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On the heels of Thursday’s wave of cancellations, DC Comics has announced two new politically themed series from creators Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and Art Baltazar, Franco and Ig Guara.
Debuting in May, the companion titles The Movement and The Green Team bring into the DC Universe the economic issues that propelled the Occupy movement and dominated much of the 2012 presidential election. In short, they’re a look at the 1 percent and the 99 percent — the haves and the have nots — in a world populated by superheroes.
“The Movement is an idea I’ve had for some time,” Simone tells The Huffington Post. “It’s a book about power — who owns it, who uses it, who suffers from its abuse. As we increasingly move to an age where information is currency, you get these situations where a single viral video can cost a previously unassailable corporation billions, or can upset the power balance of entire governments. And because the sources of that information are so dispersed and nameless, it’s nearly impossible to shut it all down. […] The previous generations of superheroes were not created to address this, it’s a legitimately new frontier, both for the real world and for storytellers. ”
Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]
Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]
Artist Molly Crabapple was among the more than 100 people arrested this morning in New York City during protests marking the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. She documented her arrest of Twitter, where the hashtag freemollycrabapple quickly appeared.
“Can’t wait to draw this,” Crabapple tweeted, followed shortly by, “Everyone in this police van is wicked smart and funny except for the driver.”
Neil Gaiman dubbed her police-van tweeting “Art arrest,” while Warren Ellis observed, “Somewhere in NYC, a cop is listening to an angry short artist in heels spewing obscenities in four different languages.” Ellis went into a little more detail on his website, noting, “apparently they don’t take your phones off you when you’re arrested, now?”
Although slow to react to the nearly two-month-old announcement that V for Vendetta creators Alan Moore and David Lloyd are contributing to Occupy Comics, one conservative writer has finally had enough with the “leftist” comics industry, suggests those on the right should “fight back.”
Dusting off a list of grievances that includes the controversial Tea Party reference in Captain America #602, pro-Obama sympathies and an unnamed series “blaspheming God and Christianity,” Paul Hair writes on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood that it’s time for conservatives to counter with their own version of Occupy Comics.
“Leftists have made no secret about who they are, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t simply wipe the dust of their town from our feet and stop throwing pearls to them in worthless attempts to change them,” he writes, loading both barrels with biblical allusions. “Instead, I propose we fight back.”
Arguing that, “I no longer see a point in engaging leftists in argument or debate,” Hair suggests the right’s Occupy Comics initiative should “simply move forward and promote who we are” and real-world solutions to economic problems.
He puts out the call for other contributors to Breitbart’s online network to become involved, drawing responses in the comments from Mike Baron and James Hudnall, among others. “The OWS comic is an example of comics people boarding the train after it derailed,” Hudnall writes. “I’ve been quietly working on projects I plan to do which will explore different arguments about society and government than what many comics pros tend to do but we aren’t all left wing. I find there are a lot of conservative and libertarians in the community. They just aren’t as vocal as lefties.”
Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]
Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]
Comics | Matt Pizzolo discusses the Occupy Comics project, which raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter: “The way the money is allocated is actually through the individual contributors. The artists and writers are all paid a proportional share of the revenue based on the number of pages they provide versus the total number of pages in the book, but all of the artists and writers are agreeing to donate that money to the protesters. Most contributors want to donate as a group to get the most bang for their buck, but they don’t have to — anyone can just take their share and hand it to the protesters at their local park if they want.” [The Morton Report]
Comics | Todd Allen compares the relative positions of DC’s New 52 titles in November with their September rankings; the November orders reflect the adjustments retailers made after seeing how the different titles sold in September. The results: Animal Man shot up by 10 slots, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men sank by eight, but most titles only moved a few notches up or down. [The Beat]
Alan Moore, who characterized the Occupy movement as “a completely justified howl of moral outrage,” has joined his V for Vendetta collaborator David Lloyd and more than 50 other creators for Occupy Comics, an anthology project inspired by the protests.
“It’s fair to say that Alan Moore and David Lloyd are unofficial godfathers of the current protest movement,” Occupy Comics organizer Matt Pizzolo told Wired.com. “It’s really amazing to see two creatives whose work was inspiring to street protesters join a creative project that is inspired by the street protesters. It’s a pretty virtuous cycle.”
Moore will contribute a long-form prose piece, possibly with illustrations, exploring the movement’s principles, “corporate control of the comics industry and the superhero paradigm itself.”
The project, being funded through Kickstarter, is described as “a time capsule of the passions and emotions driving the movement.” It will begin as single-issue comics, followed by a hardcover collection; a making-of documentary is also being produced by Patrick Meaney, director of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts. With three days left in its fundraising campaign, Occupy Comics has raised $15,892, surpassing its $10,000 goal.
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
After posting last week about New York’s SVA magazine Ink, I discovered a unique project by one of the artists, Ian Bertram, and writer Cory Levine called Bowery Boys. Described by the authors as a coming of age story about four young men growing up in mid-19th century lower Manhattan, the creators are currently shopping it around to various comic publishers.
