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§ Nice Art: The Cool Comic Art twitter was spotlighting some Swamp Things in the spirit of the season and I was partial to this by Bruce Timm. You mostly see Timm’s Batman animation art so this was a nice switch.

And then there’s Alex Ross:

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§ The most terrifying things going on this season is the planned erasure of the human rights of millions of people. Here’s a brief guide to How to be an ally who stands with transgender people that may help avoid this horror.

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§ Abraham Riesman at Vulture had a duo of profiles this week. First and most important, a detailed and respectful look at Julie Doucet suggesting she should get more acclaim than she has currently – a suggestion I’ll back up.

From an early age, she fantasized about subverting gender and its conventions. When I ask her what she used to doodle as a kid, she replies, “Horses. Indians. I wanted to be an Indian, but an Indian guy, not a woman, because the women were just cooking and I was not interested in that. I just wanted to horse-ride and go swimming and explore the forests.” Around age 17, she started making her own comics, which she’s reluctant to revisit. “Very hippie-style,” she says of them, laughing. “Rainbows. Watercolors. What can I say? It was pretty bad.” Only once she got to the University of Quebec, studying fine art, did she contemplate showing her work to the world. She’d been drawing comics for no one in particular, but a group of school compatriots liked her style and asked her to join an anthology they were a part of. In 1986, with a circulation of God knows how few people, Doucet had her first published work.

 

17-saga-3.nocrop.w710.h2147483647.jpg§ And then it’s Fiona Staples, with a look at Saga’s iconic (yes) first issues, including some thumbnails of the issue.

How did you approach drawing that first page? Did you model it on anything? Were there lots of drafts?Just the one thumbnail sketch! This was an important page, being our opening, but it was also one out of 44 in our oversized first issue. I was more worried about tackling the space garage and big fight scene that the next few pages held.

BTW these thumbnails are such clean storytelling, each page balanced and concise.

§ And Ed Brubaker gets a Salon profile. When is Ed’s show with Nicholas Winding Refn coming out on Netflix! This doesn’t answer that but Brubaker has much to say.

Of course I’m going to have mixed feelings about it to some degree. At the time I wrote “Captain America” it was work for hire. Marvel didn’t have their own movie studio and they weren’t owned by Disney. Kids came to my house that year dressed as the Winter Soldier for Halloween because of the movie. That is pretty amazing.

Bucky was this dead character that no one would ever let be brought back. I feel like 80 percent of the people who ever wrote “Captain America” wanted to bring Bucky back. I got to “Captain America” when the company was willing to break some of their own rules. The only thing I pitched was that I wanted to bring Bucky back from the dead and have him be the character I had in mind. On a creative level it’s really satisfying to see the Russo brothers and Joe Johnson make really good movies and see how Sebastian Stan is fantastic in the role as Bucky the Winter Soldier. I got to be in a scene with him and Robert Redford in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which is pretty amazing.

§ And the New York Times looks at the end of the ‘Jane’s World’ Comic Strip.

§ I had this bookmarked for a while, a report that Canadian bookstore chain Indigo coming to the US, perhaps giving a life raft for bookstore chains with B&N staggering around like OJ Simpson in the opening scene of The Naked Gun:

In the age of Amazon, Borders is bankrupt, and Barnes & Noble is closing stores as sales decline, reportedly 6 percent in the first quarter of this year. But one Canadian bookstore chain is expanding to the U.S. anyway. Indigo’s first U.S. store opened this week in Short Hills, New Jersey, along with an in-store Café Indigo coffee shop. The company thinks it can make headway in the U.S. because of its lineup of exclusive products and its “store within a store” model to showcase different product categories. It’s also a fresh brand that avoids the legacy baggage of incumbent retailers and taps into the experiential, destination-style retail model that Amazon hasn’t quite cracked yet.

Canadians seem quite attached to their Indigo stores, can Americans enjoy retail again?

§ McNally Jackson, one of New York’s most prominent indie bookstores – and home to many comics events over the years – is moving.

McNally, surprisingly brash and unfiltered for a bookstore owner, is iconoclastic in other ways. As all of the city’s independent bookstores have struggled to redefine themselves in the age of Amazon, she’s not only succeeded — her company opened a second store in Williamsburg in January — but tacked in a different direction. Unlike newish Brooklyn shops that double as social spaces, heavy on author events and relatively light on inventory, McNally Jackson focuses on hardcovers and paperbacks and marginalizes all else. The owner estimates there are 14,000 books in the literature section alone.

 

§ Calvin Reid wrote up panel I moderated at NYCC about comics readership that hit on all the trends:

The panelists focused on a new generation of comics-loving librarians and comics shop owners, the bookstore market, and the ever-growing popularity of graphic novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Long dominated by the superhero genre, the North American comics market is now offering a wider variety of works thanks to growing numbers of women, girls, people of color, and LGBTQ fans. The panel also examined the growing popularity of translations from the European comics market and a wide range of nonsuperhero material that is now available.

 

§ Meanwhile, here’s an interesting interview with Luc Bourcier, CEO of Izneo, which is basically the Comixology of European comics. Izneo is looking at coming to the US, and also moving onto platforms like the Switch:

One of the other trends people have got excited about with the ability to use an Amazon Fire stick or a Chromecast, and wirelessly read your comics on the big screen. Is that something you’re thinking about, especially as you develop your app for the Switch?

LB: Absolutely, right. With the Nintendo you can already do that actually. You can not only read on the Switch device as such but also you can read on your TV screen. Also we have the Android TV application, which means if you have an Android device, or books, you can access all these new content and read on your TV screen. That’s awesome. LB: Actually, we’ve discovered it’s a nice experience, it’s something different. It really adds a lot of appeal.

§ In a sign of these tumultuous times, Lucasfilm has removed all the links to fan sites on Starwars.com and replaced it with this notice:

Notice: Lucasfilm Ltd. strives to foster an inclusive, diverse and safe environment for our fans and we ask the same of our fan community. Fan organizations, websites, blogs, clubs, podcasts, social media accounts, etc. are not owned, endorsed, sponsored, controlled, or in any way affiliated with Lucasfilm Ltd. or The Walt Disney Company, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Lucasfilm Ltd., The Walt Disney Company or any of their affiliates, and no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Please see terms of use agreements and privacy policies that apply to such third-party services and content.

It seems that the harassment and toxic speech that has swept through Star Wars fandom – some of it fueled by Russian trolls – is the reason for this. Remember was fandom was fun?

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§ There have been several pieces about the awful working conditions at Rockstar Games of late, and here’s a comprehensive look at the brutal overtime required in getting out Red Dead Redemption 2:

The tale of Red Dead Redemption 2’s development is complicated and sometimes contradictory. For some people at Rockstar, it was a satisfying project, an ambitious game that took reasonable hours and far less crunch than the company’s previous games. Many current employees say they’re happy to work at Rockstar and love being able to help make some of the best games in the world. Others described Red Dead 2 as a difficult experience, one that cost them friendships, family time, and mental health. Nobody interviewed said they had worked 100-hour weeks—that would equate to seven 14-hour days—but many said their average weekly hours came close to 55 or 60, which would make for six 10-hour days. Most current and former Rockstar employees said they had been asked or felt compelled to work nights and weekends. Some were on hourly contracts and got paid for overtime, but many were salaried and did not receive any compensation for their extra hours. Those who are still at the company hope that their 2018 bonuses—expected to be significant if Red Dead 2 does well—will help make up for that.

Crunch time as a project nears completion is normal, but this was hellish. Rockstars policies have changed in light of the controversy – let’s hope it sticks.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I haven’t been to the Short Hills Mall yet to see it in person, but that Indigo store looks as much like a bookstore as your typical Hallmark store looks like a greeting card store. Sure, they have an aisle of that, but the other 80% of the store is all the profit-bearing things — all the gift items and high margin coffees and toys.

    Here’s their description of their own store:

    “Products include: accessories, books, cards and stationery, coffee and tea, electronics, handbags, home décor, jewelry, kitchen accessories, specialty gifts, toys and games, and women’s apparel.”

    There used to be a Borders at Short Hills, but that closed up years ago. It’s one of those loud dark trendy clothing stores the kids like so much now.

    Speaking of Canadian retailers opening in NJ, check out Homesense. It’s like Home Goods, but actually organized and with a lot more stuff.

  2. Yeah, Indigo is a shell of it’s former self. It used to be like a big box bookstore, as did it’s sister company Chapters, but sadly the books are only a small part of the store now.

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