We reported in November on the announcement of comics making it into the roster of World Book Night for the first time ever, in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion’s The Dark Judges collection. Now World Book Night has now rolled around, and to find an event tonight where you can receive a free copy of this book, consult the list of events on the website, or take a dig around the interactive map of the United Kingdom.
Since it was first announced in the United Kingdom in 2010, World Book Night has quickly established itself as a big deal indeed, a headline-grabber, something that has re-energized the national debate here about books and literature (always a good thing). Each year, a team of more than 20,000 “givers” volunteers to distribute a million free books, selected by a committee of experts, and donated by their publishers. The charity is partnered with the BBC, which regularly features the run-up and the event itself throughout its current affairs and cultural output: The booklist was featured last night on The One Show, and will be debated tonight on Newsnight Review. Doubtless someone on the panel will look baffled by its inclusion, like a caveman presented with the keys to a Ferrari.
The books announced yesterday as next year’s selection include, for the first time, some comics in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion Publishing’s Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges. Inclusion in this event could be seen as trumping Free Comic Book Day, with tens of thousands of copies of an entire graphic novel distributed freely across the entire nation in a hail of publicity. This edition features some stone-cold classics by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and others, and includes the most celebrated panel ever in Bolland’s career at the venerable British anthology:
Creators | Former 2000AD artist Brett Ewins has been freed on bail after a judge reduced his charge to assult. Ewins, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was accused of stabbing a police officer in a January altercation that left the 56-year-old artist hospitalized in serious condition. Because Ewins has already served nine months, part of it in a hospital (where he was in a coma), it’s unlikely he’ll have to go back behind bars. [Sex, Drugs, & Comic Books]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, who escaped to Kuwait after the Syrian security police beat him and broke his hands, is now living in Egypt and continuing to draw cartoons supporting the Syrian revolution. “Fear has been defeated in Syria when the people marched 19 months ago against tyranny,” he said. “I began to directly draw people in power including Assad and his government officials, to break the barrier of fear, that chronic fear that Syrians suffered from for 50 years.” [Reuters]
Tony V. Wright, known as “Riot” back when he contributed to 2000AD, has updated his blog with another post about the recent health and legal troubles of artist Brett Ewins, who’s charged with grievous bodily harm with intent stemming from a January incident in which he allegedly stabbed a police officer. Wright has known Ewins since the pair were at art college in the mid-1970s. His first entry on the subject, from March, detailed a Kafkaesque scenario in which a very sick man was hastily imprisoned when it was probably obvious to anyone that what was really needed was medical and psychiatric care.
This second post relates how Ewins’ case has been developing as it finally reached a court of law, with Wright making heartbreaking hints at the full extent of Ewins’ mental health issues in recent times. Wright points out how, due to Ewins’ complete amnesia about the incident, the trial has been decidedly unbalanced, with some aspects of the prosecution’s case seemingly highly unlikely but completely unchallenged. In Wright’s account of the proceedings, there’s a suggestion that police officers may have entered Ewins’ home illegally and used excessive force. A neighbor of Ewins has since contacted me via Twitter to also dispute the officers’ claim that they found his door open.
Wright’s blog entry is at pains to remain fair and balanced and empathetic to all involved, which can only be praised. He makes pains to end the post on a conciliatory note, when it would have easy to leave it on a much more indignant one:
Legal | The prosecution has laid out its case in the trial of former 2000AD artist Brett Ewins, who was charged with “grievous bodily harm with intent” following a January incident in which he allegedly stabbed a police officer responding to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Ewins, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia years ago and is on medication for it, suffered cardiac arrest during the confrontation and was hospitalized for three weeks. He reportedly has no memory of the incident. The defense will contend that the blow to the head rendered him unconscious (like a sleepwalker) so he was not aware of what he was doing. [The Evening Standard]
Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]
Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Digital | Archie Comics will begin selling its comics through its Facebook page, which connects readers with Graphicly. With almost 120,000 fans, the page does seem like fertile ground. “It’s really a major move toward connecting the potential reader to the product,” said Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “We make it easy and hopefully create a new, lasting part of our fan base.” [The Huffington Post]
Retailing | Matthew Price takes the temperature in the room at ComicsPRO and says that retailers want stability — they credit the consistent shipping schedule for the New 52 for part of that line’s success — and creativity. The overall mood seemed to be optimism, with Diamond Comic Distributors reporting that comics sales were up slightly in 2011. [NewsOK.com]
Legal | The attorney for Marc Toberoff, the lawyer representing the Siegel and Shuster families in the bitter battle over the rights to Superman, argued last week before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that Warner Bros. shouldn’t be granted access to sensitive documents stolen from Toberoff’s office and delivered anonymously to the studio in 2008. A federal magistrate judge ruled in May 2011 that Toberoff waived privilege to the documents when he turned over the files in response to a grand jury subpoena issued in the investigation of the theft. An attached cover letter, dubbed the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline,” was determined in 2009 not to be covered by privilege, and become the basis for the studio’s lawsuit against the attorney, in which it claims he acted improperly to convince the heirs of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to seek to reclaim the original copyright to the Man of Steel. Warner Bros. also alleges that Toberoff schemed to secure for himself “a majority and controlling financial stake” in the Superman rights. [Courthouse News Service]
Legal | Former Judge Dredd artist Brett Ewins was arraigned Thursday on charges of grievous bodily harm with intent following an incident last month in which he allegedly attacked police officers with a knife when they responded to a public-disturbance call. The 56-year-old Ewins, who reportedly has a history of mental-health issues, was remanded into custody pending a Feb. 17 preliminary hearing. [Ealing Gazette]
Creators | Former Judge Dredd artist Brett Ewins suffered serious head injuries Saturday after he allegedly stabbed a police officer who responded to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Police say when they arrived the 56-year-old Ewins attacked them with a knife. One of the officers received minor wounds during the struggle, but Ewins was hospitalized, where he remains in serious condition. The newspaper report asserts the artist, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper for 2000AD, has a history of mental-health problems. [Ealing Gazette]