The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of November 9, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of November 9, 2013
Published on Saturday, November 9, 2013 by
Learn about the all-new Ms. Marvel, how digital comics can cause eyestrain, the latest Superman/Batman movie casting rumors, Marvel’s landmark deal with Netflix, and more in this week’s News Round-up.
On the new Ms. Marvel

msmarvelkamalakhanIn what is perhaps the biggest comics story of the week, Marvel announced that the newest bearer of the Ms. Marvel codename is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teen from Jersey City with shape-shifting powers who just happens to be a Muslim. According to the story from the New York Times, the idea had its roots in a conversation between Stephen Wacker and Sana Amanat in which the two Marvel editors noted a lack of both female superheroes and comics with cultural specificity. Tasked with writing the new Ms. Marvel comic is G. Willow Wilson (Cairo, Air), a convert to Islam who spent time living in Egypt where she worked as a contributor to the political opposition’s Cairo Magazine as well as various North American publications—Wilson was only 22 when she earned the distinction of being the first Western journalist to be granted a private audience with grand mufti Ali Gomaa for a 2005 Atlantic Monthly interview. Joining Wilson on the title, which is set for a February 2014 debut, is artist Adrian Alphona (RunawaysUncanny X-Force).

While editor Amanat describes the motivation behind the book as “a desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective” (Amanat herself was raised in a Muslim-American household), she also points out that

[Ms. Marvel] isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself.

Wilson concurs, saying that

Islam is both an essential part of [Kamala’s] identity and something she struggles mightily with. She’s not a poster girl for the religion, or some kind of token minority. She does not cover her hair—most American Muslim women don’t—and she’s going through a rebellious phase. She wants to go to parties and stay out past 9 PM and feel ‘normal.’ Yet at the same time, she feels the need to defend her family and their beliefs.

and that the comic book is intended for “all the geek girls out there and everybody else who’s ever looked at life from the fringe.”

MeetTheKhans

allnewmarvelnowmsmarvelWe do have a feeling that despite Amanat and Wilson’s stated intentions to keep the topics of religion, race, and gender from dominating the title, they will nonetheless be front and center in a lot of discussions about Ms. Marvel, not just because of how they inform the character, but also because of the contrast Marvel’s character offers to rival DC Comics’ recent attempt at creating a Muslim-American superhero of its own in Simon Baz, the gun-toting, street-racing, ex-car thief Lebanese-American introduced in last year’s Green Lantern #0 whom the A.V. Club’s Oliver Sava described as “[not] so much a character as he is a series of clichés and coincidences.”

As interesting as this new spin on the Ms. Marvel character is, we do think it very important to note that writers, artists, and publishers in Muslim-majority countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have been hard at work these past several years telling their own stories featuring female superheroes, all while facing heightened and pervasive political and social censorship in addition to the same creative and commercial concerns shared by all comics creators.

Paper vs. Digital

Getting headaches from reading your comics? Does it seem like they all blur together? That may have less to do with the quality of the writing and art (although those could be problems, too, of course) than with where you’re reading them.

digitalcomictablet

Evidence suggests that reading on a self-illuminated screen such as the screen on a tablet or a laptop is cognitively and physically more taxing than reading on paper, which leads to a comparative reduction in the comprehension and retention of the material being read.

We’ve previously discussed the theory that says that spatiotemporal markers can help explain why the experience of reading a print comic book feels subjectively “better” or more memorable than reading a digital comic. Now, the Nov. 2013 issue of Scientific American [NOTE: subscription required] has an article (“Why the brain prefers paper”) by Ferris Jabr that proposes that besides the lack of spatiotemporal markers that adds to the reader’s cognitive load, reading on an LCD screen is also more physically taxing for the reader: prolonged reading on a glossy, self-illuminated screen produces eyestrain—the effect isn’t too far removed from that one experiences from staring directly at a lit light bulb—that negatively affects reading comprehension, and there have been multiple studies showing that people taking a reading comprehension test on a computer consistently score lower and report higher levels of stress and tiredness than people who take the same test on paper. Note that this effect is seen even among “native” screen readers (i.e., readers who grew up reading on computers and tablets).

