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Film, Comic Books
Graphic novels | The latest volume of Tokyo Ghoul topped the February BookScan chart of the bestselling graphic novels in the bookstore channel, and four volumes of that series made the top 20. The third volume of The Walking Dead Compendium took the second slot. Overall, the list is an interesting mix: It’s half manga, a couple of Marvel and DC Comcis titles, Dark Horse’s Plants vs. Zombies (an all-ages graphic novel based on a video game), and Philippa Rice’s Soppy: A Love Story, a print version of her webcomic about her life with her boyfriend. [ICv2]
Legal | Former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Maurice Sinet has sued philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy for calling him an anti-Semite. Levy wrote in an article in Le Point magazine that Sinet, who goes by the pen name Sine, was “a former employee of Charlie Hebdo who was kicked out for his anti-Semitism and racism.” Sine wrote an article in 2008 claiming that Jean Sarkozy, the son of the former French president, had dodged the consequences of a car accident by saying he was planning to convert to Judaism and marry a Jewish woman. The story was intended to be satirical, but it caused a controversy and he was ultimately fired from the magazine. [Times of Israel]
Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]
Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]
Retailing | After opening its first physical store in November in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon is reportedly planning hundreds more. The news came from Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of real-estate investment company General Growth Properties, who revealed Tuesday in an earnings call that, “You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400.” An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The retailer’s Seattle store, called simply Amazon Books, stocks between 5,000 and 6,000 titles. [The Wall Street Journal]
The members of the Angouleme grand jury, who chose the winners of this year’s awards, have released a statement saying they are “stupefied by the cruelty and vulgarity” of the fake prizes presented Saturday during the festival’s closing ceremony.
“The announcement of fake awards, which broke the hearts of numerous authors, publishers and readers, in addition to the sexist and off-color remarks of the MC, are beneath the dignity of a festival that remains an internationally respected flagship event in the world of comics,” said the statement, signed by all seven members of the grand jury.
As if this year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival hadn’t been plagued by enough controversy, the organizers decided to play a practical joke at the closing ceremony that a lot of people didn’t find very funny.
The ceremony began with comedian Richard Gaitet, clad in a neon-blue suit and red bow tie, announcing, “This will be the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance.” He proceeded to present nine awards in rapid succession, including the award for best series to Saga, best comic for young people to Aaron Renier’s The Unsinkable Walker Bean, and the Fauve d’Or, the big prize, to Arsène Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen. And then two women appeared and said, “Bravo Richard, for that joke about the false fauves [awards] and the size of the Grand Prix. We laughed a lot, but now we must go.” And then they presented the real awards because that first set? That was fake.
The winners of the major awards (called “fauves”) at the Angouleme International Comics Festival were announced Saturday evening in a ceremony that has turned out to be quite controversial: The emcee came on and announced the nine winners, only to be followed by two actresses who revealed it was all a joke, after which the real awards were presented.
We’ll have more on that shortly, but first of all, here’s the list of the actual winners:
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]
Retailing | The complete set of Marvel comic books offered for sale by B-Bop Comics of Kansas City has been sold to an anonymous buyer for for the asking price of $200,000. “The first guys who came to look at it bought it,” said B-Bop owner Frank Mangiaracina. [ICv2]
The saga of the Grand Prix d’Angouleme has taken another sour turn, as one of three finalists for the festival’s top honor has asked people not to vote for her.
French illustrator Claire Wendling said she doesn’t want the Angouleme International Comics Festival award, writing on Facebook, “Would you like to please me? Don’t vote for me any more.”
Manga | Kodansha Comics will bundle DVDs of the first and second episodes of the anime Attack on Titan: No Regrets with the U.S. release of special editions of the 18th and 19th volumes of the Attack on Titan manga, respectively. The company also revealed a variant cover for the special edition of Vol. 18 drawn by Cameron Stewart (Batgirl, Catwoman). Attack on Titan: No Regrets is adapted from the spinoff manga of the same name, a prequel to the main series that tells the story of Captain Levi and Commander Erwin. In Japan, the two DVDs were bundled with volumes 15 and 16 of Attack on Titan. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is in the headlines again, this time because of a cartoon that asks “What would little Aylan have become if he grew up? A groper of buttocks in Germany.” The cartoon shows two lecherous men running after women; in an inset is a drawing of the famous photograph of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey while fleeing Syria. The cartoon refers to reports that large numbers of men who appeared to be Arab robbed and sexually assaulted women in several German cities during the New Year’s celebrations. While many critics accused the magazine of racism, others countered that the cartoon is a commentary on how quickly European public opinion has swung from sympathy to xenophobia. The cartoon was drawn by Charlie Hebdo staffer Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who survived the deadly January 2015 attack on the magazine’s Paris offices.[CNN]
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona has made the shortlist for the National Book Awards, only the third graphic novel to make it that far. At 23, Stevenson is apparently the youngest NBA finalist ever. Nimona is based on an idea Stevenson began toying with in high school and developed into her senior thesis at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She started posting the comic online, and a literary agent spotted it and signed her on. “I don’t know if I actually expected anything to come from signing with an agent — I assumed I’d self-publish, like most webcomic creators did,” she said. “Then my agent called me when I was in the middle of a class critique to tell me that he had sold it to HarperCollins, and that was that.” [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Sigolène Vinson, a writer for Charlie Hebdo, gives her account of the Jan. 7 shootings that killed 12 at the French satire magazine’s headquarters. Vinson was in the kitchen and heard brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi shoot her coworkers; she hid in a colleague’s office but came face to face with Saïd Kouachi, who told her “Don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You’re a woman, we don’t kill women. But think about what you do, what you do is bad. I’m sparing you and because I’ve spared you, you will read the Qur’an.” (However, Chérif killed writer Elsa Cayat, the only female victim of the attack.) [The Guardian]
Awards | This year’s grand prix de la ville d’Angoulême, the lifetime achievement award given every year at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, won’t be given to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, despite a petition started by jury president Gwen de Bonneval that garnered 1,200 signatures plus significant support on Twitter and Facebook. Two Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Wolinski, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack, and Willem, who wasn’t in the office that day, have been awarded the grand prix in previous years. The festival has announced a special Charlie Hebdo award that will go to a cartoonist whose work embodies resistance to oppression and censorship, and organizers will also publish a special album of cartoons drawn in response to the attacks. [France Inter]
Controversy | Zainab Akhtar has a good roundup of the SodaStream controversy: A number of internationally known creators have protested SodaStream’s sponsorship of the Angoulême International Comics Festival because the soft-drink manufacturer has a factory in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “All of Israel’s settlements in the Occupied West Bank are illegal under international law, and SodaStream’s factory in specific was build on land seized from several Palestinian villages in what is regarded as the largest single act of expropriation by the Israeli government in its 47-year long military occupation of the West Bank,” the organizers of the protest said in a statement. A number of artists, including Jacques Tardi (whose work was celebrated in a special exhibit at the show) have signed an open letter to festival organizer Frank Bondoux, asking him to end the relationship with SodaStream. Tardi also issued a statement saying he felt that he had been “taken hostage,” as he did not know about the sponsorship until the festival began. [Comics and Cola]
Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson received the Grand Prix award this weekend in France at the 41st annual Angoulême International Comics Festival, honoring his lifetime achievement.
The prize is awarded to a living comics creator, and traditionally the winner serves as president of the jury for the following year’s festival; previous honorees have included Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman. Watterson, Alan Moore and Katsuhiro Otomo (who incidentally received a lifetime achievement award of his own this weekend) were the three finalists this year, with Alan Moore stating late last week that if he won, he would decline the prize. It will be interesting to see if Watterson accepts the prize or attends next year. Tom Spurgeon has some additional commentary on the win.