Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Comics | In advance of a radio show titled “White Men in Capes,” to be broadcast Tuesday, BBC News looks at diversity in comics and finds it lacking; as DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio says, there “doesn’t seem to really be a proper representation of ethnic characters across the entire industry.” He talks about DC’s efforts to bring diversity to its line, and he explains why: “There’s a very hungry audience, excited audience and the reason why we know that exists is because we go to the conventions and we hear from our stores and you hear the make-up of the people shopping in those stores.” [BBC News]
Political cartoons | While speaking to a youth leadership group, Maine Gov. Paul LePage was asked by Nick Danby, the son of Bangor Daily News cartoonist George Danby, what he thought of his father’s work. LePage’s response: “I’d like to shoot him.” The audience laughed, but the joke triggered a storm of criticism in the media, coming as it does in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. The elder Danby certainly didn’t find it funny, saying that while he is critical of the governor, it’s well within the boundaries of satire. And, he added, “My other thought was, what if this was reversed? If I had made a comment. I’d be in big trouble today.” [The Huffington Post]
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
Creators | Robot 6 contributor J. Caleb Mozzocco interviews Danica Novgorodoff about The Undertaking of Lily Chen, her graphic novel about a young man who sets out to find a female corpse to be buried with his dead brother—and winds up with a woman who is very much alive. [Good Comics for Kids]
Creators | Audrey Niffenegger, author of the prose novel The Time Traveler’s Wife and the graphic novel The Night Bookmobile, describes how she collaborated with Eddie Campbell to make a comic for special comics issue of The Guardian’s Weekend magazine. [The Guardian]
Digital Story Engine has released a trailer for its documentary The Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot, which, as the title suggests, chronicles the four-decade career of the creator of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, The Tale of One Bad Rat, Alice in Sunderland and Grandville.
The trailer, which clocks in at more than three minutes, showcases plenty of shots of Talbot and his work, interspersed with excerpts from interviews with the likes of Neil Gaiman, David Lloyd, Warren Ellis, Pat Mills and Michael Moorcock about the artist and his impact.
Conventions | As comics conventions continue to become an international phenomenon, ReedPOP bags a big one: The company behind New York Comic Con, C2E2, Star Wars Celebration and Penny Arcade Expo has announced a partnership with Oz Comic-Con, which runs several conventions in different locations in Australia. [press release]
Passings | Paul Burgarino reports on Sunday’s memorial service for Wee Pals cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died last month at the age of 90. Wee Pals was the first comic strip by a black creator to get a national syndication deal, and speakers remembered him as both a pioneer and an inspiration. “Through your unique artistry and personal kindness, you’ve helped show the world what we can be, should be and must be,” said David Shaffer, the son of one of Turner’s close friends. [Contra Costa Times]
Conventions | The second annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo attracted 25,000 people over the weekend, up from about 14,000 for the inaugural event. [Edmonton Journal]
Conventions | Tom Spurgeon reports in on MIX, the comics expo hosted by the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend. [The Comics Reporter]
Conventions | And Lyndsey Hewitt was on the scene at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College. [Williamsport Sun-Gazette]
Conventions | Jim Steranko and Kim Deitch will be among the guests at the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia this weekend. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
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]
Digital comics | Today, Viz Media marks the first anniversary of the launch of its digital magazine by changing its name from Shonen Jump Alpha to Weekly Shonen Jump (the same as its Japanese counterpart) and going to simultaneous release of most series with Japan as well. Editor-in-Chief Andy Nakatani talks about the changes as well and looks back at how the magazine has done in the year since it changed from a print monthly to a digital weekly. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The U.K. children’s comic The Phoenix just became available internationally with its release as an iOS app, and I interviewed Russell Willis of Panel Nine, which created the app, about the challenges involved. Panel Nine has also published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John comics, David Lloyd’s Kickback, and the works of underground cartoonist Hunt Emerson as standalone apps, and Willis has big plans for more digital indy comics in the future. [Good E-Reader]
Today is Guy Fawkes Day, and what used to be an occasion for bonfires and begging pennies from the neighbors has become a day of protest thanks to Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s graphic novel V for Vendetta; the Guy Fawkes mask worn by their anonymous revolutionary V has become a symbol of protest worldwide. The protest group Anonymous plans a march on the British Parliament this evening to re-enact the final scene from the graphic novel. The event, dubbed “Operation Vendetta,” will be live-streamed here.
Meanwhile, Moore will be marking the occasion with the release date of his first single “The Decline of English Murder.” The song can be downloaded from Occupation Records, the record label that came out of the Occupy movement; it’ll set you back a quid, but he also released a video, which features clips of Occupy protests. (Ironically, it starts with an ad.) The Guardian calls the song “a gloomy and at times opaque ballad that likens the stark economic inequities challenged by Occupy to the work of a killer … The song, with Moore half-speaking, half-singing his words to a musical backing by Joe Brown, is as mournful as you might expect from something that namechecks a motorway service station near Preston in its first line.”
More corroboration emerges for my theory that the United Kingdom is quietly undergoing a Golden Ages of comics publishing: The return of that foundation stone of the mid-’80s U.K. indie scene, Escape Books, came last month with the publication of The Great Unwashed, a compilation of work from assorted ’80s and ’90s anthologies by the Pleece Brothers. Now current U.K. indie staple Paul Rainey has announced that Escape will be collecting his previously self-published kitchen sink sci-fi epic No Time Like the Present.
That work luxuriated in the minutia of just how time travel would realistically alter the lives of its cast of pop-culture obsessives. Rainey’s currently running webcomic Thunder Brother: Soap Division will give you a hint of the earlier work’s tone: As before, things start realistically enough before escalating quickly into the surreal as genre elements get introduced in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Plus, a working knowledge of U.K. television is fairly essential in both cases.
And the first installment of David Lloyd’s start-studded new digital anthology Aces Weekly has gone live. Designed to work just as well on the screen of a home PC as on a tablet, it’s a fine-looking interface. The digital edition of Lloyd’s graphic novel Kickback also showed how canny the man is when it comes to producing comic work for new media, and the man should know a thing or two about launching an anthology — his work appeared in the first issues of Hulk Weekly, Warrior, plus the second issue of A1 — and they all turned out to be important milestones in the development of the format.
Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]
Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]
Wired has the exclusive on David Lloyd’s cover for the second issue of Occupy Comics, which shows a figure in the Guy Fawkes mask that Lloyd and Alan Moore brought to the world in V for Vendetta taunting a bull.
The second issue of the Occupy Comics anthology was released Monday, the first anniversary of the movement; besides Lloyd, the contributors include cartoonist Matt Bors, activist Bill Ayer, and artist Molly Crabapple, who lives near the Occupy site and was arrested at the first-anniversary event. (And check out the Occupy illustrations that Crabapple did for The Nation — before becoming part of the story herself.)
Editor Matt Pizzolo says the emphasis of the anthology has shifted in this second issue:
With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.
David Lloyd and U.K. comics mainstay Bambos Georgiou are launching a digital anthology comic called Aces Weekly, and have released a large and impressive list of future contributors to the U.K. comics blog Down The Tubes. The press release continues: