Weekender: ‘Your Black Friend’, Magnetic Press, and the End of ‘Bleach’
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!
Bleach is ending with volume 74. The news came in the latest edition of Shonen Jump Magazine, which has been publishing the series ever since it was first launched by Tite Kubo back in 2001. It’s hard to state the importance of Bleach as a series --- it’s a hugely popular piece of work, spinning out into a much-loved anime that ran much of the same time as the print manga. There were also toys, movies, and the odd rock opera or ten.
It’s not a huge surprise to find out that the narrative is reaching an end, as Kubo said a few years back that he was planning to take the series towards it’s final act. It's the story of a young man who has the ability to see ghosts and ends up getting the powers of a ‘Soul Reaper’, making him a sort-of grim reaper who is charged with ushering the dead across to an afterlife. He also has to, y’know, keep up with high school. The series has sold over 80 million volumes so far, making it by far one of the most impressive comics works of the last few decades.
For English readers, there’s still quite a while before the end really is nigh --- Viz has been handling the English-language editions, and I believe has just put out volume 66.
The Harvey Award nominees were revealed this week; comics awards chosen and voted for by members of the industry only. As a result, they have a bit of a reputation for being easy to manipulate, with certain writers, artists and publishers setting themselves up for a guaranteed nomination through press and email campaigns. This year, as last year, Valiant was the most prominent publisher, getting 50 nominations and dominating many categories. It’s not like the Hugos where the awards are routinely hijacked by agenda-driven conservative politics --- quite simply, it’s just incredibly easy for people to run a publicity drive and get themselves a Harvey.
It’s also worth noting that Chip Zdarsky, who last year rejected the “Special Award for Humor in Comics” after his Sex Criminals collaborator Matt Fraction wasn’t credited in the award… has been nominated for the “Special Award for Humor in Comics” for his work on Howard the Duck without his collaborator Joe Quinones getting credited. Waugh.
The Magnetic Press Fall/Winter line-up was announced on ComicsAlliance the other day, with seven new graphic novels due out from the publisher before the year is out. The creation of Ulises Fariñas and Storme Smith, there seems to be a heady mix of all-ages stories in the first wave of what should hopefully prove to be a fascinating and delightful new studio comics publisher. Both publishers are involved as creators within the initial line-up, pleasingly, and I’m also spotting new projects from Tony Sandoval as well as two all-ages comics in a promised new series from Federico Bertolucci.
Over here in the ol’ UK things are looking absolutely tremendous, as long as you pay no attention to the news, society, or the outside world in general. But although it’s obviously a great idea to watch Love Island all weekend, there are two options available to anybody feeling the need to Brexit far away from our splitting isle. Firstly: this weekend sees the first ever Small Press Day take place at shops up and down the country on Saturday 9th, with the hopeful goal that this will expand overseas in years to come. The idea is that all day self-published and small-press comics-makers will be the centre of attention, participating in in-store signings and commissions from sun up to sun down.
Broken Frontier, no surprise, has a brilliant run through of who will be where and when, which you can find here. You can also keep track of the official Twitter account to see how things go on Saturday.
The exact same day will also be Doctor Who Day! You won’t be able to walk into a comic shop without bumping into someone who is currently working on a Doc comic, it appears --- they’ll be appearing all across the UK and America on Saturday.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
There was a lot of talk this week about Ben Passmore’s comic Your Black Friend, which Passmore describes as his most direct work about race to date. Passmore writes from the perspective of the black friend you have, and how he looks at the conversations you have, the people you know, and the situations you walk through.
It’s directness is a huge part of what makes this so effective, but Passmore’s cartooning is also really strong --- the structure of his panels puts weight on the narration, framing the black friend of the series as being trapped within the statements issued by the narrator. It’s a hugely effective way of getting the point across, showing how suffocating and impossible it feels for black men and women in society. Due to being deservedly popular, the comic is currently sold out, but you can find his Patreon right here, and read more for just a dollar.
Kel McDonald, who you might remember from a Back Pages feature last year, got in touch to let me know about their newest comics Kickstarter to bring the webcomic Sorcery 101 to print. The project is heading into the last week as of today, and is also reaching towards its target goal. If you’re the sort of person who has an interest in a comic about a sarcastic vampire teaching magic lessons to a bumbling sorcerer (great pitch, there!) then consider taking a look over at the crowdfunding page, and help push it to target!
Rachael Smith launched a Patreon this week, primarily with the goal of building up enough support that she can relaunch and continue her webcomic Bess, the start of which you can read here. A prolific comics-maker, you might know her from The Rabbit, or House Party --- or perhaps Ask Flimsy, in which the eponymous blue cat takes questions from readers on love, life, and mostly wine. Flimsy tends to find a way to bring everything back to wine.
There’s new management at Comics Bulletin, as the Mark Stack era of the website began in earnest this week. The site promises new and expanded coverage and content over the coming weeks, with J. A. Micheline assuming a role as editor for manga content and Christian Hoffer writing a weekly rundown of comics news. Oi! Hoffer! I have my eyes on you, mister! The site’s recently had a focus mainly on comics from a few decades back, running interviews and reviews on the Golden/Silver Age works at Marvel, DC, and so on. That will continue, it appears, but there’ll be additional features as time goes on. Head over and have a read of some of their pieces, and keep an eye out to see how the new era pans out. Should be great! Comics criticism is brilliant, especially online, and I’m always excited to see people build up and develop their reach.
The Chicagoist has a conversation with Gina Wynbrandt about her recent comic Someone Please Have Sex With Me, which was released by 2Cloud a few months back. Great title, and a funny, charming comic --- the interview really sells the work, here, with interviewer Hale Goetz nailing the heart of the project, while Wynbrandt comes off as a star in the ascendent.
Comicosity spent the week following the #makecomics trend, delving way deep into the business and routine of how comics get made. From talking about marketing and conventions through to interviews and roundtable discussions with editors, crowdfunding experts and more, it was a busy week for the site, and for Aaron Long in particular, who seems to have coordinated much of this single-handedly. If you want to make comics, or are currently in the process of doing so, it would be a decent idea to give several of his pieces a read!
A piece which made the rounds this week was Ron Wimberly writing on the practice of comics publishers asking artists to do ‘test’ pages for free. He makes the very much untouchable point that, if you ask an artist to work for hours on end, they should be able to bill for that time. You wouldn’t ask any other freelance worker to do fresh work on the spot without expecting them to charge for their time and effort --- why should comics publishers get away with the same?
India is currently partway through the first-ever Alto Comic Book Celebration Week, a digital comics festival where anybody can download a range of new comics and give them a whirl. Yeah! Everything about the festival is shared online, meaning anybody with an internet connection can get involved in the social aspects of the con, try new comics, buy and download stories, or take part in fan art contests. It’s an absolutely brilliant idea --- a convention that unites everybody, excludes nobody, and lets everybody take part.
Things are only just developing for the ACBC event, but hopefully we’ll see this really kick off over the next few years --- and hey, perhaps even take a trip across to a few other countries, maybe?
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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