A year and a half ago, I listed some of my favorite comic creator newsletters. These newsletters let me keep up with what some of my favorite comic creators are doing, gain insight into their processes, and reap the benefits of curated comic, book, article, and music recommendations. In short, they are fantastic – and they are incredibly valuable in this particular moment, when all of us are looking for ways to occupy our coronavirus quarantine.
Since publishing that first article, I’ve signed up for a few more creator newsletters, each of which is worth checking out if you’re looking for more book recommendations, process and philosophical musings, or zany nonsense. Below, you’ll find links to those newsletters, as well as an explanation of what you can expect from each.
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have ended my three-year stint in Fresno, California and be venturing toward a new adventure in St. Paul, Minnesota. I always get quite nostalgic when I leave a place, and I’m guessing I’ll be feeling even more nostalgic by the time I arrive at my parents’ home in Elkhorn, WI (a stopover on the way to Minnesota).
To fuel that nostalgia even further, I plan to re-read a BUNCH of comics that have been sitting at my parents’ place, waiting for me to return for the last three years. You’ll see some pretty apparent connections between these books – each of them includes returns, remembrances, and new beginnings. These are the sorts of stories I’m in the mood for at this moment.
Most times that I tell people Cyclops is my favorite X-Man, they ask me how that could possibly be true. They think that Scott Summers is not interesting. That he’s too perfect, too whitebread, too boring. To them, Scott is the boy scout “born leader of the X-Men” and not much else.
But Scott Summers is not a born leader. After spending years being bullied and hiding who he is, Scott was chosen to lead by Charles Xavier. Xavier recognized Scott’s potential – his levelheadedness and ability to solve problems. And he also recognized Scott’s shyness – and that the boy would likely need a push to become the best version of himself.
Being chosen to lead the X-Men was exactly the push Scott needed to become his best self. He became a confident, competent leader, a stalwart friend, and (eventually) a valued romantic partner. He did this while overcoming his predisposition toward hiding himself away, for fear he might lose control of his powers (and relatedly, his emotions) and hurt those around him. Scott worked incredibly hard to become the “leader of the X-Men,” the thing that ’90s X-Men cartoon fans know him best for.
That version of Scott Summers is a great character, and would likely rank among my favorite X-Men even if there was nothing else to him. But as I dug into X-Men comics, I learned what Scott Summers’s real superpower is – the power to watch his life fall apart, again and again, and figure out how to soldier on regardless. And that’s what has cemented him as my all-time favorite X-Man.
Recently, wonderful artist and sometimes Waiting on the Trade co-host Kathryn Prince (aka Red Phacelia) participated in a Project Art Cred experiment examining how different artists interpret the same comic script. Because I’m a process nerd, I asked Kat to walk y’all through her page creation process. I’ll let her take it from here.
The process of making a comic can take a long time, and that is largely due to the art, not the writing. This week I’m writing a guest post to give you an idea of what goes into illustrating a comic page. This particular comic page came about as a challenge to artists posted by Kieron Gillen in his weekly newsletter.
The premise of the challenge was that the meaning of a story changes dramatically based on how it is illustrated. Gillen wrote a single-page script, and over forty different artists submitted pages. (If you’d like to see all of them, check out this Twitter thread).
In the last five to ten years, libraries have upped their graphic novel game considerably. When I was a kid, I was lucky to find one to two Batman books and a volume of Hellboy in my (small-town Wisconsin) library’s graphic novel section. Now, libraries are my primary source of print comics – and they carry not just “mainstream” titles, but indie books, manga, and shelves upon shelves of kids’ comics.
Near the end of 2019, I reached out to the Fresno County Public Library‘s collections staff in hopes of learning how my current local library system chooses its graphic novels. I also wanted to know what books Fresno County is reading, as well as the state of graphic novel purchasing and borrowing over the last few years.
Librarian Thomas Wood, who selects Fresno County’s graphic novels and suspects his job “might actually be the best of all possible jobs,” was kind enough to answer all my questions and more. Below, Thomas will tell you where the Fresno County Library staff looks when selecting graphic novels, what books are hot in Fresno County right now, and why he’s optimistic about the state of both kids and adult comics.