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Workers of the world! Here’s a list of comics to celebrate your Labor Day

Ah, the pleasures of having Labor Day off to celebrate work. It’s a contradiction as old as time, where honoring work means taking a (well-deserved and utterly necessary) break from it. After all, most workers have jobs that go year-round and the daily grind does take a toll. A day off is the least that can be afforded to them.

Recognition is the other thing we should doling out in industrial quantities during this federal holiday. As such, comic books are filled with stories about the fruits of labor, both in a literal and a politically figurative sense. Be it by actually exploring the hardships of being a worker to acknowledging the monumental task that is organizing movements in support of them, labor is central to the motivations behind some of comic’s best stories.

Here’s a short list of comics that either directly or indirectly showcase the roles workers play in keeping life and society functional. These comics dive headfirst into the specifics of what ‘putting in the work’ means, recognizing that everything that’s done in the service of others usually rests on human struggles both painful and exhausting. The comics below give workers their time in the spotlight so we can appreciate just how much it takes to go out and keep the world turning.

Labor Day Comics
Trashed

1. Trashed, written and illustrated by Derf Backderf

This book can best be described as a sobering love letter to one of the most underappreciated and openly repudiated jobs known to humankind: garbage collection. Following Backderf’s critically-acclaimed My Best Friend Dahmer, Trashed is based on the author’s time as a sanitation worker himself, surrounded by other workers just as enthused about collecting trash as he was (which wasn’t a whole lot). The inner workings of sanitation are presented through a combination of autobiographical anecdotes and well-researched facts and data that reveal just how complex, dangerous, and even clumsy picking up and storing trash can be. It’s a funny but scary look at how sanitation can save the world while also turn it into a ticking time bomb.

Damage Control

2. Damage Control, originally created by Dwayne McDuffie (W) and Ernie Colón (A)

A superhero’s job is to save the day, crumbling infrastructure be damned. With them, though, comes a unique concern for property damage, mostly focused on the inevitability of mass destruction. In comes a company solely dedicated to cleaning up after extinction-level battles and then putting the pieces back together called Damage Control. In essence, this Marvel comic is about unsung heroes. It’s about doing essential work knowing there’s no glory waiting at the end of it (much like Trashed, in some respects). McDuffie’s scripts are a masterclass on chaos and property politics, but it’s Colón’s attention to detail amidst the chaos that sets this story apart. The original series (there are a total of 4 series published) takes to a kind of MAD Magazine-style approach to comedy with visual gags and crude humor leading the charge, but it’s all well-orchestrated and it makes for reading that rewards those who scan comics pages whole multiple times.

Labor Day Comics
She-Hulk

3. She-Hulk: Law and Disorder, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Javier Pulido

At a glance, Soule and Pulido’s She-Hulk gives the impression of being a kind of ‘slice of life’ story about a superhero that chooses law as her preferred battleground. The book, however, is about so much more, and it might have more in common with Damage Control than an actual legal drama. She-Hulk takes the anger-filled superhero and turns her into a working-class woman that’s trying (and struggling) to make her own legal services business work. She puts it all together from the ground up but is immediately confronted with the hardships of balancing work, heroics, and the semblance of a personal life on an even keel. One of the greatest, and most entertaining, aspects of the comic lies in the formation of the character’s legal practice and how at odds it can be being both a superhero and a normal person with other interests. It dives deep into the complications of working multiple jobs, but it shows an appreciation for those who lead their lives under that predicament. Soule and Pulido create a story that supports and applauds those who undertake the task of holding several jobs at once, honoring the sacrifice it requires of one’s self to survive it.

Labor Day Comics
Ex Machina

4. Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Tony Harris

While aggressively political and metaphorical, Ex Machina does something few other stories on governmental responsibility manage to achieve: make the role of an elected official look and feel like a real job. The story follows Mitchel Hundred, a man that renounces his superhero persona to become mayor of New York city. After only managing to save one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hundred realizes he can do more good as an elected official rather than as a superhero. Vaughan and Harris take full advantage of this setup to go beyond political speeches and discourse to get Hundred’s hands dirty with the real act of running a government. Hundred has to address the legality of surveillance in times of crisis, protocols for public demonstrations, controversial content in city museums, infrastructure, and police freedoms all while controlling the urge to use his still functioning superpowers to speed the process up. As is the case in She-Hulk, Hundred also attempts (with few successes) to balance his personal life with the job. Problem is, the job demands too much of his time, hence the temptation to use his powers. Ex Machina is a stark reminder that being an elected official actually means holding down a job with real consequences attached to it, something many politicians seem to have lost sight of.

