Last week here I wrote about the Kickstarter that’s currently running for Unmasked Volume 2. It’s still going strong, so check it out if you haven’t yet.
This week is all about the Meatspace Universe Omnibus Collection on Kickstarter. It’s a video game revenge thriller in a cyberpunk setting written by Josh Gorfain with various artists including Andrew MacLean. This Kickstarter will be funding an ambitious expansion of the Meatspace-Verse including a prequel volume and a sequel volume illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Sean Von Gorman. They currently have a little under three weeks to raise another $12,000 to reach their goal.
I got the chance to chat with Sean and Josh about this Kickstarter the other which you can read below.
JOE: Sean, Josh, what are your elevator pitches for Meatspace Volume 2?
SEAN: Full Body Amputee turned Cyborg fights for Internet fame and sometimes Crime/ Occasional Detective trying to solve the biggest Mystery of all… LOVE.
JOSH: Well, the second volume takes place six months after the first the first volume. Lance has settled into his new life as a celebrity and a member of one of the top guilds in the game of DungeonWorld. We find life catching up with his new girlfriend, Rebecca and we also find out what’s up with The Sentinel…the guardian that Johnny set up to protect his secrets.
JOE: I’m a big Andrew MacLean fan. Apocalyptagirl is one of my favorite stand alone graphic novels. How did Andrew get involved with Josh Gorfain to design such great characters?
JOSH: I was introduced to Andrew through Jamie Gambell (creator of The Hero Code) back in 2011. I knew back then he was destined for greatness.
SEAN: Andrew’s work on the 1st issue is part of what made me fell in love with the project all those years ago. I’m really excited to help bring it back and play in the world he helped to make. And that facial hair, WOOF. You can get lost in there.
JOE: The issues of Meatspace you’ll be illustrating make up the second volume. The first volume was described as a self-contained three issue arc. What does this new volume bring to the table that readers of the first arc need to come back?
JOSH: A bit more world-building; and a big shake up. I always like my stories to go big. I feel disappointed when a comic is just one conversation and a half of a fight. I want important stuff to happen! This volume builds upon Meatspace and the prequel (which I am also doing at the same time) GameSpace (which is also being offered in this Kickstarter. It’s a huge undertaking but it’s all coming together!
JOE: This Kickstarter will also be funding Gamespace, the prequel to Meatspace. Are there big tonal differences between the two? What can readers expect?
JOSH: In GameSpace, we find out where The Sentinel come from and why he’s the way he is. Surprisingly, this has kind of become The Sentinel’s story…sort of like how Star Wars was really Darth Vader’s story despite having Luke as the main character.
SEAN: I for one am super happy to see “Gorfainverse” expand like this. A Shared Comic Universe is something that to my knowledge has not yet been seen in Comics, and I think will change the way we look at the Medium.
JOE: Sean, you’ve been involved in quite a few high profile projects these past few years. As an artist taking on projects like this is very time consuming so I know you pick these projects with care. What about Meatspace appeals to you as an artist?
SEAN: I have been very lucky to get to work on some Amazing stuff in the past few years like the now Eisner Award Winning Love is Love Anthology from DC/IDW. Part of my favorite things about working in comics is when I get to work with friends, and now I am contractually obligated to refer to Josh Gorfain as a friends. Which completes on of my Contractually Obligated calling Josh a Friend. Just 2 more to go then the Court Appointed “Hang Sesh” with ‘ZA,
I like Josh and I like Meatspace. Josh has been working very hard to get this project out to a wider audience and I’m happy to help
JOE: If I could follow up on that question with you, Sean, who’s your favorite character in Meatspace to draw and why?
SEAN: Lance 100% It’s been fun adding my own flavor to a slightly updated design from Andrew’s to show how Lance has grown and where he is now in Vol. 2
JOE: Why is Kickstarter and by extension Phoenix Dreams Publishing the best place to take Meatspace?
JOSH: Noel and the Phoenix Dreams team has believed in Meatspace since day one! Honestly, I was ready to put this behind me when Noel came to me and proposed a second volume and this Omnibus. His confidence in this project has made all this happen!
JOE: Josh, you’re also working with Phoenix Dreams Publishing on a tabletop rpg for the Meatspace-Verse, adding some extra flair to the Kickstarter. Do you know what people might expect if they pledge to be part of the playtest group?
