The students of Lane Tech College Prep High School, who rallied in March to protest the ordered removal of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis from Chicago Public Schools, have been honored with the Illinois Library Association’s 2013 Intellectual Freedom Award.
The protest, organized by the student body and the 451 Degrees Banned Book Club, was sparked by an email from the principal calling for the removal of the graphic novel from Lane Tech’s library and classrooms ahead of what was thought to be a Chicago Public Schools ban. Within hours of the news circulating, and amid outcry from teachers, parents and students, district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett clarified that Satrapi’s autobiography wasn’t being removed; rather, it was being pulled from the seventh-grade curriculum over concerns that some of its content may not be age-appropriate. Chicago Public Schools released images from the graphic novel depicting a man being whipped, burned with an iron and urinated on, which Byrd-Bennett referred to as “powerful images of torture.”
Depicting Satrapi’s experience is a child and young adult in Iran during the Islamic revolution, Persepolis has received almost universal acclaim. The 2007 animated adaptation directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud was nominated for an Academy Award.
As usual, Publishers Weekly is the first out of the gate with its best-of-the-year lists — if tradition holds, Amazon’s should come along within the next couple of weeks — even if they are a little incomplete (the children’s fiction category is coming “very soon”).
The five titles in the comics category are:
• March Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
• Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, by Ulli Lust (Fantagraphics)
• The Property, by Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
• RASL, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
• Boxers and Saints, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Derek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference and Other Stories is among the selections for the 2014 World Book Night U.S., becoming the first graphic novel to earn the distinction. (Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges was chosen last year for the U.K. event.)
Celebrated around the globe on April 23, World Book Night was established in 2010 as a way to encourage more adults to read. Every year since the event was first observed in the United States in 2012, more than half a million books are given to people who might not typically have an opportunity to read.
First published in 2004, Kim’s award-winning debut graphic novel is the story of a group of young people attempting to navigate adulthood and personal relationships.
“It’s amazing to be the author of the first graphic novel included in this celebration of books and reading,” Kim said in a statement. “I never expected the places my book would take me; it’s wonderful that now, over a decade since it was first published, my story is still reaching new readers.”
Same Difference is in good, and varied, company on the 2014 list, alongside such books as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.
Artist Pere Perez has worked on comics for the likes of Dark Horse DC, Marvel and Valiant, but now he’s poised to strike out on his own with his first creator-owned graphic novel Shaolin Mutants.
Described by Perez as an “epic kung-fu adventure,” Shaolin Mutants follows a kung fu-trained Shaolin monk named Leroy as he fights mutant armies in a near-future apocalyptic world. Kung fu is often used in comics, but Perez has a leg up on many of his colleagues: He’s a black-belt Wing Chun instructor who’s been practicing martial arts for nearly two decades.
“My love for martial arts has triggered the creation of this book, and my knowledge of them has helped me to create fighting choreographies and page layouts unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a comic book,” Perez writes on the Indiegogo page for Shaolin Mutants. “Also, I’ve tried to explain the philosophical and moral aspects of martial arts, so hopefully this book is not just an anthology of cool action scenes.”
Largely overlooked in the hustle and bustle of New York Comic Con was Disney Press’ official announcement of Space Mountain, a 176-page graphic novel based on the theme-park attraction. News of the project was surfaced in August.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller and illustrated by Kelley Jones and Hi-Fi Design, the book will be released May 6 under the Disney Comics umbrella. Disney Press also released a two-page preview and promotional poster for Space Mountain. Here’s the synopsis:
The year is 2125 and the Magellan Science Academy has given two lucky cadets ‘golden tickets’ to join a team of space explorers on a special field trip to journey 24 hours into the future. But when their mission goes unexpectedly wrong, the two kids must band together with a miniature flying saucer sidekick to save themselves and their crew — and return to Space Mountain — before time runs out and the universe is destroyed!
The first book in a planned trilogy, Space Mountain will be followed by Return to Space Mountain (2015) and Battle for Space Mountain (2016).
Subscriptions have long been a part of the comic book industry; paying your money in advance, and getting the titles by mail every month can be comforting. But a new service called Pullist is offering a very different type of subscription: one where you don’t know what you’re going to get.
Described as a “curated comic book service,” Pullist sends to subscribers a surprise graphic novel each month. For its first month, Pullist enlisted Glory writer Joe Keatinge to make the pick.
Gene Luen Yang, whose two-volume Boxers & Saints was shortlisted just this morning for the National Book Award, has revealed details about his follow-up: a revival of the Golden Age superhero the Green Turtle with Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Malinky Robot).
Yang has mentioned the graphic novel, most recently last month in an interview with Comic Book Resources, but BoingBoing now has the final cover for The Shadow Hero, to be published by First Second Books, along with a video laying out the “secret origin” of Green Turtle, who was intended by his creator Chu Hing, who’s said to have wanted the character to be Chinese-American.
Jeff Lemire, the award-winning creator of Essex County and Sweet Tooth — and one of DC Comics’ go-to writers — will follow his 2012 graphic novel The Underwater Welder with Roughneck, to be published in 2015 by Simon & Schuster and Simon & Schuster Canada.
