Off-Panel: December 12, 2014

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

Here’s your weekly round-up of comics news stories we found interesting, from the gutters and beyond.


 

MarvelSecretWars

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY’s Gold Sponsor titles for 2015 have been revealed, and the big news has got to be Secret Wars #1 from Marvel. (But my heart has a big spot saved for the Boom! 10th anniversary collection: it’s going to have stuff from Lumberjanes, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and Adventure Time.)


Each day, a new book will be announced from a variety of different publishers, like a digital advent calendar where instead of candy and tiny toys, you get comics. You can keep the book or gift it to someone of your choosing. Spread the love. You’ll have to pop in daily to see what surprises await.

The giveaway kicks off with The Wake #1. The story is about Lee Archer, a marine biologist who finds herself in the employ of the Department of Homeland Security. She’s taken to a secret oilrig hidden in the Arctic Circle where they have discovered something both terrifying and wonderful.

It must really be the season of Santa, because Comixology is giving away comics for the next 12 days. Get ’em!


The question is, why do folks like Broderick and Ellis find that threatening? How exactly does someone cosplaying Power-Girl next to your booth damage you? People sometimes make vague claims about loss of revenue, or that the cosplayers don’t buy enough comics—though it’s hard to figure how more people at a convention filing past your table is going to damage your bottom line. The real vitriol, in any case, as in Ellis’s statement, seems to be directed at the sexuality of cosplay, and even more at its artificiality. It’s the same mentality behind the fake geek girl meme—the idea that women cosplayers aren’t real fans, and, beyond that, aren’t actually real people. As Julia Serano argues in her 2007 book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, the feminine is often denigrated as artificial and sexualized. The cosplayers threaten to undermine the authentic purity and virtue of the comics industry. A woman is getting her picture taken close by—how can we ever take our magic wishing-rings and giant-sized Man-Things seriously again?!

The Atlantic is asking some interesting questions about why some creators and fans respond the way they do to the practice of cosplay. My you-do-you policy kicks in pretty swiftly around all this stuff, as long as everyone is happy (and all interactions are consensual).


 

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Jeet “Magic on the Twitter Mic” Heer dropped his thoughts on how Maus can be read as a detective novel, and it’s as thought-provoking as it sounds (my Twitter account legit has a crush on him and his burgeoning “twessay” form).


 

The book itself is experimental in a way that Archie comics were not.Tell me about that.

The book is a 100-chapter book. Faced with an uninteresting corpus of text, I tried to write the book in an unusual way to offset that. The format was actually suggested by a colleague of mine who is a poet. He said, “You need to write this not as a scholarly book but like a book of poetry. With short chapters that people won’t get tired of.” The book doesn’t have to be read from beginning to end. You can jump around as I do close readings on very minor details. I have a whole chapter on Archie’s sweater vest and a whole chapter on Betty’s ponytail.

Why did you choose to focus on that image?

I argue that Betty in fact is her ponytail. Of the thousand issues of Archie that I read to write this book, I think there are only about five or six drawings of Betty without her ponytail. And whenever she takes her hair out of her ponytail, everything changes for her. So there are stories where she gives up, she realizes Archie will never love her, she’s sitting on her couch with her hair dishevelled, and she just becomes a depressive character. There are stories where she cuts her hair short in order to play the role of a hussy in the school play. She starts taking on more of a Veronica personality, she’s no longer the girl next door. That ponytail is very much tied to that naïve, innocent sense of Betty.

University of Calgary comics scholar Bart Beaty talks about his new scholarly (but fun-sounding!) book about Archie Comics.

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