§ Nice art! Short Box #10 is coming up and James Stokoe has created this amazing cover for his contribution, “Sobek.” You can order this Zainab Akhtariedited indie comics collection here.
Okay, because it'd be criminal not to share… Bask in the gorgeousness and glory of @HeGotGronch's full, wrap-around cover for 'Sobek'.
Available in ShortBox #10 https://t.co/oxoJqniTxU 🐊 pic.twitter.com/h29dMdhmnh
— ShortBox (@Short_Box) March 2, 2019
§ I’m back! It’s still a bit cumbersome and painful to type so expect all kinds of new and exciting typos.
§ Very sad news. Gahan Wilson is one of the great New Yorker cartoonists, with a taste for the ghoulish mixed with a devilish sense of humor and an unmistakable art style. He’s authored scores of books, written fiction and non fiction and won awards everywhere. Fantagraphics has publisher several massive collections of his work.
He is now 89 years old and suffering from advanced dementia. As reported by his stepson, Paul Winters, Wilson’s wife died recently, which is forcing him out of the assisted living facility where he was residing. Winters has started a GoFundMe to raise money for Wilson’s transfer to memory care, which is very expensive.
My wife and I found a ranch in New Mexico. We were to all move there at the end of March, 2019. We had selected a ranch with lots of acres, a beautiful home and a casita “guest house”. The plan was to have my mother and Gahan get set up at an assisted living facility and spend some time there and the rest with us at the ranch.
We are still going to the ranch, where we will spread my mother’s ashes. Gahan will be in our care at the casita, and we will also find him a memory care unit in Santa Fe since he also needs daily medical care.
Memory care is wildly expensive. More so than assisted living. If we could cover the cost ourselves, we would. We can’t, and Gahan and my mother did not save for anything like this. We are asking his fans to help us, help Gahan.
While the innate human tragedy of this all too common situation is of paramount concern, it’s also sobering to consider that despite his massive success, Wilson’s savings are not enough to cover the kind of care that he needs and deserves.
§ Robyn Bahr examines how recent animated fare – including Lego Movie 2, How to Train your Dragon and Into the Spider-verse are examining the tropes of toxic masculinity.
If the thematic arc I’ve described sounds familiar, that’s because a surfeit of animated children’s films in the last year and beyond — from the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy to newly minted Oscar winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — have centered around dynamic male characters learning, through difficult trials, to understand the power they wield, and thus the importance of wielding it with wisdom and clarity. Of course, this is one of the oldest plots in the hero’s cycle. (King Arthur, anyone?) But recently, cartoon feature after cartoon feature has used this monomythic journey to openly and deliberately critique gender norms, and in doing so, gut toxic masculinity right through its tarry black heart.
§ Speaking of Spider-Verse, Brian Michael Bendis takes his victory lap, on the now Oscar winning film that made everyone feel good.
Part of writing and writing on a global stage – you can call it a global stage because people all over the world speak in the data cloud and you get such a great dialogue going – you get such great feedback from people. They give you their perspective. They give you their experience, right, on how Spider-Man affected them. It’s there, and you realize that’s what diversity is really talking about and what it looks like, but what we’re really writing about is the experience and the perspective of the character. That is why we can tell new stories, from all over the world, with this character.
§ Uncivilized Books is one of the finest small presses out there, and in 2009 it marks its 10th Anniversary. Publisher Tom Kaczynski is provicing a multi part History of Uncivilized Books, Part 0, Prehistory and it’s quite an interesting look at the evolution of the press from mini comics on.
Uncivilized Books is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. In 2009, when we published Gabrielle Bell’s San Diego Diary, we officially became a ‘publisher,’ an entity that publishes comics by creators other than me. How did we get here? Here’s the first installment of the history of Uncivilized Books. The name and the press date back a couple of years earlier. I conceived the press in 2007, but for the first 2 years it existed solely as my own self-publishing mini-comics project.
§ Dominic Umile reviews Brian Fies‘ A Fire Story for the LA Times Book Review
Rooted in Fies’ webcomic, the book-length graphic account details life during and after the second-most destructive wildfire in California history. Now refined and enriched with more color and detail, opening pages depict their house’s silhouetted exterior and adjacent shrubbery, rimmed in carrot orange against an ash- and beige-streaked horizon. Karen smells smoke and from their bedroom window monitors a glowing sky that Brian attributes to “just the Calistoga fire.”
§ For The MNT, Claire Napier looks at DC’s new Zoom and Ink lines and how they credit artists…as far below the marquee authors.
And the same can be said for the other NYT bestselling authors topping their own covers. These names were locked down and even announced far before their collaborators were added to the docket, because these are the names the publisher’s hopes are being founded on. They’re also names which can reliably represent the Ink and Zoom lines to the American Library Association— a vital step in reaching a young audience of readers.
But what does that do for comics? Imagine: thousands upon thousands of kids who never would have otherwise get their hands on these DC Zoom or DC Ink books, and they love them, and so discover that they love comics. Action-adventure-feelings comics. They try another. They merge with the existing audience. Great! We’re all much happier because the audience hasn’t only diversified, the narrative has changed: comics become just something people like to read. Normal. Alright. But how has that narrative stayed the same? Writers are considered more important than the rest of the creative team. “Illustration” is used to describe the practical creation of graphic stories. Actual roles are obscured. And that’s a bad thing because it not only denies credit and (hoho) exposure to the craftspeople who deserve it but it also prevents children and young adults from knowing what creative professions are actually out there waiting for them, and which previously undiscovered skills are available for them to hone.
Napier takes exception to having the comics artists listed on the covers as “Illustrated by” – which is one of those weird book industry things, especially kids books. Back when I was editing the comics reviews for Publishers Weekly, I did away with any “Illus. by” credits but it survives in reviews of comics for kids. Go figure.
§ Don’t Sleep on Regine Sawyer Shondaland tells us, in this profile of the publisher/producer/show runner.
LF: So with the comics that you print at Lockett Down Productions, are any of those the characters you made when you were younger?
RS: Yes. I created “The Rippers” when I was about 16, 17 years old, I wrote them and sketched out drawings. And there are a few characters that are going to enter the “Regineverse” that I created even before that time. Some of them will appear in “Eating Vampires” and “Ice Witch” as well.
Like I said: I had a stack of sketchbooks that I would draw characters in every day, nonstop. All women.
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.