The project represents somewhat of a return to a familiar setting, rural Canada, as it follows “a former hockey player forced to face his demons and reconnect with his Cree heritage when his troubled sister comes running home to the remote northern town where he now lives.” Here’s the official description:
Derek is a former hockey tough guy whose quick rise to the NHL was cut short when a brutal on-ice incident left him banned from professional hockey for life. Now, four years later, Derek has returned to Black River, his hometown in Northern Ontario, not far from the Moose Cree First Nation, where his mother grew up. Derek’s slide into alcoholism and depression is interrupted when his long-lost sister, Annie, returns home trailing a violent ex-boyfriend. Together, the two escape to the woods, where they struggle to reconnect with the traditions of their Cree ancestors in order to escape their past and gain redemption.
An Essex County, Ontario, native who now lives in Toronto, Lemire is a two-time Shuster Award winner who’s been nominated for eight Eisners. He and artist Mike McKone will introduce DC’s Justice League of Canada next spring.
Paul Pope’s Battling Boy debuts this week, which is a big deal for all sorts of reasons. I like how publisher First Second has been trailing the last week of build-up through its Twitter feed, releasing postcard-like graphics pairing panels from the book with advance praise for the release. As if we weren’t already salivating at the prospect of Pope properly commencing his first major project since 2006′s Batman Year 100.
Seriously, it’s beautiful and bleak, telling the story of “the world’s most deadly spy” Black Kaiser, who’s ripped out of retirement by an assassination attempt that places him “on a collision course with a stab-happy torture expert and a seductive but deadly redhead. His mission only ends if he dies or kills everyone out to get him, and he’s not in the habit of dying.”
Arriving Dec. 11, the 160-page comic has been rescripted for print. You can get a taste of Polar, and some of the new dialogue, below.
[Updated 5:55pm PST: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Humanoids had filed for bankruptcy. Also, since the original article's publication we have spoken to a representative from the American company Humanoids Inc., who currently holds the rights to Hide & Seek.]
Chris Claremont casts a long shadow in modern superhero comics, due to his landmark run on Uncanny X-Men. Many of Marvel’s current X-Men stories — and let’s not forget Fox’s blockbuster movie franchise — are built on earlier work by Claremont and has collaborators. Despite that pedigree, new Claremont comics are few and far between.
In a 2012 interview, he told ROBOT 6 that while he no longer received work from Marvel, he did have a string of projects set up in Europe.
“I have two comics projects that I started in Europe, one science fiction and one fantasy. The fantasy series, titled Wanderers, got one issue published, a second issue fully complete and a third one plotted out before the artist left to work for Marvel,” Claremont said, referring to artist Phil Briones. “That’s no fault of the artist, but the book was published as a dual-publishing arrangement between a French and Italian publisher that came to blows. I think the French publisher was hoping for better sales of the first volume, and lost interest afterwards. But now because of that, I’ve got a hundred pages of story sitting on my desk. The other series, the science fiction one, went to the publisher and an artist drew 20 odd pages before the company collapsed. The other publishers I’ve shown it to were interested, but said that either the artist or the story wasn’t quite right for them. Again, there are many cases of concepts that look golden to creators but hit speed bumps along the way and never make it to fruition. That’s the business.”
If you love the unique books that Top Shelf publishes, Friday is the last day to take advantage of its once-a-year massive $3 sale. The sale is great for two reasons, you can acquire many of Top Shelf’s new offerings at a 50 percent discount — while also helping the independent publisher to “raise funds to ‘kick start’ a full rollout for next year.”
Some of the Top Shelf offerings to consider in the 50 percent debut category, include:
- March (Book One) by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (which Chris Mautner reviewed in August)
- A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown (which I interviewed him about in July)
- God is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler (the authors also chatted with me in July about it)
There are other books to be had at even less than 50 percent, of course, including:
Following the release of Tony Cliff’s 19th-century adventure Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, First Second has announced a second book, tentatively titled Delilah Dirk and the Blades of England.
As ROBOT 6 contributor Tom Bondurant recounted in Monday’s “Cheat Sheet,” the thief whose wit is as sharp as her sword debuted in 2007 in the self-published 28-page Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, which earned an Eisner nomination and a devoted fan base, leading Cliff to continue the character’s adventures online. That material was then collected in graphic novel form by First Second.
While the big news to come out of Kevin Smith’s new “Fatman on Batman” interview with Grant Morrison is the new title for his long-teased Wonder Woman graphic novel, the most interesting part of the discussion may be when the subject turns to Batman: The Killing Joke.
The influential 1988 one-shot, by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is perhaps best remembered for The Joker’s shooting of Barbara Gordon, leaving the once and future Batgirl paraplegic. But after listening to Morrison’s interpretation of the book’s ending, Smith realizes the impact of The Killing Joke is far greater: “Alan Moore secretly wrote the last Batman story.”
He might have a common name, but he’s got an uncommon talent. British artist Dave Taylor is working on his childhood hero Judge Dredd for 2000AD, and on his blog he recently revealed a great unpublished cover he had in mind for Batman: Death by Design, the 2012 graphic novel he collaborated on with Chip Kidd called Batman: Death by Design. The piece, which Taylor calls a “feel sample,” designed to convey how the book might look.
The final cover featured a more marketing-friendly headshot of Batman, but this unpublished gem deserves to be seen.