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Comic Books, Film
Comics | Wim Lockefeer translates and digests the annual report of the ACBD, the French association of comics journalists, which reveals that Asterix continues to rule the roost: The latest album had a print run of 2.25 million, dwarfing the next largest, Titeuf, with 550,000. Overall, sales are up 3.5 percent, but some of the old standards — like Asterix — are down from their historical peaks. Oh, and relevant to the recent debate involving Angouleme: The report lists about 1,400 active comics creators in France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium, of whom only 173 are women. [Forbidden Planet]
Sure to be one of the top-selling comics of the year, Asterix and the Missing Scroll will debut next week, returning the protagonists to Gaul, and introducing a character inspired by WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.
Confoundtheirpolitix is a journalist working for the Condatum Echo, although writer Jean-Yves Ferri reveals to Agence France-Presse that he was almost named Wikilix, in a nod to the website.
In the long week since the horrific massacre at France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine, there have been a number of tributes from artists worldwide to the fallen comic satirists. But today as the story of the attack reached a violent end, one more creator surprised fans with some social media solidarity: Asterix co-creator Albert Udzero.
Retired since 2011, the artist returned to the drawing board today to pencil two “Je suis Charlie” tributes featuring his famed characters Asterix and Obelix which were sent out in a pair of tweets on the official Asterix account.
“Charlie [Hebdo] and Asterix have nothing to do with each other obviously,” the artist told Le Figaro in an interview. “I simply want to express my affection for those designers who have paid with their lives.
The comics medium allows for diverse interpretations of characters, both narratively and visually. Artist Jaakko Seppälä has taken 10 of the most iconic comic characters — from Asterix to Batman to Lucy van Pelt — drawn in the style of 10 famous artists (including their respective creators or most popular illustrators).
According to Agence France-Presse, they said in a joint statement that they are “reunited again and determined to make a clean sweep of the grievances raised by both sides.” Any existing legal complaints will be dropped.
The dispute dates back to at least 2007, when Sylvie and her husband Bernard de Choizy were dismissed from their senior positions at Les Éditions Albert René, the publishing company Albert founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye two years later, when Sylvie criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death.
“Perhaps it’s simply the appeal of the underdog. Asterix is clearly for children, and for losers: it depicts a world where ungovernable appetites are momentarily sated and fulfilled. Growing up, one knew instinctively that Tintin and his adventures represented a world of adult meanings and responsibilities, unattainable sophistication and privilege. The Tintin books were for the sort of people who went to actual France on actual holidays; the sort of people who might read the books in the original French. Asterix, with its absurd levels of comic-book violence – all those swirling stars and sticking-out tongues, black eyes and bumps to the head – was for anybody and everybody. It was the sort of thing you actually wanted to read. One could imagine a Tintin book as a gift from a benevolent godfather but you discovered Asterix for yourself, well-thumbed and plastic-covered, in the grubby wooden dump-bins of the local library.”
A French judge on Tuesday dismissed a claim by the daughter of Asterix artist Albert Uderzo that her father is mentally frail, which has permitted others to exploit his beloved creation.
According to France24, the judge found the 86-year-old Uderzo is “lucid” and “has the full capacity to make decisions.” The lawyer for daughter Sylvie Uderzo said she intends to file an immediate appeal.
The dispute dates back to at least 2007, when Sylvie and her husband Bernard de Choizy were dismissed from their senior positions at Les Éditions Albert René, the publishing company Albert founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye two years later, Uderzo criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death.
Legal | Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo has filed a legal complaint against his daughter Sylvie and her husband Bernard Choisy, claiming “psychological violence.” The dispute began in 2007, when Sylvie and Bernard were dismissed from their positions at Les Éditions Albert René, which published Asterix; a year later, Uderzo sold his stake in the company to Hachette Livre. The two filed their own legal challenge in 2011, claiming Uderzo, who is now 86, was being exploited by others. In this week’s filing, Uderzo says he is perfectly capable of managing his own affairs, and adds, “The sole purpose of these acts is to undermine our psychological integrity and to hasten our debility, in order to get their hands on our legacy, which they covet.” [The Guardian]
Awards | Jamie Smart’s Fish-Head Steve has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the first comic to make the list in the six-year history of the award. The prize recognizes the funniest book for children in two age categories, and the final judges will be 200 children from schools around the United Kingdom. [Forbidden Planet]
Comics | Eric Margolis reports on the difficulties U.K. creator Darren Cullen had in getting his Kickstarter-funded comic (Don’t) Join the Army printed. The format was unusual, so some shops simply couldn’t do it, but printers also took exception to the comic itself, which was an “anti-recruitment leaflet” satirizing the British army. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]
Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]
Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]
Festivals | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has opened in Angoulême, France, and that’s where all the cool kids are. Bart Beaty surveys the scene for the rest of us; the president of this year’s show is Jean-C Denis (last year it was Art Spiegelman), and there will be an exhibit of his work, but Beaty says the big draw will be the exhibit of work by Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix. [The Comics Reporter]
Editorial cartoons | Rupert Murdoch has apologized, on Twitter, for an editorial cartoon by Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times that depicted Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu bricking Palestinians into a wall with blood-red mortar. Many commentators were concerned that the cartoon, which Scarfe intended as a commentary on the recent elections in Israel, came too close to old anti-Semitic blood libel. Making things worse, the cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day. [The Guardian]
Angoulême is synonymous with comics, so it’s probably to be expected that when marriage-equality supporters marched in the French city last weekend they enlisted some familiar faces for the cause.
On her blog, local artist Algesiras posts a handful of photos of banners depicting several famous comic characters sharing a same-sex kiss. There’s Tintin and Captain Haddock, Catwoman and Poison Ivy, Asterix and Obelisk, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, Blake and Mortimer, and Spirou and Fantasio, among others.
“Notice the rings on the hands of the characters,” Algesiras writes. “I think the best one is the one with the Smurfette, because it mocks the fact that the Smurfette is the only female in the Smurfs world. She’s not alone anymore.”
The 40th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival kicks off Jan. 31.
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Today Faith Erin Hicks steps up to the wheel. You know her from such works as Friends with Boys, Brain Camp, The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Zombies Calling and The War at Ellesmere, as well as the upcoming The Last of Us and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. Check out her website for more information.
Now let’s get to it …
Unlike most American comics, in which creative teams frequently change out every few years (or even months), the norm in other countries is for creators to stay with their creations long-term. That’s the way it’s handled in American comic strips, in manga and in manhwa, and also in Europe. So news coming out this month that Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo has named his replacements is a big deal — especially because just a few years ago he planned for the strip to be discontinued when he passed. Next year will see the release of the first major Asterix graphic novel created without Uderzo; it’s instead by writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad.
Creators | Eighty-four-year-old artist Albert Uderzo, who created Asterix the Gaul in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, has announced he’s retiring, saying he’s “a bit tired” after 52 years of drawing. The news came as publisher Hachette celebrated the sale of 350 million Asterix books worldwide. Uderzo, who took over writing after the death of Goscinny in 1977, said he has found an as-yet-unnamed successor to continue his legacy, beginning with a new book planned for release in late 2012. [Reuters, BBC News]
Passings | Italian comics writer and publisher Sergio Bonelli, whose company Sergio Bonelli Editore (formerly CEPIM) releases such titles as Dylan Dog and Nathan Never, passed away Monday in Milan. He was 79. [UPI]
Legal | A witness testified Monday in Michael George’s murder trial that she heard the defendant and his first wife Barbara George have a particularly heated argument in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store on July 13, 1990, only hours before Barbara was shot and killed. [Detroit Free Press]