Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Passings | Michael S. Bradley, owner of Collectors Kingdom in Huntington Station, New York, has died at age 48. The comic shop was destroyed in a fire in January, and Bradley, who had no insurance, lost all his stock. An IndieGoGo campaign to revive the store failed to meet its $25,000 goal, and Bradley’s last post on the store’s Facebook page thanked his customers and said he was “blessed to be allowed to be [the store’s] guardian.” He was rushed to the hospital on March 21 and passed away on April 6. No cause of death has been released. [ICv2]
For the past week, Kamala Khan fans have been gathering at Kamalacon, a Tumblr celebrating the one-year anniversary of the first issue of Ms. Marvel. I have no idea whether this is a grass-roots thing or some clever guerrilla marketing by Marvel, but it’s fascinating to see the range of fans who have contributed cosplay photos, selfies with their collections, Kamala-themed playlists, and fanart that ranged from sketchbook drawings to animated GIFs to cookies and Funko sculptures. There was even a virtual gift exchange.
Kamalacon kicked off with a series of essays by readers about what Kamala Khan means to them. The first thing that struck me on glancing at them was the diversity of the writers. There’s something universal about Kamala’s story that appeals to many readers, from a Muslim woman who sees parallels to her own life to the white guy who compares it to Quasar to explain what makes Ms. Marvel good and Kamala bad—and makes a good point:
People talk about why they need diversity in comics, and usually it boils down to the importance of representation. But it also just makes better comics. Kamala Khan can tell stories and do things and go place that Wendell Vaughn simply can’t. When a publisher only stocks Wendell Vaughns in their creative toolbox, they’re putting artificial limits on the kinds of stories they can make. They cheat themselves and their audience. As long as Kamala’s on the beat, the industry’s headed in the right direction, however slowly.
Throughout October on his Tumblr, Francesco Francavilla has taken folks on a one-a-day horror film art tour, christened FFFear. What’s so great about Francavilla’s romp through the horror genre is one day he could pay tribute to a 1931 classic, while the next he he tackles a movie from the ’80s.
Even better, rather than just sharing one photo of the art each day, he shows glimpses of the work in progress, and specifies the medium he used (typically for FFFear he opts for ink/inkwash on 9-inch by 12-inch Bristol board). It’s impossible to select the best of the 31 (I bet he may have saved the best for last; we’ll see). But still, here are some of my favorites.
Widely ridiculed this week for filing copyright takedown notices and threatening legal action against a blog that criticized his artwork, Darkchylde creator Randy Queen now acknowledges his response “was the wrong one to take.”
“I have been having a very hard time in my personal life with the loss of my mother and my marriage having fallen apart and found myself in a very vulnerable and fragile state of mind,” he explained this morning in a Facebook post. “There were posts on the web criticizing my artwork that were brought to my attention and added to my stress. I reacted without thinking it through, but have now stopped, realizing my response was the wrong one to take. I am doing my best, each day, to get myself back on my feet and getting my life in a better place and realize now that I have just try to move on and get back to my art, the thing I find the most joy in these days. I want to thank those professionals, friends and family who have been giving me their support, understanding and love.”
Queen had taken exception to critiques of some of his Darkchylde work on Escher Girls, a blog devoted to examining the way women are depicted in “illustrated pop media,” including comics. He sent Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to Tumblr alleging copyright infringement in nine posts containing his covers. Entire posts, rather than just the images, were removed by the company.
Darkchylde creator Randy Queen faces growing online criticism after he filed copyright takedown notices to remove a series of Tumblr posts critical of his work, and then threatened legal action when the blog’s owner publicized his actions.
Operated by Ami Angelwings, Escher Girls is devoted to critiquing the way women are depicted in “illustrated pop media,” including comics. On Saturday, she revealed Queen had sent Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to Tumblr alleging copyright infringement in nine posts containing his covers. Entire posts, rather than just the images, were removed by the company.
“To date,” she wrote, “Mr. Queen is the only artist who has taken this kind of action” against Escher Girls. She later offered an update, saying the Darkchylde artist had attempted to have that post removed as well.
Queen reportedly followed that with an email to Escher Girls threatening to sue for defamation:
Writer Gail Simone launched a new blog, Comics Survival Kit, that promises to be a source of useful, practical information for creators.
“Like all comics pros, I am asked all the time for advice on how to become a pro, and how to maintain that position once you have attained it,” she writes in the introductory post. “It is a huge question, even if we knew the answers, it would be a lot to process!” So she is presenting information in small, tightly focused posts and drawing on her many friends in the industry, including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Pak, and Jim Zubkavich, for their advice as well.
Simone is a pretty good resource herself; she has written more than 400 comics, and her credits include Birds of Prey, Secret Six and Red Sonja. What sets this Tumblr apart from other creators’ is its exclusive focus on information and advice; what sets it apart from other creator-information sites is the high profile of the owner and the contributors.
The Tumblr already has a collection of interesting posts, including Red Sonja editor Molly Mahan on what editors want to see in an artist’s portfolio, Third Eye Comics owner Steve Anderson on communicating with retailers and Paul Allor (Orc Girl) on the perils of self-publishing.
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Dark Horse Comics Associate Editor Jim Gibbons is a seasoned social media user. Typically when Jim posts something on his Tumblr, it is something that already was on my radar or something that (thanks to Jim’s post) I put on my radar. A few weeks back, I was considering content that might work best for the Robot 6 Tumblr, when I stumbled upon the idea of somehow tapping into Gibbons’ nose for content. Continue Reading »
What’s cooler than seeing your favorite band in a small venue? How about seeing your favorite band and getting a comic featuring them at that same show?
As a part of Tumblr IRL (“In Real Life), Swedish synthpop band Little Dragon performed a free “pop-up” show for fans Friday in Los Angeles, and with them was artist Brian Butler. Butler is a friend of the band and the creator of Nabuma Comics, a limited-edition comic that features the band members getting stuck inside a strange world that exists in their keyboardist’s beard.
And what a beard it is:
Many artists utilize Tumblr primarily as a promotional platform, but I find Dustin Harbin’s blog to be a little more layered, as he also uses it as a process/teaching tool.
He frequently shares pages from his sketchbooks, and includes the size of the pieces and the tools he used to draw them. Below are a few of his sketchbook pages.
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]
It started with a simple question on Brian Michael Bendis’ Tumblr:
what advice do you have for someone that has had writers block for the past 6 or 7 years?
His response was terse:
this will sound harsh but you’re probably not a writer.
writers write every day. it’s ok, not everyone is.
but if you consider yourself one, get off your ass and get back to work!! write about why you haven’t been writing . anything. just write.
… and then it made its way around Tumblr, getting blogged and reblogged and commented on. Here’s a pretty good string of responses and responses-to-responses at Warren Ellis’ Tumblr, and Paul Constant compiled more Tumblr responses in a post at The Stranger, which then accumulated a pretty long comment string of its own.
This particular discussion resonated with me because I was in a similar situation: I wanted to be a writer for years before I actually wrote anything worth reading. It’s true, a writer writes, but when you are just sitting there all alone in front of the keyboard, it can be hard to know what to write or if what you are writing is worthwhile. I wrote great articles in my head but they seldom made it onto the computer, and when they did, I never seemed to be able to finish them. I picked at different things, but with no deadlines, I had no urgency to wrap anything up, and with no one to read my unfinished bits, I got no feedback. It’s one thing to write when you have assignments and deadlines and editors yelling at you; it’s another entirely when you’re sitting there in a vacuum.
So here’s the advice I would have given Bendis’ inquisitor:
Kevin Blankenship used to be a newspaper cartoonist — you might have seen his strip @random in your local paper, and there’s a hefty sample of his work at his website — but we all know that’s a tough field nowadays. So a few years ago, when he had kids, Blankenship put away his pen and focused on his day job in advertising.
He still manages to be creative every Sunday morning, however, when he makes his kids’ favorite breakfast: pancakes. He has turned it into sort of a cartoon challenge — the children tell him what to draw, and he sketches it on a hot griddle, using thinned-out pancake batter in a squeeze bottle. Over time he has refined his technique to create a three-toned look by putting down the darkest lines first, letting them brown a bit, then adding two more layers, one at a time. He started posting his pancake creations on Instagram and Twitter, and now he’s on Tumblr as well.
Pancakes turn out to be a rather forgiving medium. “As long as the pancakes taste good,” he told Business Insider, “you don’t have to worry too much about messing up the shape.”
Check out Blankenship’s Tumblr for more images like the ones above and below; he has been on a roll with Christmas pancakes lately, including two versions of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
We’re living in an age where increasing aspects of our comics heritage is being protected, with all manner of work coming back into print in fittingly deluxe packages. However, we can all think of great comics that will probably never be reprinted, for various obscure reasons. For example, all manner of great work published by Marvel and DC in the 1970s and ’80s will never see the light of day again due to lapsed licensing deals. Other titles, other creators, simply fall from fashion, to await rediscovery by another generation. Others still end up in complicated rights battles and litigation.
One field of comics-related work that seems to be just lost to the unrelenting march of time and progress is that of the pre-Internet fanzine. Many significant figures in comics history contributed text and art to this near-dead medium, and it’s hard to see any organization having the will to invest in researching, reprinting or digitizing this lost legacy.
Colin Smith is a blogger and the author of Sequart’s “Shameless? The Superhero Comics of Mark Millar,” and as a critic has written about comics for some of the United Kingdom’s top magazines. He has a secondary blog where he has been recently sharing some great art from old U.K. fanzines and convention booklets.
Despite its relative obscurity, National Comic Book Day seems to be getting a bit of traction. With apparently zero support from the big publishers or Diamond Comic Distributors, it’s really a grass-roots holiday. As I mentioned in my post Wednesday, these sorts of occasions are useful for reporters who want to write about comics but need a news hook. Perhaps something similar is going on in the marketing department of Jo-Ann Fabrics. Here’s a roundup of National Comic Book Day observances, which may provide a rough map to geek presence in unexpected quarters.
In the grand Internet tradition of combining one thing you like with another thing you like, the blog This Charming Charlie matches panels from Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip Peanuts with the lyrics of ’80s alternative rock pioneers The Smiths. The results range from funny to poignant — fitting, given both of the source materials.