Previously on Comics: Cultural Change

The Prism Comics Queer Press Grant submissions period remains open until the last day of February (that’s the 28th . . . just in case). Get yourself two thousand dollars and some PR help—it’s worth a punt. Further details are at the link: go!

Kelly Thompson has been secured by an exclusive agreement with Marvel, hiking her out of IDW’s hot little hands. Thompson built her name in work-for-hire comics on her Jem collaboration with Sophie Campbell, and has recently been writing Ghostbusters (lady version) there as well as scripting Star Wars: PhasmaHawkeye and Rogue and Gambit for Marvel.

Facebook “took action” against the animated adaptation of Ben Passmore’s critically acclaimed short comic Your Black Friend, removing it for alleged racism. Facebook looks very bad; Your Black Friend is about being black amidst the ambient racism of white America. Silver Sprocket had posted the animation and shared the news of its removal.

Comic store sales veteran Nick Rowe wrote a popular and informative tweet thread about the bizarre practices that Marvel Comics calls and has called “business.” There’s a dodgy note in the middle where he takes a bitter swipe at, well, us and ours, but he has apologised and repented so just glide on by. The rest, of course, remains pertinent. Here’s the thread head:

From that same thread, word from Malaysia is that things are rough in comics sales. Looking into this, we couldn’t find any concrete information about whether all shops might have closed, but there is this from 2014, and this 2017 listicle that includes word of closure of the number one manga translation publisher. For comparison, here’s a 1987 article about the expansion of comics retail in Malaysia.

In newspaper comics news, Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey’s stalwart creator, has passed away at ninety-four. Having left the strip in the hands of his sons, time will tell if readers will perceive a change in a strip cartooned by the same hands (plus assistants) for sixty-eight years (sixty-eight years).

Stories about the predatory nature of Print Ninja have been shared on Twitter over the weekend; allegations of over-charging are mixed in with disgust at the industries in which the founder’s family built their fortune.

Valiant has been bought outright by DMG. Hollywood Reporter’s article calls Valiant the “#3 publisher” and although this is soon adjusted to “Valiant Entertainment, the comic publisher that boasts the third-largest universe of superhero characters,” the former description remains and is a misleading assertion. As WWAC’s CP Hoffman points out, “Okay, they were #11 in $ and #9 in units sold through Diamond in 2017, so arguably ‘top ten,’ but only if we define away like all the manga and Scholastic comics not sold through Diamond.” If one is expected to define “the industry” as “shared-universe superhero comics publishers,” one must be warned about it in advance. Hollywood Reported quotes DMG CEO Mintz:

“I am not looking on expanding from a publishing standpoint but from a motion picture standpoint.”

This is a dismal thing to read: a comic book publisher being acquired by somebody who states open disinterest in comic book publishing is a dead and rotting object. And just when they were doing so well!

Newshounds rejoice: WWAC is debuting a new PUBWATCH soon. We already cover Oni, Dark Horse, BOOM!, DC, Marvel, Valiant, Lion Forge, the Vault, Dynamite and Via—check in soon for Seven Seas. PUBWATCH columns are our periodical overviews of what’s coming out from and what’s happening at individual publishers, covered by individual writers: you get kept up with the basic landscape of what each pub is putting out either weekly, monthly or quarterly (approximately). Yes! Yes! You’re welcome. We’re also actively searching for new PUBWATCHERS (no IDW, you say? No Archie? No Titan? We’re trying!), so do get in touch if that sounds like your kind of beat.

Down in the ball pit, Ethan Van Sciver has been making a further fool of himself online—I’m not going to link to him—expending tragic energy in the harassment of cartoonist-critic Darryl Ayo, entertaining various racist wannabes, and putting on a hackneyed show of being a Tender Scene Dad to DC hopefuls eager to ride his grubby coattails. Geoff Johns, CCO of DC comics (where Van Sciver is employed as a Green Lantern artist), though made aware of Van Sciver’s charade by the man himself and by senior editorial staff of various comic book culture sites—your truly included—has yet to make a public statement. Berganza is out, but the thing about bad apples is that they’re a warning for what to expect in the barrel. Fix your culture, you messy bitches.

Finally, Tom King’s tweet about not being able to give his wife a comp copy of his Vision series’ hardcover release broke like a wave. King, having recently returned to DC on an exclusive contract, provided the curious with an explicit example of why someone—even Brian Michael Bendis-type someones—might leave a wildly acclaimed Marvel run to do that when he provided the comparison between Marvel’s comps policy—you get nothing—with DC’s. Jamie Fine, King’s DC editor, bought King’s wife the Marvel hardcover that was dedicated to her. DC, as a company standard, provides writers (and not only writers!) with an array of the company’s monthly output. For more details, this thread contains many comments from various parties.

Comps are an important aspect of comic book history, as disgruntlement with Marvel’s comps policy—you get nothing—is cited in many interviews as a contributing factor for the artist exodus from Marvel that became the founding of Image Comics. Comps—free copies of the books a creative works on, so they don’t need to buy their own with the money they were paid to create them—are a standard part of publishing outside of comics, and a necessary part of creative agency. Marvel’s non-compliance with this standard reflects very poorly on the billionaire-owned, billionaire-CEO’d company. Fix your culture. You messy bitches.

Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money

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