Comics Disassembled: Eleven Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Creators on the Lookout

This week, it was the week comic creators started fighting back! Or to put it in a less comic book-y way, I feel like it was a positive time in an otherwise dark stretch. This look at all that and more in this week’s edition of Comics Disassembled.

Also, please note that an eleventh item was added, fittingly, at the eleventh hour.

1. Creators4Comics, Doing Work

If you use Twitter and follow comics, I have to imagine you’ve seen #Creators4Comics the past couple days. It’s an effort organized by a small collection of comic book creators – including, at least from what I understand, Sam Humphries, Brian Michael Bendis, Kami Garcia, and others – to have a much, much broader collection of creators and creator types auction off varying items on Twitter to benefit comic shops via Book Industry Charitable Foundation, or BINC.

Basically, every auction is going from now until Monday the 20th, and it features an unreal list of creators hawking an equally unreal list of goods and experiences. Kelly Sue DeConnick has her personal cast and crew jacket from Captain Marvel up there! Marc Guggenheim is auctioning off a set visit to one of his shows! There’s an insane list of artists rolling out varying commissions and original pieces! My favorites, though, are the experiences. Chip Zdarsky writing erotic fiction about you and then reading it to you over Zoom. Kieron Gillen putting together a DIE RPG campaign for you and four friends. Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Brian Michael Bendis hosting you for Zoom dinner with them. The list goes on and on, and it’s genuinely unbelievable to see how people have come through to help shops.

Of course, it’s a flawless victory. Doing it over Twitter is easy, but it’s absolute anarchy to try and figure out who is winning and what their bid is at times. I’m at least 23% concerned that some people’s bids might not be totally real. But those are a small price to pay to see good people doing good things. I mean, just look at what Jeff Lemire, Damon Lindelof and Robert Kirkman did. Lemire put up a Sweet Tooth drawing, Lindelof said he’d match whatever the winning bid was, and Kirkman bid $10,000 and said whoever ends up being second place can keep the art. That’s amazing generosity that I love to see. Good job by everyone involved! Keep up the great work!

Oh, and get bidding everyone! I know some of the items have huge price tags, but there are some great things in there that are still in range, and it all goes to a good cause! You can find all the #Creators4Comics auctions here.

2. Hero Initiative, In the Same Vein

Speaking of good things, Hero Initiative rolled out something similar this week with a slew of experiences people could buy from people like Zdarsky, Lemire, Bendis and many more, all to generate money for Hero Initiative’s important mission (which, if you don’t know, is basically to support creators in need). Unlike #Creators4Comics, these weren’t auctions. They were straight purchase and you’re done. And boy, were they cleaned out fast. Some still live there, but the bulk of them are gone, with a few cool things still remaining there.

This week was one where it felt like people really jumped in to have an impact from the creator side of things in comics. I appreciate that. It was great to see all of the efforts being put in, and I am sure everyone noticed the work that was being done to support the world of comics.

3. Friday on Wednesday

In completely unexpected fashion – which perfectly fits its publisher – Wednesday brought a new comic from the Panel Syndicate, and its name was Friday. Even better, it was from Ed Brubaker, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente, an A+++ creative team if there ever had been one, as that heavily Eisner-nominated trio developed a mystery story about a teen detective – Friday Fitzhugh – who moved on with her life but is back home from college and is immediately dragged back into a mystery thanks to her ex-partner – Lancelot Jones – who she clearly had some sort of previous personal entanglement with.

The first issue is fantastic, and as soon as you start reading, you can’t help but wonder why Brubaker and Martin never worked together before. They’re an A+ combination, and it’s a revelation seeing how the two are clearly invigorated by this idea and combination. Brubaker recounts how this book came together in the back of the first issue, and why he wanted to do something like this – which he describes as “Post-YA,” before admitting that his friends told him that would just be an adult story, really – but regardless of the reasoning, I’m thrilled for it. I love seeing Brubaker writing something a little younger, and this collaboration is to die for.

