April 1, 2016

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Weekend Pattering for April 1st, 2016-- Disappearing Voices

** Don’t Be a Dick: Tips and Tricks for How to Talk About Comics (Comics & Cola)-- Kim O'Connor's piece at Zainab Akhtar's site speaks to the ugliness of fandom currently.  Part of me wants to think that this an isolated incident but I know that it's now and that there are elements out there that for some reason want to protect the things they love so dearly, whether it's as simple as Superman and  Iron Man or as complicated at an opposing view of an artist like Adrian Tomine.
Personal attacks, I hope we all agree, are shitty and unfair. Conveniently for dicks, all negative assessments of their behavior or work are classed as personal attacks. This provides two key benefits: (1) there’s no need to take the negative assessment seriously, since it’s supposedly shitty and unfair, and (2) it’s totally fine to respond with an honest-to-goodness personal attack because, hey, “they started it.” And so we have this weird intractable problem in comics culture where all the dicks are taking everything personally, but also nothing personally, often while doubling down on whatever behavior it was that they were being criticized for in the first place.
After that piece ran, Akhtar announced that at the end of April she was going to shut down the excellent Comics & Cola.

Akhtar has been a welcomed voice in comics for the past number of years.  Her writing comes not from a place of fandom but from an actual view of the comics as something other than a lifelong immersion in them.  She wrote about comics and cartoonists that otherwise wouldn't have gotten much exposure, at least not to an American artist.  Her unique perspective as British and Muslim gives her a much needed voice in the world of comics criticism.
Part of me hopes that this is just an elaborate April Fools joke and that Akhtar has a big April 1st post going up where she just hammers away at the people who couldn't see past their own bigotry when they read her stuff.  I'll really miss her writing.  Hopefully this isn't "goodbye," but "see you later."

But I also hope that she's happy and safe with this decision.  Seeing her tweets and her talking about her experiences makes me angry and disappointed that we would and could subject anyone to any kind of abuse due to their race, their religion, and (even though it doesn't seem relevant to Akhtar's decision) their gender.  I couldn't imagine trying to live with that when all I wanted to do was write about words and pictures and I can't imagine anyone else putting up with that kind of abuse.

We need to be better but I'm starting to wonder if we can be.



** Michelle Phan Takes on New Digital Category (Women's Wear Daily)-- This is actually a collision of my day job and my hobby.  Phan is one of the highest profile Youtube beauty/makeup vloggers and now she's creating her own webcomic, Helios: Femina.

The down-scroll format of the comic is fascinating and the way the "panels" of the story blend together and transition from one to the next offers a different take on the way that we can produce and read comics.


** You Should Know: Tom Scioli (Pittsburgh Magazine)--Looking at what's spread around his desk, I want Tom Scioli's comic book collection.
Are there any specific comics you look at when you’re short on inspiration? Anything by Frank Miller is good for inspiration. “Elektra Lives Again” is one I was looking at recently. Lots of innovative images and layouts. Dazzling architectural perspective. Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Weapon X” is another one. Hal Foster’s “Prince Valiant” is good for getting in the right frame of mind for detail. I like to surround myself with comics as part of my process, keep piles of them within reach.
Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe is ending shortly with its 13th issue.  This has been one of the best comics of the past couple of years but it will be exciting to see what Scioli does next.

** Howard Chaykin Speaks (Tripwire)-- My love for Howard Chaykin comics knows no bounds but interviews with Chaykin come in as a close second in my heart.
Time Squared (I can’t get that little 2 up there…), as noted above, is my favourite work –and a commercial disaster from word one. Everybody – and by everybody, I mean the very few people who actually bought the book – hated it. Years later, critical opinion did a complete 180, but by then, the world had moved on.
And for the record, while I haven't always understood Times 2, it's probably one of my all-time favorite comics. Chaykin's artwork with Steve Oliff's coloring are wonderfully sublime and musical.

** This Noir Life: A Retrospective of the Brubaker/Phillips Partnership (Sktchd)-- David Harper has a fairly complete retrospective on the prosperous partnership of Brubaker and Phillips, with additional commentary by Brubaker.
While this book found Phillips taking his art in a lot of interesting directions – the culminating chapter of the series found him goingvery outside the box with some brutally effective layout decisions, and he even worked in some fascinating style shifts – Fatale may be most notable (art wise, at least) for bringing in the third member of their creative partnership: colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser. She came onto the book after a bit of miscommunication with colorist Dave Stewart over how long the series would run, and she was immediately a brilliant fit.