These findings and theories should provide more impetus for further development and wider consumer adoption of e-readers that offer “electronic paper” or “electronic ink” technology, as a true electronic paper display reflects ambient light like real paper, instead of emitting light like a tablet’s LCD screen.

Fantagraphics Books needs your help…

Award-winning alternative and underground comics publisher Fantagraphics Books, credited with introducing legions of readers to the works of artists such as R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Dan Clowes, Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, Spain Rodriguez, Carol Tyler and others, is turning to Kickstarter to raise funds in order to publish its Spring 2014 line-up of 39 graphic novels. The baseline target is $150,000. According to co-founder and company president Gary Groth, the death of co-founder/senior editor/translator Kim Thompson from cancer earlier this year had a domino effect in terms of their Spring/Summer 2013 publishing plan, leading to a severe shortfall in revenue that has put their Spring 2014 slate in danger of outright cancellation.

The Fantagraphics Books 2014 Spring Season Kickstarter campaign will run until Dec. 5.

… and so do Sam Eggleston and Randy Kintz

Artist Randy Kintz and writer Sam Eggleston’s Kickstarter campaign for Cazadora, a 24-page comic intended for mature readers set in a “steampunk Victorian-era Europe” and featuring a buxom zombie-hunter protagonist, recently hit its baseline funding goal of $4000 but that doesn’t mean you should stop donating, of course: There are all sorts of stretch-goal rewards for backers, like original art postcards, extra print copies for sale at conventions, t-shirts, and more. Returning Comixverse readers will remember Sam Eggleston, whose Kickstarter-funded comic Last Breath was spotlighted in the News Round-up a few months back.

The Cazadora Kickstarter campaign runs until Dec. 11.

PW releases its list of 2013’s best graphic novels

Publishers Weekly has revealed its choices for the the best graphic novels of 2013 [It strikes us as a tad early in the year to be coming out with this list—but hey, what do we know?–ed.]:

  • March: Book One (Top Shelf Productions) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

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  • Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life (Fantagraphics) by Ulli Lust

lastdaylust

  • The Property (Drawn & Quarterly) by Rutu Modan

theproperty

  • RASL (Cartoon Books) by Jeff Smith

rasl

  • Boxers and Saints (First Second/Roaring Brook) by Gene Luen Yang

BoxersAndSaints

 

Thor: The Dark World reviews

As you may well know, Thor: The Dark World hit theaters this week. Here are excerpts from some notable reviews [emphasis our own]:

From Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Wesley Morris:

The first hour of this movie has Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgård, and Kat Dennings all giving the same performances they did in 2011, except without Kenneth Branagh’s fascinating delusion that he was still directing Shakespeare. Now it’s boring stuff, I’m afraid: characters hopping from one screen saver to the next. This movie has action but zero intrigue. Even when major characters are dying you don’t feel anything. For one thing, death doesn’t seem to mean anything in these movies

… Just wake me when The Avengers: Age of Ultron is here.

From the A.V. Club’s A.A. Dowd:

… would it kill the makers of these splash-panel blockbusters to dream up a bad guy with a little menace, a little flavor? As if to match Thor’s increasingly flawless virtue, the heavy here is a bland force of ancient evil, determined to destroy the universe because… well, that’s what forces of ancient evil try to do. Consequently, the movie’s most valuable asset may be Tom Hiddleston, reprising the role of Thor’s jealous, treacherous brother, Loki. He’s the only person onscreen with truly complicated motives, and Hiddleston reveals new depths to the character once The Dark World, in its most fruitful development, forces this black sheep into an uneasy alliance with the favorite son. Forget the fairy-tale romance between Jane and her hammer-wielding hunk. The real emotional center of the Thor series is this sibling rivalry, more compelling than any climactic battle royale or winking teaser for the next chapter.

From The Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern:

Most of the action is generic, though sufficiently straightforward to provide relief from the incoherent storytelling. Which realm are we in now? Where were we a moment ago, and how did everyone get here? Such questions seem not to have troubled the writers or producers. As for the director, Alan Taylor, he has done a lot of top-drawer television, including episodes of ‘Game of Thrones,’ but there’s no sign he has a feel for feature films; his emphasis is entirely on big set pieces at the expense of narrative flow.

