Weekender: Brexit Fallout, Comic Awards, and Rep John Lewis’ Children’s March
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!
We gone did a Brexit, and nobody knows why. Britain leaving the EU has all sorts of consequences to it, and comics retailing is absolutely in the firing line. As a luxury item shipped from abroad, the cost of retailing just rose hugely, and it’s reflected in an apparent rise in costs across the board.
BleedingCool reports that the UK can expect a 25% price rise in comics because of the current economic situation, although the article doesn't cite any research, so take that with a pinch of salt. More useful is a blog post from Eisner-nominated retailer Page 45, writing about the situation at length (with a dabble of promotion).
British comics are unaffected within the UK --- so 2000 AD, The Phoenix et al will stay the same price. But as an example of the million irritations thrown up by Brexit, Simon Gurr, best known perhaps for his work with 2000 AD, is another to face an immediate problem thanks to 52% of the British population. As he writes in his blog, he can no longer justify working through Big Cartel, whose rates are in dollars, because of the recent fall of the pound.
We’re going to see a lot of little stories like these over the next few months --- I’m really worried that this doesn’t even take into account the increased difficulties facing people who moved to the UK to make comics, settled down in the country, and may shortly be getting letters from the Government.
On the other hand, the comics industry as a whole seems to be in stronger shape today than ever before. Reports from ICv2 now estimate that comics were a billion-dollar industry in 2015. That would be a 10% rise on sales from the year before. Sales in comics shops rose, and most significantly, the book market rose sharply. There wasn’t even a new Raina Telgemeier book last year!
However, one very interesting point raised in the estimates was that digital comics purchasing apparently fell last year. Having been at around $100million last year, this year saw a drop to $90million. Why? The reasons offered include the idea that people download comics apps and buy big when they get a new phone --- but then settle down. With fewer people coming new to digital, there are fewer people who want to buy large quantities of comics, as people fall into their weekly pull list rather than splurge on back-issues they want. Another reason, of course, may be that big apps like Marvel Unlimited and Crunchroll are not represented in these estimates.
With great sadness we report the passing of artist Geneviève Elverum, also known as Geneviève Castrée, who we mentioned a few weeks past had set up a GoFundMe page to help her family following a cancer diagnosis. Best known in comics for her work at publishers like Drawn & Quarterly, she was also a musician and performer. The Comics Reporter has collected remembrances of Elverum here, and the GoFundMe page for her family remains active.
Deb Aoki writes a report from Anime Expo 2016 for Publishers Weekly which looks at the raft of new releases announced during the event. Yen Press, Kodansha, Seven Seas, and Viz were all in attendance, with each of them announced a solid chunk of new material that will be put out over the coming months and years. Held in Los Angeles, the Expo has risen in popularity quite rapidly --- claiming here to have jumped over the 100,000 attendance mark.
Aoki notes that the attendees also skew a lot younger than those at, say, SDCC, making this a booming and bubbling demographic that will likely grow hugely over time. What doesn’t get mentioned in the article are a few issues that I heard about from the Expo --- such as the fact that Artists’ Alley got relocated to what was essentially a parking garage. There were apparently a few people suffering from the heat, and reports that one person fainted while down there. Not good.
The Scottish Independent Comic Book Awards were given out last week as part of Glasgow Comic-Con. The winners were topped by Chris Baldie and Holley McKend, who picked up three awards for the first issue of their new comic Never Ever After. Maria Stoian’s Take It As A Compliment took home the award for best graphic novel, while Frank Quitely was in attendance to accept an outstanding contribution to comics award. Special mention has to go to Letty Wilson, who won the up and coming talent award.
As one awards ceremony concludes, so another ramps up --- the Young People’s Comic Award is looking for submissions now. Anyone can offer up their comic for consideration, as long as it falls within parameters, at which point a judging panel including Zainab Aktar and Jonathan Ross (what a pairing) will whittle things down to a shortlist. The winner, though, is chosen by schoolchildren across the UK, and will be presented with the Award as part of this year’s Thought Bubble.
Janelle Asselin content! Hurray. The former ComicsAlliance editor headed across to ComicsBulletin this week for a guest appearance on its podcast, wherein each guest brings a book to recommend. Her choice is the Talbots’ The Red Queen and the Vision of Utopia, which leads to discussion about her own current comics work. She’s in an interesting point as a publisher for Rosy Press, with the publisher having just had a successful Kickstarter launch and set up a deal with Oni Press. How do you navigateto get to that point --- and where do you go once you’ve reached it? Interviewer Joseph Schmidt investigates.
I really enjoyed this piece by Rosie Knight at WomenWriteAboutComics, which talks in real depth about Action Lab. She starts with a conclusion I’ve had myself --- that nobody is talking about Action Lab, despite it being a great, progressive publisher, which is attempting to make good comics for a range of different people. It has an all-ages imprint, a mature-readers imprint, and it publishes comics like Princeless and Molly Danger. Why isn't Action Lab more talked about right now? Rosie offers her own assessment, and invites readers to offer their own. She points out that the content of the comics --- and its target readership --- are often at odds with the covers. Especially, as you can see above, their 'risque' variants. Eesh.
WomenWriteAboutComics is also launching a zine, and is looking for submissions right now!
I read a little of this piece by Michael Cavna in The Washington Post about how cartoonists have been reacting to recent events in America --- in particular the #blacklivesmatter movement, which has risen in profile as a protest against the shooting of several unarmed African Americans by police. There’s a paywall in place, but if you can sneak past it then I’m sure you'll find this a superb read.
Johanna Draper Carlson at Comics Worth Reading takes up against an unprofessional press release from a publisher that throws a former partnership under the bus. Having lost a deal that had been hugely important for them, Digital Manga took their situation public --- bringing them attention that they really shouldn’t have looked for. Ten more points to Carlson.
Undispatch takes a look at the comics scene in Zimbabwe, interviewing key players and looking at what’s being hoped is a coming boom for the medium. It’s an interesting piece, but what I’m happiest about is that I feel like we’ve seen countless articles like this one recently. Comics have always been global, but we're increasingly becoming aware of the comiccs scene in countries previously never associated with comics, which are pushing to make the medium their own.
Next weekend will be San Diego Comic-Con, in case that hadn't hit you smack like a wheelbarrow full of hammers. Among everything else that's happening, though --- the movies, the television, the announcements, the exclusives --- there's one event that makes me wish I were there at the event this year, and that's the news that Rep. John Lewis will be returning to SDCC this year, as last, to lead a Children's March through the convention centre.
This was a joyous highlight of 2015's weekend, and a way to spotlight the importance, power, and meaning of peaceful, nonviolent protest. That he'll be doing it again this year, once more with children and teachers, is a powerful statement, from one of America's most inspiring men.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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