There are some punk-rock girls on Tumblr who think McGuinness’ covers are the best things they’ve ever seen in mainstream comics. Then there are some dudes in their 40s who like big hair and big boobs and aren’t crazy about it. And I get it. If this your favorite superhero, you want to like looking at them, but we can’t please everybody. It’s sort of like the weather in Portland … if you don’t like it, just wait a while. Someone will do something that you like. And with the costume … You know, the market will dictate that. If people don’t like it, then she’ll be back in the lightning bolt suit. Let’s just see how it goes.
– Kelly Sue DeConnick, on Carol Danvers, the new Captain Marvel
You should definitely read the entire interview, as DeConnick has really gotten into her character’s skin. But I thought this reflection on external appearances was interesting as well — both the importance of the immediate visual impact of the character and the acknowledgement that fan reaction does have an impact.
ArtInfo spotlights a satirical poster campaign by Oakland artist Neil Rivas that uses superhero illustrations by the likes of Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, Jae Lee and John Byrne (completed with trademarked logos) to address the hot-button political issue of illegal immigration. Titled simply “Illegal Superheroes,” the posters feature such characters as Wolverine, Superman, Black Widow, Wonder Woman and Optimus Prime, whose presence in the United States would likely violate federal law.
Purporting to be from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the posters caution, “Super heroes who enter this country without proper authorization are breaking the law, plain and simple. These ‘illegal super heroes’ are subject to deportation at any time. Their very presence is in direct violation of federal law.” The customized hotline numbers at the bottom of each flyer provides the caller with details about each of the undocumented heroes (for instance, “The ThunderCats, a family of cat-like humanoid aliens from the planet Thundera, are known to have entered the U.S. illegally when they saved the world with Superman from Mumm-Ra and his Mutants in a 2004 DC crossover”). ArtInfo has the full breakdown of the messages explaining each character’s illegal status.
What does finally losing his shorts after seven decades tell us about our Superman? He’s self-conscious, insecure and worries so much about what others think about him that he’ll make radical changes just to try and look cooler…?
– J. Caleb Mozzocco, putting Superman’s new design into historical context, and not liking what he sees
The greatest thing you’re likely to see all day — hell, all week — is Joel Micah Harris‘ series portraits of DC Comics and Marvel superheroes as manatees. As ludicrous as the concept is, Harris manages to wring a lot of emotion out of these mash-ups, creating downright regal images of Martian Manatee Hunter and Captain Amanatee, and depicting a Fastest Manatee Alive that’s not only fleet of flipper but maybe a little melancholy.
See Martian Manatee Hunter and Womanatee below, and many more on Harris’ DeviantART page.
“Sadly, the lesson that was gained from these books was not that comics didn’t need to be hacked-out, disposable, interchangeable stories but could be well written and relevant. Instead what happened was every superhero comic, whether it lent itself to the transformation, or not, was made grim and gritty, which meant more violence, more sex. more trying to fit the superhero world into the real world.”
– John Rozum, putting the Grim and Gritty Era into historical context.
Webcomics | Philip Hofer, the creator of the ComicPress WordPress theme used by many webcomics artists, discusses that and his new WordPress product, Comic Easel. [The Webcomic Beacon]
Creators | Peter Bagge talks about his comics and his relationship with Robert Crumb as both a contributor to and editor of Crumb’s anthology Weirdo: “With the style of work that I do, I like it to look on the surface like it’s shallow and stupid, but when you read it, the context is really sweet; [Crumb] saw that right away. I remember telling him ‘I have some story ideas, using fictional characters that are stand-ins for me, and I’m remembering things that are embarrassing and hard to write about. Even though I’m hiding behind a fictional character, I’m nervous talking about embarrassing events from my past. I’m a little bit afraid. He said ‘Those are exactly the stories you need to tell, especially if it won’t go away, and are always in the back of your head.’” [Graphic NYC]
Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]
Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]
Although readers will have to wait until sometime in June — perhaps not coincidentally, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month — to learn which established DC Comics character will be reintroduced as gay, we already know at least two details: It’s a major character (better luck next time, Doll Man), and it’s a guy.
“One of the major iconic DC characters will reveal that he is gay in a storyline in June,” Courtney Simmons, DC Entertainment’s senior vice president of publicity, confirmed to ABC News following the weekend revelation by Co-Publisher Dan DiDio that the formerly heterosexual figure will become “one of our most prominent gay characters.”
With those 18 words, Simmons drastically narrows the list of candidates, eliminating such popular guesses as Vibe (he’s neither a major character nor an iconic one) and Hawkgirl (she’s a … she). However, Simmons’ quote also raises the question of just what DC considers “major” and “iconic.”