You can read the first issue now. You really should. As with all Panel Syndicate comics, it’s pay what you want. You should give them a million dollars, because that’s what it’s worth. Okay, maybe not, but it’s the best comic I’ve read in a bit, and it’s the only new comic for a while so why not. Oh, and Brubaker is coming on Off Panel soon. Huzzah!

4. First Second, Bringing Relief

Without the ability to have conventions or festivals, the comics publisher and all around all-star team that is First Second is doing its own thing. It’s called Comics Relief, and it’s “a free virtual festival” that has panels all day long tomorrow, Saturday, April 18th featuring people like Ngozi Ukazu, Gene Luen Yang, Lucy Knisley, and more. There are some really fantastic sessions planned – I’m personally fond of “Comic Creators in Quarantine Getting Coffee” with Ukazu, Yang, Knisley and First Second head Mark Siegel – and if you’re a creator interested in learning more about the voodoo that, well, they do, this is a great place to do it. Big fan of this idea.

5. Speaking of Brubaker…

This is a quick one, but apparently Brubaker and Sean Phillips are doing a new print run of Criminal’s first two deluxe editions, and Phillips did new covers for them. They shared the first one this week, and they are, as the kids say, flames. Do the kids say that? I honestly don’t know. I say that now apparently, but you’re missing the point people. Look at that cover! Right there! Up above these words! It’s so good! Sean Phillips, people!

6. Donny Cates, Knowing His ABCs

We’ve already talked about comic creators doing rad things this week, but the raddest of all rad things by creators this week came from writer Donny Cates. The noted writer of Venom and Thor and assorted other titles lives in Austin, Texas, home of the vaunted – and perhaps best in the world – comic book shop Austin Books & Comics. Cates knew that even a giant like them could use some help, so what did he do?

He bought literally every pull list customer’s comics for them.

Not to keep. These customers still get their comics. They’re just now paid for, with his only request being that these customers pay it forward by buying something at the Center for Austin Fandom, which is the larger building Austin Books & Comics resides in (they have a number of shops in there, all owned by the same group, with each shop hitting a different side of fandom like games, statues, vinyl figures, etc.). Do that, help others, bring joy to each other, and get your comics paid for by a popular Marvel writer. It’s a dream scenario, and I love that Cates was putting so much back into his community of Austin, his community of his comic shop, and his larger community of comics. Not everyone has the money to do that kind of thing, but Cates stepping up to do that is genuinely wonderful. I love to see it.

Update: He also did it at Dragon’s Lair in Austin, which is even more rad!

7. Daniel Warren Johnson, Showing Up

Last week, I wrote about how much I’ve enjoyed comic creators expanding their horizons with Instagram Lives, Twitch streams, YouTube channels, and much more. It’s a rad trend, and I’m excited to see how it continues to grow. This week, it grew by the power of one Daniel Warren Johnson, as the sensational cartoonist launched a new YouTube channel called Something From Nothing, in which he’s going to reveal secrets of his art, walk people through his studio and perspective, share his sketchbooks, do live streams, and a whole lot more. I’m a big fan of Daniel, and if you are too, you’ve probably already seen this and subscribed. But if you haven’t, word to the wise! There are two videos up already, and I get the feeling he’s going to be producing quite a bit on here over this stretch.

8. Karl Kerschl, Expanding

I am on record as a Karl Kerschl super fan. It’s worth getting that out of the way because, you know, that’s a thing. So when he does something new – even if it comes at the cost of my beloved Abominable Charles Christopher – I pay attention. And Kerschl is doing something new in the form of a new webcomic which he describes as a cross between Metroid and Hellboy, with new pages coming on his site as he finishes them.

