5 Undeniably Awesome Super Bowl 50 Trailer Moments
Publishing | The 18th volume of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan sold 969,743 copies in its first week of release in Japan, claiming the top spot on the weekly manga sales chart. According to market research firm Oricon, thats an increase of nearly 200,000 copies from the debut of Vol. 17 in August. Attack on Titan has sold about 8.8 million copies this year, a drop of almost 50 percent from 2013. [Crunchyroll]
Passings | Cartoonist and editor Jacques Hurtubise, who went by the pen name Zyx, has died at age 65. Hurtubise attended college in Montreal during a time of separatist turmoil, and in 1971 recceived a government grant to publish L’Hydrocéphale illustré, an anthology of work by emerging Quebecois cartoonists. The magazine folded a year later, but Hurtubise continued to be an active promoter of local comics in various forms, and in 1979, he teamed up with two other editors to start the children’s humor magazine Croc, which carried a large selection of comics. The magazine, which ran until 1995, provided paying work to many eminent Canadian cartoonists in their early years. After Croc folded, Hurtubise left the comics industry for a career in technology, but he was inducted in 2007 into the Shuster Awards Hall of Fame. [Sequential]
Publishing | Kodansha Comics announced Tuesday that its North American release of Makoto Yukimura’s historical manga Vinland Saga could end following the seventh volume. “Please preorder and don’t let this great series die!” the publisher wrote on Twitter, adding, “We’re hoping we’ll be able to license the next arc, but it’s up in the air at the moment.” Kodansha began the U.S. release of the series in October 2013. The seventh volume will be published Dec. 29. [Anime News Network]
Passings | Spanish artist Luis Bermejo Rojo has passed away at age 84. Often credited as “Luis Bermejo” or just “Bermejo,” he began his career with Spanish comics in the 1940s and later was an artist for Warren Publishing’s Creepy as well as numerous British comics, from Girls’ Crystal to Battle Picture Library. “His work could turn the most banal of story lines into an absolute visual treat,” said fellow artist Ron Tiner. “His masterful grasp of narrative composition, his delicate ink line and consummate skill in the use of deep shadow endowed his story sequences with a bewitching, moonlit quality unmatched by any other artist-storyteller I ever saw.” [Down the Tubes]
Comics | Rob Salkowitz looks at the top five comics stories of the year, from the Charlie Hebdo shootings to convention consolidation. [ICv2]
Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., the driver who injured a woman last year during the annual San Diego ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International, has been sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, with electronic monitoring, and three years’ probation. His license has also been suspended for a year. Pocci had stopped to let the ZombieWalk procession go by, but then drove through onlookers, hitting several people and injuring one. He was convicted last month of felony reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. At the sentencing hearing Pocci, who is deaf, apologized to the victim in sign language. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Comics strips | Terry LaBan and Patty LaBan are bringing their syndicated comic strip Edge City to an end after 15 years. In his farewell message, Terry LaBan cites not only exhaustion but also a sense that the funny pages aren’t what they used to be: “It’s rare to meet anyone who reads a newspaper anymore, at least anyone under the age of 50. Comic strips, which once occupied a place at the center of pop culture, have fallen completely off most people’s radar. As much as we love it, it’s depressing to work in a form that seems to have lost its relevance and is, for the most part, ignored.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
Crime | Police in Amarillo, Texas, are searching for a man who robbed the Big Apple Comics at gunpoint on Tuesday. An employee was locking up the store at about 7:10 p.m. when a man approached him and told him to unlock the doors. The employee resisted, and the robber reportedly drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. [Amarillo Globe-News]
Passings | Zack Davisson, who translated Shigeru Mizuki’s works into English for Drawn and Quarterly, pens the definitive obituary of the late manga master, writing not only about his impact on Japanese culture but also his criticism of Japan’s actions in World War II and its treatment of disabled veterans, which led writer Jake Adelstein to call him “the Voice of Japan’s Conscience.” [The Comics Journal]
Crowdfunding | A new report released by Kickstarter shows that about 9 percent of the projects on the crowdfunding platform failed to deliver the promised rewards. While that is fairly consistent across all categories, comics do appear to do a bit better than most. Another interesting tidbit: Projects that raise less than $1,000 are the most likely to fail. [Kickstarter]
Creators | Writer Kyle Higgins talks about his new Power Rangers comic, Green Ranger: Year One, which focuses on the Ranger who was originally a villain before reforming and joining the team: “Basically, in going the modernization route I decided that I didn’t really want to jump in and tell new origins of the Power Rangers or anything like that. So looking at the introduction of the Green Ranger to the team, of him joining the team, was the window that I took for the story in order to get us into the world.” [Hero Complex]
Kate Evans is the creator of the recently published, and critically acclaimed, Red Rosa, a graphic biography of the revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, but her most recent comic is set not in the past but in the present: Threads: The Calais Cartoon is her account of volunteering in a refugee camp in Calais, France. The short online comic shows the human side of a story that’s been so prominent in headlines.
