Brigid Alverson, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
Creators | “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon,” Malaysian cartoonist Zunar said in an interview following the police raid on his Kuala Lumpur office. Zunar was in London at the time of the raid but expects to be summoned to the police station on his return to face charges under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code. “Why are the police involved in this?” he said. “If it is true I have defamed certain people, why not filed a civil suit? The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attacker but now they are ‘attacking’ me.” He also sent out some photos of the raid. [Malaysian Digest]
Freedom of Speech | Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, called the raid Zunar’s office “shocking and outrageous” and demanded the government to return the confiscated books and drop all charges against him. [The Malaysian Insider]
The president of last year’s festival, and the winner of the previous year’s Grand Prix d’Angoulême, was Willem, a staff cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo. He didn’t like to attend staff meetings, so he wasn’t in the office on Jan. 7 when two gunmen killed 12 people, including another Grand Prix winner, Wolinski.
“The 2015 festival will be a time to remember but we also want to demonstrate that life goes on,” said festival director Franck Bondoux. The commemorations include a special exhibit on Charlie Hebdo, a virtual album with contributions by artists from around the world, and a new award, the Charlie Prize, which will be awarded posthumously to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists this year, and in future years will recognize creators who have fought for freedom of expression. The town of Angoulême will also festooned with posters of Charlie Hebdo covers.
Legal | Kuala Lumpur police raided the office of the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar and seized 149 copies of his books Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar and Pirates of the Carry BN. They were looking for the cartoonist himself, but he was in the United Kingdom, speaking at Oxford and Cambridge universities and giving a talk in London titled “To Fight Through Cartoons.” In a press release, Zunar said the raid occurred under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code, and that he would be called to the police station on his return to the country; he was arrested under that act in 2010. He also tweeted, “If the cartoons are defamatory, those who feel aggrieved should file a civil suit. No problem. I oppose the use of criminal laws like the Sedition Act” [The Malaysian Insider]
Political cartoons | Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Zineb El-Rhazoui, on a fundraising tour in Canada, said the terrorists who attacked the magazine’s offices and killed 12 people were the ones who made a mockery of religion, not the cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. “This is the most ugly caricature, that this is the most ugly picture of their religion,” she said. “It is not the pictures made by Charlie Hebdo.” [CTV News]
Being a webcomics creator has its challenges, but here’s one you don’t see too often: finding out the title of your long-running strip is being used by someone who tweeting bomb threats to airlines. That’s the surreal situation Mark Mekkes found himself in on Saturday.
Mekkes is the creator of the long-running Zortic, which he describes as “a weekly science fiction, comedy adventure comic with a lot of parody and popular references.” The comic has been running for 14 years, but on Saturday, Mekkes noticed a spike in traffic and social media mentions. He didn’t think too much of it until he got a phone call from his brother-in-law, who had seen “Zortic” mentioned on the national news. The reason: Somebody using the Twitter handle “King Zortic” had tweeted bomb threats to Delta and Southwest airlines, resulting in two planes being escorted by fighter jets to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and then scoured by bomb squads. The threats were ultimately determined to be a hoax.
The second volume of Rep. John Lewis’ autobiographical trilogy March is darker than the first one, both literally — artist Nate Powell fills many panels with almost unbroken blackness, as he depicts smoke, night and noxious fumes — and figuratively, as it shows human cruelty at its worst. Even in its lighter moments, Book Two shows the flaws as well as the triumphs of the Civil Rights movement. As this era recedes from living memory to history books, it’s in danger of dwindling to a series of inspirational images and iconic figures. Book Two of March is a bracing antidote to that.
March‘s first volume focused on Lewis’ youth and his involvement with the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins of 1959-1960, his first experience with nonviolent social action. In Nashville, the protestors were mostly students, their leaders were mostly religious, and they took the principle of nonviolence seriously. The refusal to answer violence with violence, whether verbal or physical, was integral to their actions. While there are violent moments in Book One, the story doesn’t dwell on them.
