Previously On Comics: Celebrating Lives and Remembering History

Hello readers! Hope you had a good weekend. I don’t know what the weather’s been like where you live, but I’ve been facing a veritable roller coaster. Cold, warm, snow, warm, windy. I barely have time to get used to a weather change before it becomes something else. Thanks, global warming, thanks. But enough about unpredictable weather patterns, let’s talk about the week in comics.

Carrie Fisher’s sudden death left a mark on many fans, especially since hers happened in the closing days of the trainwreck that was 2016. We will likely remember her life and career in the years to come—especially since the visage of Princess Leia has become an internet meme promoting The Resistance against the current U.S. administration. How fitting that her life will be celebrated in a forthcoming comicbook.

Speaking of celebrating people, many manga fans know and love Katsuhiro Otomo. I think it’s safe to say that even non-manga fans know and love him due to his being the creator of the seminal work, Akira. To mark the 35th anniversary of the groundbreaking manga, publisher Kodansha has put together a commemorative book featuring art from artists all over the world.

While comics can be used to celebrate lives and careers, they have other uses too—like sharing information. In Moscow, city authorities have adapted classic Russian fairy tales into comicbooks intended to teach foreign migrants how to behave. This certainly isn’t the first time comics have been used in such a manner, but given the current global sociopolitical environment, it makes me uneasy.

On the other hand, sharing information can mean fighting social stigmas. Earlier this year, we mentioned this Indian comicbook created to demystify menstruation. Guess what? The Menstrupedia has taken off! It’s found its way to schools and NGOs. It’s even been translated into multiple languages. And to make it accessible to even more people, they’re currently working on a mobile version. Isn’t that great?

Education can also come in the form of reminding readers about their history. In the United States, unfortunately, it seems like we’re always forgetting our history or worse, never learned it in the place. A new series of comicbooks are exploring the segregationist history of St. Louis, which manifested as racist housing policies.

On the flip side of the coin, comics can be deconstructed into found objects of art. Case in point: this exhibit exploring the power and cultural structures in North American superhero comics. Love it.

The combination of showcasing comics and providing timely reminders about history can lead to powerful exhibitions like “Holocaust in Comics” at the Anne Frank Educational Center in Germany. While Maus may immediately come to mind when we think of comics exploring the Holocaust, nine other comics are featured in the exhibit. In addition, the collection allows visitors to see how portrayals of the Holocaust have evolved over the years as graphic novels have become more accepted as a storytelling medium.

While we’re talking about comicbook history, a classic villain is being introduced in New Super-man. Too bad it’s a classic yellow peril villain. On one hand, I’m glad the writer is Chinese-American. I would not at all be comfortable with seeing this in the hands of a white writer. On the other hand, really? Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand Gene Yuen Lang’s logic. We shouldn’t shy away from the ugly history. I feel like a lot of our problems in the U.S. are because of that tendency to shy away. But still, really?

Last week, digital comics subscription service ComicsBlitz launched an equity crowdfunding campaign. Sounds interesting. This is the first equity crowdfunding campaign I’ve ever heard of, let alone one in the comics industry. I’m curious to see how it turns out.

In more traditional crowdfunding efforts, The Dwayne McDuffie Fund strives to establish the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation. Included in the foundation’s goals is awarding academic scholarships to diverse students. If the last few months have taught us anything, the fight for diverse representation is alive and well and, in these sociopolitical times, more important than ever.

That’s all for this week. See you next time!

Vernieda Vergara

Vernieda Vergara

Writer. Manga and webtoon aficionado. I hail from Washington D.C. where I consume too much media and cause only a little trouble. Tweet me @incitata.