Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
The New-York Historical Society will explore the history of superhero comics, and the city’s importance “as a creative force behind a uniquely American mythology,” in an exhibition called “Superheroes in Gotham.”
“Comics are a huge cultural force, but few remember their New York roots,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said in a statement. “’Superheroes in Gotham’ will immerse visitors in the early days of comics and their evolution, so they can learn more about the genesis of their favorite characters, encounter new voices that continue the creative tradition today, and perhaps see aspects of their own neighborhoods imaginatively captured on the page.”
Comics | In advance of a radio show titled “White Men in Capes,” to be broadcast Tuesday, BBC News looks at diversity in comics and finds it lacking; as DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio says, there “doesn’t seem to really be a proper representation of ethnic characters across the entire industry.” He talks about DC’s efforts to bring diversity to its line, and he explains why: “There’s a very hungry audience, excited audience and the reason why we know that exists is because we go to the conventions and we hear from our stores and you hear the make-up of the people shopping in those stores.” [BBC News]
Rapper Jason Chu has released the video for “Marvels,” his new song about his childhood love of superhero comics, his gradual disillusionment with them, and his eventual rediscovery as an adult.
“I started reading comics because they looked tight,” Chu says, “stopped believing in them because of real life. Picked them up again because I chose to believe, the world could be more than what I see around me.”
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
With the birth of the Marvel Universe more than five decades ago, Stan Lee helped create real heroes with real problems. However, now he’s beginning to think Marvel’s comic books aren’t realistic enough.
“I wonder why, in any story, we’ve never shown that a hero or heroine has to go to the bathroom?” the legendary writer says in the latest installment of “Stan’s Rants,” appropriately titled “Superhero Potty Talk.” “To be terribly realist, wouldn’t it be something: You have a fight scene, and the hero is fighting the villain, and suddenly he says, ‘Hey, hold it a minute, please. Can we finish this later? I just have to go!'”
Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]
“If you want to put politics in your own comic, go ahead, that’s a great thing. But to put it in mainstream superhero comics and use them as a platform for your own political views is something we object to. And we object to it from both ends. We don’t think these characters should be used for anyone’s point of views even if they agree with us. When I wrote these characters, I didn’t have them present my political views or any political views at all other than their own that are part of their character. Such as Batman is anti-gun. I wrote a lot of anti-gun speeches for Batman that were well-justified and compassionate. I am not personally anti-gun or anti-Second Amendment, but that’s the character. You don’t write it different than what’s established. That was basically our premise, that these were iconic characters shared by generation after generation and should be pretty much just left alone as good guys and bad guys.”
“I think worrying about the life and death of superheroes is pretty meaningless. The search for ‘importance’ by the superhero comic audience is a problem, a disease. The only thing that’s important is story. If it’s a good story, it’s important and meaningful. Saying ‘I’ll bet he’ll be back within a week’ is to proudly affirm that you know Kermit is just a puppet.”
– Wolverine writer Paul Cornell, addressing a Comic Book Resources reader’s question about the often-temporary nature of superhero deaths
Speaking of billionaire heroes: U.K. loan site Buddy Loans has employed scientific research (Wikipedia, Marvel.com, etc.) to arrive at a rundown of “The World’s Richest Superheroes” … which also includes villains. But never mind that: It’s actually a pretty fun chart that’s topped by not Bruce Wayne or Lex Luthor, but rather by Black Panther, whose estimated worth of $500 billion – billion — leaves everyone else in his dust.
As king of Wakanda (not “Wakanada”) T’Challa controls the world’s supply of Vibranium, which accounts for most of his wealth. By contrast, fellow head of state Victor Von Doom possesses only about $35 billion; on the plus side, he also has his own time machine and robot army, so maybe it all evens out.
Bow before Doom’s entry below, and see the rest at Buddy Loans.
