The Fantagraphics website has the sad news that Kim Thompson has died. An excerpt from his obituary shows how important he has been for the development of comics as a medium suitable for actual adults:
Among Thompson’s signature achievements in comics were Critters, a funny-animal anthology that ran from 50 issues between 1985 to 1990 and is perhaps best known for introducing the world to Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo; and Zero Zero, an alternative comics anthology that also ran for 50 issues over five years — between 1995 and 2000 — and featured work by, among others, Kim Deitch, Dave Cooper, Al Columbia, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, David Mazzuchelli, and Joyce Farmer. His most recent enthusiasm was spearheading a line of European graphic novel translations, including two major series of volumes by two of the most significant living European artists — Jacques Tardi (It Was the War of the Trenches, Like a Sniper Lining up His Shot, The Astonishing Exploits of Lucien Brindavoine) and Jason (Hey, Wait…, I Killed Adolf Hitler, Low Moon, The Left Bank Gang) — and such respected work as Ulli Lust’s Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Crackle of the Frost, Gabriella Giandelli’s Interiorae, and what may be his crowning achievement as an editor/translator, Guy Peelaert’s The Adventures of Jodelle.
Fantagraphics as a publisher has been important both for publishing The Comics Journal, the foremost critical magazine about comics as an artform, medium and industry and for the comics they themselves published. Love and Rockets alone ensures it has a place in comics history, but even more importantly, it’s Fantagraphics that pioneered the model of how to be a successfull, literary comics publisher. Kim Thompson, with Gary Groth, was instrumental in doing so. Like Groth he was a comics fan who wasn’t content with just celebrating what comics had already achieved, but set out to lift up comics, to make it into what he knew it could be, as publisher, as critic, as translator. It’s a hell of a resume and his death is an incredible loss to comics.
So I was bringing my garbage bags to the collection point (an underground storage bin, meaning I can bring out my garbage whenever I need to, instead of once a week) and I saw this group of people standing there. Nosey as I am, I immediately asked what was happened and it turned out to be a sponsored cleanup of the neigbourhood. Apparantly these happen regularly, but at times I’m in work so I’ve always missed them. Organised by the stadsdeel, usually these include volunteers from the neigbourhood, but not this time. This time there was a group of volunteers from Boeing (!) of all companies, sponsored by their company to spent an afternoon cleaning up one of the poorer districts in Amsterdam. This is something Amsterdam city council encourages in the current climate of budget cuts, a nice and easy way for companies like Boeing to show off their social conscience and a cheap way for Amsterdam to get some work done that normally should’ve been done by city employees.
It’s well intentioned on all sides of course and certainly not as bas as what happened in Den Haag, where at least one street cleaner lost his job, only to have to do the same work to keep his unemployment benefits, saving the council 400 euros a month… Yet it still feels wrong to have this corporate voluntarism, even if it’s the best the stadsdeel can do at the moment. I’d rather see people getting paid a living wage to do this work, work that needs to be done, than having to rely on volunteers to do the same work, especially volunteers from big multinational corporations hoping to get some good p.r. from it.
While it is my personal feeling that the hateful, harmful, dehumanizing views expressed by Beale on his blog (about women, about religious and ethnic groups to which he does not belong, about queer people) would be “good and sufficient cause” enough to not share an organisation with him, I understand that enforcing expulsion on those grounds is problematic in the absence of an expansive organization-wide Code of Conduct.
This last reads to me very much like a threat, especially coming from a white man to a black woman in a country where public lynchings are a matter of living memory.
I urge you to please represent my views to the rest of the officers and vote to expel a man who has behaved so execrably from our organization.
Folks, we have to grin and bear it in an organization where 48 people voted for an organizational president who wanted to disenfranchise half the electorate. Women’s right to vote. In my own industry. In the one that pays me to write books. 48 people who were happy to publicly endorse turning me into a non-human. How many more were sympathetic to this? How many that I don’t know about?
In my opinion these people need to be expelled as well. You can’t have an inclusive organisation if it includes people who think women shouldn’t have the right to vote, or out and out racists. The SFWA need to take a leaf out of the Australian Army’s book and get serious about ending sexism and racism in its organisation.