Relaxing in the post Christmas food coma? Sit back and enjoy Joe & Richard’s weekly round-up of all the news in the world of comics. Ok, not all the news, but at least a bit that caught our eye anyway.
Two very impressive bits of 2000AD news here……. First up is the announcement of a new 2000AD title, specifically for Free Comic Book Day in May. In a surprising move, 2000AD Regened is a new all-ages title featuring full-color strips. Surprising because you don’t exactly think of the world of Judge Dredd et al being exactly suitable for younger readers (well, not today – of course when it began it was a kid’s comic).
The FCBD issue features two strips featuring younger versions of classic characters: Cadet Judge Dredd at an Aeroball game by Matt Smith and Neil Googe, we go back in time to see Johnny Alpha earning his Strontium Dog badge from Alec Worley and Ben Willsher. There’s a special Tharg’s Future Shock by Ned Hartley and Tanya Roberts, and Henry Flint tells the tale of Chet Jetstream escaping Hell Island. But perhaps best of all, the issue sees the return of two of the comic’s favourite teenage alien delinquents as D.R. & Quinch Hijack Free Comic Book Day, as told by Owen Michael Johnson, Colin Bell and INDIO!
The special issue will be available exclusively in print from participating comic book stores on Free Comic Day, May 5, 2018.
And next, another great bit of 2000AD getting into a very unfamiliar location with a brand new strip in the pages of the New Scientist. The Dark Judges feature in a future tale where Judge Death et al pitch up on a world far from Mega-City One. Written by Kek-W with art from Patrick Goddard, the strip is available in the Christmas and New Year issue of New Scientist, available in print and digitally right now.
Sad news for the world of comics last week with the passing of famed French artist Annie Goetzinger at the all too young age of 66. NBM published two of her books in English; Girl in Dior and Marie Antoinette, Phantom Queen. And NBM’s Terry Nantier has this to say over at his blog:
“I’m in shock. She looked in perfect health with many more productive years ahead of her, but the author of Girl in Dior, one of our bestsellers and an exquisite triumph for her, is no longer with us… She was one of the pioneer women in comics in France well-known ever since the seventies. Her work was always elegant, even when she did more erotic work which she did not shy away from. In person, she emanated that same sense of style and elegance.”
Goetzinger produced beautiful work imbued with a sense of grace and high fashion, where figured effortlessly flowed across the comics page. A sad, sad loss.
NBM is due to publish a third of Goetzinger’s books in 2018; a biography of Collette.
(Via The Comics Beat)
One for your diary here… March sees the return of Neil Slorance and Colin Bell’s wonderful tale of FUN. Last time it was Dungeon Fun, but in March we’ll all be able to delight in the latest adventure; Pirate Fun. The comic will launch digitally, for free, in March with Pirate Fun: The First Trial, before a Kickstarter for the complete book begins.
And a special print version of that first chapter will be exclusively available from Neil and Colin at the Dunfermline Comic-Con (Saturday 3rd March), for the cost of a donation to Little Shop of Heroes’ Books For Schools Charity.
Fascinating reading over at The Beat as usual in the latest Tilting At Windmills column by retailer Brian Hibbs. This time it’s an open letter to the new Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski regarding what Hibbs sees as the fundamental problems with Marvel right now. Basically, it’s the old, old story we’ve seen time and again over the years from Marvel (and DC) of diluting their incredibly recognisable brands, looking for market share rather than actually concentrating on producing a clear, coherent universe.
Well worth a read. Here’s a beautifully argued bit:
“Specifically: Marvel is radically over-producing, both in the absolute number of comic books that are being released, but also more specifically in the number of series produced within each “family” of series, and even more specifically for the number of issues-per-year that each of those series produce. While it’s bad enough that there were 158 comic releases (including variants) being offered to me in January 2018; it’s more specifically bad that there are eight different Spider-Man related series being published that month; and it’s even more specifically bad that in the four months of “Legacy” that Oct-Jan represent, Marvel has offered eight issues of “Amazing Spider-Man” alone. The quintessential bandwidth problem that this presents to consumers is, of course, multiplied by Marvel’s pricing structure with $3.99 comics as your vanguard.”
And all that segues into something I was thinking about this past week with the news of the success of the first issue of Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design. And here’s when I veer dangerously into grumpy old man mode. First off, the actual comic looks and reads brilliantly, with Piskor taking the history of the X-Men and distilling it into just six issues. But seeing as you’ve all read his fabulous Hip Hop Family Tree series you know how well he can do this sort of complicated distillation of information into something readable and entertaining.
But it’s not the quality of the comic or Piskor’s execution I’m thinking of. Instead, it’s the very need for something like this. back when I was young (oh, here we go) I had a choice of ONE X-Men comic every month. And in that Chris Claremont and a variety of artists produced a fabulously told soap opera of superheroics. It was simple, it was clear, it was easy to pick up an issue midway through a run and be able to tell what the hell was going on. And every so often I feel the urge to pick up some Marvel or DC comics and dip my toes in again. And then I find myself hopelessly lost and unable to grasp anything of the characters or story. But I keep trying every so often.