I asked Evans to talk about her experiences in Calais, and the process she went through to create the comic.
ROBOT 6: How did you come to Calais in the first place, and what role did you play there?
Kate Evans: My friend Mary initiated the idea of going over for the weekend. She asked my partner, and he asked me — we have kids, so it has to be one or the other of us. Since it was my birthday weekend, we decided that I would go. I wasn’t sure that I’d draw a cartoon about it. That wasn’t the main motivation for going. We wanted to be useful, to be active. We weren’t even sure if we would be useful at Calais — I think I assumed that the “real action” was over in Hungary or Greece, and I was slightly worried that we’d be do-gooding tourists rather than effective aid workers. I was wrong. The need is real and immediate and overwhelming.
Manga | Huge news for manga fans this weekend: Yen Press has picked up the license for Fruits Basket, one of the top-selling shoujo (girls) manga of all time. The story of Tohru Honda, a teenage orphan who becomes involved with a large family that suffers from an ancient curse, Fruits Basket was originally published in North America by Tokyopop and arguably helped create the manga boom of the mid-2000s. The series often made the USA Today bestseller charts, and together with Sailor Moon, it brought girls and women into the comics world in large numbers for the first time in decades. Also, it’s a cracking good read. Yen Press will publish it in deluxe two-in-one omnibus format with a new translation. [Anime News Network, Yen Press]
Legal | Two Iowa men suspected of plotting an armed attack in August against the Pokemon World Championships will stand trial on May 9 in Boston. A pretrial hearing is set for Dec. 30. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been held since their Aug. 22 arrest on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. [Ames Tribune]
Crime | The thieves who broke into the Pop Culture Company store in Houston, Texas, early Tuesday knew what they were doing: Surveillance video shows just three minutes elapsed between when they hurled a sledgehammer through the store’s glass door and when they left with the cash register, the safe, a laptop and a tablet. Although the three burglars ignored the comics and toys, damage to the store is estimated between $7,000 and $8,000. The speed of the robbery has police and store owner Robert Quijano thinking these are seasoned pros. “This is obviously what they do,” Quijano said. “I get up in the morning, I come to work, I sell comic books. They get up in the evening and they go out and they steal things from people.” [Click2Houston]
Auctions | Rob Salkowitz looks at the recent sale at auction of Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 for an impressive, although not record-setting, $442,150. He notes that the significance of the issue, and the endorsement of the sale by Adams, likely had an effect on the price. In 1970, most publishers didn’t routinely return original art to artist, and Adams has been critical of the sale of artwork that was simply taken, and sometimes given away, by staffers or editors. In this case, however, he announced through the auction house that “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family, I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.” A portion of the proceeds was also donated to The Hero Initiative. [ICv2]
Manga | Continuing its seven-year streak, Eiichiro Oda’s pirate adventure One Piece was the bestselling manga in Japan in 2015, according to the market research firm Oricon. The series sold 14.1 million copies between Dec. 1, 2014, and Nov. 30, 2015, an increase of 18 percent from the previous year. It’s followed by The Seven Deadly Sins with 10.3 million, Attack on Titan with 8.8 million, Assassination Classroom with 8.6 million and Kingdom with 8.5 million. You can see the full Top 10, as well as breakdowns by volume, at Crunchyroll. [Crunchyroll]
Shigeru Mizuki, author of the enduring supernatural manga GeGeGe No Kitaro, which popularized the Japanese spirits known as yōkai, passed away today at age 93.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Mizuki had been hospitalized since Nov. 11, following injuries he sustained when he fell and hit his head at his home in Tokyo.
Long beloved in his own country, Mizuki rose to international attention in 2007 when his NonNonBa became the first manga to be honored as Best Album at the Angouleme International Comics Festival. Drawn and Quarterly began publishing his work in English in 2011, with his searing semi-autobiographical war story Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, which won an Eisner Award; two volumes of Showa, his history of the Showa period, won the 2015 Eisner. His most recent work to be released in English is his biography of Hitler, published earlier this month by Drawn and Quarterly.
Comics | Benoît Peeters, a French comics writer, critic and Tintin expert, has been named as Lancaster University’s Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, characterized as the first appointment of its kind in the United Kingdom. “This professorship is a great honour for me,” said Peeters, whose works include Tintin and the World of Herge. “I want to explore the connections between the history of graphic fiction and contemporary creation, between the world of French and Belgian bande dessinée, and the world of comics and graphic novels.” [The Telegraph]