The statues have all been moved several times, but the current one now resides in Flatiron Park facing Geneva Bay just along Wrigley Drive.
The statues have all been moved several times, but the current one now resides in Flatiron Park facing Geneva Bay just along Wrigley Drive.
The discussions, I think, have helped. If you caught any of the talk last week surrounding Jay Smooth and his appearance on MSNBC's All In, you may have heard him note though that discussion is not enough. There's more diversity in comics now than there used to be. But what needs to happen to continue that trajectory is to actively support diverse creators and characters when they do show up. That's one of the brilliant aspects of the new Ms. Marvel -- it's a minority female character written and editted by two Muslim women, and it's been very well received and supported. That financial support helps to convince Marvel to produce more stories by and about people who aren't just white men.
And that's where the We Need Diverse Comics Facebook group comes in. Started this week by Carol Tilley and Eti Berland, it's a way to get the internet hive mind to all support more diversity. In Tilley's words...
Recently we've seen efforts across social media to highlight and promote diverse comics, creators, and readers. For instance, in just the past couple of months, creator Greg Pak has started a Tumblr (http://diversecomics.tumblr.com/) to showcase comics of all sorts and February on Twitter saw lots of posts about #BlackCosPlay.Even at only a few days old, there's a lot of content over there already, a decent chunk of which I hadn't seen before, despite actively looking for precisely that type of thing. I hope you'll head over, Like the page, and join the growing support for increasing diversity in our favorite medium!
Other groups and pages such as Women Write about Comics (http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/), Indigenous Narratives Collective (http://www.inccomics.com/), and We Are Comics (http://wearecomics.tumblr.com/) are also bringing attention to what many of us already know: there are all kinds of comics, all kinds of creators, all kinds of readers.
This page isn't intended to replace or overshadow any of these other efforts. Instead, we hope it will be a clearinghouse, a conversation space, a reminder, and a celebration of the value of finding yourself in the pages of comic.
- Marcia Lynx Qualey recaps the recent “Arab Comics: 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture” panel at Brown University
- Although there seem to be region restrictions limiting who can view this, BBC'S HARDtalk talked to Mark Millar on social responsibility. *cough* I'm led to believe there are ways to skirt the region issue, however. *cough*
- Over at Mental Floss, Rich Barrett writes up a list of 10 Great Kids Comics for Early Readers.
holy shit this is issue three and they have letters to the editor in the front accusing them of NOT doing it on a computer— Sean Poppe (@seanrunamok) March 24, 2015
This is the reply pic.twitter.com/5mEy6pq7th— Sean Poppe (@seanrunamok) March 24, 2015
Rather than give the full history of the book myself, I'm going to reproduce here editor Mike Gold's notes from the Shatter Special and Shatter #1 before a letters page got started. (Apologies for using cell phone pics; I don't have a scanner handy.)
Shatter was billed as "the first computerized comic." Everything Saenz (and later Charlie Athanas) drew for the book was done with a mouse. The only thing not done on the computer was the coloring. It's clearly dated in a lot of respects (the fonts they had to choose from were horrible!) but it was something very special and exciting at the time. No one, and I mean no one, was producing comics like this at the time, and that uniqueness was not lost on even then-teenaged me!
I haven't actually re-read the story in years. I've caught snippets of reviews that say it's only an okay story, but that's like watching a recording of a concert and saying it was meh. A lot of the excitement and exuberance is in particpating in the action as it's actually unfolding. Readers knew they were witnessing something special in Shatter and dove into it for that. It's worth examining today from a historical perspective, but I doubt anyone could capture the feeling we had seeing it hit the shelves back in the mid-1980s.
Anyway, since I don't generally do a good job of self-promotion, I'm going to take some time today for some...
I have written and published two books, and am currently working on my third. My first book was Comic Book Fanthropology, which looks at who and what comic fans are. There's a bit of history in there, but I think it provides a good understanding of why fans act the way they do. In light of some of the crap in comicdom that happened last week, I think many people would find it very insightful. (I know I continually refer back to it mentally all the time!) It's available through Lulu in a variety of formats or in paperback via Amazon.
My second book is Edward Lear & the Snargetted Flartlethants of Nonsense. It contains an examination of nonsense poetry, a biography of Edward Lear, and a reproduction of Lear's illustrated Book of Nonsense. This is only available in paperback via Lulu.
I'm a long-standing contributor to a variety of TwoMorrows magazines, most notably The Jack Kirby Collector. I've been in every issue since #40 back in 2004! Issue #64 came out recently in which I discuss Jack's script for an unproduced film he called The Frog Prince. Issue #65 should come out in late May/early June. There is always a boatload of great content in every issue, and I have long been thrilled to have my name attached to it in any way. There are previews of, I think, just about every issue on the TwoMorrows site, and many of them have at least one page of my work.
I've been a contributor/partner to the relatively new comics/pop culture news site, FreakSugar.com. I've got two columns over there, one on fans and fandom generally (not just of comics!) and one on webcomics. Plus, I do an occasional book review or interview or something. There's also some really good work there by the other contributors, and I think we'll have some big announcements in the coming months, so stay tuned for that!
I'm going to limit my plugs today to four, so this is the last one! I mentioned above that I'm working on a third book. It's going to cover the Blackstone comics of the 1940s. I had originally planned on just reprinting some of the public domain books with maybe a short introduction, but the more I learned about them, the more fascinating the story behind them became! Because Harry Blackstone and writer Walter Gibson had such illustrious careers outside of this work, it's rarely mentioned even in passing. The comics passed from Street & Smith to Vital to EC to Timely, and how everyone got involved is a strange and winding story in an of itself. I'm aiming to have this finished later this year, and I started a Patreon in part to help fund some of my research on it. If this sounds like an interesting book, or if you like my writing generally, I'd really appreciate any financial support you might be able to provide!
Thanks for taking the time to read my work, in whatever form(s) you find it! I really do appreciate that I have any platform at all to talk about comics, and hearing when someone recognizes my work means a great deal to me.
But people seem to have this romantic notion that that shouldn't happen on comic strips. That the creator who originated the strip should be the only one who touches it. Or, at the very most, if a creator is approaching retirement age, it's kind of okay if someone else in her/his family picks up the strip. Although, even then, it seems questionable. I recall more than a few "they should retire this" commentaries when Johnny Hart died and his grandsons took over B.C. -- even though they'd been helping on it for years prior anyway. I believe there was some upset when Jeff Keane took over Family Circus from his father years ago as well.
We've actually got comic strips with switching creators dating back over a century, and the assumption that a comic book creator would stay on their own strip going on at least 50 years after that. So why/how did that seem to switch? When did it become fine when a comic book creator stepped in on an existing property, but a comic strip creator could not? Was any of that influenced by creators such as Bill Watterson, Gary Larson and Charles Schulz not allowing anyone else to work on their strips? I can understand a "relaxing" of sorts on what's considered acceptable versus not, but these both seem like complete reversals, which is what strikes me as most odd. Anyone have any ideas?
- What do I think about the issue? Not what is my gut reaction to a superficial claim, but what do I personally think about the larger issue at hand?
- Why do I think this? What background am I bringing to this that's influencing my thinking, and how is that the same or different than what anyone else is bringing?
- Is the broader issue at hand important to me? Why or why not?
- What is the best way I can support the people involved with this that I most agree with?
It's a reasonable question to ask, even if it's coming at it from a somewhat selfish position. A more selfless spin might be, "Can withholding my dollars influence the creators' position and/or thinking on this issue?" Either way, it's the consumer trying to use capitalism itself as a means to shift views on race/gender/whatever. But without putting some critical thought behind that decision, does it really send the message you intend?
First, you need to think about the issue at hand. Not just, "Do I think this is a cool cover?" but "What does this cover say about the characters? Would changing the context change the meaning? What was the thought process that led to this particular image being created, approved, and distributed? Is this something that's an ill-conceived, but isolated, incident or is this part of a systemic pattern?"
Second, put those thoughts into context. "Am I reacting to the creator this way because their statements ring true, or am I giving them deference because I've liked their comics for years?" "What would my spouse/kids/coworkers think about someone saying these things to them?" "Are other people taking offense to this? If so, why?"
Third, is this an issue of concern to you personally? If you really don't give a shit about online harassment, then that's obviously going to influence how you view that situation. But why do you think harassment is not an issue? Is it just not an issue in this instance?
Then, after you've thought about these things, then I think you can start to make a reasonable (and personal) choice about why/how you want to lend your support. That might be a boycott of the creator making an ass of him/herself (though, let's be honest, it's mostly men making asses of themselves in comics) or it might be buying extra copies of a book from the aggrieved party. Maybe, if it's surrounding a book that you couldn't get your hands on if you wanted to, you show support with blog posts or Tweets or something. Obviously, every situation is going to be a bit different. My point is that you should really think about the issue at hand, and not just run with your first instinct. Make sure you understand where everyone is coming from before you make a decision, and then make a conscious, deliberate, thought-out decision.
For the record, I was never much of a fan of Batgirl, Savage Dragon or the X-Men. I don't really even buy comics from Marvel or DC any more, and only the occasional trade from Image, so "voting with my wallet" isn't really an option for me here. But, if you really want my opinion on these particular issues...
I think DC is by and large an incredibly tone-deaf company. Anyone above the individual creators seems to have no real concept of what fans have enjoyed about Batgirl and, as a company, they're continuing to utilize a set of thought processes from three decades ago to make contemporary creative decisions. The Killing Joke was a great comic, but not because Barbara Gordon got shot. That was, in my opinion, the weakest part of the story. Celebrating that element of the comic, especially in light of where the character is today, showcases sexist thinking on the part of editorial. And while DC made what I think is the correct decision in nixing the offending cover, they did a phenomenally bad job in trying to play clean up.
I've not followed Larsen very closely over the years, so I'm unfamiliar with his history with sexist comments. But his rant on Twitter (while somewhat blown out of proportion) highlighted a long-prevailing sexist attitude throughout the superhero contigent of comicdom. It's that kind of thinking that drove women away from comics decades ago, and has kept them out until manga imports started bringing them back. Larsen wasn't saying anything that wasn't common in any comic shop throughout America 20-30 years ago. It's small-minded thinking, but is more an indictment of how sexism ran (and in some *coughsuperherocough* circles still runs) rampant throughout the entire industry.
(Side Note: I thought a Larsen-drawn image of She-Dragon might be interesting to include as a visual with this post, but I honestly could not find one that wasn't blatantly and uncomfortably misogynistic.)
Sims admits he was in the wrong in harassing Valerie and has apologized. I don't know Sims well enough to speak to his sincerity; honestly, I never cared much for his writing so I've largely ignored him the past decade. Should Marvel fire Sims? Valerie says she's okay with him writing for them, so I'm going to follow her lead. I'm also going to follow her lead in not accepting his apology. Valerie continues to suffer from what he did, so I don't think an apology, however heartfelt it might seem to be, is going to cut it here. What restitution should there be? I'll leave that between the two of them.