§ Legendary retailer and Comics Beat columnist Brian Hibbs suffered a heart attack last week and was hospitalized. He’s home recovering now, but it looks like it’s going to be a little bit before he’s penning one of his telling it like it is columns for the Beat. There’s a lot I could say about the stress of these times, and how Brian was the very public face of a lot of it, but the reality is I am just glad my friend is on the mend. Much love to Brian, Tzipora and Ben, and if you need anything…the Beat is here for you.
§ Nice art: I came across this startling video on my Insta stream and although it looks like a man drawing on the face of a giant, it’s actually a piece of art by hyperrealist Arinze Stanley. Nothing to do with comics, just cool art! I’ve been lucky enough to see his art in person and it’s even more amazing. According to this interview, Arinze, who lives and works in Nigeria, can spend up to 250 hours on one of his pieces!
§ Hire former Beat Managing Editor Samantha Puc! She’s raising money for grad school!
§ Another must-read from David Harper at SKTCHD? I’m afraid so. David goes deep on crowdfunding with interviews with Kickstarter wonders Spike Trotman and Ngozi Ukazu, but also a lot of other folks (and me). No real conclusions drawn, except that crowdfunding is here to stay.
Every creator I spoke to has had excellent experiences, with the exceptions largely coming from unforeseen issues, like Starks and his struggle to fulfill certain elements of his recent Old Head Kickstarter when vendors dried up during the pandemic. For the most part, coming back for more with Kickstarter is an easy sell. Starks loves the personal interactions with fans, and maybe most importantly, the creative freedom.
“I like to do what I want how I want without a lot of notes or suggestion,” Starks said.
Randall loves the creative control as well, as it gives him the chance to deliver the book in his preferred format and at the frequency that allows for the most reader and creator satisfaction, even if it is a lot of work.
§ This one from Karama Horne is from a few weeks back, but it’s ever pertinent: Black comic creators are finally getting the attention they deserve. Will it last?
All over the world, people have taken to the streets demanding justice for the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many more, as well as an end to the ongoing police brutality against Black people in their communities. Online, companies have echoed the sentiment, denouncing racism and promising to do everything from donating to #BlackLivesMatter to hiring more Black employees.
The response from the comic book community has been equally as swift. Black indie comic book creators have been inundated by editors and publishers who suddenly want to see their portfolios. But, is all of this newfound attention creating more work for Black creators? Has exposing years of bias in the comic book business helped to create lasting change? Or has the sentiment disappeared as quickly as the black boxes that populated so many profile pictures during Juneteenth?
There’s a lot of skepticism about this attention lasting for longer than a 31-day Black History Month, and justifiably, as we’ve all seen these kinds of efforts dissipate when something new comes along and memories fade. Now would be a very good time to break that pattern.
§ What is going to happen to DC Universe, the DC-only streaming service? Doom Patrol has moved to HBO Max, and this suspicious tweet got tongues wagging.
Rest In Peace DC Universe. pic.twitter.com/iHQcSR3TkQ
— AjepArt | X-Gang (@AjepArt2) August 8, 2020
This article looks at the evidence, and all of WB’s streaming seems to be moving around:
Now, there’s a chance these changes were only made since Harley Quinn is no longer exclusively available on DC Universe. The series arrived on HBO Max this month. While Harley Quinn has not yet been renewed for a third season, there have been rumors that Titans’ third season will debut on both HBO Max and DC Universe, which could also be the reason for the Facebook change. On June 30th, DC Universe subscribers were offered the option of adding HBO Max to their service plan for an additional $4.99 a month – basically shaving off the regular price of HBO Max ($14.99/mo) by a substantial amount. While that offer looked like a kind benefit to offer loyal DCU users a wider berth of content, it could be argued that the move was also a great way to start the transition process of getting DC Universe subscribers moved over to HBO Max.
§ It looks like the voting for the 2020 Ignatz Awards will be virtual, like everything, and voting registration is now open. The awards were previously voted on by SPX attendees, so this seems the best way to do it. No mail-in ballots, though!
