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§ Nice Art: On Star Wars Day, artist Jock tweeted some of his concept art for Luke Skywalker’s costume in The Last Jedi.

Here’s a shot of Luke on Crait I drew while developing the final costume… Happy Star Wars day #TheLastJedi #MayThe4thBeWithYou

§ Just a small note in the Distribution Wars, but Scout Comics has signed a non-exclusive Canadian distribution deal with Universal Distribution, Canada’s leading distributor of comic books, tabletop games, CCG’s, trading cards,. and other good nerd stuff.

This is an interesting note because during last year’s shutdown it was noted that several companies known primarily as game distributors could technically distribute comics periodicals as well. Universal Distribution actually offers DC Comics among its other products, a move made during all the shuffling last year. As I said, a small deal, but the era of retailers having more choices is definitely upon us.

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§ Jeff Parker sent out the second issue of his newsletter; the first issue came out in 2018, so there is some humor in that regard. But any wisdom from Jeff Parker is welcome. Parker plugs his upcoming Ninjak series from Valiant, drawn by Javier Pulido, and wow, the art sells itself!  He also offers unexpected advice:

After that first legendary newsletter that was solid enough to last for for three years came out, someone on Twitter suggested I also add some practical advice since I often end up talking about repair/building stuff online instead of what anyone actually follows me for. I’ve tried to think of an appropriate topic that would be useful for a broad range of readers, car and bike repair didn’t seem quite right. But now I think I’ve got it, one of my #1 rants (besides telling people to turn off Motion Smoothing on their television) deals with… lubrication.

The topic is WD-40 and to be truthful… I learned something.

§ Chris Arrant lists The most popular comics checked out from libraries worldwide — for kids AND adults. The information comes via Overdrive, a digital lending service for libraries — and comics and GNs were checked out more than 15 million times from public libraries in the past year. The list for kids is exactly what you’d expect: Wimpy Kid, Raina, Dog-Man and Big Nate. The YA/Adult list is a bit more unexpected, led by a book that I haven’t’ heard much buzz about.

  1. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Danica Novgorodoff
  2. The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Yuko Uramoto
  3. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
  4. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
  5. Umbrella Academy, Volume 1 by Gerard Way

I have that Kondo manga..need to read it again.

§ IGN tells the tale of Youth and The Black Ghost: The Very Personal Origins Behind Two Acclaimed ComiXology Series

While comiXology is home to many thousands of digital comics from nearly every major publisher, the service has also become a publisher unto itself. Among the growing library of comiXology Originals titles, The Black Ghost and Youth are easily among the most critically acclaimed. The former (from writers Monica Gallagher and Alex Segura and artists Marco Finnegan and George Kambadais) follows a troubled crime reporter working to uncover the truth about a costumed vigilante. The latter (by writer Curt Pires and artist Alex Diotto) is an X-Men-inspired tale about two queer teen runaways who stumble onto a much bigger world.

§ At Solrad, Joana Simão looks at from Art School Confidential to the work of Walter Scott and Anna Haifisch.

There is no doubt that there is an enforced fatality – Art Education must not be an enjoyable learning experience. But why? We’re drawn to accept that the Arts are doomed to exist as an elitist, toxic, and self-contained private club, that we dream to be welcomed in, someday (even if we don’t admit that). This idea is so commonplace that there is already a vast bibliography of graphic fiction around the subject: from Anna Haifisch’s The Artist to Walter Scott’s Wendy, through Joseph Remnant’s Cartoon Clouds and, recently, Kelsey Rotten’s Cannon Ball (and so much more). As I revisit the narratives that nourish my wounded ego, I fear that this negativism that looms over art practice is becoming way too romanticized, to the point that it has been made a requirement, the seal of authenticity that grants you’ve made it through art education, art world, and beyond.

§ The LA Times presents 5 Black comic book creators, 5 views of this superhero age, with thoughts from Afua Njoki Richardson, Joe Illidge, Brandon Easton, David F. Walker, and Geoffrey Thorne.  I liked this summation from Walker:

On the industry: For a variety of reasons, the comic industry is in a state of uncertainty. The big publishers are trying to hold onto their place in the market [with] the same old bag of tricks they’ve been using for years. One of those tricks is utilizing the talent of a select number of people of color, or women, or other marginalized folks, and using them as ambassadors of diversity and inclusion.

