DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
Comic Strips | The Portland Oregonian pulled three Non Sequitur strips that made fun of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge after one of the occupiers was killed. “The strip, which had been making fun of such groups, seemed jarring and in poor taste given that someone now was dead,” said Oregonian editor Mark Katches. “That decision has yielded a grand total of two reader complaints.” Cartoonist Whitey Miller said he did not know the strips were being pulled and replaced with older ones. “This is the first I’ve heard about it,” he said. “Not controversial to my knowledge.” [Willamette Week]
Creators | Set aside some time this weekend to read Robert Ito’s in-depth profile of Daniel Clowes, which covers his life and career from his childhood through his most recent work, Patience. The piece is illustrated with drawings by prominent cartoonists such as Seth, Rutu Modan, and Richard Sala, as well as photos by Ian Allen. [California Sunday]
Passings | Longtime Mark Trail artist Jack Elrod Jr. died Wednesday at age 91. Mark Trail was created in 1946 by Ed Dodd, who brought on Elrod four years later as a background artist. When Dodd retired in 1978, Elrod took over the comic strip, and earned many awards from environmental organizations. He also made a significant change due to reader feedback, removing the title character’s pipe after a 6-year-old fan wrote to him saying, “It is bad for his health, pollutes the air, and it is dangerous to the birds.” Elrod retired in 2014, handing over Mark Trail to current artist and writer James Allen. [Gainesville Times]
Considering that Kamala Khan, the Pakistani-American teen better known as Ms. Marvel, lives just over the river from Donald Trump, there’s a chance the two could someday cross paths, at least in the Marvel Universe. If that happened, what might the young superhero say to the Republican presidential frontrunner, who’s made so many controversial statements about Muslims and immigrants.
That’s what Seth Meyers asked Sana Amanat during her appearance this week on “Late Night,” and Kamala’s co-creator had an answer at the ready.
Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]
Crime | A comic-shop robbery went awry when the suspect set down her weapon — a hammer — so she could pick up a comic. A woman walked into Conspiracy Comics in Burlington, Ontario, around 8 p.m. Friday and purchased a comic. When the clerk opened the cash register, the customer allegedly pulled out a hammer and said “Empty the till.” When she set down the hammer to pick up the comic, however, another employee grabbed it, gave her the change, and told her to get out. Police checked the hammer for fingerprints and arrested Mary Margaret Ross on charges of robbery. “It was something that was unexpected and shocking,” said store clerk Anton Litvanyi, who wasn’t in the store at the time of the robbery. “At the same time, it is something that is comical … It’s not something that any retailer expects, but especially in a comics store.” [Hamilton Spectator]
On Thursday’s episode of The Nightly Show, host Larry Wilmore turned his attention to “dork diversity,” and fan resistance to such changes as the possibility of a black Spider-Man in the rebooted movie franchise, or the female-led Ghostbusters. To explore the subject, he turned to a panel that included Sana Amanat, Marvel’s director of content and character development, and artist Phil Jimenez.
“Let me see if I can explain it to you,” Wilmore said in his introduction. “Nerds don’t have a problem with women; they have a problem with change. I’ll give you an example: Nerds are upset at black stormtroopers in the new Star Wars movie. Do they have a problem with stormtroopers being black? No. They have a problem with you changing their definition of a stormtrooper. I’ll be a little clearer: If the first time you introduce oatmeal to a nerd it has maple syrup in it, it better have maple syrup every fucking time, or it’s not oatmeal.”
Marvel Executive Editorial Director Ryan Penagos announced today on Twitter that editor Sana Amanat has moved up the chain to become the publisher’s director of content and character development:
Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat are in impressive company on BuzzFeed list of “21 Kick-Ass Muslims Who Changed the Narrative in 2014, which includes a Nobel laureate, a religious scholar and an Olympic athlete.
Written by Ahmed Ali Akbar, the rundown singles out not only the duo behind the creation of teenager Kamala Khan, the Pakistani American superhero, but also the character herself.
Marvel is bringing readers to “the crossroads of food and comics” with “3 Course Comics,” a new video series in which C.B. Cebulski cooks up appropriately themed dishes for some of the publisher’s creators and editors. It’s part cooking show, part talk show.
