G. Willow Wilson Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

The Fifth Color | The era of Ms. Marvel

msmarvel5_coverMs. Marvel #5 is the most important comic of the current era. Wait, I got ahead of myself.

Comics have distinct eras that you can recognize simply by flipping through an issue. Whether it’s the artwork, subject matter, costume design or the overall presentation, fans can get an idea of when the book came out, and who its intended audience is. It’s one of the reasons I have a hard time recommending older first issues to new readers; X-Men #1 is going to seem weird to someone who has never read any X-Men, whether it’s due to the silted language and design of the original or the ’90s posing and over-lettered pages of the Claremont/Lee version. It can seem really dated for new readers, and can completely color a generation of fans’ expectations of what comics should “really be like.” This is my only explanation for the extreme Jim Lee-ness of the New 52 costume designs.

With this is mind, trying to peg the overall theme of the current era of comics is still a little tricky. Do we use the movies as an example of how future generations will view the medium? Will Civil War and Identity Crisis, with their adult themes, be how the early 2000s are remembered? Do we have Brian Michael Bendis to thank for the voice of this modern era?

This brings me back to my cause this week: I would like Ms. Marvel #5 to be the bar by which the current era is measured. This comic does so much right, and is so absolutely inspiring, that I want to see followers, imitators and an entire generation of fans who will expect this level of quality in their comics in the days to come. Did I get ahead of myself again? Let me catch you up.

WARNING: I’ll be discussing Ms. Marvel #5, so grab your copy (buy three more!) and read along!

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ passes 30M in sales in Japan

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Manga | The 13 volumes to date of Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan have sold a combined 30.37 million copies in Japan, making the manga only the third series to do so since market research firm Oricon began tracking the numbers in 2009 (the first two were, of course, mega-hits One Piece and Naruto). [Anime News Network]

Digital comics | John Casteele considers the acquisition of comiXology from Amazon’s point of view: “It’s easy to see how the ComiXology purchase is going to benefit Amazon. Access to the ComiXology platform not only provides the company with additional revenues from the growing digital comics market and to the comic series that had the highest-selling single issue in 2013 (The Walking Dead, which also had five of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels for the year). It could also provide synergy with Jet City Comics and the Kindle, giving both access to the ComiXology publishing platform. Amazon could also use its Kindle platform to further refine the ComiXology’s ‘Comics’ app, which is already available for the Kindle Fire but might enjoy more direct integration in the future.” [Business Insider]

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Comics A.M. | Algerian cartoonist seeks asylum in France

Djamel Ghanem

Djamel Ghanem

Legal | Algerian cartoonist Djamel Ghanem is seeking asylum in France as the prosecution and plaintiff appeal his acquittal on charges that he insulted Algeria’s president in an unpublished cartoon drawn for the newspaper Voix d’Oranie. The newspaper brought the criminal charges against Ghanem; in possibly related news, Ghanem is suing his employer for seven years’ unpaid wages. Ghanem now claims Algeria wants to make an example of him. [Radio France International, Ennahar Online]

Conventions | Mark Rahner, who has been going to Emerald City Comicon since the first one in 2003, initially as a reporter and then as a creator, talks about why the event has grown so big (75,000 attendees are expected this weekend) and why it’s still awesome anyway. [Seattle Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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‘Ms. Marvel’ rockets to the #1 slot on Marvel’s digital sales chart

marvel-r6

It looks like Marvel’s emphasis on reaching a female audience may be paying off for Ms. Marvel.

The first issue of the teenaged superhero’s series debuted last Wednesday to a chorus of critical acclaim, just one day after Marvel editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso spoke with The Washington Post about the publisher’s enhanced focus on female characters and creators — along with Ms. Marvel, new series have been launched (or will be launched) featuring female heroes Black Widow, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and Elektra; under the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative. “While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie,” Alonso said in his interview. “If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.”

