"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Manga | The 72nd and final volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, released in Japan on Feb. 4, topped the weekly sales charts, with 874,120 volumes sold in its first week. [Crunchyroll]
Conventions | With 10 fan conventions coming to Indianapolis this year, David Lindquist takes a look at the business of comics-themed entertainment, with interviews with Wizard World CEO John Macaluso and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz. [Indianapolis Star]
The Greek gods are well-known for inserting themselves into the lives of mortals like you and me, but never quite like this.
During the Angouleme International Comics Festival last week, French artist Boulet created a comic in a 24-hour span pitting Zeus and Hades in a war of words and power that’s interrupted by a meager elderly widow. Titled The Gaeneviad, the comic brings this supernatural struggle down to eye level, featuring an infectiously warm woman and some unique behavior as the Greek gods try to woo her to their side.
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
Crime | The Wow Cool Alternative Comics store in Cupertino, California, has been burglarized for the second time in two months, and it looks as if it was the same crew both times. The thieves took cash and pretty much every minicomic and digest in the store, as well as a box of Marvel and DC comics. [Wow Cool Comics]
Political cartoons | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges in his home country, has been invited to speak at a United Nations forum next month in Geneva, Switzerland, titled “Defending Artistic Expression — Time for the UN to Act.” “In my speech, I will reaffirm my stand that freedom of expression for artistes including cartoonists is paramount and cannot be compromised,” he said, and he will also criticize the UN’s lack of commitment to the issue, which has “given more power to corrupt regimes and extremist bigots to be more repressive toward artists.” [The Rakyat Post]
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
The Angoulême International Comics Festival ended today, and while the winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, Katsuhiro Otomo, was announced on Thursday, the closing ceremony brought the announcements of the official prizes of the festival.
The prize for the best comic of the year (Fauve d’or/Prix du meilleur album) went to Riad Sattouf’s L’Arabe du Futur, the first volume of an autobiographical trilogy about his childhood, which was spent in France and Syria. Chris Ware’s Building Stories was recognized with a special jury prize, which is not given every year, only when the jury wants to draw attention to a work of special merit. The best series prize went to Last Man, which First Second will be releasing beginning in March. And there was a special Freedom of Expression prize, Prix De La Liberté D’Expression, which honored the five Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were slain on January 7; this prize will be awarded in future years to creators who have advocated for freedom of speech.
Here’s the complete list:
Conventions | At a press conference Thursday to kick off FanXperience, the Salt Lake Comic Con spinoff event, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker declared Jan. 29, 2015, as “Salt Lake Comic Con’s Day of Heroes.” Organizers, who have capped ticket sales for the second annual event at 70,000, say they expect a sellout. The Deseret News also looks at the origins of Salt Lake Comic Con in a profile of founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, who were introduced to comic conventions not as fans but as entrepreneurs. FanX continues through Sunday. [KSL.com]
Festivals | Reporter Alex Turnbull files a video report from the Angoulême International Comics Festival that includes segments on the tributes to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the Belgian cartoonist Hermann, and a 24-hour comics challenge. [France 24]
Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo has won the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Grand Prix, marking the first time a Japanese artist has received the event’s top honor. Just five non-Europeans have earned the award.
Jeremiah artist Hermann and Watchmen writer Alan Moore were also finalists for the award, presented annually in recognition of lifetime achievement to a living comics creator. The winner traditionally serves as president of the jury for the following year’s festival.
The president of last year’s festival, and the winner of the previous year’s Grand Prix d’Angoulême, was Willem, a staff cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo. He didn’t like to attend staff meetings, so he wasn’t in the office on Jan. 7 when two gunmen killed 12 people, including another Grand Prix winner, Wolinski.
“The 2015 festival will be a time to remember but we also want to demonstrate that life goes on,” said festival director Franck Bondoux. The commemorations include a special exhibit on Charlie Hebdo, a virtual album with contributions by artists from around the world, and a new award, the Charlie Prize, which will be awarded posthumously to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists this year, and in future years will recognize creators who have fought for freedom of expression. The town of Angoulême will also festooned with posters of Charlie Hebdo covers.
Legal | A 16-year-old in Nantes, France, was arrested last week for posting a cartoon on Facebook that mocks the Charlie Hebdo killings; the charge is “advocating terrorism.” The cartoon shows someone holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo and being struck by bullets. Electronic Intifada posts what is most likely the offending cartoon (it had been shared widely on social media), a takeoff on one of the more notorious Charlie Hebdo covers, accompanied by the text, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” The original cover featured a cartoon of an Egyptian protestor holding the Koran, with text that read, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.” [France 3]
Publishing | Sales were down in 2014 for Diamond Book Distributors, even though the industry overall had an up year. The reason: DBD lost a key client, Dark Horse, to Random House. Nonetheless, Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang sees good things in store for 2015, including strong sales of indie graphic novels, expanding international sales, and the much-anticipated March: Book Two, which was released this week. [Publishers Weekly]
Controversy | More than 80 creators and other industry figures, including Jaime Hernandez, Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Warren Ellis, Eleanor Davis, Jeet Heer and David Brothers, have signed an open letter asking Franck Bondoux, head of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, to cut the event’s ties to Israeli soft drink company SodaStream, which has its main plant in an occupied area of the West Bank. A similar action was taken last year regarding the company’s sponsorship of the festival. [Comics & Cola]
Passings | Dutch underground comics artist Peter Pontiac died Tuesday at age 63. Born Peter J. G. Pollmann, Pontiac came of age in the 1960s and started out drawing covers for bootleg songbooks, then moved on to create comics inspired by his own life and experiences, including The Amsterdam Connection, Requiem Fortissimo and the illustrated novel Kraut. His comics appeared in the Dutch underground comics magazines Modern Papier and Tante Leny Presenteert, as well as in the American Anarchy Comix and Mondo Snarfo. He later collected many of his comics in the seven issues of The Pontiac Review. He received the Stripschapprijs, a Dutch lifetime achievement award for comics creators, in 1997 and the Marten Toonder Prize in 2011. Pontiac suffered from liver disease and ran a crowdfunding campaign to finance a book about death and his disease, but he passed away before it could be completed. [Lambiek Comiclopedia]
The prize is presented annually to a living comics creator, with the winner traditionally serving as president of the jury for the following year’s festival. Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson received the honor in 2014, becoming only the fourth non-European to do so, but the famously reclusive cartoonist declined to attend. He did, however, create a poster for this year’s festival.
The 42nd Angouleme International Comics Festival is coming up Jan. 29, and over the Thanksgiving holiday organizers announced the nominations for the four juried prizes: the Sélection Officielle (the general category), Sélection Jeunesse (young people), Sélection Patrimoine (classics and reprints) and Sélection Polar (mysteries and thrillers).
Angouleme lives up to the “international” part of its name, as many of the selections were first published in English, including Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.
See the full list below.
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
In an interview with the French site 20 Minutes, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson debuts the poster he designed for the 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival, but he says he won’t be attending the event.
Watterson was awarded the Grand Prix d’Angoulême last year, an honor that usually includes serving as president of the following year’s festival. But in the interview, the reclusive cartoonist says he won’t participate beyond designing the poster and sending some of his original art for an exhibit.