“Take the character of Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. Like the character of Katniss in The Hunger Games, she has skills you might not expect from her if you mistook her for what her unlucky Russian interrogator did—just another pretty face. Black Widow, or Natasha Romanoff, is a more complicated character than Katniss, though. Possessed of numerous languages, secretive, a spy from childhood with a ‘very specific skillset,’ she’s not all good, though she’s working for good now—she has, as she says, “red on her ledger.” Flawed as she is, as they all are, that only serves to make her more empowering as a role model. You can imagine a young generation of girls watching this movie and thinking they want to be like her, now fighting for good, able to take down aliens and bad men and get bruised and bloody but never give up. As a woman, she’s outnumbered in her gender (the other badass woman in the group is S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, who gets fewer lines but still manages to escape and outsmart certain death over and over again while looking beautiful, as does Natasha). Maybe they’re pretty girls, but they absolutely get their time to shine alongside and on equal footing with the guys in a non-sexualized way. While they do wear tight-fitting black clothes that reveal their femininity (this is a big-budget movie based on a comic book, after all, and the dudes are wearing some skintight stuff as well), they are not considered “less” either by the men or by each other—or even, gender-equally so, by the villains.”
– Jen Doll, writing for The Atlantic Wire on the blockbuster success
of Marvel’s The Avengers, and the importance of superheroes
Typically, I’ll spend most of Saturday in panels, but the first one I was interested in wasn’t until later in the morning, so I killed time taking in some of the more offbeat exhibitors, like Ben the Bubble Guy, a businessman who hires himself out for birthday parties, corporate events, funerals. Okay, maybe not funerals.
When it was time, I headed up to the fourth floor for the AV Club‘s panel on the Future of Superheroes.
The GA Voice profiles Atlanta artist Philip Bonneau, whose comic book-themed photography exhibit “Heroes + Villains #2″ opens April 7 at MISTER, the gay and bisexual men’s community center in Atlanta. While last year’s edition focused on Marvel characters, the new installment spotlights such DC Comics figures as Batman, Robin, Superman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, The Sandman, Lex Luthor, Catwoman and Alfred Pennyworth (with pulp heroes like Zorro and The Shadow thrown in).
“With comic books and superheroes, they all have secret identities, and there are so many gay connotations,” Bonneau tells the newspaper. “We can all understand trying to fit in.”
Check out some of the images from “Heroes + Villains #2″ below, or visit Bonneau’s Flickr account to see more of his work.
Publishing | Viz Media announced that Ken Sasaki, formerly the senior vice president and general manager of the manga and anime publisher, will take over from Hidemi Fukuhara as president and CEO. Fukuhara is being promoted to vice chairman, which apparently involves little of the day-to-day management of the company. [Crunchyroll]
Publishing | Johanna Draper Carlson counts the pages in some recent DC and Marvel comics and finds lots of house ads — and very few paying ones. This raises the chicken-and-egg question of whether the comics publishers are losing interest in selling ads or the advertisers are losing interest in buying them. [Comics Worth Reading]
Digital | Nerdist Industries’ CEO Peter Levin has joined comiXology’s advisory board. [comiXology]
After more than a quarter century, I found reading the last big stack of Marvel and DC books I brought home at tremendous expense to be the last thing I wanted to do. Trying to read the last few of them was incredibly difficult — the art was detailed but unclear, the scripting was clever but not informative, and the stories inched along at so slow a pace, with so little happening on any given page or in any given issue, that nothing registered as being remotely interesting. Six weeks later, or however long it’s been, I not only do not miss my weekly comics shop visit but I feel somewhat relieved. I no longer have to keep track of what I have and don’t have, what the big crossover of the moment is, or how much it’s going to cost and whether I can still afford it.
– Tom McLean, on why he gave up on superhero comics after 26 years of faithful reading. His lengthy essay at Bags and Boards charts his growing love of comics and then his disillusionment with the superhero genre, and it crystallizes what a lot of people have been saying for the past few years. And there’s a happy ending: McLean is still reading comics and finding plenty of satisfaction outside the superhero realm.
Retailing | Former retailer Atom! Freeman, now sales manager for the revived Valiant Entertainment, has set out to contact every comics retailer in the direct market to promote the publisher’s upcoming superhero line. What has he learned? Retailers are divided on the importance of variant covers, and they don’t place a high value on returnability, but they care a lot about timeliness: “I try to ask every retailer I speak with what his or her biggest concern is in dealing with a new publisher. The number one answer I get is timeliness. Retailers want to know that they will have a consistent product shipped on a consistent schedule.” [ICv2]
Retailing | Todd Allen’s survey of readers of The Beat, admittedly a specialized audience, reveals that more than two-thirds use pre-ordering as their primary method of buying comics, although many will pick up a few off the rack as well. [The Beat]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.
Finally, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]
Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]