Comics Lowdown: Tom King’s CIA service

Plus: ‘The Arrival’ selected for Hong Kong’s first ‘One City, One Book’ campaign, the obituary Marie Severin should have received, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phoebe Gloeckner, Diamond Gem awards and more best-of-2018 lists!

Happy New Year from the Smash Pages staff! Coming back from the holiday break, let’s ring out the old and ring in the new with today’s collection of comic book news links.

Let’s start with a weird one: Last week Abhay Khosla, comics critic and past Superman writer, posted about his attempts to confirm with the CIA that Batman and Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King used to work for them. The topic of King’s former employer frequently comes up in interviews related to his Batman work (not to mention King’s Vertigo series The Sheriff of Babylon), and Khosla questioned whether any reporters who interviewed King about it had ever confirmed it. So Khosla sent the CIA a letter back in 2016 asking for confirmation, and the response he received from the agency was inconclusive.

This exchange occurred in 2016, and why Khosla decided to go public with it now isn’t clear. The point of Khosla’s post doesn’t seem to be to call out King as a liar (he starts his post by saying, “I don’t think this is really a story about Tom King”) but is more of a statement about entertainment journalism and fact-checking. He points out similar situations where a past DC writer, Micah Wright, lied about being in the armed services, as well as current Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski pretending to be Japanese early in his career.

The problem isn’t in asking the question — it’s posting about it without an answer or actually asking King about it. Like verifying facts, that’s also journalism 101. After the post went live, King was quick to respond on Twitter, showing proof that he was, indeed, in the CIA. Bleeding Cool, The Comics Reporter and Nick Hanover have more commentary on this.

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Comic creators share their #spidersona

Joe Quinones, Tony Moore, Dave Johnson and more share their interpretations of the popular meme that spun out of ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.’

Since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hit theaters last month, fans of the film have been sharing their #spidersona on social media. These creations often imagine the artist as a Spider-character.

Many pros have gotten in on the fun as well; here’s a collection of a few we’ve noticed. You can check out more — many, many more! — on Twitter and Instagram.

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Black Crown uncovers ‘Eve Stranger’ from Barnett + Bond

New series from the IDW imprint features an amnesiac-for-hire.

IDW’s Black Crown imprint heads undercover for their latest limited series — Eve Stranger, the story of “a formidable young woman with unnatural abilities and a repeatedly wiped memory, available to the highest bidder under the threat of exploding nanobombs in her bloodstream.” Kind of like AEon Flux meets the Suicide Squad.

“Imagine if you were the best in the world at pretty much everything. Super-spy. Assassin. International rescue. The jobs nobody else can — or is willing to — take on. Now imagine if you couldn’t even remember that you saved the world last week, and that you have to do it all again today… or you’ll die. Welcome to the world of Eve Stranger,” said co-creator and writer David Barnett.

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Sarah Gaydos named editor-in-chief for Oni Press

After joining Oni last April as editorial director of licensed publishing, Gaydos will now oversee Oni’s entire line.

Oni Press has named Sarah Gaydos as its new editor-in-chief, a role that’s been vacant at the publisher since James Lucas Jones was named publisher a year ago.

Gaydos joined Oni Press last April as editorial director of licensed publishing, taking on titles like Rick and Morty. Before that, she worked at IDW and for DC’s Wildstorm imprint.

“In less than a year, Sarah has had a profound effect on Oni Press,” Jones said in a press release. “Her taste is impeccable and broad. Her network of colleagues both love and respect her. Her dedication to comics and the people who create them is virtually unmatched. There is no other person better suited to lead our editorial team and oversee the creation of amazing new comics for all types of readers.”

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Smash Pages’ favorite comics of 2018

See what the Smash Pages’ staff enjoyed reading this past year.

With 2018 winding down, Smash Pages’ contributors take a look back at some of their favorite comics of the year, from Hey Kiddo and Spectacular Spider-Man #310 to Wet Moon and The Secret Voice.