JOSH: An epic story that will have a direct impact on the future of the Meatspace-verse. I know where the (hopefully) next chapter will go and this game will set it up. I’m very excited about this game as it tries to do something that hasn’t really ever been done in gaming (that I can recall) before; and thanks to the old is new RPG system, it’s actually possible
SEAN: I should point out that Josh is really committed to making this project happen. As of this writing he has agreed to literally put his money where his mouth is but adding some REALLY exciting Kickstarter reward involving his body. My favorite Reward being Josh will offer his body up to Science to become a Cyborg like Lance in Meatspace for only $50,000. The Backer would have to provide the Technology and cover Medical Costs to finish the project. Other rewards include Clean Urine from Josh for Job Interview Drug Tests, and his hand in a Green Card Marriage.
JOE: Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to plug?
SEAN: Amy Chu’s Girls Night Out Kickstarter Gold Edition, which will collect the stories that launched Amy’s prolific Career as we’ll as new stories including BATFREAK an ALL NEW story from Me and Amy which I’m excited to see in print. The Kickstarter has a few days left so everyone needs to get on that and kick in some $$$ to expand the Chu Dynasty.
JOE: Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk with me! And all of you reading this please check out their Kickstarter and consider helping them reach their goal to make this omnibus collection of Meatspace possible.
Despite my busy schedule, I don’t want to miss sharing any of the fantastic adventures I’ve been having with you; so first, let’s rewind to San Diego and reminisce about the summer party-party-parties, because they are a staple of SDCC and deserve to be featured. Every year, I try to line up at least a couple of parties each night, because, let’s be frank, I just love a good party. (I also often wish I could be in two places at once so I could go to even more parties. Alas that it’s impossible.) Although occasionally I don’t make it to one I really didn’t want to miss, it’s mostly because I’m having too much fun at another one – a good problem to have!
This year, I missed a few that were totally on my list; but I did manage to hit several super-fun ones…
When you go to a con every year, you sometimes end up with con traditions, which can make the experience even better. On SDCC Wednesdays, my awesome friend Amy and I have turned going to BASIC for pizza and the Gabe Eltaeb Comic Kickoff Fundraiser into our own little tradition. The fundraiser is cool, with artists on hand sketching and neat auction items; the pizza is good and relatively quick to appear (very important after preview night!), and this year, BASIC was a Pokestop, so while we waited for our order we amused ourselves by catching Pokemon (I caught one of the pretty horse ones and named him Ricotta after our pizza). Definitely a good chill hangout start to the con.
Sometimes it’s good to get in the right frame of mind before a night of going out. On Thursdays, the WIRED Café, which runs from 11am to 7pm, is a good place for that. The downside is that it’s usually a bit of a wait to get in – to the point where last year I took a look at the wait and opted for other choices. But this year I stuck out the line, which was moving at a decent clip, and went on in. The WIRED Café was a fun combo of food and drinks, a DJ and little dance floor, and nifty interactive tech toys (plus a handy phone charging station). The gadgets you could play with included a VR Mars walk experience, and a Sphero BB-8that could be controlled by head movements. They also had some really good specialty sno-cone drinks. (And if you got a marked coaster you won a shirt. I won on the first drink!) All-in-all it was fun, although I’d definitely weigh the wait against other stuff you might want to see on Thursday.
Once the day was properly in evening party mode, I hit up the Scholastic Party, which was celebrating a number of its newest Graphix publications on the Hotel Palomar pool deck. The pool deck had a nice setupand the party had neat features (along with welcome food and drinks) like a hefty swag bag and free Day of the Dead-style face painting. Well, I can’t resist free face painting, so of course off I went to get a super-cool design on my face (and then had to figure out how to eat and drink without messing it all up!). There were also several great guests there, like the super-nice Greg Grunberg (who told me I should never wash my face again, because the face paint was so cool), Dustin Nguyen, and Kate Beaton. I also ran into other fun folks there, like Sanford Greene, Simon Fraser, Edie Nugent, Patrick Reed, Amy Chu, and Batton Lash. Altogether it was a great party.
After it wound down ComicMix editor Adriane Nash and I hit up the NVE & Nylon Magazine After-Con Party. Celebrating the Women of Wonder, at Omnia. This was a full-fledged club party, with lots of celebs wandering around, and a fun time was had by all. The face paint was a big hit, and we chatted with everyone from Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl’s James Olsen, who was really happy to hear that Adriane liked what he’s doing with the character) to Teen Wolf’s Cody Christian (what a sweet guy). We also spotted others from the Teen Wolf cast, DJ Qualls, and Casper Van Dien – and I’m sure there were a ton of folks we literally rubbed elbows with, even if we didn’t realize it. It was packed! The party also featured Kristian Nairn from Game of Thrones as a DJ, with a surprise visit from DMX later in the evening; and a video booth where you and friends could take slow-mo “superhero” videos together with props. Closing that party down was a solid end to the night.
Friday night I somehow managed to fit three parties in (harder than it sounds!). I started out with the excellent Starz American Gods and Ash vs. Evil Dead cocktail party on the rooftop at Rustic Root, which I wrote about in detail in my American Godscolumn. This party had a themed drink, cool swag bags, and lots of American Gods and Ash folks, as can be seen here. Definitely a good time.
When that party wrapped, I hightailed it over to the SherlockeDCC party at the San Diego Central Library, organized by the Baker Street Babes, Sherlock DC, and NerdOut. This party featured themed drinks, vendors, a raffle of Sherlockian items, and an appearance by Steven and Louis Moffat. Every year I enjoy this party, where I always run into friends like fellow DC-area fan Lacy, and the esteemed Sherlockian Les Klinger. This year I was also extremely delighted to catch up, at least for a little while, with my North American Discworld Convention co-founder Anna, who I hadn’t seen in years, and who was, as always, decked out in the best costume; and our fellow NADWCon friend Shari. Love those ladies!
Although I hated to leave SherlockeDCC, I didn’t want to miss Nickelodeon’s Marc Summers & Double Dare Party at Fluxx. And that was a good choice, because it was epic amounts of fun. I wrote all about it in my Nickelodeon column, but to recap: they had Actual Marc Summers (who did not miss a beat the whole time) running an Actual Game of Double Dare on the dance floor at a hip nightclub, and the Red Team and Blue Team were comprised of Actual Nickelodeon People, including TMNT’s Mikey, voice actor Greg Cipes. Not to mention they provided us hungry con-goers with the best tiny diner food (burgers, fries, shakes, etc.). And that cool cats like TMNT’s Ciro Nieli and Eric Bauza were on hand to chill with. And that at the end of the night, they cleared the dance floor of all the cool Double Dare stuff (like the giant hamster wheel) and we all danced our hearts out to ‘90s music. Like I said, epic.
Oh man. There were lots of cool-sounding parties on Saturday – including the HBO party, which fellow ComicMixers attended. But being totally honest here, by that point I was wiped. So instead of partying hard, I went out and had a niiiiice, relaaaaxing dinner with friends, followed by very chill drinks with other friends. And that? Totally rocked too. Woo!
Well that pretty much wraps up my SDCC experiences, although there are even more photos from the parties and the con floor in my SDCC photo collection. So check that out!
And now, on to the…
UK Discworld Convention
Going to the UK Discworld Con was something I looked forward to, but it was also tough – being the first Discworld event I’ve attended since Terry Pratchett passed away last year. I admit I still expected to see him around every corner, chatting with a fan or having a drink at the pub. And I admit that I needed a little more downtime than I usually do at cons, to deal with Terry not being there. But I’m so, so glad I went – both because the con featured many events that honored and memorialized Terry, and because it was really nice to reconnect with my many Discworld friends, and even make some new ones. One of the best parts of Discworld Cons is hanging out at the pub with your friends, and I was happy to be able to spend time with the likes of guests Rob Wilkins, Colin Smythe, Bernard Pearson, Reb Voyce, Ian Mitchell, Ian Stewart, Stephen Briggs, and Daniel Knight, and panelists Diane Duane, Peter Morwood, and David Bradshaw; as well as with my many fantastic convention friends. Discworld Cons are such a wonderful thing, and after going to the UK Con, I’m even happier that I’m involved in running the next North American Discworld Convention, which is happening next Labor Day weekend in New Orleans.
The con started with an opening ceremony in which The Hat was brought to the main stage, where it remained for the rest of the con. Among the most important panels were the programs that honored Terry. In one, selected clips from the memorial that was held for Terry last April were shown; including one of Good Omens co-writer Neil Gaiman reading from his intro to A Slip of the Keyboard; which is still one of the best summations of Terry that I’ve read. In another, Terry’s good friend Bernard Pearson of the Discworld Emporium told wonderful stories (as is his wont) of times he and Terry spent together (including that time they went in search of a specific type of pub urinal. No really). And then there was a good conversation between Terry’s longtime PA and business manager Rob Wilkins, and Discworld audiobook voice, playwright, and reference book collaborator Stephen Briggs, about their many recollections of Terry. And, of course, the tradition of the Bedtime Stories was continued; and although there will sadly be no more books, Rob read us all a bit of what could have been another story, had there been more time.
It wasn’t all about looking back, though. Although in documentarian Charlie Russell’s panel it was absolutely fascinating to hear him discuss with Rob Wilkins the previous three documentaries he made about and with Terry, he also talked about the new documentary he is doing with the BBC – about Terry’s legacy and the fandom, some of whom he interviewed while at the con. And although Terry’s independent production company Narrativia no longer has Terry to guide it, in the Narrativia Klatch we heard from two of its members, Rod Brown and Rob Wilkins (Rhianna Pratchett being the third), about exciting upcoming projects like The Wee Free Men, which is being adapted for the big screen by Rhianna Pratchett and developed with The Jim Henson Company; Good Omens, which is being adapted for TV by Neil Gaiman; and The Watch TV series, which is also currently in development. And in the field of amateur adaptations, convention attendees put on a very cool musical version of Witches Abroad that was enjoyed by all. All-in-all, it was a wonderful con; and you can check out my photos of it here, before we move on to…
Everyone who’s gone to a fandom con knows that they are wonderful but tiring. So of course, what better idea could I have possibly come up with than to go to two in a row? Sounds a little crazy, right? But given the UK Discworld Con and Dragon Con were just one weekend apart, I was left with no choice but to do it. (It’s a hard-knock life, for me.) And despite my jet lag, Dragon Con was as always, a total blast. I love this con for the wide variety of fandom tracks, the Walk of Fame, and the excellent level of organization involved in what can be an overwhelming con. And, of course, because it is the one and only Nerdi Gras – a great place to party with your nerd and geek friends.
This year, not only did I get in some great interviews (with Jim Butcher, Christy Carlson Romano, and Brian Henson, coming soon!) but I also managed to make it to some fantastic panels, and to discover my new obsession – puppeteering. Why puppeteering? It started with attending Brian Henson’s Evolution of Puppetry. This panel was absolutely fascinating, as Jim Henson’s son went through the history of the Jim Henson Company, showing clips of how Kermit and the Muppets developed over the years; and also demonstrated the Henson method of puppetry live using an on-stage camera and the video screens so that we could see both what he was doing, and how it would look on-screen. Seeing the magic behind the puppets firsthand was amazing. Then, thanks to roomie Cleolinda, I learned that there was a panel featuring the puppetry of adorable Star Wars droid BB-8. Well, of course we had to go to that! As it turned out, it was the very first Dragon Con of BB-8 puppeteers Dave Chapman and Brian Herring – and they were clearly having a blast as they showed us behind-the-scenes footage of their work, and discussed the six different versions of BB-8 and what it was like shooting on location. By the end of these panels, I had determined that I must learn more about puppetry – hopefully at future cons!
Another great set of panels were the Gotham panels. I made it to two, along with meeting several of the cast, and found them all delightful. The panels were both enlightening and entertaining (the best mix) and it seemed the Gotham cast was thoroughly enjoying the con. For such a dark show, the cast is very warm and funny; and one favorite moment from the panels was when Chris Chalk (Lucius Fox) joked that the reason Wayne Manor has such terrible security, with outsiders seemingly just appearing in various rooms all the time (I had noticed that!), is that Bruce gave Fox a key, Fox made copies, and now everyone in Gotham has one. Well – it’s as good an explanation as any! I also sympathized with Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz when they joked about how happy they were that in the new season we’d see more of Wayne Manor, because it meant they could finally get out of the library! (“We eat there…we sleep there…we never leave!”) And Drew Powell – well, pretty much everything he said was funny. That dude’s a riot!
The last panel I made it to was the Gillian Anderson panel, which was a great Q&A that ranged from X-Files to Hannibal and more. I hadn’t seen Gillian Anderson on a panel before, but it was clear that she’s got a broad intellect and a sly sense of humor – very fun to listen to. Alas, I did not get to meet her, but I did get to meet a lot of great guests on the Walk of Fame this year. Some favorites were the aforementioned Gotham cast members, who were great to chat with, along with Robin Lord Taylor, who was alas only at the Con for a limited time. Other great guests I chatted with included the BB-8 puppeteers (such cool guys!), Charlie Cox (I had to get a signed pic of Matt Murdock in lawyer mode, don’tchya know), Bob Bergen (voice actors are always so interesting), Richard Horvitz, Rikki Simons (a fellow Pratchett fan!), Nolan North (Deadpool!), Will Friedle (also Deadpool! As well as Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible, of course), Bill Corbett, Dana Snyder, and oh, so many more. And that’s not even counting the other guests, authors and Artist Alley folks I got to hang out with, including fab friends Esther Friesner, Alethea Kontis, Ken Plume, Aaron Fever, Joseph Scrimshaw, Molly Lewis, Dexter Vines, Sanford Greene, Georges Jeanty, Daniel Govar, Tony Moy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Josh Greathouse. And I also met Baymax! (Scott Adsit.) And Gareth David Lloyd! (Ianto Jones on Torchwood.) And And, and, and…oh, I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton of fun people I saw and things I did, but, well – that’s Dragon Con! It’s big, and crazy, and a bit overwhelming; and in the end, you look back and it might just be a bit of a blur – but it’s a fun blur, nonetheless!
