From Cover To Cover

This Week in Comics Journalism- May 28th, 2022

A look at some of what happened this week in (and outside) of comics, including writing by Calvin Reid, Graeme McMillan, Alex Dueben, and Rob Clough.

This Week in Comics Journalism- May 28th, 2022

‌ It feels like another week, another shooting, and nothing is changing in the land.  I don't know what it's like where you are but here in the greater Chicagoland area, we wake up each morning to news of a shooting somewhere in the city.  And I know that clowns like the Texas governor like to use Chicago as an example of "gun control doesn't work" but an estimated 60% of the guns confiscated in Chicago come from out of state, including from Texas.  An interesting fact is that there are no gun shops in Chicago and we still have a problem.  But largely, those guns are coming from neighboring states that have more lax laws.  

We're still dealing with a health pandemic but for even longer than that, we've been dealing with a gun safety epidemic in this country that is widespread and has repeatedly attacked the most innocent.

Primary elections are happening right now, with national elections taking place in November.  If the safety of our children is truly something that you care about, make sure that you know what the policies of your candidates are and vote accordingly.  The only way we're going to get some true gun control in this country is if there are more of us than there are them.

As John Oliver would say, "and now this..."

Calvin Reid covers the Seven Seas Staff's efforts to form a union for Publishers' Weekly:

The UW7S released a 16 point list of goals to improve working conditions. Among their demands are healthcare, paid leave, and pension benefits, as well as paid time off and vacations (“employees are expected to be available in the virtual office at all times”), and reasonable workloads (“many employees are overloaded or burnt out due to high workloads”). The union is also seeking protections and benefits for freelancers (“across the board increases to pay, kill fees, and revision fees for freelancers”), and anti-harassment policies and grievance procedure (“staff should never be required to work on materials that make them uncomfortable.”)
The UW7S statement concluded: “We're eager to produce the best products we can, and the best way to do that is with a living wage, proper hardware and software, and a well-organized digital office. As a union, we seek to negotiate better working conditions for both Seven Seas employees and the many freelancers who make what we do possible.”

Seven Seas started publishing manga in 2004 and claims to be the #1 independent manga publisher in the English language marketplace.  GoManga is the parent company of Seven Seas.‌‌‌‌In his Comics FYI newsletter, Graeme McMillan reached out to United Workers of Seven Seas to find more information about their efforts to unionize.

Benefits have been “imminent” for more than three years now, with some new hires being told benefits are on the way and others told not to expect any sort of insurance or retirement coverage. By negotiating benefits through collective bargaining, United Workers of Seven Seas will be able to ensure they are implemented within a defined timeframe. Although United Workers of Seven Seas is a US-based union and there are legal obstacles to what we can achieve for our freelancers and our staff outside the United States, we will advocate as much as we can on their behalf as well.

On Thursday night, United Workers of Seven Seas posted on their Twitter page that the company will not voluntarily recognize the union.

Speaking of Graeme McMillan, I find this Best DC Comic Stories of All Time list he's done for Popverse interesting. As a regular listener of his Wait, What? podcast, this list feels very Graeme-ish because after his number 10 (Action Comics #1,) the rest of the stories feels very much like stories about other stories. I'm not arguing with any of the picks, mind you, but it's just I wonder how much this says about the writer as opposed to the comics themselves?

(O.k. I'd argue against The Return of Barry Allen and maybe slide in The Great Darkness Saga or the Goodwin/Simonson Manhunter into that slot instead.)

Maybe it's still a bit old-fashioned but a new issue of The Comics Journal is out this week. Since its return a couple of years ago, I've really appreciated the approach to it, focusing on a topic and then really exploring it.  I just got my copy so haven't had a chance to dig into it too much yet but I'm looking forward to checking out this new issue focused on community organizing and activism.

From the physical edition to the online edition, The Comics Journal ran a great interview with Rachel Pollack, conducted by Alex Dueben.  Looking back at her main time in comics, there was a lot of unfair disregard for her Doom Patrol run, which followed Grant Morrison's.  But I see that all of the Vertigo Doom Patrol is up on DC Universe so I think I know what I'll be checking out this summer.

I said before that your entire run was ahead of its time. Admittedly I’m not the only one who has said that.
I got that. As you know, I enjoyed doing it and I thought it was good stuff but then it was gone and I’ve moved on. And then I was invited to a transgender literary conference and to be a keynote speaker – which was great. When I got there, it turned out I was a hero. Because of Doom Patrol. There was a whole generation of young transgender and queer cartoonists who saw that storyline and Kate as this great inspiration. That was a wonderful experience discovering this. I’m sort of glad I didn’t know it was happening. I’m glad I was surprised by this. It was nice.

The 2022 Eisner nominations were announced a couple of weeks ago and Panel Patter palls Rob McMonigal and James Kaplan took a look at some of the categories and nominees.

Best Writer/Artist: I'll make up for my Ito snub by saying that he is one of the greatest horror writer/artists of all time, possibly the best, and therefore deserves this award. But this is Barry Windsor-Smith's award to lose, let's be honest. And I'll just have to sit in the minority of people who just doesn't get the appeal of that creator. It's okay, I know I'm wrong, I just...nothing he's ever done has made me want to go back and linger over the art. It's a personal quirk thing and I own it.

Oh, Rob, you had me with the bit about 1984 and those kinds of literary adaptations but you lost me with BWS.  But at least you know you're wrong.  So, so wrong.  

One thing of many that I've never figured out how to do was to write about anthologies so I'm going to be paying attention to a new series of reviews that Rob Clough is starting at Solrad looking at Fantagraphics NOW series.  He kicks off this weekly series with issue #1, a logical place to start.

In many respects, the first forty pages of the anthology seem to have been sequenced by Reynolds in a deliberate manner. They are a sort of celebration and investigation of movement and gesture: the foundations of cartooning. Sara Corbett’s full-color, densely-hatched one-pager about an old woman following her cat into a park is titled “Constitutional.” It’s a pleasant, restorative walk, shaking off the rust, just as this story is for both this issue and the anthology in general. Experimental cartoonist Tobias Schalken (of Eiland anthology fame) follows with “21 Positions,” featuring a formally-dressed couple engaging and intertwined in complex dance moves, some of which double as sex positions. Schalken followed that with “The Final Frontier,” which inverts the first strip by having a couple engage in explicitly sexual acts–only they are doing them in parallel without actually touching. It highlights the objective hilarity of making out while completely honoring the ardor and affection of the couple. It’s fitting that the strip after this is Davis’ “Hurt or Fuck?”, which also addresses issues related to intimacy.