Your weekly-ish survey of the news, criticism, and art, sequential or otherwise, found on the comics internet. I hope you’re taking good notes, because there will be a quiz.
NARCISSISM DEPT: I’ve spent the past six months marathoning my way through The X-Files for the first time, via Netflix. I scrawled some ramblings and lists about the show down on my other blog that sometimes exists. See? I didn’t waste my time.
ITEM! Tom Spurgeon reacts to the controversial, now-vanished diversity-in-comics video Eric Powell posted last week.
A lot of what was specifically distressing about the reaction to the video was how many old, corny, early Internet argument constructions still hold sway, ways of arguing that that should have been dragged into the light and staked a long time ago. That people shouldn’t be allowed to complain unless they solve the problem they’re complaining about is a ludicrous notion given two seconds thought. That a huge subset of superhero comics fans chose to regard this video as they’ve processed every argument since 1974 with a critical component — as some sort of full-bore assault on themselves and their tastes — is just sort of pathetic at this point. That comics people tend to cede to corporations some “right” to do whatever the hell they want as long as they don’t get put in jail, without criticism, because that’s the obligation these companies have to their stockholders remains stunning to me. It’s alarming partly because it’s a repugnant view, or at least I feel that way, but also because the history of comics is full of examples of companies and businesses acting humanely rather than inhumanely, making a choice of one thing over another on the basis of something other than ruthless self-interest.
My thoughts: I don’t know why Powell’s argument for greater diversity is needlessly turning into an “indie vs. mainstream” argument, with folks even arguing over the degrees of indie-ness certain indie creators are. Guys? Shut up. Here’s some news for you: all comics are niche comics. No niche is better than any other. Superheroes are only “mainstream” in this one market, and that’s only true because the bigger corporate-owned companies held onto these properties for dear life as the market completely changed, the audience shrank, and movie technology improved, thereby increasing the chances of licensing these characters. But can you imagine a world in which every TV show was a cop show? I know, I know– we’re halfway there already, but a diversity of genres and subjects exists in other media because the general audience likes more than one thing. I’m sure you like more than one thing, too– so buy some new and different comics, and support struggling creators. It’s only by nurturing this other material that the industry and medium itself can survive. Comics are comics, comics are good, read more comics. That is all.
ITEM! Christopher Irving sits down with Kyle Baker for one of the greatest interviews ever. Baker talks about making Deadpool MAX as offensive as possible, early computer lettering and coloring, all his greatest hits, and more:
“I still use a lot of tricks that they taught me in the bullpen to just hack it out,” Kyle notes. “Everyone who draws should do this: Dick Giordano told me ‘You sit with a timer on your desk. Every comic book page is about three tiers, and it takes about half an hour each tier. So, I wait until the big hand is at the top or the bottom, and I start inking and give myself half an hour. I ink all of the important stuff: faces, figures, a gun or a car, and then I look at the clock and go ‘Oh my god! Twenty-five minutes have passed and I’m nowhere near done!’ So, then I paint everything else black.
“It works! I’ve really gotten back to that lately with the Marvel stuff. I’m a lot pickier with my own stuff, just because if I’m publishing a book for myself and it doesn’t sell, I don’t get anything. It has to be a good job, but if you’re working for Marvel or Disney, you’ve already been paid. Also, there’s so much corporate interference that nobody knows whose fault it is that it sucks,” Kyle jokes.
ITEM! Jeff Parker and Erika Moen launched their new webcomic this week, a self-described “dick and fart joke murder mystery” called Bucko:
ITEM! Newsarama investigates the appeal and endurance of Aquaman.
…Giffen said it’s unfair, really, because the character has such a rich supporting cast and mythology. “There are still hundreds of untold Aquaman stories,” he said. “After outer space, the ocean floor is one of the great frontiers of unexplored territory. There are a lot of things you can do with a character like that. But I think you have to get away from just having him call a whale when he’s in trouble.”
Remember DC, my offer to write an Aquaman series for free still stands!
ITEM(S)! Comics Alliance has sure been putting out good material. Firstly, Brian Childs has interviewed David Barsalou, who has been leading a crusade to track down the comic panels swiped by pop/rip-off artist Roy Lichtenstein and credit their original artists (the ultimate swipe file):
Every time I dig deeper, I find he was taking other people’s ideas and making them his own. It wasn’t until later on when this information came out little-by-little, and when the Internet hit, it was almost like detective work. I’m not saying I totally despise him, but I think if he was still alive he would have been easier to deal with. The foundation just wants to preserve his status in the art world.
In fact [the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation] tried to shut me down. They sent me a nasty letter about how I’m not supposed to use these images because they’re copyrighted. How do they put this in print? Roy Lichtenstein took these images form copyrighted material 40 years ago!
Also, Chris Sims takes a look at Stan Lee’s National Hockey League of Superheroes and barely escapes with his mind intact.
This is the Toronto Maple Leaf. He is a tree. Seriously. He is a tree. In bike shorts. …
What he does have are a bunch of tree-themed super-powers, including the ability to grow huge, which in his case is handier than a normal tree’s, as it does not take decades. His defining ability, though, is the ability to shoot maple syrup out of his hand-branches.
ITEM! Kevin Church and Benjamin Birdie bring their webcomic The Rack to an abrupt– and unfortunately unsatisfying– end. Still, better than the ending of X-Files or Peanuts.
ITEM! Anthony Clark of Nedroid drops some comics advice, in re: show, don’t tell:
ITEM! So this one time, Jack Kirby did a Star Wars drawing, which is some weird ouroboros stuff, because Lucas was clearly riffing on the New Gods when he made the movie. (Ouroboros: A word I misspell every time.)
ITEM! USA Today previews Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard’s upcoming comic, Super Dinosaur, a book ostensibly aimed at younger audiences but secretly enjoyed by adults. I’m sure to pick up at least a few issues of stuff like this:
He controls his giant robot arms with a tiny video game controller! I love it.
ITEM! Kate Beaton draws comics about the real superheroes of the 1980s– businesswomen! (Let’s face it, this is where Rob Liefeld got all those ideas for shoulderpads from.)
AXE COP MOMENT OF THE… YEAR? Ethan Nicolle counts down the Top Ten Axe Cop Moments of 2010, as voted on by you, the fans! Also this week, we were treated to the best Guest Axe Cop strip ever (by Nik Houser) and Kelly Thompson’s least-favorite Axe Cop moment of all time!:
1. What is Toronto Maple Leaf’s greatest power?
2. How does Super Dinosaur control his giant robot arms?
3. Prove: Kyle Baker = Awesome.
4. How do you spell “ouroboros”?
5. What should comics be?
Show your work.