I took tons of pictures at Dragon Con, which you can see here. And then, stay tuned for the aforementioned Dragon Con interviews, and Servo Lectio!
I was out with some friends for brunch this past weekend. Brunch is a standard weekend event in the NYC area now, and it seems like a month rarely passes where I don’t have brunch plans on the horizon. The unannounced purpose of this brunch was to get to know a friend’s new girlfriend. So of course, I bring up comics as a get to know you topic. (Brunch tip: One always needs go-to conversation topics for brunch outings.)
She gave me a sad, but not surprising answer to my query. She said as a child, she found comics disappointing because there were no female writers creating stories and the female characters, dressed in very revealing costumes, didn’t represent her at that point in her life. This exact argument should be familiar to anyone who has read almost any article about women or minorities in comics, ever.
Of course, I immediately began rattling off graphic novels with female creators, important social topics, or just amazing storytelling. Afterwards, when I was on my way home, I realized that I keep this running list of graphic novels to recommend to people who specifically complain about lack of diversity in comics. A list for those people who can only think of Gail Simone when you quiz them about women in comics. Gail is great, but there are so many other women in comics; in part because of all that she has done.
Now I suspect the people I’m talking about aren’t regular readers of ComicMix. Frankly, if you tune in here on a daily basis, we’ve totally sold you on diversity in comics. Yay us! But now comes the hard part. Teaching others that yes, there is growing diversity in comic creators! Right now is the potential for a boom of diverse creators in comics. As the political climate affects change, fans are becoming more focused than ever on who are the storytellers. However, just because it is getting better doesn’t mean it’s a solved problem but we can make it better through our voices and our wallets.
With our dollars, we can continue the trend of well-rounded and well-dressed that is building thanks to Batgirl, Faith, and Ms. Marvel. We can encourage female creators like Amy Chu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jennifer Hayden, Amy Reeder, Gail Simone, Mags Visaggo, or the many more that I’ve run out of space for.
So the next time you are in a crowd (or out to brunch), ask the question about comics. See who says comics don’t represent them and then show them that they can. Encourage reading comics written by diverse creators and together, we can show publishers that diversity matters.
DC’s Rebirth is now in full swing. Last week I wrote a response to one aspect of DC Rebirth #1. Later that week, I picked up Batman, Superman, and Green Arrow Rebirth (sorry Green Lanterns Rebirth). I read them. They ranged from awkward to interesting with Green Arrow, to me, being the most solid of those three. There was something not sitting right with me as I read these issues though, and it wasn’t in regards to the story or the art in the comics but in the credits and advertising.
Every one of those comics, including Green Lanterns Rebirth which I haven’t picked up yet, features exclusively male creators. Every. Single. One. In the middle of the books themselves they all advertise four more upcoming comics for Rebirth: Action Comics, New Super-Man, Superwoman, and Supergirl. All of which are exclusively male creator teams. Finally, in the back of each issue they advertise for more Rebirth comics including Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Titans. All of which, again, are exclusively male creator teams. That is a total of twelve ongoings as well as the DC Rebirth one-shot with not one female creator. Not one.
That’s not to say that they won’t be having women on any of their titles (though I wish they’d advertise that). Amanda Connor will continue to co-write Harley Quinn, Hope Larson will be on Batgirl, and the entire creative team on Batgirl and the Birds of Prey are women. Emanuela Lupacchino and Nicola Scott appear to be bouncing around some titles as well as they have been during The New 52. That leaves one title with an all women creative team compared to the 24 titles that have all male creative teams, and that number could easily go up as some creative teams have not been fully announced. That’s a large disparity that’s hard to ignore, but an even larger problem needs to be addressed as well.
The titles that do have women on their creative teams whether it’s initially or later in the runs are Harley Quinn, Superwoman, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and Wonder Women with Superwoman and Wonder Woman being male only until later in their runs. You seeing a pattern here? The women freelancers on creative teams have all been allocated to books that are either solo women superhero titles or to the only all women superhero team being published there. That’s it. No exceptions, as of yet.