§ I linked to this interview with Paul Pope before but it’s worth quoting again. Pope has been below the radar for a long time, but he has resurfaced and he has a tale of a lost comic that would have been a DOOZY:

You almost got the chance to adapt A Clockwork Orange for the now-defunct Vertigo mature readers imprint of DC Comics, which would have paired you with comic and TV writer Grant Morrison. How were you going to approach a book with such loaded audience expectations? Did it incorporate the infamous last chapter that was omitted in Kubrick’s film where Alex DeLarge is legitimately rehabilitated and wants to start a family?

I’d been wanting to work with Grant Morrison for a long time, and at one point they were attached to adapt it at Vertigo. I think they’re one of the great writers of our medium. We’d almost worked together a couple of times—I seem to remember there was talk about doing a third year of All-Star Superman with different artists. They don’t remember talking to me about it, but I remember discussing it. When A Clockwork Orange came to me, I said, “Why don’t we recast this as an American story and put it in Los Angeles or Detroit? I won’t draw it, but I’ll help find an artist from Los Angeles to do it, and rephrase everything so the dialogue isn’t going to be a Nadsat mish-mash of English and Russian—make it an up-to-the-minute LA hip hop thing where Alex is a kid from LA and speaks with that vernacular.” Editorial shied away from it. I didn’t want to do a literal adaptation, as much as play with the theme and update it. I love this dystopian story about an attempt to cynically rehabilitate a rebellious, troubled kid who eventually, tragically learns to love the system. I was against adding the final coda with grown-up Alex. But I don’t know if the original text is contemporary enough to make sense to young people now, so that was my suggestion for how it could have been done. But as for a literal adaptation, Kubrick’s film was already perfect, I think.

 

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§ The New Yorker‘s interview with legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder is one for the ages. Swartzwelder is one of the architects of The Simpsons glory period from the late ’80s to maybe the mid ’90s, a time that gave us all our catchphrases, memes and laughter about the exploding nuclear family — as well as Itchy and Scratchy. Swartzwelder’s particular interest in old timey American culture — hobos, sea captains, fellows in straw hats, and so on — is noted, the dusty, splintered bin of Boomer experience. Most of you interested in such Simpsony things will have already savored every paragraph but here is perhaps the key one:

[Q] And, yet, for all its subversion, “The Simpsons” is one of the few shows that appeals to both kids and adults. Did you try to write for both?

[A] Neither. We just tried to make ourselves, and each other, laugh. Comedy writers. That was the audience. Luckily, a lot of other people, both kids and adults, liked the same jokes we liked.

This is the secret behind most great things.

§ Boomers love the Simpsons, but what about the kids? Well, it seems TV and movies are only the #5 activity for those whippersnappers. 

Kids these days: They’re just not programmed to watch TV like their elders. Generation Z displays strikingly different entertainment preferences than older age groups, according to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey. Among Gen Z consumers in the U.S. (those currently aged 14-24), video games are their No. 1 entertainment activity — and watching TV or movies at home comes in fifth. About 26% of Gen Z said video games are their top entertainment activity, and 87% of those in the age bracket said they play video games daily or weekly. That’s followed by listening to music (14%), browsing the internet (12%) and engaging on social media (11%). Only 10% of Gen Z respondents said watching TV or movies was their favorite entertainment pastime, the Deloitte study found. For every other age group, that remains the top pick, including among millennials (18%), Gen Xers (29%) and boomers (39%).

§ Variety digs into such ratings as we have for streaming services and wonders Did ‘Mortal Kombat’ Do More for HBO Max Than ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’? The article mostly calls Warners’ dual theater/HBOMax debut plan a success, but

“Mortal Kombat” serves as the latest example that WarnerMedia’s gutsy 2021 day-and-date strategy is paying off, but HBO Max has seen bigger bumps in usage in weeks other than when the live-action film debuted. 

