Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 8/26/14: He liked it! Hey Mikey!

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§ Dark Horse, having had great success with their Avatar the Last Airbender OGNs, is adding more GNs for kids:

Dark Horse announced plans to publish Rexodus, a sci-fi tale based on the notion that rather than becoming extinct, dinosaurs actually left the earth and resettled on another planet, created by Steelhouse Productions. Dark Horse also plans to republish Courageous Princess, an acclaimed fantasy graphic novel by Rod Espinosa originally published in 1999 by Antarctic Press; Veda: Assembly Required, the story of girl raised by robots, by Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park; and The Return of the Gremlins, a new hardcover that collects the comics periodicals adapted from the Roald Dahl kids classic, written by Dark Horse publisher/founder Mike Richardson and drawn by Dean Yeagle.

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§ Ng Suat Tong is one of the hardest to please comics critics out there, but he seems to have enjoyed The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg, which is impressive.

In Greenberg’s opening story, “The Three Sisters of Summer Island”, the eponymous sisters find a baby boy “along the banks of the Sky Lake.” Unable to decide who should care for the baby, they consult a shaman who helps them divide the boy into three parts, each containing a different aspect of his soul. By displacing the more familiar tales of child rescue or abandonment (those of Moses and Sargon) and through its setting in the frozen north, the story manages to retain echoes of the legends concerning Sedna—the giantess and mistress of the seas and underworld of Inuit myth whose fingers when cleaved from her body became seals, walruses, and whales (in some versions, salmon or different species of seal).


I think I’ve used this metaphor before but if Greenberg’s debut GN had been a first novel by a prose writer she’d have gotten so much more attention. This evocative mythic world quest is one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts since…well, a long time. Maybe Dash Shaw, although he had many smaller books before Bottomless Bellybutton.

§ OH yeah and speaking of Dash Shaw and debut graphic novels (THIS IS WHY I MAKE THE BIG BUCKS, KIDS) here is Shaw reviewing Jules Feiffer’s “debut gn, Kill My Mother

The advance copy described this as Feiffer’s “first graphic novel.” Much like the term “graphic novel,” this is really just a marketing ploy. Feiffer has been marrying words and pictures into books all of his life… Isn’t Tantrum a graphic novel? However, this is the first time he’s attempted Eisnerian layouts in a long-form work. In all of his other comics, the words and panels are slightly, and very deliberately, separated for easy reading. The panels are either in isolated pages, like Tantrum, or a stream of panels with sentences above the characters heads (Explainers) or heavily illustrated prose (Man in the Ceiling.) It’s possible that this separation, or obvious distinctions between panels, has helped his work become so popular outside of the core comic book audience. In Kill My Mother, he goes the opposite direction, with nearly every third page having an explosion of Eisnerian panel arrangements. As a cartoonist, I love it that he threw himself outside of his usual mode and attempted this. But….[snip]


BUT WHAT? For the answer you must click the link!

§ Several people sent me this link to Derf’s reminiscence of Howard the Duck. Because Howard the Duck was my favorite comic until Love and Rockets came along, I am sympathetic:

Over the next couple years, Howard was one of Marvel’s biggest hits. He got the kind of media attention mere long-underwear comic books simply weren’t getting then. Imagine! An intelligent satire aimed at adults! Gerber mounted a Howard for President campaign in the 1976 election that got quite a bit of press. The button (above) drawn by Bernie Wrightson was a frequent sight pinned to lapels of twentysomethings   Howard was the first title aimed at an older audience. Previous efforts to tap a college-age audience, like Green Lantern/ Green Arrow or The Silver Surfer, had bombed. Howard the Duck, on the other hand, was, for a time, one of Marvel’s top sellers. The tide had turned. Five years later with the debut of video games the 11-year-old readers would vanish en masse and all that was left were older readers, but that’s another tale.


But here’s where it’s gets (q)wacky. In a link to this piece by Derf in a TCJ round-up, online gadfly Robert Stanely Martin refers to his piece on the history of Gerber, Marvel and Howard the Duck published at Hodded Utilitarian, and claims it contradicts Derf’s piece. If you’re interested in Gerber and a foundational tale of the struggle for creator ownership, Martin’s research is of note, however, TCJ’s Tim Hodler points out that the two accounts are virtually identical. So that is what happens when a) you read the comments b) you get into the tendentious world of online comics scholars.