Whether it’s intentional or not, women freelancers have been segregated to the books about women. Meanwhile, men are tackling comics with men, women, or teams that have a mix of both. Assuming none of this is intentional means having to acknowledge that a deeper systemic problem exists.
Part of this problem is that going from individual comic to individual comic, it isn’t inherently a problem. For example, I’m looking forward to Steve Orlando on Supergirl.
There is no inherent problem with men writing or drawing women. None whatsoever. The problem comes when men are so much more likely to be hired in the first place, to be writing and drawing both men and women, and for women to only be given the opportunity to tackle female protagonists and not even given a chance to write or illustrate a team with both men and women. The only team they get is the all-women’s team.
To be fair, DC Comics does seem to have an idea that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. In their pilot program for the DC Writer Development Workshop, six of the eleven participants were women. That’s a good sign. They also have their line that’s directed specifically to young girls, DC Superhero Girls, which again is very encouraging. And lastly, they do have women involved in other areas of the company. Editors, Colorists, and more. Still, the male to female ratio is not ideal, but at least some books have women giving input to all male creative teams at DC.
What’s discouraging is how, before The New 52, women made up roughly 12% of DC freelancers, but once it was launched made up 1%. As they got those numbers up over the course of The New 52 with talent like Nicola Scott, Emanuela Lupacchino, Marguerite Bennett, Ann Nocenti, Amy Chu, Babs Tarr, Meredith Finch, and more, the recent relaunch has dropped the number of female freelancers back down to roughly 4%. It’s 2016, it shouldn’t be like this. We shouldn’t be starting relaunches of books to reach new audiences by having a straighter whiter more male cast of characters than we did a few months or so prior with creative teams that more reflect that dynamic. It’s not going to bring in new readers. Perhaps it won’t alienate large swaths the old readers, but the fact that this is a reboot in a fashion will.
With the impending DC Talent Workshop participants being announced this summer, DC’s recent tendency to diversify as they get farther from their reboots, and rumors of shake ups occurring in the not too distant future, DC Comics may give us some hope soon.
The other day at a comic shop I saw a flier for the upcoming Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #1. It was advertised having writer Kate Leth and artist Brittney Williams attached. I think it’s great that the two of them are on this book, as I enjoy the work they’ve put out over at BOOM! Studios. However, it did start getting me thinking about the direction the comic industry is going. A direction that it may not want to go in.
We’ve seen the big two added more books with a woman lead. This has been great. A lot of them have at least one woman creator attached as well. We should absolutely be thrilled by that and support those efforts.
Just off the top of my head I can think of Amy Reeder on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Kelly Sue Deconnick’s recent Captain Marvel run, G. Willow Wilson and and Sana Amanat’s work on the new Ms. Marvel, Marguerite Bennett on the all woman’s Avengers team titled A-Force, and of course Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! just at Marvel.
Over at DC we have Amanda Conner on Harley Quinn, Amy Chu on Poison Ivy, Ann Nocenti followed up by Genevieve Valentine on Catwoman, Gail Simone followed up by Babs Tarr on Batgirl, Meredith Finch on Wonder Woman, Annie Wu on Black Canary, Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage on DC Bombshells and Emanuela Lupacchino on Starfire.
That’s a pretty hefty list for right off the top of my head, and I could have even missed one or two. We should be proud of the comic industry for having more women being involved in the creative process. However, you’ll also see the problem I was getting at before. All of the women creators are working on comics starring women… and not much else.
Just to be clear, I am not at all speaking on behalf of any of the creators listed, or making any judgments on the work they choose to do. I think they’ve been doing incredible work, and I’ve picked up most of the mentioned titles that are currently available. My concern lies with the pattern of the big two pairing up women on women lead books while not doing that with books that have a man in the lead.
It’s very possible that some of these instances they asked creators the characters they wanted to work with and these are the results we have. I highly doubt that was every single instance. We have had a long history of men, particularly straight cis white men, writing women in comics. Many of which have been great. I thoroughly enjoyed Charles Soule on She-Hulk and Brian Azzarello on Wonder Woman. However, I’m starting to get concerned that we’re moving more towards compartmentalizing creative teams, and that’s not a good thing.
How many women can you name who’ve worked on Batman? Sure, you might have thought Devin Grayson right off the bat. You’ll probably be racking your brain for a while after that though. Becky Cloonan did a fill in issue on Scott Snyder’s run a few years ago. And yes, Genevieve Valentine is currently one of the eight writers on Batman and Robin Eternal, the other seven being men. We haven’t had a woman creator have a lengthy run on either Batman or Detective Comics. Mostly fill-ins.
