Weekender: Bernie Wrightson, Queers & Comics, And American Hero Jane Mai
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!
Bernie Wrightson’s family have posted to Facebook with the sad news that, due to medical issues, the horror icon has had to retire from the industry. After an illness that required him to have brain surgery, Wrightson has been left with limited function down his left-hand side. He remains well otherwise, but the illness means he’s unable to work on regular comics artwork or attend conventions.
At the age of 68, Wrightson has had a magnificent career, stretching back to his first published work in 1968 at DC Comics. After co-creating lasting characters including Swamp Thing and Destiny over at DC, Wrightson moved onto a long-term collaboration with horror writer Stephen King, which honed the artist’s ability to create a sense of the uncanny within his work. In the 1970s he formed “The Studio” in Manhattan alongside Jeff Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith --- a place where the artists could experiment and develop their interests more keenly. More recently, he’s worked on a Frankenstein series with Steve Niles, which returned him to a character he had made his own.
Eric Stephenson has told CBR there probably won’t be an Image Expo in 2017, mainly due to the company’s recent move to Portland. The series of one-off events, featuring keynote addresses from Stephenson that usually savaged other publishers, provide a platform for Image creators to announce their upcoming projects with the publisher. The first Image Expo provided a lot of prominent Marvel and DC writers and artists an escape hatch from the Big Two, but also led people to notice just how white the line-up of A-list creatives was. Subsequent years have looked to rectify that. Another common criticism is that the books announced at the Expos often take years to arrive in print --- if they ever see print at all.
Instead of an Expo, Image will use the fast-approaching Emerald City Comic-Con as a platform this year. Most of Image’s founders --- minus Jim Lee, who is now a big deal at DC --- will be in attendance this year, and will gather together for a special 25th Anniversary panel at the event.
EVENTS AND AWARDS
In California, the Queers & Comics Conference will return this April for its second annual symposium at the California College of the Arts. It’s still early on in the planning stages, so no guests have been announced, but I notice that there’s an open call for presenters --- if you have something to talk about, it’d probably be worth taking a look.
On the website it says the conference is looking for “presenters from outside the U.S., and by LGBTQ cartoonists working pre-1980s, LGBTQ cartoonists of color, queer women cartoonists, artists and writers with disabilities, trans and genderqueer cartoonists, new queer voices in comics, as well as scholars from all of these backgrounds.”
SPX 2017 hase a table lottery system that they open up every year for exhibitors --- and hey, today is the day for this year’s event! If you want to exhibit at SPX this year, best get over and send in your submission! You’d be joining a whole load of guests who have already been announced (none of them particularly unexpected), including Trina Robbins, Los Bros, Daniel Clowes and more. This year’s festival is scheduled to take place September 16-17, over in Bethesda.
And then over in Orlando we have MegaCon this May, running from the 25-28. In what already looks to be a heavily Batman-based event, the top names attending include Tom King, Scott Snyder, and Greg Capullo. By far the most excitement I’ve seen, however, was for the announcement that flippin’ Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez will be attending! They list him as a “legendary creator,” which still doesn't feel quite like high praise enough for him.
Newletters have become one of the greatest ways for comics writers and artists (mostly writers, as they like the attention most) to speak directly to their fans and readers. For comics, that’s a charge that was led --- as ever --- by Warren Ellis, but now all sorts of people are offering a real variety of interests in their irregular newsletter production.
I’d be remiss --- remiss, I tell you -- if I forget to mention Kieron Gillen, whose newsletter has been among the most popular of the current wave. That makes sense, as Gillen has a background in cultural reporting, and the newsletter form strikes particularly into his wheelhouse.
I really like Ryan K. Lindsay’s newsletter, as well, which is loose, open, and really quite focused on writer’s process. As he’s just been brought into the DC Writer’s Workshop for 2017, this seems like the perfect time to jump in, learn a little about the behind the scenes world of comics, and get ready for him to continue his takeover as the year moves ever onwards.
ComicsAlliance favorite Tom Scioli has started a new webcomic this week called Princess. It’s another nice piece of business from the increasingly busy and seemingly endlessly prolific artist, who is also still working on his Transformers Vs GI: Joe movie adaptation (there is no movie; he’s adapting from an invented movie adaptation of the comic he made at IDW, because he’s Tom Scioli), as well as back-up stories for the Young Animal imprint at DC. Princess has only just started, but the exciting thing is how this could jump on in any direction he wants. Keep an eye on it here!
Kat Calamia got in touch to let us know that the latest chapter of her Kickstarter success story Like Father Like Daughter is now up and running on the crowdfunding site. A shift on the superhero story, the series follows a young girl whose father abandoned the family in order to be a superhero --- and how she’s been affected by his decision. The Kickstarter is already halfway to hitting its target, so that one’s looking rosy.
When somebody leads with the header “Jane Mai is an American hero” you damn well stand up from your chair, salute the screen like John Cena, and get to reading. Alenka Figa’s latest piece for Women Write About Comics celebrates the creator with a look at Mai’s back catalogue. Having read several comics together, Figa takes on Mai’s work as a whole, looking at connective themes, breaks with established thought, and collective ambitions as an artist.
Brigid Alverson remains, as we should all be aware, The Best. And the good news is that she has a new recurring feature over at Smash Pages called “Reading for Resistance.” Each edition will interview somebody working on comics journalism --- and by that I mean the actual practice of performing journalistic work through creating comics. She starts the column off with Sarah Glidden, whose comics of the last few months have really drawn an audience.
And Stephanie Cooke has also been working on an ongoing feature recently, “Know Her Name,” which is a pacy roundup of various women in comics; what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and where you can support them. These are short, snappy profiles, with several women profiled in each edition. If you don’t know their names, you damned well should.
Broken Frontier has seen a change of leadership recently, with Andy Oliver stepping up to take charge as founder Frederick Hautain moves on to other projects. As a starting point, Oliver elects to interview Ravi Thornton on the cross-media production Hoax: Our Right to Hope, which looks to create comics from his poems about his schizophrenia.
A sample image from Black History in Its Own Words, by Ron Wimberly.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
Have a tip you’d like to share for Weekender? Get in touch at email@example.com!