One of the clearcut hits from the first wave of Monkeybrain Comics digital line is Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover‘s Bandette, a great mixture of Tintin and Nancy Drew-type adventure. Today marks the release of Issue 2 – for the great price of 99 cents – where (as you can see by the preview CBR ran yesterday) Bandette foils a bank robbery in her own unique way.
To help get people as riled as I am for today’s release, I recently barraged Coover and Tobin with a series of questions. As a longtime fan of Tobin’s run on Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man, it pleased me immensely that Tobin is building somewhat upon the Blonde Phantom/Chat substories/genre he explored in the former series. I also appreciate a turn of phrase that Tobin used (“zest for life”) in discussing the new digital collaboration with Coover. I think zest for life is a quality that fuels Coover’s art.
In addition to the digital Issue 2 coming out today, on Saturday Coover will be at the Jet City Comic Show in Seattle. My thanks to Coover and Tobin for their time.
As Paul Tobin has shared his list of favorite female characters, I was especially keen to see how he’d write one of mine. I was a big fan of The Six Million Dollar Man back in the day, and 11-year-old me was deeply affected by the tragic love story of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers. For those who don’t know, Steve and Jaime (I called them Steve and Jaime) dated before Jaime was in a skydiving accident that nearly took her life and did give her amnesia. Steve convinced his superiors at the Office of Scientific Information to save Jaime’s life with bionic implants, spinning her off into her own series, but without any memories of being in love with poor Steve and oh, the heartbreak!
My having a huge crush on actress Lindsay Wagner may have also helped my interest in The Bionic Woman, but I’m fairly certain that I fell in love with Jaime first. The question I had going into the comic book series was whether or not I’d be as haunted by comic book images as I was by those TV shows. Or if Tobin even wanted to tell that kind of story in the first place. Not knowing what to expect, I plunged in with as open a mind as possible.
Although Tobin references Jaime Sommers’ backstory (and Austin makes a cameo in the fourth issue), the focus is – in fact – not at all on them. I think that’s wise. The melodrama of the TV shows was helped by lens filters, swelling music, and actors staring longingly at the camera, but none of that’s going to play in a comic book. Instead, Tobin keeps the series focused on the spy stuff. Sommers is no longer with the Office of Scientific Intelligence, but working on her own. Her break with OSI hasn’t been completely defined, but seems amicable, even if the organization didn’t really have much input about her leaving. They’re not hunting her down at any rate. This, too, is wise.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
I don’t know quite why, considering I’ve been feeling cynical and disinterested in the DC Universe over the past couple of weeks, but I find myself tempted by both Flash Annual #1 and Justice League International Annual #1 (both DC Comics; $4.99) this week; something even more surprising considering I haven’t been following the JLI series past trying out the first issue. And yet, if I had $15 this week, I suspect I’d be using a chunk of it for that. I’d also grab Joe Hill and Gabriel Hernandez’ Locke & Key: Grindhouse (IDW Publishing, $3.99), because, well, Locke & Key is a very, very good comic book.
If I had $30, I may find myself picking up the first collection of Peter Panzerfaust (Vol. 1: The Great Escape; Image Comics; $14.99) because I like the high concept behind it even if I managed to miss the single issues. People who did pick it up in singles: Is it the kind of thing I’d like, do you think?
Should I find the money and ability to splurge, I find myself surprisingly drawn to Dark Horse’s Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars Vol. 1 ($24.99); I blame people in my Twitter feed talking about Star Wars Celebration last week, and my thinking, “I haven’t really kept up with Star Wars in ages” in response. Does that count as peer pressure?
