Stuff (& Possibly Nonsense) #82
Friday again and time once more for our weekly quick-hit news and links round up:
Boing Boing reports that Portland Zine Queen, literary and community activist Chloe Eudaly, sickened by the city’s problem, especially the rent crisis (fewer and fewer rental properties for people to live in and those that have them find their rent being jacked up regularly to insane levels nobody can live with – sadly a problem in many cities across the world now). Chloe is running for election to the town council on a platform of fighting this and Joe Sacco has been working with her to produce a comic about the impact of this housing crisis on people’s lives. They’re raising funds to print copies of the resulting comic to distribute to Portland households as part of the campaign. Go, Chloe!
Huge congratulations to John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell for their March Book Three from Top Shelf making the finalists in the Young People’s Literature category at the National Book Awards. I’ve been hugely impressed with the March series, drawing on veteran campaigner and politician John Lewis and his own memories of the fight for Civil Rights – the books not only shed light on an important and influential slice of modern history, they do so in a very accessible and personal manner, making it very easy for any reader to learn (and given the rise of xenophobia and racism again, it’s no bad thing to be reminding people of this history).
“I’m overwhelmed and deeply moved that March: Book Three is a finalist for the National Book Award. It is my hope that this honor inspires many more young people, and people not so young, to read March and to learn the transformative lessons of our ongoing struggle to create the beloved community,” John Lewis.
Matt Furie and his publisher Fantagraphics have issued a statement regarding the recent addition by the Anti-Defamation League of his comics character Pepe the Frog, to their list, because the character, through no fault of the creator or the publisher, has been appropriated (violating copyright) by the so-called alt-right and also campaigners for Donald Trump, and re-used for vile hatred and racist expression. I can’t imagine how horrible it must be as a creator to see something you drew to entertain people being stolen and turned into something so vile and of course this has a knock-on effect on Furie himself, both in financial terms for his creation but also personal as too many lazy journalists assume he is involved (or at least they fail to mention in their article that he strongly disapproves of this appropriation and use of his work), when in fact others have effectively stolen his work and re-used it for purposes which he loathes.
From the Fantagraphics statement: “Most media reports now routinely default to a narrow description of Pepe as a representation of white supremacy, ignoring the mellow, positive-vibed frog that he is in the hands of his creator, Matt Furie, within the pages of Furie’s Boy’s Club comics (as collected by Fantagraphics Books). Yet the myriad copyright violations of recent weeks have resulted in Furie’s name now turning up in Anti-Defamation League database search results.
Having your creation appropriated without consent is never something an artist wants to suffer, but having it done in the service of such repellent hatred — and thereby dragging your name into the conversation, as well — makes it considerably more troubling.
Fantagraphics Books wants to state for the record that the one, true Pepe the frog, as created by the human being and artist Matt Furie, is a peaceful cartoon amphibian who represents love, acceptance, and fun. (And getting stoned.) Both creator and creation reject the nihilism fueling Pepe’s alt-right appropriators, and all of us at Fantagraphics encourage you to help us reclaim Pepe as a symbol of positivity and togetherness, and to stand by Matt Furie.
We encourage reporters and others citing Furie as the character’s creator to also note that he condemns these illegal representations of his character. Matt is available for interviews through Fantagraphics. We encourage fans and others who support Furie to block, report, and denounce the illegal uses of the character by individuals and groups pirating him to foment hatred.”
Malta Comic Con released their 2016 poster art (by Manos Kotsifakis) for the show coming up on the 3rd and 4th of December. Tom Foster (Judge Dredd), David Hitchcock (Springheeled Jack), Collette Turner (Southern Nightgown) and Roger Langridge (Thor: The Mighty Avenger) are among the announced guests so far. I’ve heard nothing but good things from Brit comickers who have been over to previous Malta shows, all saying they were very warm and welcoming events.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival – the world’s oldest continually running film fest – has announced their first ever Screenwriter-in-Residence, Scottish writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who will have access to and work with the city’s The University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University and my own alma-mater, Queen Margaret University. Kelly’s screenwriting credits include the excellent telefantasy drama Penny Dreadful and the award-winning short films All Men’s Dead, The End of an Era, and Fink
Dark Horse has announced a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s quite excellent novel American Gods (which is also being adapted for television, due next year, woohoo!) for 2017. I’m surprised it’s taken this long, to be honest, having recently re-read American Gods I kept thinking it could make a cracking comics adaptation too, and I am pleased to see Dark Horse have recruited the brilliant P Craig Russell (no stranger to Gaiman works, of course) to adapt it, with Scott Hampton creating the art and Glenn Fabry and Adam Brown creating covers (with variant covers to come from the likes of longtime Gaiman collaborator Dave McKean).