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Best of 7 | The best in comics from the last seven days

bestof7-feb9

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. Looks like I’m flying solo this week, so without further ado, let’s get to it …

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The Fifth Color | Representation in ‘Ms. Marvel’

mamarvel1The “Guy Card” doesn’t exist. No one can take away your masculinity however you choose to define that. So get out there and take dancing lessons or moisturize your face (note: I have no idea what would constitute the removal of a Guy Card because it doesn’t exist). In fact, there’s no such thing as a “Girl Card” either, so fail at wearing heels and makeup with impunity because no one other than yourself should have the power to call you on it. Be you, because that’s all we can be; pleasing everyone else is just way too hard.

What we do or don’t do shouldn’t be an indicator of gender, or race or sexual identity. I mean, we can make guesses, but that doesn’t tell you who you are inside, and it’s the inside that really counts, or so years of cartoon morality lessons have taught me. There’s no such thing as “not black enough” or “you act too gay to be straight,” because that says more about the person making those statements than the person they’re defining. The United States started out as just some humble little colonies trying to forge their own identity, coming to America to be themselves.

And some people want to be Carol Danvers.

WARNING: A spoiler-free review of Ms. Marvel #1 lies ahead, and I promise this is about as preachy as I’m going to get.

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Museum of Flight to host ‘Carol Corps Celebration’ Pre-Emerald City Comicon

captainmarvelmuseumofflightIn 2012, Marvel gave Carol Danvers a promotion from “Ms. Marvel” to “Captain Marvel,” along with a new uniform and her own ongoing series. That move swiftly won over a very passionate, dedicated fanbase, and the “Carol Corps” are gathering to celebrate in Seattle on the eve of this year’s Emerald City Comicon. The venue is high-profile, and fitting given Danvers’ background as an Air Force pilot: The Museum of Flight, the world’s largest private air and space museum.

The event, dubbed “Carol Corps Celebration,” will include appearances from Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer of both the original Danvers-as-Captain Marvel solo series and the subsequent relaunch debuting in March), Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson and Christopher Sebela, who’s co-written several Captain Marvel issues with DeConnick. Tickets are $20, and will include “the opportunity to meet awesome featured guests, mingle with them and each other, socialize and enjoy the main exhibits in the Museum of Flight,” plus light snacks and beverages. (ECCC admission is not included.) All proceeds will be donated to the Girls Leadership Institute, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

The Carol Corps Celebration happens 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 27; Emerald City Comicon takes place March 28-March 30 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Comics A.M. | Marvel Comics API launches for fans, developers

marvel-api-150

Ultron

Technology | Marvel has launched Marvel Comics API, which “gives developers the tools to create their own Marvel-based apps and digital offerings.” The developer portal comes with a strict terms of use — no advertising, apps must be free — while Kristin Vincent, Marvel’s vice president of digital products, says it could be used by retailers “to pull Marvel’s new releases onto their websites,” as one example. [Fast Company]

Creators | A memorial service for Morrie Turner, pioneering creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, will be held Sunday at the Grand Ballroom at the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa in Berkeley, California. It’s open to the public. The family plans to hold a private service in February in Sacramento. [Contra Costa Times]

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In Pakistan, hopes are (mostly) high for the new Ms. Marvel

"Ms. Marvel" #3, by Jamie McKelvie

“Ms. Marvel” #3, by Jamie McKelvie

Since the new Ms. Marvel was announced in November as Kamala Khan, the 16-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants, there’s been a lot of discussion about the significance of the character, both to Muslim readers and to comics. But journalist Shehryar Warraich takes the conversation a step further, by soliciting the opinions of Pakistanis.

The United Press International article is an interesting read, as Warraich, who’s based in Lahore, Pakistan, found reactions to be largely positive, although at least one woman expressed concerns that the Marvel comic might be part of “a conspiracy to discredit Pakistani society.”

However, the vast majority of the others quoted in the piece seemed quite hopeful about the potential effect of Kamala, both on Pakistani girls and on the country’s image.

