Weekender: Irene Koh, Comic Republic, And ‘Rosalie Lightning’
What a week! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to sit back and read some comics. The weekend is finally here, and the world can relax and rest once more --- but the comics industry has been busy too, and the last seven days have seen a flurry of comics-based news and announcements fly past at high speed. ComicsAlliance has got your back; when it comes to comics, we never slow down, so here’s a look back and just what’s been going on.
New comics, new stories, new hirings, new podcasts, new art being made --- it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
The big news, of course, has come from France this week. The Angouleme Festival, which is perhaps the largest comics gathering in the world (in contention with Comiket in Japan), awards a lifetime achievement Grand Prix each year, recognizing one artist who has made a major contribution to comics throughout their career. But this year's list of nominees didn’t feature a single woman. Not one! This led to talk of a boycott, and a dozen nominees withdrawing their names from consideration.
It appears that Angouleme is responding now by removing the longlist entirely, and allowing people to vote for any artist they want. That's probably a better solution than expanding the list of nominees, since I imagine not many women want to be added to a list like this as an afterthought, but it isn’t doing much about the initial problem. Women have always been in comics, and paying more attention to history --- heck, drawing more attention to history --- surely must be a priority in the coming year. This sort of thing shouldn’t be happening anymore!
More positively, a comics startup called The Comic Republic has, well, started up in Lagos, Nigeria. Founded by Jide Martin, the publisher is looking to put out a series of comics featuring Nigerian superheroes and stories, under the tagline, “We can all be heroes”. Starting in 2013, the collective has seen its projects gain more and more attention over the last few years, and now generates thousands of downloads per month. 30% of the downloads come from Nigeria, with the majority of them coming from the UK and US.
Comics Republic is not only making comics; its getting its comics seen, picking up advertising, developing marketing --- this feels like a full package. Expect to see a lot more from Comic Republic over the next few years.
Gene Luen Yang, who has written a number of comics for all-ages, including The Shadow Thief and Supercoders, has been named The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. He is the fifth person to earn this distinction. It speaks to the growing understanding of how important comics can be to developing cognitive thinking, as well as the overall importance of comics to literature. Yang is a great speaker and thinker, and it’s easy to see him making huge strides in this role.
Mike Mignola made a huge stride of his own recently, when he casually mentioned in an interview at Vulture that he’s wrapping up Hellboy in Hell with issue #10. Hellboy is one of the best and most carefully curated creator-owned characters in the history of the medium, so this is pretty notable, especially as it doesn’t sound as though there are any immediate plans to use Hellboy anywhere else in current continuity. Mignola plans to focus on fine arts in 2016, and the upcoming Frankenstein miniseries may be one of his last big comics projects for a while.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
There’s still plenty of other stuff to come in 2016 though; have no fear. As a matter of fact, last week's Yearender offered a rundown of many of the biggest projects.
What’s tipped by many to be the first big story of 2016 is Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart, which gets a profile thanks to David Marchese at Vulture. Intense and personal, the graphic novel recounts the sad passing of Hart's daughter Rosalie, three weeks before her second birthday. Hart pours so much of himself into this project, and I know this will be a hard read, but one that will resonate forever with many people.
Irene Koh has been recounting a series of real-life anecdotes on her website, called, simply, Men. This one, about red flags, also touches on the eternal power of chicken wings --- and the weird belief that they don’t belong in the hands of women -- and it's my favourite of a fun bunch.
Boom announced a few comics over the last few days, in blatant defiance of the unspoken accord that no comics announcements occur while every comics journalist is still finishing off that tub of Christmas chocolates. The first bit of news is that Hope Larson is teaming up with the suddenly-everywhere Brittney Williams for a comic called Goldie Vance. It’s a miniseries through the Boom Box imprint, and features a 16-year old who decides she’s going to become the go-to detective for her town.
That’s not all, though! Because there’s also the news that the Over the Garden Wall series will become an ongoing series this year, in testament to the popularity of both the TV show the comic is based on, and the comic itself!
Johanna Draper Carlson gathers together a few talking points about the dying nature of print journalism, and how the slowing down of print media affects everyone. Comics have obviously had a long history as part of a symbiotic relationship with newspapers, and Carlson expertly weaves together the narrative in a really fascinating way.
It’s straightforward, but here’s a rundown of the best-selling trades and graphic novels for Challengers Comics + Conversation, based in Chicago. I love a good list, and the simplicity of this one tells a lot of interesting stories about how the industry operated over the last year. The Big Bang also ran down their list over on Twitter.
LGBTQ-focused commentary site The Rainbow Hub recently announced that it’s shutting down, and I wanted to pass across the link for people to go have a read at the sort of work that the site put out on a regular basis. There are several fantastic writers involved on that website, and hopefully we’ll soon get to see all of them show up in new homes across the comics internet.
In a week when the founder of Diamond Comics Distributors showed himself in a less than dazzling light, I saw this tweet from Noah Van Sciver which, as ever, offered a somewhat more blunt alternative. Created by John Porcellino, Spit and a Half offers a central location to pick up all the comics you need for a healthy cultural diet, and at very decent prices. Talents including Jane Mai, Sam Alden, Julia Grförer and Annie Mok all have comics available through the site, so why not say a hearty flipping jiminy and go take a look at some of the very tasty stories on offer?