Weekender: Strip Panel Naked, ‘The Sword Interval’, and Smouldering John Barrowman
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!
Stela’s editor-in-chief Ryan Yount left the publisher this week, four months after its first comics debuted. A digital publisher launched through an app, Stela’s first line-up of comics were billed as creator-owned work, featuring stories from people like Irene Koh and Yount himself, who was writer of Inheritance.
What makes this a departure of particular note is that writer Mark Waid took to Twitter shortly after the announcement to suggest that Stela’s investors had asked that creator-owned contract be replaced with work-for-hire contracts. Waid's comments have not been verified yet, and we should observe that Waid is the founder of a rival digital publisher, Thrillbent.
Stela's official statement at this time is that “Stela is committed to fulfilling all established contracts, to which no changes have been made,” which doesn't contradict any of Waid's claims. We'll keep an eye on this story as it progresses. The term “creator-owned” seems to be devolving in much the same way that “diversity” has become a catch-all buzzword without much meaning for comics, and those are trends we should all be looking to reverse.
Let’s keep things business related for the moment, as ICv2 reports that IDW is raising $4 million in private placement for existing shareholders. The purpose is to pass the money to IDW Entertainment, which is the division of the company dedicated to film and TV adaptations like Wynonna Earp. Adaptation has become an important part of business building for publishers, with interest in comics properties now so strong that one day we might expect every new book announcement to come with a mention of who bought the license.
We’re nearing the release of Raina Telgemeier’s latest, Ghosts, which is being published by Scholastic. If her total dominance of the bestsellers list wasn’t already proof enough that she’s the most powerful force in comics today, then you must not have read that the initial print run for the book will be 500,000 copies. Good lord, but that’s a staggering, number of books, especially for a first print run. By my estimate that would mean that by the end of this year there will be over seven million Raina Telgemeier books out there.
As reported right here on sturdy ol’ ComicsAlliance, Viz Media is giving away manga for free every day from now on, found through this link right here. What’s of note here is that it isn’t simply giving away One Punch Man, Blue Exorcist and the like, but also new comics, including the adaptation of Dragon Ball Super and more.
The Eisner Awards got steamier with the leaked news that this year’s host will be Scotmerican actor and entertainer John Barrowman, currently seen on Arrow and set to return to Doctor Who this Christmas. Barrowman’s been a noticeable presence at the awards for a little while now, having snogged half the presenters and probably a fair whack of the award recipients too.
As the Eisners get more streamlined --- and more entertaining --- it’s also nice to see that this year’s awards will be filmed and broadcast after the ceremony has finished. It’s not quite the same as watching it live, but it’s definitely the first step towards that becoming a real possibility in future. In case you were wondering, I have yet to see any news on whether the superb Orlando Jones will also be involved, but fingers crossed.
On Publishers Weekly, Heidi Mac started the warm-up for SDCC by talking to a range of different publishers about their thoughts on the mass-media event. Noting that companies like Slave Labor will be absent, while DC is planning on wide coverage across the con, she takes care to give a careful cross-section of the industry. Who attends? Who skips? Each year the hall looks slightly different. For example, 2016 will see Top Shelf forgo their traditional space in the hall in order to join up with IDW’s stand instead.
Cheryl Lynn Eaton took to her blog this week for a write-up of HeroesCon 2016, held in North Carolina. This is one of those conventions that everybody seems to love, she notes, but one of the most important aspects of the experience was that she felt comfortable as a black woman at the event. Eaton’s great at writing about the parts of comics that many people just forget to think about, and her report is a typically interesting look at how she felt things were run, what worked nicely, and what could be looked into for future years of the con.
Strip Panel Naked is a rather brilliant series of videos that offers artistic commentary on storytelling in current comics. Created and narrated by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, each video in the series looks at a particular idea or concept that the comic is looking to get across --- a sense of movement, or pace; the tone of the coloring; very particular conceits. And what he does is break down each panel and page with smart, engrossing analysis. He pinpoints some of the work done by artists that isn’t showy or big, but instead serves to carefully guide the reader in ways they don’t even realize. It’s fantastic work, and there’s a growing sense of confidence in his voice as he gets further and further involved in the art of critiquing comics.
Watching the videos will make most anybody into a fan of his work --- and if you do enjoy what you’re watching, please head over to his Patreon page and think about chipping in!
NEW AND UPCOMING COMICS
Three Kickstarters for your attention! Purses out, everyone!
The Sword Interval comes from Ben Fleuter, and reminds me a lot of Rumble in the way it offers just this constant flow of action and monsters and madness hurtling into one another. The concept’s a fun one: a woman is put into paranormal witness protection after a monster kills her parents, but she decides to leave the system in order to track the monster down and get revenge. The Kickstarter page is full of fun moments from the series, which you can find online here.
So many anniversaries have come this week! We’ve also seen the 10th Anniversary of Split Lip, which is celebrating with a horror anthology compiling together many of the comics that have been featured over the years. Split Lip is an international project, featuring writers and artists genuinely from all round the world, and using a melange of styles. A melange, I say! As a bonus, I notice the collection also features a new essay from Lauren Davis, which is reason enough to give this one a try. Kickstarter’s given a huge boost to horror comics, I feel. It’s a style of comic that's largely overlooked in the mainstream, but has lunged out of the grave thanks to the work of people like Sam Costello, who runs this project.
The cover for Jacque Nodell’s How To Go Steady is a welcome indicator that this is a project that is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. Part of Sequential Crush, this illustrated book will offer advice on dating, love, romance --- all guided by 1970s romance comics. Dreamy thought bubbles will likely be plentiful! Nodell’s grandfather, Mart, was a writer in an early romance comic called Miss America, so this is a welcome return to the family business for her.
This week is Comics Week over at the AV Club, bringing forth a number of articles on everything from comics coloring to a roundtable on Raina Telgemeier’s Smile. The article that most caught my attention was Caitlin Rosberg’s essay on how self-published comics are changing the industry. Her focus looks at several comics editors who are known for their association with crowdfunded anthologies, including Sfe Monster, C Spike Trotman, and Taneka Stotts.
Oh and hey! We have an interview about her new Kickstarter for Elements that you can check out right now!
Yu-Gi-Oh is twenty years old in 2016, astoundingly, and accordingly there are reams of books related to the series out there. Thankfully Megan Cavitt at Panels this week offered a breakdown of what volumes are out there, how the series has progressed over time, and where you should look if you want to start reading the story.
On Sequential State, Alex Hoffman has been doing brilliant work reading and reviewing self-published comics that nobody else seems to have even heard of, let alone had an opportunity to review. That sounds harsh on the comics, but it’s meant as a recommendation of Hoffman’s curation of the site. Here, for example, is a review of Lulu Anew from Étienne Davodeau, which seems a lovely and smart piece of work.
Graeme McMillan, my favorite commentator on comics, offers a dive into the existence of cross-fit pioneer Tarzan within comics. The character has been a surprisingly enduring presence in the medium over the years, even though I don’t think there are many runs with the concept that have particularly ever caught the attention of a wider audience.
And hey! The Beat is 12 years old today!
If you have a tip you’d like to share for consideration in an upcoming edition of Weekender, you can now email me through email@example.com! Whether it's an event you’re running, a podcast you host, a comic you make, an essay you’ve written, or news you think deserves more coverage: as long as you’re creator-driven or owned, Weekender is here to spotlight your work!
Have a great weekend, everybody!