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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/31/21: Hollywood is not thrilled by Thanksgiving Comic-Con

A lack of enthusiasm for the Thanksgiving con; Dean Haspiel Brooklyn; more on Marvel/PRH

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§ Nice Art: This week the #VisibleWomen hashtag was used on Twitter as a way to promote female creators.  So much amazing talent from around the world. Just a random selection of four artists, but you could pick any other four and be just as amazed.

Art © Z Xu

§ Cartoonist Chris Yambar, probably best known for his work on the Simpsons comics at Bongo, passed away this week at age 59.

Youngstown artist Chris Yambar died on Saturday at 59 years old. His wife, Maureen, showed us some of his paintings Monday and talked about her husband’s life. Chris was raised in Austintown and lived and worked on the west side of Youngstown. One of his accomplishments as an artist was being a writer for Bart Simpson’s Comics. But his wife says it was Yambar’s creation of the comic character Mr. Beat that got him noticed by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening.

Yambar’s editor and friend, Bill Morrison, has a beautiful remembrance on his FB page

I first met Chris when I was asked to travel from LA to Youngstown, Ohio for a comic shop signing in the early days of Bongo Comics. In addition to being a cartoonist and pop artist, Chris ran a comic shop and had called the Simpsons publicity department to see if you could get Matt Groening to do an in-store appearance. Matt wasn’t available and Chris settled for me. You would have thought I was the creator of the Simpsons though, for the treatment I received. I was picked up at the airport by a stretch limo, driven by a lovely young lady in a chauffeurs uniform! She drove me to my hotel and picked me up again the next morning for the signing. When we arrived, there was already a large crowd assembled outside the store. Chris got in and introduced himself, and we sat there for awhile. I asked him what the deal was with the limo and why we weren’t getting out. He told me that when people see a stretch limousine with tinted windows pull up and park they get excited. There’s an air of mystery. They figure something cool is happening and they call their friends. Bigger crowd = a more successful signing. I knew then that Chris was a born showman and marketing genius.

§ At Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Dean Haspiel about the Red Hook, which turns into a conversation about Brooklyn and memories. 

I live in Carroll Gardens, which used to be part of Red Hook. In the last decade or so, it’s drawn more artists. It’s hard to get to Red Hook. There’s no train. So once you get to Sunny’s, you had to make an effort to get there. I would go to Sunny’s and every Saturday night they had bluegrass music in the back room. I don’t like bluegrass, and I’m not religious, but I got back then and it felt like God, and it put me at peace and at ease. I would go to the back room with a rocks glass of whiskey and just listen. The weirdest people would show up there. You’d be talking to Marissa Tomei while watching bluegrass. Norah Jones would show up to try out some songs. Michael Shannon lives around the corner and I’m sitting at the bar with him talking about Zod. I just named some famous people but all kinds of people go there. It’s just where people congregate. I wrote about a version of Sunny’s in my play The Last Bar at the End of the World. That’s how I feel about Sunny’s.

§ According to The Hollywood Reporter, no one is excited about Comic-Con Special Edition, the recently announced San Diego comics event planned for Thanksgiving weekend. Honest to gosh, I have never seen so many “unnamed sources” quoted in a single story — although comics legend Neal Adams does go on the record.

“We love San Diego Comic-Con and would love to support, but what actor or producer is going to give up their first post-vaccine Thanksgiving holiday with family to travel to San Diego to publicize a project?” says a rep for a studio that has hosted Hall H panels in the past.

Adds another: “During the pandemic, we’ve had Wonder Woman and The Mandalorian, but what we haven’t had is a hug from our parents and grandparents. Talent are not going to want to give up time with their families at Thanksgiving this year of all years. I have no idea what the organizers are thinking.”

A PR rep with clients who have appeared in Hall H panels notes their talent is, so far, “refusing” to attend, though the rep adds they would likely come around if ordered to by a studio. There are also questions of safety.

As one veteran producer who is a staple of Comic-Con notes, “I would never ask anyone to do anything that was remotely dangerous, but it’s the studio that does the asking. And I would tell them I side with any actor that doesn’t feel comfortable.”

Ouch. Another person who didn’t want to be named wonders if an in-person New York Comic Con might be more attractive because of the controversy. NYCC is currently planned as a virtual event.

§ I don’t know about that, but ReedPOP is launching more virtual fan gatherings via their Metaverse brand. Honestly, we don’t know where we will be in five months, so none of this might even happen. Or, the hopeful news about the efficiency of vaccines in stopping the spread of COVID-19 might catch on. Wait and see.

§ Marvel/PRH/Diamond! David Harper has the longest, most on-the-record quote filled piece yet on the comics news blockbuster of the month, Marvel ankling Diamond for PRH for their periodical comics distribution. Most of the article is behind a paywall so pay up a measly $4 a month to read actual journalism about comics business already. I’ll give one quote from behind the paywall on retailer reaction, which is firmly in the “mixed” column.

Ralph DiBernardo from Rochester, New Hampshire’s Jetpack Comics views it as a “mixed bag,” believing some areas will improve – he’s particularly excited for PRH’s handling of reorders, as they’re traditionally “lightning fast” in comparison to Diamond – but is uncertain if those are enough to offset the potential difficulties in POS systems and the drop in discount. Interestingly, he was the one retailer who told me that he plans to order Marvel from both PRH and Diamond and effectively A/B test performance, with “costs, ease of access and amount of time involved” deciding the winner. Consider me curious of that test.

Other retailers are more concerned about their lowered discounts and the cost of spending more time ordering. But overall, this is seen as a good thing; unlike DC’s sudden sprint to UCB and Lunar, Marvel is giving everyone six months or prepare, and PRH is already a huge distributor with unsurpassed resources.

I will quote one more graph from Harper’s piece — because a couple of things are going bye-bye — farewell David Gabriel at the Diamond Retailer Summit! – but the one that is most prominent could be much-missed sales charts.

That’s just one person’s take, though. I wanted to get perspective from someone who really gets all of this, so naturally, I reached out to Comichron’s John Jackson Miller about the subject. He noted something up front. In its FAQ to retailers, PRH “did promise sales charts, though it didn’t say of what kind.” And as long as some level of communication exists in that regard, there will be value because ultimately, these charts are designed to help retailers contextualize the market in terms of what’s selling and what isn’t. And this isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened. As Miller reminded me, charting still exists for 1995 to 1997 when the Distributor Wars were in full swing. It just required additional columns within the charts to help contextualize the origins of everything. Miller shared a great thread on Twitter about this recently, and it shows that this kind of thing can be done. It does mean more work for him.

And here is that thread:

Basically, Miller argues, back in the ’90s there were multiple distributors and we had sales charts, so we can have sales charts again! Basically this is true — there were (believe it or not) probably the same number of periodical publishers in 1994 as there are now, but the ones that exist now are a lot more organized and well funded, so anything is possible

§ HOLLYWOOD CORNER: Anthony Bresnican does all the guessing about the Obi-Wan Kenobi casting announcements so you don’t have to.

The only reason to cast Christensen, then, is to bring back Anakin Skywalker. Since he no longer exists (that’s why the Alec Guinness version of Kenobi said he was dead, “from a certain point of view,” in the original trilogy), we can assume the character’s appearance will either be in the form of flashback or as a vision. Whatever the case, showrunner Deborah Chow (a director of The Mandalorian) surely knows that resurrecting Anakin in his original form is how Kenobi would think of his lost friend. We always picture the past when we no longer have a present or future with someone.

§ I found this interview with Alexander Skarsgård about his role in Godzilla Vs Kong charming, but then I usually find Alexander Skarsgård charming. But I liked how he had no illusions about being a human time filler for the ape vs lizard slugfests:

It’s humbling for a narcissistic actor like myself, to be put in my place, to show up on set and know that no one will go to see this movie because I’m in it.

Well, that’s not true. I have noticed over the years you do have a fan base that goes nuts for you.

That’s flattering to hear. But I’m under no illusion that I’m the star of the show and that anyone will go see the movie because they want to see Nathan Lind, the geologist.

Skarsgård also touches on something that actors don’t often mention while flogging their movies – just how hard it is to react convincingly to something that doesn’t exist yet:

Watching the movie, I could tell that I’m reacting to the wrong thing, like I’m reacting to something else. And they play my reaction to something that I think I’m reacting to, but many things have changed. Or they use that reaction to something else. So they kind of make it work. So it’s like, I look at something, and I think I’m reacting to something completely different, but I’m not. They completely changed that. So it’s quite a ride and exciting to watch the movie, because I’m as surprised as the audience. When I watch it, like, “Oh really? That happened.” And, “Oh, look at my reaction here.”

I saw Godzilla vs Kong at an actual in-person screening, and this does explain why Skarsgård is rarely engaged with much happening around him: not really his fault, just how they make the movies.

§ And finally, speaking about production, this short film about how they shoot contemporary wrestling matches is going around and…WOW. WWE director Kevin Dunn is often given “credit” for the jump cut style, and I find it horribly un-engaging.

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