As of this writing, Thor: The Dark World is sitting at a 54 out of 100 rating on review aggregator site Metacritic. Looks like “the curse of the threequel” came one movie early, unless you count 2012’s The Avengers as a Thor movie, in which case it’s hit just in time.

Odds and Sods

More news from around the world of comics and comics-related media:

  • Marvel, in association with ABC TV, will be teaming up with Netflix to create four 13-episode series featuring Daredevil, Jessica Jones (from the Marvel MAX title Alias), Luke Cage and Iron Fist, as well as a Defenders miniseries. Airing is tentatively scheduled for 2015. (Marvel) [All we can say is, “wow”–ed.]

marvelnetflixseries

  • Bill Schelly pens a comprehensive and image-filled obituary for legendary comics artist Nick Cardy, who died last week at the age of 93. (The Comics Journal)
  • BOOM!/Archaia releasing long-awaited follow-ups to Tom and Nimue Brown’s Hopeless, Maine and Old City Blues by Giannis Milonogiannis (Prophet). New volumes to be available Nov. 13 in comics shops, Nov. 26 in bookstores. (Comixverse)
  • Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, To the Wonder), Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and Gal Gadot (Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6) are all rumored to be in the running for the role of Wonder Woman(!) in the upcoming Superman/Batman film starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. (Variety)

wonderwomen

  • Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga bags another Comic of the Year-type award, this time from the British Fantasy Society. (British Fantasy Society). The Image Comics-published series has been the recipient of Eisner Awards for Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, and Best Writer (Brian K. Vaughan) as well as Harvey Awards for Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, Best Single Issue (Saga #1), Best Writer (Brian K. Vaugan), Best Artist (Fiona Staples), and Best Colorist (Fiona Staples).
  • Mattel reveals three new Masters of the Universe Classics figures at the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo. (Comixverse)
  • As a counterpoint to the reviews we’ve quoted above, here’s an article by Solvej Schou that looks at the Shakespearean influences in Thor: The Dark World. (BBC)
  • Italy’s Lucca Comics Fest, perhaps the top contender against the Angoulême International Comics Festival for the title of “Europe’s SDCC” (although all three are dwarfed by Japan’s Comiket convention), sold 200,000 tickets and saw over 300,000 attendees. (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • The October Nielsen BookScan top twenty graphic novel bookstore sales rankings are here, and—no surprise, really, given the trends of the past few months—almost half of the list (nine of the top twenty) are Attack on Titan and The Walking Dead volumes. (ICv2)
  • NECA announces new Batman 1966, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, RoboCop, and Alien figures. (Comixverse)
  • Stan Lee talks about Chakra the Invincible, a character he created inspired by Indian mythology but whom he expects to appeal to everybody, regardless of where they’re from. (Business Today[A preview of the FCBD 2013 Chakra the Invincible comic can be read here—ed.]
  • Bad Machinery, the popular award-winning webcomic by John Allison, to get its second collection from Oni Press entitled Bad Machinery, Vol. 2: The Case of the Good Boy, due out March 2014. (Comixverse)
In case you missed them…

sonofmerlin00Don’t forget that we regularly post new previews of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. This week, we added sneak peeks of eleven titles including Son of Merlin, Vol. 1 (Image Comics), Doctor Who (Series 3), Vol. 3: Sky Jacks! (IDW), and Violent Cases (Dark Horse).

Fans of IDW’s Wild Blue Yonder will be thrilled with Troy’s interview with writer/co-creator Mike Raicht. The article also features preview pages from last week’s Wild Blue Yonder #3 as well as a gallery of exclusive art from series illustrator Zach Howard. Troy also shares his thoughts on the recently-concluded X-Men: Battle of the Atom crossover in the latest dispatch From the Fan’s Desk.

Curious as to what all the fuss over Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan is about but don’t know where to start? Zedric has you covered in this week’s Leaving Proof, where he takes a look at the history and themes of the Kodansha Comics-published trade paperback series that is among the best-selling comics in North America for the year, regardless of format and country of origin.

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