Weekender: Sloane Leong, Marissa Meyer, Black Comics Month and ‘Saint for Rent’
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 has 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!
It’s been a big week for comics announcements, with First Second announcing a raft of different comics. Right here we announced a tremendously affecting work from Sam Sharpe called Mom: A Story of Love and Mental Illness. Box Brown has decided to tell the origin story of, well, Tetris, and as we mentioned last week, Spike Trotman is creating a biography of Josephine Baker.
We've also had news that bestselling YA author Marissa Meyer is heading into the world of comics, alongside artist Douglas Holgate. The Lunar Chronicles author will write a two-book combination called Wires and Nerve. They’ll both be set in the world of her books, following on from the series and following up with some of her most popular characters --- many of whom seem to be cyborgs, pleasingly.
And there's a new book from Corey Lewis coming out soon courtesy of Press Gang, called Sun Bakery. This will be a one-man anthology, publishing bimonthly.
Following the recent news that Viz has scored a major deal with Walmart and Best Buy comes further tidings of joyous comics availability. It appears that Walmart are in talks to set up a dedicated graphic novel section across their stores, and have set up a 50-store pilot for the scheme.
With Walmart being one of the biggest chain stores in America, this is potentially huge news for the comics industry as a whole. Comics retailers are fantastic and dedicated and keep the industry alive --- but adding some major retailers like Walmart could boost comics exponentially to whole new levels. Chris Arrant’s been keeping an eye on this one over at Newsarama, and we’ll continue to do so right here at ComicsAlliance too.
AfterShock Comics has joined ComiXology and can now bring its works to a digital audience. You can read about the publisher's future plans --- and four newly announced titles --- in our interview with publiser Joe Pruett and editor Mike Marts.
Finally, we move away from the new comics and return to some classics, as the Eisner Awards announced the Hall of Fame entries for 2016. Carl Burgos and Tove Jansson will be automatically entered at this year’s ceremony, and voters can pick up to four additional potential inductees from a shortlist. Burgos is best known for being the man who created The Human Torch, one of the first superheroes for what became Marvel Comics, while Jansson created the Moomins, making her responsible for many of my strangest childhood nightmares.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
The big new comics launch of the week was Black, a Kickstarter project headed up by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith III, artist Jamal Igle and cover artist Khary Randolph. Already funded after only five days, this has been a barnstorming success for the team. The story is set following a police shooting of an unarmed young black man… who wakes up later still alive because of the superpowers he discovers he has. He soon comes to learn that many black people have similar superpowers --- which the Government has been attempting to cover up for decades.
It’s a brilliant premise, and one that people are clearly excited to read, given how quickly this was funded. You can see an early look at the artistic process here.
Saint for Rent is a gorgeous, lush, wonderful webcomic from Ru Xu, set at an inn for time-travellers. This is bravura stuff, mixing different forms of art --- including animation --- to dazzling effect as an array of intriguing characters wander in and out of the life of out protagonist, The Saint. You can see the work develop over time in unexpected ways, as the author begins to cross story beats between one another and build up something really special. You can, and should, lose hours of your life reading this one.
Sloane Leong has started to serialize a new comic called Maps to the Suns over at Comics & Cola, as part of the rewards being offered thanks to Patreon support. It’s described by Leong as a “girls basketball drama.” Leong spoke at length about the project with The Comics Journal a week or so ago. The 34-page prologue, in black and white, is currently running on the site, although this will be an ongoing story following. It's an altogether human and calm piece of work from the artist.
David Barnett looks at a series of projects from across the comics industry that focus on African and African-American work. This incldues Kickstarter projects and Marvel and DC series, right through to a few questions with Comic Republic CEO Jide Martin. The piece spotlights just a few of the many African voices who are making names for themselves in this medium, and there are some brilliant thoughts voiced throughout by the interviewees. The main sentiment arising again and again is that people need to go out and make things --- more and more, there’s an audience actively hungry for it.
One of the most read and shared articles this week was over on Sktchd, as retailer John Hendricks from The Big Bang in Ireland talks about how creators should sell their comics to shops --- because the actual sales for comics tend to come from retailers, and that makes them the most important audience for your sales and marketing pitches. This is gold from start to finish, as Hendricks is one of the best there is at discussing the comics marketplace. Aspiring and established creatives alike should take note of his advice.
There’re some interesting answers from artist Johnnie Christmas in this interview about his upcoming graphic novel Angel Catbird, with author Margaret Atwood. The interview asks a few wonky questions, but this is a project with a lot of potential, and it’s great to hear Christmas talk in-depth about how things are coming together.
The Beat Herself, Heidi MacDonald, the only person I know to ever call herself a maven (making her simultaneously the only person I know who understands the definition of the word ‘maven) takes a scattered and light look at one of the big problems a comic fan has deal with: finding space for all these flipping things. She highlights Julia Wertz’s unparalleled ability to store comics away, before talking more about how and where she keeps her own surely-insane collection of books. Me? I just lump them all in a huge pile by the side of my bed, and hope to never again need to read whatever poor tome is stuck at the bottom.
Our own Claire Napier and Ziah Grace have teamed up for Bizarre Adventures in Criticism, a recurring look at JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. Here they take a look at opening arc Phantom Blood, with human whirlwind Claire leading the way and Ziah doing everything in his power to keep up with her (and succeeding). It’s a comic I knew very little about before I read the piece, and now… well, I don’t really want to read it, but I do want to continue reading Claire and Ziah’s thoughts. And the comments!
It’s February now, which means it’s Black History Month in America. It also means that Black Comics Month founder Vixen is delivering daily content on her blockbuster site, including interviews with new and upcoming black comics talent, and looks at some of the many varied and brilliant projects that’re out there right now. Every month is Black Comics Month --- but February is just that little bit extra special, and you’re bound to find something incredible if you keep yourself glued to the site this month.
Have a great weekend, everybody!