August 14, 2015

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Weekend Pattering for August 14, 2015-- Critic Vs. Writer Vs. Artist Vs. Publisher

** So, we write about panels around here.  




** At Rainbow Hub, Logan Dalton interviews DC's Midnighter writer Steve Orlando about his new graphic novel coming from Image VIRGIL.
We are taking those tropes [from other revenge films or comics], traditionally straight masculine tropes (but of course not always), and owning them with a bold gay male character in the lead! The fact that this archetypal story has been around so long is one of the reasons it’s exciting to activate it in a new iteration. That’s the work of folklore and myth, by the way – before print, these myths would evolve through oral tradition. They’re drop what wasn’t pertinent or contemporary, keep the core story, and update the rest. The malleable nature of these stories is what makes them living myth, living folklore. And today, I would argue folklore is pop. So we are taking the core of this story and updating it. We’re showing its resiliency. The revenge narrative is about passion, not gender roles. And we’re using a badass hero like Virgil to prove it.
** Zainab Akthar highlights two upcoming Inio Asano releases, A Girl on the Shore and Goodnight Punpun.

** While we're looking at comics coming in the future, Bleeding Cool checks out 8 comics from Koyama Press.

** Panels.net highlights 5 reasons to buy print comics, not read them which is an interesting distinction. I read a lot of digital comics but I also read a lot of print comics and I appreciate print so much more.  Unlike say a novel on a Kindle, I don't think I've ever gotten lost in a digital comic the same way I can in a print comic.  Maybe it's the transience of the digital comic, a page is there and then it's lost to the ether, that makes digital comics just feel unreal to me.

But it's also the appreciation of the art.  I can read the same comic page physically and digitally and the artwork and the colors connect so much more physically.  There's no luminescence shining through, no backlight that makes the artwork so crisp and sharp (odd criticism, I know.)  A couple of years ago, Jim Rugg looked at the difference between the print and digital copy of Hellboy in Hell #1 and praised the digital edition and I can appreciate on a technical level how superior digital may be.

But aesthetically to me, part of a comic is ink on a piece of paper.  I'm probably just old that way but I can process so much more physically than digitally.  And there's so much good stuff being done in the digital domain of comics.  I don't mean to put any of that down.  There's stuff that I love reading that's only available digitally.

Now get those kids off of my lawn.



** Comicosity points you in the direction of 35 indie titles that are doing right by their LGBTQ audience.  The aforementioned Virgil is on that list but there are a number of good titles on it, even if some of them haven't come out yet.  It's a list that makes you truly hopeful that there is a comic for everyone.  Comics still have a long way to go towards being completely inclusive such as the lack of diversity in the sales leader of the direct market (but wait until next year their editor in chief says.)

** In last weeks's Graphic Nonfiction, Rob M. linked to a comic from Keith Knight about Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life that was published online earlier this year.  Well, even as Rob was doing that, Knight had a new comic up about Prince's 1999.

"I was 15, working as a stockboy..." could almost be the first line of a Prince song.  Let you mind go where it will as it wonders what the next line of that Prince song could be.


** Panel Patter alum Whit Taylor was profiled by Black Girl Nerds.
I didn’t choose comics as a career at first; it was more of a hobby. I had been drawing comics and reading them since I was a kid. I taught myself how to put together minicomics after college and started attending small press festivals, where I learned more about the independent comics scene and started selling my work. I never went to art school (bachelors in anthropology/masters in public health), so I am largely self-taught. So I guess I took the DIY approach and just stuck with it.
** David Harper takes on the perception that artists aren't getting their fair due today. I personally kind of think he buries the true issue here by not getting to how publishers treat artists until late in the piece.
While [Eric Stephenson] wasn’t only speaking of Marvel – other publishers do what he’s talking about – it’s difficult to look at other moves Marvel has made and not think of them first. Beyond double shipping, in their recent All-New All-Different line announcement, Marvel omitted artist names from several titles. That’s problematic in its own right.
Marvel and DC have really done nothing to help anyone other than their "star" talent but they're been particularly weak helping develop and promote their artists.  The system seems set up to de-emphasize the artist thanks to the rigorous shipping demands.  And for how long Marvel was ran by Joe Quesada, he left the company in a position where it was extremely difficult for any artist to have a significant and lengthy run on any title.  Marvel is writer and editorially driven no matter how they try to spin it.  Through Marvel's de-evaluation of the artist over the past 25 years (an argument could be made that this stretches back to the founding of Image,) the perception has become that the writer is the auteur of the comic and the artist is just someone who draws what the writer wants.

Harper gets quotes from David Aja about his and Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run, which I recently reviewed at Trouble With Comics.  Honestly, after looking at all 22 issues, I have a bit of difficulty referring to that as "Fraction and Aja's Hawkeye" when chunks of the story were done with other artists.  Calling it that takes away from the significant portion of the series that Annie Wu drew, which honestly were tighter and better crafted than most of the series.

Even Image Comics, a company founded by the top mainstream artists of the early 1990s, is a writer driven publisher right now.  They do a lot better because their comics are often created by a writer/artist pairing but their current crop of writers are those who really benefitted from the years of Marvel being a writer/editor driven publisher. There's a lot of great artists working at Image and the partnerships that are developing are fascinating to watch but to be honest, it's the names of the writers that drive a lot of that popularity and interest in their comics.  If Saga as written by Howard Mackie, would Fiona Staples have gotten the credit that she deserved?  No, because no one would have looked at that comic because Mackie isn't Brian K. Vaughan. (Sure, it's a cheap shot at Mackie but he also doesn't have the star power behind him that Vaughan does.)

But things are getting better.  We are talking about this and comics have always been visually driven.  The perception issue is more of a problem of the direct market fandom who are used to a production system where the writer, the penciller, the inker, the colorist and the letterer are all different people who have had a steady diet of these kind of comics for decades.  Jeet Heer at the New Republic took a look at the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby partnership.
Although they created thousands of pages of comics together, Kirby and Lee became increasingly hostile to each other in the late 1960s. In interviews and essays, Lee persistently portrayed himself as the sole visionary creator, with artists like Kirby executing his ideas. “Stan Lee and I never collaborated on anything!” Kirby said in a bitter 1990 interview for The Comics Journal, where he noted that he plotted and designed almost all the stories he worked on before dialogue was added by other hands.
The gap between writer and artist goes all the way back to Lee and Kirby with disputes between who does what.  Maybe it's the curse of the Marvel method of creating comics versus the current en vogue style of full scripts that makes it so hard to tell who does what and deserves what credit.  It's almost no different than in movies where the cinematographers probably don't get talked about enough.  There the director is the auteur while everyone else is viewed as his puppets.

I think the basic way of thinking about it is that in many cases, the writer constructs the story but the artist is the one who shapes it.  And even that's probably way to simplistic and reductive.  But when you're reading your comics, you're reading both words and images.  They work together but differently to tell a story.

Of course, as Kieron Gillen pointed out a while ago, it's all about perception and that's what we comic reviewers and critics go off of.  So maybe we should be changing our perceptions.
Point being: since [the writer and artist] attempting to become a faux-cartoonist for the space of the work, ,maybe it could be interesting to treat them as a faux-cartoonist and consider all their work together as a single entity. The closest parallel is bands, the other small groups of impassioned individuals gathered together for a larger purpose whose work – even the work which can be clearly originated by one member of the collective – is best analysed as part of the whole.