It's Wednesday, June 6th: and I'm tingling with anticipation...to share with you our latest installment of Retail Therapy, wherein we hand our old time phonograph to another Store of the North! It's Peter Birkemoe of The Beguiling and TCAF fame, and he's not pulling any punches--and regardless of what cultural cliches may have told you, Canada punches hard.
What's changed the most for your business in the last ten years?
Personally, what’s changed are my expectations as to where the industry would go. I had experienced and hoped for an ever-broadening audience for comics, one that would render the previous collector/nostalgia/fandom model more of a quaint relic of the past and would allow great and interesting work [that] would rise on merit. I imagined an idyllic future where you would be able to say the word ‘comics’ without wondering if the person you were talking to immediately had an image of Spider-man in their mind. Or of a comedian.
That broadening did happen. Comics now means more than superheroes to most people. But what I didn't foresee was the significant growth and sustained appetite for pop culture garbage, or the hold children’s entertainment would have on readers well into adulthood. Even outside what was comics’ little niche. Who knew such huge swath of the public would be ready [to] declare themselves nerds of some stripe or another?!
That's not all we've got, of course: this being a day that ends in y, we've got the latest in our installment of TCJ reviews for you. Today, it's from Irene Velentzas, and it's on Godhead--the latest comic from Ho Che Anderson!
The rich duality Anderson sets up with his characters is also expressed between his worlds – the clean-lined corporate world and the sensual and gritty underworld. These worlds are represented as starkly different by Anderson. The corporate world with its violence and espionage is expressed by the calm, cool contours of his artistic line evoking an empty and soulless dystopia. The dingy underbelly of this clean world is contrastingly expressed in rich textures and tones, filled with sensual surfaces and expressions of love and loyalty that feel more tangible and inviting than those expressed in the corporate world. Anderson’s dichotomy between his story-worlds poses the question: does the future we’re striving for come at the expense of our humanity?
Meanwhile, while I realize this is not exactly Onion level stuff, I doubt the Onion could find a large enough audience that would understand what this piece is satirizing to justify them bringing it into existence. So bravo!
This past week saw BookExpo and bookcon take over the Javits Center, and while there was some solid comics related programming to be had, the show was not without its problems--the biggest one being the one recounted in this article, when comics writer Miz Tee Franklin arrived at a panel only to find that the stage had no wheelchair accessibility. Franklin, who had already endured this issue at multiple convention panels prior to traveling to BookExpo, at a panel the previous day (and had even tweeted about the issue earlier Saturday morning,), refused to participate in the panel and settled for an ad hoc signing at the Image Comics booth instead. A follow up post from Heidi MacDonald (the panel's moderator) about the event at The Beat was not well received by Franklin. It's difficult to quantify the impact that this sort of fiasco has--beyond the personal indignity suffered by Franklin, she loses her ability to speak about her work amongst her peers for an audience who might support it, as well as subtly implying that--because no effort had been made to provide her stage access--she is not actually part of said peer group. It's an ugly event, and despite the embarrassment it has caused multiple individuals, the only real victim is Franklin, and doubly so: because instead of returning from a panel where she talked about her work, she's returning from a panel where the conversation is primarily about the ramp that nobody thought to provide her.
Before all of that happened, I also went to a panel: it had Garth Ennis on it. He was up there with a guy named Frank Tieri and the dude who wrote Kill Shakespeare, and they were talking about historical fiction. It was a great panel even if I was only intermittently interested in the comics they were talking about--Garth talked about riding around in an antique fighter jet and how the near total lack of visibility helped him realize how deep the trust becomes between a couple of wingmen, and even though I knew that all that research had been done in the service of one of the worst comics in a pretty long career, I ate it all up. The dessert to that hearty meal was listening to Tieri, who I genuinely, sincerely enjoyed--at first, I thought he was making a joke with his central casting I'm-a-Brooklyn-guy, but he wasn't, that's how he really is. His wry, who-gives-a-fuck amusement at being the dude onstage whose main installments in the historical fiction genre are A) a comic "where Wolverine meets Al Capone" and B) one where "the Punisha' kills Dutch Schultz" never stopped being funny, even more so when it would follow Ennis giving some concise description of his interest in war comics, and his attempts to give them a philosophy. The Kill Shakespeare guy even got in on the act too, by telling everyone that he liked to tell teachers that Kill Shakespeare was "the gateway drug to Shakespeare", which is the sort of absurdly arrogant bullshit that only comics marketing can produce. My favorite part of the Q&A session was when a man--a man who quite honestly looked like a Kevin Maguire drawing of the target audience for Frank Tieri comics--loudly asked from the back of the room "who was the AUDIENCE for ANY of this STUFF", to which I desperately wanted Frank Tieri to say "You, you motherfucker", but no luck--they all just talked about things being "Rated R". It was a great way to spend 45 minutes, and I highly recommend checking Tieri whenever you get the chance.