When you know you don’t have a lot of time, you prioritize.
That’s what Zachi Telesha did. In August 2008, age 7, the Allentown, Pennsylvania, youth was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. Telesha set himself a series of personal goals, and he died this week, at age 12, a published comics writer.
Telesha was a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School when the publisher Rodale, a corporate sponsor of the school, learned of his illness and his desire to write a comic. He spent five months working with Rodale staffers and teachers from his school to produce the graphic novel, Hero Up!, which features four superheroes — one of whom, Venom Transporter, was based on Telesha himself. “He can get bit by the most poisonous snake and spider at the same time repeatedly and still just get stronger,” Telesha explained in a YouTube video.
With the Boston Comic Con being postponed due to the lockdown that was in place until last night as police searched for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, several area comic shops are holding impromptu events this weekend with various creators. Here’s a rundown if you’re looking for something to do in Boston today, and if we missed any, please let us know in the comments section:
• As noted in CBR yesterday, Larry’s Comics in Lowell, Mass. is hosting a mini-con — Slum-Con? — featuring Mike Choi, Sean Gordon Murphy, Cesar Feliciano and many more. Check out the shop’s Twitter feed for a live stream of the event.
• Comicazi in Davis Square, Somerville, has announced that it will host a “Not-The-Boston-Comic-Con Get-Together,” with guests Tim Seeley, Tim Sale, Don Rosa, Agnes Garbowska, David Mack, Ming Doyle, Erica Henderson, and possibly some others on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Friendly Neighborhood Comics in Bellingham will have a meet-the-artists event featuring Carlos Pacheco, Craig Rousseau, Kelly Yates, and others from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.
• Studios at Porter Mills, in Beverly, will host a Beverly Comic Con from 4-9 p.m. on Saturday. “Tons of artists on hand (including many that would have been at Comic con) and a few special guests!”
• Comicopia will host Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, the artists for the Adventure Time comic, from 1-3 Sunday.
(Hat tip: Brigid Alverson)
“I want to remind readers of this column that all the Marvel NOW! launches are going strong — none have been canceled or RE-relaunched in a whole new direction after 3 or 4 issues — which is a testament to the talent and coordinated effort of our writers, artists and editors,” Marvel’s Axel Alonso said in last week’s Axel-in-Charge column. Yeah, it’s another trademark swipe by Marvel at its competition, but he isn’t wrong. Putting aside the snarkiness, there’s something to be said for a.) making a plan and sticking with it, b.) having faith in the choices you made, and c.) not undermining your creators and your fans with sudden shifts in creative teams.
I of course have no insight into how things are really being run at DC. But from an outsider’s perspective, it feels like its editorial strategy is inspired by the likes of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Every man for himself, blink once and they’re gone, blink twice and their replacement is gone. On the day DC announced the new new writers for the Green Lantern books, I remember seeing a tweet that said something like, “Oh, I figured they wouldn’t announce the new writers until [next weekend's] WonderCon.” My first thought? Just wait — maybe they will.
“[T]hey broke my spirit,” Don Rosa wrote in an epilogue to his autobiography in comics, explaining why he retired from the job he so dearly loved. The whole tale is heart-breaking but also beautiful in the cartoonist’s abundant gratitude and humility.
“They” of course are Disney and its publishing licensees who don’t pay their comics talent any royalties whatsoever despite the incredibly healthy exporting of Disney comic books around the world. Rosa created Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics for almost 20 years and only ever received a flat page rate, as though it were the 1940s. His rate was better than other Disney comics artists at the time because he was so popular, but his wife was still the primary provider for the family. She was a school teacher, a profession not typically known for financial excess.
Whenever I hear about these kinds of stories, I always wonder why the creator doesn’t turn to creator-owned comics, which allow freedom on many levels, and a greater potential for financial benefit. The Walking Dead, anyone? Rosa, the internationally beloved cartoonist, doing his own comic book series or graphic novel would be an event. It seems like a no-brainer. But it’s easy to forget that for some creators, despite the opportunities, that option is a non-starter.
“I don’t think Marvel or DC are racist, systemically, nor do I think that anyone there is, either. I am friends with lots of people at both companies and to a person, they’re terrific. Ultimately, people will hire the people that they know and in order to get to know them, you need access to them. I got my access through my day job as a magazine editor in Manhattan. Plus, I’m a dazzling urbanite. But if you’re a black kid living in Detroit or Tampa or Oakland, how do you get that access? How do you know which convention is the best for meeting editors? How do you know which bar to go to?
More importantly, if you’re that black kid (or Hispanic kid or woman of any color) why do you even want to make comics? The end product of decades of stories not told for a diverse audience is this: if the stories are not for you, you won’t read them; and if you don’t read them, why would you want to make them?”
– Marc Bernardin, who has written such comics as Static Shock,
The Authority and Wolverine, reflecting on the current discussion about the lack of black writers at Marvel and DC
Organizers of STAPLE! The Independent Media Expo have provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at the details for their ninth annual event, held March 2-3 at the Marchesa Hall & Theater in Austin, Texas. Billed as the premier indie-comics convention in the Southwest, STAPLE! showcases a range of performers, exhibitors and artists, with an emphasis this year on independent table-top gaming, web TV, animation and pop-culture podcasting.
The announced panelists are: comics creators James O’Barr, Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson; veteran game designers Jason Morningstar, Jeff Dee and Marc Majcher; web TV icons Danni Danger, Sara Reihani and Jessica Mills; animators Dax Norman, Kyle Sullivan, Bill Byrne and Mongrel Studio Productions; and podcasters Geek Bombast, Chris Cox, Martin Thomas, The League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen and The Random Access Web TV Podcast. See the panelist biographies below. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the STAPLE! website.