The ill-considered comments made last week by screenwriter David S. Goyer highlighted an embarrassment for an intrinsic part of older superhero characters and comic books in general: A lot of them are just downright “goofy.” However, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Goyer’s go-to ridicule of the silliness of Martian Manhunter’s name, concept and origin nicely encapsulated a school of thought that’s been running throughout comics for a long time. It most strongly peaked when all the wrong people misinterpreted the success of Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as due to an over-serious, grim-and-gritty take on superheroes that focused on distorted realism.
“What if superheroes really existed in our world?” is such a tired premise at this point, but it has proliferated to such a degree since the 1980s that it keeps getting recycled every year or so by someone, whether with an established property or new creation. I admit that, back in the day, I got caught up in that swirl of faux-maturity too. Comic books were still struggling to find respect and appreciation in broader pop culture, and this seemed like the easiest way to prove they could have artistic merit. If it wasn’t completely serious, it somehow wasn’t good.
Get ready to tear up: WPLG TV reports 5-year-old superhero fan Brayden Denton passed away on May 8 in Newton County, Indiana due to a rare form of brain cancer, and in order to honor him, his family donned the costumes of his favorite characters for the funeral.
“The nice thing about coming in to write the New 52 is I don’t have to worry about what came before the New 52. That stuff is great and it can serve as inspiration, but continuity is the devil. [laughs] As a writer, having to slavishly make sense of too much continuity can kill a story. Yes, you want to stay true to the spirit of things, and continuity can absolutely be your friend in creating resonance and a sense of history and paying off certain emotional things – BUT: It was a beautiful, beautiful thing for me walking into the New 52 and being able to look at a small range of stories that had been told, and those are the things that are set in stone, and the rest of it we can make up as we go. We can build the stories that make sense for our characters in order to tell the emotional story that we’re telling.”
– Action Comics and Batman/Superman writer Greg Pak, on juggling different timelines, and different worlds, in the two DC Comics series
It boggles my mind that it’s been more than eight years since cartoonist Dean Trippe and current ROBOT 6 contributor Chris Arrant launched Project: Rooftop, a website dedicated to superhero costume redesigns, but indeed it has. They were inspired by a “Draw Batgirl” meme that made the rounds in 2006, and to mark eight years they returned to the subject with “Batgirl Begins Again,” to typically stellar results.
They’ve posted their top three entries, as selected by a panel of the site’s regular judges plus special guests; you’ll recognize the names of at least two of the chosen artists — Chris Samnee and Joe Quinones — and will likely be searching for more work by the third, Elizabeth Beals.
Check out Samnee’s Batgirl redesign, and visit Project: Rooftop for me. The site promises to show off the runners-up next week.
Comics | Tammy Oler considers the roles of Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel within a growing movement to make superhero comics more diverse: “The devoted fans in the Carol Corps and Kamala Korps view themselves as part of a movement for a bigger and more diverse comic book universe, and it seems like publishers might finally be starting to pay attention. Both Ms. Marvel and the rebooted Captain Marvel are part of Marvel NOW!, an effort by the publisher to attract new readers by providing a lot of accessible places for new readers to jump on board with ongoing series. (DC Comics has done something similar with its New 52 initiative.) Marvel and DC have also taken some steps to address their lack of superhero diversity, in part by launching some new female solo titles, including Black Widow, She-Hulk, and Elektra. Of course, there’s a whole world of mainstream and indie publishers beyond Marvel and DC, but the big two still matter the most because they create the pantheon of superheroes that make it into movie theatres and onto the racks of Halloween costumes at Target.” [Slate.com]
Manga | Attack on Titan is as much of a manga juggernaut in its native Japan as it is the United States, and the 13th volume had a print run of 2.75 million copies, a new record not only for the series but for publisher Kodansha. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Tom Risen has a thoughtful piece, which includes an interview with Axel Alonso, on how superhero comics have changed since the War on Terror began: “Superheroes since the 2000s have increasingly held up a mirror to controversies like mass surveillance, remote killings using drones and the ‘with us or against us’ mentality espoused by former President George W. Bush. Misuse of military technology also played a key role in recent movie adaptations featuring Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man, showing how fighting dirty to defeat evil can make America its own worst enemy.” [U.S. News & World Report]