Tag Archives: sequart

Sequart’s Book on Claremont’s 17-Year X-Men Run Now Available

claremont-x-men-book-coverSequart Organization is proud to announce the publication of The Best There is at What He Does: Examining Chris Claremont’s X-Men, by Jason Powell.

The X-Men franchise is a sprawling comics mythology, to which hundreds of creators have contributed over the past 50 years. The period from 1975 to 1991 is special, however, as the X-Men universe was guided by the voice of one writer, who wrote every single issue of The Uncanny X-Men during that span. His name is Chris Claremont, and he made the X-Men what it is today.

The Best There is at What He Does is an appreciation of the long-term narrative Claremont lovingly crafted month after month, over the course of nearly 17 years. Proceeding chronologically through the issues, this exhaustive overview analyzes the trends, arcs, and themes that emerge throughout his landmark comics opus.

The book is available in print and on Kindle. (Just a reminder: you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle-formatted books; you can download a free Kindle reader for most computers, phones, and tablets.) It runs 296 pages and features a foreword by Geoff Klock and a cover by Steven Legge.

Sequart Announces Five Books on Star Wars and Planet of the Apes

Apes Comics BookWith the success of last year’s analysis of Star Trek’s entire comics history, Sequart has announced that work has commenced on three Star Wars books and two Planet of the Apes books.

Over the next three years, Sequart will release essay anthologies analyzing all aspects of the Star Wars mythos:

  • First up will be 2015’s A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe: Edited by Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato, this book will examine the entire big- / small-screen saga that is Star Wars. From theatrical films to TV movies, from cartoons and commercials to variety shows and video-based amusement-park rides, the mythos continues to keep audiences glued to their seats. This anthology features insightful, analytic essays about the franchise’s long history from popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts, exploring why the films proved so immediately popular, where the movies and TV shows have succeeded and faltered, and why we all keep going back for more.
  • Next will be 2016’s A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring Star Wars Comics: Editors Joseph F. Berenato and Rich Handley pick up where their previous volume left off. Over a thousand comics have been produced from a variety of publishers, including Blackthorne Publishing, the L.A. Times Syndicate, Dark Horse Comics, Scholastic, Tokyopop, and more. They’ve spanned the history of the franchise, from millennia before Anakin Skywalker’s birth to beyond Luke Skywalker’s death, and they’ve focused on every aspect of the Star Wars Universe. This anthology features insightful, analytic essays examining the Star Wars comics, written by popular comic historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts — plus, a foreword by fan-favorite Star Wars comics writer John Ostrander. From Jaxxon to Cody Sunn-Childe, from Ulic Quel-Droma to Lady Lumiya, find out how comics helped to keep the Star Wars Universe alive, and why you’re missing out if you’re not reading them.
  • Finally there’ll be 2017’s A More Civilized Age: Exploring the Star Wars Expanded Universe: More than 250 Star Wars novels have been published by Del Rey, Bantam Books, Ballantine Books, and others, aimed at both young and adult readers. Spanning the decades before, during, and after the films’ events, the books have spawned new galactic governments, explored the nature of the Jedi and the Sith, and developed the Star Wars mythos well beyond merely a series of films and television shows. Editors Rich Handley and Joseph F. Berenato complete their trilogy with a look back at not only the Star Wars novels but also video games, radio shows, role-playing games, and more.  This volume offers insightful, analytic essays examining the Star Wars E.U., written by popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts — including fan-favorite Star Wars novelists Timothy Zahn and Ryder Windham. The films were just the beginning; find out how the universe expanded.

And the sci-fi fun continues! Over the next 18 months, Sequart and the editing dynamic duo of Handley and Berenato will deliver two Planet of the Apes essay anthologies:

  • Coming out in just a few months will be The Sacred Scrolls: Comics on the Planet of the Apes: More than 150 POTA comics have been published during the past four decades, from Gold Key, Marvel Comics, Power Records, Brown Watson Books, Editorial Mo.Pa.Sa., Malibu Graphics, Dark Horse, Mr. Comics, and BOOM! Studios. Writers have explored the settings, concepts, and characters from the films (and occasionally the TV series), while introducing an array of new characters and scenarios. Back stories have been revealed, plot holes filled in, and histories extrapolated upon. The comics have employed multiple genres and styles, taking readers to distant villages, ruined cities, and oceanic civilizations — and have even seen the apes battle alien invaders from War of the Worlds and Alien Nation. It’s been quite the madhouse, to be sure. But by and large, the Apes comics have remained true to novelist Pierre Boulle’s simian spirit. This anthology will feature insightful, analytic essays about the franchise’s four-color continuation, from popular comic historians, novelists, bloggers and subject-matter experts.
  • And 2016 will see Bright Eyes, Ape City: Examining the Planet of the Apes Mythos: The Planet of the Apes franchise has spawned eight films, with a ninth currently in the works, as well as two television series and several novels. It’s one of the most respected franchises in film history. This anthology will examine every Apes film, TV show, and novel, from 1968 to present. Like the first volume, this anthology will feature insightful, analytic essays about the franchise’s long history, from popular film historians, novelists, bloggers, and subject-matter experts. If you’re eager to learn more about Apes lore, then you’ll need to get your stinkin’ paws on this book.

Diagram for Delinquents Explores Fredric Wertham

Wertham coverSequart Organization has announced the DVD release of their Fredric Wertham documentary, Diagram for Delinquents.

In 1950, America was in a state of panic; many felt that juvenile delinquency was destroying the very fabric of society. In 1954, psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham wrote a scathing indictment of comic books called Seduction of the Innocent. Its central premise was that comics were the leading contributing factor to juvenile delinquency. (At the time, 90% of all children were reading comic books.) That same year, Dr. Wertham testified at special hearings on comic books at the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency in the United States. Comic books were on trial!

Diagram for Delinquents captures the zeitgeist of late 1940s / early 1950s America and investigates how the funny books found themselves on the bonfire. Using expert interviews and never-seen-before historical photographs and films, Diagram goes further than any documentary to explore and understand the controversial figure at the center of this American tale: Fredric Wertham.

The DVD (as well as a digital download version) is now available for purchase at the Sequart Store.

Check out the trailer below.

A New Book on Matt Fraction’s Casanova from Sequart

Casanova coverSequart Organization has announced the release of The Future of Comics, the Future of Men: Matt Fraction’s Casanova, authored by Geoff Klock.

Matt Fraction, Gabriel Bá, and Fábio Moon’s Casanova is a stylish adventure about a sexy, amoral, universe-hopping, time-traveling spy caught in a war between the militaristic E.M.P.I.R.E. and the decadent and villainous W.A.S.T.E. (led by a bandaged, cackling madman in sunglasses).

The Future of Comics, The Future of Men argues that beneath its pop surface, Casanova is doing more. It challenges the corporate driven comic book production model, in which Disney and Time Warner own all the major superheroes. And it critiques the limited and damaging vision of masculinity that informs so much of modern superhero comics and movies.

With the recent debut of Casanova: Acedia, now is the perfect time to explore the depth of Casanova.

The Future of Comics, The Future of Men features a striking cover by none other than Casanova artist Fábio Moon! It runs 136 pages and is available in print and on Kindle.

Review: She Makes Comics

she-makes-comicsAs a literary critic and cultural historian with both feminist and queer-ally persuasions, I am often frustrated by the type of historical revisionism that provides the history of a marginalized group by telling their story as adjunct or incidental to “mainstream” or “normative” history. Such scholarship marginalizes the narratives of oppressed groups in the very attempt to recover their histories.

I was thankfully relieved, then, to enjoy the hour-plus-long documentary She Makes Comics, directed by Marisa Stotter and made by Sequart Organization in association with Respect! Films. This documentary does what very little of comics scholarship (and journalism) has been able to achieve: it narrates the story of women comics creators, editors, and readers through dozens of personal interviews (see a list of interviewees below), incorporating them as central to the history of the comics industry while highlighting individual creators’ push toward greater inclusion and respectability in a medium largely controlled by men.

She Makes Comics begins with an opening montage of interviews in which creators Kelly Sue DeConnick, Chondra Echert, Wendy Pini, Gail Simone, and others speak to the importance of the comics medium for female creators and readers. Particularly powerful is DeConnick’s declaration that “representation in comics is absolutely vital,” followed by the injunction that “we need to celebrate the women who work in comics and who have always worked in comics, and we need to go back and find their stories and bring them to the fore” (00:55-01:07). DeConnick bring an absolute necessity to the project of reclaiming the history of women in comics.

DeConnick’s spirited call drives Stotter’s She Makes Comics as it traverses the editorial bull-pens, creator biographies, convention floors, retail spaces, and four-color universes that make up the world(s) of comics. The documentary begins by establishing the medium’s long history of female readership in comics strips of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, pointing at the same time to the generous number of female comics strip creators, including Jackie Ormes and Nell Brinkley. Trina Robbins reminds us that “nobody at that time thought, ‘Oh how unusual! She draws comics!'” Despite the comparative preponderance of women in comics in the early 20th century, a cultural moment that abounded in strong women heroes and adventurers (and with a 55% female readership!), the “comics crusade” of the early 1950s began by Frederic Wertham resulted in the Comics Code Authority. The CCA significantly reduced the type and quality of comics produced, and the documentary makes the very brief argument that the “sanitization” of comics led to a boom in the masculinity-celebrating superhero genre and a subsequent decline in female readership.

The documentary then tracks the work of Ramona Fradon at DC and of Marie Severin at Marvel in the 1960s, transitioning rather quickly to the misogynist, cliquey underground comix scene of the 1960s and 1970s, where creators such as Trina Robbins and Joyce Farmer carved out a feminist space for comics. As Robbins recalls, “if you wanted to do underground comix [with the male creators] you had to do comics in which women were raped and tortured. You know, horrible things!” But in the pages of feminist comix and zines creators were allowed the freedom to depict women from women’s point of view—points of view that occasionally had legal repercussions.

