"Green Lanterns" Core: Who Are Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz?
Manga | As part of its Cool Japan initiative, the Japanese government plans to build the “Manga National Center” — a museum dedicated to manga, anime and video games — in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Expected to cost about $90 million, the project will be funded through a mixture of public and private-sector money. [Chicago Tribune]
Passings | Augie Scotto, an artist whose work appeared in Will Eisner’s PS magazine, passed away March 15 at age 88. He began his career in 1949, drawing largely crime and Western stories for such early publishers as Eastern Color, Atlas and Charlton. Scotto seems to have left comics for a while around 1953, but returned in 1968 as the penciler for Tower Comics’ Dynamo and as an inker for DC Comics until around 1978. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]
Festivals | After moving the event last year from New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory to Center 548, the Society of Illustrators has announced a new host venue for the 2016 MoCCA Arts Festival: Metropolitan West on West 46th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues. Programming will be held at Ink48, a boutique hotel at the corner of 10th Avenue and West 48th Street. The festival is scheduled for April 2-3. [Society of Illustrators]
Awards | Roz Chast won the Reuben Award for cartoonist of the year, presented over the weekend in Washington, D.C., by the National Cartoonists Society. Divisional award winners of note include Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother) for Graphic Novel, Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) for Comic Book, Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots) for Online Comics-Short Form, Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent) for Online Comics-Long Form, Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange) for Newspaper Panel Cartoon, and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) for Newspaper Comic Strip. [National Cartoonists Society]
Awards | Cartoonist Roz Chast is one of six recipients of this year’s Heinz Awards, which recognize “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” The honor comes with an $250,000 cash prize. “‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” says the author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.” [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | In a radio interview, Afghan political cartoonist Habib Rahman Habib talks about his work. [NPR]
Publishing | Paul Kaminski, Archie Comics’ executive director of editorial since 2012, has left the publisher to become an associate editor for DC Comics’ Superman Group. Kaminski joined Archie in 2007, editing such titles as Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man and The New Crusaders. [Twitter]
Museums | The reason the Cartoon Art Museum is vacating its current location is familiar to San Franciscans, says curator Andrew Farago: “The price per square foot is going to more than double, and that’s just not viable for us. The landlords are giving us what considerations they can, but ultimately it’s a business decision.” The museum will remain open in its current location, on Mission Street, until June 28; a new venue has not been found yet. [SFGate]
Awards | Roz Chast has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Autobiography for her graphic novel Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast’s tale of taking care of her parents in their declining years seems to be one of those books that crosses the usual boundaries, winning recognition not only in comics circles but in general book awards such as the Kirkus Awards and the National Book Awards. [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | ICv2 continues its focus on manga with a profile of Boston’s Comicopia, where they stock a lot of manga (4,000 volumes) and the staff really understands it. Most of the manga is simply shelved by title, reflecting the fact that readers often cross the target demographics (i.e. a lot of girls read Shonen Jump), but Comicopia also has sections for yaoi, all-ages manga, and “Manga for People that Don’t Like Manga.” [ICv2]
The nominees have been announced for this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, a list that, unsurprisingly, includes awards-season favorites Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.
The five finalists in the graphic novel category are:
Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]
Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
By Roz Chast
In Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast has produced an amazingly honest and clear-eyed memoir of her relationship with her parents in their declining years. It’s both a universal story of something many of us will go through and a very particular account of a single family of quirky individuals.
Chast had an unusual upbringing: She was an only child (a sister died at birth 14 years before she was born), and her parents had her late in life, so she always felt like a bit of an interloper. Her mother had a domineering personality and a sharp temper — she described her own outbursts as “A blast from Chast.” Her father was quieter, easier to get along with, but also plagued by anxieties and phobias, which led him to rely completely on her mother. They were, as Chast describes them, “a tight little unit,” and they seemed to believe that if they carefully avoided the subject of future unpleasantness, nothing would change. She depicts this perfectly in a single panel in which the hooded figure of Death roars “What’s THIS??? The Chasts are talking about me! Why, I’ll show THEM!!!”
Crowdfunding | Digital Manga Publishing’s recent Kickstarter campaign raised some questions as to the proper role of crowdfunding in publishing. When DMP acquired the rights to all of Osamu Tezuka’s manga that haven’t already been translated into English, CEO Hikaru Sasahara launched an ambitious Kickstarter effort to publish about 400 volumes in just a few years. The campaign raised eyebrows not only because of the large amount of money involved (with stretch goals, it would have been more than half a million dollars) but also because it went beyond the direct costs associated with single volumes to include travel and staffing. That campaign failed, but DMP immediately launched another one that’s closer to the usual model. I interviewed Sasahara and one of his most prominent critics to get both sides of the discussion. [Publishers Weekly]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It’s snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there’s something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it’s become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.
Awards | The winners of the first Kirkus Prize were announced last night, and Roz Chast took top honors in the nonfiction category for her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast is also a finalist for the National Book Award, marking the first time a graphic novel has been nominated in one of the adult categories. [The Washington Post]
Legal | A Turkish court acquitted cartoonist Musa Kart on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stemming from a cartoon Kart drew last year portraying the then-prime minister as complicit in covering up government corruption. “Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult,” Kart said. “I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect’s seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.” If convicted, Kart could have faced nearly a decade in prison. [Today’s Zaman]
Roz Chast’s acclaimed memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is among the five nonfiction finalists for the 2014 National Book Award, announced this morning by the National Book Foundation. It’s the first graphic novel to be nominated in one of the adult categories.
The first memoir from the longtime New Yorker cartoonist, the bestseller centers on Chast’s efforts to care for her aging parents in their final years.
The other nonfiction finalists are: Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes; John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh; Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China; and Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence. The winner will be announced Nov. 19 during a ceremony hosted by author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket.
In 2006, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese became the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award when it was recognized in the Young People’s Literature division. His Boxers & Saints was shortlisted last year in the same category.
Also the author of Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006, Chast illustrated Steve Martin’s bestselling children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z.
Awards | The finalists for the inaugural Kirkus Prize literary awards include two graphic novels: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is one of six nominees in the Nonfiction category, and Cece Bell’s El Deafo is one of the picks for the Young Readers award. The winners in all three categories, who will receive $50,000 each, will be announced during a ceremony held Oct. 23 in Austin, Texas. [The Washington Post]
Manga | A prequel to Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy manga is in the works for the Japanese magazine Monthly Hero’s. Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, is supervising the production of the story, which focuses on the time before the “birth” of the iconic robot boy. [Anime News Network]