Comics | The negatives for Cerebus: High Society were destroyed last week in a fire that gutted a building in Waterloo, Ontario, that contained the apartment of Sandeep Atwal, communications director for Dave Sim’s Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc. According to Sim, Atwal, who had been scanning artwork for the Kickstarter-funded audio/visual digital edition of High Society, escaped with only his wallet and the clothes he was wearing. “So, I thought I’d better let everyone know that we’re definitely not on track for the September 12 launch at this point,” Sim wrote. “I don’t expect that I’ll hear from Sandeep for at least a few days — he’s staying with friends and obviously has a lot more important things to think about than HIGH SOCIETY DIGITAL.” Cerebus Fangirl has begun collecting donations to help Atwal. [A Moment of Cerebus, via The Beat]
… all female characters have a tendency, over time, to graduate to the field of, “tough girl with an air of innocence and also you’d like to get her pants off.” It would be an interesting experiment to establish five female characters between the ages of twelve and sixty, with a broad range of body types and personalities, and see how long it takes mainstream comics to transform them all into the 22-25 year old age group, with short skirts and colorful panties.
Time, you see, moves differently in comics. It takes a fourteen year old girl two years to reach twenty years of age, while a twenty year old girl takes fifty years to reach twenty-one.
– Paul Tobin, explaining the frustration that many readers feel about Mary Marvel and — really — most female superheroes. There’s not a lot extra that needs to be said other than I’d love to see that experiment play out.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Mark Sable, the writer and co-creator of Image’s Graveyard of Empires with Paul Azaceta and the upcoming Duplicate from Kickstart Comics with Andy MacDonald. You can find his work and thoughts at marksable.com and contact him @marksable on the Twitter.
To see what Mark and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Passings | Dave Thorne, sometimes called the father of Hawaiian cartooning, has died at the age of 82. His most recent strip was Thorney’s Zoo, which ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Mark Evanier has a personal appreciation of Thorne and his love of Hawaii. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
Creators | Carl Barks once wrote, “Ninety-nine readers out of 100 think Walt Disney writes and draws all those movies and comic books between stints with his hammer and saw building Disneyland,” but for much of his career he was happy to remain anonymous and avoid the hassles that come with fame. Jim Korkis writes the fascinating story of how two fans got through the Disney wall of anonymity — and Barks’ own reticence — to figure out who Barks was and bring him into contact with his admirers. [USA Today]
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Since the publication of his superhero novel Prepare to Die, Paul Tobin’s been answering a lot of questions about whether he’s leaving comics. The short answer is “no,” but he goes into some detail in a comic strip he made. It’s cool not only because Tobin drew it himself, but because of the insight it gives to the difficulty of writing compelling superhero comics.
If you only checked Twitter today for your news, you know that, among other fun facts, Anderson Cooper is gay, Big Sean gave Justin Bieber a pinkie ring and Chris Roberson announced the new digital comics initiative Monkeybrain Comics is coming July 4.
Make that was coming, actually–due to the attention they received today, Monkeybrain and comiXology decided to launch the line early.
“With “#Monkeybrain” trending worldwide on Twitter most of the day, Monkeybrain Comics and comiXology have taken the unprecedented step of releasing the entire launch line of Monkeybrain Comics two days early. Available now at this link, fans worldwide can stop tweeting about “#Monkeybrain” and start experiencing this great new line of comics. (But seriously, don’t stop tweeting about it either! – Chris and Allison.),” read the press release from comiXology.
Available now from comiXology are:
- Aesop’s Ark by J. Torres and Jennifer L. Meyer
- Amelia Cole and the Unknown World by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride and Nick Brokenshire
- Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
- Edison Rex by Chris Roberson and Dennis Culver
- October Girl by Matthew Dow Smith
I’m downloading Bandette as I type this, soon to be followed by the rest. The comics are 13-16 pages each for 99 cents except for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which is $1.99 for 31 pages. I mean, seriously; 99 cents for a Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover comic? I’m all over that. You can check out artwork from each of them over on CBR.
“Batman is considered THE detective in comics (he first appeared in Detective Comics and has been there for 70+ years, after all) and the rest of the Bat-Family are right up there with him. But, the reputation, I’m sad to say, is undeserved. It’s HARD to write a detective in a comic book format. I know. I’ve been there. There’s only so much room for clues and for drawn out searches. Stories in comics have to move so fast that being a detective, even for Batman, usually comes down to a trail of muddy footprints, with a mud that comes ONLY from one certain place in an area of five square yards, where the murderer happens to be standing right now …”
– Paul Tobin, killing my long-held dream that Detective Comics will ever live up to its name.
Is he right, though? I love Paul Tobin, but is it that tough to write a mystery comic? Seems like Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker might disagree. Or is it just tough to write a mystery comic featuring Batman or other superheroes? Tobin’s certainly correct that most Batman stories aren’t actually detective stories, but is that a problem with the comics medium, the superhero genre, or just the writers themselves?
Is it a problem at all? Am I the only one who’d really enjoy seeing Batman do some actual sleuthing? Or Lois Lane put some actual investigating into her journalism?
I really love this particular image because it’s almost like Supergirl is dramatically pronouncing, “Love that chicken!” Let’s all make that our new battle cry, shall we? In one way, it’s far more intimidating than “Avengers Assemble!” Can you just imagine the entire Justice League faced off against you, and then Supergirl pointing to you and dramatically yelling, “LOVE THAT CHICKEN!” No matter how confident I was of my powers, I’d be running my ass off.
– Paul Tobin, talking about how awesome Supergirl is.
Okay, actually this is a huge digression from his discussion of how awesome Supergirl is, but it makes me laugh every time I read it. The rest of Tobin’s discussion is well worth checking out, though, especially his objections to the sexual objectification of the character. These thoughts include the following: “I really really like naked women. I love breasts and rumps and curvy lines and soft feminine parts. I run a secret Tumblr blog post for a reason, after all, and if a woman is pretty or so much as utters “Godzilla is kind of sexy,” then I’ve probably wondered what it would be like to kiss her while she’s naked. Bottom line, I’m kind of a perv, and I’m okay with that.” So it’s not just prudish hand-wringing.
In writing, once a gender is established … it’s often best to leave it alone. A woman does not need to walk to the door with a decided roll to her hips that a man would not have. She just walks to the damn door. Likewise, a man does not need to reach out for a cup of coffee, all the time grunting, thinking about football, about how hard it is to follow a map, and how much he believes he could beat a tiger in a knife fight …
– Paul Tobin, discussing the depictions of gender in fiction, but especially in reference to women in superhero comics. He talks about specific traps that comics creators fall into (including an observation about drawing breasts that’s both hilarious and sad) and how female characters should be written.
In mainstream fiction [...] we cannot succumb to the whim of the story. We can’t decide that the reason the barista won’t date the main character ISN’T because she’s had a horrible breakup and is slowly learning to trust again (leading to series of bad lovers because she feels more comfortable when she KNOWS she can’t trust) but rather because there is a dragon’s ghost within her, and love and lust can only be fulfilled if that dragon is defeated by creating a mythical cup of cappuccino that transports the main character to a fantasy world, and also goes quite well with bagels or croissants.
–Paul Tobin explains why he enjoys writing genre stories better than slice-of-life stories. As you can see from the quote, it has to do with the joy of creative freedom, but he also balances that in the article with the need for rules, even in a fantastical setting.
It’s a mix that’s tough to get right, but as a reader it’s the best thing in the world when a story can not only connect me to other people through its characters and our shared humanity, but can also throw in some vampires, pirates, and creatures from space just to keep it interesting.
Another problem I have with the character is that too many writers (dudes, all) seem like they’re trying WAY TOO HARD to have Wonder Woman be an icon of femininity. If you want me to believe that Wonder Woman is a strong character who does strong things, I’m cool with that. That’s great! That’s what she IS! But, if you want me to believe that Wonder Woman is a strong character only because she’s doing all sorts of typically male things … even though she’s all woman! … then we have a serious problem.
– Paul Tobin, on why Wonder Woman is only No. 10 on his list of Favorite Female Characters in Literature. It’s been a great list so far, and I can’t wait to see the Top Nine. If you click through, you’ll see lots of examples of why this has been a great series of posts. There are tons of pictures with commentary and even more analysis. For instance, Tobin also talks about the problem with Wonder Woman’s origin. Or, more specifically, the problem with how writers have handled her origin, how Batman has avoided that fate, and how Superman hasn’t. I wish I could just quote the whole article.