The event, and its official “Live Art Show” after-party, also will feature performances by the macabre musical troupe After Midnight, nerdcore hip-hop artist Bad Barry, DJ LD and chiptune artist Run/DMG.
Two-day passes can be purchased for $15 from the Marchesa Hall & Theater website, or at the door.
“This is the first week of Black History Month, a four-week celebration and remembrance of the significant events and people of the African diaspora. For many, myself included, it’s a month to reflect on where we’ve been, as a people and as a nation, and to contemplate exactly where it is we’re going. In terms of the comic book industry, an obvious interest and passion of mine, there is one glaring and sobering fact that needs our attention: There is currently not a single black writer working on a monthly series for either of the two biggest comic book publishers in the United States, and precious few working for any of the others.”
– Joe Hughes of ComicsAlliance, delivering an eye-opening assessment of the lack of black writers at DC Comics and Marvel
Comic Book Resources columnist Hannibal Tabu points out that Marvel hasn’t had a black writer since Reginald Hudlin’s tenure ended on Black Panther in 2009. What’s more, “With Dark Horse Presents, Dark Horse has paid more black people in comics in the last year or so than DC and Marvel have done in many, many years.”
Rick Olney, the comics advocate, publisher and convention promoter perhaps best known for his public conflicts with creators, passed away Friday at his home in Mohawk, New York. He was 58.
Founder of Organized Readers of Comics Associated (ORCA), Olney became a somewhat-notorious figure in recent years for his dealings as both a publisher and a convention organizer. He was accused by several creators of non-payment for their work for his company TightLip Entertainment, and misleading others about his conventions. No shrinking violet, Olney frequently responded to the claims online with charges of libel and harassment.
Olney, a former Marine and National Guardsman, is survived by his wife Barbara and five children. His funeral was held today in Whitesboro, New York.
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
- Simon Hanselmann’s Megg and Mogg strips at http://girlmountain.tumblr.com. Hilarious, dark, and strange.
- SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jilian Tamaki at: http://mutantmagic.com/. Beautiful, funny, and heartbreaking.
In March, Dark Horse will reprint the first issues of Brian Wood’s The Massive and Matt Kindt’s MIND MGMT at a special $1 price. The Massive follows a group of environmentalists after the Earth undergoes a massive ecological disaster, while MIND MGMT is the story of a group of psychic super-spies and a journalist who’s pursuing their story. Both reprints will be listed in the new Previews catalog, out Jan. 30, but we have exclusive cover reveals here. And, to make it more fun, I started an interview with Wood and Kindt, and then let them take over.
Robot 6: Each of these comics is set in a universe in which one thing has changed significantly; in MIND MGMT it is not clear right away what has happened, while in The Massive it is obvious, at least in its outer manifestations. What was your inspiration for these, and why did you think they would make for interesting stories?
Matt Kindt: I’m not sure that there is one significant change in Mind MGMT so much as there is just a specific genre choice I made. I try to pick one thing, whether it’s spies or crime or science fiction (in the case of MIND MGMT) and sort of apply that to real characters/people and see how they’ll react. To me it’s more of a “what if” scenario. What if you grew three stories tall? (3 Story) What if you were a spy and hated being one? (Super Spy and 2 Sisters) What if the abilities of the mind were pushed past any known limit? (MIND MGMT) That’s usually where I start and then just create some personalities to populate and react to my “what if.”
Brian Wood: It’s sort of the same thing Matt said. I find a lot of pleasure in creating very flawed, very relatable characters and then putting them through the worst situation possible. So that’s a version of a “what if” story, but in the case of my big world-building books it’s a really exaggerated “what if,” usually involving war and the end of the world. The character dramas, though, those are universal in any setting.
It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.
But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.
Stan Lee, who along with such collaborators as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett and Don Heck created the Marvel Universe, was born 90 years ago today in New York City.
With a little help from his uncle, Lee was hired in 1939 as an assistant at Timely Comics, which was owned by his cousin’s husband Martin Goodman. Twenty-two years later, as editor-in-chief, Lee ushered in the Marvel revolution with the introduction of the Fantastic Four, followed quickly by the likes of the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men and Daredevil. He rose to president (if only briefly) and publisher of Marvel, as well as its public face, before becoming its Hollywood representative in the early 1980s.
Keiji Nakazawa, who lived through the bombing of Hiroshima as a child and wrote the internationally acclaimed Barefoot Gen about his experiences, died Dec. 19 of lung cancer. He was 73.
Nakazawa was 7 years old on Aug. 6, 1945, the day the bomb was dropped. As he recounted in his autobiography, he was walking to school and stopped to answer a question from an adult, when suddenly, in an instant, the whole world changed: “a pale light like the flash of a flashbulb camera, white at the center, engulfed me, a great ball of light with yellow and red mixed at its out edge.”
He was standing next to a concrete wall, so he was partially shielded from the blast, although he was covered in rubble, and a nail went through his cheek. The adult he had been speaking to was burned to death on the spot. There was more horror to come: His father, brother and sister were killed when their burning house collapsed on them. Nakazawa recounted these events, which his mother told him about later, in a 2007 interview:
Awards | The National Press Foundation has named political cartoonist Robert Ariail, who draws for Universal UClick and the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Herald-Journal, as the winner of this year’s Berryman Award. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Brothers Wesley and Bradley Sun discuss their upcoming graphic novel, Chinatown; Wesley is a hospital chaplain in Chicago, and Bradley quit his job in Florida to join his brother and work on the book. [Hyde Park Herald]