Weekender: Comiques, Cats, Dinomania, and Darkstar
The weekend is here! Put down your paperwork, throw your stationery out of the window, and do a victory spin in your office chair, because it’s time to catch up on that greatest of all media: comics! What’s been going on this week? There’s so much comics that there’s no way anybody can keep up with all of it — so Weekender is here to catch you up on some of the stories you may have missed, and some of the best writing about comics from the past few days.
Let's start with a bang --- sorry, a Boom!, because le studio de boom has announced plans to reduce the number of titles it releases in 2016. That's a move that runs counter to every other publisher right now, as the others race to fill the shelves. Filip Sablik, Boom's president of publishing and marketing, told ICv2 that the decision was made with respect to retailers, who have long denounced the more-is-more attitude that drives variant covers and concept months.
The Spritely Bean, a comics cafe located in (of course!) Portland, was recently broken into and vandalized. This start-up business has taken to crowdfunding to try and recoup its losses and stay in business. It's managed to hit its goal, but why not give the Bean an extra boost?
That sort of vandalism wouldn't be tolerated in Mega-City One, which is just the awkward segway I need to congratulate Judge Dredd Megazine, which celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary this week. That's a whole lot of justice. 2000 AD decided the best way to mark the moment was to bring artist Barry Kitson back to Dredd for the above cover.
Johanna Draper Carlson offered a tip of the cap to Comique Con this week; a one day comics celebration focusing on the women who make comics so interesting right now, taking place in Dearborn, Michigan on November 7th. Guests include Alex de Campi, Mikki Kendall and Marguerite Sauvage, and the program includes a showing of She Makes Comics, which seems like a big deal just by itself. You can see more at the website.
The pre-ordering system for comics is unique, that's for sure. There's growing awareness among fans that the system that requires every book, including creator-owned titles, to start campaigning for its survival three or more months before the first issue even comes out is problematic at best and hopeless at worst.
Cartoonist Kate Leth outlined the status quo on Tumblr, and noted how hard it is to offer any kind of solution, and critic Darryl Ayo got into it on Twitter. We'll just have to wait and see whether ideas like Greg Pak's pre-ordering site can offer some common sense in how we order and support comics.
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Alison Wilgus named her cat Julien, after everybody's favourite Star Trek character. Now twenty-two, Julien has lived a long life, and has been with the artist for all her adult life. But life isn't meant to last forever, and Wilgus' new comic Elderly Cat is an emotive recounting of Julien's life, from his first few years to the present day. It's a lovely bit of storytelling, with a powerful sadness that glimmers through.
New York Review Books will be publishing a slate of new comics in 2016, including Blutch's Peplum, shown at the top of this page. Originally published in 1996, Peblum follows the Roman Encolpius as he strains to retain the affections of his sixteen year old slave/lover Giton, who keeps finding himself distracted by the lure of other pretty people. Blutch is one of the most acclaimed artists in France, and the news that he's being translated into English will make a lot of people very excited.
Staying in the distant past: Dinomania! Fantagraphics will offer a look at a forgotten side of Little Nemo creator Winsor McCay and the roots of the archetypal tale of giant monster versus city this winter, courtesy of writer and curator Ulrich Merkl.
Manga. Is it comics? Well yes, of course it is, as made plain in this piece by Amanda Vail and Claire Napier at WomenWriteAboutComics. Vail is joined by artist Joyce Hwang to address the same point in this delightful comic featuring the above two adorable cats.
Kim O'Connor at Hooded Utilitarian is one of the best critic in comics, producing writing that is comprehensive, challenging, and entertaining. She's most recently written on the subject of a sacred comics darling, Adrian Tomine, and carefully picked through his career to ask, why are his female characters so insipid? Challenge is at the heart of arts criticism, and O'Connor is skilled enough as a writer to hone her points to a convincing edge.
There were some interesting profiles on comics websites this week, including this piece looking at the works of Nilah Magruder, the first recipient of the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, whose webcomic M.F.K. has gone from strength to strength. If you're interested, you can take a look at the story right here.
There was also a nice profile on Paige Braddock at The Press Democrat. A comics artist with many talents, her webcomic Jane's World was the first queer strip to receive national media syndication, and has been running since 1998. She's also the current creative director for Charles M Schulz Creative Associates, meaning she reviews all Peanuts licensed products to ensure they retain the voice of their creator.
It's finally the turn of Darkstar over at Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men! The blonde dynamo (a codename I'm surprised Marvel haven't actually used) gets featured in the cold open of the massively popular podcast, and I even got to help a little with some of the details! Darkstar: she's happening. Get ready.
Cinematic Universe is a podcast that offers a look at the relationship between superhero comics and other media. With the world becoming more and more saturated with onscreen superheroes and comics storytelling --- like a delicious over-dipped soldier in your morning boiled egg --- Seb, James and Joe's work in getting to the heart of the characters and stories you see on-screen is much-recommended.
Top Cow, the publisher responsible for bringing more women into comics than you might think, is the star of the next Humble Bundle. This pay-what-you-want model means you can try out a library-worth of comics from your computer. Aphrodite I-X? There! Witchblade? Eight volumes of it! It seems like it could finally be time for you to graft in some cybernetic implants and settle down with The Darkness at last.
Have a great weekend, everybody!