§ Nice art: The Red Hook: Blackout, the fourth series of Dean Haspiel’s tale of an alternative world (or is it?) Brooklyn, has just launched on Webtoon. The synopsis goes like this:
When The Green Point’s apocalypse sword is reactivated by the malice of The Coney, The Red Hook must combat and convince his psychotic, vigilante mother to help finally destroy it, only to accidentally rebirth the wrath of an unexpected villain who threatens to save earth from the hierarchy of humanity by sending New Brooklyn back to the stone age! Does The Red Hook have to break bad in order to restore the goodness of society?
We’re here for vigilante moms, and in the first episode she does some serious slashing and hacking. While you’re at it, you can also subscribe to Haspiel’s newsletter.
§ What’s going on in the world of comics publishing! Newsarama caught up with Archie co-publisher Alex Segura who talks a lot about dealing with the pandemic, Archie’s own comic being on hiatus, and ramping up in 2021. But they are hanging in there with things like their new Webtoon deal.
Segura: You’re seeing it start to ramp back up already but in formats that are maybe a bit different than what we were doing before. We just released our first-ever original graphic novel, Betty & Veronica: Bond of Friendship, in comic shops and bookstores last month. That right there is the new content equivalent of a five-issue mini-series, and we have an all-new Riverdale OGN launching in February. Again, that’s the equivalent of five issues of new content but coming out all at once and in a complete package designed for the book market. A new Madam Satan one-shot is launching in just a couple of weeks that we’re very excited about, and that was in the works prior to the shutdown. During our New York Comic Con panel, we announced a new Riverdale Presents: South Side Serpents one-shot and two new digest series which will feature extended new lead stories in their debut issues. (Image credit: Archie Comics) And new lead stories in the ‘classic’ Archie style are returning to our digest publications beginning this week. All of these decisions were made months ago – it just takes time to start to get things back in motion and out the door – especially now with a remote workforce.
§ Meanwhile, Short Box, the highly acclaimed indie publisher, is going through its own choppy waters and will have an online-only ShortBox Comics Fair 2020 on October 24-25, explains publisher Zainab Akhtar. The difficulties are related to what you might expect: a planned expansion cut short by the end of in-person events where the company sold a lot of products and so on. Short Box has produced a ton of award-winning, beautifully packaged comics, and there will be a lot of cool stuff to pick up:
I’m not really sure how to start this post. Well, maybe with the simple bit: next month will see ShortBox holding an online comics fair. Which I hope you’ll find exciting- I’m doing my best to make sure there’s a lot of very good comics, prints, and special offers available. I’ve been getting together all the last copies of titles such as The Tar Pit, slightly dinged copies of What Is Left (which will sell at a discounted price), some John Wick (and maybe Pingu) fanzines, Critical Chips 2, possibly even a few copies of The Whipping Girl, foil prints from Jon McNaught and Choo, older limited edition prints from Luke Pearson, the last of the Bebop prints from Emma Rios and Ron Wimberley, stickers and pins, – perhaps a couple of ‘fair exclusive’ items as well… and more.
§ Rob Salkowitz took a look at the best-selling graphic novels and noted that many of the usual best sellers are Comics Comfort Food:
For example, the August “Superhero” category top 15 includes eight stone cold classics: Batman: The Long Halloween, Sandman Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, V for Vendetta, Batman: Year One, Batman: The Killing Joke, and two editions of Watchmen, which clearly benefited from the award-winning though tangentially-related HBO series (see “August 2020 NPD BookScan – Top Author, Manga, and Superhero Graphic Novels”). Fine selections all, but most of these books are over 30 years old. Yes, they’re being repackaged in nice new formats, and I guess there’s always someone out there who hasn’t read these yet, but really? More than half the top 15 in high summer 2020? The Manga charts at this point belong to VIZ Media, which publishes all the titles in the top 20, dominated by My Hero Academia. Unsurprisingly, it’s a brand-driven list tied closely to popular media properties, COVID or not.
§ On Coming Out Day, Noelle Stevenson shared her own story of learning she was gay in semi-comics format, and it’s also a wonderful love story. And also Zam Wessel.
Zam was quickly folded into my personal mythology. I re-cast her as the main character in my imagination, her shapeshifting unlimited, in complete control of her body and presentation at all times—something I wished for so hard I ached. I hated being tied to one body, especially as it was changing into something that I hadn’t agreed upon: a busty, curvaceous one that drew disapproving eyes from the other homeschool moms. My own mother watched me like a hawk to make sure my shorts weren’t too short, my t-shirts not too tight, and spaghetti straps and bikinis were out of the question. I understood that my new body was a hazard more than anything, something that I had no control over in the world’s eyes—but Zam represented a different kind of femininity. A fluid, mysterious, self-possessed kind of womanhood—if it was womanhood at all.
§ David Harper’s latest deep dive for SKTCHD is on Comics Marketing, and, hoo boy.
