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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 3/8/2021: the (non) sex lives of superheroes

RIP Frank Thorne, and more news and notes

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§ Nice Art: no one told me that Ian Boothby and Pia Guerra have a new daily comic panel called Mannequin on the Moon. And as you might guess from their previous comedic stylings, it’s quite funny.

§ Legendary Red Sonja artist Frank Thorne has passed away at age 90. I’ll never forget seeing Thorne and Wendy Pini with their live Red Sonja act at a Creation Con long ago. He was a hell of an artist.

Born on June 16, 1930, Thorne began his comic book career in 1948, penciling romance titles for the now-defunct Standard Comics. He went on to work on a number of newspaper strips and comic books, including Perry Mason, Flash Gordon and The Green Hornet. Starting with 1976’s Marvel Feature #2, Thorne started drawing Red Sonja, a character created by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith for Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian series (who was also partially based on Robert E. Howard’s characters Red Sonya and Dark Agnes). He succeeded Dick Giordano, who drew the character in Marvel Feature #1. Thorne went on to draw Red Sonja throughout most of her first eponymous solo series at Marvel, which ran for a total of 15 issues from January 1977 to May 1979. The artist then went on to create several erotic fantasy comics, writing and illustrating “Moonshine McJugs” for Playboy, “Lann” for Heavy Metal and “Danger Rangerette” for National Lampoon. He also created the miniseries Ribit for Comico, as well as a number of graphic novels for Fantagraphics Books, including Ghita of Alizarr, The Iron Devil and The Devil’s Angel. Thorne’s work earned him multiple honors, including a National Cartoonists Society award in 1963, a San Diego Inkpot Award in 1978 and a Playboy editorial award.

§ We all miss getting ready for Comic-Con in San Diego, but this viral video of the convention center first fills us with nostalgia and then — holy crap, it’s a shootout!

§ Awards! The Critics Choice award winners are here.  In movies, Nomadland won a lot. In TV, The Crown won everything, like always, and Baby Yoda still won nothing. (PS: in 2022, we’d better see Elizabeth Olsen get some acting nominations for WandaVision because she was amazing.)

§ The 2021 Annie Awards nominations are here for the best in animation. There are many; it’s great that the Annies award character design, individual animators, voice actors and more. Many familiar shows were nominated in various categories, including Harley Quinn, Hilda, and even Baby Yoda — or at least the people who animated him.

§ Jeet Heer reviews Tom Tomorrow’s new collection, Life in the Stupidverse, and analyses Tomorrow’s satirical vision.

Like most good artists, Perkins, who cartoons under the pen name Tom Tomorrow, has never completely let go of his childhood and continues to be nurtured by the wellspring of creativity that comes with our first awareness of the world. He’s never lost a taste for the iconography of Cold War science fiction: bug-eyed aliens who fly around in UFOs that resemble kitchenware, wild-haired mad scientists, metallic robots, and city-crushing monsters. It’s hardly an accident that Perkins has a full-arm tattoo of the poster for Forbidden Planet, the much-loved 1956 science fiction reworking of The Tempest that featured Robby the Robot.

Heer notes that the above strip is from 2017 — long before QAnon was a thing — so Tom “Tomorrow” indeed.

§ At Women Write About Comics, Wendy Browne interviews Greg Hunter, the editor of Lerner Books’ graphic novel line. They have a lot of them coming out, and it’s nice to see the line and Hunter spotlighted:

And that’s not to mention all the books Lerner has already published. “One series I’m super fond of is MariNaomi’s Life on Earth, which started with Losing the Girl in 2018,” Hunter points out. “Those books have some really adventurous cartooning in addition to being thoughtful considerations of what people go through in their late teens.” Some of the upcoming books offer a range of sensibilities, from tackling anxiety and identity through a witty take on wrestling, to werewolf lore wrapped around a story about family and community.

These books reflect Lerner’s priority of diversity. Comics translations remain a big part of the graphic novel imprint, Hunter explains, but “publishing stateside creators from a range of experiences is important too. With support within the company as a baseline, for me, a lot of the work with respect to diversity involves making sure I’m a responsible steward of people’s stories. You’re never going to share the background of everyone you’re working with. And without that, to hopefully do your job well, I think you sometimes have to go against your first instincts or what comes naturally as an editor.”

§ And at Solrad, Daniel Elkin interviews Black Josei Press publisher Jamila Rowser

Out of all the things you could possibly be doing with your time, you all decided to publish comics. Why is that?

It was a mix of a few things coming together, it was mostly out of necessity and passion. A few years ago, I decided to finally start writing my own comics and I decided to go with self-publishing. I wanted to publish others’ work because I wanted to see more comics by people who looked like me and my friends and I knew I had the passion and skills to help make that happen.

§ Randy Stradley, Dark Horse’s VP of publishing, has retired. Stradley was one of my early convention buddies so that made me feel old. He was also one of the formative figures at Dark Horse:

“After three and a half decades, I believe I’ve done just about all that I can. It has been a great ride, and I want to think Mike Richardson for the tremendous opportunities he’s afforded me. It’s with mixed emotions that I step down, but I know that Dark Horse will continue on to new heights, and that the company is in good hands,” said Stradley. As a writer, Stradley’s work has left an indelible mark on popular culture. His writing on the original Aliens Versus Predator series inspired a film franchise yielding two movies, and the tales of Lieutenant Janek Sunber from Star Wars: Empire and the trials of Jedi Das Jennir in Star Wars: Dark Times remain beloved touchstones for readers of the bygone Expanded Universe.

“I cannot overstate how integral Randy has been to the development and growth of Dark Horse,” said founder and president Mike Richardson. “He was not only a writer, editor, and creator, but also a friend and collaborator for three-and-a-half decades. Together we created something very special that succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.  Sad though his departure may be, I wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life.” Please join us in congratulating Randy Stradley on his past accomplishments and wishing him luck in his future endeavors.

§ At Vanity Fair, a profile of ‘Bad Attitude,’ a new documentary about underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez grew up in Buffalo, an insouciant kid with a penchant for trouble. His family worried that his disposition would end his life, yet it instead seemed to propel Rodriguez forward. His book Cruisin’ With the Hound: The Life and Times of Fred Tooté lays brutally bare parts of his youth, which the documentary allows the film’s participants, including contemporary feminist critics Andi Zeisler and Susie Bright, to analyze. Stern also shows us drawings and writings from a dream diary Rodriguez kept later in life, while ill, which reveal softer, more sentimental renderings of his Buffalo life.

§ At Publishers Weekly, a look at Archie Comics moving into new formats for digital comics, including day and date (gasp) and WebToon serialization:

Archie Comics was also one of the first comics publishers to go “day and date” (release print and digital editions simultaneously) in 2011. In 2020, the publisher began offering all off its titles day and date on Comixology Unlimited, Amazon’s digital comics subscription service. Segura described the subscription platform as a contemporary version of traditional comics retail channels, such as newsstands and grocery stores, where Americans purchased comics in the past. Digital versions of Archie comics are also available on the library subscription service Hoopla, Archie Unlimited, (the Archie subscription service), and elsewhere. “We’re seeing over 750,000 pages of Archie Comics stories being read digitally through these subscription services each month,” Segura explained. In 2020, Archie Comics reached a licensing deal with WebToon that will allow the fast-growing South Korea–based digital comics platform to create new native comics based on the Archie crew. “It’s early days, but hopefully we’ll have some stories this year,” Segura said. “WebToon offers YA and teen drama, and it’s a good fit for Archie. [WebToon comics are] in a different art style, but it’s very much an Archie audience.”

§ Novelist Brian Selznick (Hugo Cabret) has always used words and pictures in various ways, and in his upcoming Kaleidoscope, he finds an even newer way:

Selznick’s fans can expect to see something innovative. “Kaleidoscope is a new format for me, but each of my books have always been a new format for me,” Selznick said. “Hugo told one story with words and pictures. Wonderstruck told two stories: one in words and one in pictures, while The Marvels used a narrative entirely in drawings to create a memory that informed a story told afterwards, entirely in text. Now, in Kaleidoscope, the images are used in what may seem to be a more classical fashion—one drawing per chapter [24 chapters in all]—while the narrative itself is meant to fragment and change what you see in your mind. I’ve always loved the idea that when a reader finishes one of my books, they may not remember which parts of the story were illustrated and which parts were text. This may be especially true in Kaleidoscope.”

 

 

§ Last week on Comic Beat Insider, our weekly movie (mostly) club, we looked at Mystery Men (1999) and I was a bit nostalgic to see the kind of sexual banter one might expect from a 90s movie, but not from today’s superhero movies. When I did my MCU rewatch three years ago, I noted that the last sex scene in the MCU was 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, (which is NOT streaming on Disney+) where a romantic encounter leads to an elevated heart rate for Bruce Banner with devastating green results. Since then, no one in the MCU had sex, although Tony and Pepper must have done it once because they had a kid.

Anyway, Carrie Whitmer has a great piece at Vulture on MCU Romances, Ranked, and most of them are pretty chaste. WandaVision definitely upped the romance game for the MCU, and instantly made Wanda and the Vision my favorite Marvel screen couple after Steve and Peggy (sorry, Stucky). It seems TV is a better place for exploring domestic life — no time for love, Doctor Strange!  I’m guessing the lack of canoodling and fonduing in the MCU is mostly Disney, partly Chinese censors, but this RS Benedict essay called Everyone Is Beautiful and No One Is Horny has a deeper theory:

For the most part, though, today’s cinema hunks are nevernudes. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is strictly PG-13, as one expects from a Disney product. And even in the DC universe, there’s very little of human sexuality. Capefans’ demands for more “mature” superhero movies always mean more graphic violence, not more sex. They panicked over Dr. Manhattan’s glowing blue penis in Watchmen, and they still haven’t forgiven Joel Schumacher for putting nipples on the batsuit. 

Today’s stars are action figures, not action heroes. Those perfect bodies exist only for the purpose of inflicting violence upon others. To have fun is to become weak, to let your team down, and to give the enemy a chance to win, like Thor did when he got fat in Endgame.

§ But there may yet be hope, despite this dire headline about The Walking Dead: Why There’s Never Been a Daryl Romance or Sex Scene in 10 Seasons. Spoilers for the latest episode, but it looks like Daryl finally canoodled!

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