Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Priya’s Shakti is a comic that aims to change the world, or at least, one part of it.
The creation of writer Ram Devenini and artist Dan Goldman, Priya’s Shakti uses elements of Indian religion and mythology to take on the difficult topic of rape and send a strong message that it’s a crime and the victim is not to be blamed for it. The comic tells the story of a rape survivor who’s cast out by her family, a situation that angers the gods; the resolution comes with a call to action.
The comic is available for free on comiXology and debuts in print this week at the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention. However, it’s not limited by the usual distribution structures: As Devenini explains to ROBOT 6, the creators have partnered with the Indian charitable trust Apne Aap Women Worldwide to get the title out to girls in classrooms and communities far from comics shops. They also painted street murals in Mumbai that include an augmented reality feature; when viewed with a smart phone, parts of the murals are animated.
I spoke with Devenini and Goldman about making the comic, the special features, and how they plan to spread the word.
Priya’s Shakti is the first comic released in India to use augmented reality, a digital effect that animates some of the panels when they are viewed with a smart phone.
That’s impressive, but it’s not the most remarkable thing about the comic. What sets Priya’s Shakti apart is the subject matter: It’s a story about rape. In the comic, a rape survivor and the goddess Parvati travel around the country and the world, fighting sexual violence and the attitudes that underlie it.
Producer and writer Ram Devineni and artist Dan Goldman (Red Light Properties) created the comic, which has been awarded a 2014 Tribeca Film Institute New Media Fund grant, and they partnered with the NGO Apne Aap Women Worldwide, which works for social and policy changes to improve the standing of women throughout the world, to help get it into as many hands as possible.
Location, location, location. It’s said those are the three important things when it comes to real estate, and cartoonist Dan Goldman knows that more than just about anyone.
Born in Detroit, raised in Miami and coming of age in New York City, Goldman spent the past few years living in São Paulo, Brazil, before returning late last year to New York. A longtime proponent of digital comics, he was among the founders of Act-I-Vate, and launched his current comic series Red Light Properties in 2010 on the website of book publisher Tor. But recently Goldman decided to hitch his boxcar to a different train when he jumped to upstart digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics to continue his 300-plus page run on that title.
Red Light Properties is all about location (location, location), but in a supernatural sense, as it follows a Miami real estate agency whose specialty is to survey, repair and re-sell distressed homes. But these aren’t your normal condos; they’re possessed by the ghosts of dead former tenants. Jude Tobin, the man behind RLP, is a clairvoyant whose powers only come to life when he’s “under the influence,” so to speak, and his associated family and busniess partner have to deal with his problems while also handling their own. It’s as if William S. Burroughs wrote Ghost Whisperer, but you know, with even more hallucenigenics.
I reached out to Goldman to find out more about this new era for Red Light Properties, but also to get his perspective on being an American cartoonist living with Brazil, and the story that took him there and brought him back.
For every comic book you see on shelves, there are dozens of ideas, proposals and half-finished creations that never see the full light of day. Red Light Properties writer/artist Dan Goldman recently showed off one such project on his Flickr account, an adaptation of James Douglas’ popular 2007 nonfiction book JFK & The Unspeakable: How He Died and Why It Matters, praised by filmmaker Oliver Stone as the “best account” of the assassination of President Kennedy.
Goldman was in talks to adapt the work alongside writer Seth Jacobson, but sadly the project never got beyond the cover and six pages created by Goldman and Jacobson.
Legal | A federal judge this week made final his Oct. 17 decision that the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster surrendered the ability to reclaim their 50-percent interest in the property in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics, triggering an almost-immediate appeal to the 9th Circuit by Shuster estate lawyer Marc Toberoff. Jeff Trexler delves into the legal strategy behind the attorney’s motion for final judgment. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Todd McFarlane has settled his lawsuit against former employee Al Simmons, who earlier this year released a book in which he claimed to be the inspiration for Spawn. McFarlane had accused Simmons of violating the terms of his employment pact and breaching his duty of loyalty. Settlement terms weren’t disclosed. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Mark Waid made his career in print comics, but over the past few years he has become increasingly involved in digital work, and this short video demonstrates where his thinking is going. Waid believes that the day of the print-first comic is coming to an end, and that creators should be designing their comics with the digital reading experience in mind.
Several Brooklyn, N.Y. creators launched Trip City, a new “literary arts salon” website, this week, featuring free content by the likes of Dean Haspiel, Seth Kushner, Joe Infurnari, Kevin Colden, Chris Miskiewicz, Jef UK and many more.
“TRIP CITY reinvents the online arts collective with a virtual playground for a diverse set of accomplished and highly individualistic creators,” said Trip City founder Dean Haspiel, “spanning every borough of artistic endeavor from the visual arts to literature, music, video and beyond.”
Comis wise, there’s already a bunch of stuff to check out, including Dean Haspiel’s Bring Me The Heart Of Billy Dogma, Chris Miskiewicz and Kate McElroy’s Adrift, Joe Infurnari’s Memoirs of the Kid Immortal, Nick Bertozzi’s Lad Zeppelin, Kevin Colden’s Baby With A Mohawk and more. In addition to comics, the site will also feature profiles, interviews and podcasts with everyone from Moby to Henry Rollins to Michael Moore, who is interviewed by Dan Goldman in the site’s first podcast.
The release Haspiel sent out says that the group has future plans to take some of the content and perform it live on the road. “Working with so many Brooklyn locals, we have this great sense of community right out of the gate,” said Jef UK. “Then, when we take the next step and turn Trip City into a live event—which is in the works—our tribe is already gathered, so to speak.”
