As someone who makes a living writing and editing for the internet, I've gathered quite a collection of terrible arguments from online commentators, ranging from the perennially awful, 'I don't care about this so you shouldn't either,' to the specifically ignorant, 'How would you feel if they made Black Panther white?' But there's one common argument that combines dull wit with frothy anger to such exhausting effect that it deserves special attention; 'If you don't like it, make your own.'
I write about comics, so I'm especially aware of how often the argument is made in response to comics criticism. But I know that it's also used in all other creative fields, from film-making to video game design, and it's an argument without merit in any field. There is the kernel of a good idea behind it; the comic form is open to anyone who wants to make a contribution. But that doesn't mean you have to make comics rather than criticize. If you don't like what you see, there are several good reasons to say so.
Last week there was a rumor going around that DC might pull the plug on its new 'DCYou' initiative before it had even had a chance to take root. DCYou aims to provide more diversity in content, characters, and creators, in an effort to reach new readers in a shifting market. The initiative stands in sharp contrast with the homogeneity of DC's last major relaunch, the traditional and conservative New 52, targeted squarely at long-time readers.
Of course, the New 52 performed very well for the publisher, and in some months it even pushed DC ahead of industry leader Marvel. The relaunch never achieved its major objective of permanently toppling Marvel, but it did provide strong numbers in direct market comic store sales. Compare those numbers to the sales for DCYou, and one can see a clear argument for going back to the old model. But that argument is grounded in a narrow understanding of the industry.
In 2014, Toronto publisher Alternate History Comics launched a Kickstarter for an anthology of indigenous comics, with the goal of “showcasing the rich heritage and identity of indigenous storytelling.” The resulting anthology, Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Volume 1, is now available, and it presents a unique and much needed look into aboriginal storytelling in multiple aspects.
It’s easy, as an indigenous person, to slip into what sounds like hyperbole when discussing a project like this. This is one of the most important comics of the year! But it’s easy for the same reasons that make it hard for any statement to actually be that hyperbolic; the blunt reality of comics as a business and popular medium is that there really aren’t that many aboriginal stories being told, and what few aboriginal characters there are usually employ crude stereotypes. These stereotypes aren’t continued out of any real sense of hatred, but out of the almost complete lack of aboriginal people involved in the telling of these stories.
Goddess. Windrider. Queen. Leader. Storm has worn multiple hats during her existence; roles that have aided in her evolution as one of comics’ most significant and abiding heroes. Yet although Storm’s pop cultural significance is great, her characterization has seen glaring inconsistencies from comic book to screen. Fans of the '90s cartoons remember a majestic leader whose long winded monologues became part of her appeal, but fans of the films were subjected to an unimposing and rather useless version of the character.
But what was lost in translation? What is it about Storm that the movies' writers and producers failed to understand?
When it was announced last month that Heavy Metal magazine had signed Grant Morrison to serve as their new editor-in-chief, it seemed to be the exact real-world approximation of that comic cliche: a team-up that nobody anticipated, but that makes perfect sense when considered from the right angle.
Heavy Metal is a title that, in its '70s/'80s heyday, redefined the limits of comic book form and content, much as Morrison has eschewed conventional stylistic and genre constraints throughout his career. Today, the magazine's name is shorthand for a specific style of exploitative genre fiction --- usually involving some combination of sci-fi, sword & sorcery, swearing, and sex --- but owners Jeff Krelitz and David Boxenbaum have been vocal about their hopes to expand the Heavy Metal brand and reignite the revolutionary spirit that it originally embodied.
ComicsAlliance sat down with Morrison at this summer's San Diego Comic-Con to talk about his personal history with Heavy Metal, ask some questions about his plans, and get a glimpse into the approach he's bringing to his new role at the magazine.
Earlier this month, Dark Horse released the first issue of This Damned Band, a new series from writer Paul Cornell and artist Tony Parker that tells the story of the seminal early '70s band Motherfather --- a group that attempts to enjoy the trappings of rock stardom, but at the same time become mixed up in forces far beyond their control.
In advance of issue #2 hitting stands next week, ComicsAlliance had the opportunity to sit down with Cornell and Parker to talk about the series.
It remains a bleak time for the female comic audience, and for other minority audiences. The recent debacle with Hercules is merely the latest of Marvel’s many ghastly faux pas; for every two steps forward, it seems to take two steps back: it publishes more female titles only to end the majority of them with Secret Wars, and it tantalizes us with Hercules only to promote the status quo inside of continuity.
It is easy to lose faith in the publisher’s ability to reform from within, but Marvel has had the key to equal, positive representation for over fifty years now.
Many of comics’ most popular characters have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most significant characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at the best Joker comics.
Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History by Joel Christian Gill is a narrative history for young readers. The book was released in May of 2014 to some acclaim, but didn’t quite break through to a wider audience. Mark Waid and JG Jones' controversial recent Boom project of the same name has made Gill'’s excellent book a topic of conversation again. J.A. Micheline and Megan Purdy dig deep into Gill's exploration of some of the forgotten faces in black history.
Nine Worlds Geekfest is a London convention that is --- and let’s just get this out of the way now --- unconventional. The event was born out of a Kickstarter in 2013 which sought to put on a “weekend-long, multi-genre convention” with a note that they are “founded on the radical belief that geekdom should not be restricted by class, age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, or the ability to cite Wookieepedia in arguments.” This is the kind of lip service you see at most conventions, despite actual attendants finding the truth to be slightly different.
But Nine Worlds puts its money where its mouth is.
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