In Book Two, on the other hand, Lewis jumps right in with an attempted murder: The manager of a diner not only refuses to serve Lewis and a colleague, he sends his staff away, turns off the lights, turns on a fumigator spraying insecticide gas, and locks the door. The opposition has moved from harassment to deadly force, and while Lewis was rescued by firefighters (who must have been called by someone), it’s clear from the start that the stakes have been raised.
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
Crime | Two cosplayers on their way to G-Anime were arrested Friday in Gatineau, Quebec, and their fake weapons were confiscated. The two men, who were wearing camouflage and carrying what appeared to be guns, were spotted in a parking lot near a number of government buildings (the Canadian Parliament was attacked by a lone gunman in October). Someone called the police, and they dispatched about a dozen officers who cordoned off the area and searched for the men. The cosplayers, who were both 18, were taken into custody and fined $270 for violating a municipal bylaw that prohibits carrying certain weapons in public or in a vehicle, although the law seems to be aimed at knives, bows and arrows, and swords, not guns. Their car was impounded, and their weapons are being held as evidence. G-Anime organizers posted a notice Friday asking attendees wearing camouflage or carrying replica weapons to wait until they arrive a the convention to change into costumes. [Ottawa Sun]
Crunchyroll, which rose to prominence as a streaming anime site and added digital manga last year, is launching a new line of original webcomics called Crunchyroll Originals, which will feature Japanese creators. The debut comic will be HYPERSONIC music club, a collaboration between writer Patrick Macias and artist Hiroyuki Takahashi. Here’s the pitch:
In the world of tomorrow… when technology has reached it limits… a group of young cyborgs must battle the extra-dimensional monster girls for final control of the enigmatic force known only as…The Mystery Frequency!
The free comic will be updated with two pages a month. There’s an interview with Takahashi at the Crunchyroll, and we asked Macias to talk a bit more about this comic and the Crunchyroll Originals line.
Robot 6: Will all the Crunchyroll Originals comics be collaborations between a Japanese and a non-Japanese creator, or is yours unique?
Patrick Macias: Right now, we have several projects in active development. Some of them are collaborations between Japan and U.S. staff, and others are coming purely from Japanese creators. The main thing is that we’re open to pretty much anything right now, including other formats besides webcomics, as long as it is a project that seems interesting and has creative potential.
Legal | A 16-year-old in Nantes, France, was arrested last week for posting a cartoon on Facebook that mocks the Charlie Hebdo killings; the charge is “advocating terrorism.” The cartoon shows someone holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo and being struck by bullets. Electronic Intifada posts what is most likely the offending cartoon (it had been shared widely on social media), a takeoff on one of the more notorious Charlie Hebdo covers, accompanied by the text, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” The original cover featured a cartoon of an Egyptian protestor holding the Koran, with text that read, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.” [France 3]
Publishing | Sales were down in 2014 for Diamond Book Distributors, even though the industry overall had an up year. The reason: DBD lost a key client, Dark Horse, to Random House. Nonetheless, Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang sees good things in store for 2015, including strong sales of indie graphic novels, expanding international sales, and the much-anticipated March: Book Two, which was released this week. [Publishers Weekly]
Controversy | More than 80 creators and other industry figures, including Jaime Hernandez, Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Warren Ellis, Eleanor Davis, Jeet Heer and David Brothers, have signed an open letter asking Franck Bondoux, head of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, to cut the event’s ties to Israeli soft drink company SodaStream, which has its main plant in an occupied area of the West Bank. A similar action was taken last year regarding the company’s sponsorship of the festival. [Comics & Cola]
Passings | Dutch underground comics artist Peter Pontiac died Tuesday at age 63. Born Peter J. G. Pollmann, Pontiac came of age in the 1960s and started out drawing covers for bootleg songbooks, then moved on to create comics inspired by his own life and experiences, including The Amsterdam Connection, Requiem Fortissimo and the illustrated novel Kraut. His comics appeared in the Dutch underground comics magazines Modern Papier and Tante Leny Presenteert, as well as in the American Anarchy Comix and Mondo Snarfo. He later collected many of his comics in the seven issues of The Pontiac Review. He received the Stripschapprijs, a Dutch lifetime achievement award for comics creators, in 1997 and the Marten Toonder Prize in 2011. Pontiac suffered from liver disease and ran a crowdfunding campaign to finance a book about death and his disease, but he passed away before it could be completed. [Lambiek Comiclopedia]
To celebrate its third anniversary of going digital, Shonen Jump is offering four issues for free in the next four weeks, as well as a discounted price of $19.99 for a one-year subscription. The free issues are available via the Shonen Jump website and the Viz Manga and Weekly Shonen Jump iOS and Android apps.
