Two issues in, Animosity is proving to be one of the most original debuts of the year. The AfterShock series takes place on an Earth where animals suddenly gain sentience. Naturally, confusion leads to violence which only ratchets up the narrative’s tension. However, there is more to the title than a tale of animal resentment run amok. Writer Marguerite Bennett, along with artist Rafael De Latorre, are crafting a nuanced portrait of humans’ relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom. At New York Comic Con, I had the chance to speak with Bennett about the series.
On Friday at New York Comic Con, Marvel held a panel observing the 50th Anniversary of Black Panther. Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Black Panther debuted in the pages of Fantastic Four #52. Lee and Kirby were at the height of their collaboration at this moment, having just wrapped a string of stories introducing iconic figures such as the Inhumans, Galactus and Silver Surfer. The issue prior (#51) told the classic tale “This Man . . . This Monster!” Given this high level of quality, it is hardly surprising that they would not miss a beat when premiering The Big Two’s first black superhero. Two years later, Roy Thomas added the Panther to the ranks of The Avengers just in time for T’Challa to share Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ initial encounters with Ultron and The Vision.
Despite their canonical status, the NYCC panel was mostly silent on these earliest Black Panther stories. Instead, they cited the work of writer Don McGregor as the foundational Black Panther tales. In the early 70s, Marvel launched Jungle Action as a low-profile series reprinting old adventure stories from the 1950s. However, much had changed in America since the 50s and McGregor found much of these stories racially offensive. (A cursory glance at the initial covers suggests that these narratives revolved around a generic Tarzan type rescuing a fearful white woman from all sorts of rampaging jungle beasts). Eventually editorial grew tired of McGregor’s complaining and assigned him the task of writing new scripts for the series. As McGregor explained, “jungle books didn’t sell, so what did they have to lose? They could simply cancel the series and say ‘hey we tried.’” Then in the tradition of Frank Miller, Jim Starlin and other creators reviving moribund properties, McGregor refashioned Jungle Action into something iconic.
Over the past couple weeks, Nothing But Comics has been providing a variety of coverage on the 2015 New York Comic Con. From the creators to the cosplayers they inspire, we have offered reflections on the different facets of fandom. The last in this series of articles is a compilation of comments from some of the panels attended during the convention.
At the Dark Horse Comics Classified Panel, there were a few announcements, but the main pleasure was hearing the creators discuss their craft. These observations included a healthy sense of humor, such as when Matt Kindt was asked what it was like playing the role of both writer and artist on a series. He replied that collaborating with himself was a pleasure, as “most of my deadlines get along.” For his part, Brian Wood offered that he always wants to be enthusiastic about the art in one of his titles. His wish is to be a “fanboy” of it just like any other reader.
Continue reading NYCC: Panel Roundup
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.
Here is a list of all our NYCC related content. Check back for updates as more pieces are posted.
Continue reading New York Comic Con 2015
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.