Previously on Comics: Warren Ellis’ Comics Train, CrossGen, and Representation

I am one of the many people who helped crash online ticket purchasing for Avengers: Endgame tickets, but I’m happy to report that my gang of comic book club folks all have our tickets and have resisted the temptation to sell them on eBay. While Endgame ticket sales and speculation dominated a lot of the news this week, there was some actual comic stuff going on. As usual, some of it was trash, so let’s get that out of the way first.Bye bye, Jai

Dark Horse Comics has suspended professional ties with Astro Hustle creator Jai Nitz after allegations of sexual harassment against him were made by Hannah Stryder, a former Kansas University student. Dark Horse’s suspension did not come in time to halt distribution of the second issue of Astro Hustle, but future issues will not be published by the company.

CrossGen Founder Passes Away

Mark Alessi, founder of CrossGen Comics, passed away on March 30, 2019 at the age of 65. A tech guru, Alessi founded CrossGen in 1998 in Tampa, Florida, with an in-house creative team the received salary and benefits to create titles such as Sigil, Scion, Mystic, Meridian, and CrossGen Chronicles. In direct competition with DC and Marvel, CrossGen introduced digital publishing early on, putting their entire library online, available by subscription. They also featured CrossGen Education, which introduced comics in the classroom as a literary comprehension tool. Unfortunately, financial difficulties forced the company to file for bankruptcy in 2004, to be purchased later by Disney. A 2011 attempt by Marvel to relaunch titles failed.

Warren Ellis is Riding the Comics Train

In a series of comics blog posts titled “Comics Train,” Warren Ellis has been providing a little bit of history regarding the evolution of certain comics formats.

“Comics were getting expensive — there was the beginnings of pressure to go from a standard $2.99 to $3.99 — and also getting less dense. So I came up with something stupid. A three-signature self-cover comic. So the whole thing, including the covers, was 24 pages, all on the same stock. And the story inside was sixteen pages of comics, with backmatter notes to fill out the page count. […]

“I set up many difficult problems for myself on this book, with the additional work involved to make it look not-difficult. The main one was this: each issue would be a self-contained story. A new reader could join the book at any point, not be lost, and get a complete experience out of it.

“And it sold for USD $1.99.

“Oh, the hate mail I got from retailers.

“Until the first issue went to a fifth printing.

“And my email instead filled up with shock and pleasure at a comic that wasn’t trying to gouge their pockets.”

Imagine that.

Convention Inequality

Creator Resource creator Stephanie Cooke continues to analyze the data surrounding gender representation at comic conventions. Few conventions on her list manage to break 30% female representation, while trans and non-binary representation is practically non-existent. The excuses provided by conventions tends to be the same defensive or lazy ones, points out former Emerald City Comic Con coordinator Andrea Demonakos, but with effort, conventions can work towards inclusivity, first and foremost by recognizing the inherent biases of those designing the guests lists.

Hiromi Takashima joins TCAF’s stellar guest list

Continuing to show other conventions how it’s done with it comes to inclusivity, the guest list for the Toronto Comics Arts Festival continues to impress with the recent addition of Kase-san creator, Hiromi Takashima.

Taking Comics Seriously in the Bahamas

At a recent  lunchtime panel discussion about comics and animation in the Bahamas, Lamaro Smith, creative director and founder of Motionsmith Studios, called for more government support for the arts, specifically for comics and illustration. A $1 million grant was recently announced, but it is unclear if the funds would include comics and illustration. Smith is the creator of a Bahaman superhero called Conchman, whom he hopes will become a cultural icon that does more than serve tourism purposes.

Quick Hits

Ahoy Comics signs an exclusive distribution deal with Diamond.

Marvel writer Gerry Conway discusses his fears for the state of the comics industry in this Business Insider interview

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.