§ Nice art: Here’s some good news! Writer Traci Todd and artist Shannon Wright are doing a picture book biography of Jackie Ormes, the first nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist. NO art images yet, but I’ve been an admirer of Wright’s work for a while. Here’s a short comic about aviatrix Bessie Coleman she did.
§ While The Beat has gotten a lot of praise for our wide ranging Best Comics list, we also got some pushback, publicly and privately, for not having any manga on the list, and underrepresenting webcomics. To which I say: that is a problem and we acknowledge it. Unfortunately both fields are a bit specialized. Just as you shouldn’t write about hip-hop unless you know hip-hop as you’ll get outed as a phony very quickly, manga manqués are easily spotted. I try to keep up with the big news – and I love my Urasawa and Ito – but it’s an area that deserves knowledgable coverage.
Luckily, we do have a Best Manga list in the works, from one of the top writers in the field. Manga is a hugely popular and important part of the comics world, and we’ll be adding more coverage in 2019.
Likewise, the world of webcomics is huge and vast. We’ve had some great writers over the years to cover the field, but we could use some new ones. I’m always on the lookout for new writers, but don’t be afraid to throw that hat in the ring.
All of which is to say if you’d like to write about manga or webcomics for the beat, hit us up! That email is comicsbeat at gmail.com. Send links to clips or relevant experience.
§ New Zealand’s unofficial Comics Laurate Dylan Horrocks is interviewed and reveals a new project – and it’s a doozy.
It’s a graphic novel. Maybe graphic novel is not quite the right term because it’s my first non-fiction comic, a book-length comic. It’s about Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy role-playing games. I haven’t said in public yet exactly what it’s about, but the central focus is on worldbuilding, the way role-playing games provide a new way to experience imaginary worlds and fictional realities, and the sheer obsessive lengths that people go to build these imaginary worlds for role-playing games and then living in them for years and years as characters and as game-masters.
§ Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction have joined the ranks of pacters: they have signed with Legendary TV to create and develop and get paid for it:
Legendary Television has signed a two-year overall deal with comics creators Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction’s Milkfed Criminal Masterminds. Under the pact, Legendary will adapt several of their award-winning, creator-owned comics, as well as produce exclusive, original projects developed by the duo for television across traditional and non-traditional platforms.
“From their brilliantly realized reinventions of established comic book canon to the most unique of original creations, Kelly Sue and Matt are the top of their field. It is an honor to partner with the Milkfed Criminal Masterminds to bring their work to a wider global audience,” stated Nick Pepper, President of Legendary Television Studios.
DeConnick’s nailing down Captain Marvel’s persona for the MCU and Fraction’s Iron Man contributions are the media precursors here, but won’t it be great to see Bitch Planet and Sex Criminal streaming on your TV??
§ Finally with Into the SpiderVerse about to change the world, Vulture looks at the history of Spider-Ham Peter Porker, one of the most offbeat characters in Marvel’s long history. Tom DeFalco, Larry Hama and more were involved in the caper.
“We walked into Jim Shooter’s office and said, ‘We wanna come out with a one-shot comic book,’” DeFalco says. “We proposed [Spider-Ham] to Shooter, who was used to us coming to him with all sorts of nonsense. Jim, true to form, was like, ‘If I say yes, will you get out of my office?’ We said, ‘Yeah!’ He signed off on it and we started work on the comic book.” The plan was to have DeFalco write the one-shot and for a talented but virtually unknown artist named Mark Armstrong to draw it. They hashed out what they wanted the character to look like and even had a friend of Hama’s who made dolls to produce a prototype plush toy of it. As for the comic, it was called Marvel Tails — a play on the long-running reprint series Marvel Tales — and it was adorable.
I gotta tell ya: Mark Armstrong was one of my greatest art crushes back in the day and his work on Spider-Ham was a marvelous throwback to the great funny animal cartoonists, with a flair all his own. What ever happened to him?
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.