“I had recently read an article about how 19th century New York lacked a public sanitation system and garbage would be piled literally chest-high in the streets, and it led me to pitch Ian on a story set against an urban backdrop of the filth and congestion of lower Manhattan in that era,” Levine told CBR. “My thought was that the richness of his line work would really bring the setting to life, and the detail with which he draws would pave the way for the readers to immerse themselves in a period piece.”
Although Bowery Boys was written before Occupy Wall Street existed, it’s inspired by the very same elements even though the setting is over a hundred years apart.
“Bowery Boys definitely tries to tap into the cultural/political zeitgeist, and without affirming or dismissing the OWS movement specifically, it certainly acknowledges that an increasingly loud racket or rabble is demanding our attention and there is merit to that noise.”
Here’s a look at the cover and the first five pages of the series, although the duo plans to have it colored before publication.
No one tell Frank Miller, but Occupy Wall Street has donned the mantle of the Bat. During last Thursday’s “Day of Action” march across the Brooklyn Bridge by New York City-based protesters, a powerful light projector bathed the monolithic side of the nearby Verizon Building with OWS slogans, in a move directly inspired by the Gotham City Police Department’s preferred method of contacting Batman.
In an interview with Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing, project coordinator Mark Read had this to say:
It came up at an action coordination meeting. We were talking about what to do on the 17th. We had a sense that the morning on Wall Street would be forceful and confrontational, and we wanted to not do the same kind of thing in the afternoon. Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism. But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. What if we took the pedestrian walkway, and gave out LED candles? We would give out 10,000 LED tea candles, a river of light streaming over the walkway.
And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, “We need a bat signal. The 99%.”
I said, I think I can do that. I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I’ve worked full time on figuring that out.
It’s hard to say what my favorite part of this story is. Batman inspiring a real-life fight for social justice? The low-income housing resident who bravely donated her apartment as a base of operations? The choice of positive, uplifting slogans projected in light, against the metaphorical backdrop of a pretty ugly week for the country? The use of the face of a big building as the canvas for the OWS-signal, a la Gotham Cathedral in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns? The fact that the dude who came up with the idea is named “Hero”?
Read the message in full and watch a video of the signal in action (both via Boing Boing) after the jump.
Occupy Wall Street and the related protests in other cities are proving fertile ground for comics journalists—by which I mean those who use sequential art to report about an issue rather than journalists who cover comics. The comics-journalism site Cartoon Movement posted an Occupy Sketchbook this week featuring work from Susie Cagle, Sharon Rosenzweig, and Shannon Wheeler, and they promise another installment next week. At Comic Riffs, cartoonist and Cartoon Movement editor Matt Bors explains why cartoonists and Occupiers get along so well:
“Corporate media is met with skepticism by protesters — and with good reason,” Bors tells ‘Riffs. “I’ve found that sitting and talking to people with a sketchbook is a far better way to gain insight than shoving a network camera in their face. That only yields sound bites.
“Susie Cagle’s approach of essentially being an embedded journalist with the movement,” Bors continues, “will no doubt result in great comics and the kind of insight you aren’t going to find on television.”
Many of the comics in the Occupy Sketchbook are sound bites too, but Shannon Wheeler’s drawing of Occupy Wall Street is a birds-eye view that a camera simply couldn’t capture as well.
Richard Pace sends up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns in his response to Frank Miller’s recent tirade against Occupy protestors, writing, “I’d prefer to remember Frank Miller as the sometimes brilliant, long-haired nerd glaring from his back-cover photo on The Dark Knight Returns trade rather than the fedora-wearing, incoherent lightweight hack he’s become.”
Read the full comic strip, titled “The Dick Knight,” on Pace’s blog.
Last month, The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor used his strip in Metropolis magazine to envision a world where corporate CEOs were forced to work in their own stores — by which we mean all of them, every day. This month, though, the 1% is striking back. In a strip entitled “Johnny ‘The Pump’ Clematis,” Katchor chronicles a day in the life of the title character, a working stiff hired out by the heads of various multinationals to take out labor-union officials using the massive robotic boom of his cement truck. Hey, I’m sure those unions were a public health hazard, right?
Frank Miller, whose tirade against the Occupy movement was met with a largely negative, and frequently heated, response, has found an unlikely defender: left-leaning writer Mark Millar.
In a post on his Millarworld forum, the writer of Kick-Ass and The Ultimates says, “It’s strange to watch your favourite writer getting strips torn off him for a couple of days.”
“Politically, I disagree with his analysis, but that’s besides the point,” Millar continues. “I wasn’t shocked by his comments because they’re no different from a lot of commentators I’ve seen discussing the subject. What shocked me was the vitriol against him, the big bucket of shit poured over the head by even fellow comic-book creators for saying what was on his mind.”
As one commenter points out, it probably shouldn’t be shocking that Miller’s no-holds-barred screed, which characterizes Occupy protesters as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists” who “can do nothing but harm America,” was answered with a degree of vitriol. Or, in the commenter’s words, “if you throw the first bucket of shit […] then you should be prepared for some splashback.” Perhaps if Miller’s commentary had been more reasoned and less inflammatory — “decorous,” as Miller himself would say — the reaction might’ve reflected that.
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]