Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Pop culture | Eighty years ago today, Donald Duck was introduced as a supporting character in the animated short “The Wise Little Hen,” part of Walt Disney Productions’ Silly Symphonies series. His comic strip debut came a few months later, in an adaptation of the short by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro that ran in Sunday newspapers between Sept. 16 and Dec. 16. To mark the milestone, the National Turk publishes “a love letter to the duck,” while The Telegraph offers 10 surprising facts about the character. [National Turk, The Telegraph]
Political cartoons | The South African cartoonist Zapiro, himself no stranger to controversy, said the Eyewitness News cartoon depicting the South African legislature and the people who voted for them as clowns (and calling the voters “poephols,” or idiots) was a mistake. “I think the EWN cartoonists made a big error in the way they depicted the voters, what they called them and the shadow in the bottom corner, which could be misconstrued as meaning black voters,” he said. “They should have – and the editors of EWN should have – picked it up. But, they have apologised and anything that goes beyond that now is just bandwagoning by politicians.” Meanwhile, a fake Zapiro cartoon made the rounds on social media over the weekend. It’s based on a real 2002 cartoon that showed doctors finding the brain of then-president George W. Bush while giving him a colonoscopy; the fake cartoon substitutes South African President Jacob Zuma, who went into the hospital over the weekend. [Times Live]
Manga | The 13th volume of Hajime Isayama’s hit dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan sold 1.4 million copies in Japan during its first week of release: 1.13 million copies of the regular edition, and 270,000 of a special edition that includes the original video animation. Kodansha ordered a 2.75 million-copy initial print run, a record not only for the series but for the publisher as well. The 66th volume of One Piece holds the record in Japan for highest sales in the first week with nearly 2.3 million copies. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | Darren Davis of Bluewater Productions, talks about the evolution of his company and the origin story of its Female Force bio-comics line: “[W]e saw a comic book done of Barack Obama and John McCain during the 2008 elections, and my partner joked and said, ‘Why don’t we do Hillary?’ And I thought, oh my God, that’s a brilliant idea.So I thought, let’s do this, but let’s do it differently. Let’s not do it like everyone else, with a boring biography. We did it with a female empowerment angle. We released Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin at the same time, and whether you like Sarah Palin or hate Hillary Clinton, you have to respect both of them for where they came from and who they are.” [The Beaverton Leader]
It’s the kind of thing you might expect from a Matt Fraction comic — although I would have guessed it would have been connected to Sex Criminals. Still, this one makes more sense, story-wise; retailers who order 10 or more copies of Satellite Sam #8, by Fraction and artist Howard Chaykin, will receive their very own Satellite Sam Tijuana Bible.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, Tijuana bibles were small pornographic comic books that were popular during the Great Depression era. Typically they parodied comic strips, such as Blondie, Popeye or Dick Tracy (that last one pretty much writes itself), or they played off a popular dirty joke. You can find many of them here (very much NSFW). The story in Satellite Sam #8 features a Tijuana starring the cast of the Satellite Sam TV serial.
Creators | Frannie Jackson talks with a handful of prominent creator couples — Mike Allred and Laura Allred, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin — about sexism within the comics industry. “I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about ‘women in comics,’” Coover says. “I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about ‘awesome creators in comics’ that’s stacked with awesome women and men.” [Paste]
Retailing | Andrew Wyrich visits several comics shops in the North Jersey area and finds they rely on a friendly atmosphere and incentive programs to keep customers coming back. “People who buy comics tend to have a $40 weekly budget,” said Len Katz, co-owner of The Joker’s Child in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “We hear of people who love comics, but eventually just hit a wall with expenses. The key for us is to get customers coming back. The reality is we are not a necessary item; we aren’t milk, bread or cheese.” [The Record]
“Ed [Brubaker] got too busy, so Ed had to leave. Sales were what they were — it was Iron Fist. It was critically acclaimed, and not losing money was enough. But David Aja was going to stop because of the schedule and other work, and Ed was going to stop because of his schedule, and I basically didn’t want to be the Mike Love of Iron Fist, the only original member left ruining what you remember about the band. So I said alright, we’ll stop at #16. I knew what my twist was, what my end was, I thought I’d do that sort of West Wing thing where you end with a “holy fuck!” moment for the next guys, and let them have fun building everything up and finding out what the new status quo is. So it felt more important to go out on a high note with everybody happy, than to be the guy who ruined the book.”
