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While talking about the financial difficulty of hitting a lot of big conventions during the year, a group of comics writers came up with a potential new way to make creator appearances more frequent and cost-effective.
Jimmy Palmiotti started the conversation by noting that when most creators attend a convention, they do so on their own dime. And for writers it’s especially tough, as they’re unable to sell artwork to recoup costs. Ron Marz noted that even when the table is free, he still loses money unless the convention at least pays for travel and hotel expenses, while Steve Niles added that recovery time after conventions is also a factor. Time spent at a show (or being sick after a show) is time not spent on creating comics.
None of these creators prefers to stay home and miss meeting readers and other industry people, so Niles shared how, because he wasn’t able to attend Comic-Con International this year, he Skyped into a panel and had a good experience. “I wish we could do this at stores to meet fans,” he wrote. And then the conversation took off.
My point was that the ‘mainstream’ isn’t the whole picture. Frankly, to my mind, ‘mainstream’ comics are actually the least interesting and creative comics published today.
It’s always good to hear both sides of the story. Conway took to Twitter this morning to clarify his thoughts from the panel he was on with Superheroes‘ director Michael Kantor and fellow comics makers Todd McFarlane and Len Wein. It was during that panel that Think Progress’ Alyssa Rosenberg asked about sexism in superhero comics and got some disappointing answers.
NPR television critic Linda Holmes has spent the past couple of weeks tweeting from the Television Critics Association press tour, which ended with a panel on the PBS documentary Superheroes: The Never-Ending Battle. Debuting Oct. 8, the three-part miniseries was directed by Michael Kantor, who was on the panel with comic book writers Todd McFarlane, Len Wein and Gerry Conway.
Holmes noted that the panelists asked about the lack of diversity in superhero comics, but unfortunately, the response to that question wasn’t very satisfying. She paraphrases four reasons cited by the panel:
Artist Ilias Kyriazis doesn’t say why his and Scott Lobdell’s pre-New 52 pitch for a Doom Patrol miniseries didn’t go anywhere, so while calling it “doomed” is technically correct, I’m not implying that it was shot down in any sort of malevolent way. There are many reasons that pitches and projects don’t get off the ground and, frankly, I’m not that interested in what most of those are. What I do love are cool, imaginative takes on familiar characters and this definitely falls into that category.
Kyriazis describes the concept this way:
Writer Jordan Mechner and artists LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland are celebrating the recent release of their graphic novel Templar by giving away a free ebook chronicling its production. The Making of Templar includes lots of sketches and discussion between the three creators about what went into the book. Topics include historical research, character design, collaboration, the process of writing and storyboarding action sequences, and the differences between writing comics and writing for film and video games (Mechner is also the creator of Prince of Persia).
The 87-page PDF can be downloaded from Mechner’s website.
Did we know there’s another Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer story in the works? ‘Cause I just stumbled across this image on the PVS website with the announcement that it’s something creators Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen are working on.
In a throwaway line from Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, Volume 3, a character mentions a vampire-infested zoo and quips, “Remember the vampire gorilla?” Higgins and Jensen not only remember it, they “have always planned on eventually telling it.” It’ll be a short story featuring all the vampire-slaying puppets from the graphic novels; the creators just have to work out the details of how it’ll be released.
Update: Jensen provides some additional PVS-related info in our comments section: “Also, for those who missed the announcement at Comic-Con, Top Shelf Productions will be publishing an omnibus edition of PVS in 2014. We’re thrilled to partner with the Top Shelf folks and to have the entire story in one place. Digital editions will be coming as well. Release dates not set as of yet, but we’ll announce all of that soon.”
ROBOT 6’s Corey Blake wrote a great piece last month on the evolution of digital comics and the innovations that make them more than just electronic copies of print comics. Without repeating what he said, those innovations raise a couple of questions that are also worth talking about: What are we going to call this new format and does it even need a separate name?
Gabriel Hardman (Star Wars: Legacy, Kinski) recently asked on Twitter, “Is there an accepted name for the Thrillbent/Infinite style of digital comics?” Even filtering out all the joke responses (my favorite is Dennis Culver’s “Labor Intensive”), the answer seems to be no.
A couple of folks note that Scott McCloud’s Infinite Canvas (or, alternatively, Expanded Canvas) is a common term, but Hardman observes that it could be seen as pretentious, which might keep it from catching on. I like the idea of letting McCloud name it — he more or less came up with the idea — but it does remind me of how it sounded when comics fans all started referring to the medium as “sequential art.” It’s a great term for talking about comics academically, but not so good for popular use.
Though I can appreciate that a lot of reviewers don’t have the artistic vocabulary to really review art, they always have lots to say about the story. An analysis of the storytelling would be interesting.
– Marvel artist Declan Shalvey, on how comics reviewers can better discuss visual art in criticism.
It’s a commonly recognized phenomenon that reviewers tend to focus on the writing part of comics, because they are, after all, writers and that’s what they have the vocabulary for. Criticism of visual art requires a different set of terms that frankly, not a lot of comics critics know. Shalvey pokes holes in that excuse, however, by offering for critique an aspect of comics art that writers should already be equipped to discuss: the effectiveness of visual storytelling.
