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.

Graphic novels: Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival has been selected as Hong Kong’s inaugural One City, One Book campaign — “an initi­ative aimed at getting everyone in a city reading and talking about the same book.”

Obituaries: Our own Alex Dueben penned “The Obituary Marie Severin Should Have Received” over at The Beat. Severin was one of many comics creators who passed away in 2018, and if anything looks a little “off” in Alex’s write-up, well — he explained why on Facebook. “I wrote a fake obituary recently,” Alex posted. “A tribute to an artist, imagining the career she could have had if she had been a man and was actually hired for her talent. Very few people got the point. (My editor got corrections from people about all the ‘errors’) I’d like to think that people just assumed the best and don’t know the details of her career, but does it prove my point that a lot of people – including those within the industry – honestly think that women and people of color have always been judged on their talent?”

2019 trends: Rob Salkowitz counts down five comic book trends to watch in 2019.

Awards: The nomination period is now open for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

Awards: The nominees have been announced for Diamond Comics Distributor’s annual Diamond Gem awards.

Best American Comics 2018

Interviews: Sean T. Collins interviews Phoebe Gloeckner about editing The Best American Comics 2018.

Interviews: The Washington Post spoke with Kelly Sue DeConnick last month about Aquaman and her return to writing comics for the big two.

Interviews: Series editor Eric Reynolds talks to the LA Review of Books about Fantagraphics’ Now anthology, which offers creators who might typiclaly focus on longer works to create shorter stories. “I just love when you get into an artist that you really like and are excited about and you don’t know what you’re going to get from them next. Look at someone like Eleanor Davis. I think Eleanor’s had one of the best careers in comics of the last few years, and in that sense I’m really happy as a fan that she didn’t decide to just hide herself away for three years and do a 150-page graphic novel,” Reynolds said.

Commentary: Mouse Guard creator David Petersen looks back at influential and meaningful comics covers in his personal collection. It includes a lot of Classic X-Men covers, which I can totally get behind.

Best of 2018

Cully Hamner sums up 2018 in two panels

The Year of Nancy: Writing for Vox, Todd VanDerWerff shares why the Nancy comic strip by Olivia Jaimes “was the funniest thing I read in 2018.

Best of the year: The Comics Journal rounds up “best of 2018” lists from a number of critics, creators and publishers, including Keiler Roberts, Jeffrey Brown, Colleen Frakes and Sloane Leong.

Best of the year: The Boston Globe shares their list of the best graphic novels of 2018, which include Berlin, Sabrina and Why Art?

Best of the year: The School Library Journal’s 10 best graphic novels for young people include Aquicorn Cove, Sparks and The Witch Boy.

Best of the year: Seamas O’Reilly at the Irish Times spotlights Immortal Hulk, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and On A Sunbeam, among others, in his article about the year’s best comics and graphic novels.

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