Weekender: Chris Claremont, ‘Muddler’s Beat’, and M. Victoria Robado
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!
It's been a quiet week for news --- you wouldn’t have guessed there are some huge events coming up, eh? There have been some things going on though --- not least this look into the rise of this weekend's C2E2 convention over at the Chicago Tribune. Granted, it’s perhaps a little expected for a Chicago publication to be very much in favor of a huge convention that takes place in Chicago, but the growth of medium-sized shows like C2E2 --- which will play host to several big announcements from publishers like DC, remember --- is always encouraging.
It’s also a reminder that convention season is only just round the corner now, and with it comes that most hallowed of halls --- the route to the Eisners 2016. Today is the final day for submitting your award nominees, and remember that the Eisners are open to everyone --- there are categories for best webcomics work --- and the only way to get yourself seen is if your site is submitted. As current world champions for comics journalism, this has been a public service announcement from submission-eligible website ComicsAlliance!
Valiant has signed fifteen artists and colorists to exclusive contracts, which includes new signees plus existing contractees who have renewed for another year.
Oh, tell you what, here’s a story for you, although maybe it speaks to the slow season we’re in at the moment. The VancouFur convention took place this year, in a hotel that was being used to house Syrian refugees to Canada. With people walking around in fursuits, it might be thought that this would be a strange and confusing mix of cultures. As the report at Vice goes, however, the Syrian children were, quote, “f---ng psyched” at this news, and spent hours hanging around with their new furry friends.
There’s likely not a single person reading this who doesn’t already listen to Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, but this week, for their hundredth episode the pair sat down with Chris Claremont himself (!) to talk about his time with the characters.
Although Weekender doesn’t cover franchise comics, we do cover the people who do, and this week’s episode of the Fantasticast hit a particularly noteworthy milestone: the first issue of Marvel Two-In-One, which gets a recap and review from the team. It’s a well known and a surely accepted fact that Ben Grimm is the greatest character in all of comics, so go have a listen and get Thing Fever.
The rise of question-answer columns on comics websites is a pleasant one. This week Chase Magnett was asked to write about a particular Calvin & Hobbes strip that made him tear up. These features seem to lead to new readers finding a way to cut into established franchises and get to understand them better.
It’s strange to think that new readers might be surprised at the rotating artists you find in franchise comics-work, but as this piece on Panels breaks down, it’s a really odd concept that we've taken as a norm, and a fascinating one at that.
First Second is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, which means a slew of great pieces examining the publisher from all kinds of different angles. Jamie Greene decided he’d pick one book each year that has meant something to him, leading all the way up to this year’s Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks and Jordie Bellaire.
Meanwhile, Brigid Alverson decided to talk to editor Calista Brill about some of the upcoming projects being run by the company --- namely, the Science Comics line --- over at Publishers Weekly.
Kim O’Connor published a piece at ComicsandCola about specific, targeted, patronizing and personal attacks she received from critic Abraham Riesman. After she wrote a review of Adrian Tomine’s newest work, and critiqued the poor use of women in the story, Riesman went after her in a dismissive way --- an experience that any woman who writes about comics will be familiar with. O’Connor recounts this particular series of events in the piece, but her broader point is that women writing online get criticized in a much more personal and unacceptable way than men do. When a woman is wrong, the tenor of an argument seems to become “correctional,” like the guy is addressing an incorrect statement that he must therefore set right.
That’s not acceptable, and responses like Riesman’s to O’Connor need to be stamped out when they occur. Criticism is a difficult work, made harder when people respond to it as a personal attack rather than an artistic critique.
This sort of thing has actually led Zainab Akhtar, who runs ComicsandCola, to this week announce that she’s stepping away from the site because of the attacks and ‘corrections’ she’s received from, primarily, white guys who think they know better. Don’t accept this toxic culture --- we need to do better.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
M. Victoria Robado is the creator of the long-running webcomic Fragile, about aspirations, friendship, and life. You might recognise name as a colorist, as she’s worked on several comics like The Littlest Pet Shop over at IDW, although Fragile is a black and white work. It’s a really, truly charming series, with characters who you grow very attached to in a very short amount of time. In particular I really like her use of lettering as a way of conveying character --- like the cluttered sound effects that surrounds Marian, and the kinetic way they break through the panels and affect other characters. It’s really nice work.
Tony Breed’s taken to Kickstarter to bring his webcomic Muddler’s Beat to print --- with the first volume irresistibly titled Literally Everything Is Outside My Comfort Zone. Top-notch title aside, this is a series that follows a group of friends enjoying and complaining about life in equal measure, focusing on funny strip vignettes, and featuring characters with variously advisable hairstyles and fashion choices.
I’m a bit worried about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, folks. On the one hand, it’s great to hear that another comics fan is being positioned to take a huge role in American politics --- because if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that comics fans should definitely be granted supreme power --- but this news story about how Garland sold his comics collection in order to pay for law school? Are we sure that’s the right move to make? Sure he’s now heading towards one of the most important positions in the American system --- but on the other hand, how can anyone function without their back issues of Fantastic Four? Fingers crossed that everything works out for the poor comics-free Garland in future.
Have a great weekend, everybody!