When learning to draw well I always thought there was some “secret” that would make me better. Turns out the “secret” was just hard work.
– Marvel artist Ryan Stegman, via Twitter
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard aspiring creators ask these questions of professionals: “Where do you get your ideas?” “What’s the secret to making great art or telling great stories?” As if there’s a magical incantation that will instantly transform learning amateurs into masters.
Animation designer Andry Rajoelina has created an uplifting, and occasionally funny, series of prints featuring the families of superheroes. That’s “family” as in Superman Family, not as in Jonathan, Martha and Clark Kent. The first set was focused on DC, but he’s now done a second group with Marvel characters.
Some of the characters, but not all, are biologically related, and that’s part of what makes the series so heart-warming. One of the nicest, most reassuring messages of the X-Men was always that people without families could form their own. (I’ve always loved the idea of the X-Men as a family much more than the idea of them as a school.) Rajoelina’s two series highlight that. They focus on adult/child relationships (the Fantastic Four leaves out Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, for example), but Rajoelina is able to figure out a workaround for Green Lantern, even if it’s a little sad in a humorous way.
Prints of the Justice Families series can be purchased at the Geek Art Store.
My first thought when Wonder Woman with Grant [Morrison] was mentioned was ‘I don’t want her to be dressed as an American flag.’ Not because an American flag is wrong but it made no sense. She’s coming from such a rich, wonderful culture with so much iconography (Greek culture), so why does she not use that, and why would she dress up as a flag? She’s not Captain America. But at the same time, I understood that this kind of iconic color/texture is something that’s recognizable, so in that aspect it does have value. If I could reach the same design with a few differences, but make it so it’s not coming from the flag, it’s coming from a natural extension of her culture, I could live with this.
– Wonder Woman: Earth One artist Yanick Paquette, on redesigning her costume from the ground up
Wonder Woman’s costume gets a lot of attention every time someone tries to change it, but usually the discussion is about how much skin it is or isn’t covering. That’s old and tired, and I’m glad Paquette is thinking about it for a different reason. I’d argue it’s the right reason.
One of the things that seems to stump a lot of Wonder Woman writers is her mission: What the hell is she supposed to be doing in our world? Is she a warrior or an ambassador of peace? Are those mutually exclusive descriptions or can she be both at once?
I think she can be both, in the same way that in her early years she could be a bondage fetishist while also advocating freedom. People who know a lot more about bondage than I do tell me it can be an incredibly liberating experience. Likewise, some of the biggest peace advocates I know have been career soldiers. It’s a strange dichotomy, but it’s real, and I can see it working in All-Star Comics #8, the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
Documentary filmmaker Miguel Cima has a passion for comics and wonders why more people don’t. It’s a valid, perplexing question considering the variety of genres and formats they come in. Comics are much more ubiquitous in Japan and Europe, so what’s preventing them from taking hold the same way in the United States?
Cima explored that some in his 2008 short documentary Dig Comics (Tim O’Shea interviewed Cima about it for Robot 6 at the time). You can watch the entire, 20-minute film, which includes interviews with Jeph Loeb and Scott Shaw, below.
The filmmaker wants to do more than just ask the questions, however: He also wants to help figure out the solution. To that end, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length version of Dig Comics. The $250,000 budget includes filming in New York City, France and Japan to gather more insight into the history of American comics and what makes comics so popular overseas. The feature is just a step in Cima’s larger plans, though. If it’s successful, he’d also like to develop a television series to continue the campaign to make comics as popular in North America as they are in other places and once were here.
Steve Niles recently shared on Twitter this encouraging (and kind of gross) postcard he received from Stephen King in 1988, when Niles was just starting out as a writer. Niles had sent King a copy of his first comic Bad Moon, which featured a giant nun named Sister Anne who was trying to stop a demon with the help of a priest, a werewolf and a vampire. Niles told me the nun was named after the MC5 song and “was more akin to the Hulk than Mother Teresa.” He also joked, “Nuns in Space was King’s suggestion, but I never got around to it.”
SPOILERS for Man of Steel, obviously
I’m not here to talk about whether or not Superman would’ve done that. As many have pointed out, that was already settled for mass audiences in Superman II. Instead, I’d like to offer six things that could have made Man of Steel a much better movie, regardless of whose Superman it represents.
The beautiful and fantastical Flight anthologies put together by Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet) and his friends may be no more, but their spirit lives on in Explorer. The first volume, Flight: Explorer, was Kibuishi’s stab at assembling an anthology for kids using many of the same artists who’d worked on Flight. He followed that up by dropping the Flight label and putting together Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, but if a third volume was ever announced, I missed it.
That third volume is coming soon, though. Amazon is taking pre-orders for Explorer: The Lost Islands, a hardcover to be released Oct. 8. Again edited by Kibuishi, this volume features stories around the theme of “hidden places.” Contributors include Kibuishi, Jason Caffoe (Flight), Raina Telgemeier (Drama, Smile), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Jake Parker (Missile Mouse), Michel Gagné (The Saga of Rex), Katie and Steven Shanahan (Flight, Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales), and new artist Chrystin Garland.