Strong Talks Merging "Super-Cute" with "Super-Psycho" for "Arkham Knight's" Harley Quinn
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He’s gathered a Murderers’ Row of great contributors and collaborators to tell the life’s stories of 16 cartoonists, in the most obvious format to do so — comics, of course.
But what, exactly, constitutes a cartoonist? Some of those included might have worked at one point in the field, but made their greatest marks in other areas: people like Walt Disney, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Hugh Hefner (whose inclusion will likely be the biggest surprise to more readers; and, make no mistake, the book is made as much for the casual reader as the expert, armchair or otherwise). Others you might not think of as cartoonists at all, like Edward Gorey or Al Hirschfeld.
And changing the world — the whole world?! — is a pretty bold claim, certainly bolder than changing, say, a genre, or a medium or an industry. Certainly Disney and Osamu Tezuka qualify, as do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced the superhero as we know it, and Jack Kirby, who reimagined the superhero, made countless contributions to the form and who created or co-created characters and concepts that today make billions of dollars.
But what about Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and the aforementioned Hirschfeld? Are their influences and innovations on equal footing?
Comics | Writing for The Advocate, Jase Peeples takes note of the diversity of DC Comics’ extended Batman family — from Batwoman to Batwing to Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh — and talks with writers Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Marc Andreyko, Tom Taylor and Chip Kidd. “I would like to think that people can pick up books like Batman Incorporated or The Multiversity and see their own lives reflected,” Morrison says. “But I’d always caveat that with the need for us to see more diverse writers and artists, because that’s when I think the walls will really come down. As a straight [white guy from Scotland] I can only do so much, and I find even sometimes when you do this, you do get accused of tokenism or pandering. I don’t mind it. I can put up with that, but I’d rather see a genuine spread of writers and artists creating this material.” [Advocate.com]
Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]
Publishing | ICv2 continues its look at August’s direct market numbers, declaring Marvel’s Infinity #1 a million-dollar book, the third this year to top $1 million in sales, thanks to its $4.99 cover price and estimated orders of 205,000 (DC Comics’ Justice League of America #1 and Superman Unchained #1 are the other two). However, it’s also important to note that Infinity #1 was offered to retailers at a deep discount (up to 70 percent). [ICv2]
Digital comics | Jeff DiBartolomeo explains why he left his job at HBO (he was one of the developers of their HBO Go app) to become chief technical officer at comiXology: “What’s interesting to me is seeing this market, which is one I’m not vary familiar with, and seeing the potential. It’s proving to be useful to have me come [to Comixology] with a different set of eyes, at a different angle.” [TechHive]
Awards | Editor Justin Hall won the 2013 Lambda Literary Award for best anthology for his No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, marking the first time a graphic novel has been honored in that category. Now in their 25th year, the Lambda Literary Awards recognize the best in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature. “”I’m thrilled that the Lambdas have made such a strong statement recognizing comics as a legitimate literary medium that has told powerful stories of LGBT lives, loves, and identities for the last four decades,” Hall said. “This is a validation of a tremendous amount of work, and of an artistic community that truly deserves its time in the spotlight!” [San Francisco Guardian]
Events | Calvin Reid writes the most comprehensive report yet on the comics scene at last week’s BookExpo America. [Publishers Weekly]
Cartoonist Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, rounded up 23 cartoonists to contribute their work to an animated ad for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of mayors, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that is advocating for “common-sense measures that will close deadly gaps in our gun laws.”
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns ads eschew detailed discussion of the issues in favor of a simple images of people making an emotional appeal. This particular ad follows that format with cartoon characters, some familiar (the teenagers from Zits, the Family Circus family, Jason and his dad from FoxTrot), some more generic.
Anthologies are an overlooked lot in comics, and one of the most overlooked is the long-running World War 3 Illustrated. I myself have fallen victim to having a blind spot for the series, but the solicitation in the most recent Previews catalog drew my attention.
Scheduled to ship in July, World War 3 Illustrated #43 focuses on the subject of censorship — an all-too-current subject in the larger world of comics. Subtitled “Expression/Repression/Revolution,” this issue features cartoonists who may not be all that familiar to our readers. The best-known name is Peter Kuper, who’s joined by the likes of Mike Diana, Gianlucca Costantini and others to do stories about Occupy Wall Street, Wikileaks, the Comics Code Authority and more.
World War 3 Illustrated is a different kind of comic than what most people expect, akin to magazines like Maximumrocknroll, 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and Adbusters. Definitely an overlooked facet of comics, and something many comic stores don’t even stock. If your comic shop doesn’t, you can order World War 3 Illustrated #43 directly from the publisher, Top Shelf.
It’s the 50th anniversary of the Mad Magazine feature “Spy vs. Spy,” and to celebrate, the magazine created a blank “Spy vs. Spy” toy and asked various artists to customize it. They’ve been sharing them over on their blog, with plans to display them in the DC Comics booth this week at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Peter Kuper designed the one shown above; check out the rest on the Mad blog, the Idiotical.
The programming schedule for this year’s Small Press Expo is up on their website, which includes spotlight panels on Gahan Wilson, Peter Kuper, Jeffrey Brown, John Porcellino and more, as well as a critics round table that features our own Chris Mautner and recent guest blogger Sean T. Collins, among many others:
A murderers’ row of comics critics will address general issues facing comics criticism today and will candidly discuss several new and recent works in a lively, no-holds-barred, roundtable conversation. Rob Clough, Sean Collins, Gary Groth, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone and Douglas Wolk will share their acute critical insights with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.
Overall it sounds like a great line-up, so check it out if you’re able. SPX will be held Sept. 26-27 in Bethesda, Maryland.