Journalist and editor Jennifer de Guzman convened some up-and-coming Asian-American writers for a roundtable discussion about the state of Asian representation in comics. Amy Chu is the current writer on Poison Ivy, a former writer on Sensation Comics, and the co-creator of her own self-publishing imprint Alpha Girl Comics. Sarah Kuhn’s novel trilogy about Asian-American superheroes, Heroine Complex will be released by DAW Books in July. She’s also written for Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance and is currently writing a series of Barbie comics. Jonathan Tsuei is the co-creator with Eric Canete of RunLoveKill, published by Image Comics.
Jennifer de Guzman
In interest of full disclosure: I am an unabashedly biased about Faith Erin Hicks, whose work I’ve loved for more than ten years now. Every since I found a mini-comic called Zombies Calling in the submissions when I was editor-in-chief at SLG (Slave Labor Graphics) Publishing, I knew she was a cartoonist who was going somewhere. I went on to edit the graphic novel, as well as Hicks’ second graphic novel The War at Ellsmere.
Hicks’ newest graphic novel is The Nameless City, a young adult graphic novel set in a fictional world based on 14th-century China, and the first in a trilogy. A boy from the provinces eager to learn more about the mysterious city and a scrappy girl who grew up within its walls forge an unlikely friendship, despite the rift between their people.
The Angoulême Grand Prix is a prestigious lifetime achievement award for comic book creators; this week, the Festival d’ Angoulême announced the 30 nominees for 2016, the Grand Prix’s 43rd year, and already several have withdrawn their names from consideration. The reason? Of the thirty nominees, not one was a woman.
The Library of Congress, the Children's Book Council, and Every Child a Reader announced this week that Gene Luen Yang has been appointed the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. An Eisner Award winner for The Eternal Smile and American Born Chinese, a Printz Award winner for American Born Chinese, a two-time National Book Award Finalist for American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints, and current writer of DC Comics’ Superman, Yang is the first graphic novelist to hold the post.
On October 1, Graphic Policy published a story by Janelle Asselin that alleged a history of harassment and inappropriate behavior committed by Dark Horse executive senior editor (formerly editor-in-chief) Scott Allie. In it, Joe Harris, who writes The X-Files comics, claimed that at the Hilton Bayfront hotel bar during Comic-Con in San Diego this year, Allie grabbed his crotch and bit him on the ear.
Speaking to ComicsAlliance, Harris explains why he went public about his experience. “I was outraged that it happened, and because people rarely feel comfortable coming forward, and I'm sick of hearing about this cr--, generally,” he said. “I've experienced a range of emotions since the incident, from embarrassment to anger to pity for the perpetrator and anger at the company that had him out there, swimming around like a shark in the aquarium when this was not an isolated incident, as I'd later learn.”
Harris says the incident made what is regarded as a widespread, unspoken problem in the industry very real to him.
Comics are often set in opposition to “serious” literature, but that convention is one that has long been flouted by highly esteemed, award-winning authors who grew up reading comic books and aren’t ashamed to talk about their continued love for the medium. Some of them have even tried their hand at writing comics, or have populated their novels with characters who are cartoonists.
Here are ten literary luminaries who have close relationships with comics. Some may surprise you --- but a few won't come as much of a shock! Most are living; some are literary giants that we've lost. Together they represent a diverse swath of the globe. Something they all have in common is excellence: Among these ten writers are three National Book Award winners, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two Mann Booker Award winners, two Nobel Prize Laureates, one MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, one National Humanities Medal recipient, one Officer of the French Legion of Honor, and one knight!
Some weeks ago, a tweet from Jamie McKelvie, artist on the tremendously popular series The Wicked + The Divine and Phonogram, caught my eye. Writing about the physical difficulties of a heavy drawing schedule, McKelvie said he felt he could keep drawing for only 15 more years. Just a few tweets away on my timeline, graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks, author of Friends with Boys, Superhero Girl, and The Nameless City, commented that a full day of drawing had left her with sore wrists.
Being a comic book artist is a physically taxing job. Long hours sitting at the literal drawing board (whether drawing on paper or digitally) can strain muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders; repetitive motions inflame tendons in the arms. Combine this demanding work with the life of a freelancer, which, in the United States, does not come with any form of health care, and you’ll realize that many comics artists are living one injury away from economic disaster. An injury will not only cost money to treat, it will also cost time as it heals --- time that could be spent drawing --- resulting in lost income.
GloomCookie, created by writer Serena Valentino and artist Ted Naifeh, featured a villain who was the evil queen of the goth club scene, so when Disney Press introduced a series of middle grade novels about their animated feature films’ villains, who better than Valentino to tell the tale of Snow White's Wicked Queen in Fairest of All?
That book was followed in 2014 by The Beast Within, about the cursed prince from Beauty And The Beast, and 2016 will see the publication of Poor Unfortunate Soul, about the sea witch Ursula from The Little Mermaid. We spoke to Valentino about the ways and wiles of villainous characters.
Small Press Expo (SPX) has announced the nominees for the 2015 Igntaz Awards. It’s a diverse line-up with three nominations each for Sophia Foster-Dimino, Ethan Rilly, and Caldecott Honor and Eisner Award-winner Jillian Tamaki, as well as two nominations each for Sophie Goldstein, Kris Mukai and Noah Van Sciver.
With Psylocke featured in the upcoming film X-Men: Apocalypse, we can expect some extra attention to fall on Marvel’s striking, purple-haired mutant who wields a telekinetic katana. And with that attention, the problem of racial identity in the character’s backstory is getting some new scrutiny. In her current iteration, Psylocke is a white British woman, Betsy Braddock, whose mind --- by a series of outlandish plot developments --- is in the body of Japanese ninja assassin named Kwannon.