Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Every Wednesday evening for the past few months, I’d visit my local comic shop, scan the little piles of Secret Wars tie-ins stacked on the counter and flip through many of the more appealing-looking ones before ultimately setting them down, knowing I’ll get to them eventually, when they’re collected. Due to the price of almost all of Marvel’s comics, I’ve given up on reading them as they’re released, and instead wait to read them in trade.
Now I have read a handful of Secret Wars comics that I found at my friend’s apartment — the first issues of A-Force, The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Secret Wars Journal, X-Men ’92 – so I understand the general premise of the tie-ins, if not what’s going on in the main book. The downside of reading trades instead of single issues is that you’re always one event series behind everyone else. (How about that Axis, huh?)
I mention my own buying habits here only because this week I encountered a Secret Wars tie-in that looked so good, and looked even better the more I flipped through it, that I simply couldn’t resist buying it, despite its fairly substantial $4.99 price: Secret Wars: Secret Love #1, a one-shot anthology featuring five romantic stories set in various corners of the “patchwork world” of Secret Wars. And the fact that I did break down and buy it is kind of a review in and of itself.
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Passings | Anastasia Moreno, co-creator of the webcomic Marine Corps Yumi and a manga translator for Seven Seas, has died. Moreno was the translator of Kisses Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink, Girl Friends, and Strawberry Panic, as well as the Love Hina and Trinity Blood novels. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Political cartoonist Matt Bors has left his post as editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which he had built into a highly regarded online comics site until Medium gutted it. Bors told Tom Spurgeon he would be launching a Kickstarter for a Nib book, but he did not reveal any future plans. [Comics Reporter]
Editorial Cartoons | Political cartoonist Adrian Raeside is being laid off from the Victoria Times Colonist after 30 years. [Vancouver Sun]
Comics | I rounded up the kids’ comics news at Comic-Con. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | “I kind of understood inherently — and I wasn’t really conflicted about this — that comics were not for me or by people who looked like me,” says Noelle Stevenson. Discovering the “free for all” of webcomics, and seeing women making stories for women, changed her attitude, and at 23 she already has a solid career, as the creator of Nimona (which started as a webcomic) and one of the co-creators of Lumberjanes. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her new picture book, The Princess and the Pony, and the power and joy of making kids laugh with poop and fart jokes. [Jezebel]
Creators | Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis talks about comics and being mistaken for Robert Downey, Jr. [Huffington Post]
Graphic Novels | Leah Hayes talks about her graphic novel Not Funny Ha-Ha, which follows the experiences of two women as they have abortions; the book focuses on the procedure itself, not the decision to have an abortion or the discussion that surrounds it. [MTV]
Graphic Novels | Phil Morehart covers three creator panels on diversity in graphic novels at the American Library Association annual meeting. Trina Robbins, Brenden Fletcher, Noelle Stevenson, and Jeremy Whitley were among the participants. [American Libraries]
Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the recommendations from the Best and Worst Manga panel at Comic-Con (in which I took part). [MangaComicsManga]
Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless is the story readers they want: a kid-friendly tale of a strong girl who defies authority and has swashbuckling adventures. Centering on Adrienne, a princess who breaks out of her tower, befriends the dragon who is supposed to be guarding her, and heads off to rescue her sister princesses, it’s funny and well written, and it was nominated for two Eisner Awards, best publication for kids (8-12) and best single issue (for Issue 3, which sends up superheroine costumes). Yet its small-press origins and limited distribution meant that it took a while to reach its audience.
Now publisher Action Lab comics is reissuing Princeless, first in single-issue format (starting with Issue 1), and then with a new Vol. 1. After that, the publisher will focus on new content. I spoke with Whitley, who also handles publicity for Action Labs, about why he wrote Princeless and why he is reissuing the series. (Jeremy’s essay on women and comics is also well worth a read.)
Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.
Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.
The snow is piled high where I am, and May seems like a long time away, but the Free Comic Book Day folks are getting into the spirit by posting some free previews (or “prevues,” as they spell it, since these are Previews prevues). The selection includes Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, a Molly Danger comic by Jamal Igle that will be bundled with a Princeless story by Jeremy Whitley, Atomic Robo, 2000AD, Brian Wood’s Star Wars, and more.
