Weekender: Ben Hatke, ‘Baker Street Peculiars’, and Memoirs of a ‘2000 AD’ Editor
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, you know, and the last seven days have seen a flurry of comics-based news and announcements fly past at high speed.
ComicsAlliance have got your back, though: when it comes to comics, we never slow down, and 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!
Ben Hatke found himself a winner this week, picking up the 2016 Gryphon Award for Children’s Literature for Little Robot, his graphic novel released by FirstSecond. The book tells the story of a little girl who finds an adorable little robot. Naturally, they become best friends.
In other award-winning news; The winners of the 61st Shogakukan Manga Awards were announced last Thursday, with a prize of one million yen awarded to each of the five winners. Haruichi Furudate was awarded best Shonen Manga for Haikyu!!, while Best Shōjo Manga went to Kazune Kawahara and Aruko for My Love Story!!. The awards have been going since the 1950s, making this one of the longest-running (and most lucrative) comics awards in the world.
Spike Trotman’s latest comics Kickstarter project with Smut Peddler is destroying what mortal minds think the word “success” means, racing beyond the $40,000 target to the point where at the time of writing it’s reaching double the original goal. This time round two projects are up for grabs: the anthology My Monster Boyfriend, which features work from Jess Fink and Gail Simone, among others; as well as Yes, Roya, a graphic novel written by Trotman with art from Ghost Green. Elle Collins wrote more about the project for ComicsAlliance here.
In a remarkably good week for Trotman, FirstSecond has announced that Trotman has a new graphic novel in the works, Black Pearl: The Graphic Life of Josephine Baker.
Calvin Reid reports on a strong year for comics and a strong year for Diamond, the only major comics distributor out there. Now sure, it’s in their best interests to tell everyone how well they’re doing and that comics are great, but the quotes from vice president Kuo-Yu Liang aren’t spoken in a vacuum; graphic novel sales reportedly rose 22% over 2014. Reid’s article attributes this to the range of comics available, and that range is increasing year-on-year.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Afrofuturism is the exploration of science fiction and fantasy with attention to how we view the lives of people of color, and how history has presented and defined them over the years. The idea is to look at non-Western myth and cosmology and use it to talk about current issues from new perspectives.
And good news! Paul Louise-Julie has a new project coming up that offers an intergalactic Afrocentrist adventure: Yohance. Victoria Johnson was the first to turn my attention to Louise-Julie’s work, first with this excellent interview and then with this preview of the art of Yohance, both right here on good ol’ ComicsAlliance. It looks absolutely exceptional. The best place to catch updates is the Facebook page.
Roger Langridge and Andy Hirsch have a new project coming out this March in the form of The Baker Street Peculiars, first announced on ComicsAlliance. I love the premise of this one --- it turns out that Sherlock Holmes was all a con, and the stories attributed to 'John Watson' were actually penned by Mrs Hudson, as women at the time weren't really able to get detective fiction published. Mrs Hudson enlists a group of young detectives to aid her as she solves various cases around London, which inspire the stories. Johanna Draper Carlson has a preview of the first issue here.
Andy Oliver offers a spotlight on the guys working at PEOW Comics, in this interview at Broken Frontier. PEOW Studio has been steadily building first a reputation and then a sturdy back-catalogue of comics across the last few years, helping guide a spotlight towards talents like Jane Mai. Oliver goes in-depth in that way only he can.
Sreejita Biswas picks five Indian webcomics worthy of a look over on Scoll.in, offering everything from politically-motivated works with an environmentalist bent to the growing mythical world of Kinnari, by Meenakshi Krishnamoorthy. I love a good list.
And let’s focus on Brian Cronin for a moment. He’s been writing about comics for years and years, providing consistently interesting work over at Comics Should Be Good, which I think sometimes gets severely overlooked. His ongoing “Comic Book Legends Revealed” feature has been a continual source of interest, as he takes apart some surprising stories about behind-the-scenes and on-the-page comics shenanigans and determines whether they're true or false. This week he looks at the claim that Robert Kirkman lied about the premise of The Walking Dead in order to get it published. True or false?
Western comics wouldn’t be what they are today without 2000 AD. The style, content, and opportunities offered by the weekly prog led a number of incredible writers and artists into the industry, and much of the success of the comic can be laid at the feet of editor Steve MacManus. He was there through some of the most successful years the publication ever had, commissioning stories like The Ballad of Halo Jones, Bad Company, and Rogue Trooper.
It’s a fascinating period for comics, and the good news is that MacManus has been writing his memoirs and they’ll be published later this year! Can you even imagine the gossip that will be in those pages? It’s being offered as a pre-order now.
Have a great weekend, everybody!