Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]
Legal | The Malaysian government today charged cartoonist Zunar with nine counts of sedition stemming from his tweets about the sodomy conviction of opposition party Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar was released on bail, then held for questioning when an image appeared on his Facebook page depicting the prime minister’s wife (a frequent target of the cartoonist) in prison garb. Zunar said he knew nothing about the drawing and was released again. The Malaysian government has been ramping up its prosecutions under the colonial-era Sedition Act, which critics contend is being used to suppress dissent. “This is a record, being charged nine times and using the sedition law,” said Zunar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya. “It is excessive and targeted at silencing vocal critics.” If found guilty, Zunar could face 43 years in prison. Before he was even released, Zunar tweeted a defiant cartoon of himself in handcuffs, drawing with a pen in his mouth. [The Associated Press]
Crime | Artist Josh C. Lyman reports that thieves broke into his car sometime on Monday or Tuesday and stole about 40 pieces of original art (some of it commissioned), 1,200 prints, plus convention setup materials, art supplies and clothes. “I’m more devastated in the fact my originals are all gone … some of my better non-commissioned work of the last 3 years … along with all of my tools I have earned and acquired during the aforementioned periods. Tshirts and the like I can slowly replace … but it’s the matter of having all this potential art for shows gone; along with all the posters I had left,” he writes. Lyman contacted police and has notified local comic shops to keep an eye out for the missing work, and he has posted images of the stolen art. [Facebook, via Bleeding Cool]
Censorship | Rachael Jolley takes a long and wide view of the pressures that political cartoonists are subject to, looking at several recent attempts to suppress editorial cartoonists as well as the history of tensions between creators of political cartoons and those they portray; the article also includes comments from Neil Gaiman on the topic of censorship. [The New Statesman]
As Comic Book Resources reported Monday, longtime Marvel colorist and Archie Comics artist Stan Goldberg passed away Sunday at age 82 following a recent stroke. The obituary recounts much of his lengthy and prolific career — it spanned six decades, from the Golden Age of comics to the birth of the Marvel Age to the wedding of Archie Andrews — so we won’t recount the details here.
Instead, we’ve rounded up statements about Goldberg, his impact and his influence, from Marvel, Archie Comics, the National Cartoonists Society and more:
“No less than Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko, Stan Goldberg was one of the pioneers of the Marvel Age of Comics. As Marvel’s one-man coloring department, it was Stan G who determined that Iron Man would be red and gold, that the Thing would be orange, and that Spider-Man would be red and blue-black. He was also a talented cartoonist specializing in teen humor strips such as Millie the Model and Kathy the Teen-Age Tornado, which led him to become one of the mainstays of the Archie Comics line for decades. Stan was a gregarious and upbeat individual who was always a pleasure to work with.”
— Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor and senior vice president of publishing, in a statement to ROBOT 6
Book Expo America is the annual trade show where publishers promote their upcoming books to retailers and librarians. BEA is all about books, but comics and graphic novels are a growing presence. Diamond had a dedicated area, as it has in previous years, several comics publishers had their own booths, and several of the big publishers featured graphic novels alongside their other titles, most notably Hachette, which gave quite a bit of space to Yen Press.
I spent Friday at the show looking at which books the publishers were drawing the most attention to. Here’s a very subjective account of what I saw.
Kid stuff! Children’s and YA graphic novels have been hot for a couple of years, and the news that Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters is getting a 200,000 copy initial print run got a lot of buzz. Of course, the BEA crowd has been on board with her work for a while, and they lined up in droves for her book signing. The same was true of Jeff Kinney, who was signing copies of The Wimpy Kid School Planner at the Abrams booth; the crowd just kept on coming. And the staff at the BOOM! Studios table were hustling as attendees grabbed copies of their Adventure Time and Bravest Warrior collections as well as their third original Peanuts graphic novel, Peanuts: The Beagle Has Landed, which takes Snoopy to the moon.
Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]
Editor, comics collector and designer Craig Yoe has an ideal subject for his latest coffee table-ready anthology: Lewis Carroll’s Alice and the myriad ways in which she has appeared in comics, almost since the medium existed. What makes the subject so perfect for such a book is that it’s so broad that it’s impossible to even attempt to be comprehensive, or even all that representative.
