§ Nice Art: Mark Chiarello is best known as DC’s longtime art director, but he’s also an excellent artist, and he has his first Kickstarter project: Baseball 100
Artist Mark Chiarello and writer Nel Yomtov have teamed up to join the ultimate baseball debate: Who are the greatest 100 players in hardball history? Who holds the number one spot? Is it Babe Ruth? Willie Mays? Ty Cobb? How do baseball’s greatest pitchers rank? Walter Johnson or Randy Johnson? Koufax or Kershaw? “BASEBALL 100” settles the argument, ranking the top 100 players—in order!
The campaign includes examples of the rewards, and as you can see, this will be a lovely book, plus — who are the Baseball 100? Tom Seaver better be in there!
§ We’ve written about Ignatz Award winning cartoonist Bianca Xunise here a few times because she’s great. Back in January she joined the lineup of Six Chix, a collaborative comic strip that is still found printed in the pages of local newspapers. But as reported by NBC, her comic last week apparently offended some readers and caused her strip to be dropped by several papers. An apology that Xunise did not authorize ran in place of the new dropped strip.
Now what could possibly be that offensive?
The piece interviewed King Features editor Tea Fougner:
“We have notified the syndicate that provides the comic that we will no longer be running Six Chix in our newspaper as a result,” the apology read. “We’ve also requested an apology from them. Our apologies for a cartoon that reflected the exact opposite of what we stand for as a newspaper.”
In response, Fougner, along with Xunise’s colleagues at “Six Chix,” defended the cartoon. “Bianca created the July 28, 2020, ‘Six Chix’ cartoon to be a joke commenting on how Black issues are often disregarded as a personal problem and not a systemic issue,” Fougner said. “She is shedding light on two pandemics right now: one on race and another on COVID-19, and both are not being taken seriously while they are destroying lives.”
What exactly is the “opposite” that this cartoon so offended? Not wearing masks? Not wanting Black people to breathe? It’s pretty well known that only a handful of complaints will nonetheless make a paper drop a strip. But what were the complaints? I actually found several letters online and they seemed to be offended that the comic was making fun of wearing masks and the murder of George Floyd! This is from Oregon Live.
Q: “(Today’s comic) was offensive on SEVERAL levels. The scene is a black woman wearing an I can’t breathe T-shirt and wearing a mask. The other person in the scene is a white woman saying if you can’t breathe take off that silly mask. They are pushing carts, so they are obviously in a store of some type. I know there’s controversy about wearing masks, but this is a state requirement not a recommendation! So this is ridiculous. Compound that with the much more egregious attitude of the white woman minimizing the “I can’t breathe” statement and turning this Black Lives Matter statement into something to be seen in a comic strip. (It) is Indefensible!”
The editors replied (in part):
A: Most commenters misread the intent of the cartoonist, Bianca Xunise, and felt the comic was racist and was minimizing the Black Lives Matter movement. Some readers were not familiar with the “Karen” meme. For the uninitiated, a “Karen” is an insufferable, rude, officious and in some cases racist middle-aged white woman (depicted here as the second shopper).
“Many Americans are experiencing a lack of compassion for both civil rights and community health, and this cartoon is an important part of any dialogue about both issues.”
Both King Features and the other Six Chix contributors came out in support of Xunise. It’s also stated that she is only the second Black woman to ever have a nationally syndicated comic strip, which is shocking and probably part of the reason her strip was misinterpreted. We’re just not used to seeing authentic Black voices.
Anyway, Xunise remains a wonderful cartoonist and an important voice and maybe MORE papers will pick up Six Chix as a result of this controversy. Check out her website for more of her work. And you can buy a bunch of her comics on Gumroad. For anyone who feels her cartoon made light of the Black Lives Matter movement, we suggest buying some comics from her and supporting an actual Black person.
§ On a semi-related note, Abelle Hayford, the organizer of the Drawing While Black hashtag is now running a Drawing While Black opportunities Survey:
This survey is for Black artists who were offered opportunities between late May to present time due to the sudden outpour of “support” thanks to the second wave of the BLM movement.
Reminder: this is just reality now, not a month of feeling good about yourself.
