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Comic Books, Film
Fandom | Feb. 11 is Flash Appreciation Day, a holiday drawn from the 2006 Justice League Unlimited animated series “Flash and Substance.” Last year, fans petitioned the White House (unsuccessfully), asking President Obama to pay tribute to the Scarlet Speedster. This year, however, they’re marking the occasion with special content spread across nine blogs, and a call for donations to The Hero Initiative. Jim McLauchlin, the organization’s president, participated in an interview and also rounded up creators Mark Waid, George Pérez, Walt Simonson, Dennis O’Niel and Jim Valentino to discuss their favorite versions of The Flash. [Nothing But Comics]
Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team that drew the Legend of Zelda manga, has announced a new project: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, based on the 2006 game of the same name. The manga will be published on Shogakukan’s MangaOne app, which is not the same as the Manga One app available in English. Viz Media published Akira Himekawa’s previous Zelda manga, which ran from 1998 to 2008. [Anime News Network]
Awards | Jeremiah creator Hermann has been selected as the winner of the Angouleme International Comics Festival Grand Prix. The Belgian artist, who was a finalist last year, will serve as president of the 2017 festival. The prestigious award was mired in controversy this year when the longlist of nominees featured the names of 30 male creators but no women. Hermann is well known in the French-language comics world; some of his work has been published in English by Dark Horse. [Le Monde, YouTube]
Legal | Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi have been acquitted on charges of “non-adultery illegitimate relations.” The charges were brought after the two shook hands during one of Moghimi’s visits to Farghadani in prison, where she’s serving a 13-year sentence for drawing a cartoon critical of the Iranian parliament. The “illegitimate relations” charges carried a maximum penalty of 99 lashes, and in the course of the investigation, Farghadani was subjected to involuntary pregnancy and virginity tests. She’s not out of the woods yet, however: The prosecutor could appeal the acquittal. [CBLDF]
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]
Retailing | Variety Comics, which opened in Chicago in summer 1974, will close its doors for good Halloween. “Business is down,” says co-owner Vin Nguyen. “It’s sad but you know, it is what it is.” Nguyen and his partner Victor Olivarez bought the store in 2009 following the death of original owner Rick Vitone. [DNAInfo]
Conventions | The Houston Press looks at allegations of organizational problems and financial mismanagement at the Houston-based convention Anime Matsuri, which has been growing steadily (attendance at this year’s event was 24,000), despite leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid bills and angry guests. [Houston Press]
Conventions | The organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con next month hope to break the Guinness World Record for largest gathering of people dressed as comic book characters. The current record of 1,530 was set April 2011 at the opening of World Joyland theme park in China. Since then, several conventions have sought to seize that crown, but none has succeeded. It’s not as easy as it may sound, as to be counted for the record, the character must’ve first appeared in a comic book. And that’s just for starters. Salt Lake Comic Con has a rundown of the rules on its website. [KSL]
Creators | Imprisoned Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani is grateful she received the Cartoonist Rights Network International Courage in Cartooning Award, her father said after a visit to her in Evin Prison, and she’s hoping an appeals court will reduce her sentence. Farghadani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for drawing a cartoon showing the members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. [International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran]
Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]
Passings | Artist and writer Alan Kupperberg has died of thymus cancer at the age of 62. Kupperberg got his start writing dummy letters for Marvel in the late 1960s, then moved to the production department at DC and in 1974 was hired by the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard comics, where he played a variety of roles, including letterer, colorist, and editor. That company folded after a year, and he went to Marvel, where he worked on a number of different titles, including The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Savage Sword of Conan, and Amazing Spider-Man. He created the one-shot comic Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men working entirely solo, and he drew the weekly Howard the Duck newspaper comic as well as the comic-strip version of The Incredible Hulk and Little Orphan Annie. His magazine work included National Lampoon, Cracked, and Spy. Kupperberg also taught at the School for Visual Arts, and he was the brother of writer Paul Kupperberg. [ICv2]
Manga | Hiromi Bando has translated Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen into Chinese and is looking for a publisher, but she has been told the Chinese government will not approve its publication. Bando, who is Japanese, was inspired to translate the manga, an eyewitness account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, after hearing of her father’s experiences fighting in China during World War II. The manga is taught in the original Japanese in a few universities in China. [Asahi Shimbun]
A course on graphic novels as literature at a California college won’t carry a disclaimer after all, despite a statement by the school’s president that one would be included in response to a student’s complaint about adult content in some of the required reading.
