"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]
Following the devastating attack Wednesday on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead — among them, five cartoonists — countless creators turned to social media to express their outrage and grief, but also their support of free speech and solidarity with those who risks their lives when they put pen to paper.
Hashtags such as #JesuisCharlie, #CharlieHebdo, #weaponsofchoice, #WeaponsOfMassConstruction have sprung up across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, many accompanying photos of artists wielding their “weapons of choice”: pens and pencils.
We’ve highlighted just some of those posts, as well as a few others that address the killings.
In case you weren’t able to make this year’s Thought Bubble: The Leeds Comic Art Festival, ROBOT 6 has rounded up snippets of the overall experience through social media. The festival, now in its eighth year, was held Nov. 9-16, ending with a two-day convention on Nov. 15-16. Beyond the final two-day event, Thought Bubble offered more than 80 comics-related opportunities — some in cooperation with the 28th Leeds International Film Festival.
I don’t know if that’s a byproduct of the anonymity there, but when you’re sorta scrolling through looking at Twitter reactions to the show, they exist at the edge of each spectrum. They’re incredibly negative towards some characters. They’re overwhelmingly positive towards others … I don’t think Twitter’s important.
Think of social media like NSYNC. I think that Facebook is Timberlake, OK? And I think that all of the other forums are the other members of the group.
On the Facebook side, connecting with the fans in that way I think holds a lot more value, holds a lot more sway and it’s just been fun. I’m the same person as I was before I got this job, but this job has given me the platform to have fun and do interesting things on Facebook.
I personally haven’t encountered anything negative on Twitter. People I know have. And I think Twitter does a horrendous job of protecting those folks. When they have a better policy, maybe I’ll go back.”
— Arrow star Stephen Amell, who has more than 2.7 million Likes on Facebook, discussing his social media presence and preferences during a set visit
Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]
Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]
Comics | Rupp’s Comics in Fremont, Ohio, will display a rare comic this weekend as part of the store’s 22nd-anniversary celebration: Detective Dan: Secret Operative No. 48, published in 1933, is the first comic book to contain a single original story (as opposed to several strips, or a compilation of reprints from newspapers). The new format was not an immediate success, and the series was canceled after just one issue. [The News-Messenger]
Creators | It’s old but it’s good: The Comics Journal dips into the archives for a 1989 interview with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. [The Comics Journal]
Creators | John Porcellino reflects on 25 years of King-Cat Comics. [du9]
Comics are truly entering the mainstream: They’ve become an annoying Facebook app.
Bitstrips allows its 20 million users to create comic strips of themselves as status updates, with a friend or as a greeting car; they can then be shared via the Facebook app or the new mobile app. And no, “20 million” is not a typo. Potentially some 20 million people are interacting with the language of comics in a way most never do – trying to create and clearly tell a story. Sure, that story is usually the equivalent of an inane status update, and “creating” is used very liberally here, as users choose from a finite number of backgrounds and settings that they customize.
Despite looking like a cross between Bratz dolls and Wii avatars (ie, bright and garish, squarely aimed at pre-teens), Bitstrips sprung forth from a comic artist. According to Know Your Memes, the mysterious Ba (surname unknown) was tired of re-drawing characters for a comics project, so he created a system where he could re-use customized characters and settings instead of drawing them from scratch every time. He teamed up with four other guys — graphic designers and comic fans — and launched Bitstrips at the 2008 South By Southwest in Austin. Bitstrips for Schools launched soon after as an educational tool, but things didn’t start to take off until 2011, when they caught the attention of Cartoon Network.
Here I am, like so many of you fine, wonderful people, relaxing at home instead of walking among the majestic masses of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic Book Resources and Robot 6 are keeping we homebodies abreast of all the news from this year’s mega-super-hyper event, so it’s kind of nice to be able to sit in a comfortable chair while still keeping informed and not having to pay $9 for a burrito.
Sure, it’d be nice to be there, wouldn’t it? To stand in line and take your chance at a microphone to tell the House of Ideas your opinion, ask questions of your favorite creative teams and get attention from the editorial team? Good news! That’s what social media can do for you! We live in an amazing time where a tweet to your favorite artist could be replied to with casual familiarity or a Tumblr post could get you a sneak peek at exclusive artwork. Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has a Formspring account (now moved to Tumblr here) so you can ask him any question at any time of night. The people who produce comics are surprisingly at the hands of their public, which for Marvel, isn’t that new of an idea.
Writer Anina Bennett and artist Paul Guinan join the Monkeybrain Comics line with today’s digital re-release of first episode of their creator-owned Heartbreakers, which originally appeared in Dark Horse Presents #35 in 1989.
The sci-fi adventure has gathered has gathered a growing following over the years, and as it turns out Monkeybrain Co-Publisher Chris Roberson is one of those longtime fans.
Bennett and Guinan spoke with ROBOT 6 about the history and influence of Heartbreakers, its digital debut, and why they partnered with Monkeybrain. To learn how real-world events helped to change the direction of Heartbreakers makes me even more interested to see how Bennett and Guinan plan to observe the comic’s 25th anniversary next year.
If you’re attending Comic-Con International in San Diego, be sure to visit Bennett and Guinan in Artists Alley at Booth CC-01.
After four installments, Comic Book Resources’ monthly “B&B” feature, in which DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase answered questions from readers and CBR’s Josie Campbell, is no more. Jerry Ordway’s work situation, and controversies generally, were apparently to blame. Of course, DC is free not to participate in such things, and CBR is likewise free to investigate such controversies on its own. Still, the whole thing only highlights the problems DC has had in connecting successfully with fans.
