Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Comics | An original page by John Byrne and Terry Austin from Uncanny X-Men #137, the 1980 issue that featured the death of Phoenix, sold at auction Wednesday for $65,725. As ICv2 notes, the sale continues the trend of 1980s comic art going for high prices; a page of Frank Miller art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 sold for $448,125 in May. [ICv2.com]
Digital | ICv2’s Milton Griepp makes the case for publishers to provide sales information on digital comics. “Why would this information be useful? There are a number of reasons. One is that it would help distributors (most importantly, Diamond Comic Distributors) and retailers selling physical comics and graphic novels identify which titles have the largest audiences in digital form. They could then make sure that they’re merchandising the top digital titles appropriately, so they can take advantage of demand for physical titles that results from digital exposure (we’ve been hearing that there’s a significant phenomenon of digital purchasers looking for collections of comics they’ve purchased online). Digital demand can also indicate potential demand for physical books from consumers that aren’t purchasing digitally; a good book, after all, is a good book, and if digital purchasers are finding a title that’s not as popular in physical form, it may indicate that there’s an untapped market of consumers of physical books as well.” [ICv2.com]
Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall launched a new webcomic last week: John Wilcock – New York Years 1954-1971, the story of the underground publisher who, among other things, co-founded the Village Voice and hung around with Andy Warhol (and later wrote the iconic pop artist’s biography). As Persoff says in the introduction, “His life bumps up with nearly every weird New York figure of the 60’s and early 70’s.” Since that was sort of a Golden Age of New York weirdness, this should be an interesting ride. The comic is based on interviews with Wilcock and is going to be released online as eight-page “mini-issues.” The first one is up now and includes not only Wilcock’s arrival in New York but also a rather memorable interview with Marilyn Monroe.
Susie Cagle’s What Every Woman Should Know is a good example of how sequential art can mimic a documentary film. Cagle herself went to a First Resort clinic, a “crisis pregnancy center” that provides no medical care, just encouragement to go ahead and have the baby. She brings in big-picture statistics about contraception and abortion rates and interviews with representatives of First Resort and Planned Parenthood to provide a surprisingly complete story in just 18 pages.
The comic has a point of view, but Cagle doesn’t go over the top. She actually makes the point that First Resort does have its place, providing support for women who decide to go ahead with their pregnancies. At the same time, she takes issue with their deceptive practices, advertising themselves as more than they really are and giving women misinformation about their choices.
While I’m a fan of Darryl Cunningham’s non-fiction science comics, often they end up being text boxes with pictures. Cagle takes a more flexible approach, composing each page differently and offering information in different ways. I think this comic shows how powerful sequential storytelling can be—simply reading an article about the First Resort clinic wouldn’t have had the same impact.
Cagle’s comic is hosted at Cartoon Movement, which has become an interesting hub for editorial cartoons and journalistic comics. It’s a site well worth bookmarking.
Dan Archer has a very nice comic at the Poynter Institute website—a site devoted to journalism, not comics—about the use of comics in journalism. It’s an explanatory comic about comics, in the Scott McCloud tradition (complete with bold-face for the important terms), but it adds a new dimension: Click on a panel and you are taken to a new page with source material and background information. That’s the sort of thing you can only do on the web, and I can only think of a handful of comics that have used it (Josh Neufeld’s AD: New Orleans After the Deluge being a stellar example). It’s a natural for online journalism, and with more periodicals shifting to the web and the iPad, it’s something I’d like to see more of.
Darryl Cunningham has posted a fascinating new comic at his site, Murderer’s Eyes, the (apparently true) tale of a man with many strange delusions—among other things, he believes he was kidnapped by mass murderers and that their eyes had been transplanted into his head. As fascinating as this man’s many delusions are—and I urge you to read the short comic just for that—Cunningham’s explanation for why he doesn’t belong in a mental institution is equally interesting. This story is destined for the second volume of Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales, the first volume of which was just published this spring, but grab the chance and read it now.
Sarah Glidden is winning plaudits all over for How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, and while that title is obviously facetious, here’s another project of hers that uses comics to explain a complex situation: The Waiting Room, a non-fiction webcomic about the lives of Iraqi refugees in Syria. If your mental picture of refugees includes skeletal people huddling in mud-spattered tents, go read this comic; these refugees are living in an urban area, but they are still trapped in limbo, unable to work or leave. Sarah “puts a face on the problem,” as we say in the newspaper biz, by allowing several of the refugees to tell their own stories. It’s great documentary comics and well worth a look.