X-POSITION: Bennett Talks "Years Of Future Past's" Teenage Mutant Savior Heroes
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.)
The winners of the ninth annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto during a ceremony held in conjunction with Fan Expo Canada. The awards are named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman. The full list of nominees can be found here. The winners are:
Isabelle Arsenault: Jane, le renard & moi (La Pastèque)/Jane, The Fox and Me (Groundwood Books)
Jeff Lemire: Sweet Tooth #29-40 (DC Comics), The Underwater Welder (Top Shelf)
Mike Del Mundo: A+X #2B, Amazing Spider-Man #678-679, 683B, Incredible Hulk #4B, Ka by Cirque de Soleil #1, Marvel Zombies Destroy! #1-5, Max Payne 3 #3, New Avengers #24B, Scarlet Spider #1B, 4B, Uncanny X-Men #17, Untold Tales of Punisher Max #5, Venom #16-17, 20, 22B, Wolverine #314-317, X-Men Legacy #1-2 (Marvel)
After the last week or so of “We don’t publish comics for kids” and “[Depicting rape] is the same as, like, a decapitation” and “comics follow society, they don’t lead society,” among other chestnuts, I’ve been thinking about the mentality and philosophy that produces those positions, and how it reflects on the state of comics.
Reading those quotes in a vacuum, you would think the last 10 to 20 years of progress in comics never happened. They did, of course; it’s just not easy to tell sometimes.
All of the creators involved in the unfortunate remarks come from the so-called “mainstream” of comic books. While Todd McFarlane and Mark Miller are more well-known for their creator-owned comics, they still play within the superhero genre primarily defined by DC and Marvel comics to the majority of the populace. They may not be actively steering mainstream comics these days, but many of the actions of those that do reinforce the same disappointing opinions. There are plenty of beacons of hope in nearly every other sector of the industry, and even a scattered few pinpricks of light within the superhero mainstream, but the makers of our highest-profile genre are still holding back the slowly improving public perception of comic books.
Graphic novels | ICv2 has the July BookScan numbers, and six of the Top 10 titles are from Image Comics (four Walking Dead, plus both volumes of Saga). The latest volume of Sailor Moon tops the list, and the first volume of Attack on Titan shows up at No. 12, which is pretty good for a book that came out more than a year ago. The only DC Comics or Marvel titles to crack the Top 20 were Hawkeye, Vol. 2 (No. 18) and perennial bestseller Watchmen (No. 19). [ICv2]
Conventions | Fans are gearing up for next month’s Salt Lake Comic Con (which another article estimates will attract more than 25,000 attendees), but the announcement that professional cosplayer Jessica Nigri will be there has caused a minor controversy. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Legal | Kevin Lim and Evaline Danubrata add some context to the story of Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew, who was charged Thursday with contempt of court for several cartoons critical of the Singapore courts that appeared on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. This isn’t the first time Chew has run afoul of authorities; he was charged with sedition earlier this year for alleging official discrimination against the Malay population. Singapore recently enacted a law requiring licenses for news sites that report regularly on the country, a move that critics of the ruling People’s Action Party see as an attempt to silence dissent. [Reuters]
Retailing | Comic-store owners in the Tampa Bay area agree that sales are up, but they differ on the reasons why. [The Tampa Tribune]
North American manga publisher Viz Media has relaunched its Viz Kids imprint as Perfect Square, which will release comics, manga and children’s books “with an emphasis on strong storytelling, eye-popping graphics, empowering themes, and a dash of irreverence, that captures the imagination of a whole new generation.”
Announced Wednesday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Perfect Square will debut books based on Pendleton Ward’s Bravest Warriors next year. Other offerings include Hello Kitty, Max Steel, Ben 10: Omniverse, Uglydolls, Monsuno: Combat, Mameshiba, Mr. Men/Little Miss, Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda, all of which were part of Viz Kids. The publisher will also release a Perfect Square app for iPad and iPad Mini.
Speaking with Publishers Weekly, Viz Media Senior Editorial Director for Children’s Publishing Beth Kawasaki said the imprint will likely publish 40 to 50 titles a year, “a little less Pokemon and a lot of new stuff.”
“The brand will become the new home for many legacy titles featuring favorite characters fans know and love, as well as brand new series readers can explore and fall in love with,” she said in a press release. “We are ecstatic to be working with properties we love and we’ve assembled an unbelievably talented team of editors, writers and artists who are fans themselves and have a strong commitment to great storytelling.”
Kids take center stage on the last day of Comic-Con International, as proven by the rich slate of panels dedicated to kids’ comics, all-ages comics and animation on Sunday, July 21.
DC Comics, Archaia, Archie, IDW and Oni Press all host kid-friendly panels, while DC Entertainment shows off episodes of Beware the Batman and Teen Titans Go. You’ll also find spotlight panels for Neil Gaiman, Ted Naifeh, Faith Erin Hicks, Mike Norton, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and Adam Hughes, and a tribute panel to Jack Kirby.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:
Voting for the 2013 Eisner Awards concludes Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking about them. Last year, I had the privilege of being an Eisner judge, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This year I’m back to being a civilian, and that means once again I can complain about the judges’ choices. Let the games begin!
