In today’s installment of her regular column, Shaenon Garrity takes a look at how the major comics awards have handled webcomics.
In the 2000s, webcartoonists struggled to be treated with the level of respect and critical recognition given to print cartoonists, which is the saddest sentence I’ve ever written. For many creators and fans, this involved a push to include webcomics in comics industry awards. There were also efforts to create an awards system specifically for webcomics, most notably the Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards, which ran from 2001 to 2008.
Nowadays, of course, the struggle is over and webcomics are respected by all. Although they still lack their own industry awards, most or all major comics awards now include a webcomics or digital comics category. Some have been recognizing webcomics for well over a decade. That can mean only one thing: it’s time to start nitpicking and judging them. How successful have webcomics awards been at singling out the best in webcomics?
And then, Brandon Soderberg reviews the new collection of Bobby London’s remarkably weird take on Segar’s most famous creation, Popeye:
About halfway through Popeye, The Classic Newspaper Comics — Volume One: 1986-1989, underground comix boundary pusher turned syndicated strip jobber Bobby London’s aggressively contemporary take on our beloved sailorman, we find the Sea Hag (frequent nemesis to Popeye since 1929) turning Popeye’s rickety hometown of Sweet Haven into a bougie tourist trap. The whole thing probably goes on a little too long (at about the point where an orphanage is closed and replaced with an arcade, the message is loud and clear), but then you recalibrate, lower the stakes, and think what in the hell, you’re reading a fairly sprawling Popeye narrative that appeared in mainstream newspapers in the mid-’80s that’s about gentrification, and well, how did this even come to be?
—News. The South Carolina/Fun Home controversy has a new dumb compromise. Laura Hudson reports on Patreon, the latest crowdfunding craze. Our boss Gary Groth has been nominated for Seattle’s Genius Award. (He got a cake.)
—Misc. Derf says his goodbyes to his long-running strip The City. Deb Aoki wonders how to make manga more appealing to new readers. Colson Whitehead recommends a comic to Barack Obama. The New Yorker has images from Lynda Barry’s show at the Adam Baumgold gallery. This year’s Eisner judges talk about the nomination process. These may be collectors’ items some day.
—Interviews & Profiles. The Washington Post talks to Roz Chast. The L.A. Weekly profiles Jaime Hernandez. The Village Voice talks to Mimi Pond. Alex Dueben interviews Peter Kuper and Seth Tobocman on the 35th anniversary of their political anthology, World War 3 Illustrated. Chris Mautner talks to Noah Van Sciver. A Melbourne-based podcast interviews Simon Hanselmann. Make It Then Tell Everybody interviews Sam Alden. The Inkstuds road tour interviews begin with Mike Allred talking about eternity.
—Reviews & Criticism. Rich Barrett reviews a bunch of comics. Jared Gardner ponders three semi-recent comics about food. Rob Clough looks at the first books of new publisher Ray Ray. Domingos Isabelinho catches Hector German Oesterheld borrowing from John Ford. John Adcock reviews the new Gasoline Alley Sundays collection.
Paste has chosen the 100 “best” comic book characters, which revealed to me that this way of interacting with comics is completely foreign to the way I do. I like Batman as much or more than the next person, but is he a good character? If I think about him as a person for more than ten seconds, I get a headache. His most basic motivation — that his parents being killed by a mugger and a bat flying through his window inspired him to dress like an animal and beat up criminals on the street at night — is opaque and unconvincing. I suppose this is simply a leap of faith the reader is forced to make in order to enjoy Batman stories, but it is a leap which simultaneously makes Batman unintelligible as a human being. Which doesn’t mean he hasn’t been involved in a lot of very fun comic-book stories; I just am not sure he’s a very good “character.” Daniel Clowes’s Wilson, on the other hand, much decried as a “jerk” on his eponymous book’s release, still lives in my head years later as a three-dimensional, multi-faceted person. Ask me how he’d respond in any given situation —including the murder of his parents or a rodent infestation—and I’d have a pretty good idea. I haven’t read that comic since it came out. Time to rectify that.
—TCAF. I hate most convention reports, but I don’t hate this Secret Acres report of TCAF. Maybe because
they made a bunch of it up reads like it’s too funny to be true. And I don’t hate anything Joe Ollmann writes.
—Video. Here’s the annual “roast” video from this year’s Doug Wright Awards:
And oh man, do I want to see this show:
—Finally. Dan made a big deal about what he called the dumbest press release ever a while back, in which he inadvertently revealed that he deletes most of the press releases he gets in his e-mail book every day without reading them. Because take a look at this. I won’t bore you by copying & pasting the whole thing, just know that it involves the audio-only version of a Princess Diana comic book.