Gotham Central

5. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, written by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark

The profession of law enforcement is under serious scrutiny at the present moment, and rightfully so, but it’s still a job certain men and women take on despite the complexities of outdated and dysfunctional practices that are in desperate need of revision. And that’s on top of the racial problems that have shaped its many, many systems. However, there are those who do take the job seriously and work hard to ‘protect and serve’ with the best of intentions under the law. Gotham Central prioritizes this viewpoint, focusing the cops and detectives that work in Batman’s Gotham City. Without the resources or the exceptions afforded to the Dark Knight, the GCPD is still tasked with responding to criminal activity, regardless of whether it’s of the supervillain type or not. Main characters René Montoya, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, and “Josie Mac” MacDonald, among others, are divided into day and night shifts in a city that is in a constant flux of crime. The job takes its toll on a personal level and there’s an emphasis on how much one gives in the line of duty, but there’s also an appreciation of honest cops walking the line in the face of overwhelming police corruption and abuse. It’s a complicated and sometimes contradictory read, but it makes no excuses while confronting the damning inconsistencies of the job.

Labor Day comics
Wooblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

6. Wooblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, edited by Peter Buhle & Nicole Schulman

The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, has a wild and exuberant history, to say the least, which makes it the ideal subject for comic book storytelling. The IWW was created in Chicago, Illinois in 1905 as a union for marginalized workers led by Marxist principles. Miners, lumber workers, immigrant workers, indigenous workers, non-white workers, severely underrepresented female workers, and workers all over that had no rights or protections saw in the IWW as the means to fight towards better working conditions. Wooblies! (alluding to the nickname given to the members of the union) enlists the talents of cartoonists such as Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, Trina Robbins, Sharon Rudahl, Sue Coe, Carlos Cortez, among others to tell the story of how forgotten and underrepresented workers rose up against the odds to gain the rights and respect owed to them. The anthology has a very underground ‘comix’ feel to it, but it’s allegorical and metaphorical inclinations do a better job of capturing labor struggles better than a traditional story ever could. This might be the quintessential Labor Day reading right here.


Workers, laborers, holders of jobs, these comics honor your contributions, your efforts, and the near impossible feats you pull off. Read and relax, but overall, enjoy your hard-earned Labor Day holiday.

Z2 Comics’ Tales of the Music Makers Will Feature Two New Harvey Pekar Comics

On February 12, 2019, Z2 Comics will release Tales of the Music Makers, an original graphic novel that showcases the stories of Southern musicians — including the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Taj Mahal and the Como Mamas — and explores the origins and mission of the Music Maker Relief Foundation — a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the true pioneers and forgotten heroes of Southern music gain recognition and meet their day-to-day needs. The Tales of the Music Makers features a downloadable soundtrack, with music recorded by the Music Maker Foundation; an extensive black and white photography archive spanning Music Maker’s 25 years; stories written and drawn by Gary Dumm; and two never-before-published stories written by Harvey Pekar, the legendary creator of American Splendor and a jazz and blues aficionado. Tales of the Music Makers will be released by Z2 Comics as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the non profit organization, and all profits from the book will go to the creators and The Music Maker Relief Foundation.

Tales of the Music Makers tells the stories of:

  • Music Maker Foundation’s guiding light, blues great Guitar Gabriel, AKA “Razorblade.”
  • Cora Mae Bryant, daughter of Georgia guitar legend Curley Weaver and friend of the great Blind Willie McTell.
  • Piedmont-style fingerpicking guitar legend Etta Baker.
  • Louisiana soul singer and Dan Auerbach collaborator Robert Finley.
  • GRAMMY-winner, Blues Hall of Famer, and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal, who explains why he sits on the Music Maker advisory board.
  • Mississippi gospel trio and Daptone Records group Como Mamas.
  • Rhythm & blues and jazz pianist and vocalist and World War II veteran and former member of the Ink Spots Eddie Tigner, who still plays regularly in Atlanta.
  • Adolphus Bell, known as the One-Man Blues Band.
  • Willa Mae Buckner, a performer known as the snake lady who performed in an all-black tent show, stripping, singing bawdy songs, swallowing swords, and handling snakes.

The book notably includes two stories that Harvey Pekar wrote in 2003. They will be the first Pekar-written stories to be published since December 2010 when Marvel Comics published the last story he wrote, “Harvey Pekar Meets the Thing”, following the writer’s death earlier that year.

Music Maker founder, Tim Duffy explains how Pekar became involved in the project, following a conversation two decades ago.

I got a call from Harvey in 1998 because he was writing a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about a tour we were on with Music Maker artists called the Winston Blues Revival. The interview went great and when the tour hit Cleveland I got to meet Harvey, we hung out and went to the Cleveland Art Museum and became good friends. Soon after, I asked him if he would write a comic for Music Maker since I had long been a fan. Harvey was a huge music head and loved Music Maker’s mission and would often clue me in on obscure musicians that he knew. His basement was full of tens of thousands of records and CDs – he loved music. Harvey was a huge fan of the underdog and the working class so creating the comics for Music Maker made a perfect sense to him. In a single page Harvey could capture the essence and complexity of these musician’s lives and he understood them because he loved the working class and was working class himself. To me, Harvey was the absolute greatest of underground comic storytellers of his generation – for his last comics to be about Music Maker artists Preston Fulp and Willa Mae Buckner still blows my mind to this day.

