Turtle Club Newsletter #13
Reporting from the Con Floor
You know, it’s a strange and interesting time here at Urbane Turtle HQ. As I fall further and further behind on currently running books I find myself diving into old books I missed to try to introduce new readers and potential fans for this YouTube gig. Lately that’s involved some slogs (see this week’s WHY DO COMICS HATE ME? down below) but also introduced me to some major blindspots in my reading history. I recently caught up on Batman/Catwoman by King & Mann and found myself really enjoying it (though I’m not Mann’s biggest fan, especially the way he draws women.) What really gets me is King’s desire to play with the form and the creativity of how this series jumps back and forth through time with only the subtlest visual signifiers really gripped me. I am increasingly canon-ambivalent so how this fits into anything else doesn’t really matter to me anymore.
I’ve got a Thor piece about the DISASSEMBLED ARC getting recorded now and am doing some research on Spider-Man 2099 this week. All-in-all, it’s been a fun exercise to try and summarize these stories and characters for people who might be interested but not ready to invest the time into researching where to start or reading the books themselves.
I’m slowly crawling on top of my pile and hopefully I can have some writing about things actually happening in comics now soon. I’m almost up to date on the X-Men books but the wind is largely out of my sales for this franchise after Hickman’s departure. I skipped Spidey Beyond altogether but am curious to see what Zeb Wells and company do (I’m not optimisic with Lowe still lead editor).
Fan Expo Philly 2022
So I went to my first comics convention last weekend (I’m not including the tiny Power Rangers con I visited and met Kyle Higgins, though maybe I should). FanExpo Philadelphia was a fun day. There were some big names there and I was lucky enough to get comics signed by Ben Percy, Philip Kennedy Johnson, Ryan Parrott, Mike McKone, and a signed Ninja Turtles print from Dave Wachter. Other creators onsite included Cates/Stegman, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (who I was not able to time purchasing anything from) Pete Tomasi, and Zoe Thorogood. There were surprisingly few vendors selling comics back issues and I was unable to achieve my goal of purchasing each individual issue of THE MUD PACK. But even my wife managed to enjoy herself as we talked to an artist that frequently works with Disney World (a shared nerdy love) and I think she just enjoyed watching me be excited.
The biggest bummers of the day were not having the money to purchase some original comics art and being unable to attend any of the panels. There were a few that looked interesting but timing just didn’t allow. Hopefully next year I’ll be in a position to commission some art! But I did get a fun haul, including an original animation cel from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Owning a painted cel has always been one of my modest dreams and even though this is a tiny little image, I love looking at it.
As I try to pursue being industry adjacent I hope to attend more cons in the future and perhaps maybe go as press and try to have some conversations with creators beyond just going up and saying hi please sign my book I’m a big fan. Being a crippling introvert I spent a lot of time trying to think of what I might say to some of the creators and came up with nothing. Alas, alas.
Here are some photos from the Con Floor.
Ideas and Design Works, Designing Ideas
I’ve been curious what IDW was going to do after losing some of its major licenses. For at least as long as I’ve been collecting comics seriously, the company has been primarily a licensing operation—Making series based on Ghostbusters, Transformers, GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, and Angel. With the loss of the no doubt lucrative Hasbro licenses, IDW was facing a crisis of identity.
I’m excited that they are launching into the creator owned/originals space with a new imprint from former Vertigo editor Mark Doyle. The imprint will see nine new series from a mix of big names and newer voices.
I don’t think there’s been a better time to be a comics creator with original ideas, the marketplace seems to have a fairly robust demand and a lot of new options have cropped up. Just look at Scott Snyder, who seems to be involved in all of them, from Substack, to ComiXology, to Dark Horse, now to IDW.
I think Image has lost some of its luster for many, with from what I overhear massive overhead required to launch and maintain a book with them. In the last couple years BOOM! Studios has cropped up as a major contender with some of the best books on the market. They seem to have an infrastructure more familiar to work-for-hire creators, with more editorial and logistic support to get a book moving. I’m interested to see what shakes out with IDW.
It could be a multimedia play by IDW’s new leadership—The press release indicated these series will be developing most of these properties for film and TV. I imagine there is an appealing payday there for creators.
Read the press release here.
(No I’m not annoyed they didn’t send me the press release even though I applied for and they confirmed my application for their media mailing list)
Love and Thunder
The first teaser for Thor Love and Thunder looks dope as hell. Check it out. Then if you’re excited by that final image of Natalie Portman, check out my PanelxPanel Essay on Jane Foster Thor and its empowering depiction of chronic illness here.
Random Comic Panel of the Week
Holy New Creative Teams, Batman
As if my mighty powers and work on BATMAN MONTH AT URBANE TURTLE summoned it—there has been big news abrewin’ in the world of Batman comic books with new creative teams on both main titles, Batman and Detective Comics. Both tremendous talents—Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez on Batman and Ram V and Rafael Albaquerque on Detective. This is an exciting time to be getting back into Batman for your old pal Urbane Turtle!
Zdarsky has been headlining Marvel’s Daredevil for the last couple years, which has been consistently one of the company’s strongest titles. His balance of superhero goofiness with moody melodrama should make for some riveting Batman stories, while Jimenez’s work gets better with every single issue. With the promise of Tim Drake as a major character—I am excited!
Over on Detective, we have Ram V, one of medium’s most creative minds and the writer behind one of my absolute favorite books of 2021, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr. I don’t have much to say that’s super deep about Ram V that others have not probably said. But his ideas are wild, his stories so evocative and moving and cerebral, that it’s hard to think of anyone I would rather read on Batman. Albuquerue’s art is distinctive and gritty while still evoking superheroic imagery and it should really complement Ram V’s writing very well. I’ve greatly enjoyed Ram’s work on Justice League Dark and his voice for Batman and the DC Universe is just truly enjoyable.
Comics hate me this week because they are too good. Threatening my wallet.
WHY DO COMICS HATE ME?!
I read Axis last week for research on a recent video script. The video was fun to write because the subject—KLUH—was so dumb and silly. But Axis, as a story, is not silly. It’s a miserable, poorly written slog. A reminder of how bleak the state of Big Two comics were for a big stretch of the last decade. Both look to be coming out of a bit of a slump in recent years—blessedly—but Axis is a prime example of how misguided so much of the creative direction of these companies were. Bloated stories that did not justify their length and complex set ups that build off of stories in other books and provide no or very little context for what got the story to that point. They start on act 3 and move on. It’s a mess and it’s no surprise that I tuned out for a while.
So comics hate me this week because I had to read an old comic that was bad. Old comics can still hate you and they can still hurt you. Be careful out there.
As a gift for making it through this newsletter, here’s my plug to purchase or download for free a collected volume of Urbane Turtle year one!