The remainder of She Makes Comics focuses heavily on the history of women creators in comics from the mid-1970s to the present, owing both to the interviewees’ considerable experiences in the period following the late 1970s and to the growing visibility of female readers and creators. Particular highlights include the description of early comic book conventions and the fan scene, which Paul Levitz describes as 90/10 men/women. Creators and fans like Jill Thompson and Wendy Pini bring their personal fan and creator experiences to bear on this unique moment in comics fandom history. Wendy Pini’s entrance into fandom via her (in)famous Red Sonja cosplaying is historicized and linked directly to her entrance into the comics industry as writer and, later, creator of Elfquest. For those with an interest in cosplay, Pini’s Sonja is marked as the beginning of an opening up of convention competitions to women, and the documentary subsequently details the critical importance of cosplay to fandom, to female fans, and to creators.

The documentary also gives considerable attention to Chris Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men, uniquely noting the considerable influence of Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti as Claremont’s editors on one of the most famous runs in comic book history. Interviews by female fans, creators, editors, and retailers highlight the importance that Claremont’s X-Men saga had to marginalized groups, with a number of interviewees describing the “mutant metaphor” as particularizable to women’s experiences in geek culture.

The documentary also gives attention to particular auteurs such as Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gail Simone, as well as the editor Karen Berger, who founded DC’s Vertigo imprint at a fairly young age in the early 1990s. She Makes Comics points especially to the rise of the independent comics scene in the 1990s and its boom in the contemporary moment, especially in the form of Image’s new-found success, as a meter for the rising prominence of women comics creators and a female (but also queer and non-white) comics readership. Anyone who reads Image comics regularly knows that its creators do not shy away from feminist themes even while Wonder Women is avowedly “not feminist.”

She Makes Comics ultimately signifies that a change in the comics industry has occurred, albeit slowly, in favor of greater inclusion and representation of women and other oppressed minorities. Despite this, the documentary comes dangerously close to assuming that all the good that needs doing, has been done, asserting a stance that suggests a triumphant growth of women in comics (or as readers) as a victory over patriarchy. While I do agree that strides have been made, as my articles on Wonder Woman and Neko Case show, I don’t think we can ever be complacent. She Makes Comics reifies “women” as a singular, almost non-intersectional category and in doing so creates a narrative of emerging possibilities for that monolithic category without discussing the many and complex factors that continue to challenge, harangue, and complicate both women’s participation in comics and women’s representation. There is, in fairness, a brief moment in which Marjorie Liu speaks about using her position to empower women of color, though its importance is overshadowed by its anecdotal treatment.

She Makes Comics has very few shortcomings and is ultimately a treasure trove of information that is otherwise spread across thousands of online or print media articles, books, and interviews. Marissa Stotter and her crew, in collaborations with a riot (isn’t that what mainstream media calls a gathering of political dissenters?) of talented creators and fans, have made a unique contribution to the history of women in comics. I challenge academics and journalist, myself included, to heed Kelly Sue DeConnick’s introductory injunction with a critical eye to the politics of representation. If we could get a few books about gender politics in comics that aren’t solely about masculinity, that’d be a start.

Interviewees listed in the order that I happened to write them down (after I realized it would be good to write them all down): Marjorie Liu, Nancy GoldsteinTrina Robbins, Ramona Fradon, Janelle Asselin, Heidi MacDonald, Paul Levitz, Michelle Nolan, Alan Kistler, Karen Green, Ann Nocenti, Chris Claremont, Colleen Doran, Joyce Farmer, Wendy Pini, Jackie Estrada, Jill Thompson, Lauren Bergman, Team Unicorn, Chondra Echert, Jill Pantozzi, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Colleen Coover, Holly Interlandi, Blair Butler, Louise Simonson, Jenna Busch, Amy Dallen, G. Willow Wilson, Tiffany Smith, Jenette Kahn, Shelly Bond, Karen Berger, Joan of Dark, Brea Grant, Joan Hilty, Lea Hernandez, Christina Blanch, Liz Schiller (former Friends of Lulu Board of Directors member), Andrea Tsurumi, Miss Lasko-Gross, Molly Ostertag, Hope Larson, Amy Chu, Nancy Collins, Ariel Schrag, Raina Telgemeier, Miriam Katin, Felicia Henderson, Carla Speed McNeil, Shannon Watters, Jennifer Cruté, Nicole Perlman, Kate Leth, Portlyn Polston (owner of Brave New World Comics), Autumn Glading (employee of Brave New World Comics), and Zoe Chevat.

You can purchase She Makes Comics on Sequart’s website for as low as $9.99. If you ask me, it’s a fantastic deal.

Sequart Organization provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.