EXCLUSIVE: Battleworld Gets Dangerous in Marvel's July 2015 Solicitations
The GLAAD Media Awards are traditionally a fairly mainstream affair, with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation recognizing outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in works that reach a wide audience. Although in the past, the organization has honored the likes of Fun Home, Luba and Strangers in Paradise, the outstanding comic book category is typically heavy on superhero titles released by Marvel and DC Comics.
However, with the announcement this morning of the nominees for the 26th annual GLAAD Media Awards comes a couple of big surprises: Just one superhero series is singled out, and, for the first time since the comic book category debuted in 2003, there are no titles published by DC or its imprints.
Conventions | Vendors who paid the $60 deposit to exhibit at Cherry City Comic Con are clamoring for a refund after word circulated that the Salem, Oregon, convention won’t happen this spring as planned. (There appears to have been some discussion about the con being canceled on Facebook, but the convention’s Facebook page now states, “A marketing solutions company is helping us start the new year right and get us back on track to make this a successful show everyone can love.” No other posts appear on the page.) This isn’t the first round of controversy for the con: Last May, organizer Mike Martin called an exhibitor “batshit insane” on Facebook when she asked for a refund and expressed concern that the con would not be a “safe place for female cosplayers.” Martin is also the organizer of a craft fair that was canceled; some exhibitors for that event were denied refunds because of “a locked PayPal account.” [KOIN]
Marvel will be presented with a Vanguard Award at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th-anniversary gala on Nov. 8. Activists George and Brad Takei and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will also be honored.
“Marvel Entertainment, through its award-winning portrayals of LGBT characters and storylines that parallel the struggle to end discrimination against our community, has helped brighten the lives of LGBT kids — and adults alike — around the world,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in s statement.
Conventions | A reported 86,500 people attended the third annual Denver Comic Con over the weekend, up from 61,000 in 2013. The event is undergoing some growing pains, however, with organizers quickly rescinding an announced cart-service fee for next year’s convention following complaints from vendors. Even without that additional charge, some exhibitors remain unhappy about the proposed increase in booth fees. [The Denver Post]
Prism Comics, the nonprofit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender creators, comics and readers, has opened submissions for the 2014 Queer Press Grant.
The grant is awarded to writers/artists or teams self-publishing comic books, comic strips, webcomics or graphic novels with significant LGBT characters and themes; creators don’t need to be LGBT to apply. Entries are judged by the Prism board and past recipients based first on artistic merit, and then financial need, proposal presentation and the work’s contributions to the LGBT community.
The grant is funded through donations from creators and fans. Past winners include Hazel Newlevant, Robert Kirby, Eric Orner and Megan Rose Gedris.
Guidelines can be found on the Prism Comics website. The deadline for proposals is Sept. 1; the recipient will be announced at the Alternative Press Expo, held Oct. 4-5 in San Francisco.
Conventions | Preliminary estimates place attendance at Dallas Comic Con at 45,000, easily a record for the event, which not only moved this year to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from the smaller Irving Convention Center but is also under new ownership. [The Dallas Morning News]
Conventions | Joe Rodriguez does some shoe-leather reporting at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose, talking to creators and attendees about cosplay, digital comics and the perils of self-publishing. [San Jose Mercury News]
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]
“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics. It’s tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it’s nice that we’ve made some steps — we have more female-led books than ever before — that doesn’t mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, discussing the titles introduced as part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative
The Over the Rainbow Project, sponsored by the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table, announced its 2014 book list, containing works recommended for adults that “exhibit commendable literary quality and significant LGBT content.” Six titles were selected in the Graphic Narrative category:
The Rainbow Project, a joint committee of the GLBT Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table, highlighted five graphic novels on its list of graphic novels for teens:
Digital comics | Google was granted a patent this week for “Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications,” which means the Internet giant apparently has patented a mechanism for creating comics about your status updates and chats and sharing them via social media. This sounds a lot like the wildly popular, but widely reviled, Bistrips. [Geekwire]
Best of the year | Brian Truitt takes a look back at the year in comics, picking out some significant events and offering his nominations for best creator, best comic book movie, and best comic in a variety of genres and formats. [USA Today]
Best of the year | Writing for The Advocate, cartoonist Brian Andersen reflects on the year’s 10 greatest LGBT moments in mainstream comics. [Advocate.com]
It’s little surprise that the editorial board of the conservative Washington Times didn’t embrace the announcement that the new Ms. Marvel is a 16-year-old Muslim from New Jersey, but the newspaper’s actual response is a bit … bewildering. One might even describe it as eerie.
