Weekender: Daniel Warren Johnson, ‘Shaderunners’, and Women Who Draw
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!
Angouleme has announced its official selection for 2017, which mixes some obvious choices with some bizarre ones, and also prominently features comics like Bitch Planet and Saga.
2016 was not a particularly bright or shining time for what was previously looked at as one of the most distinguished comics festivals on the global circuit, so a major course correction is being put in place for next year’s event. A new artistic director was hired after this year’s ceremony saw nominees being told they’d won, only to then have it revealed that this was a ‘joke’ announcement.
As is typically the case for Angouleme, there are several interesting and distinctive comics in next year’s selection, but it’s notable that more English-language comics are scattered through here than ever before. Posy Simmonds is the chair of the jury this time round, so we’ll have to see how things all come together in January.
The “Women Who Draw” directory launched this week, designed to be a growing database of female illustrators who are available for hire, complete with samples of their styles and work. Set up by Julia Rothman and Wendy MacNaughton, the site says that gender non-conforming people are also invited to add themselves to the site. The goal is to find artists who represent the story being written --- actually hiring, say, a queer Latinx illustrator for an article about queer, Latinx issues, and so on. It seems this is already quite popular, with thousands of applications from people looking to register.
A few crowdfunding projects have launched this winter, but I wanted to draw attention to one held on behalf of artist Peter Doherty, who suffered a torn aorta and is recovering in hospital. Although health care is free in the UK, the difficulty of being a freelance artist is that you can’t work during recovery time, and at Christmas that’s particularly hard. Doherty is perhaps best known for his work at 2000 AD, and is a terrific artist. The target of £10,500 is coming in sight as I write this, so hopefully we can get that pushed over the goal and help out?
One of the most particular comedians of all time, Andy Kaufman, will be the next to experience a full Box Brown biography makeover, according to Playboy (although you can also read about the news at the above link right here at ComicsAlliance, if you don't want to visit Playboy from the office). Although there isn’t a publisher for the story at the moment, Brown says the plan is for the book to come out in 2018.
Finally, Tony Millionaire has announced that his long running Maakies comic has now come to an end, having launched in 1994. You can read his full-blooded announcement over on ComicsReporter.
Free Comic Book Day promises at least one nice day in 2017 for comics readers, and so we must doff our collective caps. Next year it takes place on May 6, giving us all two full days to recover from the Star Wars trailer before heading down to the local. This week gave a taster, however, as the Free Comic Book Day Gold Titles were announced --- gold titles being the books that all retailers have to order if they want to participate in the day.
FCBD favorites like Mouse Guard will be represented once more, while Skottie Young is doing a special edition of I Hate Fairyland that sees his axe-crazy lead decimate several of the more well-known Image characters.
We also had the news that Thought Bubble Festival is moving next year, away from the stark winter fear of November and back towards the (vaguely) warmer climes of September. This year saw somewhere around 60,000 people attend the festival, which has clearly outgrown its venue, and the organisers plan to rehouse the convention in the heart of the city, which should give them more space to play with.
It also means that the festival will now take place before the Lakes International Festival, which aimed for a similar audience and kept scheduling itself only a week in advance of Thought Bubble. Seriously folks --- there are only two big arty festivals in England and both of them had to take place within a fortnight? This is a huge relief.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Over the last few days I’ve loved reading Shaderunners, a webcomic set in a 1920s world where color is almost entirely absent. The only returning reserves of color are found in a tomb in Egypt, leading the world to set up color bootlegging factories across the biggest cities, so that greens and yellows now belong solely to the rich. Into this world stumbles Domigo Valdes, a young man who wants to impress a nice girl with tickets to a big show. In order to get those tickets, however, he quickly finds himself drawn into an underground racket that threatens everything he knew before.
With a story written by “Lin” and drawn by “Capp”, this is an absolutely lovely piece of work --- casually paced, but with a wealth of wonderful character work. And as you might expect, the coloring on the series is just spellbinding. It’s a really good comic.
And then, announced this week, a new project headed up by Daniel Warren Johnson called Extremity. (See the cover at the top of this page.) Due out from Image Comics next year, the story follows Thea, a peaceful artist who finds herself devastated when an attack from outsiders takes her hand. Amidst a post-apocalyptic background (this is an Image comic, after all), she heads out for whatever revenge she can get.
Johnson has had a pretty fantastic 2016, backed up with a wealth of excellent work both for hire and for himself. He’s got a brilliant mind for story and narration, and an eye for detail, so this announcement should get everybody very excited indeed.
Todd Allen doesn’t write for The Beat as much these days, unless there’s something he really wants to write about, and after a few days of ominous posts on the site from Heidi Mac, he decided this week to return to the keyboard. His piece here about the current state of retailing --- which starts with the conceit that comic shops are going to have a real struggle in 2017 --- hits on several different ideas, some of which are fully-formed and some of which have a little haze around them. The thing is though: it’s got retailers talking on Twitter, which is a very good thing indeed.
Todd suggests that Marvel’s current creative slate (which has struggled to make or maintain sales, especially after the complete wreck that was Civil War II) is a factor in weakening the market as a whole, and that DC’s decision to lower prices may have also hurt retailers in the long run. The former point seems widely agreed-upon: the latter doesn’t jibe with what I’ve heard from retailers myself. But anyway --- the conversation has now begun, hurrah.
Sticking to The Beat for a little while (some great stuff on there at the moment!) I really enjoyed this two-part interview from Alexander Lu with FirstSecond’s Calista Brill. Since FirstSecond launched just over a decade ago it’s become one of the most important publishers in the American comics industry today, and certainly the one with the most sensible publishing strategy. Brill has been at the heart of the drive forward, and she’s an open, engaging interviewee.
And hey, finally, never forget that Daniel Elkin endlessly continues to write about small press comics over on ComicsBulletin, this week turning his steely Clintwood-esque critical gaze upon Every Life I Ever Lived, by Robin William Scott.
We shared this on the site earlier this week, but I enjoyed it so much that I thought it’d bear revisiting. A company called Lingozing has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a series of comics designed to help people learn foreign languages. It’s widely accepted that comics are a brilliant medium for helping people learn their native language --- it stands to reason that they’d also be tremendously useful in exploring other languages as well.
Just the mix of image and text will help create associations, and offer readers more context into language than you’d get out of a text book or tape. Most excitingly of all, one of the books promised, if the target is hit, will be the Weekender-loved Stand Still Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg --- one of the best people making comics today.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
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