Here’s the catch: it is subscription based. To access the comics, you have to subscribe to his site for a minimum of $2 or a suggested price of $5 a month. It’s a good variant on the typical practice of webcomics, and knowing, he will makes it worth your while. I have yet to subscribe, but given the other perks that come with it – behind the scenes content, giveaways, discounts on his shop – I will certainly be doing so. But even without those perks, new Karl Kerschl is new Karl Kerschl. I’d be there regardless because dude is a boss. But I like the move and the shift in strategy, because I clearly think it’s a smart one given what I do.

9. Birds of Prey, Rising and Shining

I missed Birds of Prey when it was in theaters for a variety of reasons, none of which were I was adamantly against it or anything like that. I just missed it for ordinary “missing movies” reasons. But this past weekend, I caught up with it on the good ol’ home theater, and you know what? It was rad! I’m actually bummed out I missed in theaters now, as the one problem I had with it is the sound did not jive with my sound bar at home – the levels of the music and the action always seemed way too low, and it sapped fight sequences (which were otherwise great) of their energy – and I heard it worked much better in theaters.

But even with that, it was fantastic. Tremendous action sequences. A+ performances from most everyone, but most notably Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, and the honestly revelatory turn by Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, who crackled with insane energy every time he was on scene. Fantastic small beats that sold the camaraderie of the gangs. The movie’s general vibe, which was fresh and inventive.

But most importantly, there was a sequence where Robbie as Harley Quinn goes to a greasy spoon and lustily waits on a cook to make her a breakfast sandwich as it’s prepared to Barry White. It was…everything I want in a movie, but more specifically, for a mostly lunatic-like character like Harley, it was a moment that grounded her and connected me with her. Sure, she jumps on people’s extended legs to break them and yeah she kills a lot of people, but she too thirsts for a good looking egg and bacon sandwich. I loved it, and it was a great scene in a very good movie. Very impressed, and if you were holding out, I’d recommend it.

10. Gale Galligan, Having Conversations

I’m a big fan of Gale Galligan, the comics creator, and Gale Galligan, the person. I’ve only had limited engagements with her, but she just seems like a sharp, charming and funny person. I also appreciate her unique perspective on things, both in her comics and beyond. We saw more of that latter idea recently, as the cartoonist has gotten into doing interviews with fellow creators under the premise of “The Fans We Were,” as she talks with people like Ngozi Ukazu and Carey Pietsch about the fans they were, and how they impacted them as creators.

They’re excellent interviews, and ones that show the freedom and comfort that comes with creatives talking with other creatives about creative things. It exposes us to a different side of these talented folks we might not get otherwise, and it’s a lot of fun seeing what Galligan comes up with in these chats. Big fan of them, and I hope to see more in the future.

11. Diamond, Setting a Return

While it’s not 100% certain, because what even is 100% certain during a pandemic, Diamond Comic Distributors has put down a save the date on when they’ll get back to distributing comics. Or more accurately, a “save a general period in a month,” as they said they’re “targeting” mid-to-late May. While that isn’t set in stone by any means, that’s at least a projectable period for everyone to start aiming for.

Of course, then questions come from that. Will publishers just drop all of the comics that have been produced during the corresponding stretch on that date, or is it effectively the 4/1 date that was the first broken Wednesday will become May whatever the first day is? What about Diamond UK, which stopped shipping a couple weeks before Diamond US? How do they adjust? And what of the shops that will still be in shelter-in-place when this happens, as it’s a virtual certainty a significant portion of the United States will still be stuck without the ability to open up? Will they have to accept orders even if they themselves cannot open, ensuring money goes out without money coming in? These are important questions, and just a small selection of a much, much larger group. We’ll see what happens, but I’m guessing the stretch from today to Diamond’s reopening will be dedicated to answering them.

That said, this at least gives us a path. A roadmap to what’s next. That’s a good thing, even if it isn’t anywhere close to all the answers yet. While it’s still uncertain if it will happen on that date, even if it MIGHT happen it’s still communication from Diamond on how it’s looking.