Comics Lowdown: Looking at the big picture

Comics retailers discuss the comics market, Lion Forge profiled and more.

The Biz, Part I: It’s generally agreed that 2017 was a lackluster year (at best) for comics retailers. Publisher’s Weekly’s Shannon O’Leary went to the source, asking retailers in the direct market and bookstores with a large graphic novel section to discuss what’s going wrong—and right—in the comics market. There’s lots to chew on here, with commentary about Marvel, Image, and the structural issues in the direct market.

The Biz, Part II: Once you’ve read that, head over to The Beat, where Heidi Macdonald pulls out one particular angle, diversity, that’s been getting a lot of discussion lately and discusses why it’s good and why anti-diversity commentators get it all wrong. (For starters: They have no idea how the comics business actually works).

The Biz, Part III: In an earlier post at The Beat, Heidi looks at ICv2’s lists of the top 20 graphic novel best-sellers and pivots from there to a discussion of the current trends in the comics market, away from periodical comics and the direct market and toward graphic novels and bookstores, and what that may mean for the industry as a whole.

Publishing: The UK publisher Myriad Editions has announced an anthology titled The Inking Woman, which features British women cartoonists and is based loosely on the 2017 exhibit of the same name at the London Cartoon Museum.

Publishing: Ron Salkowitz profiles the publisher Lion Forge, which has a wide range of titles for all ages and tastes, including its Catalyst Prime superhero universe, its Cub House children’s comics and Roar YA imprint, and the indy/Euro Magnetic Press line.

Comics History: Trina Robbins talks about the women of the underground comics movement, who broke away from the “boys club” and made their own comics.

Exhibits: “We Wear the Mask: The Black Heroes and Sheroes of the Comic Book Universe” is an exhibit at the Black Cultural Center at Purdue University has an exhibit up that showcases black characters in comics throughout history. The exhibit coincides with the release of the Black Panther movie, which BCC assistant director Bill Caise calls “an important cultural moment.”

Local Hero: The Arlington, Mass. paper profiles A. David Lewis, who rescued the first Muslim superhero, Kismet, from obscurity and brought him into the 21st century in his comic Kismet: Man of Fate. The original Kismet had a four-issue run in 1944 as a Nazi-fighting Algerian in occupied France, and he didn’t have much in the way of superpowers. Lewis discovered the character, who is in the public domain, while doing research on Muslim characters in comics and decided to bring him back (after a period in suspended animation) with the help of artist Noel Tuazon (Tumor), colorist Rob Croonenborghs, and
letterer Taylor Esposito.

Interview: Vanessa Davis talks about her influences and her work, including Make Me a Woman and Spaniel Rage.

It Gets Better: Lynn Johnston talks about the Library of American Comics collection of For Better or For Worse, which will include all 29 years’ worth of the strip, and about looking back at her work 40 years later.

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