§ Nice art: Julia Gfrörer’s art has always been obsessed with the sea so her comic (with Andy Warner) about about rescuing refugees at sea is both beautiful and harrowing.
§ It’s that time of year when I do my annual huge cleanup. I wrote about this seven years ago at about the same time of year. For 2018, I had to take an entire week of staycation. I travelled so much this year that everything just got shoved into boxes as I went along, resulting in, like, 15 boxes of stuff. A lot of it was comics, and I did notice several trends. (Note: some of the links below are affiliate links.)
• There were a lot of books by Jeff Lemire. A lot.
• There were a LOT of books that were about a young person traveling to some foreign country and learning about themselves while they experienced another culture. A classic theme really. There were many non-fiction books about the Middle East and refugees, basically the things we’re concerned with. I’d call Sarah Glidden’s Rolling Blackouts a kind of prototype for this genre.
• I went through older boxes of floppies and less and less stuff makes it through each purge. But I did rediscover so many relaunches and mini-lines from DC and Vertigo. There was always some good stuff in all those relaunches, so much of it water under the bridge now.
• So many names that are fleeting, creators who come and go. They told their story and printed it up and now it sits on a shelf. Sometimes the stories live on…sometimes they don’t. Sobering.
• On Day 6 I rewarded myself with a trip to Ikea and after years of debating getting one, I finally got a Helmer. I had long dreamed of getting a green Helmer, but they don’t make that any more so instead I got one in the industrial blue-gray that is all the rage now. I put it together accompanied by a small glass of wine because my furniture assembling game is strong. I only messed up one drawer. Will this filing cabinet on caster solve my small crap hoarding problems? Probably not, but it is attractive!
• I still haven’t solved my mini comic/small press storage problem. This is definitely a bigger, longer project, but I’ve decided that alphabetizing by creator will be involved. It will be amazing when I finish.
• I used a little bit of the “Swedish Death Cleaning” method because Kondo-ing doesn’t work for me: everything gives me joy, especially books! I LOVE BOOKS. I love seeing them, reading them, holding them and sometimes tripping over them. I did realize that my iPad can now give me access to a lot of books that I don’t need so I can make room for my copy of Sinner with the sketch by José Muñoz.
• Swedish Death Cleaning is an ongoing process not just a week long thing. I still have a hard time letting go of things that are strongly associated with memories. As with many of you reading this, it will remain an ongoing process to find the balance between keeping things and having a tidy Stately Beat Manor, but every space is too small. So the battle continues.
§ Speaking of Jeff Lemire, I was stunned to find that there was a Hitgirl mini series by Lemire and Eduardo Risso. You’d think that kind of thing would have gotten more attention but there are a LOT OF COMICS coming out, and the Millarverse is very busy.
§ And here is how busy: Mark Millar Gives Updates on Netflix Movies, Shows and Comics – I can’t even keep up with this!
§ I’ve also been hoarding links! Here we go!
§ BEST OFS: Vulture’s Best Comics of 2018 list by Abraham Reisman is not only good but it kind of encapsulates how I feel about 2018’s books. There may have been fewer crowd pleasers, but the best graphic novels of 2018 were truly novels. Books like Young Frances, Sabrina, Upgrade Soul and Berlin are hefty, dense stories that resist easy encapsulation and a take a long time to read as they unfold complicated themes and intertwined storylines. We’re getting better, I swear.
§ But some people did not get the memo. The NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2018 included Man Booker Prize nominee Sabrina and Why Comics? by Hilary Chute, which isn’t even a comic, although Chute is a Times columnist. The current NYTBR regime seems to be very comics unfriendly.
§ At My Chicken Enemy, Rob Clough, Kim Jooha, Alex Hoffman, and Keith Silva pick some excellent small press comics, few of which I managed to read. But how to store them?
§ The AV Club weighed in with The best comics of 2018 and it’s a very balanced list.
§ The New York Public Library picked NYPL 2018 Best Books for Adults and Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal made the Top 10!
§ Speaking of libraries, Beat emigre Torsten is now working in a library and he passed along Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Novels from the Omaha Public Library – it’s all the basics but if you need a handy link it’s good.
§ Prolific editor Hope Nicholson takes on a subject near and dear to my heart with her new anthology:
Gathering up an eclectic collection of comic book professionals, Hope Nicholson has put together another unique look into the geeky side with Pros and (Comic) Cons, an exploration of the “the mad world of comic conventions and the funny, sad, sweet, embarrassing, and heartfelt stories that go along with them.” From advice, to malfunctions, to life-changing fan encounters, “Pros and (Comic) Cons paints a picture of the geek culture life that shapes us, encourages us, and exhausts us every summer.”
