Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]
SPX, or the Small Press Expo, returns to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. this weekend.
The show’s special guests include Roz Chast, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, Jim Rugg, Ann Telnaes, Chester Brown, Johnny Ryan, Craig Thompson and Matthew Thurber, and fans who attend will also have the opportunity to meet and/or hear from Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, Alex Robinson, Brian Ralph, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz, just to name a few. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that our own Chris Mautner will be attending and conducting a Q&A with Johnny Ryan on Saturday, so be sure to tell him hi for us.
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview with retail news and analysis site ICv2, Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson discusses the state of the market, the potential impact of Borders’ bankruptcy, digital comics, the decline in manga sales, the success of Troublemaker and more. Of particular note is Richardson’s confirmation that Apple’s stricter enforcement of a prohibition on in-app purchases outside the iTunes store was behind the delay of the planned January launch of Dark Horse’s digital comics program. He also says that Frank Miller is working on the third issue of his 300 prequel Xerxes, which is expected to be “roughly six issues, but he hasn’t exactly decided yet.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson provides an overview of recent changes to BOOM! Studios’ kids’ line, from the loss of the Pixar licenses to a new imprint name — changed from BOOM! Kids to kaboom! — to the announcement this week of a Peanuts original graphic novel. “BOOM Kids! was designed to publish children’s comics — kaboom! is designed to be a true all-ages imprint, and for that reason Peanuts is the perfect launch title, the sort of material that adults and kids read alike,” CEO Ross Ritchie said. “Roger Langridge’s Snarked! is along these lines, as is Space Warped and Word Girl. I put the Word Girl announcement on my wall on Facebook and immediately there were a zillion adults commenting, ‘My child loves this show but I’m buying this comic book for myself!’ The title mix will be broader for kaboom! than it was for BOOM Kids!” [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Veteran inker Mike Esposito, who teamed with childhood friend and frequent collaborator Ross Andru on such DC Comics titles as Action Comics, Wonder Woman and Metal Men, passed away Sunday at age 83. To conceal his Marvel work from DC, Esposito used the pseudonym Mickey Demeo, inking John Romita Sr. on The Amazing Spider-Man and Jack Kirby on The Hulk. Andru later joined him at Marvel on Spider-Man. [Mark Evanier]
Publishing | Kuwaiti entrepreneur Naif al-Mutawa, whose Muslim-superhero comic The 99 recently met with absurd, manufactured controversy, is profiled just as DC Comics prepares to debut a crossover with the Justice League: “It seems likely that a media firestorm is brewing. On forums last week, DC comics faced accusations of ‘Muslim pandering’ and ‘treachery,’ but that’s the salient feature of The 99, not just that they’re superheroes from four continents fighting crime wherever they find it, but that they – and Mutawa – have to fight enemies and overcome resistance from both the east and the west. ‘One of the tough things is that people always think I’m working for someone else. In America, it’s like, “Sure, they’re private investors.” Back home, they think I’m working for the Americans and here they think I’m working for some sort of Islamic agenda’.” [The Observer]
Legal | A former middle-school teacher in Idaho has pleaded guilty to possession of obscene visual depictions of the sexual abuse of children for downloading 70 cartoon images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Many of the images depicted characters from The Simpsons. Boise resident Steve Kutzner, 33, faces up to 10 years in federal prison, supervised release of up to three years, a maximum fine of $250,000 and … a special assessment of $100. Sentencing is set for Jan. 5. [Idaho Statesman, press release]
New York Comic Con | Tom Spurgeon settles in for a lengthy, bulleted look at the news and announcements from last weekend’s big convention. Gareth-Michael Skarka, meanwhile, offers commentary on the digital-comics arena. [The Comics Reporter, The Designer Monologues]
New York Comic Con | Ruth La Ferla uses the convention as a chance to look at the intersection of comic books and fashion, spotlighting both cosplayers and noted designers. [The New York Times]
Late last year, at my pop culture blog, I interviewed Alex Robinson about Too Cool to Be Forgotten. It was a really enjoyable interview (a fellow XTC fan is always a welcome addition to any discussion), so when I found out his new project was adapting L. Frank Baum’s Christmas tale, A Kidnapped Santa Claus, I decided it was time to catch up with him for another discussion.
Tim O’Shea: What was the biggest challenge to expanding the original Baum 10 prose pages to your adaptation’s 60 pages?
Alex Robinson: At first I was thinking that I was going to have to add a lot of material, and since the original story mostly focused on the plot I figured I could beef up the characterizations and try to give the characters a little more depth. It turned out I didn’t really need to add that much, since there’s relatively a lot of plot for such a short story.
The other challenge was deciding how closely I wanted to stick with Baum’s original dialogue and ideas. I wanted to stay true to the source material but I also felt like I had to update it a bit if it was going to resonate with children today.
O’Shea: How much fun and creative freedom did you gain in expanding the story?
Robinson: Since the book is part of a series in which cartoonists adapt classic stories Harper really wanted it to be fairly close to the original, but they also gave me a lot of freedom within that framework. Does make any sense? Aside from beefing up the characterization of the supporting cast (they’re little more than names in the original story) I tinkered around with the ending. I explained to my editor what I was doing and why I thought it should be changed and they were okay with it.
It was actually a lot of fun taking someone else’s story and adapting it. It’s kind of like covering a song in music, I imagine. Without having to worry about the basic structure there wasn’t as much pressure.
Mike Dawson‘s Freddie & Me ranked on many Best of 2008 lists. It looks like he’s trying to capitalize on his elevated creative profile–given that the upcoming Previews (out on January 28) will include Dawson’s upcoming work for AdHouse, Ace-Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms (“a collection of stories . . . featuring everybody’s favorite well-dressed crime fighter, doling out super-powered justice with his bionic limbs, and handling crisis’s at home as a husband and father.”)
In addition to discussing Ace-Face, we delve into Freddie & Me. But that’s not all, as starting February 17, Dawson is returning to ACT-I-VATE with Jack and Max Escape From the End of Time, a webcomic spinning out of the Ace-Face universe. My thanks to Alex Robinson for facilitating this email interview as well as Dawson for his time and thoughts.
Tim O’Shea: How much of the Ace-Face book consists of flashbacks to his childhood and how much of is it “present day” adventures?
Mike Dawson: The stories take place in a variety of different times over the course of Ace-Face’s career. A good chunk of the stories happen in close-to present day, but there are a number of flashbacks. We see his origin as a little kid with gigantic metal arms in the 1940’s and 50’s, a little bit of his mod hey-day in the 1960’s, and some of his latter-day adventures as well.
As Chris goes through the 2009 catalogs of various publishers like Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly, I thought I’d share a few update on future projects that creators have mentioned on their blogs. First, over on his blog Red Window, Scott Morse says he’s working on a follow-up to The Ancient Book of Myth and War called The Ancient Book of Sex and Science. He’s also got another Magic Pickle book coming out in 2009, as well as what sounds like a gigantic bunch of awesomeness, a ’50s monster book called Ten Against the World:
*TEN AGAINST THE WORLD is in the works, I’m pleased to officially announce. It’s a 160 (or so) page Kirby/Toth-inspired monster comic set in the 1950′s, lots of comic book fun I’m certain Wertham would love. There’s a teaser above. It’s being produced entirely in Photoshop on my Cintique, no pencils, just straight digital black, white, and blue, as an experiment in economics and speed. I’m about 40 pages in at this point. Keep your eyes and ears open for this one, as it may actually hit initially in online installments.
Next, Alex Robinson’s Too Cool To Be Forgotten has been popping up on year-end best of lists here and there (Tim O’Shea had it on his), and over on his LiveJournal he talks about the project he’s just starting starring Santa Claus: