Diversity in comics, as we are reminded on a regular basis, is a tricky subject. True there have been plenty of successes recently, the most prominent of which is Kamala Khan. In only a year and a half the character has become a beloved fan favorite; when her best-selling series relaunches, she will also be a member of the Avengers. Not an auxiliary member but a full-status part of the main Avengers line-up. Clearly this character has resonated with readers. On a similar note there is the strong fan support for the current Jane Foster God of Thunder, who was one of the most popular choices for female cosplayers at this year’s New York Comic Con. Yes, there will always be a vocal minority of readers who are unwilling to accept any change, though, I often wonder how much of that is due to prejudice and how much is simply due to an unwillingness to concede that anything could be as good as The Golden Age of whatever was popular when they were 12. Regardless publishers are trying to diversify their lines. Not everything catches on as well as it should (DC’s Midnighter comes readily to mind), however, the intention remains honorable.
All of this is why when stumbles do occur they are all the more disappointing. In the past, you could simply shrug your shoulders and say “that’s how it is. Of course, DC would never allow a lesbian marriage in their series.” Now, however, the Big Two have pushed forward enough that expectations are higher. Proponents of diversity expect more than simply the occasionally tossed bone. Times, as they used to say, are a-changing. Continue reading NYCC: Diversity Stumbles→
On Sunday I spoke with writer Amy Chu about her plans for the upcoming Poison Ivy: Cycles of Life and Death limited series. I had been intrigued by her comments regarding the series at the previous day’s Bat-Universe panel. Chu explained that she wanted to free Pamela from the rut of psychopathy into which so many of the Bat-Villains fall. Chu prefers to highlight other aspects of Pamela’s personality. For her, Poison Ivy is not a deranged killer. She cares about others in her life. She is also a skillful scientist, a facet which often gets lost in the shuffle. Indeed, Chu feels that she has a large amount of freedom to re-frame Pamela’s story, as this is the character’s first ever solo series. Despite nearly five decades of existence, there is much about Poison Ivy which remains unexplored. As Chu herself put it “you both know her and you don’t.” Continue reading NYCC: Amy Chu in Artists Alley→
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to speak briefly with artist Annie Wu, during which we discussed her collaboration with writer Matt Fraction on Hawkeye. Previously, I had written about connections between the L.A. Woman story-line and the film The Long Goodbye. Wu confirmed my theory that Fraction based the mentor P.I. character on Eliot Gould’s performance in the movie. She even admitted trying to recreate the same cat food brand which Gould is searching for in the film’s opening seqeunce. She added that Gould was not the only cultural figure to slip into the narrative. The features for the gay couple were based on Issac Hayes and Lou Gossett Jr’s characters on The Rockford Files, a TV detective series from the same period. Meanwhile, Fraction mixed some horror into the mix by evoking obscure Marvel character Harold H. Harold. Oh, and yes, that reclusive musician was based in part on The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. L.A. Woman turned out to be a project which required a fair amount of research.
Yet, we both agreed that was one of the things which made Fraction’s writing so rich. He possesses a wide scope of cultural knowledge so that he can pull in ideas from all sorts of places. In fact, while Wu and I discussed her comics work, we spent an equal amount of time chatting about the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which was the subject of the commission she was drawing for me. This sentiment was echoed the next day at an Image panel. When asked what comic artists influenced him, Wes Craig said that the most important thing for developing artists was to “get their heads out of comics.” Look outside the medium at other art forms. Draw from all over in order to find your own voice. Your work will be richer for it.
As I was leaving the New York Comic Con today I noticed a man snapping pictures of attendees as they were leaving. I soon recognized him as Bill Cunningham, iconic fashion photographer, New York Times photo columnist, fixture of New York High Society, documentary film subject and inductee into France’s Order of Arts and Letters. This suggests that his piece for next Sunday’s Style Section will center on cosplay instead of the more typical glamorous parties or well-dressed amblers of 5th Avenue.
In other words, geek culture just moved even closer to the mainstream.
Valiant did spend plenty of time yesterday discussing properties besides Bloodshot. They started with a plug for the conclusion of Book of Death arriving at the end of the month. They promised that it would have major reverberations throughout the Valiant Universe. While this may sound like the typical boilerplate Event language, Valiant’s track record backs up previous claims. Harbinger Wars, Armor Hunters & The Valiant all sparked future stories in ways that never felt gimmicky. They did shift the status quo. So fans were told to keep an eye on The Eternal Warrior, who just happens to have a new series launching soon. Continue reading NYCC: Valiant Book of Death and Beyond Panel→
In Artists Alley yesterday Joe Keatinge was speaking about how he has the whole story of Shutter mapped out, but is also staying flexible for letting the story evolve organically. A fan asked for an example, and Keatinge cited the character of Cassius, formerly known as Alarm Cat. This fan favorite was originally fated to die early in the series, #3 to be precise. However when Del Duca read the script stating that Alarm Cat died in an explosion she was “heartbroken”. This reaction from his collaborator sparked a change of heart in Keatinge. He revised his plans and sent Cassius off on the fascinating road he’s currently traveling . . .