Welcome to 2016 at TCJ.com. Before we get to all-new comics news all the time, we’ve got a few pieces lined up on the year past. Today, columnist Paul Tumey offers his personal favorites from 2015.
—News. The cartoonist and TCJ.com columnist Julia Gfrörer has had her account on Twitter (@thorazos) suspended, for extremely dubious and infuriating reasons. Meghan Turbitt posted a brief IM conversation including Julia’s explanation. If you want to help, contact Twitter support and ask that her account be reinstated.
The Library of Congress has named Gene Luen Yang as the new national ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
This literary ambassador program was created in 2008 “to raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to literacy, education and the betterment of the lives of young people,” according to its organizing bodies. With that in mind, Yang tells The Post’s Comic Riffs, “One of the things I’m supposed to do as ambassador is promote great books, and because I’m from the world of graphic novels … I have to give them a little bit of an extra push.”
—Reviews & Commentary. At Comics Alliance, Jennifer de Guzman writes about harassment issues in comics.
Harassment and assault have long been a specter in the comics industry. Reports of groping, inappropriate emails, aggressive drunks, sexual propositions, unsolicited pornographic text messages, meetings held in strip clubs, and abuses by management are shared by word of mouth or in private forums and groups. Sometimes dependent on hearsay and short on specifics, anecdotal warnings are still very much necessary to help newcomers and veterans alike navigate an industry in which personal and professional lines often blur, and networking often takes place in hotel bars at the end of convention days.
Occasional TCJ contributor Brian Nicholson writes about his favorite comics of the year. Sarah Horrocks, who wrote for us last year (and I hope we can convince to do so again) posted her list of favorite comics too.
The Comics Studies Society has published its first newsletter.
Shawn Starr reviews comics by Maggie Umber, Aidan Koch, and Lala Albert.
For The Guardian, Noah Berlatsky writes about the recent controversy over Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s revival of Wonder Woman, defending the bondage scenes in it as faithful to the original comics created by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter.
Wonder Woman was Marston’s vision of a perfect love leader. Her magic lasso – originally a lasso of command, not of truth – was, in his own words, “a symbol of female charm, allure, oomph attraction” and of the power that “every woman has …over people of both sexes.” In fact, the bondage games in Wonder Woman, a comic for children published in the 1940s, are in many ways more explicit, and more startling, than those in Morrison and Paquette’s 2016 reboot for grownups. In one sequence from the original comics, Wonder Woman’s Amazon sisters on Paradise Island engage in a game where some dress as deer, and the others pretend to hunt them, tie them up by their feet and then eat them. In another memorable bit, Wonder Woman is trapped in a gimp mask and breaks free while providing some historical info about bondage. “The French girls who wore this contraption must have had weak teeth,” she muses.
—Interviews & Profiles. Alex Dueben talks to Lee Marrs, one of the founding members of the Wimmen’s Comix collective.
When I was in college, Herblock [Herbert Lawrence Block] — who was the Washington Post cartoonist, a famous guy then — had already seen my work. I went to college at American University in Washington, DC. He had said to the editor of the school newspaper, have this guy see me when he graduates.
Having Lee as a first name became useful. [Laughs] So I went to see him, and he was very shocked that I was a girl. We had lunch and he looked over my stuff. He said, what you should do is go back to your hometown and get work on the paper and then do cartoons on the side until they see how good the cartoons are. That’s the way most people do it. I said, well, my hometown is Montgomery, Alabama. Herb was shocked and said, don’t go back to your hometown! [Laughs]
For HiLobrow, Adam McGovern interviews Michael Allred about his latest title, Art Ops, the meaning of fiction, and religious scripture.
Now, let’s jump ahead to the recent century and take a look at The Da Vinci Code. There are people who think that work of fiction is packed with well-researched fact. Scientology? L. Ron Hubbard wrote science-fiction. Fiction that created a recognized tax-exempt religion. Let’s go back just a couple centuries with The Book of Mormon? I love it! Inspired a great musical! If true, then a lost record of a thousand-year period between 600 BC and 400 AD revealed to the world proving that Christ came to the Americas as a resurrected being. If fiction, then some powerful storytelling there by a great artist. Some would say “con” artist.
I feel that anyone who doesn’t open their mind to the possibility that all scriptures of every faith are imperfect, if not outright fictional, are doing themselves a disservice. IF you take the leap of faith that something is true and worthy of your devotion, then it should also be able to take the “stress test.” If God exists and gave us brains to utilize intelligence then we absolutely should use that intelligence to its fullest and always question what is true, what is art, and can something true also be art? The [concept] of “what is art” is almost too broad to be defined.