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Comics A.M. | ‘Ganbare Goemon’ creator Hiroshi Obi dies

Ganbare Goemon

Ganbare Goemon

Passings | Manga artist Hiroshi Obi, whose best known work is the Shonen Jump series Ganbare Goemon, died Sunday at age 54. His most recent project was a Yatterman remake, Yatterman Dengeki Daisakusen!, and he also taught in the manga department of Tokyo Kogakuin College of Technology. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | Filip Sablik of BOOM! Studios talks about marketing Lumberjanes on Tumblr, and how Beware the Valkyries, a group of women who work in comic stores, helped promote the comic with a special “Lumber Day.” [ICv2]

Creators | Mike Donachie profiles Canadian creator Diana Tamblyn, who’s nominated for a Shuster Award for her graphic novel From the Earth To Babylon: Gerald Bull and the Supergun. [Metro]

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Comics A.M. | IDW’s ‘My Little Pony’ comics hit 1 million in sales

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Publishing | Sales of IDW Publishing’s My Little Pony comics, in single-issue and graphic novel format but not counting digital, have topped 1 million copies. (It does really well in the iBookstore — there are multiple issues in the Top 10 every week — although it seldom registers on the other digital comics platforms.) IDW’s Ted Adams says this is because it’s such a great comic, but shrewd marketing such as offering a special Scholastic Book Fair edition with a bonus pony figure probably helped a lot. [ICv2]

Digital comics | The motion-comics platform Madefire has secured $5.2 million in funding. In July it announced agreements with four comics publishers — IDW, BOOM! Studios, Top Cow and iTV — and the first IDW comics came out in August. Madefire also has a partnership with DeviantArt. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Did British Comic Awards underrepresent women?

British Comic Awards

Awards | Were women underrepresented in the first British Comic Awards? With three women and 13 men on the shortlist, some argue they were; Laura Sneddon follows the discussion, including those making that claim and those who responded. [The New Statesman]

Best of the year | Paste magazine lists its 10 best comics of the year, including Hawkeye, Saga and Building Stories. [Paste]

Best of the year | Rachel Cooke focuses on British graphic novels, although a few outsiders creep in as well, for her list of the best graphic novels of 2012. [The Guardian]

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Gary Groth on The Comics Journal’s partnership with Alexander Street Press

Alexander Street Press archive

Fantagraphics announced last week it has formed a partnership with Alexander Street Press to include a complete run of The Comics Journal as part of the Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels online archive. Not knowing much about Alexander or the archive, I contacted Fantagraphics Co-Publisher Gary Groth to get some more information.

Robot 6: For the uninitiated, can you explain what Alexander Street Press is and what purpose they serve in the academic community?

Gary Groth: I’m by no means an expert on Alexander Street Press, but my understanding is that they provide searchable digital databases to academic institutions composed of classics works in a variety of disciplines — such as film, theater, literature, etc. These are provided primarily for scholarly use. I was able to go into some of their databases and poke around and they’re truly remarkable. You can search for subjects, themes, proper names, historic events, key words, etc.

How did this partnership come about? Did they contact you or vice versa?

They approached us.

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Comics A.M. | Steve Rude’s home, Jim Davis’ apology, Stan Lee’s star

From Steve Rude's 2011 calendar

Creators | Renowned artist Steve Rude has announced that money raised from an online art and comics auction has enabled he and his family to keep their home: “When I saw the bread coming in after Gino made her announcement (this was unbeknownst to the oblivious Dude), I was, and still am, in a mild state of stupefication. The outpouring of generosity was clearly far beyond what Gino and I could’ve asked for. Your contributions poured in from all corners of our planet; the sizeable backstock of comics and Dude related ‘higher reading paraphernalia’ were ordered by the spit-load; and Erik Larson bought his complete Next Nexus 3 issue! All said, we saved the house.” The Nexus creator is still working to regain his financial footing, so he’s selling 2011 calendars and, soon, a new sketchbook. [DudeNews]

Creators | Stan Lee will receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 4. [Mark Evanier]

Jim Davis

Comic strips | Cartoonist Jim Davis has issued an apology for an ill-timed Garfield strip that appeared on Veterans Day. The strip, which appeared in newspapers on Thursday, featured a standoff between Garfield and a spider, and referred to “an annual day of remembrance” called “National Stupid Day.” In a statement, Davis explained that the strip was written almost a year ago, “and I had no idea when writing it that it would appear today — of all days.” [CNN, The Daily Cartoonist]

