Weekender: Queers & Comics, Terry Blas, and #OccupyArtistAlley
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!
Comics seems to be setting up for its own Occupy movement following a visit from lawyer Seth Polansky to an unnamed comic-con. Walking the floor, Polansky noted something that we’ve all been happily accepted for year and years --- that basically the majority of the tables are run by people selling copyrighted material. In a lengthy blog post, Polansky lays out the situation: that many people sell artwork that infringes on copyright, but also that neither they nor the people buying their stock are aware of just how problematic this could be. It’s not just that people don’t realize this is breaking copyright law, but that a lot of people… kinda just don’t care too much.
At this year’s Wizard World Minneapolis, artist Aldrin Aw noticed an artist selling prints of Simone Bianchi’s work while claiming them as their own. Incensed, he worked with the convention to remove the man from the event, and later took to Facebook to declare “bring artists back to artist alley.” People on social media finally took notice of the fact that so many people are taking images created by artists, photoshopping them slightly to add color or change the context, and selling them on as if they were original creations.
Heidi MacDonald has suggested that there are degrees to this, and there’s some truth to that. At conventions you tend to see a lot of people selling Batman art --- some of them might be, say, Greg Capullo, from whom you’d expect to see the odd cowl, and some might be artists who find that drawing images of popular characters like Batman is a good way to draw attention to their table. Then there are the people who take cover images from people like Capullo and sell them at their table. How are they getting booked onto shows, especially in the current climate where conventions are rapidly turning to curation because demand is so high?
With the increased attention on this subject --- and sites like Bleeding Cool continually post about ‘fraud’ artists online --- it seems this is that rare occupy movement that might actually bring about some results.
Books With Pictures opened this month over in, surprise, Portland, the city that is now at least 80% risograph paper. The comics shop gets a pleasingly lengthy profile in OPB this week, including an interview with owner Katie Proctor, who talks a little about the recent shift in comics retailing in the US. The piece focuses on the female-friendly tone of the store, and how it’s looking to diversify the comics-buying audience --- and, by proxy, help diversify comics as a whole.
In the wake of the shooting in Orlando, Florida, this week, the hashtag #queerselflove appeared on social media and rapidly spread across comics Twitter. I think people were actually rather surprised by just how queer comics are now --- with writers and artists from every publisher, from across webcomics and self-published projects, all participating for what’s been my favorite part of being online this week. TheMarySue offers a great round-up. This has come from tragedy, but the joy and verve of the queer comics community has been strength back into my step.
If you wish to donate to the survivors and families of the victims of the Pulse shooting, you can do so here.
AWARDS AND EVENTS
Crouch End Comics Arts Festival is this weekend in the UK, and it has an impressive guest list filled with self-published and studio press comics. Breakdown Press and Avery Hill will be among those exhibiting, and I also spot the presence of Roger Langridge and Amber Hsu. Sounds fun! A one-day festival, this year’s CECAF is being held on Saturday 18 June.
Elliot S. Maggin and Richard E. Hughes will be the recipients for the 2015 Bill Finger Award at this year's Eisner Awards ceremony. Given to writers who are considered underappreciated by the comics industry, the award was the creation of Jerry Robinson, and obviously recognises the primary creator of Batman, who was long-overshadowed by the gimmick of Bob Kane. Both recipients are excellent choices for the award; Maggin wrote several comics for DC, including stints on Superman, while Hughes is best known as editor for the American Comics Group. You can find more in-depth profiles on both at the Comic-Con site.
2017 will host the second biennial Queers & Comics Conference in San Francisco, presented by California’s College of the Arts. Proposals have now been opened for panels, workshops, readings and presentations. You can learn more here.
PublishersWeekly noted that French comics publisher Francoise Mouly was awarded the Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur as part of the Franco-American Children’s Book Publisher Conference. The award comes as recognition for her work within comics, for which she was also recognized as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2001, as well as Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2011. Mouly is best known as the co-founder of the comics magazine Raw and as the publisher of Toon Books.
Lock the gates! Prepare to skip the first ten minutes, people, because Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast has started interviewing comics people. Maron is kicking off with some of the ‘approved’ old guard of the medium, but his interview this month with Dan Clowes is a characteristically engaged and contrary way to spend an hour. Maron draws comparisons between creating comic books and creating standup comedy --- Clowes, in turn, is willing to talk about any and everything that gets brought up. It’s a standard episode of WTF, but there’s something really quite fascinating about hearing comics get interrogated by someone like Maron. It’d be great to hear future interviews with other comic-makers. Has Lisa Hanawalt been on yet?
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Malaysian Publisher Keropok Comics is to release three English-language books later this year. First up will be Michael Chuah’s Office Survival, which seems the most promising of the three. Based somewhat on his own experiences working in an office, it looks to tap into universal humor for those living in a cubicle. Next is the wonderfully titled Like That Also Can, Ah? Vol. 2: #ProblemsEverywhere by Nixon Siow; with the trio rounded out by The Potato Couple by J&Y Productions. One thing I think we’re all realizing now is that one-word titles just aren’t good enough anymore, right? I demand every Image comic add a subtitle henceforth.
David Wynne got in touch to let me know about his new webcomic 100 Warriors, which launched only recently. A frequent fixture at conventions across the UK, Wynne is perhaps best known for his artwork that accompanies every episode of CA-endorsed podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men. This seems like it’s going to be great fun, if the first few pages are any sign --- it’s packing a heck of a lot into each segment, including a cat person and a warrior who has robot fists. Always a joy when a robotfist sort of person shows up, isn’t it?
We’ve featured the work of Terry Blas before, and here’s his response to the events in Orlando. As a gay Latino man, Blas is very aware that most of the victims of the shooting were also gay and Latino, and the impact has been profound. The piece at Fusion really speaks for itself. So I’ll let it.
I’ve been meaning to share this for the longest time, so thank goodness fellow ComicsAlliance writer Kieran Shiach gave me a bump of the shoulder this week. Critic Jon Erik Christianson has compiled, and is regularly updating, a list of comics that currently feature queer protagonists. His list goes comprehensively through most of the major comics publishers, focusing on the books that have queer characters in the lead roles.
Christianson also makes special note of comics that feature trans representation in their supporting cast. If you’re interested in reading comics which feature queer characters, his list is the definitive resource.
Oh, and! It looks as though we’re gearing towards the release of a new sketchbook from Kim Jung Gi in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for that one!
Let’s end with a brief look at a comics career in flight. A few years ago I spoke to artist Tom Foster, who won a 2000 AD art competition in 2013 as part of the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds. Foster’s prize for winning was the chance to draw a featured story in a future episode of the weekly prog. Fast forward three years later, and guess what? That’s Foster right there on the cover, providing featured artwork for the first time. From competition winner to cover artist --- how ace is that?
Have a great weekend, everybody!