conventions canceled and people not taking vacations, many fans concentrated on making their collections more complete.
“Comic supplies sales skyrocketed right away as people took this time to clean up their collection,” says Higgins. “New titles were selling better than we ever expected, graphic novel sales spiked, and back issues jumped dramatically in price and flew out the door just as fast. Sales during the summer and early fall months were just unbelievable.”
§ Joseph Illidge looks at how the three superhero publishers have dealt with our racial reckoning:
A trinity of publishers with specific expertise in the creation of hero narratives came together to form a statement, one which was tantamount to a moral position on the villainy of institutional racism and its horrifying manifestations. With the end of an historic year for America and a new year of anticipated change on the horizon, we are compelled to examine how these three industry leaders proceeded to modify their businesses in alignment with their public statements, well aware that some projects and initiatives preceded the catalyzing act of George Floyd’s murder.
§ A few last best ofs: SOLRAD’s The Best* Comics of 2020
And the AV Club’s The best comics of 2020
Man, I have a lot of reading to do!
§ I did not know that Cathy Guisewite is making Cathy comics on Instagram, but I am here for it.
§ This is from about a month back, but a textbook on anime is under fire from Kent State because of a frank chapter about adult anime.
Lawmakers in Ohio recently called for Kent State University to no longer use the scholarly book Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation in their curriculum. Written by Tufts University’s Dr. Susan Napier, the book in question was groundbreaking for bringing anime into academics and giving it more mainstream acceptance. The controversy began when a 17-year-old student at Kent — whose parents signed a permission slip for him to read the book — complained that parts made him uncomfortable.
§ As noted on his FB page and reprinted here: Paul Levitz’s 50 year run at DC has ended.
New Year’s Eve 2020 marked the end of an era with 2021 beginning with long-time writer, editor and executive at DC Comics the 64 year old Paul Levitz not being on the company’s payroll. He best known for his writing of Legion of Super-Heroes and for his various leadership roles in the company. #ThankYouPaul!
§ Alex Dueben has a career-spanning interview with Denys Cowan, who is a great artist and a significant figure in comics history by any account. It’s great to see this in-depth interview as Milestone Comics is finally returning.
Since we did Milestone in 1992, or however long it’s been, I’ve seen some change in comics, but let’s be really real – what have you seen since Milestone that has been that different on that level? Nothing. We’ve seen individual books like Black, Excellence, Bitter Root. They’re great, but they’re sporadic. I don’t think the industry has been open to anything like what we did. The industry has settled back into the storylines of the month and variant covers of the year and all these things that have nothing to do with content. The elevation of the writer as the sole creator of comics. Everyone else is an afterthought. Nothing in terms of race improvement. The situation of people of color in comics, addressing any kind of sexual or racial imbalance in comics, all of those things are being talked about now – but they’ve been talked about in the last two months not the last twenty years. Not to the extent that you would think. So there may be change. I didn’t see a lot of it, but I’m starting to see it now. It took a guy being murdered for that to happen. That’s what I’ve observed. So we’ll see how companies really react. The real change isn’t going to be some black books or hiring a few more black writers or artists, it’s systematic change. We need everything from the top down, from executives to editors to all the people behind the scenes. DC is better at this than a lot of people but there’s still a lot to be done. You’ll see change when that starts happening. It goes beyond just hiring some black writers like David Walker and Reggie Hudlin and all these cats. It’s got to go beyond that.
§ For some reason, a bunch of links about Indiana Jones crossed my stream last week, perhaps because we turn to escapist adventure in such times as these. Did you know that esteemed playwright Tom Stoppard wrote most of the dialogue and much more in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?
Everything suggests that Stoppard’s contributions to the film were substantial. In a brief oral history of The Last Crusade, now lost to linkrot but still preserved by the Wayback Machine, Spielberg says, “Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue.” Last year, narrative analyst Mike Fitzgerald broke down in detail differences between a draft version of the screenplay by credited writer Jeffrey Boam and the published draft, including revisions by Spielberg and a heavy rewrite by Stoppard. (You can actually download both versions of the screenplay on Fitzgerald’s site.) Again, Stoppard contributed not just lines of dialogue, but new scenes, a new structure, and changes in characterization.