Weekender: Richard Thompson, Drawn & Quarterly, And ‘The Meek’
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!
San Diego waves farewell, a freshly anthropomorphised festival as of this sentence. There were a lot of announcements in the days leading up to the con, and a few during the weekend itself, and a few more coming out of it. The most immediately interesting part, to me, was the announcement of this year’s Eisner Award Winners.
Drawn & Quarterly had the best time of things, winning seemingly any category it had a title represented in. Image also didn’t do too badly, picking up the best ongoing series and best limited series titles. Best writer was Jason Aaron, best penciller was Cliff Chiang, best colorist was Jordie Bellaire, and best letterer was Derf Backderf. The Eisner Awards still have a weird thing about letterers, and whilst Backderf is no doubt deserving, that shortlist never seems to feature anybody who works solely as a letterer. Something to be worked on next year.
Having used up the “women have taken over!” headline last year, comics media this time round had to look at a list of winners that didn’t have any particular theme to it. Sometimes you can look at the Eisners and see a preference for all-ages comics, or if a Fantagraphics fan was on the committee this year --- but for 2016, it very simply looks like a set of awards that nominated and recognized deserving people.
Special mention should go to John Barrowman, who presented, and did a very fine job in stealing as much of the show as physically possible.
In other awards news, the Harvey Kurtzman Hall of Fame Award was awarded to Al Jaffee, the enduring Mad Magazine artist who is still making comics today, at the age of 95. Jaffee will be presented with the award at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con in September.
The last few days have seen a couple of huge losses for the world of comics. Firstly, artist Jack Davis, who also worked at Mad, passed on Wednesday at the age of 91. With some of his earliest working coming from EC Comics, Davis was particularly associated with horror comics, which he continued to work on throughout his career despite the introduction of the Comics Code, which essentially censored comics for decades. He will be remembered as the last surviving EC Comics artist. If you’d like to know more, this profile from Jason Sacks is a must-read.
Richard Thompson has died at the age of 58. He was perhaps best known for his serial Cul de Sac, which first appeared in The Washington Post in 2004, before being widely syndicated across the country. With a gift for silliness, the strip loosely featured a group of parents as they attempted to keep up with the wild imaginations of their children --- in the process inspiring a recurring commentary on the current ideas of society, and satirizing American lives in fond, sharp style. Similarly well known for Richard’s Poor Almanac, which ran from 1997 right up until this year, Thompson also won the Reuben Award in 2010 for his work.
We’re going to be returning to San Diego every other section for this Weekender, as you might imagine. This year’s convention saw a slight toning down of the movies and TV stuff, which seems to help everything run more effectively. At the Talkback panel hosted by Comic Con International’s president John Rogers, there didn’t appear to be as many complaints as usual --- in fact, several of the issues raised were directly conflicting with issues faced in 2015. That’s promising, as SDCC always tends to have the problems you might imagine associated with such a huge undertaking.
The Wall Street Journal did have a bit of a flap against people who come to Comic-Con looking to use comics as a back-door to movies, which you can read here. The piece is not wrong in its concerns, but in my experience you can always spot those comics a mile off --- they’re the rubbish ones.
Next year's show will be July 20-23, with a Preview Night set for July 19.
The deadline for applications to Comics Art Brooklyn, which takes place November 5th this year --- hey! That’s the same day as Thought Bubble, if I have my dates right! --- is August 15th. If you want to get in on one of the most notable events in the American comics calendar, head right on over here.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Let’s ease ourselves back into tracking down cool webcomics. This one comes highly recommended by Taneka Stotts, whose Elements anthology remains the Kickstarter you’re going to need to pledge to right now.
The Meek returned earlier this year after a short hiatus, finishing up the story before a planned crowdfunder next month to take things to print. Created by Der-shing Helmer, who you may know from Mare Internum, this one has been running since 2007. It tells the story of a young girl called Angora, who lives in a world threatened by war. With two countries getting ramped up into battle, it falls on her to step in and try to protect the people. Big and emotive, Helmer takes the story into incredible places as it moves forward, always anchored by a central focus on developing and evolving her highly likeable characters. This is worth catching up on.
