Weekender: Stela, Webcomics, Vampires and NSFW Bible Stories
The weekend is here! Put down your paperwork, throw your stationery out of the window, and do a victory spin in your office chair, because it’s time to catch up on that greatest of all media: comics! What’s been going on this week? There’s so much comics that there’s no way anybody can keep up with all of it — so Weekender is here to catch you up on some of the stories you may have missed, and some of the best writing about comics from the past few days.
Former Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons is leading a new digital comics project called Stela (pronounced steel-a apparently, although none of us are likely ever going to call it that). Launching as an iPhone app in 2016 with an Android version following, this is a digital comics concept that lines up with fellow digi-publishers Thrillbent, Electricomics and the like. There’ll be a number of comics launching, including work from Irene Koh, Stuart Moore, Greg Scott and others, and in launch interviews Gibbons has mentioned Ron Wimberly, Caleb Goellner (now there’s a familiar name!) and Jen Bartel.
Stela’s comics will debut along with the app in 2016. You can learn more about it from our preview and interview with the editorial team, too.
A brace of Beat-reported Bible stories next, with Gilbert Hernandez leading the way with a July-due graphic novel called Garden of Flesh at Fantagraphics. A sexually explicit take on life in the garden of Eden, this is apparently going to blur the lines of erotica and pornography (there’s a line between erotica and pornography?), and feauture a written story with full-color illustrations peppered throughout.
Chester Brown is also getting in on this totally Biblical action with Mary Wept over the Feet of Jesus. Due out next March from Drawn & Quarterly, this will tell nine stories from throughout the timeline of the Bible, focusing on tales featuring prostitution and sex work.
The British Comic Book Awards were held a week ago as part of the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds with a handful of awards given out. Rachael Stott won the Emerging Talent Award for her work on projects at IDW and Titan – including The Twelfth Doctor and Star Trek. The Young People’s Comic Award was given to James Turner for his all-ages series Star Cat. Best Comic was Grey Area: From the City to the Sea, by Tim Bird, and Best Book went to The Motherless Oven, by Rob Davis. The fourth annual Hall of Fame Award was given posthumously to Dudley D. Watkins, creator of strips including Oor Wullie and The Broons.
That wasn’t all, though! The Lynd Ward Prize was awarded earlier this week, recognising innovation in comics. This year the prize went to Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, for their much-acclaimed graphic novel This One Summer. And, over in Istanbul, the 32nd Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competition took place on Tuesday, awarding first prize to Albanian cartoonist Agim Sulaj.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
An Encyclopedia of Early Earth writer/artist Isabel Greenberg has unveiled a project with Microsoft and author Zoe Gilbert. As part of a promotion for the company, she was asked to create a comic within two weeks using Microsoft Office 2016. The final result – along with a video showing off the creative process – can be found here.
Here’s a comic I missed from Madeline McGrane, an off-kilter look at an immortal friendship which clips along at a nice pace. There’s a sense that the comic is trying to evoke a particular mood and genre out of you, especially at the start…. then you get to the end and realise just how quickly McGrane sucked you into something else entirely.
Dungeon Fun co-creator Neil Slorance offered a quick take on the current political situation in America and beyond:
Satoshi Yamazaki writes about a curious new demand developing through Manga readers in Japan for stories about or relating to war. Several publishers have started reprinting older stories just to satisfy demand, which Yamazaki believes is due to the current global situation and the likelihood of international warfare striking up once more. He takes a look at the changing interests of comics work in Japan, and comes to a striking conclusion “Those comics depicted the daily lives of families and communal lives of girls during the war. In doing so, those manga are searching for connections between the wartime years and the present.”
The Guardian’s Michelle Dean profiles Kickstarter icon Spike Trotman this week. Trotman has spent the last few years making very impressive comics with assistance from crowdfunding, and she’s easily one of the most visible success stories in that sphere. She knows what she’s doing, she has a passionate focus and attention, and judging from her last line in the Guardian profile, she knows how to make an exit like only one other.
Shea Hennum takes to Paste for a profile on 1970s Argentinian cartoonist Héctor Germán Oesterheld, whose life is a terrifically interesting story. Best known for his allegorical work The Eternaut, he was last seen alive in 1976, when he was taken from his home by persons unknown. Hennum details society in Argentina during a particularly dangerous time with careful precision, so that even though you can imagine how Oesterheld’s story ends, you’re still struck with sadness when you read about it.
A more upbeat ending can be found in this piece by Brady Dale, who talks to several prominent webcomics creators about their craft and business. John Allison, Dorothy Gambell and Ryan North are among those giving their thoughts on how webcomics exist as a self-reliant product, and how their own lives have shifted in tandem with an increasing audience interest in digital comics. It’s well worth a read.
Have you ever wanted to look inside Michael DeForge’s apartment? Of course you have, you investigative little badgers – and Forge Magazine (no relation?) now offer you the chance to live your creepy dreams. In the linked video, Forge takes a tour round his living quarters, offering a glimpse at the set-up for one of the more startling cartoonists in comics today.
Have a great weekend, everybody!