“There’s never been a more exciting time in comic book marketing because there’s never been as many opportunities with the variety of distribution channels and, as a result, even more competition,” Arune Singh, the Vice President of Marketing at BOOM! Studios, told me. “Comic book marketing feels more targeted and purposeful than ever before as companies develop material for underserved or new audiences, meaning we need to reassess every aspect of what we do. Challenging norms through that kind of self-reflection can only lead to more new ways of marketing comics that break through to broader audiences.” That’s a rosy perspective on the state of things, and it’s understandable Singh would think that. BOOM! is arguably the hottest direct market publisher of 2020, and its marketing team has generated huge hits the past couple years. But if you ask David Hyde, the head of publicity and marketing shop Superfan Promotions, it’s a different tune altogether. “I’ve been doing book publicity for twenty years. This is probably the low water mark I’ve seen for book coverage,” Hyde told me. “That unfortunate reality is driven by the economy and the layoffs that have impacted so many news outlets. COVID and the ensuing furloughs and additional layoffs has only made a bad situation worse. There are less outlets covering fewer books.”
§ The days are getting colder in some parts of the world, and if you need to warm up, just slide next to this burn of a review by the Beat’s own Cori McCreery for WWAC: Rorschach #1 Is Dangerous And Irresponsible.
Furthermore, using Steve Ditko as the basis for your villain is extremely insulting in ways I can barely comprehend. It is using a book that is already a slap in the face to the past creators and taking that insult just one step further. The milking of the Watchmen franchise is already extremely tasteless and cruel concerning Alan Moore. So, to do this to Ditko, the creator of the characters on which Watchmen was based is just vile. I am disgusted by this callousness towards men that King claims to respect.
That is just a sample! Rorschach has been a bit controversial this week, so say the least.
§ Oh, speaking of Alan Moore, if you need more raging fire, he has a movie coming out, and he did press for it! A very long interview at Deadline can’t help but ask triggering questions about superheroes, and gets the expected burn. But it seems Moore is staying busy with other media activities, even if he’s retired from comics:
DEADLINE: In retirement, are you still creating, do you still write?
MOORE: I’ve only retired from comics. I’m finishing off a book of magic now. It’s been stalled for a while but I’m also working on an opera about John Dee with [musician] Howard Gray. I’ve got some short stories coming out. And I’ve also been thinking a lot about what we want to do after The Show feature film. We hope that it’s enjoyable as a thing in itself, but to some degree it could be seen as an incredibly elaborate pilot episode, we think there’s quite an interesting story that we could develop out of it as a TV series, which would imaginatively be called The Show. ‘The Show’ Protagonist Pictures I’ve worked out about four-five seasons of potential episodes. We’re showing that around to people to see how it goes, if there should be any interest I am prepared to launch myself into that. We’re not asking for a huge amount of money we’re just asking for control over the work and ownership over the work, if that is something people are prepared to give us we have no problem with people making money out of it. What we have got a problem with is us losing our rights to the ownership of the material, and having the work interfered with in any way.
DEADLINE: It sounds like the kind of thing Netflix might be interested in, but retaining your IP might be an issue…
MOORE: We shall see. There are options. All we need is to own our IP. But that’s why it has taken us so long to get to the feature film stage, and to get the five short films made previously. I really don’t have an interest in writing for movies or television per se, it has to be on my terms, which I think are fair ones. I’ve got no problem with other people making money from those works.
§ Another long conversation: This time, Douglas Rushkoff talks to Grant Morrison.
Morrison discusses the magical power of art and storytelling. How can we transform the physical world through narrative? How does the hero’s journey create narcissistic personalities, and what are alternative models of storytelling? Morrison and Rushkoff weave through magic and metaphors to envision a more distributed world.
§ Over at Vulture, they did The 100 Most Influential Sequences in Animation History, and thanks to editors Eric Vilas-Boas and John Maher there are some DEEP CUTS here, as well as everything from Felix the Cat to What’s Opera, Doc to Akira and even Black Vulcan. Yes, Black Vulcan. I learned a LOT reading this!
§ There was a LOT of Disney on that list of course, and Disney had a huge reorganization on Monday that put Disney+ front and center and created a new Media and Entertainment Group under Kareem Daniel that will consolidate streaming distribution and oversee consumer products, publishing and much more. What does this mean for Marvel? Not much YET as far as I can tell. The comics division’s place in the org chart with Kevin Feige running “creative” and Ike Perlmutter running the business end of things seems intact. Variety offered some analysis:
But internally, employees across the board were left puzzled by both the timing and contents of the announcement. Various power hubs were announced with great fanfare, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the likes of Alan Horn and Alan Bergman, who rule over the company’s film effort; TV chief Peter Rice, who was named chairman of general entertainment content; and sports chief James Pitaro, chairman of ESPN and Sports Content, were being promoted or just playing similar roles with a slightly greater mandate to think more in terms of what’s binge-worthy. The day’s unarguable star was Kareem Daniel, who was named head of the newly minted media and entertainment distribution group, a catch-all division tasked with monetizing all content. Daniel’s promotion fills some of the void left by Kevin Mayer’s exit in May as chairman of Disney’s Direct to Consumer and International division. Daniel’s distribution group, including Rebecca Campbell, who directly oversees Disney streaming services as well as international operations, will have a big role in determining the strategy and content spending priorities for Disney’s DTC expansion.
With parks still closed, and thousands of employees laid off, the Pandemic Shift has left even a giant like Disney trying to find a piece of floating driftwood in a world where giant movie openings are a thing of the past.
§ Speaking of things long past, I still get a chuckle when octogenarian Star Trek stars feud over what a pain in the ass William Shatner was and is, especially when it’s George Takei doing the schooling.