Black comics festivals, indy publishers, and the history of women in comics.
Festivals: West Coast: It’s Martin Luther King Day, and this past weekend brought festivals celebrating black comics to both sides of the country. In San Francisco, Nanette Asimov writes about the Black Comix Arts Festival, which runs through today, and interviews creators Tony Medina and John Jennings as well as an attendee.
Festivals: East Coast: At the New York Times, George Gene Gustines turns his focus to the Black Comics Festival, which took place this past weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and he interviews David Heredia, the creator of the animated video series Heroes of Color and a guest at the festival.
Jim Zub has advice for an aspiring creator. Also: Best comics of 2017, trends to watch in 2018.
Sitcomics, a comics publisher based in Santa Monica, is rolling out Binge Books, a line of 64-page comics priced at $3.99, with a new strategy that they call “Sell-Through Distribution”: Bypassing the usual distribution system, they will go directly through retailers. They will start distributing a free catalog to retailers on January 3; customers can order the comics until January 25, and they will be delivered on January 31, a much faster turnaround than standard distribution. The comics will also be returnable by retailers.
Plus: Another view of Marvel’s Northrop Grumman Comic, Palmiotti and Conner say goodbye to Harley Quinn, and was New York Comic Con too big?
Top Graphic Novels: Viz takes half the slots in the September BookScan top 20 chart, which measures sales of graphic novels in the book channel: Vol. 12 of One Punch Man was the top seller, followed by the all-in-one edition of Death Note (a 12-volume omnibus—yes, it’s a brick). Perennial best-sellers Fun Home, March, and Watchmen all make the chart, as does Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, vol. 3 of Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, and Avatar’s limited edition of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’s Providence: Act 3. Interestingly, there is not a single Image title on the list.
A North Korean cartoonist looks at the lighter side of defection, an American cartoonist turns down an Iranian award, and Humanoids announces an all-ages horror graphic novel.
Struggles and Smiles: Former North Korean animator Choi Seong-guk was surprised at how different the comics were when he defected to South Korea: “When I first saw South Korean cartoons, I just didn’t get them,” he says. “There were no stories about patriotism or catching spies or war. They just seemed useless to me.” There were a lot of other differences too, including some idioms that he misunderstood. Now he has turned his experiences into an online comic that depicts both the funny and the serious side of the lives of North Koreans at home and in South Korea.
Get today’s comics news and updates in new feature here at Smash Pages.
• James Cavanaugh, the owner of Clint’s Comics in Kansas City, Missouri, was killed while attempting to stop a robbery at his store on May 12. According to the Kansas City Star, Cavanaugh was chasing a man who had just stolen about 10 or 15 comics from the shop, according to witnesses. He reached the thief’s car and pulled a gun; somehow the passenger side door opened and when the thief drove away, the door hit Cavanaugh, knocking him to the ground and critically injuring him. Police are still searching for the thief, who was described as a bald, 40-ish white man with glasses; the store posted a photo of the car on Facebook.
Comic folks answer the question, “What do you consider to be the top five important events of 2015?”
For this year’s inaugural version of the Smash Pages End of Year Survey I had people answer the question: “What do you consider to be the top five important events of 2015?” I encouraged people to not necessarily answer the question in that manner if it didn’t strike their fancy. I cannot thank everyone enough for the participation during a busy time of year. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here part 3 is here.
These things happened, and I learned things from them I didn’t expect.
I wrote and drew a WONDER WOMAN story titled BOTH ENDS OF THE LEASH for Sensation Magazine. I’d never tried to wrap my mind around any of the comic book demigods, but the more I read about this princess, the more facets she reveals. I had some odd and, frankly, rather woo experiences trying to find a story for her, which in itself probably is what made it worth doing. The story is about animal defense, so it hit a lot of nerves, and I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from long-term fans, but none more so than the fan I didn’t know about: my older sister.
I had NO IDEA my sister was a Wonder Woman fan. She’s eight years older than I am, so I guess I missed her Underoos stage. But she’s nearly six feet tall, long black hair, green eyes… How tempted was I to make my Diana’s eyes green just for her! But the fact that I found out late in the game that my sister’s such a fan restrained me from redesigning the Princess radically. This time.
I drew an issue of a horror comic called HARROW COUNTY, written and drawn by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. I’ve never done a straight-up ghost story. This one was about a not-entirely-lost soul, a sad, ferocious little ghost in two parts. The tricky part, the thing I had to keep reminding myself was that, no matter how bad I felt for him, I needed to keep him creepy. That’s what makes him work. Poor little sticky thing.
