§ Nice Art: I know Halloween is over but here’s some pumpkins by the Halloween Queen Jill Thompson to segue from the season of pumpkin carving to the season of pumpkin baking.
§ I imagine most of us (in the US anyway) are a bit preoccupied with the election and what not. Rick Veitch has been making a series of “Vote Like a Beast” posters – the phrase comes from musician Frank Zappa. These will either inspire you or terrify you or both.
Speaking of Veitch, CBR has a brief look at Brat Pack and The Maximortal, his superhero deconstruction that makes The Boys seem tame.
By the time these books were published in the early 1990s, Rick Veitch had a long career in comic books and has worked on mainstream, underground, and alternative comics, famously including a collaboration with Alan Moore on Swamp Thing for DC. But in Bratpack, he turned his attention to the dark underbelly kinds of sidekicks who populate the DC Universe. The five-issue series dealt with commercialism, the sexualization of superheroes, violence, and the genre’s inherent fascist tendencies in a way that made the book a difficult and uneasy read that’s decidedly for adults only.
§ Last week Business Insider published a piece about two former DC Comics editors who complained that they were help back because of race, Harvey Richards and Lateef Ade “L.A.” Williams, both of whom are Black. It’s a hard read, but you should read the whole story.
“My personality and work style is different than Harvey’s, who is different from every other name I could rattle off,” Williams said. “But no matter how different our work styles or personalities are, the reality is that every one of our stories ended up the same. When it keeps happening year after year, person after person, you have to ask yourself what all of these people have in common.” A Latinx former assistant editor, who exited in 1999 after five years without a promotion, shared similar concerns with Business Insider about a lack of a career path forward at DC and a sense that her work was undervalued.
The stories of these three former DC editors are also similar to that of Charles Beacham, a former Marvel editor who spoke with Business Insider in July. Beacham was one of two Black editorial staffers Marvel had employed in the last five years and quit in 2017 because he felt his voice wasn’t heard.
In my brief (one year) time at DC editorial I worked with both Lateef and Harvey, who left DC about a year ago. Harvey was actually my assistant, one of the most decent people I’ve ever worked with. If you were to ask me “Did women and people of color face an uphill battle at DC during the time you worked there?” my answer would be an unequivocal yes.
How to improve things? the bigger picture. Just a stab. If we’ve learned anything in recent years its that no matter how much “progress” against ingrained racism we make, it’s a constant process, not a complete victory.
Despite the bias and generally bad beliefs of nasty people, I generally believe the bulk of comics fans are good and decent enough. So they’ll see evidence of gay or black writers (as just one rather specific example), not to mention books starring these same groups, and they think to themselves, “Well, we’ve clearly made progress” (i.e., not unlike how the world reacted with Obama). But these same people fail to see these are often just the start of something substantial, the much-needed systemic change that can make a huge difference and drive us to a more lasting and sustainable form of inclusion and diversity. Yet we’re often satisfied with owning just the participation trophy, this shiny reminder that we showed up with good intentions and a desire to work together.
I’m very glad that Harvey and Lateef told their stories – taking a hard look at the past is the only way to start making the present better.
§ Despite the countless cancelled and virtual comic cons and conferences we’ve seen in 2020, smaller events are actually taking place. Something called, rather alarmingly in so many ways, the Big Lick Comic Con took place this weekend in Roanoke, VA. The link takes you to a video report on the local news, and swear to God, the above scene takes place as the reporter says “organizers required all attendees to wear face coverings.” When, as you can see, one dude is not wearing a mask and doesn’t even have one around his neck.
Although the views of costumed people walking around a conference center filled with long boxes filled me with nostalgic longing, in not one clip is everyone properly masked. As someone who has been wearing a mask in public even before it was mandated in NYC, these scenes frankly gave me the heebie jeebies.
But Big Lick was not the only con this weekend! The Peoria Comic Book Convention took place in East Peoria, IL. Similar social distancing rules were put in place, and in this video everyone is at least wearing a mask properly.
While this years gathering may have looked different, with masks and social distancing, comic book fans from around Central Illinois were still thrilled to be able to gather at the Holiday Inn and Suites in East Peoria. Organizer Alan Morton said with the pandemic, people have more time to catch up on reading, and comic books provide the perfect escape. “If you’re not getting to go out as much because of other activities, you can get comic books to read at home,” said Morton. “You know holding something in your hand and reading it as opposed to looking at it on a screen.”
I like holding things in my hands too, but scenes of people thumbing through old comics boxes and pawing through toys looks like a Halloween horror show to me. I get that con organizers want to make a living and people want to leave the house but Illinois is in the middle of a huge COVID outbreak. Scary. It’s going to be a long time before many of us go to cons with confidence that it’s safe.
§ CBR has a piece called Every Comic Book Role Ron Perlman Has Ever Done, which made me wonder how many he had done. All but two are voice overs for various cartoons. One of the live action ones is a cameo in a short film and the other is…Hellboy! Surprise! Perlman is awesome, but he is no Chris Evans or Josh Brolin, both of whom have a fistful of live action comic book characters to their credit. I’ve never toted it up, but Evans is probably the winner with Johnny Storm, Jensen from the Losers, Lucas Lee from Scott Pilgrim, Curtis in Snowpiercer, and Captain America. Also the voice of Casey in a TMNT movie. Brolin has Jonah Hex, Young Agent K in some Men in Black movie (a bit of a cheat I know), Joe in Old Boy, Thanos and Cable. Two from the MCU alone!
Did I miss any? Is there another live action comic book movie king or queen I missed? Take a break from doomscolling and let us know in the comments.