“Pakistanis will feel proud to see their girl helping people and playing a positive role,” author Mobarak Haider told UPI. “Kamala Khan is not only representing her compatriots in this role, but Muslims as a whole. Her character could have a great impact on Muslim families living in the U.S. The concept will make parents understand that by giving girls confidence, they can build a fabulous future.”

The article also provides a good opportunity to link to the Ms. Marvel production blog, which features exactly what you would expect: character designs, process pieces and the like.

Ms. Marvel #1, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, arrives Feb. 4.

Comics A.M. | Case of Sherlock Holmes rights isn’t over just yet

Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon #2

Sherlock Holmes: The Liverpool Demon #2

Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).

However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Jihad Jane’ faces lengthy sentence for cartoonist murder plot

Colleen LaRose

Colleen LaRose

Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]

Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]

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Ms. Marvel’s uphill battle

ms marvel1Marvel’s announcement last week that a Muslim teenager living in New Jersey will star in the new Ms. Marvel series is an exciting step forward in diversifying superhero comics. And even better is the involvement of writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat, both Muslims, which should bring an authentic voice to the title.

The move is already garnering a lot of media attention, and I expect it will pique the curiosity of a number of people who never really expected a mainstream comic book to tell a story so closely connected to their own. This isn’t the first comic book to do something like this, but it’s remarkably significant.

I’m looking forward to Ms. Marvel, and I really hope the comic finds an audience (I’m also thrilled to see artist Adrian Alphona back on an ongoing series). But there’s no doubting this title is an underdog. Marvel often struggles with keeping solo series starring women; just ask fans of She-Hulk, or Rogue, or Carol Danvers. Poor Storm can’t even get more than a miniseries every 10 years or so. DC may be able to boast Wonder Woman and a number of female-starring Batman spinoffs, but both publishers have had limited success sustaining books that star minority characters. From Black Panther to War Machine to Steel to the current Batwing, there have been valiant efforts that ultimately get canceled. And I’m hard-pressed to think of a significant Marvel or DC book starring a character whose religion was such a strong crux of the premise.

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Taiwanese animators take aim at the new Ms. Marvel

marvel-nma

Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese studio that brought us offbeat animated explanations of Miles Morales, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the superhero brawl on Hollywood Boulevard, again turns its lens on comic books with a particularly biting report on this week’s announcement that the new Ms. Marvel will be a Muslim teenager from New Jersey.

“Perhaps fueled by dropping readership,” the narrator states, “Marvel Comics is really grasping at straws in a bid to find new audiences to buy its outdated printed comics. Marvel’s latest attempt at relevance is Kamala Khan, a teenaged Muslim polymorphing superhero from New Jersey. She will use her gigantic hands and feet to slap and stomp her way through the pitfalls of teenage Muslim girlhood … or something.”

Watch the video below. Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, debuts in February.

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Quote of the day | Craig Thompson’s Arabian Nights

Habibi is in, if you can call it a genre, the Arabian Nights genre. It’s borrowing from the tradition of 1001 Nights where one story folds into another and you lose sight of where you began. I was drawing from that book as a genre as if it were superheroes or crime noir, borrowing from a lot of the tropes of Arabian Nights and the bawdiness, the sensuality, the adventure, the violence, the religious aspects, the landscapes, the deserts, the harems.

Craig Thompson, in conversation with CBR’s Alex Dueben, on his ambitious new graphic novel Habibi, which is set in a world shaped both by actual Islamic and Arab culture and an old-school, romanticized/exoticized Western vision of the same. As I’ve written elsewhere, Habibi isn’t really a book “about Islam,” as some of its PR makes it seem — it’s a book that uses Islam and the Middle East as a vector for exploring issues and obsessions close to Thompson’s heart, from religious texts to sexuality to art and design to simply drawing sweeping panoramic views of the desert. In that sense, his use of the term “genre” makes a good deal of sense, since like any genre artist might do, he’s using preexisting tropes as building blocks for his world.

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