Weekender: Philipp Meyer, ‘The Invention of E.J. Whitaker’, and Poo-Eating Rabbits
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, so here’s a look back and just what’s been going on. New comics, new stories, new podcasts, new art being made — it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly reports that Humble Bundle turned over more than $6 million in book revenue in 2015, their ‘pay what you want’ model reflecting the growing move towards digital content --- and away from the standard model offered by ComiXology. Most pleasingly, $3million-worth of sales was through comics, with publishers from Image to Archie putting a huge number of back-issue comics on the service to see how readers might bite. In addition, $1.2million of the total revenue was donated to charity in 2015.
The current running Humble Bundle deal features Aspen Comics, which has put, to be honest, most of its comics on the site for this next offer. As always, the Humble Bundle offers a really good deal if you’re interested in trying out those comics.
A campaign called “Cool Japan” --- which sounds like a Saturday morning show hosted by Adam and Joe --- hopes to create a Manga Museum in Tokyo. The museum will collect pieces, showcase new work, and also work on training, cultivating, and establishing aspiring comics-makers in their first steps towards publication. With Japan gearing up for an Olympic Games in four years, this would be the ideal time to set up a museum for one of the country's most popular cultural exports.
On related lines, Kodansha Comics has unveiled its autumn lineup of comics. Kodansha has acquired four new print licenses including Interviews with Monster Girls by Petos, and Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai from Hiroyuki Takei. Aside from incredible titles, these series showcase the range of stories available through Kodansha, which clearly seems to be diversifying its line. Possibly the biggest news in the lineup is Lost Girls, a spin-off from Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, which will feature new work from Isayama himself.
Another return this year will be Cory Walker coming back to Invincible, the series he co-created with Robert Kirkman. No longer thought of as the other Robert Kirkman book (because he has about three of them at the moment, if I remember correctly), this one is the superhero story that starts off friendly and rapidly spirals into incredibly gory violence. The book has raced past issue #100, and shows no signs of slowing down. Issue #127 will see Walker come on for his first consecutive run of issues since the very first six --- as Ryan Ottley has been handling the series for most of its run.
FLUKE 2016 has announced details for this year’s mini-comics festival, held in Athens, Georgia. Taking place on Saturday 23rd April, this 15th annual festival will be supported by Bizarro Wuxtry, Inch-High Button Guy, The Sequential Artists Workshop, AdHouse Books, and Anthony Fisher Illustration.
The 2000 AD podcast invited Jimmy Broxton and Guy Adams, the creative team behind Goldtiger, to talk about the upcoming collection. I remember this one from way back when it was a Kickstarter ambition --- in fact, I interviewed the team at the time. The concept is a fun one; the creators claim to be restoring a 1960s spy strip that was deemed too risque for publication at that time. The new Goldtiger is a collection of those stories into one place, telling the story never before seen. As you may have figured, it's not a true 1960s relic, but the work of Adams and Broxton themselves. It’s a fun comic, and a fun interview on the podcast.
Whenever I see an article online and think “this is exactly the sort of writing we need more of,” I find inevitably that it was written by Ardo Omer. This post on optimising comics for the blind builds on a tactile comic created by artist Philipp Meyer, which seeks to make comics that blind people can experience and enjoy. Omer discusses a range of associated topics, most interestingly noting that the central light-based concept of the Green Lantern Corps would be particularly baffling to someone who does not distinguish between different colors.
Ryan Holmberg returns to the Comics Journal for a sequel to his piece last year on manga in the '60s. This year’s topic? Manga in the '70s and '80s, and the tie between them and pro-nuclear conceits.
The Outhousers has a fun interview with writer Ken Marcus, creator of the Acton Lab series Superhuman Resources, which also looks a little at Action Lab’s approach to comics as a whole.
The BBC has a profile on the “Godmother of Manga Sex”, Keiko Takemiya, which quickly leads into an analysis of sexual content within the manga scene in general. Touching on the concepts of sexual representation of children and sexual violence, it’s a piece which speaks to several notable players within the scene, and draws out some fascinating conclusions on the subjects as a whole.
The latest piece from the Think of a City project features ComicsAlliance's own Jennifer de Guzman teaming up with artist Kate Brown --- meaning unequivocally that the world just became a better place following the release of the above image. Check out the full piece, and more Think of a City pieces, at the project's Tumblr page!
And hey, here’s Claire Napier at WomenWriteAboutComics reviewing Generous Bosom from Conor Stechschulte, published by Breakdown Press. She also interviews Stechschulte and ultimately ends up wearing a clown mask whilst dancing for an unseen photographer. We don’t deserve Claire Napier, you guys.
There are so many Kickstarters currently ongoing, and it only seemed right that we devote a little space to as many of them as possible this week.
Two publishers are reaching the end of their Kickstarter campaigns over the next few days, and both deserve to hit their goals. First is Retrofit, which wants to fund a lineup including new work from James Kochalka and Eleanor Davis. The campaign is $20,000 off the target of $35,000 at the time of writing. Meanwhile, the target for Comicker Press is more in-reach as things stand, with the digital publisher only a few hundred dollars away from bringing some of its titles to print.
Following up some of the Kickstarters featured as part of Back Pages; the third issue of Cassius, a mystery set in Roman times, is now running on Kickstarter following previous successful crowdfunders for the first two issues. Also, the team of Emily Wills and Ann Uland got married a few months ago --- congratulations!
We also have the next project from Hope Nicholson following The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, which is a reprint and restoration of the 1980s series Fashion in Action by John K. Snyder III. That one is heading for a nervous final few days, and is only a few grand away from the target.
“Victorian Gothic” is the style for Arcane Sally & Mr Steam, from the pairing of David Alton Hedges and Jefferson Costa. This one is about a rogue English agent (and his manservant) teaming up with an enigmatic secret agent called Sally in order to stop a villain from unleashing Lewis Carroll’s most dangerous mathematical theories and altering the very nature of reality. That’s incredible.
The Invention of E.J. Whitaker is the latest project from the Gibbs Sisters, who are a two-woman industry of their own. Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs have worked on a number of stories over the last few years, told in a variety of mediums, but they keep coming back to comics.
This latest project aims to be a five-issue miniseries, and is set at the turn of the century. It follows an inventor who, finding that society don’t pay attention to her due to her gender, decides to work under a pseudonym: E.J. Whitaker. This starts off well, but when her latest project --- a flying machine --- grabs national attention, she finds herself pursued by people looking to take her invention for themselves… and find out who she really is.
Illustrator Jim Field’s next project is called Rabbit’s Bad Habits. Written by Julian Gough, the picture book promises to focus heavily on a poo-eating rabbit with a bow tie who makes life miserable for an unlucky bear for no apparent reason other than sometimes rabbits just like to be mean. Folks --- you can make literally any story you want and there will be an audience out there for you. Never forget that!
Have a great weekend, everybody!