Weekender: Angelo Lopez, ‘Rise from Ashes’, And Mama Cass
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!
With Rat Queens currently on hiatus, artist Tess Fowler's time with the series has come to an end. When WomenWriteAboutComics editor Claire Napier asked Fowler about the current status of Rat Queens, Fowler said that she was “pushed out” in order to let original artist Roc Upchurch return to the book. Upchurch left the title in 2014 following his arrest for domestic violence, but it's our understanding that he still has an ownership stake in the book.
Journalist Christian Hoffer wrote to series writer Kurtis J. Weibe for comment, and Wiebe denied that Upchurch would return as artist. Weibe added that the series would remain on hiatus indefinitely. We'll keep an eye on this story as more facts emerge.
FirstSecond has spent the last few days unveiling covers left right and centre, revealing some of their newest projects in the process. The one getting most attention thus far is California Dreamin’ by Pénélope Bagieu, a biography of the life and times of musician Mama Cass, which is due for print in 2017. There’s also the latest in their series of Science Comics, this time from Falynn Koch, who will be taking the opportunity to explain anything and everything about bats.
Another continuing series is George O’Connor’s Olympians, which will next pay tribute to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. Hocus Pocus will reunite the trio of James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, and Andrew Arnold for a new round of madcap all-ages adventure, which matches comics storytelling with do-it-yourself instruction and encouragement.
Also, Oscar-nominated animator Benjamin Renner will be making his comics debut at FirstSecond with Big Bad Fox. A good week for FirstSecond!
A less noble week for Emerald City Comic-Con, however, as Seattlish reports that one of their former volunteers is filing a lawsuit against the convention operators, which alleges that the use of volunteers violates labor laws. By using free unpaid labor (although volunteers typically gain free entry and greater access to a con for giving up their time), the suit claims that these huge profitable conventions are taking advantage of workers. That’s a bold claim, and one that could have far-reaching consequences for other conventions if it gains traction. Many cons rely on the support of volunteer workers, and we’ll have to keep an eye on the development of this case.
The Doug Wright Awards celebrate Canadian Cartooning through three categories, and this year’s ceremony brought awards home for Michael DeForge, Dakota McFadzean and Patrick Kyle. Held as part of TCAF 2016, the ceremony was notable for being the first public gathering of the comic industry since the untimely passing of Darwyn Cooke, who was remembered on the night alongside Alvin Buenaventura.
DeForge won Best Book for his Koyama Press-published Dressing; McFadzean received the Doug Wright Spotlight Award, which is given to an up and coming talent, and Kyle picked up the Pigskin Peters Award for New Comics #6-7.
Comic Riffs notes that Angelo Lopez will be the recipient of the RFK Journalism Award for Cartoons 2016, noting his editorial and political cartooning of the past year. Lopez’s work has a focus on the life and experiences of Filipino-Americans, as well as Filipinos worldwide. In the interview alongside the news piece, Lopez talks at length about some of the topics he wants to give more coverage to --- such as Pope Francis’ reforms of the Catholic Church. Lopez will receive the award on the 25th May.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
A horror comic inspired by Junji Ito, you say? Why yes, let’s take a closer look at that one! We’re in the last few days of the Kickstarter for Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Footsteps by Tom Smith and Katie Whittle, a 70-page piece that wafts this unnerving sense of dread straight from the crowdfunding page --- I can't imagine what that means for the comic itself! Whittle’s artwork is what draws me to this one, wan and tired in all the ways you want a horror to be, but with a stark realism that seems geared to contrast against whatever terrors reveal themselves.
I really enjoy how the Kickstarter page gives you the impression of the comic without actually giving away what the story is. It reminds a little of Becky Cloonan’s short comics like The Mire, which similarly carried themselves on an air of mystique. The Kickstarter ends in four days.
Rise from Ashes is a new webcomic from Madeline Rosca that started up this month --- so we’re ground-flooring it here, folks. From the very first page, which has a group of children discovering a derailed train, long-forgotten, lying in a field of long grass, this is pure magic. It looks sumptuous, with a sense of boyhood mischief. The comic follows the lads as they go wandering round the surrounding area, looking for secret headquarters they can operate out of --- and while it's still only a few pages in, I’m already finding this one to be a real delight.
Exciting news this week, as The Guardian wrote about something other than Jonathan Cape comics in order to interview somewhat reclusive author Philip Pullman about his arrival into the world of comics. Backed by artist Fred Foreman, who drew the image above, Pullman will be co-creator for a weekly serial in The Phoenix Magazine called "The Adventures of John Blake: The Mystery of the Ghost Ship."
The thing about growing up with British comics is that you're growing up with serialied strip comics rather than the American or French styles, and I think you see that influence in most British writers now. Where Margaret Atwood just jumps straight in with a graphic novel over at Dark Horse, someone like Pullman is far more at home doing a weekly adventure serial. I wonder if we might see more of this over the next year or two.
And how about some weekend hearing for you now, live from the TCAF floor? Comics-maker and notable boat enthusiast Lucy Bellwood tends to record her panels at any convention she attends, and brought along a voice recorder for the two she spoke at this year --- including this one, which I think would be of particular interest to anyone out there who is looking to make and publish their own comics.
Okay listen, I know we’ve gone through a lot this year. I have a gift for you, though…. the news that the first English-language collection of Boulet’s work is finally here! Thank you, 2016!! You’re not so bad after all! Thanks also to Soaring Penguin Press, which is bringing this delightful treat to us all.
Have a great weekend, everybody!