Okay, how about Superman? Louise Simonson had a huge impact on the character. She was integral to the Death of Superman storyline, and she created Steel. You’re gonna need to think real long and hard to come up with too many more names than that. Sure, Ramona Fradon did many of the Super Friends comics, but that’s most of it. Justice League comics are even more male dominated. As are The Flash, Green Lantern, and so forth. Ramona did work plenty on Aquaman and Plastic Man, but we did already mention her.
How about over at Marvel? Let’s start with Spider-Man. Sara Pichelli did co-create Miles Morales with Bendis, but beyond that there isn’t much else. Louise Simonson did some work on Spider-man as well, but I did already mention her with Superman. And those examples aren’t exactly examples of long runs on Amazing Spider-Man or even Spectacular Spider-man.
And the X-Men? Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti did a lot of work in the X-Universe, but again, both of them have already been mentioned for other contributions. I can also add Majorie Liu for her work on Astonishing X-Men, but you get the idea.
Again, to clarify, I am not knocking or belittling any of the contributions these creators have made. I admire the work they have all done and continue to do. I’m highlighting all of this to make the point that this is still a very male dominated industry, that women have not had all the same opportunities over the years as men whether it was deliberate or not, and that this should change. I also understand that the comic book industry is small. Smaller than I think we realize sometimes. Even still, this situation could be better.
I’m not asking for Superman to spin the earth backwards in time and fire the DC editorial teams of yesterday and replace them all with women. I’m not asking for Kitty Pryde to project herself back in time to do the same thing at Marvel. The past is the past. It was a different time, and there is very little we can do just dwelling on that. What we do have to do is acknowledge the past and understand it as we move forward.
I think Scott Snyder is doing great things with Batman, but maybe when he’s done with the title Genevieve Valentine or Amy Chu might have some great ideas of where to take him next. After seeing the kind of work that Amy Reeder has done on her title Rocket Girl with Image, maybe she’s got a great run for someone like Iron Man that she could be working on. Maybe the next big Superman creator will be a woman none of us have heard of yet.
I believe the best stories are yet to come. Many of the popular comic characters are decades old and have mostly been handled by male creators. One way to revitalize these decades old characters would be to get creators with different perspectives.
As a queer man have enjoyed a great deal of comics that involve exclusively straight characters. People from all backgrounds enjoy all sorts of stories. Someone with a different background could help flesh out other characters in these stories as well. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and many others have both men and women in their stories, and people from all walks of life.
It’s not only important to have representation in the main character or characters, but characters off to the sides and in the backgrounds as well. More women tackling comics like those I mentioned could be a way to help revitalize these titles, and hope it’s something that’s being considered.
I’ve said before that, despite liking to attend all flavors of fandom and comics conventions, including (clearly) the media guest-focused cons, I really love Baltimore Comic Con because it has stayed so focused on comics and comics creators. I’m happy to report that this has not changed.
I had a great time in Baltimore this year, doing some of the things that make me happiest at comic cons, like walking the exhibit hall and wandering Artist Alley to see what new things old friends are up to, meet folks whose work I know but whom I’ve never chatted with, and flip through the work of creators I haven’t ever encountered before. Amongst the fun things I discovered were this nifty accordion-style comic by Christa Cassano and Dean Haspiel; a gorgeous limited edition coloring book by Charles Vess, whose work I’ve loved for a long time but who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting before; some great art and collaborations by Tony Moy and Nen (I want Tony’s Vitruvian Totoro woodblock print so much!); these excellent interlocking covers for Amazing Spider-Man #17 and Spider-Gwen #3 by Mike McKone, which I hadn’t previously seen; some new pieces from Francesco Francavilla, whose work I never tire of; and this print of Poison Ivy by Tom Raney.
I also enjoyed watching the always-talented Barry Kitson work as he completed a striking She-Hulk commission; getting to know writer Amy Chu; running into longtime friend and artist Kevin Stokes, who I didn’t even know was going to be at the show; and catching up with other great talents like Cully Hamner and Clayton Henry. And of course it’s always great to hang out with my fellow ComicMixers, and this year I was delighted to finally get to chat in person with John Ostrander, whose work and columns I always enjoy. Good times!
