Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Comics | Novelist Jonathan Lethem is the guest editor for this year’s Best American Comics collection, the first to come from outside the comics realm. Series editor Bill Kartalopoulos says he was “amazing”: “He clearly knows a lot about comics and cartooning. His novels draw on his lifelong love of comic books, he’s written Omega the Unknown for Marvel, and he’s more than familiar with the historical and contemporary landmarks in comics. But as someone who’s not ‘from’ the comics field he brings an entirely fresh perspective to the material from the past year that we considered for the book. He doesn’t bring any baggage to the table about who ‘should’ be included in this volume based on status or popularity or currency. Comics can be so insular sometimes, so we’re lucky to have this kind of attention from someone like Jonathan.” [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Susana Polo interviews several members of the Valkyries, the organization of women who work in comic shops, and examines the “Valkyrie Bump,” the sales boost that some comics, such as Sex Criminals, Lumberjanes and Batgirl, get when they benefit from their extra support. [Publishers Weekly]
Political cartoons | Reporter James Hookway interviews the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges, and provides some background on Malaysian politics and trial of Anwar Ibrahim, which is the topic of some of Zunar’s controversial cartoons. [The Wall Street Journal]
Conventions | It looks as if Wizard World’s convention won’t be returning to San Antonio, Texas, in 2015. A Wizard World spokesman said the company couldn’t come up with a date that fit the schedule of the city’s Henry B. Gomez Convention Center, adding, “We hope to revisit the possibility for 2016.” However, reporter Rene Guzman notes that San Antonio’s Alamo City Comic Con was a much bigger deal this year, in terms of the exhibit floor (it took up three exhibit halls of the convention center, compared to Wizards’ one) and probably attendance as well: Wizard World said its inaugural event in August drew “thousands,” and Alamo City had 73,000 attendees, almost twice as many as last year. There will be a Wizard World Austin conventionn in 2015, so anyone wanting a taste of that Wizard magic can find it a short road trip away. [San Antonio Express News]
Legal | Disney on Tuesday asked a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss a two-year-old lawsuit by Stan Lee Media claiming the copyright to such Marvel superheroes as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men. A lawyer for Stan Lee Media, which no longer connected to its namesake, argued a federal judge in Colorado erred last year in dismissing the 2012 complaint, but Disney countered that the copyright claims have been addressed time and again by the courts. “This is their seventh bite of a rotten apple,” Disney attorney Jim Quinn said after the hearing. The three-judge panel hasn’t issued its decision. [The Associated Press]
Manga | The finale of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which will run in an upcoming issue of Shonen Jump (both the Japanese and the North American editions), will be two chapters long, with the second appearing in full color, the manga magazine announced. Naruto was at one time the bestselling graphic novel in the United States and is still one of the top selling manga in the country. [Anime News Network]
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
Legal | The Japanese publisher Square Enix has filed a counterclaim against SNK Playmore, asking Osaka District Court to rule that its manga Hi Score Girl doesn’t infringe on copyrights held by the video game company. Earlier this year, SNK brought criminal copyright violation charges against Square Enix after learning Hi Score Girl contains more than 100 unauthorized images of characters from SNK Playmore games. The manga has been put on hold because of the dispute. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Who’s buying, and how much are they spending, at conventions? Rob Salkowitz mines the numbers from a recent Eventbrite poll of convention-goers to get some answers: Most people spend between $100 and $500 per person; cosplayers actually spend a bit more than average; and women shell out more money at conventions, while men spend more online. [ICv2]
Legal | A conference has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in San Diego to discuss a possible settlement in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the latter’s use of “Comic Con.” Comic-Con International filed lawsuit last month, claiming Salt Lake organizers are attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term. Salt Lake Comic Con formally responded on Monday, denying those accusations and asking a federal court to find Comic-Con International’s trademarks invalid. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Banned Books Week | Reporter Sydney Gillette gets the local angle on Banned Books Week, talking with a local comics retailer and a librarian. While Missoula, Montana, has very few book challenges, the most recent one at the public library involved a graphic novel, The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. Neither the public libraries nor the schools in the area have ever removed a book in response to a challenge. [Montana Kaimin]
The Society of Illustrators has announced the programming schedule for the MoCCA Arts Festival, coming up April 5-6 at The 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Sessions will occur in the lower level of the building and will be uploaded to the society’s YouTube channel sometime after the festival.