The nice thing about an anthology is the variety, and the Jan. 19 issue, the first to be offered for free, has a good mix of stories. There’s One Piece, the long-running pirate tale; if you’re not particular about understanding the details of the plot, you can jump right in and enjoy the kinetic, cartoony battle scenes.
Toriko is another classic Shonen Jump story, about a group of “gourmet hunters” who travel the world looking for foods that are rare, hard to get, and uniquely delicious. It’s an odd combination of battle and foodie manga, and it’s fun to see big, over-muscled guys get all weepy over a salad, as happens in this week’s chapter, or watch a gourmet dig into a bowl of “Ojiya-style eyeball porridge.” It’s amazingly imaginative, and well worth a read.
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
Passings | Acclaimed sci-fi novelist and manga writer Kazumasa Hirai passed away Jan. 17 at age 76. Hirai was the co-creator of several manga that spawned anime, prose and television franchises, including Genma Taisen and the classic cyborg superhero story 8 Man. He also collaborated with Ryoichi Ikegami on the Spider-Man manga, serialized from 1970 to 1971 in Monthly Shonen Jump, succeeding Kōsei Ono as writer. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The Bombay High Court heard arguments Monday on a public interest litigation petition challenging India’s sedition act. The petition stems from the 2012 arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition charges, which were dropped after national and international protests. “It [sedition charge] can be misused any time,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah. But Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, arguing for the state, said they only acted on the Trivedi case after receiving a dozen complaints: “The cartoonist [Aseem Trivedi] ran perilously close to borderline. He is not absolutely innocent. It is not the case that the state vindictively slapped charges on him.” The court did not immediately hand down a decision but has reserved judgment. [The Hindu]
Publishing | U.K. comics distributor Impossible Books will close up shop on Feb. 28, after two years in the business. On their blog, owners Camila Barboza and Taylor Lilley explained they simply don’t have the time and energy for the enterprise any longer. They are putting their titles on sale in the meantime, and Zainab Akhtar has some recommendations for bargain-minded readers. [Comics & Cola]
Crime | Daryl Cagle’s website, which hosts a lot of editorial cartoons, went down last week after being hit by a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Cagle tells Alan Gardner that his site gets attacked by hackers fairly frequently, but the latest was different in that the only goal was to take down the site. Gardner speculates it may be related to cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Charlie Hebdo. [The Daily Cartoonist]
As slain Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier was laid to rest Friday, a cartoonist from the predecessor magazine Hara-Kiri denounced his determination to run the Prophet Muhammad cartoons despite violence and threats.
The latest issue of the French satire magazine continues to sell briskly, as print runs climbed to 5 million, and the Charlie Hebdo app has been updated, with this week’s issue available in English as well as France. Reactions from Muslim scholars and clerics to the latest issue were negative, but generally counseled restraint. Around the world, protestors have taken to the streets; most of the demonstrations have been peaceful but a few have turned violent.
The cartoonist Luz, one of the artists of the Muhammad covers, gave an emotional eulogy at Charbonnier’s funeral, calling him a “friend, brother, drinking buddy… partner in crime,” and expressing his regret that Charbonnier would not be there to draw the events following the Jan. 7 attack, and expressing his hope that “thousands of Charlie Hebdos” will spring up in its aftermath.
Meanwhile, Henri Roussel, one of the contributors to the magazine that became Charlie Hebdo, denounced Charbonnier for continuing to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad after the magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011.