Publishing | Damien Lucchese, a production artist laid off last week by Marvel, explains why fans should not boycott the publisher over the layoffs: “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want everyone to just see the MARVEL logo and think of a huge, top-heavy company, full of money hungry suits that make poor decisions (in some peoples’ opinions). That’s not what MARVEL is and there are still people working very hard (even harder now), day after day to put out comics for people to enjoy.” [Blog@Newsarama]
Digital piracy | Jim Mroczkowski posts his third interview with a digital pirate; as in the first two episodes, what comes through is that social pressures and one-upmanship have a lot to do with it. Also, piracy is expensive for the pirates, who usually buy the comics they scan—and often don’t even read them. [iFanboy]
Publishing | Retail news and analysis site ICv2 concludes its two-part interview with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley, who addresses the struggle between “tightly interwoven continuity” and accessible comics: “… You run the constant battle of people saying ‘we need one-shots for people to jump on to,’ but the ordering trends don’t play to that a lot. The ordering trends play to ‘is this tied to an event.’ It was very evident with DC’s Brightest Day and Darkest Night orders. It was very evident during Civil War. So you hear that said a lot but most of the sales are very contradictory to those desires. Making books as easily entered into as possible is something we try to pay close attention to. I’m not going to deny that we don’t get lost in our own soup sometimes which is the nature of serialized story-telling. It’s hard to keep the revenue numbers without tying in books to leverage off the big books.” [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Laura Hudson surveys a handful of retailers about what part higher cover prices may have played in August’s plummeting comics sales. “This summer has underperformed, and I think [the $3.99 price point] is a big part of it,” says Chris Rosa of Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, “but also I think the lack of an event and the fact that the big books at both [companies] are extended denouements to events. There’s nothing really inspiring people to run out to the stores. People are tired of buying four Avengers titles at $3.99 a pop.” [Comics Alliance]
Publishing | Tom Mason looks at the return of Atlas Comics: “If you were 13 years-old in 1975 when the original books were out, you’d be 48 today. In other words, the age of the average direct market fanboy. But in order for these new books to succeed, they’d have to appeal beyond nostalgia because with most Marvel and DC comics at $4.00 a pop, you’ve got to have something special and excellent to lure some of those buyers into your own circus tent.” [Comix 411]
As he mentioned in his response to our survey this past weekend, Dan Goldman has anew webcomic launching at Tor.com today. Red Light Properties is now live on their site, and is a “tropical-horror series” about a real estate firm in Miami Beach that cleans and sells “previously-haunted homes” to people who’ve lost their houses to foreclosure.
“All my projects since 2001 have been steps toward getting *this* series done right, and I’m thrilled to announce that my baby is finally born, weighing 16 color pages with another 8 coming to you every Tuesday for the next six months, free of charge,” Goldman said over email. “There will be no ‘continued in the print version’ at the end, either; we’re giving the entire novel away on Tor.com.”
Goldman is also experimenting with the presentation of the story. “I’ve changed up webcomics a bit in the way the pages are presented, and I’ve upgraded my process to using Maya to create/light virtual environments for my characters to inhabit, so there’s a lot of sexy-new here for you to enjoy,” he said.
After the jump you can find a couple of promotional pieces for the story, including a flyer for “Red Light Properties.”
And here we are with our final round of responses from comic industry folks, after I asked them what they were looking forward to in 2010. You can find part one here and part two here. My thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to Tim O’Shea or myself.
A couple of quick thoughts from the old year and the new one:
1. I’m delighted a new YA novel in Gerald Morris ‘The Squire’s Tales’ series came out in September. ‘The Squire’s Quest’ is his first new novel in the series about Camelot and the Arthurian legends in several years. I’ve enjoyed the books immensely. I know. I know. It came out this year. Tough. I still couldn’t be more pleased.
2. I’ve been working on a long graphic novel for DC for awhile now (96 pages), should wrap it up in 2010 and really, I can’t wait! Catch me again in April or May and I’ll fill you in with some detail.
Walt Simonson’s work spans decades; he’s worked on comics like Thor, Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Factor, Orion, Manhunter, Hawkgirl, World of Warcraft and his own Star Slammers, just to name a few. Earlier this year he donated this really awesome piece of original artwork for the auctions we did for our own Carla Hoffman, for which we will always be grateful.
1. Excited for a few things. The new Doctor (Who), Iron Man 2, and really excited for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. I’m not sure if Darwyn Cooke’s next Parker GN is going to be out next year, but I will be all over that the second it’s announced.
2. Excited for a few things of my own: Popgun 4, a secret project that I can’t announce at all, my new comic, STRAY, and getting FCHS Volume 1 out there in print.
In anticipation of Barack Obama’s inauguration tomorrow, Shooting War creator Dan Goldman created a short webcomic for Tor.com that plays off of the end of Barack’s first term and the end of the ancient Mayan calendar — Dec. 21, 2012 — or, as X-Files fans might remember, the day before the aliens come. Throw in a little bit of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World for good measure, and you have to wonder when we’ll see the first Motherbox in the White House …
Artist Dan Goldman of Shooting War fame sent over word that he’s posted 20 pages of the upcoming 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail on his website — you can find it here. The book, written by The New Republic’s Michael Crowley and drawn by Goldman, documents Crowley’s time on the campaign trail during last year’s presidential election.
While Crowley was on the road with the candidates for the duration of the campaign as part of his day job, Goldman said he was able to join him as he traveled through New Hampshire during the first primary. “I had to stay home to draw,” he told me, “but it was important to get a taste so I could make the story ring true.”
He added that the book is “stylistically a mashup of sequential narrative and graphic design” and “is a documentary-in-comics of this historic and magical election we’re all still buzzing from, as seen from reporters’ perspective on the campaign trail.” The book is due to hit stores Jan. 27.