§ LA Weekly’s Liz Ohanesian treks to the Jurassic Era of comic cons, LA’s Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention which is held at The Shrine a few times a year. Admission is $10, which is probably $5 more than it was when I went to it in the 80s.

In recent years, fan conventions have mushroomed into high-profile, weekend-long events where studios announce new releases, cosplayers are photographed like celebrities and lines are everywhere. There was no line to get inside the Shrine for Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. By mid-afternoon, the longest wait here was to buy a caricature from Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi. If you wanted to buy something, you could easily get the attention of one of the dealers. There were no costumed con-goers, no impromptu photoshoots blocking the aisles. It was a convention without the frills that, for some, are part of the experience and, for others, are an annoyance.


It is breathtaking to think that this cardboard box show still survives virtually unchanged, like the coelacanth.

§ Speaking of cons, here’s a profile of the Dubai Comic Con with an emphasis on the number of female artists…which was more than half.

To many Westerners, Dubai is a conservative city in a conservative Arab state, which makes it an odd place for a convention of risqué Lycra-obsessed cosplayers and over-the-top entertainment. Even more bizarre: In a culture where ladies are told to cover up, Comic Con is attracting women in their droves. And they’re not just there to gawp—there were actually more women artists at Dubai Comic Con than male artists, which is in stark contrast to American Comic Con, which is often criticized for its lack of women.


§ Speaking of the diversification of comics, Andrew Wheeler surveys how Marvel and DC are doing in the wake of Ass-Gate:

Most of Marvel’s ten books have male writers and male primary artists; Storm, Spider-Woman, Thor, She-Hulk, Elektra, Black Widow, and X-Men. Only three of Marvel’s female-led books have female primary creators; Captain Marvel is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ms. Marvel is written by G. Willow Wilson, and uniquely among all Marvel’s books, the regular team on Angela includes a female writer and a female artist in Marguerite Bennett and Stephanie Hans — but also a male writer and a male artist in Kieron Gillen and Phil Jimenez, as the book contains complimentary storylines split between the two teams. (In November, Bennett is also writing the Lady Deathstrike-focused Logan Legacy one-shot, while Katie Cook is both a writer and artist on Spider-Verse, and Corinna Bechko is a co-writer on Savage Hulk.)

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§ Zainab previews Inés Estrada’s ‘Laspos’

§ Ed Piskor’s hip hop cred is examined in the Daily Beast’s Bam! Pow! Bling!

§ This link was in my mail for eons but it is still worth reading: a profile of the closing of the comics shop Bigkatts:

I immediately realized that in many ways Bigkatts had a secret identity of its own. Located in a storage facility, the store wasn’t an eyesore like so many of the businesses on the busy streets of South Florida are. Instead, it was tucked away and looking like so many other storage spaces, its exterior came off as mundane. Then I walked inside and what I found was…wonder.

Comments

  1. Tim Hodler and Dan Nadel have an apparent policy of not permitting criticism of Hodler to appear on the TCJ site. As such, I’m not going to waste my time posting a response to what he wrote over there. But since you’ve decided to dive in to this little contretemps, I’ll post one here.

    My perception of Hodler, and I first noted it in the essay roundtable he and I participated in on Crumb’s Genesis in TCJ 300, is that he is an extremely literal-minded reader who’s largely incapable of understanding any kind of artful writing–tropes, implied statements, and so forth. This is not to say he’s stupid; there are a lot of very sharp people in STEM fields, for example, who are the same way. But if things aren’t presented to him in declarative terms, he can’t process it.

    Let’s look at a Backderf sentence that I took exception to:

    Gerber’s relationship with Marvel soured, especially when tyrannical editor Jim Shooter assumed control in 1978.

    Now, apart from the debatable characterization of Shooter as “tyrannical,” that sentence is literally true. However, the way it’s constructed–and Backderf pretty much confirmed to me this was his intended meaning–the sentence strongly implies that Gerber’s problems with Marvel in ’78 were BECAUSE OF Jim Shooter. Now, if you can’t see that implication, and Hodler apparently can’t, you’re going to have a hard time understanding my issues with what Backderf wrote.