As in previous years, the FCBD website is also running a series of creator interviews. These aren’t particularly deep; all the creators get the same set of softball questions (actual question, I kid you not: “Tell us why everyone should read comic books?”) but some of them, like Fred Van Lente, go beyond “Comics are AWESOME!!!!!” and have a bit of fun with it. Recent interviews worth a glance include Cory Godbey, who is working on an adaptation of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth; Emmanuel Guibert and Mark Boutvant on Ariol; and Robert Venditti on X-O Manowar. It’s all nakedly promotional, but it’s promoting comics after all, and there is some good stuff in there, both in the responses and the art samples.
To see what Josh and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Publishing | The Amazing Spider-Man #700 led the pack in the December comics numbers with 200,000 copies selling to comics shops, and with a cover price if $7.99, it racked up a cool $1.6 million in sales. Avengers #1 sold 186,000 copies but at a more reasonable price, so the dollars didn’t pile up as high for that one. ICv2 also has the December charts for the Top 300 comics and graphic novels in the direct market. John Jackson Miller takes it to the next level with sales estimates for the top 1,000 comics and trades of 2012. [ICv2]
Publishing | At the other end of the scale, Rob Clough talks to Chuck Forsman, the guy behind micropublisher Oily Comics. [The Comics Journal]
Let me start with a confession: I have never understood why comics covers are so different from the interiors. In every other part of publishing, editors try to make their covers broadcast the contents inside, but with comics it’s somehow OK to have the interior done by one artist and the cover by another, often with wildly varying styles.
Writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Emily Martin take on that issue head-on with the cover of Issue 2 of the second arc of Princeless. Written for children (but witty enough for adults), Princeless is the story of a princess who refuses to go along with the standard paradigm of being locked in a tower and waiting for a knight to come along and slay her dragon so he can marry her.
Whitley and Martin apparently aren’t going along with the standard paradigm, either. Their cover challenges a couple of comics conventions, both making the characters extra-sexy and having a cover image that has nothing to do with the story inside. In a recent post, blogger Rob McMonigal applauded them for making a statement but questioned whether a children’s comic is the appropriate place to do it. After all, the statement is really about direct market comic books, and children aren’t a big part of that audience.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, my Wednesday haul would start with Glory #30 (Image, $3.99). This series has been great, and since Kris Anka began doing covers, it’s gone to very great. Now, seeing New Yorker cartoonist Roman Muradov coming in to do a story makes it potentially even more, well, great. I’m psyched to see Glory face off against her sister, and Campbell’s depiction of both has been mesmerizing. Next I’d pick up Comeback #1 (Image, $3.50), featuring letterer Ed Brisson making his major writing debut. The cover design by Michael Walsh is impeccable, and the concept of time traveling for grieving loved ones is a fascinating concept. Next up, I’d get a Marvel double – Wolverine and the X-Men #21 (Marvel, $3.99) and Hawkeye #4 (Marvel, $2.99). This carnie issue of Wolverine and the X-Men is intriguing; it’s going out on a limb, but after what Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw have done so far, I trust them. With Hawkeye, I’m slightly hesitant to pick up an issue knowing David Aja isn’t drawing it, but Javier Pulido has the potential to be an ideal temporary substitute.
If I had $30, I’d look back on my $15 and reluctantly put Hawkeye #4 back on the shelf to free up money for Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune, Book 1: Vanishing Point (First Second, $16.99). Man oh man, do I love Kim’s work, and seeing the previews for this online makes me see a honing of the artist’s style akin to the way Bryan O’Malley did between Lost At Sea and Scott Pilgrim. Count me in.
If I could splurge, I’d take a chance on the anthology Digestate (Birdcage Bottom Books, $19.95). I’m no foodie like C.B. Cebulski, but I like food and I like anthologies so this is right up my alley; especially when the chefs include Jeffrey Brown and Liz Prince. Where’s my order?
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Salgood Sam, who has just relaunched his independent personal anthology series Revolver. He is also completing the last chapter of a graphic novel called Dream Life after a successful Indiegogo funding drive to finance it. He also publishes the Canadian-centric comics blog Sequential. As he told me, he “usually has too many projects going on and does not get enough sleep.”