Now, it may be more accurate to say DC has had problems connecting successfully with fans who are vocal about their negative opinions of the company. For all I know, DC may be quite popular with whatever audience it has targeted. Regardless, despite its constant PR presence, today’s DC seems a lot more guarded than it has been; and I think that can only hurt it in the long run.
Ironically, part of the problem is the corporate-comics news cycle. Each week’s worth of DC books has a couple of promotional features, namely the “All Access” editorial and the new “Channel 52″ two-pager. Beyond that (and probably more frequently than once a week) the company issues press releases and facilitates interviews for various news sites. Furthermore, each month’s solicitations advertise what’s coming out at least two months in the future; and during convention season the company can manage its particular messages in person. That’s a lot of information for a company whose bread and butter come from a few dozen monthly 20-page story installments.
I love comic books, too. They’re awesome. I get plenty worked up sometimes about what goes on in the pages of my favorite books because they’re not doing it right! I get it. I’ve devoted countless hours to these characters. Heck, I’m the guy who ran a New Warriors fan site for years, tracking the chronological order of every random appearance, no matter how minor. And I did it completely without irony! So I get the emotional investment we have for these characters.
I also get how fun it is to use social networks. I use Facebook a lot, and Twitter, too, and it’s easy to get riled about something you see posted there. There’s no ‘dislike’ button to click so sometimes you just have to vent. And sometimes it feels like a regular old “how could you?!” just isn’t enough, that it just doesn’t get across how deeply you disagree with a plot development.
Regardless, none of that justifies sending threats. Dan Slott has received some extreme reactions to the leaked details of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 that go so far beyond normal fan griping that I wondered just what could’ve provoked such a backlash. So I reviewed the leaked information, and I have to say my response was, “That’s it?“
The writer of Captain Marvel and Ghost explains the whole story on her blog — and you should read it because it’s very sweet and she tells it much better than I’m going to — but the digest version is this: This year at Heroes Con, Kelly Sue DeConnick met a young girl named Winter who likes to draw ninjas. When Winter declared that she and DeConnick should make a ninja comic together, the writer agreed, for reasons the writer explains in her post. Seriously, go read it.
It’s a wonderful story, but it doesn’t end there. DeConnick is going to write the story a panel at a time and will tweet the descriptions with the hashtag #winterstale. That’s how Winter will get her instructions, but it’s also how you can get yours, because she and DeConnick are opening the project up to anyone who wants to join in. You, your kids, your parents, whoever. Simply reply to any #winterstale panel description with a twitpic or a link to your drawing and DeConnick will repost them to the Winter’s Tales Tumblr page. If you don’t have a Twitter account and don’t want one, you can play along via Tumblr instead.
DeConnick’s plan is to print her and Winter’s comic as a “punkzine style” minicomic to sell at next year’s HeroesCon, with all proceeds going to Winter’s college fund. If you turn your own pages into a minicomic, she’ll swap with you.
If you’d like to know a bit more about what you’ll be drawing, they’re calling the comic Ninja Princess Zombie Rockstar and, per Winter’s drawing interests, will fill it with the following:
Ordinary fans, voice actors and famous manga-ka are all taking part in a unique social-media event in Japan: They are redrawing individual panels from Yasuhisu Hara’s historical manga Kingdom to promote the upcoming television anime adaptation. A number of well-known creators, including Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece), are taking part in the project, but anyone with a Twitter or Facebook account can join in. More than 1,000 panels are being redrawn, and the organizers of the project, which has been dubbed “Social Kingdom,” plan to submit it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the manga created by the most people.
Writer and champion of creator-owned comics Steve Niles is using Twitter and other social media to find an artist to partner with on his next big project. He describes it as an historical drama about the Romans, druids and one of the greatest women warriors in history, so he’s looking for a professional-level artist who can draw historically accurate armor and action. Those interested can send submissions to him at email@example.com.
Alhough he’s being understandably close with the details, the setting and mention of an historical woman warrior suggest that the story could be about Boudicca, the Celtic warrior queen who led an uprising against the Romans around AD 60. IDW announced a Queen Boudicca comic by Niles and the artist known as Milx back in 2003, but it was never published. I’m just speculating, but perhaps this is a new attempt to bring that to life? If so — actually, even if it’s not — it sounds awesome.
Artist Paul Maybury‘s latest collaboration (with writers Johnny Zito and Tony Trov), D.O.G.S. of Mars, is poised to be released on May 2 by Image. This 120-page/$15.99 story, pitting Captain Zoe and the Mars Base Bowie crew (at Earth’s first Martian colony) against nocturnal monsters, marked Maybury’s return to long-form work since 2008’s Aqua Leung (and was originally released digitally by Comixology in 2011). We discuss it–and he was kind enough to share some preview pages (as well as video showing his process inking some of the pages). After you read this interview, be sure to check out the interview that my Robot 6 boss, JK Parkin, did with the creative team, back in January 2011.
Tim O’Shea: This project originated on Comixology back in January 2011–was it always important to you to see it released in the traditional sense (via Image) or would you have been fine if it had remained as a digital release only?
Paul Maybury: It was definitely a personal goal of mine. I think Comixology is a great format, but it’s definitely hard to stand out under the creator-owned section. There had been talk about going with another publisher that was cautiously approaching the idea, but wasn’t completely sold. Somewhere around the release of issue three I decided to send a pdf copy out to a few trusted people and one of them was Erik Larsen over at Image. I wasn’t really looking to get it published over there, but Erik really took the time to set me back up with Stephenson, who I hadn’t spoken to in a few years. In the end it feels pretty comfortable as Image has been publishing my work here and there since the Belle and Sebastian anthology back in 2004.