I was only going to recommend one comic today, but it’s Carolyn Nowak’s birthday, and it’s only appropriate for us all to celebrate the grand day by reading some of her excellent comics online!
The Heroes and Comics podcast recently invited guests Regine Sawyer, of Lockettdown Productions; Gemma Moody, of Gamer Girl and Vixen; and blogger TheBlerdGurl for a roundtable chat. Hosted by Steph I Will and Phoenix, their discussion ranges through several different topics, but tends to return to concerns of diversity and voice within the industry and on the comics page. This may be the start of a series of pieces, and I’m looking forward to hearing them.
Oh it’s some more San Diego malarkey coming up here, as Jamie Coville got in touch to let us know that he spent the weekend attending several of the panels --- including my personal interest, the Comics Journalism panel --- and recording them for posterity. As is the magnificent wont of a Jamie Coville, all the recordings are now up online and can be found through his site here. This is the soundtrack for several inspiring weekends to come, and as always the industry is in his debt for doing this.
There are spotlight panels, roundtable discussions, and a wide range of voices and thoughts on offer here --- the sign of a continuing healthy comics debate in the air, as has been the case throughout 2016.
Just a friendly reminder here that Oliver Sava has a recurring column on the AV Club called ‘Big Issues’, where he gets to write about a different comic of his choice every week. Past editions have been particularly on fire, with a fascinating recent post about cheesecake art in the context of Betty & Veronica, the new series at Archie. You can find that in the archives on the site, but for today I wanted to look at his post about Jupiter’s Legacy 2. Which, can we just agree, should actually be called “Jupiter’s Legacy’s Legacy’? You can’t have a Legacy 2. At any rate, it’s more Frank Quitely comics art, which I think is the entirety of the draw of that particular book, and Sava goes into impressive detail on the specificity of Quitely’s approach to movement, fighting, and violence. It’s brilliant stuff.
He’s not the only one smashing it out the park though, because we also have Wendy Browne on WomenWriteAboutComics, talking about one of those much-admired comics that doesn’t seem to get the analysis or exploration seen for its contemporaries --- she looks into David Mack’s Kabuki. In particular, the way he guides readers through his layouts, whether they be complex or simple. Kabuki is one of those comics that has fallen under the radar in recent times, and it’s nice to see somebody as talented as Browne bring it back to attention.
With Drawn & Quarterly rocking the Eisners this year, Thomas Maluck takes the opportunity to delve a little more into D&Q's output, and the kind of comics it puts out. His connection between publisher Peggy Burns and the increasing number of female-made comics put out by the publisher is an obvious one, but one that he draws together well, and connects into some other unexpected areas. Every year is an improved year for D&Q, and posts like this one explore why.
In a year where TwoMorrows dominated the best journalism category at the Eisners for reasons best known to the Eisner judges, I meant to share this post by J. A. Micheline earlier: in defense of the 10/10 comics review.
We’re 156 issues into The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman’s ode to the fan-theory that zombie stories should never end and should always drag, in the process connecting the act of following the story to that of being a protagonist within the narrative itself. In that time multiple characters have died, had bits chopped or shot off, or gone mad. Also that dude with the bat is still around. IO9 wrote about an unassuming moment in the series recently, and in the process revealed that issue #69 had once been planned as a natural ending point for the series.
That’s when the characters reach a place called Alexandria, which seems a final safe haven for them after the traumas they’ve been through. And it could have been! But the series continued on, things went wrong in Alexandria, and then the baseball bat came into play. Finding out about these considerations by creative teams is always interesting --- what if the series really had ended at that point? --- and it also shows that perhaps Kirkman isn’t quite so pessimistic with the survival of his series and characters as he sometimes likes to say he is.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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