Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Legal | Nicaragua has refused entry to the French cartoonist Julien Berjeaut, who uses the pen name “Jul.” Berjeaut, who has done freelance work for Charlie Hebdo, was slated to be part of a panel titled “Humor against barbarity, homage to Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression” at a conference in Managua. He made a video that was played at the event instead. Berjeaut said he doesn’t know why he was barred from the country. [Miami Herald]
Legal | Two men were questioned by police after they were spotted taking photos of the home of Laurent Sourisseau, the publishing director of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Sourisseau has been under police guard since the January attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters, in which 12 people were killed. [The Local]
Toronto Comic Arts Festival organizer Christopher Butcher opened the 2014 show by announcing the “unspoken theme” of that year’s show was spotlighting work by women creators. “Then,” I noted at the time, “Butcher did something truly amazing: He introduced a panel of three women that was not titled ‘Women in Comics.'” This year’s festival continued that theme, showcasing a diverse group of artists and spreading that diversity across the breadth and depth of the show.
In fact, the first thing I noticed when I looked over the schedule was there was no “Women in Comics” or “LGBTQ Comics” panel. There were a couple of more specialized panels — one on gay comics art in Japan, another on older women and comics — but for the most part, the diversity was just sort of there, no further comment needed. The “Art of the Travelogue” panel moderated by my con roommate Johanna Draper Carlson, for instance, featured four women and two men, and it didn’t seem like a particularly big deal until I started to write this article. This may be a watershed in the history of comics events.
Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
One of the neat things about this upcoming Secret Wars mega-super-hyper-combo event is that a lot of cool projects are coming out of the woodwork — not just to support the unfolding crash of realities, but to sneak in some books that make entirely too much sense. While Battleworld rages on, it would be ridiculous not to have a cadre of teen heroes roaming the field and making their way in the mighty Marvel manner. Since the Secret Wars themselves are happening to create a universal order on a massive scale and enforcing a set universe out of countless others, it makes sense that someone (or someones) are going to want to rebel against that universal order. Thus, the Runaways.
If you read about comic books on the Internet, and I have reason to believe you do, then chances are you’ve seen a lot this year about Lumberjanes.
And there’s good reason for that. First, the monthly series from BOOM! Studios is the sort of book many talkers-about-comic have been saying we need more of forever: It’s full of strong female protagonists, and it’s the work of strong female creators. (It’s a comic book about a group of awesome ladies, by awesome ladies!)
Second, and more importantly, it’s really, really good. It’s the story of five teenage best friends who occupy the Roanoke cabin of their Girl Scouts-like summer camping organization — April, Jo, Mal, Molly and Ripley — and their discovery of, and battles, against all kinds of weirdness in the woods around them. In the first, eight-issue arc they became involved in a contest between Greek gods, fighting three-eyed woodland creatures, yetis, dinosaurs and giant lightning bugs in the process. All that while earning merit badges.
Why do I bring this up? Well because if you’ve been reading about Lumberjanes and haven’t yet sampled it, this week’s issue is a pretty great jumping-on point.
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“Thank you all for coming this far with me!” the cartoonist wrote on her website. “It’s been amazing journey. You’ve all been truly spectacular. I couldn’t have asked for better readers.”
Conventions | Attendance at the second annual Salt Lake Comic Con was estimated at between 120,000 and 130,000, putting it on a par with the big shows like Comic-Con International in San Diego and New York Comic Con. Even better, Stan Lee proclaimed it “the greatest comic con in the world” (but he probably says that to all the shows). [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | The scale of the first Las Cruces [New Mexico] Comic Con was considerably smaller, with expected attendance of 3,000 to 5,000, but organizers were pleased with the event, which featured a Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament, a Comic Strip Burlesque show, and appearances by Jim Steranko, Power Rangers stuntman Jason Ybarra, and the 1966 Batmobile. [Las Cruces Sun-News]
Lumberjanes, the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios comic by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen and Shannon Watters, has been upgraded to an ongoing series.
Announced as an eight-issue miniseries from the publisher’s fledgling BOOM! Box imprint, Lumberjanes centers on five teen girls — Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley — who head off to summer camp, only to be faced with monsters in the woods and a mystery that puts the whole world at risk.
I have to imagine there were almost as many forehead-slaps as high-fives in the room at the meeting where someone suggested DC Comics devote their next weekly comic to the Batman franchise. There had to be as many people thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” as there were people saying, “Good thinking!”
“More Batman” has rarely been a bad business decision for the publisher, and not only is the franchise carrying more than its fair share of the 52-ish books that make up the DCU line, the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo flagship title continues to perform at crazy-high numbers. So why not produce another Batman book, and rather than sticking it in a corner of the franchise, far from the main book, the one that seems to “count” the most, why not tie it closely to Snyder’s book? And hey, why not ship the thing weekly? Again, high fives!
I really love weekly comics, although the format has some pretty unique pressures, which we’ve seen play out various ways as DC has tried different routes over and over to get to weekly comics, with no two efforts—52, Countdown, Trinity, Wednesday Comics, and the bi-weeklies Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost—really being produced in quite the same way.
The most obvious pressure is that getting these things to ship on time like clockwork often means sub-par art, so as much as I was personally looking forward to Batman Eternal, I was frightened as much as disappointed to see the art starting out bad; this was, after all, the issue that should be the best looking.
Awards | Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies have awarded the Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Graphic Novel of 2012 to Chris Ware for Building Stories, and the prize for Best Web Comic to Noelle Stevenson for Nimona. Each winner receives $1,000. [Salon.com]
Comics | Tom Spurgeon talks at length to Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics and editor-in-chief of The Comics Journal, about the prospects for young creators today versus years ago, changes at The Comics Journal, and Groth’s own interview with Maurice Sendak, which runs in the latest issue of TCJ. [The Comics Reporter]
Crime | The burglars who broke into Flea Market Comics in Mobile, Alabama, left the cash register alone but stole $10,000 worth of comics, according to owner Stephen Barrington. The thieves cut three locks off Barrington’s storage units and replaced them with a combination lock, presumably so they could come back and get more. “It just left me deflated,” he said of the theft. “People would come in just to look at the covers on them because they were such a various period from the ’30s to the present and like I said anything on a display; they took.” [Fox 10 TV]
Passings | Kiichi Toyoda, the first editor-in-chief of the Japanese manga magazine Shonen Sunday, died Jan. 10 at the age of 87. Shonen Sunday is the home of Rumiko Takahashi’s InuYasha and Ranma 1/2 and Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. [Anime News Network]
Thanks to Super Punch, I’m now obsessed with Noelle Stevenson‘s illustrations of the Badass Scooby Gang, which have nothing to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everything to do with the 1960s-’70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. While I like the latest piece, in which Stevenson’s version of the Mystery Inc. bunch heads to the beach, I’m really taken by some of the older pieces, which recast the characters as something between an old-school criminal crew and and a team of spies, complete with a tattooed, cigarette-smoking Daphne, who’s apparently exchanged “danger-prone” for “dangerous.” I’m itching to see these spun off into a parody project, a la The Venture Bros.
If Freddie Jones Jr. in trunks and an ascot aren’t to your liking, Stevenson also has a series of endearing illustrations prominently featuring Hawkeye from Marvel’s The Avengers.