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Monthly Archives: February 2014

This morning Image Publisher Eric Stephenson gave a speech at ComicsPro, the annual comic retailer meeting, that should be required reading for anyone interested in strengthen the foundation of the industry.

ComicsPRO Logo

ComicsPRO Logo

The Beat has text of the entire speech, but I wanted to dig in and pull out some interesting bits.

Stephenson told the retailers they should see a growing graphic novel section at Barnes & Nobles and increasing sales on Amazon as an opportunity.

And it’s our job – yours, mine, all of ours – to figure out how to reach that growing audience and drive them to the Direct Market, because as bookstores continue to close and chains continue to disappear, the best place to get comics in the future will continue to be the best place to get comics now:

Your stores.

He encouraged the retailers to not see the industry as being about the “big two” or “big three” and instead to focus on the only thing that really matters: “good comics and bad comics.”

Are $4.99 and $7.99 comics going to help our industry in the long run?

No, but they sure help the bottom line at the end of the year.

Same with gimmick covers and insane incentives to qualify for variants that will only have a limited appeal for a limited amount of time.

Of course, Image publishes variant covers, but Stephenson said that’s only because retailers keep ordering them. He said variants and other gimmicks are detrimental to the long-term health of the industry.

Constantly re-launching, re-numbering, and re-booting series after series, staging contrived events designed to appeal to a demographic destined only to a slow march toward attrition, and pretending that endless waves of nostalgia for old movies, old toys, old cartoons, and old video games somehow equals ideas or innovation will not make us stronger.

One of the most important parts of his speech was pushing the retailers to look beyond superheroes and to accept that there are new demographics coming into comics. He notes that one of the most important demographics is women.

There is a vast and growing readership out there that is excited about discovering comic books, but as long as we continue to present comics to the world in the Biff Bang Pow! context of Marvel and DC, with shop windows full of pictures of Spider-Man and Superman, we will fail to reach it.

The biggest problem with comic books is that even now, even after all the amazing progress we’ve made as an industry over the last 20 years, the vast majority of people have no idea whatsoever about how much the comics medium has to offer.

While he’s kind to give a nod to other publishers by mentioning non-Image titles like Love & Rockets and Rachel Rising he comes down hard on publishers of licensed properties that come from film, television, or toys.

TRANSFORMERS comics will never be the real thing.

GI JOE comics will never be the real thing.

STAR WARS comics will never be the real thing.

Those comics are for fans that love the real thing so much, they want more – but there’s the important thing to understand:

They don’t want more comics – they just want more of the thing they love.

I personally don’t agree with this assessment as it’s disingenuous to the writers and illustrators who invested ink and sleepless nights into expanding those Universes. Larry Hama’s GI Joe comics, not superheroes, were my gateway drug. There is a place for such content if you’re truly trying to build a strong foundation. I do understand the greater point he’s trying to make that the comic book industry should strive to be a new idea factory and not build it’s foundation solely on what Hollywood and toy companies churn out.

There’s much more to the speech than the quotes I pulled out. If your LCS wasn’t at ComicsPRO it might not hurt to print a copy out and leave it on their counter.

If you’ve dated any time in the last decade the chances are fairly high that you’ve been on at least one online date. The opportunities for online dating in these days of our always networked lives are endless:   mucking with the algorithms of OkCupid, trying to “find God” (nudge nudge wink wink) through ChristianMingle, making dates in hopes for karma on r4r, or even slumming like a champ in Craigslist’s Casual Encounters. Very rarely online dating can result in, depending on the objective, the perfect fairytale romance or the long fantasized night of sinful debauchery the Bosch would blush to paint. More often than not the result is mundane.



In between the mundane dates and romance/debauchery lives the funny, horrifying, and weird stories. Those are the stories Nina Kim, the cartoonist behind Melancholy Rainbow, wants to hear. The Bay Area-based creator often uses her comics to tell short semi-autobiographical stories about dating, life observations, and co-existing with cats. She tweeted Wednesday a request for  “funny/horrifying/weird” dating stories to be drawn in her next zine. If you want your dating story to possibly become zine-famous submissions can be sent to

Related Links:
LA Zine Fest Nina Kim profile
Melancholy Rainbow
Her Etsy Shop

Ever thought the world needs more female superheroes who are “tough and pretty and not need guys help all the time”? Artist and Writer Nathan Watson’s 10-year-old daughter agrees with you. Watson, who’s runnerWatsonillustrated comics based on well known properties including Toy Story and Ghostbusters, is hoping to kickstart his daughter’s dream into reality with a new miniseries called Runner. Watson is shooting for $6,000 to cover the production cost of the first issue and anything above and beyond will go toward creating the second and third issues in the series. According to the campaign’s Kickstarter page:

Mixing a few things my daughter and I really dig like monsters, comedy, and parkour, RUNNER will take you on a wild ride of twists and unexpected turns, with super hyper action and creature-punching craziness. Along the way, we’ll watch Bethany learn to control her temper (though not much). She’ll also learn that having someone that she can trust is better than having something she can hit, even though there will be plenty of appropriate things for her to hit over the course of the first three issues! Finally, there’s the central idea of the project: That just because something is big, ugly and gruesome, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the villain.

Strong Female Leads. Gigantic Aliens. Gigantic HUMANS. Freerunning. Dimension Hopping. Conspiracies. Betrayal. Family Drama. Comedy. All these elements come together in RUNNER, where we’re having fun for the sake of having fun!

The project has a long list of unique backer rewards including paper dolls, copies of Watson’s previous work, limited sketch cards, a papercraft figure, and more.

Although Watson has a publisher lined up to assist in packaging and distribution Runner will be completely creator-owned. The purpose of the Kickstarter is to provide Watson with the opportunity to focus on completing the first issue while also paying a fair rate to his colorist William Blankenship.

In March, Daredevil returns to San Francisco for the first time in 40 years. Comic Book Resources has the first preview of Daredevil saving a life while leaping from a historic streetcar to the top of a building with palm trees silhouetted  in the background. In case you missed his last awkward experience in the Bay I broke it down in November.


The insider sourced casting rumors regarding the Fantastic Four film reboot has the Internet all atwitter. In a declarative headline TheWrap reports the cast has been found while going on to write with less certainty “Hollywood was buzzing Wednesday with news that Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell are nearing deals to star in the studio’s reboot of the popular comic book franchise.” “Nearing deals” doesn’t mean “set in stone” in Hollywood and the article goes on to point out justified reasons to doubt the reporting, but let’s run with these rumors as being accurate, because the rest of the unsourced echo-chamber Internet is doing so.

Michael B. Jordan possibly playing Johnny Storm isn’t going over well with purists.*

Frankly, director Josh Trank could, and should, do so much more to shake up the status quo. The superhero film universe is overwhelmingly white due in part to the big two comic book universes being historically overwhelmingly white. When the second Captain America hits the screen with Falcon he’ll be the third black superhero since the first Iron Man film introduced a non-War Machine James Rhodes in 2008 (I’m counting Thor‘s Heimdell). All of these roles are secondary at best and there hasn’t been an African-American in a starring role since 2004’s Blade Trinity. The Johnny Storm casting decision will fill a decade long absence.

The only issue I have with the casting decision is that Sue Storm and Johnny Storm are brother and sister. There are some obvious ways to address this issue. One is that the Storm family could have multiethnic heritage and the other is one of the Storm children could have been adopted. Both of those story lines could work, but it would be a huge leap forward for cinematic superheroes if Sue was a black woman. The only cinematic black female superhero to date has been Halle Berry as Catwoman (and unfortunately she was the victim of Hollywood choosing an artsy French director with only one previous film under his belt).

A secondary benefit of casting an African-American Sue is the need for more interracial relationships in mainstream films. It’s sad to think that casting the future wife of Reed Richards as a black woman would be progressive in the 21st Century, but in light of the shameful Internet response to an interracial couple in a Cheerios commercial it seems the media consuming populace needs more opportunities to realize it doesn’t need to be an issue.

* I don’t necessarily agree that fans who demand there be no change in comic character race are racist. Many are the same people who were upset when Sam Raimi gave Peter Parker biologically-based web shooters instead of technology-based web shooters. They are against change from the funny book gospel.   That said, yes, there are definitely racists upset with the possible decision.


Neil Gaiman will be at San Francisco’s Warfield on June 25 performing his short story “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains.” The author will be reading his short story while illustrator Eddie Campbell (illustrator on Alan Moore’s From Hell) draws and the FourPlay String Quartet perform an original score. Gaiman, Campbell, and the quartet first performed “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” at the Sydney Opera House in 2010 as part of the Graphic Festival. The opera house has a highlights video about the performance. This will be the first tiNeil-Gaiman-126-600x400me the piece has been performed in the United States and coincides with the release of a hardcover edition of the story.