    Just so we’re clear, Gerber’s problems at Marvel in 1978 had nothing to do with any conflict with Jim Shooter’s policies or actions, or with Shooter personally. If you don’t believe me, believe Gerber. He never alleged it.

    I suppose I could go through the rest of Backderf’s misrepresentations, such as asserting that Gerber was removed from the newspaper strip because he was “demanding a greater cut of” the Howard the Duck property. (That one’s just outright false in every particular. There were no conflicts about Gerber’s income from or interest in Howard leading up to his termination from the strip.) However, I think people who are interested in knowing the full story of Gerber and Marvel are just best off following the link to my article. (Thanks for posting it.) It’s long, but it’s thorough, and everything’s fully documented. Backderf read it after I sent him the link, and he told me he thought it was “pretty great.”

    There’s also an appendix post containing photocopies of all of Gerber’s ’70s Marvel contracts, all but one piece of the termination correspondence, and every significant filing in the lawsuit. For those interested, here’s the link:

    http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/05/the-howard-the-duck-documents/

  2. Jackie Estrada says:

    Regarding Isabel Greenberg not getting enough attention, I should point out that she was nominated for two Eisner Awards for the book.

  3. On the off chance that there might be some readers out there unsuspecting enough to believe Martin’s allegation: There’s no policy against criticizing me or anyone else at TCJ.com. Martin could have posted that same comment on our site if he’d wanted to. The rest of his literary performance here is far too … artful, I guess? for me to mentally process.

  4. Hey Tim!

    I knew mentioning RSM was the “bloody mary” of comics scholarship but he did do a lot of work. Jim Shooter remains a controversial figure in comics history with many different views of his deeds and misdeeds.

  5. Hello Heidi. I only wanted to correct that one statement about TCJ.com’s commenting policy. I don’t think that anyone disputes that Shooter is controversial. And of course I don’t really know, but you’re right that R.S. Martin certainly seems like he’s working hard.

  6. “On the off chance that there might be some readers out there unsuspecting enough to believe Martin’s allegation: There’s no policy against criticizing me or anyone else at TCJ.com.”

    Things have changed. I’ve twice had comments removed at tcj.com for inappropriateness, and the common denominator of both was that Hodler was being criticized. Of course, that wasn’t the “official” reason.

    The first time it was allegedly because I included a link, and that, per commenting guidelines, was not allowed. Of course, that prohibition was otherwise enforced about as often as the one in my undergrad dorm regarding unmarried students having sex.

    The second time was because it was a “personal attack” that crossed the line. However, Hodler and Nadel think it’s perfectly appropriate to let Gilbert Hernandez–in an interview under their byline–call me a pedophile who fetishizes crotch shots of adolescent girls. This was because I committed the heresy of panning one of St. Beto the Awesome’s books.

    The “pedophile” was eventually replaced with “[censored]” after I complained to Groth and Thompson with a reference to my state’s libel laws. However, the crotch shot bit stayed, probably because Hernandez phrased it as speculation, and that isn’t legally actionable. There’s been no apology, public or private, from anyone involved.

    Now, what I wrote about Hodler didn’t come within a country mile as being as nasty as this, and I’d posted much harsher things in response to other commenters without a whisper of administrator complaint. Hodler and Nadel’s problem, obviously, wasn’t with what I wrote; it was that it was being written about Hodler.

    But if Hodler and Nadel have decided to drop their dishonest and hypocritical Miss Manners act, and that criticism of Hodler is now within bounds in tcj.com comments, good for them. The proof is in the pudding, though, and I’ll believe it when I see criticism of Hodler actually get posted over there.

  7. In the next to last paragraph, the “much harsher things” is relative to what I wrote about Hodler, not what Hernandez said about me. I would never stoop to the latter when talking about anyone. Just so that’s clear.

  8. OOOOOKKKKKKAAAAAYYYYYYY. Why did I even get into this. Or as Howard would say “Waaauuuggghhhh!”

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