§ The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on Friday and for the first time since 1973, no winner was chosen in the Cartooning category. There were three finalists — Ruben Bolling, Lalo Alcatraz and Marty Two Bulls. Sr. — but the final panel couldn’t pick a winner. This led to a lot of anger and statements from Association of American Editorial Cartoonists president Jen Sorenson, the Herblock Foundation, other editorial cartoonists, and many other observers. The Washington Post sums up the disappointment:
Then came clarification. The five-person jury for the category picked the finalists but the larger Pulitzer Prize Board, which selects the winners for all the prizes in journalism and the arts, did not do so for cartooning because no consensus pick emerged. That happens every so often in various categories, but this was the first time in nearly a half-century that it had happened to political artists. The decision sparked a flurry of questions and comments on social media, followed by pointed criticism from cartooning outlets and organizations. Common responses amid the backlash were “disappointed,” “insulted” and “wrong” — and frustrated a community within journalism that has often felt imperiled, downgraded and disrespected in recent decades.
The Pulitzer organization gave some vague answers, and yes, voting can lead to a deadlock, but this is a huge insult to the great work done in difficult times by all editorial cartoonists.
§ Making up for the sting, a little, here is a very nice profile of Marty Two Bulls Sr., an Oglala Lakota cartoonist, who grew up in Rapid City, SD:
“I try to give our point of view [on contemporary issues] so we have a voice,” he said. “I’m not an elected official, and I can’t speak for all Native Americans, but I can speak for myself — that gives me a unique perspective.” Two Bulls grew up in Rapid City and returns frequently. As a kindergartner at Robbinsdale Elementary School, his teacher told him he would be an artist someday and he’s been drawing ever since. Two Bulls began drawing editorial cartoons as a student at Central High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s for the student newspaper, the Pine Needle. He credits comic book artists like Richard Corben, Wally Wood and Frank Frazetta as early influences.
Two Bulls’s work is stunning, and a collection of it came out earlier this year (affiliate link).
§ Jim Starlin talks about the injury that nearly ended his drawing career with THR:
He continued to do exercises squeezing a ball, but mostly so he could someday button up his own shirt without assistance. Eventually, he started going to conventions again, with his agent occasionally asking him to try a few drawings. One of those was for artist Jaime Jameson, who begged for a Starlin Doctor Doom. After some hounding, he gave it a shot. “I sat down with a pencil and to my surprise, I was able to do this drawing without my hand cramping up,” says Starlin.
§ Jared of OK Comics, a comics shop in Leeds, UK, tweeted that things are NOT back to normal at their store, as retail is still finding its way in England.
The world has changed.
It's obvious the way people shop has changed. Even though stores are allowed to reopen, and people are allowed to visit us, it's our experience here at OK Comics that this just isn't happening.
It's one heartbreaking week after another. pic.twitter.com/Ll8zWbvRug
— Jared of OK Comics (@OKComics) June 14, 2021
He continued in a thread:
Each time we look at the sales figures and footfall numbers I think maybe it’ll be better next week. But it isn’t.
Our government allowing us to do things doesn’t mean people are happy or comfortable doing them.
Is it fear? Ill health? Have people’s buying habits altered through the lockdowns? So many of our regulars just haven’t made it back to us.
We took the lockdown time to make improvements to the shop. As far as I’m concerned, OK Comics is the best it’s ever been, and we’re still tweaking things, aiming to be even better.
Times are tough all-round, and it’s obvious the virus and lockdowns have hit lots of people in various ways. Many of our subscription customers have canceled their orders. Many people who used to visit us on their lunchbreak, or as they pass through Leeds, now work at home.
Lots of the larger businesses in the city centre have closed forever, so I guess there’s less of an incentive to visit the high street. Some people are not comfortable using public transport.
I miss our customers. I miss sharing my enthusiasm for new books with people. The mail order service we offer is fantastic, but there is no substitute for browsing our actual store.
If there is a small business you love, but you haven’t visited for a while, maybe you should do it now.
Most shops have an online option, so you can get deliveries at home or work. Shipping is often cheaper than city centre parking.
You can still find OK Comics at 19 Thornton’s Arcade, Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6LQ (open from 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or open 24 hours online at http://okcomics.co.uk, and you can email orders to [email protected]
There’s a lot more in the thread and comments that follow, but the store is available for mail order here, and many customers are showing their support.
§ ACK ACK JUNJI ITO ALERT! A very brief but HOLY SHIT AMAZING preview of the anime version of horror classic Uzumaki dropped yesterday, featuring only a few seconds of STUNNING animation, and longer comments from director Hiroshi Nagahama. He explains that the series was delayed by COVID, but will be debuting in 2022 on Adult Swim. We cannot wait.
§ We told you about actress Emilia Clarke’s rather unusual sounding comic M.O.M.: Mother of Madness a while ago, and Clarke is now doing more press, including a very thorough piece by Claire Napier at WWAC.
But for the actress, the idea stuck and she decided that she wanted to make it a reality in the only format that made sense: comics. “The reason why I wanted to approach this funny, cool, feminist material in this comic book space is that I love superheroes,” Clarke shared. “I love comics. I love the freedom that you have with your imagination. Your creativity has no boundaries whatsoever. Anything is possible, so what better way to tell a story?” The comics world is also a community that Clarke has found to be infinitely welcoming and inclusive. “You can voice opinions in a space that in my opinion is friendly and for everyone, and is accepting of everyone,” Clarke shared. “I feel so much that’s what the comic book world does: it allows people who maybe don’t feel like they fit into the right group at the right time into the right thing… comic books are your private world and you get to kind of unite in that otherness. It just seemed like a really accepting space to be talking about these ideas and to have fun. And fun is surely what we should be trying to do as much as possible.”
§ Speaking of Jeff Lemire (we are all about column flow) Sweet Tooth on Netflix has had a ton of buzz, and Lemire is doing more press for it.
Lemire wrote and illustrated the Sweet Tooth comics for years, and he acknowledged that the horror comes on much stronger on the page than it does on the screen. He said: “I like the way the comic and the show are kind of inverted,” said Lemire. “In the comic, the horror sci-fi stuff is a little more in your face, and the heart sneaks up on you. In the show it’s like, the heart and the character stuff are upfront, and then the horror is sneaky. It works well I think for the different mediums.”
§ The success of Sweet Tooth stands in marked contrast to the still-smoking pile of rubble that was Jupiter’s Legacy. This flop has definitely got people talking. Borys Kit poured out more of the tea behind the show’s abrupt cancellation. The failure is all the more shocking, given that this was to be a cornerstone of Netflix IP going forward. But it was not to be.
The series was plagued with issues from the start, with then-showrunner Steven DeKnight initially asking Netflix for a budget of at least a $12 million per episode, according to sources. The streamer, however, backed him down to under $9 million.
It wasn’t long into shooting that the show found itself overbudget and running behind, with DeKnight, never one to shy away from speaking his mind, according to people who have worked with him, clashing with Netflix over “creative differences.” The production was shut down about halfway through its eight-episode shoot; DeKnight was replaced by Sang Kyu Kim, who then had to retool the first batch of episodes.
But wait there was more! Filmmaker Louis Leterrier was brought in to try to help fix things, but to no avail. And then Cindy Holland, the exec who had championed the show, left Netflix, leaving it without a lot of boosters. Netflix claims the budget was a mere $130 million — but the reshoots and long production time ballooned it up to a reported $200 million. Even for a company that mints money, this was a lot to swallow.
So notable was this failure that it even made The Ankler, which is subscription only, but I hope I will encourage you to subscribe with this excerpt:
It’s a business where no one knows anything, so in that void you’ve got hits and flops. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. So . . . The Service had a big flop this month. A big, big flop. How do we know it’s a flop? Well, just taking Occam’s Razor for the simplest explanation: They spent a fortune on a show, produced it and launched it with immense ballyhoo, and then decided not to renew it for another season very shortly after its debut. And not just any show, but the first one to come from Netflix’s only company acquisition in its history, the comics studio that was to give it its own cinematic universe.