Missed It: Egyptian Cartoonist Held Briefly On What Look Like Made-Up Concerns
If you get the chance, you should read Al-Monitor's interview with the Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish about his late January detention by Egyptian officials. There are a bunch of compelling ideas in operation there. Gawish is best known for very simple cartoons that comment on politics and culture; as you can read in the interview he isn't exactly a radical about it and is happy to decry people that go too far into inappropriate uses for caricature. Still, Gawish found himself being charged with operating an unlicensed web site.
One big problem is that Gawish distributes his material via social media, on pages that don't have a licensing or fee structure. That makes this look less like an administrative practice and more like a potential censor checking in.
We're going to see a ton of general-media thinkpieces on superheroes this year. Comics fandom's caped division is a coveted army of eyeballs for anything put on-line, and there are multiple avenues for such articles in 2016. We get DC's big three and DC in general with Superman Vs. Batman. We get the state of Marvel and broad political allegory in the new Captain America. We get genre correction with Deadpool, series correction with Doctor Strange and a flip-take with Suicide Squad. Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther will generate some ink. I'm sure there will be others.
I like this article by a writer named Asher Elbein just fine. I think it's a measured piece, lacking that squeal of giddy fanboy approbation for one version of the character over another that tends to shock me when I read an article like this one. At the same time, it seemed like a thorough analysis, for instance citing the fairly obscure Joe Casey-written, Derek Aucoin-drawn "Never Throws A Punch" run on the Siegel/Shuster character. I will always think the way to a better Superman, a way to a better versions of all of these properties, as much as that's ever an interesting goal, is to tell good stories built around an appealing take on the character in question -- as opposed to genre tweaking or trying to puzzle out what fans want or having these grand line-wide plans and complicated narratives that obscure or simplify the individual characters of note. I rarely see narratives from DC that serve as vehicles for these characters to make a case for their own greatness.
I've yet to catch up with Gene Luen Yang's version of Superman; I've read only a few issues by the well-regarded team of Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder. The other versions I've seen post New 52 have been something of a chore and that basic conception? Ugh. I sort of hate that guy. And while I'd usually I'd say I'm not the audience, it's Superman. Everybody's the audience.
Update: the great Stuart Immonen just wrote in to point out that the article I mention credited writers without artists except in extreme historical circumstance, like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. That is an awful thing that happens, I should know better. There's no excuse; that's a mistake on my part. I still like the piece, even thought I understand it's pretty unpopular. But, if nothing else, the practice of leaving artists out whole-hog should be its own criticism every time it happens.
I do have some sympathy for writers that try to engage with the world of mainstream comics when they do not exhibit the nuanced appreciation most of us try for that an artist and writer may have overlapping conceptual responsibilities -- in much the same way I think Elbein doesn't credit how increasingly character portrayals are tied into "universe" narratives. I think most of us feel our way through these things more than we care to admit. I added Aucoin's and Kuder's names to the above because that's how I think of those books. However, I didn't add Gene Luen Yang's certainly creative partners because in my conception of those comics for the point I'm seeking to figure out, I think of myself as being specifically interested in Yang's contribution. That might also be in error. It's certainly a rude assumption.
I couldn't tell if you that's a forever-hitch in my step -- if all artists deserve co-author credit in all facets of writing as thoroughly as Jack Kirby does, or if these kinds of things ebb and flow across individual partnerships that makes finding the target of focused analysis super, super difficult. I still feel like there are comics where a primary author might reveal herself; I think Kirby's authorial voice dominates most of the comics he worked on post 1961, and that the early Image comics that used writers were dominated by their artists. The Comics Journal was always Gary Groth's magazine, even when I worked on it. Ditto Wildwood and Dan Wright. But since I can't know that for other people, I should favor mentioning as many voices as seems sensible, and point out the practice when I see it employed across the board. Lord knows we've had a lot of abuse and shortsightedness from the other end of things.
* Michael Cavna walks us through some cartoons about the first voting for what will eventually yield a new president.
* not comics: this is kind of interesting. There was an episode of the television show Agent Carter which showed the Peggy Carter character at a frivolous, less-being-awesome-all-the-time point in her life. A bunch of the reaction I've seen -- like this one -- reminds me of the old Wolverine trap, where a certain kind of fan is attached to a bunch of positives of the character in a way that anything that's a step back from that specific portrayal is criticized. That might not be what's going on here, but it sure looks similar.
* go, look: this is my kind of celebrity encounter in that it's off the beaten path and ends up embarrassing.
* Nick Hanover talks to Pete Toms. Thomas Golianopoulos profiles Rob Liefeld in an article with a strange focus on kicking Fabian Nicieza in the dick.
* this is a wonderful panel. I don't know if it was solid underlying craft or what, but the mid 20th Century DC Comics, particularly the Superman group, are wonderfully expressive and have a similar tone across the board, even when they're doing wildly odd stories. I like reading them now, and they were almost unreadable to me between the ages of 15 and 35. It might be a trick of curation, I'm not certain.
1. Jean-Claude Forest and Jacques Tardi (pictured)
2. Héctor German Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López
3. Alan Moore and Mark Beyer
4. Natsuo Sekikawa and Jiro Taniguchi
5. Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger
1. John Broome & Gil Kane (pictured)
2. Jean-Michel Charlier & Jean Giraud
3. Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
4. Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
5. Warren Ellis & John Cassaday
1. Mike Baron and Steve Rude
2. Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones
3. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
4. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson
5. Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen
1. Archie Goodwin -- Walt Simonson
2. Denny O'Neil -- Neal Adams
3. Neil Gaiman -- Jill Thompson
4. Frank Miller -- David Mazzucelli (pictured)
5. Alan Moore -- Eddie Campbell
1. Benoit Peeters and Francois Schuiten
2. Carlos Trillo and Jordi Bernet
3. Carlos Sampayo and Jose Munoz
4. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
5. Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jacques Tardi
1. Dean Motter and Ken Steacy (The Sacred and the Profane)
2. Bruce Jones and Bernie Wrightson (Freak Show)
3. Chris Claremont and John Bolton (Marada The She-Wolf)
4. Steve Engleheart and Marshall Rodgers (I Am Coyote)
5. Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Neonomicon)
1. Marv Wolfman and George Perez
2. Bob Rozakis and Stephen DeStephano
3. Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis
4. Mike Baron and Steve Rude
5. Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers
1. David Gallaher & Steve Ellis
2. Roger Stern & John Byrne
3. John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra
4. René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo
5. Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
1. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
2. Fred Toole and Owen Fitzgerald
3. Jules Feiffer and Will Eisner
4. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
5. Archie Goodwin and Alex Toth
1) Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
2) Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
3) Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire
4) Alejandro Jorodowsky and Moebius
5) Matt Fraction and David Aja
Jeffrey A. Goodman
* Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder
* Sean Kelly & Neal Adams
* Michael O'Donoghue & Frank Springer
* Dave Sim & Gerhard
* Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
1. Pete Milligan & Chris Bachalo - Shade the Changing Man
2. Wendy & Richard Pini - Elfquest
3. Ann Nocenti & John Romita JR - Daredevil
4. Ann Nocenti & Sean Phillips - Kid Eternity
5. Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragones - everything they do but especially Groo!!!
1. Frank Miller & Bill Sienkiewicz
2. Dave Gibbons & Steve Rude
3. Scott McCloud & Chuck Austen
4. Jim Starlin & Berni Wrightson
5. Howard Chaykin & Mike Vosburg