Earlier this month The Independent on Sunday published my interview with the lovely Kate Beaton who I met at this years Lakes International Comic Art Festival.
I am a huge fan of Kate's Hark! A Vagrant webcomic, as well as her newest collection Step Aside, Pops. We had a great chat about all things suffrage, women, comics and conventions - plus it was my first interview conducted in a cupboard.
With a fierce velocipedestrienne glaring from the cover of her new collection, Step Aside, Pops, that feminist thread has become more overt, and the book is packed with comics about the fabulous and forgotten women of history.
“I think that honestly it’s a response to the larger conversation that we’re all having about women’s roles in pop culture and media, and in the workforce and in life,” muses Beaton. “There’s a lot more discussion these days. I use the example, a movie like Mad Max comes out and we all read the think pieces on how Charlize Theron’s character is treated and what that means to people and what people want and I think that women’s voices are being heard more. A few years ago I don’t think that Mad Max would have been made, not in the same way.”
Last week saw my interview with rising star Ales Kot published at The Guardian, where we tore into new horror noir Wolf and the very angry Material, particularly on matters of systematic racism.
“My honesty gets me in trouble,” Kot allows, “but my take is that if they can’t handle me at my realest, they don’t deserve to have me anyway. Which maybe sounds privileged, but it’s not – I turned down plenty of gigs when I had nothing in my bank account and was very sick, without a home, staying at my friend’s studio, not knowing what to do, or where I would be in a month, or if I would even be alive. Turning down work that does not feel right continues to be crucial for my attainment of the kind of career and life that I want.”
With the Marvel hip hop variants causing quite the argument across comics land regarding appreciation versus appropriation, Black Mask Studios publisher Matt Pizzolo contacted me to talk about another set of hip hop covers and how Black Mask is tackling the thorny issue of diversity in comics.
Matt Pizzolo: Yeah for what it’s worth the characters of Young Terrorists are ethnically diverse — the core team is a black man, a Chinese young woman, a Guatemalan young man, and a white woman who’s the heiress to an oppressive power structure and knows she has to reject and combat that — but I realize I’m a white man writing this stuff and my collaborator/cover artist, Amancay Nahuelpan, he’s Chilean but he grew up in Vancouver and we can’t hide behind the characters… although I do think those characters are partly what makes the hardcore hip hop homages feel thematically genuine to the story.
It’s hard to A/B these covers and assign “who’s more appropriating” or whatever, and certainly I’m not the one to judge that anyway, but obviously we’re both appropriating. All we can do is try and be creative while showing respect to those who came before us and who inspired our work.
Earlier this month I travelled through to Glasgow to sit down with the ridiculously talented Cameron Stewart, writer of Batgirl, creator of Sin Titulo, and artist of the highly anticipated Fight Club 2.
"I have to be the one to do this," Stewart recalls thinking, when he heard that Fight Club 2 was moving ahead with Dark Horse Comics. "I ended up doing a three-page adaptation of one of the closing chapters of the novel..."
ComicsAlliance: And Then Emily’ Returned… for Free Comic Book Day: In Conversation with Lees and Laurie
A wee interview with Glasgow boys John Lees and Iain Laurie, the depraved minds behind runaway indie hit And Then Emily Was Gone.
This horror comic, set in Orkney, is a spine-chilling nightmare parsed through the twisted and surreal lens of Laurie - no wonder the critics love it!
ComicsAlliance: For those unfortunate souls who have yet to read the comic, can you tell them a little about what And Then Emily Was Gone is about?
John Lees: And Then Emily Was Gone is a horror series that begins with a former police detective called Greg Hellinger. Back in the day, he was famed for cracking some seemingly unsolvable missing persons cases, but five years ago he had what most believe to have been a mental breakdown, and ever since, he’s been tormented by horrific apparitions of monsters that follow him around wherever he goes. He’s pulled from his life of despair and squalor by a teenage girl called Fiona, who has tracked down Hellinger in hopes of him using his particular skill-set to track down her missing best friend, Emily.
The official story is that Emily ran away from home, but Fiona is convinced that a local child-snatching boogeyman by the name of Bonnie Shaw has taken her. Hellinger agrees to help Fiona, and their search takes them to the Orkney islands, and the remote community of Merksay, where strange and terrible things start to happen!
As the co-creator of two of my favourite comic series - Transmetropolitan and Ballistic - I always jump at the chance to chat to Darick Robertson.
This time we cover his entire career, from Space Beaver to The Boys and beyond!
ComicsAlliance: Ballistic, The Boys, and Transmetropolitan have similar commentary on the evils of power and corruption in the real world, is that an important aspect of your art?
Darick Robertson: Yeah, I suppose there is a running theme there. I worry a lot and I like to create from the stuff that scares or worries me as a way of purging those feelings, that anxiety.
CA: It seems like a stronger thread through The Boys than the parodying of superheroes. And then there’s the diversity present, as with much of your work — is that an issue close to your heart?
DR: I recall a moment in The Simpsons when Homer says “Every time I learn something new it pushes old stuff out of my brain!”
When I first started going to comic cons, seeing women there, unless they were hired to dress scantily and hang out by booths, their presence as fans was an anomaly. I recall often when signing, seeing a young woman get to the front of the line with a stack of books, and I’d be happy because I thought “Right on! A female reader here who loves comics!” and I’d ask her what she liked and often they’d smile and say, “These are my boyfriend’s.. he’s in another line, I’m not really into comics…”. Most women I’d meet at signings were long-suffering supportive girlfriends and wives. I was tired then of the lopsided attitude in mainstream comics.
Two characters that I am most proud of co-creating are Spider’s filthy assistants, Channon and Yelena, because I was able to draw Channon as glamorous, but tough as nails and smarter than just her looks. I loved when she became Spider’s bodyguard. Yelena wasn’t about glamour at all, but was funny, sardonic, and a great foil as a pseudo love interest for Spider. Both characters had brains and female readers seemed to really embrace them. Actor Anna Chlumsky proclaimed on Late Night with Seth Meyers that Transmetropolitan is her favorite comic and her fantasy football team is called “The Filthy Assistants.” I was thrilled to know she’d not only read it, but loved it! And told a national audience! Not because she was in some production about it, doing PR, but that she genuinely loves it and found it on her own.