Weekender: Breakdown Press, ‘On A Sunbeam’, And Arcudi’s ‘B.P.R.D.’ Finale
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!
March became the first-ever winner of the National Book Award this past week. Telling the autobiography of Congressman John Lewis, with Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin, the three March books have arguably changed the face of comics forever. They’re ridden a wave of momentum to win a string of awards with each new volume --- and this latest could well be seen as one of the most surprising accolades to date. No comic has ever won the award before, which speaks to the strength of the storytelling --- and the incredible story that Lewis had to tell.
And more incredible stories will be coming to American soil in coming months, as Fantagraphics has announced that it will be distributing Breakdown Press’ comics in the US. This includes a majority of the current line, excluding some of the more experimental books and prints. This is an absolutely huge move for Breakdown, bringing its works to a much larger audience than before.
We’re heading towards the end of the year, so comics events are winding down for 2016. There are still some festivals down the line, but for the moment I wanted to discuss some comments about future conventions from comics creators Humberto Ramos and George Perez.
Following the election results, in which Donald Trump became president-elect with a campaign in which he described Mexicans as “rapists” and promised to built a wall between Mexico and the US, people in the Latinx community have understandably spent the last few days thinking about the future. In a post made to Facebook, Humberto Ramos was one of the first comics creators to say that he does not plan to travel to conventions held in any state that was won by Trump. George Perez followed suit.
It’s an admirable stance to take, and a thoroughly understandable perspective. If a mass of people voted for a man who has publicly stated his prejudice against Mexican people, why would a Mexican comics creator like Ramos, or even an American creator of Latin heritage, like Perez, want to visit that place? A percentage of the people you’ll meet will be fans of your work, but you’re also going to come face to face with a lot of people who don’t think you have worth as a person; people who could be armed and dangerous. The next four years are going to ask a lot of questions of people: Perez and Ramos have already shown their steel.
Some eight years after it started, and multiple superhero revolutions later, the podcast House to Astonish celebrated its 150th episode this week. Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy’s podcast has long been a favorite, kicking off each episode with a look at comics news that is thoughtful, considered, and comes with actual legal expertise. Both accomplished comics reviewers, they take apart two or three new releases each episode, and end by taking an obscure character from the back-catalogue and giving suggestions for a revamp. It’s a cracking achievement for them to hit 150 episodes, and I hope to be celebrating their 300th in eight years’ time.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Tillie Walden’s had the biggest year of anyone in comics, and her current webcomic On A Sunbeam is a demonstration of exactly what has elevated her in the industry across the past twelve months, winning her multiple awards in the process. The webcomic sees her on visionary form, spanning across the galaxy for a story that floats through the remotest parts of outer space. Walden is most interested in that compressed space where the characters live, focusing on a series of flowing character moments that build upon each other over a very short period of time to create a complex web of human co-existence and intrigue. It’s fascinating, charming work.
Stacked Deck Press has announced that it's putting together an anthology of comics by trans cartoonists under editors Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton. Submissions are open now for anyone who identifies as trans! Already confirmed to be contributing are cartoonists Annie Mok and Sophie Labelle, with plans for the project to head to Kickstarter once everything is ready.
And finally, Colin Bell teased that the much-awaited Pirate Fun --- his follow up to the award-winning all-ages comic Dungeon Fun, with Neil Slorance --- has begun to come together. Oar-some!
I’m breaking my "don’t write about franchise comics" rule this week, because Ardo Omer spoke with G. Willow Wilson in a tremendous ComicsBulletin interview that I felt repeatedly broke new ground and opened several doors for readers. A frank, open discussion that sees the two realize some of their commonalities --- Omer is Somali-Canadian, and Wilson mentions that originally Kamala Khan had been planned to be Somali-American. I really enjoyed this interview, and I think it’s because the two have a mutual understanding that allowed the conversation to explore areas that nobody else could have directed their talk into. Also: Ardo Omer is like a national treasure already, right?
Over at WomenWriteAboutComics, Ray Sonne pens another excellent piece on the character of Apollo, currently under the stewardship of Steve Orlando at DC. Sonne’s interest here lies with how the character --- gay, and the sometime romantic partner of the more violent and Batman-esque Midnighter --- is coded as feminine. That’s played into both how readers perceive him, and how particular writers and artists have approached and defined him.
Finally, MultiversityComics has been celebrating the conclusion of John Arcudi’s time at B.P.R.D., which has run for over 12 years now. A site that has long championed Mike Mignola’s Universe within Dark Horse, it has brought together a series of Arcudi’s collaborators to see him out in style.
Christopher Sebela took to Twitter earlier this week to write about the moment, ten years ago, when he was fired from his day job. Taking it as an opportunity to run headfirst into freelance writing, he pushed and worked harder than ever before, with a goal in front of him that had been blocked before by his work schedule. Ten years later, he’s a full-time writer, living in clown motels and writing comics for several companies. Just a reminder; things change, and you can make anything of yourself with the right combination of luck, skill, perseverance, and timing.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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