— writer Matt Fraction, on why he left Marvel’s The Immortal Iron Fist with Issue 16, in an interesting discussion of his career from Rex Mantooth through The Order
Legal | Artists from around the world are drawing in support of Tunisian cartoonist Jabeur Mejri, who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for posting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad online. Just two weeks after Tunisia adopted a new constitution that protects freedom of expression, Jabeur’s supporters have launched a “100 Cartoons for Jabeur” website and released a statement saying, “While freedom of expression and conscience are guaranteed in this founding text, the continued detention of Jabeur Mejri is contrary to the spirit and the text of the constitution.” [Yahoo News]
Publishing | Andrews McMeel’s AMP! division will publish Reading With Pictures: The Graphic Textbook, a collection of graphic stories on a number of topics, including math, history and social studies, that is designed to fit into the Common Core standards. The creators involved include Roger Langridge, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey. While this is big news for Reading With Pictures, the organization behind the book, it’s also an interesting move for AMP!, which has been focusing on kid-friendly reprint collections of its parent company’s newspaper strips. [The Beat]
“The graphic novel ‘script’ for the Fight Club sequel has gone off to the writer Matt Fraction and to an unnamed publisher for review,” the author revealed to his official fan site. “Matt writes his own series, called Sex Criminals and does very well. He’s been my go-to advisor about format and other considerations of graphic scripts. I’ll be choosing an illustrator based on their response to the script. The sequel will consist of seven issues, totally more than 210 pages. Fingers crossed.”
Announced in July, the sequel picks up 10 years “after the seeming end of Tyler Durden,” with Jack (as he was dubbed in the film; Palahniuk is calling him Cornelius) trapped in a failing marriage. “The typical midlife bullshit,” Palahniuk said in November. “Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with. She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and — go figure — Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.”
Sixteen months after Marvel NOW! began, bringing with it new creative teams, new directions, new reboots of recently rebooted titles and new titles, the publisher is launching a new initiative. Marvel NOW! has become Marvel then, and the new NOW! is the All-New Marvel NOW!, which brings with it new creative teams, new directions, new reboots of recently rebooted titles, new titles and so on.
Not all of the NOW! titles are making the transition into the All-New NOW!, of course, and many of those that aren’t are instead concluding (rather than being canceled), apparently having been designed from the start to only last a certain length of time, and these conclusions are taking big, pulpy chunks out of my pull-list.
This week Marvel shipped the last issue of my favorite NOW book: FF. Originally written by Matt Fraction, drawn by Mike Allred, colored by Laura Allred and, toward the end of its 15-issue run, scripted by Lee Allred from Fraction’s plotting, it might not have been the best title Marvel is publishing (that’s probably still Hawkeye), but it was certainly the most fun for the entire length of its short, bright life.
Fraction followed Jonathan Hickman on Fantastic Four, and thus inherited the new, Hickman-created two-book status quo: Fantastic Four, featuring the adventures of the original Marvel superhero team, and FF, devoted to the Future Foundation school for young geniuses that Reed Richards established. Under Fraction, Richards took his team and his two biological children on a trip through time and space, seeking a cure for what appeared to be a chronic condition that baffled even him, in the pages of Fantastic Four, drawn in a more modern Marvel style by Mark Bagley.
And in FF, the Four recruited their own replacements for a temporary, stand-in superhero team/faculty — Ant-Man Scott Lang, She-Hulk, Medusa and Johnny Storm’s pop -star girlfriend Darla Deering — to run the school and care for the kids in their stead. (And it was awesome.)