My point is simple. I’m with Hibbs here. Marvel desperately need to return to the less complicated past, with readers able to enjoy the tales of their favourite heroes without needing to shell out for 20 books a month and whatever mega-event is pushed out to artificially boost sales every three months or so. Now maybe that is me being the grumpy old man, and sure, I’m not really the age demographic for Marvel Comics (or at least I shouldn’t be) but sales are going to keep slipping unless something is done.
Well, we’ve just had the Doctor Who Christmas Special, with three Doctors for the price of one, “the original, you might say”, Capaldi and introducing Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation in that regeneration finale (plus, rather nicely, I thought, brief glimpses of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton from the original regeneration). But of course for some young fans regeneration is quite traumatic; I remember my friend’s then very young boys being terribly upset when Ecclestone regenerated. “Doctor dead, daddy,” they wailed. They had seen their dad’s old Who DVDs of the classic show and understood what had happened, but this was different, this was their Doctor. Of course by next season they loved the new Doctor.
“Regeneration trauma” is a big thing for a young fan, they are invested in that character so much. They understand the Doctor changes but is still, always, the Doctor, but it’s their Doctor and our fictional heroes are very important to us, especially when young. Stories of heroes are part of how we learn about the world and the trials we’ll face in it, after all, they are important. The Guardian reports that Capaldi wrote to a nine year old fan who was upset over his departure. “Regenerating is not completely good fun and it usually happens about Xmas-time. But you know what? Even though it can be a bit icky (like really bad flu) it has always, always turned out good for Dr Who. The new Doctor always becomes your favourite and the one that goes … well, he never really goes, he is always there, somewhere in time and space, and if you think about him hard enough, you will see him and he will see you. It’s like the Doctor says, everything ends and it’s always sad. But everything begins again, and that’s always happy. Be happy.”
What a lovely thing to do, and in an extra touch Capaldi dated the letter November 23rd, 1963, the date of the broadcast of the very first episode of Doctor Who. And as for Whittaker’s new Doctor? I’ve been watching the show since the last of the Jon Pertwee era, grew up with Tom Baker’s long run (I still have the scarf my aunt knitted for me), and I already had a strong, good vibe about this change, it made me smile when I heard the news. And then the look of delight on Whittaker’s face right after the regeneration scene, as the Doctor sees her new face for the first time, well that just confirmed that good vibe for me. And the fact it has delighted legions of young fans, especially young girls, is a huge bonus. I am so looking forward to seeing her Doctor, and I am really looking forward to seeing excited kids cosplaying as the new Doctor at conventions next year. And for those who are still nay-saying a female Time Lord, be quiet and give it a chance, allow others who do so want this to enjoy it, and remember the words of Capaldi’s Doctor, “be kind.”
Actor Alfie Curtis passed away at the age of 87. Alfie was best-known for a scene which may have been short, but which gave the original Star Wars one of its more memorable lines (one which would be picked up by the later films too), “You just watch yourself. I have the death sentence on 12 systems” during the Mos Eisley cantina scene back in the original 1977 film.
Mark Hamill posted touchingly on his Twitter feed: “ALFIE CURTIS made the #StarWars Mos Eisley Cantina scene (one of the most memorable I’ve ever been a part of) even MORE memorable. As horrific as he was on-camera, off-camera he was funny, kind & a real gentleman. Thanks Alf- you’ll be missed.”
And still on the Star Wars theme, the 27th was the first anniversary of us losing our Princess. Hard to believe Carrie Fisher has been gone from us for a whole year already. Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd posted on the sad anniversary, as did Mark Hamill. Our heart goes out to Carrie’s family and friends, I’m sure most of us know through bitter experience how heavy an emotional burden such anniversaries can be to get through. I remember going to see Rogue One for a second time during last year’s festive holidays; I had seen it in early December, but a friend hadn’t, so I went with him to watch it during the hols. And between that first screening and this one, we had suddenly lost Carrie, and that final scene, with the digitally young Carrie, as she appeared in the ’77 film, as she tells her fellow Rebels that the Rogue One team has brought them hope was now freighted so differently for me with emotion. A year on and we just had Carrie on our screens again as our beloved Princess in the remarkable The Last Jedi, which I loved, although it was bittersweet watching Carrie’s scenes – I’m sure a lot of you also had very mixed feelings seeing her up there on the big screen again. Taken from us, but never really gone… (also via the BBC)
Excellent creator Ted “Courtney Crumin” Naifeh’s Kickstarter for his new project, Heroines, is in it’s last few hours, so if you’d like to add some support you better hurry over to his fundraiser page
The first lady of science fiction, the wonderful Nichelle Nichols, turned 85 yesterday. Many happy returns to the fabulous Nichelle, legend and icon. Here’s a lovely piece of birthday art Megan Levens posted to mark the occasion: