An issue that has been at the forefront of comics criticism this year despite the larger websites and indeed publishers themselves ignoring it: racism in comics, and the lack of diversity both on and behind the page.
The Marvel hip-hop variant scheme and Boom! Studios' Strange Fruit have attracted particular attention from critics, but will anything really change?
Adding insult to injury is the at times woeful reporting of these stories – plain disregard from many of the same mainstream news sites that happily broadcast headline-making press releases, and inflammatory coverage within the comics press itself. Dismissive outrage over perceived issues of “political correctness” and “social justice” makes for more clicks and ultimately more money.
A long-form interview with the lovely Howard Hardiman, creator of the recently collected The Lengths - a controversial and important comic about male escorts, told with canine characters.
Howard's answers were simply far too interesting for me to worry about distracting from, so I went with a Q&A format for maximum ease of reading. A very fascinating interview, and a book that I highly recommend reading.
"One of the funniest responses to reading it came from someone working in the sex industry, who said “you let straight people read this?” because he’d become so used to secrecy.
"Other than that, though, the response has been reassuringly positive. I waited almost five years between the interviews and making the book because I needed to have a distance from telling too much that could have identified people, especially given that I’d been told a lot of things that could have resulted in them having trouble with the police or the inland revenue!"
A series of interviews with guests at the Stripped Festival, including Stephen Collins, Paul Cornell and Grant Morrison, looking at the politics both present and absent in their work.
"One of the historical roots of modern comics is of course the political cartooning of the early newspapers; the mechanical reproduction of images finally allowing art to be consumed by the masses rather than the privileged few, with cartoonists leaping at the chance to communicate complex political situations via their deceptively simple form.
"The idea of comics as a political tool is not without its controversies, from grumbles amongst novelists to riots over religious icon portrayals. Any fan of superhero comics can tell you that comics don’t have to be overtly political, but the recent insistence by creator Todd McFarlane that historically no comic book that has worked has been “trying to get across a message” was largely met by the rolling of eyes."
I've been delighted with the feedback on this long-form piece, and the discussions that it has provoked. You can read the full article at the New Statesman.
An issue that had been weighing heavily on my mind, that of the constant tension between our superheroes who seek to represent all that is good in the world, while generating profit for large corporations as their creators often retire into poverty.
"Superman, defender of truth, justice and the American way is an icon not only of hope, but of despair and shattered dreams. Our superheroes, built to help the helpless and downtrodden and bring joy to our world became tools of their corporate owners whose only interest lies in helping themselves. While our heroes can transcend their shackles and still bring us pinpoints of timely optimism, not to mention a great deal of entertainment and joy, their dark shadow of forgotten and poverty-ridden creators weighs upon them greatly."
My four interviews in one piece is up at the New Statesman, and I've had very lovely feedback all round - which is always a Good Thing! All four creators will be at the upcoming London Super Comic Con, and all are especially lovely.
Here they are talking about working in creator owned comics and all that that entails. Enjoy!
You can read my latest interview with the lovely Mike Carey, writer of The Unwritten, Lucifer, X-Men and more, over at the New Statesman. Carey is one of my favourite writers - Lucifer one of my favourite series - and we chat about Vertigo past and future, The Unwritten and upcoming plans, creator rights and women in comics, internet trolls and his Felix Castor novels. And more!
Stay tuned for more upcoming interview with David Lloyd, David Mack, Tim Seeley, David Hine, and the one and only Neal Adams as I count down to the London Super Comic Con next month.