§ Two more thoughtful pieces on “The Reckoning” as I reckon this period in comics will be known. Samantha Puc writes about how Objectivity and Other Norms Prevent Journalists from Covering Rape for Bitch Media:
In high-profile cases—Steubenville, Brock Turner, Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly, Bill Cosby—survivors are forced to watch their trauma play out on a national stage, whereupon their attackers are condemned by some of the population but staunchly defended by the rest. All the while, people demand to know why the survivor or survivors didn’t come forward sooner, why the media was silent, or why one survivor’s story led to an influx of others. They even demand to know how a predator was able to harm so many people across so many years. When journalists attempt to cover these cases in a way that’s survivor-led and trauma-informed, they’re often shut down—often because of the mere possibility of legal threats. Being even remotely sympathetic to a survivor can be seen as a threat to the story’s legitimacy, at both an editorial and a legal level.
And over at TCJ, Abhay Khosla is back with The 2020 Report, a seemingly ongoing series that will examine the industry response to recent revelations of abuse. I would say that Khosla’s usual tone is not one you’d expect for these kinds of stories, so it should be interesting.
Or more accurately, remember that one, ongoing scandal that people working in comics have steadfastly ignored for years and years? The one about the dehumanization of and callous mistreatment of female creators, female fans, and female random passerbys? Comics has to deal with that one. Again. The Comic Book Boys never did anything, all of the many other times they were asked to not dehumanize women, except congratulate themselves. So, it’s scandal o’clock. Again.
§ Diamond is hiring a Quality Control Manager for their Olive Branch facility, so here’s your chance to make sure there are no more crunked-in corners.
The Quality Control Manager’s responsibility is to ensure the department is productive and efficient through people and resource planning, cost controls, and continuous improvement activities. The Manager is also responsible for directing the daily work of their department. The responsibilities include, but are not limited to: scheduling, directing leads and supervisors, insuring that all work is completed timely and accurately, communicating with their Manager and other departments, and enforcing housekeeping and safety.
§ Fantagraphics has a new logo! And it’s a torch!
You’re exactly right about the intention behind the new logo. Fantagraphics has always prided itself on an unbranded fluidity where the only voice that matters is that of our artists, but that also creates an invisibility in the contemporary brand-driven landscape. After four decades of elevating the artform, we’ve earned the gravitas to put our seal of approval on every book we publish by way of this new logomark.
While publisher Gary Groth is proud to be “Fantagraphics Books,” that full name is a little dusty sounding and limiting—it feels like the fanboy origins we come from but belies our status as pioneering curators of the comics medium. The new logo owns this weird, unwieldy word “Fantagraphics” (sans “Books”) and leaves the door open to whatever else Fantagraphics may become in the ever-changing multimedia world, free of preconceptions. Single, strong words carry a power that doesn’t need to be qualified.
§ The Old Guard movie (based on the comic) was a big hit for Netflix (go team Rucka! go team Theron!) and not only was it directed by a woman, but the post team was 85 percent women, which is super rare in Hollywood for an action film and led to many firsts for comic book-based movies.
The film was led by helmer Gina Prince-Bythewood, who became the first Black woman to direct a Hollywood comic-book-themed movie, and Terilyn A. Shropshire, the first Black woman to edit one, and who has been collaborating with Prince-Bythewood for two decades, since the duo first teamed up on 2000’s Love & Basketball. Its VFX supervisor was Sara Bennett, one of only two women ever to have won an Oscar in VFX, for 2014’s Ex Machina, with other key work by cinematographer Tami Reiker (sharing DP duties with Barry Ackroyd), SFX supervisor Hayley Williams (Annihilation) and costume designer Mary Vogt (Crazy Rich Asians). Prince-Bythewood notes that such a gender breakdown “doesn’t happen, or very rarely happens on any movie, but on an action film, I guarantee you that’s never happened before.”
§ Here is a list of 13 GREAT Reality-Based Graphic Novels, but it’s a quirky (good) list because it isn’t just non-fiction books, but graphic novels that spin out of real situations.
Some of them tell true stories, some are merely based on true events. Some just use real-life moments to jump into another world. All of them are first rate.
The list is curated by Marco Finnegan, whose new YA GN Lizard in a Zoot Suit fits into the category: It’s set against the real-life weirdness of the Zoot Suit Riots (real) but it stars a lizard (not real, I think?)
While L.A. had the largest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico in the 1930s and ’40s, Finnegan didn’t see that reflected in books or movies. So he ended up doing a deep dive on the Zoot Suit Riots, and the result is the new graphic novel he spent the past three years on, Lizard In A Zoot Suit. It tells the story of two Latinx teen girls going up against racist servicemen and a government-funded scientist — with the help of a mysterious creature.