As Mark Burstein, the president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, notes in his introduction to Alice in Comicland, appearances by characters from Carroll’s Alice books, references and allusions to the works, and the instances of direct and palpable influence by them in comics are simply innumerable. In 2003, he and some colleagues put together a book titled Pictures and Conversations: Lewis Carroll in the Comics: An Annotated International Bibliography, and they tracked some 500 comic books in which Alice characters appear. That was a decade ago.
Now, Alice in Comicland is only about 170 pages long. You could fill a collection five times as big with Batman comics in which he fights villains derived from the Alice books. You could fill books bigger still collecting all of the horror or action or sexually exploitative material derived from Carroll’s Alice stories. The almost-astronomical breadth of the subject matter thus gives Yoe and company a pretty valuable pass from any critics. Why isn’t this here, or why is that there instead of that other thing? Such second-guessing is natural to a reader, and I found myself wondering why there’s a Superman comic rather than a Batman comic, for example, or why there’s no mention of, say, Tommy Kovacs and Sonny Liew’s Wonderland or Roger Langridge’s Snarked or any weird Zenescope books or manga or that Hatter M comic or whatever. But the answer’s obvious, isn’t it? It can even come in the form of a (bander)snatch of dialogue from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: No room! No room!
Last year, Archie Comics Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick and comics historian Craig Yoe compiled The Art of Betty and Veronica, the first art book ever released by the nearly 75-year-old publisher. Now they’re back with another deluxe, oversized volume, The Art of Archie: The Covers.
Like their previous book, this is more than just a series of pretty pictures. They kick it off with a look at how a cover is created, contrasting an original sketch by writer George Gladir with a finished cover, then showing the different states of another cover — line art, proofs, and finished product. They also include sections focusing on the individual artists, with a photo of each artist, a brief bio and a sample of his work.
I talked to Gorelick and Yoe about what went into compiling the book — and what went into creating the Archie covers in the first place. Gorelick, who’s been with the company for more than 50 years, drew on his own reminiscences about the way things used to happen behind the scenes.
Brigid Alverson: I’m going to start with the obvious question: Why covers?
Victor Gorelick: All of our covers tell a story. It’s not just some superhero flying around in some poses; you get a gag on the cover. It’s a little bit extra for your money.
Craig Yoe: They are closer to a New Yorker cartoon than a typical comic book cover that is maybe just a scene of action. These do have a nice little scenario and setup and payoff.
Gorelick: And also, we didn’t just paste in a bunch of covers. I have seen other cover books where you just see one cover after another. There’s a little more background on the covers. There are covers that were chosen by our fans — we put something up on the internet and we asked them to let us know what their favorites are.
Conventions | More than 30,000 people descended upon the 24th annual Motor City Comic Con over the weekend, with attendees reportedly waiting for up to two hours just to get into the parking lot, and then another one to four hours to get in the doors of Novi, Michigan’s Suburban Collection Showplace. Comics legend Stan Lee and The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus apparently contributed to the long lines, but the site was also hosting two other events and undergoing construction of a hotel, leading to a parking shortage. According to The Oakland Press, some fans parked as much as a mile away; traffic was backed up for miles. For the first time, the convention offered advance tickets, allowing attendees to pay extra in exchange for not having to wait in line. However, because of a mess-up, even those who pre-ordered had to wait in line. Related: Lee talks to USA Today during the convention. [The Oakland Press]
If one were writing a history of film, 1961’s Gorgo would barely merit a footnote, if that. Even if one were writing a history of monster movies, Gorgo likely wouldn’t get much attention, perhaps only being mentioned in relation to King Kong, Godzilla or the original Lost World, all of which obviously influenced parts of the film.
So if it’s such a relatively minor work in its own medium, what makes it important to comics art scholars and connoisseurs? Well, it earned its own comic book series from Charlton between 1961 and 1965, much of which was drawn by Steve Ditko … at the same time he was co-creating Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, during what was one of the most fruitful periods of American mainstream comics-making.
That’s the subject of Steve Ditko’s Monsters Vol. 1: Gorgo, an IDW Publishing/Yoe Books effort that collects about 200 pages of the Joe Gill-written, Ditko-drawn Gorgo comics, after a fairly thorough introduction by Craig Yoe contextualizing them. (Those Gorgo comics by other artists like Joe Sinnott and Vince Colletta are likely also worthy of revisiting, but outside the scope of this book, which is devoted to Gorgo as part of Ditko’s career, not the other way around.)
