November 27, 2015

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Weekend Pattering for November 27th, 2015-- Redefining the Mainstream

** We here at Panel Patter hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a fun Black Friday (if that's your thing.)

** The panels that were worth pattering about this week.

** Diversity Is Reality, Mainstream Comics Needs to Catch Up: Interview with Spike Trotman (Women Write About Comics)- There's a lot of talk about mainstream and superhero comics going on so having O'Malley's tweet and WWAC's Spike Trotman interview cross over into may various feeds this morning was an interesting confluence of events.
The readership of comics is changing, regardless of what [The Big Two] do. They’re just exercising good judgement by trying to change with it. It’s not unusual for the small press and underground to lead the charge when it comes to subject matter, but there’s more than a diversification of genres going on right now; there’s a diversification of the audience. There are so many more types of readers and readers that aren’t afraid to ask to see themselves in the books they buy and read. It’s no longer socially acceptable to ignore them or a financially sound idea.
O'Malley's tweet is more about breaking into the comic business, which is something in a later tweet he says he never did, which feels like an odd thing to say for someone who had a movie made based on his most popular comic book.

This segmentation of comics is something that I hoped we would have been done with by 2015 but it'll probably never really end.  And part of it is that I don't think people want it to end.  There's this us-versus-them mentality that people cling to in almost every type of fandom and then spills into the creative cultures as well.   I wish that this division of "mainstream" and whatever we're calling its opposite today ("Indie?" "Alt?" "Art comix?") was just done and over with.

My personal view is that I want to embrace a new mainstream and actually I think that's happening more than these creators recognize.  Image Comics (which O'Malley has a book coming out from sometime in the future) is defining a new mainstream but it's also Archie's attempt at revitalizing their characters.  It's Boom Studios embracing the Nickelodeonization of comics and storytelling.  It's Dark Horse and Oni Press, even as their trying to find their own intellectual property to develop and exploit, giving creators a chance at doing something different.

There's a lot of good comics out there coming from so many different sources.  While DC and Marvel are the main focus of the direct market road of comics, they do not define the mainstream of comics anymore.  If anything, like Trotman says in the interview, they're reacting to the mainstream as they try to stay relevant to the developed and growing audience that's so different than what their core has been for ages.  As we continue this us versus them mentality, let's remember that the "us" in this is actually winning at this point in time.  Marvel and DC are noticing and reacting.


** Jillian Tamaki's Early Stories continues with Part 2.

**“I Had Moments Where I Just Broke Down Crying’: An Interview with Bill Griffith (The Comics Journal)- This interview/transcript of a Bill Griffith panel at this year's SPX is enlightening.  I've never really read much Zippy the Pinhead but his new book Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair about his mother and her affair with a forgotten cartoonist sounds fascinating.
Lariar wrote three cartooning books. His approach to cartooning was the same as his approach to everything: Make a buck, do what they want, get it out there, don’t be too arty about it. In the book I imagine if he had indeed mentored me, as he suggested – by the way, I know this from my mother’s novel. My mother wrote a 84-page novel about a family saga, going back to her parents, into her life, all the way up into the late 1960s. I’m the only character in the family not in the book, which I wonder about. I’m kind of grateful [muted laughter]. My sister comes off a little bit complicated.

** The Revolution Will Be Illustrated: Two SF Graphic Novels Whose Politics Are Most Relevant Than Ever (Barnes and Noble)-- The headline may be a bit a slight bit hyperbolic as B&N tries to make the call that Invisible Republic and The Omega Men are the political comics that we need right now.  
Today, terrorism and revolution permeate our world, from the Middle East, to Europe, to homegrown terrorists in America. Two current comic series, The Omega Men, by Tom King and artists Barnaby Bagenda and José Marzán, Jr.; and Invisible Republic, by Corinne Bechko and Gabrial Hardman, focus on terrorism and revolutions in the far future, but they have much to say about what’s happening today.
Both of these comics hint at what the author is trying to get at in this ultimately promotional piece so it'll be interesting to see where these comics end up and whether they live up to the idea that they have "much to say about what's happening today."


** HATKE, STURM, KNISLEY, YANG (ICV2)-- ICV2 highlights First Second's spring/summer lineup of books.  I'm particularly looking forward to Knisley's new book.