In a speech at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress last weekend, The Shadow Hero writer Gene Luen Yang threw down the gauntlet.
Yang challenged comics creators to overcome their fears of bring criticized for inaccurately portraying characters who are different from them -- in terms of race, gender, or other identifying factors. In brief, he told writers to do some research and get it right, but first and foremost to step outside themselves.
While cosplayers are present at virtually every major convention celebrating comics, gaming, fantasy and science fiction, it’s Atlanta’s Dragon*Con that has become a a kind of Mecca to which most of the scene’s most dedicated hobbyists and professionals pilgrimage every year. The cosplay phenomenon can be compared to that of b-boying, where the primary inspiration is expressing creativity, performing and earning props from other people like themselves. You can see what we mean in this gallery of fabulous photography by Pat Loika -- convention photo maestro and host of the popular Loikamania podcast -- whose shots from Dragon*Con express just how much fun cosplayers are having without us.
One of the biggest issues in the news this week has been the ongoing rampant misogyny and outright terrorism in gamer culture, specifically the attacks on Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn and feminist media commentator Anita Sarkeesian -- both of whom have suffered exceedingly personal attacks and threats on their lives (including the horrible one in the graphic above, which was sent to Sarkeesian via Twitter). The former for merely talking sexual agency as an independent, adult woman, and the latter for criticizing the industry's treatment of women in its games. What do these issues have to do with the rest of geek culture? Well .... everything. Misogyny in gamer culture is a symptom of a larger, systemic issue. And something needs to be done about it. Now.
The Cartoonists of Color Database is a new project by cartoonist MariNaomi that aims to collect information on people of color working in comics. The FAQ succinctly outlines the need for such a database with four statements: "For visibility. For academia. For inspiration. For community building."
The database formally launched this week with over 700 creator listings, and MariNaomi has made a public call for people to add more information, refine the information that's currently there, and correct any mistakes.
Over the past 40-plus years, cartoonist MK Brown has amassed a resume lots of cartoonists could only dream of, with her work appearing in publications including The New Yorker, The National Lampoon, Mother Jones, The Atlantic Monthly and Playboy.
Her insigtful, incisive, funny work has been collected in Fantagraphics Books' new volume, Stranger Than Life, but if you want to see Brown's art up close and personal--perhaps even with Brown herself--you might consider checking out the new exhibit of her work at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
Although cosplay has been present for decades within the comics, anime, and sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, social media has played an integral role in the thriving communities of costuming that exist, such as Cosplay.com and the Superhero Costuming Forum. Over the years, the cosplay community has evolved into a creative outlet for many fans to establish and showcase some impressive feats of homemade disguise, craftsmanship, and sartorial superheroics at conventions. In honor of the caped crusaders of the convention scene, ComicsAlliance has created Best Cosplay Ever (This Week), an ongoing collection of some of the most impeccable, creative, and clever costumes that we’ve discovered and assembled into a super-showcase of pure fan-devoted talent.
The ComicsAlliance staff is a diverse lineup writers, editors, artists, photographers and designers, but before we’re any of those things we’re simply fans. Appreciators. Collectors. Almost every day we share with each other via Instagram all the great books, toys, artwork, apparel, and other beautiful and/or inescapably cool objects we collect almost ceaselessly in comics stores, at conventions, and from all kinds of sources all over North America (and sometimes beyond). Displaying (i.e. showing off) some rad swag typically inspires everyone to one-up their pop-archeologist game in the never ending quest to find awesome stuff, and simply posting the week’s new comics usually causes someone to discover a new title or artist, which in turn inspires a whole new line of excavation.
In the past we’ve published photos of our “con hauls” here on CA and the resulting discussion with readers — i.e. collector kudos — has always been fun, so with the ComicsAlliance Collection we’re going to do it every week. But more importantly, we want to see your collection too. Show us new additions to your collections by using the hashtag #CAcollection on Instagram and we’ll embed the best stuff alongside our own recent acquisitions. And please do follow us @ComicsAlliance.
Jack Kirby is very probably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
This week would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, so to celebrate, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comic pros to contribute their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and the response has been overwhelming. Yesterday, we posted the first set of these all-star tributes, and here's the second, even more expansive selection!
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
We live in a time of awesome superhero costumes in comics. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists with a savvy understanding of fashion, and the slow diversification that's making heroes palatable to a broader audience, have all contributed to a costuming culture with more to offer than capes and pants.
Superhero costumes have always been an asset to the industry, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, leading to the rise of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don't even need to be on a particular book in order to be called in to make-over the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding just what a good costume can do -- and the special skills required to do it.
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