DC Comics' "Rebirth" Character Designs for Batman, Wonder Woman and More
I first came across Ming Doyle’s work when she illustrated a new Michael Moorcock Elric short story in Weird Tales #349, the series’ 85th birthday issue. I’m something of a Moorcock nut, and prone to strong opinions about his artistic collaborators, but Doyle’s work more than passed muster: Here was an artist whose progress I was going to have to keep a close eye on.
Since then, Doyle’s career trajectory has been consistently upward, from the Star Trek-loving webcomic Boldly Gone with Kevin Church, to her current work on the Image comic Mara with Brian Wood. Every time some editor at DC Comics or Marvel claims he isn’t employing female creators because there just aren’t any out there fit for purpose, she’s always one of the first names that pops into my head as I mentally compose a list as long as your arm of women one big gig away from comics super-stardom.
Anyway, it’s convention season, that happy time when my favorite artists post lots of lovely sketches on their blogs, Instagram timelines, Facebook and the like — y’know, that newfangled social media the kids are all talking about. The collective Doyle belongs to, Out of Step Arts, has posted several sketches done at last weeks HeroesCon, some of which can also be seen at her own site, along with more May’s Phoenix Comicon. There’s a selection of my favorites after the break, including probably the most smouldering-est rendering of Bones McCoy ever.
(Note: The headline has been changed to better reflect the intention of this post, which is to celebrate Ming Doyle’s artwork. We apologize if our meaning wasn’t clear.)
One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.
Marjorie Liu is the sort of writer other writers envy. We in the comics world know her for her Marvel work, including X-23 and Black Widow and, most prominently, her just-announced gig as writer for Astonishing X-Men, but she has a whole other life as a prose novelist. Her latest books are Within the Flames, the tenth in a series of paranormal romances about shape-shifters, and The Mortal Bone, an urban fantasy novel about a woman whose body is covered with demonic tattoos that come to life. I talked to Marjorie this week about her work in all three genres, and her plans for the near future of the X-Men.
Brigid Alverson: You were writing prose novels before you wrote comics. What sort of adjustments did you have to make to your writing (both style and process) when you moved from one medium to another?
Marjorie Liu: I had two great mentors when I first started: my editor, John Barber, and editorial assistant, Michael Horwitz. Both of them “held my hand” through the process, giving me sample scripts and a lot of wonderful advice. What I found that helped (sometimes, not always) was focusing just on the dialogue. I’d imagine these characters caught in the moment, and write down their conversations. Then, I’d break it into panels.
But yes, it was an adjustment. When I write a novel, I’m responsible for every aspect of storytelling: I have to provide the visuals, all the emotion, through my words. Plus, the story is a lot longer—upward of 100,000 words. Comics are much shorter, and I have a partner-in-crime: the artist, who tells the story through his or her illustrations. It’s such a privilege to participate in that kind of storytelling.
When Marvel cancelled X-23 and people pointed out that it’s the only comic that company currently publishes starring and named after a female character, it got me thinking. I get the explanation that publishers don’t put out books that people don’t buy. I also get the counter-argument that people don’t buy books that publishers don’t market. This isn’t an article about who’s at fault. What I’ve been thinking about is my personal reaction to superhero comics starring and named after female characters.
Generally, I’m for them. All else being equal, I’d rather read a comic starring a female superhero than a male one. For whatever reason, I’m less enthusiastic about characters that are too much like me. Okay, “whatever reason” is insincere. It has a lot to do with my being a straight, white guy and the extreme abundance of characters that I share that demographic with. I’d just rather read about someone different.
And I do. If I have any interest in the character and the creative team at all, I’ll always give a female-led superhero comic a shot. But what the cancellation of X-23 has reminded me is that there aren’t a lot of comics like that out there. Maybe – in order to support those kinds of series – I should expand my interests beyond characters and creators I already like. Try some new things. Give some series I’ve written off another shot.
Holy hand grenade, it’s been a week of nasty cancellations over at the House of Ideas! Yesterday it seemed like it wouldn’t stop as smaller titles were stripped away seemingly far too soon. Ghost Rider feels like it only just got here, but that’s now ending with issue #8. X-23, a successful breakout character in her own right (and currently on my TV screen in Ultimate X-Men vs. Capcom 3) is gone with Kssue 20. We’ll also be saying goodbye to a personal favorite: Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive is ending as of #529. 2012 does not seem to be a good year for new ideas as, while I can’t say that a Kirby-created character and two male-derivative heroines are all that new, we’re losing some of the more fringe books while our core titles seem to be bringing up old fan favorites.
Then, while PunisherMAX is coming to a conclusion rather than a short and final stop, there’s a quote from a Marvel representative saying that “A big change is coming to the MAX universe and nobody can miss what we’ve got coming.” Couldn’t tell you why, perhaps it’s the littered canceled titles scattered before them, maybe it’s the fact that the MAX titles are a struggle to publish and promote, but this statement doesn’t rest any fears.
The marketplace is vast; I mean, have you seen a Diamond catalog? While I think it’s a little thinner that usual these days, that doesn’t mean it’s not a PHONE BOOK OF COMICS AND COMICS ACCESSORIES produced monthly. Sure, maybe a little more white pages than yellow, but that’s still a lot of published titles you may honestly never see. Or perhaps want to see, as the range and scope of subject matter extends far beyond super-heroes. Marvel itself publishes Halo and Sense and Sensibility comics, and then everything in between. And while I might think Jane Austen is a bore, someone reading right now might be willing to club me with a shoe for maligning the great Jane’s name (please don’t hit me with a shoe). One reader’s Gravity is another reader’s Sammi the Fish Boy. While every comic may have a fan, they might not always have an audience.
Marvel has canceled books before they hit the shelves, before retailers have had a change to order them, and I’m sure there’s even books pitched right now that might never see the light of day. What do we do? What can we do as readers to change such a system, and how do we keep the hope alive? Here are a few thoughts.
The first-ever C2E2 — Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo — is all but over, and no doubt Brigid and Michael will have more to say about the whole experience here soon. For now, here’s a roundup of news and info coming out of various panels from today, to go with our roundups from Friday and Saturday.