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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 2/17/21: The Big List of all the best 2020 graphic novels

The Duke of Hastings plays D&D

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§ Nice Art: At NeoText, Benjamin Marra praises some Joe Kubert covers, and there is much to praise. The mystery, the adventure, the dynamic composition, the imagination, the confidence, and, really most impressive of all, the looseness of the linework which projects energy in every inch — although sketchy, the hero is still a center of attention, lean and dangerous, a worthy opponent to the giant white sea serpent. No one captured the liveliness of a sketch in the final art quite the way Kubert did. Or as Marra wrote:

The thing that I love the most about Joe Kubert’s art is the speed with which it looks like it was made. Each mark embodies the feeling of Kubert’s quickness and pressure of his hand (though I’ve heard rumors he was ambidextrous and would often ink with both at the same time—so, hands then if true). It’s like those ink lines are hovering in the air and Kubert is stabbing them with the pen nib or brush tip and nailing them down to the Bristol board. I love that feeling in comic book art. I can also dig meditative, deliberate mark making. But the off-the-cuff, cavalier, don’t-give-a-shit, keep-it-moving attitude in Kubert’s inks is a feeling that is incredibly inspiring.   

§ Along those same lines, Mental Floss offered a list of Secrets of Comic Book Artists that has a weird target audience — people who might get a gig drawing Batman but don’t know the basics of page composition —  but a few solids:

3. COMIC ARTISTS MAKE SURE CHARACTERS ONLY RUN IN ONE DIRECTION. Comics are about momentum and movement. A reader perceives motion between panels because of how artists communicate that motion in panels. One way they accomplish that is by making sure characters move from left to right. “You want characters running to the right because you read left to right,” Joëlle Jones, an artist on titles like Batman, Catwoman, Supergirl, and her own Lady Killer, tells Mental Floss. “They’re going on to the next panel, the next page, in that direction. If something is curving off the panel, it will take your eyes out of it.”

§ Michael Cavna looks at how Newspaper cartooning is dominated by White men. 

Whither the female and LGBTQ political cartoonists and creators of color on staff at mainstream American newspapers? Matt Lubchansky, a queer nonbinary cartoonist for the Nib who was a Herblock Prize finalist last year for work reflective “of a new generation,” is among the artists considering that question. “There are plenty of extremely talented young cartoonists that aren’t cis white men doing good topical work,” says the New York-based Lubchansky, who believes minority voices often face institutional prejudice when seeking publication in mainstream papers.

The story is actually chock full of quotes from cartoonists like Matt Lubchansky, Ann Telnaes, Pia Guerra, Jen Sorenson, Lalo Alcatraz, Darrin Bell, Keith Knight…hmmm, it seems that there are many great political cartoonists who are non-white men. According to the piece, there are only about 30 full-time jobs as editorial cartoonists left — an occupation that was once far more common and prestigious. It’s withered as newspapers have shrunk, but online and the Nib have given the form space, although not a full-time, well-paying job. Anyway, these are great voices, and they should continue to be heard.

§ Valiant Jamie Coville has taken on the mantle of assembling all the best of comics lists, and adding up all the votes and putting together a yearly master list, and here it is! The top two books are by (surprise surprise) Industry Man of the Year Gene Luen Yang, who did the double with Dragon Hoops at #1 and Superman Smashes the Klan at #2. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen was #3 and there are many books we’ve written about here which are excellent. 2020 was a good year.

§ You’ve read our no-holds-barred interview with Stan Lee biographer Abraham Riesman, but here he is in conversation with Danny Fingeroth, author of the other Stan Lee autobiography. Watch the video or listen to the podcast.

§ The Beat’s own Gregory Silber on discovering Art Spiegelman’s Maus. also at NeoText:

I was one of those “read everything he could get his hands on” kids. Newspapers, Blockbuster Video catalogs, menus from restaurants my parents never took me to–if you put it in front of me, I had a compulsion to read it. So it surprises a lot of people, if they know how important comics are to me, when they learn I wasn’t a comic book reader as a child other than the newspaper strips (which I was usually too young to “get” anyway). But comic books? Long-form sequential art that you could put in a bookshelf or longbox? Nobody ever put them in front of me, and thus they were essentially foreign to me until I was 13 and stumbled upon a strange comic book called Maus in my uncle’s old bedroom at my maternal grandparents’ house. Maus changed my life.

Entertainment news:

§ According to the clickbait headlines, the Russo Brothers finally came clean about the Avengers Endgame Timeline With Steve Rogers but…did they? As you may recall, one minute, Cap was standing there making goo-goo eyes at Bucky, then he went back to the past to make sure the timestream didn’t diverge by replacing the Infinity Gems, just as The Ancient One told the Hulk to do, and next thing, he’s sitting there looking like Joe Biden. Wha’ hoppen? Which timeline?

“Based on everything that happened, he would have been in a branch reality and then had to have shifted over to this, so jumped from one to the other and handed the shield off,” Joe Russo said, explaining: “One thing that’s clear that Anthony and I have discussed, I don’t know that we’ve discussed this publicly at all, Cap would have had to have traveled back to the main timeline. That’s something that, yes, he would have been in a branch reality, but he would have to travel back to the main timeline to give that shield to Sam Wilson.”

Turns out there’s been some internal disagreement about this topic before, with the Russos and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely disagreeing about whether Cap was in a branch reality. But the brothers are digging their heels in and doubling down on their interpretation, which aligns with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s slow teasing of the multiverse: we’re seeing the beginnings of it in WandaVision, and it will continue to be explored in Spider-Man 3 and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And it lets the Russo brothers avoid dealing with the complicated mess of time travel logic, and whether Steve’s reuniting with his lost love in the past may have sent ripples to the future. He was just living in retirement in an alternate reality, before he decided it was time to hand the Captain America mantle down to Sam.

Ugh…I hate time-travel stories.

§ Aaron Couch, Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit went deep on Gina Carano’s removal from the Star Wars universe, but everyone I know is wild about this illustration by Hartley “Young Frances” Lin, above.

But Carano was nowhere to be found during the lengthy presentation. In the lead-up to the event, Carano had become a lightning rod among Star Wars fans and a headache for Lucasfilm, after a series of tweets in which she mocked mask-wearing, suggested voter fraud occurred during the 2020 election and shared posts that some viewed as transphobic. “She was originally in that presentation when they announced all those things, and they pulled her off of it,” a source tells The Hollywood Reporter.  A Lucasfilm source counters that Carano was never officially part of the Dec. 10 presentation and no negotiations for future work had taken place.

§ Ever since hunk of the year Regé-Jean Page captured hearts and other organs in Bridgerton, we’ve all been yearning to know when he would grace us with his presence in a nerd-centric role. (Yes he was in The Mortal Engines, but that doesn’t count.) There’s been chatter about him joining the Black Panther franchise, but that seems like wishful thinking. However, something else has happened!  Page has just joined the Dungeons and Dragons film alongside Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Justice Smith.

While Bridgerton found Page playing a character who is known as “the dirty duke” in my apartment building, one can only imagine what kind of D&D character he would play. Would he be a noble human paladin, dispensing justice and healing to his companions? Or perhaps a moody (chaotic good) half-elf, last of his kind, searching for those who killed his folk.  Maybe he rolled 100 and got psionics! As we survive these icy days, perhaps letting the mind wander over Regé-Jean Page as various D&D characters is the most delightful way to pass the time.

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