Nate Powell and Chris Ross on How They Designed ‘March’

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[Editor’s note: The release this week of March Book Two by Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell has already made headlines with its story of the fight for civil rights in the 60s, and the covers to both volumes have become iconic in their own right. The message of the courage to fight for equality for all in the face of violent opposition is as relevant and needed today as it was 50 years ago. But powerful images to cover powerful times don’t always spring up fully formed. Here Powell and Top Shelf designer Chris Ross with an in-depth breakdown of how they created these covers and combined imagery to capture both history and ideals.]

NATE: March was originally a single, massive volume, so the initial front and back covers were intended to house the entire narrative: the front introduced the basic visual theme of opposition, with two elements facing off against each other, though a contingent of riot-ready white supremacist police were prominently featured across the bottom. After some discussion with Chris Ross, Andrew Aydin, and Congressman Lewis, we all agreed that we should shift some of that focus to the folks on the front lines, and away from Jim Crow police forces. Around that time, we decided to release the saga as a trilogy, so Chris and I jumped in to further develop the oppositional themes, but playing with different angles and approaches to the cover’s division.

A stroll down memory lane: Dan DiDio’s personal history of The Crisis Era

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Say what you will about Dan DiDio: in his time as DC’s first executive editor then co-publisher, he’s remade a lot of what made the company tick, starting with Identity Crisis, the controversial but best selling mini series that kicked off what we at Stately beat Manor call The Crisis Era. (Infinite Crisis and the misleadingly named Final Crisis would follow). As DC’s spring move to the west coast closes the cover on more than 75 years of comics history, DiDio is revisiting his own 13 years at DC on his FB page, as so many do as the new year starts and the cold wind howls outside…so step inside with us for some cocoa and Dan DiDio’s fireside chat:

She Makes Comics is now available, and here’s an exclusive clip about Friend of Lulu

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She Makes Comics, Marisa Stotter’s documentary about women in comics, is now available. You can download it for $9.99 or pre-order a DVD for $19.99 (It’s $24.99 for both.), all from the Sequart website. The documentary studies the history of women in comics with interviews with Karen Berger, Gail Simone, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jenette Kahn, […]

Reminder: Walt Disney was a sexist Jerk

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Yeah yeah, Walt Disney was a genius and a trailblazer and a visionary…but he was also a racist and a horrible sexist. The letter informing a woman applying for a job at the studio informing her that “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.” has been floating around for years, but recently a newspaper story by Disney biographer Bob Thomas laying out his ideas of women’s capabilities has been unearthed and it’s even worse.

She Makes Comics documentary available for sale on December 9

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This gets a HYPE ALERT rating since I’m in it, but Marisa Stotter’s documentary She Makes Comics will finally be available on December 9th—either as a DVD from Sequart or via digital download. The film was directed by Stotter and produced by Patrick Meaney and Jordan Rennert of Respect! Films, with exec producers Julian Darius […]

Dover Graphic Novel reprint line now available for preorder

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As a kid, Dover Books was just about my favorite publisher, bringing out fine reprints of sheet music, fairy tales, art and all sorts of other goodies (yeah that’s the kind of kid I was.) And they’re still around and now bringing back long OOP graphic novels in a new line. Publishers Weekly had all […]

The unbelievable world of 80s comics sales

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Over the holiday I spotted something pretty eye-popping on Tumblr—this comics sales chart from Amazing Heroes #49, published in 1984 and posted by Sam Humphries.

Your jaw will drop in amazement to see a world where American Flagg!, a daring SF comic by Howard Chaykin outsold Captain America, and Groo outsold Batman, Detective and Green Lantern.

Must read: Todd Klein’s history of lettering

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Todd Klein is the dean of comics lettering in the US, with more awards than he can carry, and a portfolio of logos and classic lettering that would be hard to touch. And he’s put it all together for a seven part series on the history of comics lettering:

Jill Lepore on the secret history of secret women in comics

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Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, talks about how the Amazons origins are tied up with the history of suffrage and birth control and nicely sums up the history of women in comics in a couple of paragraphs:

Things about Denys Cowan: Dewars, Static, Shaft

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I totally stole this from artist/producer Denys Cowan’s FB page, but it’s an interesting little sidenote, Back in the 90s people still read magazines, and liquor companies would purchase full page advertisements in these magazines. Man, history is SO WEIRD, right? Anyway, Dewars scotch ran a series of profiles of debonair achievers attempting to convince you that if you drank their scotch you would also be a debonair achiever. Cowan, then well known for his Batman and Question comics and about to co-found Milestone Media, was a fitting choice but it did seem like a win for comics at the time. This predated the Rob Liefeld Levis commercial, but both are a reminder that cartoonists as media figures is far from a recent phenomenon.

Marvel Teases X-Men ’92, One More day and yet more events of the past

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Let me see, we kind of left off last week’s parade of Marvel event teasers, as it was beginning to get a little same-old, same-old, but here’s one that  got hearts pounding on a Monday morning,  a call back to the 1992 animated show that—along with Batman: The Animated Seris—helped start the whole  of the comics industry. Or […]

On the Scene: Reception at Society of Illustrators for Heroes of the Comics

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by Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson Just before the mad crush of New York Comic Con a crowd of comic book royalty gathered at the Society of Illustrators in Manhattan to hear a stellar panel talk about Heroes of the Comics, Drew Friedman’s wonderful book featuring some of the best and least known artists, publishers and writers who […]

Looking at Marie Duval, Victorian cartoonist

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Who is Marie Duval? While not a household name in comics circles she’s actually one of the most important Victorian cartoonists, artist on Ally Sloper, one of the early cartoon sensations. The tale of a no good lazeabout that ran from 1857 on, it was created by Duval’s husband, Charles Ross, but gained its greatest fame after Duval took over in 1859. The Guardian has a tribute to her.

The secret history of alternative manga

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Manga isn’t all awkward schoolgirls and giant robots. There has long been a very strong alternative and literary thread of manga, and two recent articles give you some perspective on it.

I would call Ryan Holmberg’s Proto-Gekiga: Matsumoto Masahiko’s Komaga a must read, but I have to confess, it is very long and involved, and I have set it aside for weekend reading. BUT the important thing is that he compares and contrasts Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who is kind of credited as the father of “gekiga” or realistic manga, with Matsumoto Masahiko, a figure who appears in Tatsumi’s autobiographical A Drifting Life under another name. Masahiko’s work went down a slightly different path than Tatsumi’s but Holmberg shows that it was equally important:

The secret history of alternative manga

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Manga isn’t all awkward schoolgirls and giant robots. There has long been a very strong alternative and literary thread of manga, and two recent articles give you some perspective on it. I would call Ryan Holmberg’s Proto-Gekiga: Matsumoto Masahiko’s Komaga a must read, but I have to confess, it is very long and involved, and […]

Webcomic Alert: The Utopian City That Wasn’t by Eleri Mai Harris

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Australian cartoonist/journalist Eleri Mai Harris isn’t just an editor at The Nib, Medium’s marvelous comics section, run by Matt Bors. She’s a trained journalist who turned to comics to tell stories and in today’s Nib she has a good one: the story of the abortive designs for Canberra, the capital of Australia. Like a few other planned capital cities—Celebration and Brasilia comes to mind—the structural, utopian approach to city design rarely works out. The story also includes a dandy forgotten woman—Frank Lloyd Wright’s associate Marion Mahony Griffin. So sit back and learn some Australian and architectural history.