Programming was developed by Bill Kartalopoulos and includes sessions with R. Sikoryak, Ann Nocenti, Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Fiona Staples, Joost Swarte, Art Spiegelman and many others.
Check out the complete schedule below. Admission to the festival is $5 and is part of a bigger week of programming in New York celebrating comics.
Saturday, April 5
11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
R. Sikoryak Presents: CAROUSEL for KIDS!
Acclaimed cartoonist R. Sikoryak brings a special KIDS’ edition of CAROUSEL, his long-running series of live comics readings and other projected pictures, to the MoCCA stage. Featuring James Kochalka (Johnny Boo, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza), Trade Loeffler (Zig and Wikki, Zip and Li’l Bit Funnies), Neil Numberman (Do NOT Build a Frankenstein! Joey Fly: Private Eye), Melissa Mendes (Freddy Stories, Lou), and Colleen AF Venable (Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye) and more! Stories, gags, audience participation, and more, for kids of all ages.
If Bill Kartalopoulos doesn’t have one of the most impressive resumes in the comics world, he certainly has one of the lengthiest. He’s one of the co-organizers of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival and the programming co-ordinator for the Small Press Expo. He was a publishing associate for Toon Books, a contributing editor for Print magazine, he’s been an assistant to Art Spiegelman on various projects including the book MetaMaus, and has curated a number of comics exhibits in New York City. Oh, and he teaches college classes about comics in his spare time.
Now Kartalopoulos is adding the title of full-fledged publisher to the list. His new venture, Rebus Books was announced a few weeks ago and the company’s debut book, Barrel of Monkeys by Florent Ruppert and Jerome Mulot, made its debut at the recent BCGF.
Despite his incredibly busy schedule, Kartalopoulos was gracious enough to take time to talk over email about Monkeys, why he decided to take a chance on publishing it, and how publishing itself is a form of criticism. He’s an insightful, intensely smart guy, and I wish him the best of luck in this new venture.
OK, let’s start with the basics: How long have you been planning Rebus Books? What made you decide to want to become a publisher? And what made you finally decide to take the plunge?
I’ve been thinking of taking on some kind of publishing project on and off for a long time, but I’ve been planning Rebus Books in a more focused way over the past year. It’s hard to boil it down to a single motivation. In part, I think that because I’ve had the experience of working on other publishing projects, including the TOON Books and MetaMaus, I had a strong desire to turn my skills and experience towards a self-generated project that I was fully responsible for and that directly expressed my interests and point of view. I’m involved with comics in a lot of different ways, as a curator, critic, educator, festival organizer, and so forth, and this seemed like a very proactive way to extend that involvement in a way that enlarges the comics scene rather than simply reacts to it.
One of the more interesting, art-focused and idiosyncratic comic conventions around, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, will take place this weekend.
The bulk of festival will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The show has expanded considerably, however, to include a number of other events, including gallery shows and a film festival.
Libraries | An editorial in the Lewiston, Maine, newspaper praises a local school board’s decision last week to leave the 2007 comics anthology Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library following a parent’s complaints about “objectionable sexual and language references”: “American culture can be graphically sexual and explicitly foul and it’s important that young people learn how to navigate that world in a responsible way. The best possible way, of course, is for parents to steer their children through that process, but not every parent does and many children are left adrift. So, the next-better place to learn is the school library, where a responsible adult can help educate children about their hormone-charged emerging feelings in a confusingly sensual culture.” [Sun Journal]
Business | Wizard magazine founder Gareb Shamus, who resigned earlier this month as president and chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc., will sell most of his shares in the company to his successor, who’s expected to be named next month. [Bleeding Cool]
The featured guests for the third annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival have been announced, and whoo boy, it’s quite a line-up. And it runs the gamut, too: MAD Magazine legend Jack Davis, book-design kingpin Chip Kidd, The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner, Asterios Polyp/Batman Year One artist David Mazzucchelli, Providence artcomix vets CF and Brian Ralph, grossout-humor queen Lisa Hanawalt, and minicomics patriarch John Porcellino. An opportunity to encounter Gloeckner live and in person is not to be squandered, folks, and that’s just for starters.
