"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Conventions | This year’s Space City Comic Con in Houston seems to have had a number of organizational problems. Among other things, the Sons of Anarchy cast reunion did not occur, and actor Charlie Hunnam left early after encountering problems with payment; there are unconfirmed reports of a testy encounter in which security was called. Hunnam’s early departure caused a cascade of problems, with some unpaid volunteers walking out after being berated by angry fans, and attendees who paid up to $2,000 for VIP tickets looking for refunds (and in at least some cases, getting them). Sons of Anarchy cast member Kim Coates called it “a complete breakdown by upper management,” and there does seem to be some internal wrangling, with some members of organization that runs the con trying to remove organizer George Comits. [Houston Chronicle]
The National Cartoonists Society presented its Reuben Awards over the weekend at its annual convention in Memphis, Tennessee. Michael Ramirez, former editorial cartoonist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, won the top honor, the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.
Ethan Young’s Nanjing: The Burning City received the award for best graphic novel, and DC Comics’ Prez won the comic book award; while only artist Ben Caldwell was listed in the official results, he was quick to correct the record on Twitter, where he singled out writer Mark Russell, inker Mark Morales, colorist Jeremy Lawson and editor Marie Javins.
Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]
Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team behind the Legend of Zelda manga, hinted on their Facebook page last week that Viz would license the English-language version of their new series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Viz refused to confirm the license, but given that they published the earlier Legend of Zelda manga (which they are planning to reissue as two-in-one omnibus editions), and the Japanese publisher of the series, Shogakukan, is one of Viz’s parent companies, it would be odd if they didn’t get the license. [Anime News Network]
First Second has announced plans to publish Pénélope Bagieu’s California Dreamin': Cass Elliott Before The Mamas & the Papas, a biography of the singer widely known as Mama Cass.
Elliott was a member of several groups before The Mamas & the Papas, and she struggled to make a career as a singer, once losing a part to Barbara Streisand.
Manga | Rensuke Oshikiri’s romantic comedy manga Hi Score Girl will resume serialization in Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan magazine, after a lengthy hiatus due to copyright issues. The manga was suspended in 2014 after the game company SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, claiming the manga used characters from SNK’s games without permission. Copyright violations are taken seriously in Japan: Police raided Square Enix’s offices, and the publisher not only stopped selling the series but issued a recall. Although Square Enix filed a counterclaim, Tokyo police initiated charges against 16 people, including Oshikiri and Square Enix staffers. The parties agreed on a settlement in August 2015. In addition to resuming serialization of the series, Square Enix will publish the sixth volume and new editions of the first five. [Anime News Network]
The Glyph Comics Awards, which honor the best black comics creators and characters, were announced Friday night in a ceremony preceding the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia.
Chuck Collins’s webcomic Bounce, a gag comic about two New York bouncers, earned three awards: Best Comic Strip or Webcomic, Rising Star Award,and Fan Award for Best Work. The Story of the Year award went to Revelation: Brotherman – Dictator of Discipline, by writer Guy A. Sims and artist Dawud Anyabwile, and Anyabwile picked up the Best Artist award for that comic as well. (Here’s a great local-news story that gives some backstory on this comic and its creators.)
Marguerite Dabaie’s A Voyage to Panjikant is a fascinating look at a long-lost culture.
It’s set in the 7th century, along the Silk Road of Central Asia, a major highway for traders and therefore a place where many cultures met and mingled. Dabaie chose the Sogdians, who were sort of the middlemen of all this, as the culture in which to set her story.
The Sogdians were real, but their culture is long gone, so she had to do extensive research — and use a bit of imagination — to reconstruct their lives. Her Kickstarter campaign has already reached its goal, but she has some exclusives and stretch goals for backers.
We spoke with Dabaie briefly about A Voyage to Panjikant and crowdfunding.
Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it’s true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it’s rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that’s essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. “In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage,” says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.” The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]
Publishing | Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson looks back at 30 years in the business in a two-part interview that covers the rise of shoujo manga and the way it changed American comics, the evolution of comics distribution and the direct market, the status quo and future plans for Dark Horse, and how the comics world is changing and continues to change: “The internet, of course, has changed the industry dramatically. The comic book industry was pretty much focused on the East Coast. As the internet rose, it helped companies like Dark Horse build a comics industry here in Portland. Portland right now is probably the epicenter of the comic book industry in the United States — companies, creators, organizations, all related to comics. We have a huge comic book population here from all angles of the business. It’s pretty amazing.” [ICv2]
Political Cartoons | Cartoonist Rick Friday is enjoying his newfound fame—and considering a proposal from Farm News to bring him back as their editorial cartoonist. Farm News fired Friday, a freelancer, because of a cartoon that noted the large salaries of several CEOS of big agriculture companies. “Today I was instructed by (the publisher) that we will no longer take a cartoon from you. The last one, ‘Profit,’ has caused a (storm) here that I do not understand. In the eyes of some, big ag cannot be criticized or poked fun at. The cartoon resulted in one seed dealer canceling his advertising with Farm News,” Friday’s editor wrote in an e-mail. The story attracted national attention, and while he is considering returning to Farm News, Friday has also been motivated to move in a new direction, drawing cartoons that are not about farm life. [Des Moines Register]
Debuting books include The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks; What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing artist and Her Pussy, by the Japanese artist Rokudenashiko, who was just found guilty of obscenity for distributing 3D printer data of her genitals; 20×20, an anthology commemorating Conundrum Press’s 20th anniversary, and Tract, a graphic novella created specially by manga-ka Shintaro Kago for TCAF.
Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]
Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novel This One Summer has been removed from the library of the public school in Henning, Minnesota, which serves grades kindergarten through 12, on the basis of a single complaint.
The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog reported on the incident, which, ironically, might never have occurred if the book hadn’t won so many awards and garnered such good reviews: