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§ Nice art: Marvel Executive Vice President/Creative Director Joe Quesada did a sly little crossover at the LA Drink and Draw by doing a very fine Catwoman.

§ So we’re living in a dystopian SF novel for the next while…well for the future really. There are armed police stationed at my local Duane Reade drugstore – I guess to prevent people from fighting over the last bottle of hand sanitizer? There is actually no hand sanitizer left at Duane Reade, so please, no fighting.

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With ECCC and SXSW cancelled, there’s a lot of anxiety over what will be next. WonderCon, Cinema Con….Wrestlemania? Publishers books have been pushed back due to printing and shipping delays in China and things are not going to be normal for a while.

But how long is a while? Foxconn, the giant Chinese manufacturer that makes iPhones, says it is getting back to normal production, but

But company chairman Liu Young-Way said during an earnings call with investors that there are still “plenty” of uncertainties and the company could not yet quantify the impact of the lengthy shutdown on full year earnings.
For now, Liu said there will be “significant, negative year-on-year impact for all our core business segments” for the three months ending in March. Asked if the first quarter would be profitable, Liu said: “I cannot tell you at the moment.”

So this is going to last a while.

§ Meanwhile another virtual comic-con to replace postponed ECCC: Pajama Con 2020! which, to be honest, sounds pretty awesome.

Iron Circus, like many, had planned to attend Emerald City Comic Con. But as the show has now been officially postponed, we don’t intend to let the weekend go to waste: Inspired by 2014’s Comfy Con by Randy Milholland and Danielle Corsetto, we’re throwing a little stay-home con of our own. It’s pajama time, baby! We’re planning three days of livestreams on the Pajama Con Twitch channel March 13th–15th, 12pm–6pm CST.

The livestreams will be like a talk show or live podcast where we feature creators who also had to cancel their ECCC appearances. Joining us so far will be Steve Leiber, Chris Roberson, Lin Visel, Genue Revuelta, C. Spike Trotman, Kate Leth, and we’d love to invite more. We’ll also be promoting on the Iron Circus Twitter account using the #pajamacon2020 hashtag, and will update this page with more information as our plans come together.

We’ll be giving a complete rundown of the online ECCC spin-off cons as the week progresses – and please support the creators who were counting on this income.

 

§ Newsarama caught up with award winning creator Christina ‘Steenz” Stewart , who, I  should have mentioned, has a new gig with Mad Cave, along with several other folks.

So I tell this story a lot, but I didn’t consider making comics at all when I was in school for art or while I was working at the comic shop until I saw Brittany Williams name on the Samurai Jack comic. And I was like “Hold it. Brittany Williams. Is black. And… makes comics. I’m black. I can… make comics.” It was a wild, eye-opening situation. But it shows the power of seeing someone that looks like you doing work you never knew you could. Nrama: Once you decided to do it, what were your first steps? Steenz: I made like daily journal comics. I would post them on my Facebook. Or I would draw a lot of fanart. And then one of my co-workers was like why don’t you join Ink & Drink (which was the local comics group). And from then I started making comics in their seasonal anthologies!

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§ A key figure in the history of comics publishing passed away recently, Russ Cochran, who published deluxe hardcover reprint of EC Comics in the 70s. He later teamed up with the late Bruce Hamilton to put out Carl Barks and Little Lulu reprints and worked with Frazetta and in general was the trailblazer for the deluxe historical comics reprint business. Steve Ringgenberg has the definite obit at TCJ:   

It was Cochran’s love of EC Comics that inspired him to become an influential publisher and art dealer. As he recalled in a long interview with EC historian Grant Geissman in Tales of Terror, (an encyclopedic collection of all things EC, co-edited with long-time EC fan Fred Von Bernewitz). Cochran had actually stopped reading comic books, until he was inspired by a copy of Haunt of Fear his father had purchased for his older brother. Cochran told Geissman, “I read that one, and said, ‘Wow, this is different. This is good stuff.’ And then I got re-interested in comics at the time. In our small town here in West Plains [Missouri], we used to trade comics a lot with other readers. I would take a stack of my comics over to David Galloway’s house, and I’d go through his stack and pick out the ones I liked, and he’d go through my stack and we’d trade one for one. I remember after having seen that Haunt of Fear, I started trading comics again and converting my inventory of comics that I had into whatever ECs I could find. We really got hooked on them and started subscribing, and we created a chapter of the EC Fan-Addict Club. In fact, we were chapter number three, which always kind of amazed me that we’d gotten in that early.”

Ringgenberg also mentions the other things that Cochran was known for: his love of chimpanzees. If you want to know more about that, just read the obit.

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§ Over at Sktchd, David Harper has a very long piece called  The Rise of Webtoon, that look sat the fairly phenomenal business model and success of this mobile comics platform. He mentions the drawbacks – not a lot of cartoonists make money on it – but still can’t help but be impressed by its reach:

From a usability standpoint, it is incomprehensibly simple compared to how everything else in comics works. They’ve gotten everything down to a science, as you download the app, answer a series of questions, and then they fine tune the experience based off your answers. They deliver the comics they believe you’d enjoy in a personalized experience, which makes sorting through Webtoon’s one million webcomics that much easier. It’s an astonishingly modern and frictionless reading experience for a comic platform, and certainly beyond compare in that regard. And from a creator standpoint, it might be even more idyllic, offering a rare mix of freedom, potential for success, and creative challenges that might be impossible to beat.

When you add it all up, you start to consider a different question: is Webtoon the most important platform for comics, period? It’s a fair to wonder, even just on the surface. The numbers it does, the experience it offers, the promise it gives creators…those are incredible differentiators. But as with everything, there’s always more to the story when you dig a bit deeper, even if it ends up being more of the same. This is an exploration of what makes Webtoon what it is through the stories of three key creators, and how a platform you may not have even heard of might have cracked the comic code by playing a completely different game altogether.

Harper talks to Lore Olympus’ creator Rachel Smythe, who has a pretty good origin story:

Take Lore Olympus’ creator Rachel Smythe, for example. When I asked her about the appeal of the digital giant, Smythe told me, “I like Webtoon because they essentially just let you do your thing,” especially when compared to others she tried to work with. When trying to get into the print industry before, she said there was “no way anyone would take (her) seriously” and that emailing her portfolio to editors was “pretty much the same as throwing it into a bin.” She would earn comments about how unsophisticated her art was or how it was too sexualized in an unappealing way. Now, after utilizing the freedom Webtoon offered her, I could make a pretty convincing argument that Smythe is one of the most successful comic creators on the planet.

You’ll need to subscribe to Sktchd to read this but come on…you can’t get everything for free!

Along the way, Harper mentions that Kim Estlund is no longer Head of Publicity at Webtoon, which is sad for me because she was tremendously helpful to work with here at the Beat. We wish her safe travels with whatever she’s doing.

 

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