Weekender: Zdarscon 2016, ‘Wild Wasp’, and Tom Fowler’s Sexual Dinosaur
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!
Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly reports that Kickstarter has received over $100 million in pledges specifically for comics-related projects. As I hope Back Pages shows, Kickstarter has become a self-sustaining publisher of its own for many writers, artists, and independent publishers. Whether putting together collections of webcomics or trying something ambitious like an anthology featuring the sorts of people who don’t get a look in at major publishers, Kickstarter’s system is one that people have come to rely on.
With IDW and Avatar Press now using Kickstarter to fund projects, it’s become clear that Kickstarter’s name value alone is a boost to comics --- and it perhaps makes some publishers less necessary than they used to be, for aspiring creatives looking to make their first step into the industry.
Rebellion! The comics publisher/Tharg-wranglers who manage 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine announced last week that it has acquired the Fleetway archives, meaning that dozens of classic out-of-print British comics serials like Tammy and Whizzer & Chips have now fallen into their hands. The biggest acquisition of the lot is likely Roy of the Rovers, a household-name title in the UK that follows a young footballer as he pursues his career through the big leagues.
These are all interesting moves that become all the more exciting when you learn that Rebellion plan to revive several of the properties it now holds. And hey, once they’re back, maybe we’ll even get a crossover? Roy of the Rovers versus The ABC Warriors, perhaps?
Image Comics is rumored to be planning a move to Portland, the current home of the American comics industry. If true, it would be joining other companies like Oni and Dark Horse over there, as well as perhaps 88% of all current working comics professionals, and would strengthen several of the company's creative ties.
The Joe Shuster Award nominees have been announced for the year, a bilingual celebration of Canadian comics, named after Superman’s Canadian co-creator. There are a lot of deserving recipients on the list, but I’m particularly excited to see Kathryn Immonen picking up nods for the stellar Russian Olive to Red King. Tedd Steele, Shirley Fortune, Fred Kelly, Mark Shainblum and Darwyn Cooke will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning 2016 has gone to Eaten Fish, an Iranian national currently interned in an Australian detention camp. That camp is precisely the reason the award is going to Eaten Fish (which is his pseudonym, obviously), as he has steadily released a series of cartoons detailing his time in the building --- which has led to him being subjected to degrading practices from the guards. To read more about the situation, head to the awards page here.
Zdarscon 2016 is taking place this weekend, held at some place somewhere. Expanding somewhat from previous events, this year will see a line-up including Chester Brown (!), Marguerite Bennett, Ryan North, and Bryan Lee O'Malley. Run by Chip Zdarsky, this is the only convention that hands out information primarily through a Twitter hashtag. Running on Saturday, 3 September, the signing times are being revealed today, Friday 2. The actual location of the event won’t be revealed until the event starts. It could be anywhere. It’ll probably be in Canada. Check the hashtag to find out.
A more predictable festival taking place soon is Rose City Comic Con, over in (of course) Portland. Running through the 10-11 September, this obviously has access to the aforementioned 88% of comics pros who live in the area --- the DeConnicks, Moon & Ba, Gail Simone, the works. Everything’s happening: Milkfed Comics is hosting an after party, Jay and Miles will be X-Plaining some X-Men, and Joan Cusack will be signing autographs. Listen, Weekender may be about comics, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get flipping excited about Joan Cusack, okay?
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
So this is phenomenal. Melody Park’s webcomic Wild Wasp may have only started in 2016, but already it’s set up a smart, brilliant concept, an enigmatic backstory, and… well… given us wasp cowboys. The series is set in an apparently post-human hive, where a community of wasps, left in a barren landscape, develop their own form of sentience and head out to make it on their own. What does that mean? It means they start riding on other insects, wearing ponchos, and fighting each other. The wild west, but with wasps! It looks stunning, and well worth catching up on. If you’re interested, here's Park's Patreon to help keep the series running!
I was sent a link to Unsounded, an epic work from Ashley Cope. Now having run for six years, the series stretches across eleven chapters, each one developing and growing from the last in incredible, spectacular fashion. I think you’ll really be impressed by this one, although I would offer a note that there is some more upsetting content in early chapters --- so a trigger warning for violence against children. If you do read from the first page to the most recent, what you’ll see is a staggering level of evolution from Cope, both in storytelling and sequencing. I had no idea this existed before last week, and now here I am reading it at 2.00am in the morning!
Russian artist Nina, aka Sirpangur, is the creator of Lilith’s Word, a webcomic about a girl called Lilith who has the power of a God. Anything she wants to create, she can, simply by speaking one word. Together with her brother, she goes on a journey to find out the origins of her powers --- and tries to contain and control them as best she can. There’s a sharpness to Nina's dialogue which I really enjoy, and a confidence in the story she’s putting together. Webcomics are where some of the best work is being done in comics today, and this is another example to prove that point.
Jason Sacks is an incredible interviewer, perhaps the best in comics today. Earlier this week he spoke to artist Phil Hester, who had been working on a series at Image until he was diagnosed with an eye condition that greatly affected his ability to work to schedule. Image dropped the series, but the rest of the creative team stood by Hester, and allowed the story to be completed. It’s a heartening story, with Hester showing just how much comics mean to him. It’s a must-read that impresses with just how talented the artist is.
Speaking of epic works earlier with Unsounded, here’s another long-running series: a masterful, in-depth look at the history of comics coloring, posted on a website called Legion of Andy. It’s clearly been making an impact --- I see Steve Bissette among those in the comments, praising the series. These could easily be a book.
The AV Club’s panel have been doing roundtables for a while, and this week was clearly J. A. Micheline’s turn to suggest the topic, because they’re talking about Akira.
Laura Andrea Garzón Garavito offers a guest post on Comic Book Work Book, in which she explores the current comics scene in Colombia. It used to be that the only comics to be found were reprints of Marvel and DC, but independent works are starting to gain traction in stores and with readers --- and nicely, Garavito concludes her piece with an exhaustive list of some of the major players.
And here’s a weird one: Vice asked artists to describe the strangest commissions they’ve ever received.
Weekender started one year ago today! I wanted to thank everybody who reads it, shares it, and helps keep it going. The goal is to showcase a wider range of comics, and to move away from the big publishers in order to put a spotlight on self-published work; studio press comics; and up and coming talent. I hope to keep going for as long as people will have me, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity!
Have a great weekend, everybody!
Have a tip you’d like to share for Weekender? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!