Organized by publisher PictureBox Inc., retailer Desert Island, and scholar Bill Kartalopoulos, this year’s BCGF will take place on Saturday, December 3 from noon to nine at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with programming hosted at the nearby Union Pool. If the last two years are any indication, it’s the alternative comics show to beat.
At New York City’s Parsons Art & Design College, aficionados of comics, cartoons or just fine art in general are getting something special to look at starting Feb. 4: a new exhibition called “Cartoon Polymaths”. Curated by Bill Kartalopoulis and set to open this Thursday, this exhibition of multimedia work profiles several high-profile artists who are cartoonists themselves or show “cartoon sensibility.” The premise of the exhibit, taken from Parsons’ website, is: “While the word cartoon is usually associated with humorous line drawing, the form has a deep influence across many types of art and design, from animation and children’s books to puppetry and product design. What is it about the cartoon that permits—or enables—such an evolution? “
On display will be newspaper tearsheets, comics, puppets, posters, zines, animated clips and other media from artists such as Winsor McCay, Saul Steinberg, Kevin Huizenga and more. The show’s organizers even commissioned Kevin Huizenga for a two-page comic about the show that’s available as a free booklet. In addition to the exhibition itself, Parsons and Bill Kartalopoulos are coordinating a slate of public programs for the area featuring Ricard McGuire, R. Sikoryak and Jacob Ciocci.
The exhibition opens Friday, Feb. 4 at Parsons’ Sheila C. Johnson Design Center and will be on display through April 15. An opening reception will be held Thursday, Feb. 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The latest episode of Robin McConnell’s indispensable comics podcast Inkstuds is a fun one: It’s a critics’ roundtable on the best comics of 2010, featuring Chris Butcher, Bill Kartalopoulos, and Tucker Stone. It’s a rare treat to hear any of these guys talk at length about great comics: Tucker is the busy manager of Brooklyn’s Bergen Street Comics and divides most of his writing time these days between film, music, and kicking the crap out of the latest Wednesday shipment; old-school comics blogospherian Chris has mostly moved away from criticism in favor of running Toronto’s beloved Beguiling comics shop and organizing TCAF; and Bill’s thoughts on comics are generally reserved for the lucky few who take his classes at Parsons, sit in on the panels he organizes and moderates for SPX and BCGF, or visit the comic art exhibitions he curates. To hear the three of them bat around the likes of Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, Brecht Evens’s The Wrong Place, Dash Shaw’s Bodyworld, Blaise Larmee’s Young Lions, the comics of Michael DeForge, Charles Burns’s X’ed Out, and Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 is to hear three great comics minds pull apart what worked — and what didn’t — in some of the year’s most notable and forward-looking releases. Standout moments include Bill’s point on how improved color reproduction has given artists the freedom to do more with color than simply filling in the lines, Chris’s admission that he’s just never been in the right place to read Footnotes, and Tucker’s arguments for why both of Los Bros Hernandez handed in some of their best-ever work in the latest L&R.
I tweeted it after I got back home the night of the show and I stand by it now: Book for book and creator for creator, the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was the best comic convention I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly why — certainly not in a comprehensive fashion, as I was in and out of the day-long show within three hours and didn’t even attend any of the programming (though I could see it was pretty much standing room only from my vantage point by the hot dog stand that provided grub for the attendees). I’m sure people who stayed longer, participated more, and took advantage of all the show’s ancillary events could paint you a bigger and better picture. But from my admittedly narrow perspective, it came down to a sense of…well, of giddiness — that’s the best way I can put it. Pretty much everyone I saw or spoke with at the show seemed head-over-heels happy, not because of proximity to cool parties or big-money media extravaganzas, but because of proximity to comics — tons and tons of unusual, gutsy, great comics.