Previously On Comics: Law and Communication

Superheroes are apparently not the only figures in comics that are difficult to kill, as Brian Michael Bendis announced this weekend that he had nearly been felled from a surprise MRSA infection. Shortly after signing his exclusive contract with DC, the writer was hospitalized, where he’s spent the entire last week. Good job on not dyin’, Brian!

21st Century Tank Girl 1

Vice ran an interesting profile of Jamie Hewlett, comics alumni and artist/co-creator for the music group Gorillaz. In addition to that lofty title, Hewlett also created Tank Girl, which made it to the silver screen in 1995 and is, in this author’s opinion, an underrated gem of that decade. You can read up on Hewlett here.

Politics and the arts collide again as an actor on Marvel’s Black Panther movie has revealed that he is an undocumented immigrant. Bambadjan Bamba fled political persecution on the Ivory Coast in the early 90s, but didn’t know he was an undocumented immigrant until high school. Now, he’s going public with the news in order to campaign for Hollywood to stand with immigrants against the repeal of DACA. You can read about Bamba’s fight and donate to his cause, if you like. What would a superhero do?

Then again, the conflict between the two isn’t all that uncommon, as political cartoonist Zunar has been placed under a travel ban in Malaysia after some of his cartoons drew the ire of the local authorities. This isn’t his first run-in; Zunar was arrested in both November and December of last year. Zunar’s arrest highlights the danger of being politically outspoken against a government in power in a place where the laws do not protect that speech.

Nathan Edmondson’s mugshot, from his prior criminal activity.

The comics industry has been in a firestorm of harassment allegations for weeks. It’s troubling, harrowing, and it’s also a bit gratifying to see individuals (men) finally held accountable for their behavior. After The Mary Sue published a timeline of (mostly) sexual harassers in comics, Stephanie Cooke, Editor-in-Chief of Rogues Portal, was disturbed by the fact that there were no confirmed reports on writer Nathan Edmondson’s behavior, and opted to step forward to share her story. Edmondson has largely been absent from the comics scene for a while now, owing apparently to the fact that very few companies are willing to have him. A former partner of Stephanie’s, scribe Joe Keatinge, stepped forward to confirm Stephanie’s story and relate his own tale of confronting Edmondson at a convention. Edmondson supposedly remains blacklisted from a large portion of the comics industry, but has still not faced a legal response for his actions—at least, these actions. There were the other ones.

WWAC’s own Rosie Knight has been stepping up, challenging Dynamite Comics over their treatment and inclusion of women, both in and behind their comics. After a brief Twitter exchange, Dynamite rep Janie (no last name provided) acknowledged Rosie’s points and committed, at the very least, to a bit more precision in language when promoting the company’s offerings.

Maybe you heard that Wolverine is getting a podcast? Well, in case you hadn’t, Wolverine is getting a podcast. Twitter spent days mocking the idea with impressions of Wolverine hawking underwear and website solutions a la the majority of podcast advertisements, but jokes aside the idea sounds like a really fun one, and a modern return to the days of scripted radio serials, which are nothing to sneeze at. The podcast will star Richard Armitage of The Hobbit fame as the voice of everyone’s favorite angry Canadian. No word yet on whether this podcast will draw on Wolverine’s previous communications experience, pictured above.

Marvel’s dipping into the non-comics book arena a bit more: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue author Mackenzi Lee has signed with Disney to produce a series of historical fiction novels. The first will feature Loki, everyone’s favorite God of Mischief.

Guess who’s making a comeback? Dennis the Menace! No, not him, the other one. UK comic strip mainstay Beano is returning as a “digital spinoff” (what those of us in the know might refer to as a cartoon) entitled Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed. The Beano, which has seen sales slip from 2 million in its heyday to around 35,000 now, is banking on this change of format to revitalize the property.

Now. Let’s talk about Patreon.

Last week, Patreon announced a change to the way it was structuring its fee system. Previously, the company would take a bit out of its collections after it had collected them. This was a percentage, which could result sometimes in instability for a given creator using Patreon, as the fee would cut into their income. Under the new system, Patreon extracts a fee of two percent of the pledge plus thirty five cents from the patron up front, on top of the pledge. This is minimal if a person has one large pledge, but devastating for folks who pledge one dollar to multiple creators, as that fee isn’t applied to their pledge total, but to each individual pledge. Patreon tried to frame the announcement as helping creators, who do see a marginal increase in overall funds, and even sent emails to creators with text to help them defend this change, but they didn’t count on those creators being actively angry about the plan themselves, as the vast majority of funds from Patreon’s new collection system goes instead to Patreon itself. Additionally, this two percent + thirty five cents system is being applied to creators who support other creators, and is being taken from their monthly income before Patreon gives that income to them. The net result is a whole lot of people cancelling pledges, and a whole lot of lost income for artists of all types; some of whom really rely on this model to stay afloat. Worse, Patreon has been quoted as saying that these losses don’t matter to the company, as long as they keep the large earners.

Patreon’s new model appears to be courting those large earners specifically, but seems awfully short-sighted given that they’re cutting themselves off from tons of potential creators who are not yet at that “life-changing” level (whatever “life-changing” even means, as that would be a different metric for everyone). The new system has yet to take effect; we’ll see whether Patreon decides to change course again before it does.

Nola Pfau

Nola Pfau

Nola is a bad influence. She can be found on twitter at @nolapfau, where she's usually making bad (really, absolutely terrible) jokes and occasionally sharing adorable pictures of her dog.