Friday Five: 5 Contemporary Comic Book Classics
When Red Sonja met her match(ish)

Weirdness Rodeo

Helen Mirren narrating Shel Silverstein's 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' for the World Cup.

How do you raise your children to appreciate video games? (via Kotaku)

We are the first generation of parents who grew up playing video games, which makes us the first moms and dads to possess the wisdom to guide our children through the world of PlayStation, Steam, Nintendo, and the like rather than the desire to merely abandon them to it. We are tasked with figuring this out for ourselves. It’s our job—our responsibility—to establish some traditions.

A Salon piece investigates why men don't read books, but really looks at why men don't edit books:

Could it be the low pay, low status and ridiculous hours? (Remember that book editors seldom get to read manuscripts in the office — that’s what weekends are for.) Apart from a handful of celebrated figures, it’s the rare editor who gets paid more than a secondary school teacher in a middle-class district. 

And, yet, ironically, it is still the domain of a very limited demographic segment. Kerry Hudson's call to ban unpaid internships has generated a lot of discussion:

[Hudson] points to the statistic from Spread the Word’s recent Writing the Future report, which found that only 11% of publishing house respondents had recruitment ties with non-Oxbridge universities; she will highlight the lack of audits for diversity in publishing, and the industry’s predilection for unpaid internships, which exclude those unable to afford working for free.

My hunch - based on no more than anecdotal evidence - this is more or less true across all the creative industries, as well as arts, museums, culture and charities. (Here's a similar discussion happening in advertising agencies.)

The combination of an inherently-enticing product plus lingering class consciousness (it is ok for the upper crust to dabble in charities, books and galleries, whereas if they flogged cars and pharmaceuticals, it'd be déclassé), makes those sectors unnaturally competitive. I say 'unnaturally', because, across the board, these sectors less well-paid than, say, cars, breakfast cereal or pharmaceuticals. There's no question to me that Kerry Hudson is right, and paid internships - in fact, an overall wage increase across all the entry-level positions in publishing, media and the arts - would do wonders for diversity. Unfortunately, those sectors are also less well-off, making paid internships - although valuable, an expensive proposition.

Given the tight budgets, it is important to remember diversity is not only as something of long-term value to the industry, but also as something that could have immediate rewards for the participating publisher. Say, for example, practical audience insight into the fastest-growing demographic segments of the UK population?

On a somewhat related note, a fantastic piece about the growth of the publishing industry in Africa:

Perhaps we should begin by debunking the claim that Africans don’t read—a long-held view that is widely touted in conversations about African publishing. Claims like this often conflate reading and buying. A reading culture does not necessarily depend on a standardized book market. Africa has always had a vibrant reading culture sustained by an informal economy of books consisting in piracy and an informal culture of book-lending. Data from digital reading platforms also suggests the opposite. The expansion of mobile technology in Africa is creating a reading culture that embraces a staggeringly wide variety of texts—romance, inspirational books, religious writing, and so on. The more interesting question becomes: How can African publishers leverage this unorthodox reading culture to establish a functional literary market?

And, as I sort of daisy-chain unrelated articles together, here's more on the 'informal economy' - Kotaku asked people to send in stories of why/when they pirated games, in the hopes of having a proper conversation:

For such an important topic, it’s a shame that we can’t ever seem to have a real discussion about video game piracy. Any attempt normally goes down like this: people downloading games are painted as criminals, publishers trying to stop them are portrayed as monsters, everyone sticks to this division and nothing ever gets done.

Really fascinating. On r/fantasy, discussion of book-related piracy occurs quite frequently, and the arguments are brutal and unfulfilling. What's also interesting is how - whether or not you believe it is morally acceptable - piracy is definitely not legal. That's simply a statement of fact. And yet, with the possible exception of pot smoking (which is now decriminalised), I can't think of any crime that's so frequently and openly discussed online. The r/fantasy discussion, as opposed to Kotaku, also means that the creators are there - so you see people illegally downloading the books and telling an author about it to their (virtual) face. Which is just weird.

But then, as reddit has learned, community management is hard. Of all the stuff around this lately, I think Mary Hamilton's article is probably the one of most practical value for those interested in how social networks work (or don't):

Really good community management matters. Communication matters. Being heard matters enormously to users, and the more work an individual is doing for the site, the more it matters to them personally.... Communities grow and evolve through positive reinforcement, not just punishment when they contravene the rules. If the only time they get attention is when they push the boundaries, users will likely continue to push boundaries rather than creating constructively. They act out. Encouraging positive behaviour is vitally important if you want to shape a community around certain positive activities – say, asking questions – rather than focussing on its negatives.

This week's publishing brand reboot

Grant Morrison is the new editor of Heavy Metal:

One of the things I like to do in my job is revamp properties and really get into the aesthetic of something, dig into the roots of what makes it work, then tinker with the engine and play around with it. So for me, it's an aesthetic thing first and foremost.

I never read this as a kid - the covers were always huge-breasted women in leathery bits, and, in Kansas City shopping malls, it was more often shelved with the porn than the comics. Maybe now's my chance to catch up?

Pornokitsch people elsewhere

Stark Holborn's Nunslinger and Molly Tanzer's Vermilion both receive high praise from the Guardian, in their consideration of genre-bending 'weird westerns'.

Vermilion is also on KQED's list of eclectic summer reads.

The first reviews of Rebecca Levene's Hunter's Kind are calling it 'brilliant'. Because it is!

Five stars for Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

Joey Hi-Fi is co-writing a brand new Vertigo title with Lauren Beukes - Survivors' Club, with art by Ryan Kelly! Just announced at SDCC and looking foxy. 

Rob takes to the Huffington Post to talk about Draw the Line Here.

Apex have announced the author list for Mahvesh Murad's The Apex Book of World SF 4!

Stoneskin have done the same for Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington's Swords v Cthulhu!

Mahvesh interviews James Smythe and Daniel José Older for Midnight in Karachi.

And, of course, the Dragonlance saga continues.

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