To see what Salgood Sam and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Johanna Draper Carlson has a thoughtful post about the appropriate use of Kickstarter, and uses Lea Hernandez’s Kickstarter for The Garlicks as an example of a campaign she’s not comfortable with, because the comic doesn’t exist yet:
I am more comfortable funding a project where the work already exists, one where the creator needs print costs. This doesn’t apply to Lea’s case, but one of the reasons why is that, if rewards deliver within a couple of months, I’m protected if something happens and I don’t get what’s promised. Within 3-6 months, I have the ability to do a credit card chargeback in the worst case, if the provider flakes out. On a more personal level, it’s more rewarding to get a book or other rewards within a couple of months, as though it was similar to a preorder. Otherwise, it feels like throwing money into the wind.
In Johanna’s case, it’s a matter of not wanting to invest in something that isn’t substantially complete — because she wants to be sure she gets what she paid for. In the comments, though, it turns to a more general discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use a Kickstarter to support the artist while she is working on the project. Hernandez points out that her Kickstarter includes printing and production costs and a modest page rate paid directly to her for doing the work:
Princeless, the all-ages comic about a princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued, led the 2012 Glyph Comics Awards, taking home honors for story of the year, best writer and best female character. The awards, which recognize “the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year,” were presented this weekend at the 11th annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia.
The winners are:
Story of the year: Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab Entertainment)
Best writer: Jeremy Whitley, Princeless (Action Lab Entertainment)
Best artist: Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Marvel)
Best cover: Chew #27, Rob Guillory (Image Comics)
Best male character: Miles Morales, Ultimate Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis, writer, Sara Pichelli, artist; inspired by the character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
Best female character: Adrienne, Princeless; created by Jeremy Whitley, writer, and M. Goodwin, artist (Action Lab Entertianment)
Rising star award for best self-publisher: Whit Taylor, Watermelon
Best comic strip or webcomic: Fungus Grotto, by Ms. Shatia Hamilton
Creators | Dean Haspiel discusses his frustration with creating stories for franchise characters, even working with regular artists and writers for the series, and never hearing back from the editors: “I have a deluge of sad short stories and a bunch of outstanding pitches sitting atop [or buried underneath] comic book editorial desks that will continue to prove that it is nearly impossible to pitch solicited, much less, unsolicited stories. The hurtful part? Editors woo me into thinking I have a chance. I don’t have a chance. Maybe I shot my wad at Vertigo where I pitched and delivered three, critically acclaimed graphic novels? Maybe I’m considered the odd memoir artist who dabbles in digital genre. And, so I’m stuck between too mainstream for the indie crowd and too indie for the mainstream crowd. That used to bother me but now I’m okay with it because, frankly, that’s a cool place to be if you can make ends meet.” [Welcome to Trip City]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat talks about his decision to shift from portraying generic characters in his cartoons to zeroing in on a real person, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the consequences of that choice. Farzat’s drawings started showing up on protest signs, and then he was attacked and savagely beaten by three men: “”I could hear them saying ‘break his hands so they never dare challenge his masters again.'” Farzat is now living in Kuwait but hopes to return to Syria some day. [Reuters]
Passings | Classic comics artist Sheldon Moldoff, who co-created Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound, passed away Wednesday. He was 91. Moldoff broke into comics at the age of 17 with a sports filler that appeared on the inside back cover of Action Comics #1. He went on to become a prolific cover artist, drawing the first cover image of the Golden Age Flash for Flash Comics #1 and the Golden Age Green Lantern for All-American Comics #16. He also worked on comics featuring Hawkman, Kid Eternityand Black Pirate. He also was one of the pioneers of horror comics in the late 1940s and worked as a “ghost artist” for Bob Kane on Batman from 1953 to 1967. After being let go by DC Comics in 1967, he went on to work in animation. [News from ME]
Conventions | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday morning within an hour and a half, a record for the annual pop-culture extravaganza. Last year it took about seven hours for badges to disappear. [U-T San Diego]