Tickets are now on sale at the Warfield’s website.

Photo from Forbidden Planet International.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I had no idea Robert Louis Stevenson, author of such classics as Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, spent time fighting death more than once in the Bay Area. I never questioned how the land mass in the bay came by such a whimsical name as “Treasure Island” without featuring an amusement park or a single pirate ship. It makes so much more sense now.

Robert Louis StevensonThe Scottish-born author’s journey across the United States in 1879 brought him to the brink of death and he spent three months in Monterey recovering. Once he was well enough he carried on to San Francisco where, shortly after taking a new wife, he fell ill once again. To recuperate the author travelled with his family to Mount Saint Helena in what is now known as Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. His recovery at the foot of Mount Saint Helena is the story Siren’s Gaze Productions hopes to tell with support through an IndieGoGo campaign.

Siren’s Gaze was founded during the 2013 Cannes Film Festival by a trio of female filmmakers. Their first project, Death is No Bad Friend, is the story of Stevenson facing his personal demons as he hangs close to death at Mount Saint Helena. They’re seeking between $10,000 and $20,000 to tell this important chapter of often overlooked Bay Area history.

The screenplay is being written by G.E. Gallas who is no stranger to telling the tales of eccentric creatives of the 18th and 19th centuries. Since November 2012 she’s been producing an online graphic novel about poet and painter William Blake called The Poet and the Flea. In her story Blake is visited by “The Ghost of the Flea” who seeks to take advantage of Blake’s grief following his daughter’s death. The story, currently on hiatus, will eventually answer the question of whether or not Blake falls “victim to the fleas corruption.”

Burn Your Fire CoverOver the last two weeks I’ve had Angel Olsen’s haunting “Hi-Five” on repeat, so it’s safe to say I’ve found my first earworm of 2014. The track harkens the haunting tremolo of Roy Orbison complete with lonely and anxiety filled lyrics to match. When Olsen sings “I feel so lonesome I could cry/But instead I’ll pass the time/Sitting lonely with someone lonely, too” it could easily be a sequel to Orbison’s “Only the Lonely.”

“Hi-Five” comes from Olsen’s forthcoming release Burn Your Fire for No Witness on the record label Jagjaguwar. The album drops on February 18, but NPR’s “First Listen” is streaming it in full this week.


The San Jose Mercury News chose to not run a Dilbert strip last week that featured the character Dogbert criticizing a ruling by India’s Supreme Court to reaffirm a British colonial-era law that criminalizes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal.” While the law doesn’t technically make it illegal to be homosexual in India it has been interpreted as making the act of dilbertsame sex intercourse illegal. India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had sought to remove the language, but the Supreme Court upheld the law.

In the February 7, 2014 Dilbert strip Dogbert breaks the fourth wall and informs readers that to “commemorate” India’s Supreme Court upholding a law “making it a crime to be born gay” Asok the intern  “is now officially gay.”

The Advocate reported that “several U.S. newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News, refused to run the Dilbert strip, opting instead to rerun an older comic.” It’s worth noting that in spite of the use of the word “several” no other publications have been cited as having censored Friday’s strip.

There’s a new Tumblr worth checking out called “Safe Spaces for Comics Fans.” The Tumblr is an effort to document shops that are committed to being a positive and inclusive environment for every type of comics fan.

Comic shops are notoriously hit and miss when it comes to being inclusive of women, lgbt, PoC, and other minority comics fans. This tumblr is for you to share your positive or negative comic shop experiences, so that fellow comics fans can find friendly local comic shops, and be warned of which shops to avoid.

So far there’s only one Bay Area shop on the list (Dr. Comics and Mr. Games), but I can’t think of any shops in the coverage area of this website that aren’t inclusive (FWIW, I haven’t visited all of them yet).

Amusingly, there are very few shops on the master list with a strike-through which indicates an “unsafe space.” One of those few shops happens to be Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. I can’t say this is a surprise. I’ve watched two episodes of Comic Book Men and had to stop, because the employees are poor ambassadors of our fandom perpetuating and reinforcing an increasingly outdated stereotype.