§ Ariel Shrag, whose painfully honest comics about teenaged years and beyond I’ve missed, is back and Paste interviewed her.
Paste: You also write prose (and screenplays). What draws you to comics over those media? Which is the hardest to work in and why?
Schrag: I’m compelled to write autobiographical comics and fictional prose. So far, the reverse hasn’t appealed to me. I like creating an alternate cartoon world to depict my experiences in, and I like the unexpected places the swiftness of prose brings in fiction. Screenplays as a medium are only a blueprint, but getting to see your stories come alive through actors is a real rush.
I am still haunted by Schrag’s story about how she had to poop in her backpack and carry it around for days because when you’re a kid, you think that pooping is something you don’t want to get caught doing and embarrassment makes us do horrible things.
§ Here’s a story about a woman who was killed in the Holocaust whose immense painting may have been an early graphic novel.
Charlotte Salomon’s extraordinary Leben? oder Theater? Ein Singespiel was first exhibited in the early 1960s, but recently it’s become more widely known. A painting cycle composed of 769 finished gouaches and 500 additional paintings, Life? or Theater?, as it’s called in English, was painted while Salomon, a German Jew, was in exile in France between 1941-1943. Salomon was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz in October of 1943. She was twenty-six. Before being arrested by the Nazis, she had entrusted the work to a friend with the instruction, “Keep this safe: It is my whole life.”
§ An oldie but this Trans Woman Writers’ Roundtable at Autostraddle inclines mostly comics adjacent writers and it’s excellent.
§ Guillermo del Toro hoards ideas! Here’s a list of some of his unproduced screenplays – I was most interested in the intriguing tale of the aborted Justice League Dark movie:
Justice League Dark – Rumors about del Toro’s involvement in Justice League Dark started back in 2012, when the DC extended universe was just getting started. Del Toro drafted a script for the film, which would’ve starred Swamp Thing, the Demon, Constantine, and other iconic characters in a story exploring the supernatural side of the DC universe. Doug Liman was attached to direct in 2016, but left one year later. There’s no confirmed production schedule for this film, but at 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con the title was confirmed as Justice League Dark. Warner Bros. has a lot of potential films in the works, we can only hope it’d be smart enough to go back to del Toro’s version.
You will also wish that del Toro’s take on Pacific Rim 2 had been used because the one they made was blaaaaaaaaand.
§ Alex Dueben talked to Ali Fitzgerald who made Drawn to Berlin which might be one of those books I was talking about above.
How do you describe Drawn to Berlin?
It’s a book about different types of migration, personhood and nationhood. It focuses on comic workshops I conducted in refugee shelters, and uses the act of drawing to bind the stories of different newcomers to the city. It also follows myself and two young men from Syria as they try to build a life in Berlin. There are also historical parallels from Joseph Roth’s journalism from the 1920’s woven throughout. In the end, it’s also a portrait of a city that always seems to be at the center of upheaval and renewal.
§ Comics – Summer Pierre has a fantastic comic aboutSylvia Plath at the New Yorker.
§ Ulli Lust on names for female body parts.
§ And speaking of Pond, the first ever episode of The Simpsons, which she wrote, will be re-airing this year, and it wasn’t the best experience for her.
Mimi Pond, who wrote the episode, shed some light on her work at the show last year when she revealed that while the script she wrote turned into the pilot episode of the series, she was never offered a job on the Simpsons writing staff. “No one ever called me or explained to me or apologized or anything. And it wasn’t until years later that I found out that Sam Simon, who was the showrunner, didn’t want any women around because he was going through a divorce,” she said. “It had remained a boys’ club for a good long time. I feel like I was just as qualified as anyone else who came along and got hired on the show, and it was just because I was a woman that I was, you know, not allowed entry into that club. I always wind up being the turd in the punchbowl because the show is so beloved and everything, and I’m sorry to burst bubbles but [laughs]. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.”
§ Liam Sharp’s work on The Green Lantern is pretty great and here’s why.
§ I loved this piece on stuntwomen for superhero movies especially since one of them is named Heidi Moneymaker.
Hey @Marvel, we heard about Tony Stark. As we know, the first thing you should do is listen in mission control for “@Avengers, we have a problem.” But if he can’t communicate, then we recommend ground teams use all resources to scan the skies for your missing man pic.twitter.com/zavXrsPljq
— NASA (@NASA) December 9, 2018
§ So many fans wrote to NASA begging them to rescue Tony Stark in space that NASA tweeted a response. Don’t worry fans, either Pepper Potts or Captain Marvel will soon be there to rasue Tony from that floating tomb.
§ Finally this is really old. But this headline will never not be awesome: High School Marching Band Performed ‘Saw’ Theme During Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.