If that was true of HARROW COUNTY, it’s doubly true of NO MERCY, the book I’m drawing with writer Alex de Campi. She rarely pulls a punch unless it’s for effect, and has been a master class in how fast you can make things happen in a story. It’s all too easy, especially when you love worldbuilding, to get lost in creating the immersive experience, forgetting that stories are about and-then-what.
The storytellers who REALLY surprised me with the depth and deftness of their storytelling are the ones who are making the tv show STEVEN UNIVERSE. If you don’t like goofy, it’s not for you, but that story’s deep heart, complexity of imagined world, and up-close-magic-tricks of throwing down new Plot Cards have left me with my jaw on the floor. I am watching. Taking NOTES.
Dunno if I’m going to be able to get all of these things into the new FINDER story I started in DARK HORSE PRESENTS last November, but they’re all in my head, at the very least. They’ll end up in SOMETHING.
5. The Flash TV show – there’s not enough of it in a week. It’s not even a guilty pleasure. I sit and watch it with a smile from ear to ear. And while I enjoy Arrow (not caught up) and what I’ve seen of Supergirl (not caught up), I never miss Flash.
4. Conventions – I hate conventions, and that’s not a strong hate. It’s just…they’re inconvenient sometimes. But I had great experiences this year in Baltimore, NYCC and New Jersey Comic Expo. More shows are popping up (really looking forward to the 3 Rivers Comicon in May), and I hope the remain a local staple more than the overblown extravaganzas that they can become. Smaller shows are the best.
3. My comics – Stray came out this year. Line Webtoons announced that Dean Haspiel and I are working together again on the New Brooklyn Universe. Actionverse 0 just debuted and I’m writing a new all-ages comic, Action Lab: Dog of Wonder. I’m incredibly fortunate to have such opportunities and such amazing collaborators.
2. My friends’ comics – Beef With Tomato, Schmuck, Smoke, We Are Robin, Ghetto Klown, Plunder, the Bunker…working with my friends on Actionverse. As exciting as it is to see my own stuff out there, it’s just as exciting to see my friends get their work seen and recognized.
1. My kids – Unto us, a son was born this year. And while I’m still in the introduction phase with him, my daughter (who will be 3 in February) has become a huge part of my life and is dictating how I create comics in the near future…in a good way. I don’t know…it’s all new to me, but I’m enjoying the lessons.
1) Image’s Continued Creator-Owned Success
2) Diversity in Characters and Creators
3) Convention Culture Continues to Thrive
4) The Widening Embrace of Comics Content From Mainstream Media
5) Disney the Pop Culture Juggernaut: Animation, Marvel Movies, Star Wars
5. COPRA makes me giddy. I was late to the game and missed the single issues, but Bergen Press’s trades are so snazzy. Tough characters in tough stories with tough art — I’m in as long as MICHEL FIFFE continues to create the book. Pure comics power!
4. COMIC BOOK APOCALYPSE: THE GRAPHIC WORLD OF JACK KIRBY, both the amazing CSUN exhibit and the accompanying book from IDW, gave me a jolt of energy regarding the whole medium, and art in general. From his early romance comics to of course all the superheroes to his mind boggling collages, there’s a reason JACK KIRBY is THE KING. It was a true delight seeing his pages in person, and reading amazing essays about the man and his art.
3. DAVID F. WALKER taking over comics! I’ve known Dave for a few years and have always admired his work, so it’s been a true pleasure watching him finally get the credit he deserves. From SHAFT in late 2014 to this year’s CYBORG and the upcoming (as of my typing) POWER MAN AND IRON FIST (with one of my favorites artists, SANFORD GREENE), his success this year just couldn’t have happened to a more deserving creator. Good for my pal, and good for all of us comic fans!
2. MICHAEL ALLRED drawing comics is one of my favorite things each and every year. He’s making magic with DAN SLOTT on SILVER SURFER — the Marvel character (along with, I’d say, DOCTOR STRANGE) that Allred was born to draw. He’s one of the nicest and most talented guys in comics, so it’s always a joy to see work from him.
1. HEROES FOR EVERY READER! Since I was a kid, part of my love of SUPERMAN has always been that, lack of muscles and perfectly chiseled features, I kinda look like him. Big jaw, blue eyes, dark hair… it made Halloween fun growing up (as almost every pic of me was in some Underroos-based Superman costume). Identification is important to kids, to see themselves in their heroes. This is just one of the reasons why characters like MS. MARVEL, BATGIRL, MILES MORALES: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-GWEN, CYBORG, MOON GIRL, AMELIA COLE (I have to mention the hero created by ADAM P. KNAVE, NICK BROKENSHIRE, and myself here, right?), and many more having their own comic book titles is so important. We still have a long, looooong way to go, but it’s great to see some logical and, obviously, long overdue steps FINALLY being made. It’s a no-brainer and win-win for everyone!