“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement, in my house and in the world, about the American Gods TV series coming up on Starz. What we’ve managed to keep a secret until now is that there is something just as exciting out there: American Gods, the comic. I’ve been watching P. Craig Russell breaking down the book into comic form, watching Scott Hampton painting the pages, watching Glenn Fabry create the covers, and grinning to myself with delight, because the American Gods comic is going to be an astonishing, faithful, and beautiful adaptation,” commented Neil Gaiman. The first issue goes on sale in March 2017.
More forthcoming publication news and Top Shelf announced at the recent New York Comic Con that Jim McCann and Janet Lee’s Eisner-winning Return of the Dapper Men is to see new life with a deluxe edition from Top Shelf next year. This forms only part of a series, however, as new edition marks the expansion of the Dapper Men story arc into a trilogy, with the sequel, Time of the Dapper men to follow in 2018
A Reader’s History of Girl’s Comics – over on the Comics Grid Benoît Crucifix takes an academic But accessible) look at Remembered Reading by the always fascinating Dr Mel Gibson – I’m sure many on the British comics scene are familiar with her industrious presence and work on celebrating and understanding comics.
From the abstract: “In her monograph Remembered Reading (2015), Mel Gibson builds on her field work, interviews and meetings with readers of girls’ comics to recover the history and memory of this forgotten genre. Drawing on these shared memories and recollections, Gibson presents a readers’ history of British girls’ comics that reveals how these readings were part of identity constructions and personal histories, tied up to public factors of gender, age and class. In doing so, Gibson revises many stereotypes that have characterized girls’ comics, sketches a much more nuanced picture of the genre, and highlights the complexity of readers’ engagement with comics.”
The very fine actor Jim Broadbent has written a graphic novel, Dull Margaret, with artwork by Dix, inspired by a Bruegel painting, Dulle Griet (Mad Meg). In the Guardian Broadbent explained “I love the image of this strong, intense woman striding determinedly across the landscape” and the painting sparked an idea for a story in his mind. Originally the actor was planning a film and although he garnered quite a bit of interest in it the costs were too expensive. He found himself admiring Dix’s work he saw in the Guardian and approached him with the script, which the artist responded to positively. The book is expected to be a hot property at the Frankfurt Book Fair with a lot of publishers showing interest (to me it sounds very much like a Cape or perhaps Bloomsbury kind of graphic novel, but who knows who will win any bidding war at the book fair).
Star Trek Beyond is out on Digital from mid November and DVD and Blu-Ray on the 21st of next month, but a very special group of people are getting their own private viewing – a copy has been beamed up into orbit. Literally – uploaded to the astronauts on board the International Space Station. I imagine the late Gene Rodenberry would be delighted at the thought of astronauts watching Star Trek while they are actually in the Final Frontier, one eye towards the glowing home of Earth, the other towards that all but infinite vastness of space, just waiting for us. (via Zero Degrees West PR)
The original Ghost in the Shell film, one of the iconic classics of cinematic anime and a stonking cyberpunk action tale with a philosophical slant, is returning to the big screen. After a number of screenings of the classic Akira went down very well it has been decided to hold a similar one-night-only screening in some eighty cinemas around the UK, from Abderdeen to Watford on January 25th, check here for venues and times.
Chris Riddell in the Guardian on Trump and his disgraceful treatment of and attitude to women:
And in a world where it seems every news bulletin brings fresh reports of bigotry, hatred and violence, here’s something to distract us and also remind us that when the Dark Side seems to be triumphantly on the rise, there are always good people prepared to do battle for what’s right, in the name of hope. A New Hope, perhaps… Yes the final Rogue One trailer and film poster have been posted online. May the Force be with us all…
And here is some bright news in a week in which we had to stomach news of powerful men defending another powerful man who seems quite happy to brag about using his status to sexually harass and prey on women just because he can – the United Nations is to name our favourite Amazonian warrior princess as Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Woman and Girls:
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, healthcare, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large,” the UN.
How terrific is it to see such an iconic female character being used to promote gender equality on the global stage? And before anyone complains that this is a fictional character, think of the symbolism, of the idea it represent – think of the number of girls and women who have felt empowered and emboldened because of strong female characters they have loved. We only need to think of Buffy or Xena, how many of us in geekdom know women who drew inspiration from those characters? We all draw inspiration from characters and stories, it’s why the mythic archetype of the hero has persisted in human storytelling for millennia – our oldest written story, Gilgamesh, features heroes and quests, it is in our DNA and it helps us face the problems in our own lives. So to me it seems appropriate that a character like Diana could be used as a symbol in this way – Go, Team Comics, change that world for the better! (via the BBC)