INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]
Retailing | Susana Polo interviews several members of the Valkyries, the organization of women who work in comic shops, and examines the “Valkyrie Bump,” the sales boost that some comics, such as Sex Criminals, Lumberjanes and Batgirl, get when they benefit from their extra support. [Publishers Weekly]
Political cartoons | Reporter James Hookway interviews the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges, and provides some background on Malaysian politics and trial of Anwar Ibrahim, which is the topic of some of Zunar’s controversial cartoons. [The Wall Street Journal]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about how New York Comic Con reached 151,000 attendees this year, what went well, what could have gone better, and what he learned for next time. The new badges and check in/check out system, introduced last year, let producers know exactly how long people stayed at the show, and that turned into a nice surprise for two attendees: “There was a couple [last year] who literally spent every minute that was possible at New York Comic Con for three and a half days. We reached out to them and did something special for them—gave them a bunch of free stuff and free tickets because they were at the show longer than anyone who wasn’t paid to be at the show.” [ICv2]
Political cartoons | Egyptian cartoonists Mohamed Anwar and Andeel discuss the difficulty of critiquing Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who doesn’t tolerate dissent; Anwar is a cartoonist for a mainstream newspaper and pulls some punches as the tradeoff for reaching a wide audience, while Andeel has moved over to the alternative press, where he can speak more freely. [The Guardian]
DC Comics’ Batgirl, with its new costume, new direction and new creative team, has its own “(un)official blog,” and now so too does Gotham Academy. Launched over the weekend, Inside Gotham Academy — “the almost official blog” for the upcoming series — so far features promotional pieces, some covers and fan work, but it’s also teased that the series creators (Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl and Romain Gaschet) may post there.
DC Comics has released three new promos introducing the students of Gotham Academy, debuting in October from writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, artist Karl Kerschl and colorist Romain Gaschet.
Announced in June, the teen drama is set in the city’s most prestigious school, where students attend classes (and get into mischief) in “the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham.”
In addition to writing the upcoming Gotham Academy and publishing her own books like Demeter and Wolves, Becky Cloonan also makes a killer zucchini bread, according to comic book foodie C.B. Cebulski.
“Usually when I go out with award-winning writer/artist Becky Cloonan, our conversation tends to focus on comics. But when we sat down over oysters and cocktails up at Boston Comic Con this past weekend, she turned to me and asked, ‘Hey, do you like zucchini bread?’, which she followed up by pulling foil-wrapped loaves out of her bag,” Cebulski wrote on his food blog. “Having just moved back to New Hampshire, Becky has a garden that’s giving her a bounty of summer squash she can’t eat all by herself. So she baked up a bunch of bread for her friends at the show.”
When DC Comics relaunched its superhero line in 2011 with the New 52, there was an unmistakable sameness to the aesthetic of many of the titles. Sure, there have been some eye-catching exceptions, but for the most part, the Jim Lee-led character redesigns have exerted great influence over the DC Universe for the past three years.
If you’re a fan of Jim Lee, that’s pretty awesome. If you’re a fan of a lot of artists and styles, that’s less awesome and has made the New 52 sometimes frustrating and occasionally baffling. There are more than 75 years’ worth of characters bursting with the imagination of hundreds of creators. Why filter all that down to such a narrow experience for readers? I love Oreo cookies, but can I ever have chocolate chip cookie?
But then, along comes new Batman Group Editor Mark Doyle, who moved from Vertigo in February. Suddenly, there’s a new creative team, a new costume and a new outlook, for Batgirl, followed by announcements of Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor and, just Tuesday, Gotham By Midnight, demonstrating that Batman and his world are a resilient and powerful corner of the DC Universe. It’s one where offering different aesthetics adds a richness to the entire line while (possibly) attracting the eye of those looking for something different in their reading experience.
Essentially, Doyle just installed a snack bar. So let’s go eat!
Even as DC Comics announces another intriguing addition to its Batman line, the horror title Gotham By Midnight, artist Karl Kerschl has unveiled the first look at colored panel from Gotham Academy #1, offering a hint at what readers can expect from the October-debuting series. He has also posted a few black-and-white panels on his blog.
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, with art by Kerschl and colorist Romain Gaschet, Gotham Academy is a teen drama set in the city’s most prestigious school (or, as the official description reads, “set in the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham City”).
What’s an old prep school without a proper coat of arms? Fans who watched one of the new episodes of DC All Access glimpsed the one for Gotham Academy, but now the publisher has released the image in the form of a teaser, encouraging applicants to “Enroll Now For the Fall Semester.”
Announced late last month among a wave of new titles, Gotham Academy is set in the city’s most prestigious, and undoubtedly weirdest, school. It’s written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Karl Kerschl, who draw some of their inspiration from Harry Potter, Nancy Drew and the secret history of Gotham exposed in Batman: The Court of Owls.
“Certainly when you relaunch a whole universe, something like the New 52, you’re gonna essentially create a bible that kind of guides and dictates the evolution and growth of the universe. We’re in year three of that, and certainly every story that’s created is done through the collaboration of an editor with the writer and the artist and the rest of the creative team. So I certainly think Mark Doyle coming on and becoming the Batman Group editor was a big part of that. I think it’s also a recognition that our audience has evolved and we wanna make sure that we tell the stories that the audiences are craving. So we identified this need. We’re coming out with these different kinds of storylines, and, frankly, it’s exciting because we have a lot of Batman books, and I think it’s a disservice to the fans and to the character to have everything feel of the same tonality. I’m a big fan of Becky Cloonan, so I’m really looking forward to her work on Gotham Academy. I think it’s healthy for the business, and it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.”
— DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, talking with Entertainment Weekly about the decision to take “the Batman world” in a different direction with the newly announced Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. (He also mentions Batgirl among the developments he’s looking forward to in the back half of Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration.)
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.
This week DC Comics announced a big change in Batgirl: namely, a new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Coming aboard with October’s Issue 35, they bring a nifty new look and setting. After three years of grim but determined storytelling from writer Gail Simone and various artists (most recently Fernando Pasarin), Barbara Gordon is heading into Gotham’s “hip border district” for graduate school, and she’s leaving all the bad times behind.