That’s according to connected-TV analytics provider TVision, which provided data exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform showing the share of time spent with video streaming services among panel members that HBO Max accounted for during the week of April 18 (“Mortal Kombat” debuted April 23) was the sixth highest since the streamer launched in May 2020. 

This is accompanied by an interactive graph, which I’ve taken the liberty of screen shotting:
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Among the hills and spikes you may notice one film has been denied a much desired arrow…a little thing called The Snyder Cut.  I would guess that it is the little spike between Judas and Kong.

A subsequent chart shows that Snyder’s Justice League was the fourth-highest ranked after Mortal Kombat, GvsK, and the Denzel Washington vehicle The Little Things. Just what is measured in the chart is…something I’m not smart enough to understand.

“Mortal Kombat” saw greater viewership among 2 million tracked users during the Friday-Saturday following its release than “Godzilla vs. Kong” did in the Friday-Saturday following its release, Reelgood data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform shows.  

At a glance, this dataset seems to jibe with Samba TV, which recently reported that “Mortal Kombat” was viewed by 0.2 million more viewers in the first three days following its debut than “Godzilla Vs. Kong” was in its first five days after debut.   

I’m no number cruncher, so I’ll give you my two takeaways from this article:

1: It is very hard to measure how much anything is watched on a streaming service, since these services really don’t want anyone to know.

2: WB is DONE with Zack Snyder and his Justice League.

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§ Begun these realizations that Solo was a perfectly fine movie have. 

There were some thoughts of titling this piece, “In Defense of Solo,” but then decided it’s not really a movie that needs defending. I don’t know anyone who actively talks about how they don’t like Solo, though to be fair I don’t really know anyone who talks about how much they love Solo either. The problem is more people don’t really talk about Solo much at all. It’s, strangely, the forgotten Star Wars movie of the new era. Though, honestly, flying under the radar these days isn’t the worst thing for the legacy of a Star Wars movie.

§ Graeme McMillan speculates on why Captain Marvel 2 will be called ‘The Marvels’

On the face of it, The Marvels is a straightforward title for a movie that has already been confirmed to feature both Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel, a teenage hero who takes her name from Captain Marvel and who will star in her own Disney+ series. What else would you call something teaming two heroes with the word “Marvel” in their name, after all?

Things are slightly more complicated by the fact that, in Marvel comic canon, there already is a concept called the Marvels — and it’s an ongoing project that was announced last year and debuted just last month. The Marvels isn’t the name of a superteam, but instead a blanket term to describe superpowered characters inside the Marvel Universe, with the series intended to span the past, present and future of the comic book continuity that got its start back in the late 1930s.

§ Andrew Garfield is trying his darnedest to tell us he won’t be in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The idea that No Way Home features three Spider-Men has become so widespread that talk show hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon have pumped No Way Home stars for information, and Twitter’s official account has joked about it, too. After months of sitting back and observing, Garfield is weighing in. “I can’t speak for anything else, but for myself. They might be doing something, but I ain’t got a call,” Garfield told MTV’s Josh Horowitz on Tuesday’s episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast.

“I ain’t got a call” is not saying he isn’t in a movie. It means he lost his phone or something, right? LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE, ANDREW.

To add more fuel to the fire, after THR reported his casting in October, Foxx shared an Instagram post he quickly deleted that showed three Spider-Men together. Meanwhile, William Spencer, Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man stunt double, apparently was on the set of No Way Home, per an Instagram post that Spencer has since deleted.

Nice try.

§ Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie blurted out that she’s seen the full Eternals trailer!

Angelina Jolie has casually let it slip that she’s seen the Eternals trailer – she just wasn’t aware that the rest of us haven’t! Jolie was doing a video interview recently, in which the subject of Marvel’s Eternals movie was brought up. According to Jolie, “I saw the trailer but it’s not out yet – is it?” The interviewer informed her that “All we got is you doing this [makes sword fight pose], and I was like ‘I’m Sold!'” 

Can’t wait!

§ And finally the best comic book headline of the month: 10 Comic Book Superheroes You Didn’t Know Were Vegan

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