Digital comics | ComiXology CEO David Steinberger dicusses the growth of the digital-comics platform, which was the top-grossing non-game iPad app for the third year in a row. “We’re finding that a larger and larger percentage of our user base — our new user base — is people who are buying comics for the very first time with us,” he tells Wired. Steinberger also hints at a next step for comiXology: curation. [Wired.com]
Comics | Torsten Adair looks back at some comics trends in from 2013 and looks ahead to what we can expect in 2014. [The Beat]
Comics | Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie discusses the relaunch of the publisher’s Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator series and the debut of Prometheus. [io9]
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll 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.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Normally, photo covers are pretty boring and easy to pass by, but Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Olan Mills-style portrait for the fourth printing Sex Criminals #1 is … well, indescribably awesome. Unveiled this morning by Image Comics, the cover features Fraction with his hands on Zdarsky’s shoulders while the latter cradles first-printing copy of Sex Criminals #1. The entire image is delightfully awkward, with both gazing vacantly into the distance.
And then there’s the timely blurb at the top, which references Fraction’s recent amicable departure from Marvel’s upcoming series Inhuman.
While I won’t go so far to say it’s the first time creators’ photos have been used for cover, it’s certainly a rare occurrence, and undoubtedly one of the most creative uses of a multiple-printing variant. Also, it should absolutely become tradition that any fourth printing of a comic breaks the fourth wall.
Reading Hawkeye month to month instead of in trade is an awesome experience, but it can sometimes be rather confusing for readers, especially in the most recent arc in which Matt Fraction played a bit with the timing of each issue. It was only during the recent Hawkeye #13 that the full timeline of events came to light, and now Fraction has posted his outline for the full arc on his blog.
Fraction’s photo shows 28 index cards with timestamps, issue numbers and brief description of events from Thursday at 8 p.m. to Wednesday evening in an almost-hourly breakdown of plot. The descriptions make perfect sense once you figure out Fraction’s code (“C” means Clint, “K” means Kate most of the time, “B” means Barney, “L” is Lucky the Pizza Dog.), and it’s certainly a cool insight into the most recent arc and Fraction’s process.
Matt Fraction’s blog is always a fascinating read. In between the photos of Hawkeye cosplayers, comic art and pop-culture artifacts, the writer answers questions from fans with a refreshing, and frequently surprising, candor. But none has been as honest, as moving or as vital as his response to a reader’s question about depression, and suicide as a possible “alternative.”
After advising the fan to “seek professional help immediately,” Fraction reveals his own brush with suicide on a Thanksgiving night when he was still in high school.
“As I started to cut, as the corner touched my skin and that jolt of pain fired into my head, I stopped and thought — y’know, last chance. Are you SURE?” he writes. “And I was tired. I sounded like you, that I knew there’d be ups again and downs but I was just so fucking TIRED I couldn’t stand the thought of having to get there. I felt this … this never-ending crush of days that were grey and tepid but for some reason i was supposed to greet each one with a smile. the constant pressure of having to keep my shit in all the time was just exhausting.
When Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals debuts next week from Image Comics, some readers will be exposed to Chip Zdarsky for the first time. And I tell you, it’ll be an unforgettable experience.
Zdarsky may be virtually unknown to devotees of mainstream comics, but for the people of Toronto and those in certain corners of the Internet, he’s a bit of a phenomenon. I was introduced to his work around 2003 through a collected edition of his comic strip Prison Funnies, and then through discussions on the Warren Ellis Forum. He was one of the early members of the web collective Act-I-Vate, contributing a short-lived but legendary series called Zdarsky-verse, which included a drug-fueled Pac-Man.
“I can’t, and wouldn’t dare, speak for anyone other than me: It’s vital. It’s essential. It is profoundly important to my entire creative process. Aside from pride of ownership, I just start to get antsy and itchy and bored writing the same genre again and again. The greatest concern I have is that the writing will read antsy and itchy and boring. Getting away from the superhero mainstream from time to time to do anything — Casanova, Satellite Sam, Sex Criminals — tends to keep me energized and excited.”