Conventions | Wizard World Austin Comic Con kicks off today at the Austin Convention Center. [The A.V. Club Austin, KXAN]

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Everyone’s A Critic: A round-up of comic book reviews and thinkpieces

Boody Rogers

Boody Rogers

• Let’s begin by directing your attention to the comments section of this post on the Comics Comics blog regarding my recent interview with Dan Nadel. It devolves into a conversation over Nadel’s earlier comments about Fantagraphics’ recent Boody Rogers book, edited by Craig Yoe. Nadel disliked the book for a number of reasons, which Tom Spurgeon had felt was inappropriate for him to discuss in public, since Nadel had written and edited a book that featured Rogers’ art, Art Out of Time, and thus, was suffered from a conflict of interest of sorts.

Anyway, Nadel, Rob Clough, Tim Hodler, Jeet Heer, Spurgeon and even Gary Groth (!) hash the whole matter out here, though little is resolved by the end. I haven’t read the Rogers collection yet, so it’s hard for me to gauge the accuracy of Nadel’s comments. Spurgeon makes some good points, but I’m not 100 percent convinced they are that germane to Nadel’s original post. Still, it’s an interesting discussion nevertheless.

• Speaking of that Boody Rogers book, John Mitchell didn’t care much for the book either, though for different reasons, labeling it a “patience tester.”

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Dash Shaw goes to college

A very unflattering picture of Dash Shaw

A very unflattering picture of Dash Shaw

Every so often a co-worker, family member or acquaintance will look at me blankly when I talk about my hobby/obsession and say to me “Wait, you mean they make comics for adults now?”

It’s a stubborn reminder that, despite the seeming advances being made every week in mainstream media (hey, did you see that Tatsumi review in the New York Times?) most folks are unware of the strides that have been made over the past 30 years and have little regard for the medium beyond something that can eventually get made into a movie starring Christian Bale.

Still there are pockets of encouragement, most notably in the upper echelons of higher learning, where you may find librarians, teachers and college professors that are not-so-secret cheerleaders for the sequential art form.

Case in point: Last week I was back at my old alma mater Franklin and Marshall College for their ninth annual Emerging Writers Festival. I hadn’t heard of the yearly event up till now, but I had a particular interest in checking out this one as one of the invited artists was none other than Dash Shaw, author of last year’s acclaimed Bottomless Belly Button and just got an Eisner nomination for his excellent Webcomic BodyWorld.

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Will you answer the call?

Over at Thought Balloonists, Charles Hatfield announced that the University of Oregon will be holding an academic conference on superheroes this fall:

Understanding Superheroes” is conceived as an interdisciplinary multimedia event, held in conjunction with a simultaneous exhibition of original comic art at the UO’s recently refurbished Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

This exhibition, Faster Than A Speeding Bullet, will feature over 150 pages of original superhero comic art from the 1940s to the present, with examples of key works by many major creators in the industry, including Neal Adams, Mike Allred, C.C. Beck, Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Lou Fine, Ramona Fradon, Dave Gibbons, Don Heck, Carmine Infantino, J.G. Jones, Gil Kane, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Mort Meskin, Frank Miller, Joe Orlando, George Perez, H.G. Peter, Mac Raboy, John Romita Sr., Alex Ross, Marie Severin, Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Wagner, and Berni Wrightson.

Keynote Speakers include Danny Fingeroth (author of Superheroes on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent) and Charles Hatfield (author of Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature).

Guest Panelists include Kurt Busiek (author of numerous superhero titles for Marvel and DC, and creator of the award-winning Astro City series), Greg Rucka (co-creator of Gotham Central, White Out, Queen & Country, and many projects for Marvel and DC), and Gail Simone (writer on Marvel’s Deadpool and DC’s Birds of Prey, co-creator of Welcome To Tranquility for Wildstorm, and current Wonder Woman scribe).

They’re also currently accepting proposals for 15-20 minute conference papers on “the implications of superhero fantasies for our understanding of such diverse topics as gender identity, queerness, theological yearning, and nationalist politics.” Deadline is June 15.

On a side note I should also point out that ICAF is also calling for papers for their October conference. The deadline for that is March 20.

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