This publication of Tales of the Music Makers marks Music Maker Relief Foundation’s second collaboration with Z2 Comics.  

The Tales of the Music Makers Soundtrack is included with the graphic novel, as a download, featuring:

1.     Alabama Slim and Little Freddie King – The Mighty Flood

2.     Adolphus Bell – Child Support Blues

3.     Algia Mae Hinton – When You Kill the Chicken, Save Me The Head

4.     Ben Payton – Singing About My Baby

5.     George Higgs – Blues Is Here To Stay

6.     Captain Luke – Old Black Buck

7.     The Como Mamas – Thank Him Enough

8.     Cool John Ferguson – Low Country Blues

9.     Cootie Stark – Jigroo

10.  Cora Mae Bryant – What Shall I Do

11.  Dave McGrew – Just Another Rainbow

12.  Dr. Burt – Girl, You The One For Me

13.  Drink Small and Cootie Stark – Come Out of the Wilderness

14.  Essie Mae Brooks – I Got So Much To Talk About

15.  Guitar Gabriel – Mississippi Farm

Music Maker’s 25th anniversary will also see release of the book Blue Muse Timothy Duffy’s Southern Photographs (February 25 / UNC Press in conjunction with the New Orleans Museum of Art) and the compilation CD ‘Blue Muse’ February 1.

The Music Maker Relief Foundation provides resources to elderly, southern musicians living in poverty and keeps southern, musical culture alive by recording albums, arranging concerts and museum exhibitions, and publishing books. Music Maker presents these musical traditions to the world so American culture will flourish and be preserved for future generations.

The graphic novel is available for pre-order now.

Tales of the Music Makers

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It’s a brand new week! We were at Otakon last week, and heading to Gen Con this week! Come find us and say hi at the best four days of gaming!

While you await that, here’s some news and reviews to keep you busy until then.

Around the Tubes

The Outhousers – Marvel E-i-C Axel Alonso Wants You to Know that He Has Black Friends – Bwahahaha

The Beat – Harvey Pekar Park dedicated today with fest, installation in Cleveland – Very cool, and ironic in that Pekar would have probably hated it all.

Comics Alliance – Convention Organizers: Here’s A Solution To Your Woman Problem – A handy resource folks.

Wired – It’s Time to Get Real About Racial Diversity in Comics – A very good read.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Outhousers – Cyborg #1

Talking Comics – Cyborg #1

ICv2 – Little Nemo’s Big New Dreams HC

Talking Comics – Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1

Z2 Comics Announces Fall Graphic Novels including Ashes, Pawn Shop, The Abaddon, and Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

ASHESZ2 Comics announced today their fall 2015 graphic novel slate, including a reprint of one of Harvey Pekar’s final graphic novels and three graphic novels. The biggest surprise of the bunch is a new printing of Pekar’s Cleveland, one of his last graphic novels, and a love letter to his home town. It was originally published by Top Shelf in April 2012.

Check out below for the full slate of graphic novels being released.

Ashes: A Firefighter’s Tale written by Mario Candelaria with art by Karl Slominski.

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; black and white)

Matt always had an easygoing life. Girls liked him, his friends were more like family, and being a firefighter came naturally. Then the accident happened. Now, after the loss of his leg, Matt struggles to cope with his new handicap as he attempts to rebuild his shattered family and once budding career. A riveting tale about perseverance, hard work, and overcoming the odds, Ashes is a gripping tale told in stunning black and white.

PAWN SHOPPawn Shop written by Joey Esposito with art by Sean Von Gorman

(September 22, 2015; $19.99; 120 pages; full color)

A widower. A nurse. A punk. A Long Island Railroad employee. New York City is an ecosystem where everybody is connected, if only by the streets they walk on. This original graphic novel is the story of four people, in a city of eight million, whose lives unknowingly intersect through a Manhattan pawn shop.

Written by Joey Esposito (Footprints) and illustrated with a gorgeous mixture of watercolor and digital elements by Sean Von Gorman (Toe Tag Riot), Pawn Shop explores the big things that separate us and the little moments that inexplicably unite us.

The Abaddon written and illustrated by Koren Shadmi

(November 10, 2015; $24.99; 240 pages; full color)

cover_updatedLoosely based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, The Abaddon is the story of a young man who finds himself trapped in a bizarre apartment with a group of ill-matched roommates. He discovers that his new home doesn’t adhere to any rational laws of nature and comes to realize that everyone living in the apartment is missing crucial parts of their memories and identities.

Cleveland by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant

(November DATE TK; Price TK; 128; black and white)

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor. Legendary comic book writer Harvey Pekar’s collaboration with artist Joseph Remnant, titled Cleveland, was originally published by Top Shelf Shelf Comics and Zip Comics in 2012 and includes an introduction by Alan Moore. The book presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

Cleveland Public Library Presents a Card Honoring Harvey Pekar

 

This past Monday, the Cleveland Public Library released their new Harvey Pekar library cards. The native Clevelander Pekar was has been honored not just by this limited edition membership card, but also a bronze statue erected in his honor right outside the library.

Cleveland Public Library director Felton Thomas explained his choice in choosing Pekar for this honor:

He brought Cleveland to life through his work and was a loyal patron of CPL. It’s our pleasure to offer this card to our patrons in his honor.

The card’s design is based on artwork from Joe Remnant’s illustrations for Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland.

If you are a Cleveland resident and want to get your hands on your own historic Harvey Pekar Library card, the normal replacement fee of $1.00 has been waived, so all you really have to do is head over to your local CPL and ask for a new Pekar card.

Pre-order your copy of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland

Official Press Release

Top Shelf ProductsPre-order your copy of Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND!

Harvey Pekar was one of a kind — as Alan Moore says, “a pillar of the comics medium.” His work in autobiographical comics has affected millions deeply, and his influence can be seen everywhere today.

This winter, we’re honored to team up with new publisher Zip Comics to release one of his final projects: Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland, a heartfelt memoir as well as a bittersweet celebration of the city he loved.
This February release is now available for pre-order through your local comic shop, bookseller, or directly from us. Check out Joseph Remnant’s amazing art in the 8-page preview on our web site, and pre-order your copy today!

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland
by Harvey Pekar and Joseph Remnant
• Introduction by Alan Moore
• Edited by Jeff Newelt
• Co-published by Top Shelf & Zip Comics
• 128-page deluxe hardcover graphic novel, 9.3” x 7.3”
• Older teens (16+) and adults
• ISBN: 978-1-60309-091-9, Diamond code: DEC11-1207
• $21.99 US

A lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Harvey Pekar (1939-2010) pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic since 1976 in his critically acclaimed series American Splendor.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland is sadly one of his last, but happily one of his most definitive graphic novels. It presents key moments and characters from the city’s history, intertwined with Harvey’s own ups and downs, as relayed to us by Our Man and meticulously researched and rendered by artist Joseph Remnant. At once a history of Cleveland and a portrait of Harvey, it’s a tribute to the ordinary greatness of both.

“One of the very greatest works by that unique and irreplaceable American voice, the truly splendorous Harvey Pekar… graced by the impeccable and poignant artistry of Joseph Remnant.” — From the introduction by Alan Moore

“America’s poet-comic-laureate of curmudgeonhood is sorely missed, but thankfully, this posthumous book, like Hamlet’s father, is here to remind us of the great man, the great Pekar.” — Jonathan Ames, author and creator of HBO’s Bored to Death

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It’s been pretty quiet in the last 24 hours as far as news.  There were a bunch of conventions this weekend so, I’m adding a generic convention section whenever there’s news.  Here’s the news and reviews from the last 24 hours.

Around the Blogs:

Comic Book Resources – ZIP Comics and Top Shelf Productions Partner to Publish Harvey Pekar’s “Cleveland”Having been born in Cleveland, you better believe this is on my read list.

Bleeding Cool – Nick Spencer And Emma Rios To Launch New Cloak And Dagger SeriesIt’ll be interesting to see where this series goes after their recent depictions.  Nick Spencer is a solid writer, so here’s hoping.

ICv2 – ‘Social Network’ Actor is Ra’s Al GhulThis is reportedly a flashback scene.  It’ll be interesting to see how it fits into the main narrative.

Con Coverage:

Comics Girl – VA Comicon

Bleeding Cool – Kapow In Pictures – Cool As A Cucumber

Bleeding Cool – Kapow – The Marvel Panel

Bleeding Cool – A Look At Kapow Day One, From My Vantage Point

Bleeding Cool – Kerpow – The CLiNT Panel

Bleeding Cool – Rob Granito Makes It To Kapow

Comic Book Resources – WC11: Archaia Comics Presents 2011 and Beyond

Comic Book Resources: Spinoff Online – WC11: Star Saoirse Ronan On Hanna’s Grim Grimm’s Fairy Tale

Comic Book Resources – WC11: DC Icons

Comic Book Resources – Vado Recounts 25 Years of SLG

Around the Tubes Reviews:

With Great Power – Sabretooth: Back to Nature

Comics Alliance – April 8: ‘Fresh Ink! Online’ Pick of the Week [Video]

Almost American
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