INTERVIEW: Spencer Declassifies "Captain America: Steve Rogers'" Hydra Secrets, Cosmic Connections
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]
Crime | A bronze statue of Dennis the Menace stolen nearly a decade ago from a playground in Monterey, California, was discovered in a scrapyard in Orlando, Florida. Commissioned by cartoonist Hank Ketcham and installed in 1988 at the Dennis the Menace Playground, the life-size statue is valued at between $25,000 and $30,000. The statue was about to be melted with other metal objects last month when the scrapyard owner’s daughter recognized the comic strip character. Monterey officials replaced the statue five months after it disappeared; they’ll move the replacement once the original is returned. [ABC 7 News]
“A couple months ago someone on Twitter wrote me that something one of my characters said in my movie hurt him. I’ve gotten hundreds of tweets from people angry about moments in my films over the years, and I just ignore them, or get angry in return. But that one tweet affected me profoundly. The last thing I want to do with my work is hurt someone, especially someone who already feels disenfranchised. That made me think about what I write and what I put in my films, and I will be more thoughtful about situations like it in the future. That is, one honest and vulnerable tweet affected more change in me than hundreds of angry ones.
So, again, it’s easy to be outraged by these tweets. But whatever these angry tweeters are in need of, I don’t think it’s more anger and more rage thrown back at them on Twitter. I actually think that’s what they’re seeking. But what they need is something different. Compassion, maybe? A kind request for boundaries? I don’t know. Maybe you guys have some ideas.”
— Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, in a longer Facebook post on Avengers: Age of Ultron writer/director Joss Whedon’s recent departure from Twitter, which came amid criticism and abuse from fans online concerning storylines from the film.
Conventions | The annual scramble for discounted Comic-Con International rooms in 54 participating hotels kicks off Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Comic-Con badger holders should’ve already received an email containing a link to the Travel Planners hotel reservation website. [Toucan]
Passings | Michael Cavna remembers cartoonist Jim Berry, who died Friday at age 83: “Berry’s World, the syndicated single-panel feature that he drew for 40 years, beginning in 1963, was a remarkably steady stream of thoughtful observational humor that — like the unfussy art itself — rarely seemed to strain for the laugh. Each gag, as steady as a top golfer’s approach shots, just ‘landed.’ Precision meets concision.” [Comic Riffs]
Legal | A 48-year-old man has been charged in the theft of the extensive comics collection of artist Jim Wheelock last month from a storage facility in Brattleboro, Vermont. William Brown pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 17 counts of burglary, petit larceny and unlawful mischief after he was allegedly recorded on security camera breaking into numerous units. Brown said he sold all of the items, and none of Wheelock’s comics has turned up in searches of the suspect’s home and car. [Brattleboro Reformer]
Retailing | Comics retailers surveyed by ICv2 were more optimistic than ever before, thanks to strong sales and excitement around upcoming titles in the superhero, creator-owned, and kids/teens sectors; the analysis also includes charts of the top-selling properties during the fall and holiday season of last year. [ICv2]
After responding first with vulgarity and flippancy to criticism that he used an artist’s GIF without permission or credit, Grammy-winning producer Diplo has changed his tune, even if he can’t quite muster a full-throated apology.
“Sorry if I hurt your feelings, or trivialize your art,” he wrote in a message to illustrator Rebecca Mock, before effectively blaming everyone else for Wednesday’s social media firestorm that led Defamer to run the headline “Diplo Is a Dick.” Which really, at this point, is pretty difficult to dispute.
Grammy-winning producer Diplo on Wednesday teased the new Jack U collaboration with Missy Elliot with an Instagram video, which should’ve been a harmless bit of self-promotion. Instead, it led to a flurry of mocking and misogynistic tweets aimed at Rebecca Mock and others after the illustrator pointed out the DJ had used one of her GIFs without permission or credit.
Diplo, whom In the Mix once ironically dubbed the “King of Twitter,” added Mock’s credit to the Instagram post, only to trumpet his action with this vulgar exchange:
With a casual “Thwip” and a link to the announcement of the Sony Pictures deal, Marvel last night christened its new Spider-Man Twitter account. In the 14 hours or so since then, it’s gained 4,245 followers.
The announcement, as everyone knows by now, that Sony and Marvel Studios will co-produce the next Spider-Man film after the wall-crawler makes his debut in a Marvel Cinematic Universe release.
This week, Ross Richie of BOOM! Studios wrote an editorial, and Matt Gagnon gave a thoughtful interview, on the topic of diversity in comics, and they followed it up with a Twitter hashtag, #comicsforward. It certainly got people talking, although perhaps not always in the way Gagnon and Richie intended.
The first thing that happened was exactly what they had in mind, which was a bunch of folks jumping onto Twitter to celebrate their favorite comics and creators or just applaud the idea. It’s definitely worth checking that hashtag to see some great recommendations.
Illustrator and comics creator Sarah McIntyre has a new challenge for her fellow artists: Get some diversity into your characters. And by “diversity,” she means more variety in facial structures, because the fact is that often all an artist’s characters, especially female characters, look alike.
Take Archie Comics costars Betty and Veronica, for instance: Same face, different hair. (Off-topic: Writer Michael Uslan actually announced plans last year at a New York Comic Con panel for a comic in which the two finally realize this and switch places.) “I see the same identikit thing with superhero women: visually interchangeable except for hair colour and costume,” McIntyre writes in an essay at The Huffington Post. ” I remember wondering about that, even as a kid. As a grownup, I watch illustrators post drawings on Twitter, and many of them have these same faces and idealised bodies.”
Conventions | At a press conference Thursday to kick off FanXperience, the Salt Lake Comic Con spinoff event, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker declared Jan. 29, 2015, as “Salt Lake Comic Con’s Day of Heroes.” Organizers, who have capped ticket sales for the second annual event at 70,000, say they expect a sellout. The Deseret News also looks at the origins of Salt Lake Comic Con in a profile of founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, who were introduced to comic conventions not as fans but as entrepreneurs. FanX continues through Sunday. [KSL.com]
Festivals | Reporter Alex Turnbull files a video report from the Angoulême International Comics Festival that includes segments on the tributes to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the Belgian cartoonist Hermann, and a 24-hour comics challenge. [France 24]
Partly inspired by the fundraising efforts to help veteran artist Norm Breyfogle, who’s recovering from a stroke, Jason Latour offered some sage advice overnight to young creators. What began as a single tweet, grew into a series, tinged with the creator’s blunt honesty about his own struggles.
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.
While many creators use Twitter, not all of them do so to such a thorough degree as Janet K. Lee. The artist behind Return of the Dapper Men, Jane Austen’s Emma (for Marvel) and Lost Vegas shares commission pieces as well as works in progress and warmup sketches. Here are a few recent examples.
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