I also really enjoyed another staple favorite of my BCC experience, The Harvey Awards, hosted this year by the heartfelt and engaging Vivek Tiwary, creator of The Fifth Beatle (a signed copy of which we received in our swag bags along with many other great selections, yay!). It’s always a pleasure to attend and see the industry honoring its creators (and shout-out to Mark Wheatley for his Harvey’s art and work on the media presentation for the ceremony); and of course the afterparty ain’t bad, either! It was fun to sit next to first-time Harvey winner Chad Lambert and experience his reaction to winning, to chat with BCC Guest of Honor Mark Waid (and covet his awesome Legion ring), and afterwards, to nerd out with Vivek, catch up with the likes of the super-nice Thom Zahler, hear some great industry stories via Dirk Wood and Paul Storrie, chill with fellow comics journalists like Heidi MacDonald; see Charlie Kochman’s historic Jules Feiffer button live and in person; and more. So glad I could make it, and congratulations to all of theaward-winners this year!
Despite enjoying the focus on comics guests, I was still excited to see Baltimore hosting very quality media guests – i.e. Paul Blackthorne, Katie Cassidy, Ming-Na Wen, Edward James Olmos, and Raphael Sbarge. It was cool to see them at the show, and the panels were very entertaining. I hope they had a great time at the con, too, and decide to come back again!
And until then (or next week!), I hope everyone who was at Baltimore Comic Con with me can catch up on some rest (I know I need it); and Servo Lectio!
From the sublime to the ridiculous. Except I did it backwards.
Last week, as you no doubt recall, I wrote about New York Comic-Con, one of the biggest pop culture shows in the country. This week, I’d like to write about one of the smallest.
But first, some background and some sociological theory.
New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate, and New York City has only a limited supply. Living in the right neighborhood, working in the right neighborhood, partying in the right neighborhood – for a certain class of people who live in this city, these are vital pieces of their identity.
Nothing stays the right neighborhood forever.
When I moved to New York in the late 1970s, rich people lived on the Upper East Side. Today, you can rent or buy an apartment in some of those buildings for less than it costs to buy the same space in certain parts of Brooklyn. President Bill Clinton bases his foundation in Harlem. Places where my mother wouldn’t let me walk by myself because they were too disgusting are now so expensive I couldn’t afford them.
Over the years, people in the real estate business have tried to figure out what makes a neighborhood happen. To over-simplify, you need artists and gay people. Artists seek out inexpensive space for their studios, and then rich people who buy art want to hang out with artists. Gay people (according to the stereotype) value their homes and invest, bringing with them cute shops and restaurants. In the time since I’ve moved here, I’ve seen this happen in SoHo, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, Park Slope and the western part of Bleecker Street. At least.
There was a time when Eighth Street was the coolest address in the world. It saw the birth of the Beats, the folk music scene, the hippie flower-power leather sandal set. Because it was so cool, everyone wanted to be there. Landlords jacked up the rents, and the hippies couldn’t afford it anymore. Soon, it was nothing buy tacky shoe stores. There were so many that real estate developers referred to a phenomenon known as the Eight Street Effect, in which once there is a certain saturation of shoe stores, a crash will occur.
Landlords don’t like this.
Sometimes, they take their money and go play in another sandbox, in another part of town. Sometimes, they take the long view and invest in the properties they have.
What does this have to do with comics?
This: The Crazy 8 Cartoon Festival, which was held last Saturday, October 18, on Eighth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue.
Go ahead. Look at the link. You’ll see that stores all across the street were hosting events of interest to pop culture fans, from tattoos (for $8!) to vintage animation to comic book artists.
I got there kind of late, around four, because I had been to a art studio crawl in Gowanus, Brooklyn, earlier that day (see how-to-gentrify, above). There were a bunch of people dressed as zombies on the street, looking less like The Walking Dead than Shaun of the Dead.
In the back of the Marlton Hotel, there were a few comic book creators showing their wares. Among them was Amy Chu, whom I had tried to see at NYCC but wasn’t able to get close enough to her table, and Sean Von Gorman, whose work amuses me greatly. Not only could one actually have a conversation with these fine folks and others, but there was a bar in the hotel, and free snacks and free punch provided by WhistlePig, a whiskey company.
Unlike a normal comic book convention, this one attracted people who knew nothing whatsoever about comic books. Hotel guests would mosey back to see what was going on, and, at least while I was there, often bought something.
I’ve read about other really small shows, in libraries or in college dorms. I don’t know how this compared to them. Like them, I suppose, it was quiet and friendly. No one was harassed about what she was wearing. No one got into a loud argument about anything. It was incredibly friendly and pleasant.