According to Redlands Daily Facts, a Crafton Hills College spokeswoman said the disclaimer was never mandated, and Professor Ryan Bartlett, who teaches the English 250 course, ultimately decided against one.
“College is supposed to be a place where students can have real exchanges about sometimes difficult topics,” Bartlett said in an email. “An English major will have to read works in the literary canon (for example Shakespeare, Chaucer and the Bible) which include similar issues present in the chosen graphic novels. If we put a disclaimer on this course, then we should put a disclaimer on all literature courses, and I do not feel comfortable going down that slippery slope.”
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon reports that Bongo Comics has quietly left comiXology and will be putting its comics in a new Simpsons Store app instead. While users won’t be able to buy new Bongo comics on comiXology, they will still be able to access those they already purchased. [The Comics Reporter]
Political cartoons | The American Freedom Defense Initiative has a new advertising campaign, placing Bosch Fawstin’s cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on billboards around St. Louis. Transit systems in several cities, including New York and Washington, D.C., have stopped accepting political advertising rather than carry the group’s ads depicting the Prophet Muhammad. In St. Louis, they have drawn mixed reactions: Dr. Ghazala Hayat of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis says she would like to see the signs removed but not at the cost of violence or property damage, while Jim Hanson, the executive vice president of the Center for Security Policy, said that freedom of speech is more important than avoiding offense. [WKRC]
Following a student’s protest over the contents of the graphic novels required by her English 250 class, Crafton Hills College President Cheryl A. Marshall has issued a statement saying the college will not ban any books or alter the content of the course.
I support the college’s policy on academic freedom which requires an open learning environment at the college. Students have the opportunity to study controversial issues and arrive at their own conclusions and faculty are to support the student’s right to freedom of inquiry. We want students to learn and grow from their college experiences; sometimes this involves reaffirming one’s values while other times beliefs and perspectives change. In this specific case, the syllabus distributed on the first day of class contained the list of required reading materials allowing students the opportunity to research the books and make a choice about the class. The class is one of numerous electives available for completion of the English degree. We are attempting to avoid this situation in the future and Professor Bartlett has agreed to include a disclaimer on the syllabus in the future so students have a better understanding of the course content. I know he appreciated the differing views presented by Ms. Shultz in his class.
College student Tara Shultz is the latest in a long line of people to be shocked to find that Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian revolution, contains violence.
A 20-year-old attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, was so dismayed by the graphic content in four of the graphic novels required by her English 250 course — official description: “the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments” — that she and her parents are seeking to have them banned by the administration.
In addition to Persepolis, Shultz took exception to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man, and Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Co.’s The Sandman: The Doll’s House, due to the depictions of sex, violence and “obscenities.”
“I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within,” she told the Redlands Daily Facts. “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.”
Awards | The Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, fulfilling a mandate given to him on the day he was hired, when his editor said, “Welcome aboard. Now go win us a Pulitzer.” [The Buffalo News]
Conventions | The annual scramble for discounted Comic-Con International rooms in 54 participating hotels kicks off Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Comic-Con badger holders should’ve already received an email containing a link to the Travel Planners hotel reservation website. [Toucan]
Passings | Michael Cavna remembers cartoonist Jim Berry, who died Friday at age 83: “Berry’s World, the syndicated single-panel feature that he drew for 40 years, beginning in 1963, was a remarkably steady stream of thoughtful observational humor that — like the unfussy art itself — rarely seemed to strain for the laugh. Each gag, as steady as a top golfer’s approach shots, just ‘landed.’ Precision meets concision.” [Comic Riffs]