Cebulski, Marvel’s vice president of international brand development, kicks off the series (and the meal) with a Japanese variation of Aunt May’s patented wheat cakes for a “Spider-Verse” conversation with The Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and editors Nick Lowe and Sana Amanat. “Web of Fate Pasta” is promised for the second course/episode.
Legal | Algerian cartoonist Djamel Ghanem is seeking asylum in France as the prosecution and plaintiff appeal his acquittal on charges that he insulted Algeria’s president in an unpublished cartoon drawn for the newspaper Voix d’Oranie. The newspaper brought the criminal charges against Ghanem; in possibly related news, Ghanem is suing his employer for seven years’ unpaid wages. Ghanem now claims Algeria wants to make an example of him. [Radio France International, Ennahar Online]
Conventions | Mark Rahner, who has been going to Emerald City Comicon since the first one in 2003, initially as a reporter and then as a creator, talks about why the event has grown so big (75,000 attendees are expected this weekend) and why it’s still awesome anyway. [Seattle Weekly]
Academia | The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is adding a masters of fine arts degree in applied cartooning that will allow students to focus on using the comics medium for journalism, medicine, business and other fields. [Valley News, press release]
Creators | With the arrival of the second issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman talks about the joy of writing the first series and returning for this one, why he chooses to pen a story as a comic rather than a novel, and how his process differs as well: “When I’m outlining a comic, I write down the numbers 1 to 24, and I jot down what’s happening on each page, because I have to think of things in terms of pages, and double-page spreads. In a novel, if I want to move a scene, I just cut and paste. In a novel, it’s a completely different conversation.” [CNN]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week is pretty packed, as we have news, reviews, a con recap and a whole year’s worth of announcements from one publisher. So buckle your seat belts and hold on tight as we aim our DeLorean at the last seven days …
The “Guy Card” doesn’t exist. No one can take away your masculinity however you choose to define that. So get out there and take dancing lessons or moisturize your face (note: I have no idea what would constitute the removal of a Guy Card because it doesn’t exist). In fact, there’s no such thing as a “Girl Card” either, so fail at wearing heels and makeup with impunity because no one other than yourself should have the power to call you on it. Be you, because that’s all we can be; pleasing everyone else is just way too hard.
What we do or don’t do shouldn’t be an indicator of gender, or race or sexual identity. I mean, we can make guesses, but that doesn’t tell you who you are inside, and it’s the inside that really counts, or so years of cartoon morality lessons have taught me. There’s no such thing as “not black enough” or “you act too gay to be straight,” because that says more about the person making those statements than the person they’re defining. The United States started out as just some humble little colonies trying to forge their own identity, coming to America to be themselves.
And some people want to be Carol Danvers.
WARNING: A spoiler-free review of Ms. Marvel #1 lies ahead, and I promise this is about as preachy as I’m going to get.
Creators | A memorial service for Morrie Turner, pioneering creator of the Wee Pals comic strip, will be held Sunday at the Grand Ballroom at the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa in Berkeley, California. It’s open to the public. The family plans to hold a private service in February in Sacramento. [Contra Costa Times]
Marvel’s announcement last week that a Muslim teenager living in New Jersey will star in the new Ms. Marvel series is an exciting step forward in diversifying superhero comics. And even better is the involvement of writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat, both Muslims, which should bring an authentic voice to the title.
The move is already garnering a lot of media attention, and I expect it will pique the curiosity of a number of people who never really expected a mainstream comic book to tell a story so closely connected to their own. This isn’t the first comic book to do something like this, but it’s remarkably significant.
I’m looking forward to Ms. Marvel, and I really hope the comic finds an audience (I’m also thrilled to see artist Adrian Alphona back on an ongoing series). But there’s no doubting this title is an underdog. Marvel often struggles with keeping solo series starring women; just ask fans of She-Hulk, or Rogue, or Carol Danvers. Poor Storm can’t even get more than a miniseries every 10 years or so. DC may be able to boast Wonder Woman and a number of female-starring Batman spinoffs, but both publishers have had limited success sustaining books that star minority characters. From Black Panther to War Machine to Steel to the current Batwing, there have been valiant efforts that ultimately get canceled. And I’m hard-pressed to think of a significant Marvel or DC book starring a character whose religion was such a strong crux of the premise.