Weekender: Emerald Distro, ‘Peritale’, and Stan Lee’s Mega Mix Popcorn
The weekend is here! Take a look back at what’s happened in the past seven days. New comics, new stories, new podcasts, new art being made — it’s all part of the ComicsAlliance Weekender!
There are two aspects to comics: the creative side, and the business side. And while there are those who can readily handle both, it’s pretty much accepted that business is something that eludes a lot of creatively-minded people. When Diamond first bought out the majority of its rivals and became the only game in the business of comics distribution, there wasn’t anyone who had the ability or understanding to offer publishers another option.
But with the rise of digital, we’ve seen more self-taught creatives head across to the business side of things, and small-press publishers have begun to thrive outside of Diamond (which refuses to stock any comic it doesn’t like the look of). And it’s with that in mind that writer and publisher Anne Bean has thrown her hat into the ring, setting up a new distributor in Seattle called Emerald Comics Distro.
It has to be remembered that Diamond does a job that nobody else does --- for decades, it has been the only big distributor in comics, and it has a lot of work to do as a result. Yet seeing new distributors looking to establish their presence can only be seen as a positive move. For one thing, it offers new ideas and standards to an aspect of the comics industry that has --- as is always the case with monopolies --- felt stale and run out of ideas. Emerald Comics Distro is the latest of several alternatives, and has an eye towards comics by women especially.
We’re going to see more of the conventional ideas of publishing being challenged thanks to the levelling effect of the internet, and it’s exciting to see.
That conceit also led this week to San Diego Comic-Con trying out a different ticket-buying system for returning registration in 2017, implementing a “waiting room” aspect to the process, which saw vastly improved wait times for a majority of those looking to buy tickets. The system also means that the show sold out of day passes entirely in just under an hour, which is incredibly fast. Previews night took a little longer to sell out than the other days, which themselves sold out in around a half hour each.
EVENTS AND AWARDS
On the comic-con trail, badges are now onsale for WonderCon 2017, held in Anaheim from March 31 to April 2. Tickets appear to be selling out fairly rapidly for that one, with a guest-list which includes Hope Larson, Sergio Aragones, and Phil Jimenez.
The 2017 Comic Strip Festival in Brussels will take place from the 1-3 of September, with a celebration of cartoonist André Franquin’s Gaston Lagaffe character. The festival aligns with the 60th anniversary of Franquin’s creation, who has been creating chaos since he debuted in 1957. A handyman with a knack for causing more damage than he ever fixes, the character continues to appear in comics in Belgium today, and will make his English language debut later this year when Cinebook starts collecting his strips under the title of Gomer Goof.
Oh! And Michael DeForge is heading out on tour across Canada and America which started earlier this week. More details here!
Mari Costa’s webcomic Peritale is one of the more charming stories you’ll find anywhere today. Effortlessly blending fantastical elements with a light, frothy, but surprisingly substantive story, this is the tale of a fairy named Periwinkle. Periwinkle has everything it takes to be the greatest and most gifted fairy of all time… but she has no magic.
Undeterred, she sets out to achieve the greatest accomplishment possible for any fairy --- bringing two loving people together into the fairytale bonds of marriage. If she can do that, everything will be fine… but that’s a pretty big ask. Costa takes the traditional approach of fairytale and brings it into the contemporary world, with an especially admirable eye for character design and voice. She introduces several characters to the story who immediately win the reader over, and her instinct is to always bring in more queer and female voices to the story whenever possible --- which also serves to show just how perfectly queer characters fit within the genre.
Frederik Hautain successfully edited and compiled --- and subsequently crowdfunded --- last year’s Broken Frontier anthology, which contained comics from both upcoming and well-known comics creators, often paired together. Hautain has recently stepped down from his role at Broken Frontier in order to make more comics himself, and the first of these comes in the form of The Happy Few, with Germán Erramouspe, colorist Varga Tomi and letterer Thomas Mauer.
The story of a man who takes a beating in a good cause, and is offered a chance to gain revenge (and superpowers) if he swallows a pill, it quickly heads in unexpected and (worrying) directions. Hautain has returned to Kickstarter for this new story, and you can find the crowdfunding page right here.
Let’s start with Osvaldo Oyola over at The Middle Spaces, who this week offered a contemplative and personal essay on the serialized format of comics. Specifically, he looks at whether it’s even worth engaging with franchise comics on a personal level when everybody knows that the majority of superheroes are usually only a few months away from a relaunch, reboot, and rebrand. With comics being an eternal middle section to a story that rarely has the opportunity to end, how many comics are actually still managing to prove themselves involving and engaging on a monthly basis?
Over at Image, Island has come to a close with issue #15. But it’s that edition that has drawn interest from the team at WomenWriteAboutComics, which assembled several contributors for a fascinating discussion of the cover image from artist Dilraj Mann.
This week The Guardian had the honor of speaking to artist Raymond Briggs about his working life and daily routine. Within the first sentence, Briggs brings you straight into his reality, and takes a forthright, fascinating journey through how his stories are compiled. In the process, you get a compelling look at how strong his personal voice is as a narrator, and how that has helped serve his stories over the decades.
And hey, you never have to travel too far for great writing about comics --- right here on ComicsAlliance this week, Emma Lawson had the opportunity to interview Ngozi Uzaku on her blockbuster kickstarter campaigns for print editions of the webcomic Check Please. The duo spoke at Emerald City Comic-Con, and you can sense a growing camaraderie as the interview moves onwards. It’s a great read, and offers a look into one of the most popular voices to ever catapult themselves into comics crowdfunding.
We usually don’t cover superheroes as part of Weekender, but this week ClickHole managed to scoop the world and get an exclusive new interview with Stan "The Man" Lee. I certainly learned a lot I never expected to, as Stan goes into thoughtful depth on helping Jack Kirby look good, creating new and exciting superheroes, and his greatest creation: “Stan’s Mega Mix” popcorn. As the generalissimo would say: Excellent!
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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