Beginning a Sunday editorial with a declaration that “diversity and quotas are more important than dispatching evil” — because, as we all know, heroes can’t be diverse and fight villains! — the writer engages in a little concern trolling, warning that Ms. Marvel, and by extension Marvel, will have to be careful not to anger “militant Islam” if there’s any hope for newsstand sales in Muslim nations. Of course we’re told in the very next paragraph that, “Ms. Marvel probably won’t appear in comic books in Saudi Arabia, anyway,” which apparently takes care of that problem.
Once we slog through the bumbling writing and odd aside involving Secretary of State Kerry, however, we arrive at the crux of the Washington Times’ argument, such as it is: that diversity is strange and frightening.
Loki has undergone several changes over the past several years, returning in a female body after Ragnarok, reincarnating in the form of a boy (the fan-favorite “Kid Loki”) and then, in this week’s Young Avengers #11 — OK, we won’t spoil it for you, but Marvel’s recent announcement of Loki: Agent of Asgard tells you all you need to know.
Well, maybe not all you need to know.
Responding on his blog to a fan’s questions, writer Al Ewing reveals that in the new series the god of mischief’s gender and sexuality will be fluid. “Yes, Loki is bi and I’ll be touching on that,” he wrote last night. “He’ll shift between genders occasionally as well.”
Neither of those will be particularly surprising to anyone familiar with Norse mythology, where the shape-shifting Loki is frequently viewed, in modern terms, as transgender and bisexual.
Apparently peppered with even more Loki questions, Ewing followed up this morning with a moratorium titled “Enough Loki For Now”: “I’m not The Loki Guy until February, and right now I feel like I’m stepping on toes, so I’m going to stop talking about Loki outside of interviews until early January. After that, I’ll be as available as before. […] So, how about those Mighty Avengers, huh?”
“In the past, comics companies have tended to suggest diversity should ‘happen naturally,’ as if when you leave a comic book open overnight gay men might grow in the pages like mustard and cress, so it’s great that Marvel are now championing it, doing it deliberately. Because that’s the only way it can be done. Jeanine’s [Schaefer, his editor on Wolverine] a force for change. And there are a number of prominent female editors now who are altering the face of pro comics culture pretty swiftly.
Online comics fandom, meanwhile, if you judge solely by the comics message boards, remains conservative and behind the times. The action is to be found on Tumblr, where the Carol Corps lives.”
— writer Paul Cornell, who adheres to a strict “panel parity” rule at conventions (he won’t appear on all-male panels), talking to the New Statesman about embracing political issues in mainstream comic books
(Carol Corps ID card from PsychoAndy)
The illusion of change is the usual approach to mainstream superhero comics. It offers the excitement of change without losing the successful elements to actual change. It’s cynical but it’s smart from a corporate standpoint. Every once in a while, however, actual change happens. Or maybe change is just talked about. Some like it, some don’t like it. And then there are the people that really, really don’t like it, and head down to their local torch-and-pitchfork store.
Such is where we find ourselves in the ongoing discussion of The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield’s hypothetical consideration of making Peter Parker bisexual.
But why did Garfield’s idea trigger such heated responses? I’m not talking about the calm “Oh, I don’t know, I’m not crazy about that idea, but rather the aggressive, threatening and hateful reactions that seem to come from a very dark place.
Calling Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home “pornographic,” a conservative Christian group in South Carolina is criticizing the College of Charleston’s selection of the acclaimed graphic novel as recommended reading for incoming freshmen. The school, however, is standing by its choice.
The Eisner Award-winning 2006 memoir, which details Bechdel’s childhood with her closeted gay father, his apparent suicide and her own coming out as a lesbian, is part of the annual “The College Reads!” program, which provides free copies of the selected works to full-time faculty and new students. The books aren’t required reading.
However, Fun Home was labeled “A Shocking Summer Reading Assignment” by Palmetto Family, an advocacy group whose “vision is to transform the culture in South Carolina by reclaiming the values and virtues of marriage, the traditional family model and sexual purity.”
“If this book were a magazine it would be wrapped in brown paper,” Palmetto Family President Oran Smith is quoted as saying. “We reviewed every book assigned in SC this year. Many were provocative. This one is pornographic. Not a wise choice for 18-year-olds at a taxpayer-supported college.”