This week, Laika and Focus Features release their stop-motion animated feature The Boxtrolls in theaters nationwide, and it seems poised to stand alongside Laika's previous films Coraline and ParaNorman in the ranks of offbeat, slightly spooky, perennial family favorites.
ComicsAlliance got the chance to speak with some of the film's creative team at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, and today we present our conversation with acclaimed animator and Laika CEO Travis Knight.
As a man who reads superhero comics, I confess that I share a commonly-held prurient interest in big-chested, long-legged heroes in skin-baring costumes that barely cover their naughty bits -- or as I like to call him, Namor.
Sadly, Namor is pretty much alone in his category. Contrary to the perception that male heroes in comics are frequently sexually objectified, it's my experience that even Namor is only rarely presented as someone to lust over. Yet I'm fortunate that my tastes run towards the Hemsworth end of the scale. Like many straight men, I admire the kind of buff dudes that are the staple of superhero comics, even though they are rarely sexualized. If I shared the tastes of most of the women I know, I think I'd find superhero comics an even more frustratingly sexless wasteland.
It's Celebrate Bisexuality Day today, also called Bisexual Visibility Day -- a day to celebrate and promote recognition of those who are sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. The day exists because people with non-monosexual queer identities face unusual challenges in being recognized by both mainstream and queer cultures, yet visibility helps break down barriers and encourage acceptance.
In superhero comics, the problem of bisexual invisibility is as ingrained as anywhere; the medium struggles to acknowledge the existence of anything that didn't exist in The Honeymooners or The Andy Griffith Show, unless it's a space god, a shapeshifter, or a parasitic psychic monster. Having a character say, "I'm bisexual" is apparently more implausible than any of those things. There are signs that the industry is changing in this regard -- but slowly, and rather half-heartedly.
The Finnish postal service launched its most successful limited edition stamps of all time last week -- featuring a pair of pertly muscular buttocks and a naked man being straddled by a biker. Advance orders for the stamp came in from 178 countries worldwide, and people lined up on launch day like the stamps had an Apple logo on them.
The reason for the stamps' appeal -- beyond the objective appeal of buttocks -- was the artist responsible, one of the nation's most successful comic book creators: the legendary homoerotic artist Tom of Finland. As part of very important series of articles about men as comic book pin-ups, ComicsAlliance explores the work and legacy of Tom.
In an interview with The Telegraph's Radhika Sanghani, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso offered some insights into how he regards the superhero comic industry's treatment of female characters -- and his own intentions towards diversity.
The interview is chiefly noteworthy for confirming what already seems apparent from recent changes in Marvel's line-up, namely that Marvel understands and is responding to demographic changes in the marketplace. "We believe there's an audience of women out there who are hungry for this [product] and we want to make sure they get it," said Alonso. "This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.”
Teen Titans Go is big, loud, and uncompromisingly silly. Recent episodes have included animated puppets, time-traveling with George Washington, and a subplot devoted to Starfire wearing a rubber mask of an old man's face and referring to herself as Jeff.
Nearly every character is voiced by their actor from the original 2003 series, which, paired with Dan Hipp's vivacious art direction, makes for a frantically fun trip down the more ridiculous avenues of childhood. As the second season kicks into high gear, ComicsAlliance spoke to Tara Strong (Raven), Scott Menville (Robin), and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy), and producers Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath, about getting the band back together, testing what they can get away with, and keeping things weird.
Terry Moore writes almost exclusively about women. He self-publishes his work through Abstract Studios, his independent Houston-based imprint, and he's been doing the kind of stuff that's currently inspiring strurm-und-drang in the comics world ever since the Internet first tied up our phone lines.
Today he works on Rachel Rising, a horror story where a pretty young murdered woman wakes up in a shallow grave and decides to take back her life — or, at least, her afterlife — from the otherworldly forces that wrenched it from her. With work ranging from science fiction (Echo) to epic love story (Strangers in Paradise), and even some superhero experience (Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane), Moore cuts a distinctive creative figure in the industry. ComicsAlliance spoke to him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss female comedians, stories about underdogs, and the future of self-publishing.
Lumberjanes is many things: paranormal adventure, ode to friendship, celebration of girlhood, viral success, emblem of a changing industry. A lesser book might have crumbled beneath these ambitions and expectations. It very immediately became not just a highly-anticipated comic, but -- for reasons included the fact that it's written, drawn, colored, lettered and edited by women -- an important comic, and that's as promising as it is dangerous. Privately, I had my doubts—it looked interesting, but I've been burned before by important books and I kept my excitement at a low simmer.
But five issues into the Brooke Allen-drawn series, Boom! Studios/Boom! Box's Lumberjanes has firmly established itself as one of the cleverest, most good-natured comics on the market. The story of a delightfully plucky troop of wilderness girl scouts (not to be confused with the Girl Scouts) and the variously hilarious and supernatural adventures they get into at summer camp, the book is buoyed by the emotions and friendships of early adolescence, and can be enjoyed by neophytes and collectors alike—including, happily, young girls. It is never didactic or (most crucially) boring, and it balances character focus and plot extremely well.It is, simply and uncommonly, fun.
ComicsAlliance sat down with creators Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Shannon Watters to discuss Disney movies, comics on Tumblr, and what's coming next for our favorite hardcore lady-types.
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.
Felipe Smith lived the dream of a thousand starry-eyed DeviantArtists when, in 2008, his nerd-skewering masterpiece Peepo Choo debuted at Kodansha-owned manga magazine Morning 2. When asked about what went into accomplishing this feat — becoming fluent in Japanese, keeping pace with the manga industry’s rigorous schedule, being an American noticed by the manga industry at all — Smith is all shrugs and smiles. His work spans the globe, he’s completely reinvigorated Marvel’s Ghost Rider, and, as friends pop by his booth, he slides smoothly in and out of the three languages he speaks, but you know, no biggie. Smith takes it all in his stride.
Peepo Choo, a gleefully lurid tale of cultural fetishization, yakuza, teenage boys, and gravure idols, lies far afield from Ghost Rider in terms of content. But Smith’s zingy, earnest voice unites the two works, and it is this voice that makes Smith such an exciting creator with such a tantalizingly unpredictable future. ComicsAlliance sat down with him at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss living and working in Japan, nerd culture around the world, and what Robbie Reyes brings to the superhero table.
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