§ WWAC looks at the work of up-and-comer Nadia Shammas:
Recently announced as the writer of a Ms. Marvel graphic novel to be published by Scholastic, Nadia Shammas might be a new name to some of you, but she isn’t new to comics. A former Marvel intern, Shammas edited CORPUS: A Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments (which was covered by WWAC here and here), co-wrote Care Bears: Unlock the Magic with Matthew Erman, and is currently working on SQUIRE with the co-creator of Marvel’s Amulet, Sara Alfageeh, for HarperCollins. She’s also contributed to a number of anthologies, including THE GOOD FIGHT: A Peaceful Stand Against Bigotry and Racism, and self-published work like “Summer in Brooklyn.” In anticipation of SQUIRE and the Ms. Marvel GN, I read “Summer” and “No Olive Branch for Me.”
§ Why have there been no great women cartoonists, it was once wondered, even though they were all around us. D&Q has just published The Sky Is Blue With a Single Cloud by Kuniko Tsurita, and Gabrielle Bellot looks at the work of this important gekiga artist:
In 1962, when she was still in middle school in a coastal town of Japan, the cartoonist Kuniko Tsurita sent a despairing letter to The City, a popular comics magazine. Manga was her life. The 14-year-old loved reading a variety of genres, including shōjo, which was aimed at adolescent girls, and the more male-targeted kashi-hon, which often featured grit, gore, and gunfights. Tsurita had dreamed for years of becoming a mangaka, or manga artist. But her repeated failure to win any of the contests that she submitted her comics to had dimmed her hopes. “From the moment I wake up, until late in the night, I spend all my time drawing manga,” her letter read. “I have been submitting work to you for some time now, but am embarrassed by the fact that I’ve never ranked above fourth place. This has really made me realize just how difficult comics are (much harder than school exams, for sure).”
Rebecca: Right. I really understand what it takes to be in that situation where people are asking you to only express a fraction of yourself in your art in a way that other creators are not being asked, it’s not right. It’s absolutely not right. One of the things you’re saying that I find really interesting, that I experienced to, is because there are so few queer content creators, especially queer animated showrunners, the studio couldn’t recognize a lot of the queer experience being expressed through the content. They could tell me these two characters can’t kiss on the mouth, but they couldn’t understand that what I was describing about anxiety was really related to my queer experience; The way these characters interacted with each other as individuals was a part of the queer experience. It’s something I learned all the way back when I was working on Adventure Time and people began to recognize Marceline as a bisexual individual based on what we had written about her interactions with other people, but also her feelings about herself. I had never seen that before — audiences recognize that behavior being a part of who she is. That was a revelation to me. I think often when shows are being reported on people highlight these tiny moments without understanding the way the whole show breathes is a reflection of who we are. I’m excited about more of that existing in the future, in addition to the wedding episodes. [laughs] Just the whole entire expression of it is so critical.
Noelle: Yeah like the fabric of the show, all of these things are connected. I have a lot of thoughts about representation, even the word representation and what we think of when we think of that word, because I do think having the wedding episodes are really important. Having it be very recognizable even to viewers who aren’t queer, here are two people getting married in this way. That matters because kids can be like “oh I could marry a girl. I could fall in love and get married just like anyone else.” The importance of that is so huge.
§ Graeme McMillan talks to the CBLDF president Christina Merkler about how the CBLDF’s board is dealing with past failures of oversight and the clouded future of the organization.
Asked whether anyone on the board had been aware of NDAs signed by former CBLDF employees like Allott, Merkler said, “The full board was not aware of NDAs for former employees or the topics in which they covered. I was not on the board at the time that [Allott] was asked to sign a NDA, and wasn’t provided the information when I became a member or President.” Merkler became President in August 2018. With specific reference to Allott’s agreement, she added, “In 2010, the NDA was discussed and administered by a subcommittee in a separate meeting. It was not, however, communicated to the full board.” Such situations were possible because Brownstein faced little oversight from the board when he was executive director of the organization. The CBLDF’s attempt at reform will include the appointment of an interim executive director, who will speak with employees and board members about trouble areas, and also help hire the permanent executive director to replace Brownstein. New board members will also be named to replace those who have left the board in the wake of Brownstein’s departure.
§ Celebrity publicists showed their skill with graphic design last week by posting a series of “Jan-Sept” portraits capturing these turbulent times. There are many good ones, but maybe Kyle MacLachlan speaks for all of us.
— Kyle MacLachlan (@Kyle_MacLachlan) August 6, 2020