Brigid Alverson

Silver Spoon, by Hiromu Arakawa (Yen Press)
Arakawa is best known as the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, but you couldn’t get any farther from that series than Silver Spoon, a comedy about a city boy who goes to agricultural school in rural Hokkaido. Yuugo Hachiken worked hard and did everything he was told, but he still didn’t get into an elite high school, so he takes what he thinks is the easy way out by going to a school that’s not academically focused—or so he thinks. In fact, the students at Ooezo Agricultural High School are very knowledgeable in their fields, but those fields are things like genetics and animal husbandry. The rubber really hits the road in the practical lessons, though, and Hachiken quickly realizes he is out of his depth when it comes to herding chickens, riding a horse, or fetching a stray calf. There’s a lot of city mouse-country mouse comedy in this series, but it’s also a fascinating look at where our food comes from (at least in Japan), and the different agricultural models espoused by different farmers. In fact, like Hachiken’s classmates, this book is very smart and sophisticated in addition to being endlessly entertaining.

Meal, by Blue Delliquanti and Soleil Ho (Iron Circus)
The idea of eating bugs may elicit an “Eeeww” from most people, but Delliquanti and Ho go beyond the ick factor in this romance about an insect cuisine enthusiast and a chef who wants to start a new restaurant based on the dishes of her youth—dishes that include ants, grasshoppers, and tarantulas. There’s a love story woven in there as well. Yarrow has just moved to a new city in hopes of getting a job in the kitchen of Chandra Flores, insect chef extraordinaire, who is about to launch a new restaurant. Milani, her neighbor, is friendly and helpful but the two have a little trouble making it click. At the same time, Chandra suspects that Yarrow is only into insect cuisine because it’s sensational, while to her, it’s part of her heritage. There’s a lot in this slim volume: Love, food, bugs, and bugs that are food, and the creators even include a couple of recipes at the end of the book.

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Comics Lowdown: Eric M. Esquivel fired from ‘Nightwing,’ ‘Border Town’ cancelled

Plus: Free Comics Book Day, George Freeman, Marie Javins and more!

Although it wasn’t yet announced, DC Comics has said Eric M. Esquivel will no longer co-write Nightwing. The news that Esquivel was writing the book was to be revealed today in DC’s January solicitations.

The news follows the cancellation of Border Town, a well-reviewed series Esquivel wrote with artists Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain. Both Villalobos and Bonvillain announced on social media they had quit the title after allegations of sexual abuse against Esquivel became public. In a piece titled “X, my experience with my abuser,” toy designer Cynthia Naugle detailed a history of abuse by a co-worker at a comic shop, who has since been identified as Esquivel.

Neither DC Comics nor Vertigo have commented directly on the abuse allegations. Esquivel, who had changed his Twitter account to private following the allegations, has now made it public again and posted several tweets in response. At Book Riot, writer S.W. Sondheimer says she will no longer cover Vertigo titles as a result of their silence on the matter.

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James Kochalka helps Santa ‘Pack the Sack’

The creator of ‘American Elf’ returns with a new holiday tune.

In addition to creating comics like Mechaboys, American Elf and Johnny Boo, James Kochalka is also a singer, regularly sharing songs on his YouTube channel. For the past few years, he’s released various singles for the holiday, adn this year he returns with a new tune, “Pack the Sack.”

Check it out below:

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Athens cartoonists create anthology to benefit Patrick Dean

A new issue of ‘Bezoar’ will benefit the cartoonist, who was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year.

Bezoar is a minicomics anthology put together by a group of Athens, Georgia-based comic creators with a monster theme. With two issues under their belt, the crew decided to use the third issue to help raise money for cartoonist Patrick Dean, who was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in June.

Joey Weiser explains on Tumblr:

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Comics Lowdown: Chris Ryall rejoins IDW; Joe Illidge out at Valiant

Plus: top comics and graphic novels at comic shops in November! Next ‘Dog Man’ book gets a 5 million copy print run! Kieron Gillen plays ‘Die,’ for real! And much more!

Chris Ryall, who left IDW Publishing in March after serving as editor-in-chief for about 14 years, has rejoined the company as president, publisher and chief creative officer.

“IDW is where I’ve spent the majority of my career, and I consider the company and its employees like family, so I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to return,” Ryall said in a press statement. “I believe that IDW has very significant opportunities to become even more valuable and important, and I am excited to further expand on what I started with the company nearly 15 years ago. I am also eager to help the company celebrate its 20th year anniversary in 2019 in varied and creatively invigorating new ways.”

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