§ Nice Art: My Girl a recentish comic by by Sophia Foster-Dimino about dreams and work and life and struggle. Like all off Foster-Dimino’s work its evocative and allusive and rewards contemplation.
§ A few weeks ago Michael Davis wrote a mild-mannered think piece called Why Are We Still Complaining About Dan DiDio?.
This weekend, Abhay Khosla, who is a successful lawyer in real life, presents The Case Against Dan DiDio and when you put it all in one place like this…well, it’s pretty brutal.
How do we determine whether he is doing a good job? Let’s use a neutral third party– the website Tech Republic lists 10 criteria for a good manager. Some do not seem pertinent here (e.g., “be technically proficient”), whereas others seem redundant (“put your employees’ needs first” and “Encourage teamwork”). I will distill their list to at least the following five criteria:
1) Be a Team Leader
2) Be a Visionary in your Industry
3) Be a Good Communicator
4) Put your Employees’ Needs First
5) Do Something Special
You’ll want to run over there and read the whole thing, but suffice to say, Mr. Khosla does not feel that Mr. DiDio met expectations in these areas.
I’m not here to defend Dan DiDio, the co-publisher of DC Comics who has overseen the “Crisis Era” of the last decade, but I have made a bit of a recent study of why he is still in his position despite the obvious missteps and awkward statements, and my conclusion is that he spearheaded a number of successful initiatives in the past, and upper management has probably looked at the matter and decided that he’s the best alternative given the circumstances. Weak sauce for some, but that’s the world we’re living in.
§ I was called away from linkblogging last week by other duties, so I missed some wonderful reminiscences and writing on the life and art of the late Darwyn Cooke – man it is hard to type that – so here are a few. Tom Spurgeon has a link round-up, TCJ has a detailed obituary. And a few more:
¶ David Harper on The Natural: On Darwyn Cooke and the Magic of Comics – SKTCHD
¶ Michael Dooley on The New Design Frontiers of Darwyn Cooke’s Comic Book Art
¶ Evan Narcisse on Why Darwyn Cooke Was One of the Best Comics Artists of This Generation
¶ And Rob Salkowitz with a little more tangential piece on The Lost Opportunity of the New Frontier
He built a beautiful, distinctive and contemporary “house style” that added Kirby-esque dynamism to the clean-line foundations of Carmine Infantino, Alex Toth, and Gil Kane, while also recalling Bruce Timm’s well-loved animation work from the 1990s. Darwyn Cooke’s art in The New Frontier (and everywhere else) was a pointed rejoinder to the clotted, over-rendered work that characterizes most of today’s superhero books, carrying a whopping storytelling payload within its spare, perfectly-chosen lines. His story proved itself adaptable to other media, and a coherent framework for integrating the entirety of DC’s story universe. If the company had been looking for a reset button to bring in new fans without driving old ones away in disgust, The New Frontier could have been a useful starting point. Today it’s a curiosity.
§ Some TCAF links! Alex Hoffman, Cute Juice and the inimitable gang at Secret Acres:
We breathed a great sigh of relief looking at both Gabby and Sick sitting at the Secret Acres TCAF table, next to Rob and SPACE. As you know, this moment took years to materialize. Though he held genuine and reasonable worries that people might line up at the table to scorn him, Gabby was wrong as usual. He had his chance and he blew it. Bless you, all you forgiving folks, Canadian and otherwise, who greeted us and Gabby with your smiles and your strange, plastic money. We did sell a bunch of Sick and SPACE and pretty much every other book we had, after deliberating whether or not to adjust prices for the exchange rate (which we decided was stupid).
§ A couple of excellent long form reviews at TCJ. Annie Mok on Blutch’s Peplum, which is all told, a pretty amazing work:
Trying to survive the after-effects of an encounter with sublime beauty is the madness that permeates Blutch’s Peplum. The question of how to negotiate desire in the face of the thing which destroys all other desires; how to live after seeing death–this is the panic that terrifies Peplum’s central protagonist.
… and Rob Kelly on Gabby Schultz’s Sick. I was a big admirer of this comic when it was on the web and I’m happy to state its made its transition to print intact and still horrifying:
Sick, a sucker punch of a book, will not be for everybody (“Trigger Warning” crowd, please take note). Upon my first reading I was taken aback at its unremitting bleakness. Schulz has a real talent for identifying those little pockets of dread that punctuate our days and nights, lingering over them and illustrating them with gusto. His gorgeously grotesque visuals, often framed in washes of a nauseous green with accents of raw-meat red, recall somewhat the great Ralph Steadman; while one sequence in particular—Schulz reliving a horrifying childhood nightmare—reminds me of Josh Simmons at his most merciless. Schulz captures the experience of sickness with uncomfortable accuracy: the woozy slipping in and out of consciousness, the sense of health and wellness becoming but a distant memory–and of pain and illness defining all of one’s existence.
§ I meant to blog this last week, but the first Short Box, a collection of neat stuff curated by Zainab Akhtar and Clark Burscough, sold out within an hour of going on salem which was morning UK time, leaving the US out of it. International shipping made this pretty pricey, but it still looks mouthwatering.
§ Well I guess they had a screening of Suicide Squad and people tweeted positive things.
§ Meg Lemke interviews Tom Hart about ROSALIE LIGHTNING, which as we’ve pointed out, is one of 2016’s masterpieces.
TOM HART: Drawing is very physical. I’m trying to understand, more and more, as I get older, what degree it’s an artifact of our physicality. In creating this book I was drawn to more physical acts, like how I used shading film, which involves carving into stickers. It’s not chopping wood, of course. But it’s drawing with a knife. I also used the brush often, and a pen that would scrape the page. The brush had a soft, mushy sound. I’ve never used a brush as much as I did in this book. There was also the act of trying to recreate what I’d been through, to take reference photos. I took a lot of photos. Even silly things like walking. I’d get up out of my chair, put my feet in position to walk. It should be an easy thing to draw, but the act of getting into those positions was important. The book was like trying to relive those first five weeks in this long period of time. All of it was an attempt to experience it somehow deeply and correctly.
§ At this year’s San Diego they are going to have a premiere of Star Trek Beyond in IMAX, outdoors with a live orchestra. So yeah, no fear of SDCC becoming less glitzy:
The world premiere event, to be held July 20 at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, will also feature appearances by cast members and a live performance of Michael Giacchino’s film score by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. “I am thrilled to celebrate the premiere of the film together with the fans at Comic-Con and excited for everyone there to experience Michael Giacchino’s incredible score played live,” director Justin Lin said in a statement. Comic-Con attendees may get a chance to attend the premiere; details about tickets will be released this summer.
My main criticism of DC Comics in the New 52 Era is one of backlist.
DC’s corporate DNA has long been fortified with Imaginary Stories and Elseworlds, and even rethinking obscure characters like Sandman, Animal Man, and Doom Patrol.
Those “alternative” titles are the core of backlist, which also drives versions in other media (Nolan’s Batman, the many animated DVDs, video games).
They also provide DC with a constant revenue stream with fixed costs…The Killing Joke, Watchmen, All-Star Superman…
That’s why Penguin paid Stephen King millions for each novel…there are guaranteed sales of each new novel, plus continual sales as new readers discover his older books. (Even if his new titles are at another publisher!)
After Flashpoint, DC’s new backlist has been negligible.
There is Snyder’s Batman run, which remains in print. Morrison’s Superman and Azarello’s Wonder Woman might join that list, but superhero soap opera is difficult to maintain an ongoing series, especially when a title changes its creative team.
The Earth One series is another rare example, but that line has been very sparse. Batman, Superman, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman; six years, nine volumes, four franchises. (It should not take two years to produce 128 pages of comics.)
Here’s a genetic disorder in DC’s DNA: imprints which are announced fully formed die at DC. CMX, Matrix/Helix, Impact/Red Circle/First Wave, Paradox and Piranha, Minx,Johnny DC/CN…
It’s only when a line is built on a solid foundation of established series like Vertigo was, that a line can be successful.
So, no, I wish Mr. Way success, but given the promotional muscle spent on Minx, Vertigo DEFY, and DC YOU, the results gained, my expectations are quite low.
As Mr. Khosla states, there’s a lot of money being left on the table.
And some of that money is being made by IDW and Boom! as they publish new comics stories based on Cartoon Network shows.
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