Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Russian artist Artyom Trakhanov broke into American comics with his nuanced and idiosyncratic work on the 2014 Image Comics series Undertow with writer Steve Orlando. Since then he’s contributed covers and short stories to several titles while working on multiple new projects, both with writers and on his own.
ROBOT 6 spoke with Trakhanov about working in the English-language market from his home in Novosibirsk, Russia, balancing his professional and his home lives, and what the comics scene is like in his own country. Trakhanov also revealed the first pages from an English translation of his long-running Russian webcomic MadBlade.
Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools. [The Washington Post]
Created by Steve Orlando and Artyom Trakhanov, the new miniseries imagines modern-day Atlantis as a world superpower known for its opulence and excess. But Redum Ashargal seeks to liberate his people from their underwater life and sets out to find a legendary creature believed to hold the secrets of life on land.
Creators | Frannie Jackson talks with a handful of prominent creator couples — Mike Allred and Laura Allred, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction, Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin — about sexism within the comics industry. “I’m occasionally invited to participate in panel discussions about ‘women in comics,’” Coover says. “I’m usually emotionally torn by those invitations, because, yeah, I want women in comics to thrive and be seen as thriving, but I’d much rather be part of a discussion about ‘awesome creators in comics’ that’s stacked with awesome women and men.” [Paste]
Retailing | Andrew Wyrich visits several comics shops in the North Jersey area and finds they rely on a friendly atmosphere and incentive programs to keep customers coming back. “People who buy comics tend to have a $40 weekly budget,” said Len Katz, co-owner of The Joker’s Child in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. “We hear of people who love comics, but eventually just hit a wall with expenses. The key for us is to get customers coming back. The reality is we are not a necessary item; we aren’t milk, bread or cheese.” [The Record]
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature for our big fifth anniversary, we asked various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014, and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In this edition, hear from Steve Orlando, Chris Roberson, Nick Dragotta, John Arcudi, Janet K. Lee, Kathryn Immonen, Lauren Sankovitch, Scott Allie, Valerio Schiti and Natalie Nourigat.
I had just learned about the hate crime-related murder of Dwayne Jones in Jamaica when writer Steve Orlando contacted me about his Kickstarter campaign for Virgil, a crime graphic novel partially aimed at shining a light on anti-gay violence in that country. So his request for an interview was an easy one to grant. Orlando’s Kickstarter, with a goal of $15,000 and an end date of Sept. 11, aims to tell the story of Virgil, an outed cop fighting “his way across Jamaica to save his man and get revenge.” Orlando has also posted a preview of the book.
Tim O’Shea: I know Archie’s Kevin Keller partially inspired Virgil. But I am curious, how did you first learn about anti-gay violence in Jamaica?
Steve Orlando: If you’re going to fight back against the man, you’ve got to go where he lives!
But seriously, research! Once I decided to do a book with a gay couple fighting back against heterosexists and violent homophobes, I consulted Human Rights Watch reports. Originally I planned on setting the book in Africa, also the home of numerous anti-gay atrocities, but the dichotomy of Jamaica was much stronger to me. Jamaica is often seen as a vacation paradise, but for so many residents there that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
When writer Steve Orlando contacted Robot 6 about his 88-page graphic novel, Octobriana: Samizdat Edition (Poseur Ink), I was intrigued for a number for a reasons. First off, Orlando tapped artist Chaz Truog (Grant Morrison’s collaborator on his definitive Animal Man run) for the project. Also, of interest to me, was the Russian history aspect; SAMIZDAT, the underground Soviet movement for spreading censored art and literature and best of all, a character born partially from a pop culture hoax. Once interested, of course, I arranged an email interview and we discussed all of these topics and more.
Tim O’Shea: At the outset, for uninformed readers like myself, can you discuss SAMIZDAT- the underground Soviet movement for spreading censored art and literature?
Steve Orlando: Samizdat (which means “self-making” or “self-made” in Russian) was an underground publishing movement during the harshest times of Soviet repression. It’s best summed up by Vladimir Bukovsky, a doctor and writer that exposed psychological torture against Soviet prisoners- “(…) I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and …get imprisoned for it. (…)” With Samizdat, banned documents were printed in secret and passed hand to hand between readers, under the radar. Because the documents were censored by the government, Samizdat was a dangerous movement, its printers were social and political zealots. But it was also extremely important- works such as Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” were among the circulated texts…making the movement responsible for the continued growth and expression of Russian literature. These were dedicated people- sometimes even recreating the texts word for word by hand or by typewriter.
[Note: Article edited to add publisher information.]
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Twenty years ago when you wanted to find out about the next big comics talent you had to wait for them to hit shelves in indie comics or a small anthology title. Now every day something new is popping up on the internet.
Today, we have Morningstar. Written by U.K. Albany indie writer Steve Orlando, I found out about the upcoming graphic novel via the book’s artist Polly Guo. Guo describes it as a “balls-out superhero punchfest” covering the redemption of the fallen angel Lucifer in the Kingdom of God. Tying into the writings of poet John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Morningstar is scheduled for publication in late 2012 by 215 Ink … and doesn’t this look great?