Actually, I thought the selections were pretty good, and I’m happy that the judges decided to continue having three categories for young readers, as we did last year. However, children’s and YA graphic novels are a burgeoning sector of the market, and there’s a lot of good work out there. Here are six graphic novels that I would have been arguing for this year had I been in the judging room. And incidentally, all of them are good reads for adults as well.
Little White Duck, written by Na Liu, illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez: This book deserves the Eisner for the beautiful art alone, but the story is wonderful as well. It’s Liu’s tale of growing up in China in the 1970s, and she starts with her parents mourning the death of Chairman Mao. The view of Chinese life in the Communist era is very different from what we are accustomed to; Liu writes matter-of-factly about the hardships (their family had two children, so she was not allowed to go to school) but also the joys of family life. It’s a very personal and three-dimensional perspective on an era we often view in flat black and white, and both Liu and Martínez are master storytellers.
When the canned-spinach cartel wanted to make its product more attractive, it put Popeye on the label.
Now a fruit producer is doing something similar with bananas — but in this case, the comic goes right on the peel. The multinational fruit and fresh produce company Fyffes, which is based in Ireland, teamed up with the German branding company Serviceplan to make bananas attractive to children by printing comics directly on the peels, using special laser printing technology. (One could argue that it also made comics attractive to children by printing them on bananas, but the fruit folks were paying the bills.) The bananas were then handed out to schoolchildren in Spain, Russia, Belgium and the United States — Why were we not told of this? — for an entire week.
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Legal | The final chapter of The Oatmeal vs. Charles Carreon has been completed (we hope), and it’s not a shining moment for Carreon: A judge has ordered him to pay $46,000 in attorney’s fees to the creator of a Satirical Charles Carreon website, whom he threatened with legal action. Carreon eventually dropped his suit, but the whole dispute escalated anyway, and the judge cited his “malicious conduct” in awarding the fees. [Ars Technica]
Digital comics | Amazon has quietly launched Kindle Comic Creator, which allows creators to upload various types of files and make them into e-books to be sold in the Kindle store; the software has its own system for creating panel-by-panel view, and the finished product can be read on a wide variety of Kindles and Kindle apps. [Good E-Reader]
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
The animated cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is already a hit in Japan (where the title is My Little Pony ~Tomodachi wa Mahō~), and now it’s coming to the pages of the children’s manga magazine Pucchigumi as well. The news was revealed at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, where, according to Anime News Network, a flyer was passed out with the news. A representative from the Japanese company Bushiroad told ANN that the artist for the manga will be named sometime this spring.
Pucchigumi sounds like the sort of magazine that kids love and parents loathe; it runs a lot of licensed series based on properties such as Barbie, Tamagotchi, and Jewelpet. A glance at the cover of the current issue reveals a crowded layout, an excess of pink, and lots of big-eyed, super-cute characters, so Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle should fit right in.
Pucchigumi is published by Shogakukan, one of the parent companies of Viz, so if the manga were ever to be licensed in the U.S., that’s who would probably publish it—and indeed, it would be a logical addition to their VizKids line. Of course, IDW already has a serialized My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic, so the relationship could be complicated.
DC Entertainment has launched the DC Comics Fan Family blog, a family-friendly online hub designed to deliver content for parents to share with their children.
In addition to rundowns of the kids comics released this week and the free titles available on the DC Nation app, the website will include DC-themed activity sheets, craft projects, creator posts, contents and more.
“Our fans are parents too and we want to give families the opportunity to create new memories by sharing the DC Comics experience in a fun and family-friendly environment,” DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson said in a statement. “The DC Comics Fan Family blog is the perfect destination for parents to discover new ways to interact with their favorite Super Heroes – from building a Batman jetpack to cooking a Green Lantern-themed breakfast.”
UPDATE: DC has also partnered with children’s publisher Capstone for a contest asking kids ages 3 to 6 to write about the real hero in their lives. The winner will receive tours of the DC Entertainment offices and Warner Bros. Animation Studios, a collection of DC and Capstone merchandise, and $2,500 donated to the charity of his or her choice.
Continuing the expansion of its Viz Kids imprint, manga publisher Viz Media this morning launched sticky DOT comics, a free kids’ digital comics app for the Apple iPad and iPad mini.
Developed by Viz Media, the app allows readers to securely browse and download a range of manga and graphic novels, from Pokémon and Mameshiba to Redakai and Voltron Force.
Launch titles include Pokémon Adventures, Pokémon Adventures: Diamond and Pearl/Platinum, Pokémon Black and White, Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, Mameshiba: On the Loose!, Little Miss Sunshine: Here Comics the Sun!, Mr. Strong: Good Thing I Came Along!, Redakai and Voltron Force. Available for download in the United States and Canada, volumes are priced between $2.99 and $3.99. New titles and volumes, along with free previews, will be added frequently.