Debuting last fall, The Art of Betty and Veronica was something new for Archie Comics: It was the first time the 74-year-old company had released a deluxe art book under its own imprint, rather than licensing it to other publishers such as IDW or Dark Horse. Compiled by Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick and writer and comics historian Craig Yoe, the book takes a decade-by-decade look at the two leading ladies of Riverdale.
Gorelick and Yoe are already at work on their next book, The Art of Archie: The Covers, and they’re taking suggestions from fans on what covers to include. You can go to the Archie forums here if you have a cover to submit—or to look at some of the ones that readers have already uploaded.
I talked to Gorelick and Yoe about their collaboration, Gorelick’s 54 years at Archie Comics, the importance of creators, and the new book.
Robot 6: Victor, how did you start with Archie?
Victor: I came in working in the art department, right out of high school; I went to the School of Art and Design, and one of the production people had graduated from that school the year before and they needed a production assistant in the art department to replace Dexter Taylor — he was going to be drawing Little Archie along with Bob Bolling, so he was going freelance, and they needed someone on staff, so they contacted the school, and they sent up a few people from my cartooning class, including myself, for interviews, and I got the job. And the rest is history.
Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15 (big “if” this week!), I’d take a break from the struggles of adult life and find sanctuary in the pages of high mythology thanks to Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Aaron and Ribic have really build up an excellent foil for Thor in the God-Killer, and also snuck in the idea of Young Thor and Old Thor – something I’d love to see expounded upon in their own series or one-shot (hint-hint). Second up would be the startling potent promise of Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99). I never thought I’d see Brian Wood do a Star Wars comic, but I’m so glad he is – and seemingly doing it on his own terms. Thinking of him writing Princess Leia, and the potential there specifically has been rolling around in my brain for weeks. Third, I’d get two promising artist-centric series (at least for me) in B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth — Abyss Time #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50) and TMNT: Secret of the Foot Clan #1 (IDW, $3.99). James Harren and Mateus Santolouco, respectively, are two artists I’ve been keen on for the past year and both of these books look like potential breakouts to a bigger stage. On the TMNT side, I’ve always thought Shredder and the Foot Clan to be one of the most overlooked great villains in comics, so I’m glad to see some focus on that and some potential answers.
If I had $30, I’d continue my super(comic)market sweep with Womanthology: Space #4 (IDW, $3.99). This series has two things I love: new, young creators and a space theme. I’ve been on a space opera/sci-fi kick for a while now thanks to Saga and re-reading some Heinlein, so this anthology series comes to me most fortuitously. Next up would be Legend of Luther Strode #2 (Image, $3.50). Luther Strode is a real down-and-out kind of hero, like some sort of action-based Charlie Brown. Tradd Moore’s artwork really makes this sing, too. Finally, I’d get two Marvel books with Secret Avengers #36 (Marvel, $3.99) and Wolverine and the X-Men #23 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m gritting my teeth on the latter – not because it’s bad, but because it isn’t as good for me as the previous arcs. For Secret Avengers, I feel Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s run on this has been sadly overlooked in the wave of Marvel NOW books, but this mega-arc about the Descendents and now Black-Ant has been great. I’d love to see Black-Ant as a permanent part of the Marvel U.
If I could splurge, I’d throw practicality out the door and shell out big bucks for the Black Incal deluxe hardcover (Humanoids, $79.95). There’s few times I’d spend nearly 80 bucks on a comic, but this classic story by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon kind of things. This has been reprinted numerous times (I have an older one), but I’m re-buying the story here for the deluxe treatment this volume has with its large size.
The Art of Betty and Veronica
Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe
Archie Books, $29.99
It won’t take more than an hour or so to read The Art of Betty and Veronica cover to cover, but it will be a pleasurable hour. And to be honest, it’s not quite as light a read as I expected.
Archie Comics has been criticized in the past for not giving credit to artists and writers, and this book goes a ways toward correcting that. Victor Gorelick, who started at Archie Comics in 1958, kicks things off with an essay about the Archie artists he has met during his tenure, giving a bit of personal insight into each one. There’s also a two-page spread with photos of them, which is another nice touch. I like being able to put a face to the name (although Bob Montana is somewhat obscured in his photo).
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today we welcome special guest Joshua Williamson, writer of Masks and Mobsters, Captain Midnight (which has been running in Dark Horse Presents), Uncharted, Voodoo and much more.
To see what Joshua and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …