Manga | While Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been burning up the bookstore sales charts in the United States, the dystopian manga is also giving the smash-hit One Piece a run for its money in Japan. According to market research firm Oricon, Attack on Titan sold more than 15.9 million copies in the past year, just behind One Piece‘s 18.1 million (Kuroko’s Basketball is a distance third with about 8.8 million). Of course, Eiichiro Oda insanely popular pirate manga has little to fear: The 72-volume (and counting) series has 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, meanwhile, is on its 11th volume. [ICv2]
Auctions | Select titles from Don and Maggie Thompson’s collection of rare comics — among them, The Avengers #1, Journey Into Mystery #83 and The Incredible Hulk #1 — sold at auction last week for a combined $835,384. A 9.6 copy of Tales of Suspense #39 alone fetched $262,900. [Heritage Auctions]
With Halloween just around the corner, Forbes has released its weird (and probably a little morbid) annual list of the top-earning dead celebrities, led by Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley. But at No. 3, for the second year in a row, is the late Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
The cartoonist, who passed away in 2000 at age 77, is estimated to have earned $37 million this year — or at least his creations did. They’re owned by Peanuts Worldwide, a joint venture formed by Iconix Brand Group has partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz, which in 2010 bought the rights to Peanuts from E.W. Scripps Co. (it was part of a $175 million deal for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert and Fancy Nancy). The property’s 1,200 licensing agreements generate annual retail sales of more than $2 billion worldwide.
Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]
Publishing | ICv2 has Nielsen BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels for September, which reveals an interesting month for bookstore sales. First of all, there are five volumes of Attack on Titan on the list, which means 25 percent of September’s list comes from one series — and that series is not The Walking Dead. It sort of looks like the old days, with nine volumes of manga on the chart. What’s more, the non-manga side is dominated by older titles: Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Killing Joke, Fun Home… and a Garfield book. Once again, no Marvel releases — and no new DC Comics books — charted. [ICv2]
Conventions | ICv2 explains the significance of the partnership between Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo and Diamond Comic Distributors, and the article gives some background on the Expo, which started in 2011 and has grown quickly into a solid regional event. [ICv2]
Publishing | Although there’s been no official announcement beyond an Amazon listing, Fantagraphics is set to publish a Don Rosa Library line, beginning next summer with the 248-page hardcover Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: “The Son of the Sun.” That was the title of the cartoonist’s first Scrooge McDuck comic, released in 1987. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Writer and editor J.W. Rinzler talks about adapting George Lucas’ initial draft of the Star Wars screenplay into the Dark Horse comic The Star Wars: “This is not something you could film. Here’s a giant city and then here’s a giant vista filled with huge spacecraft. (Lucas) was doing his blue sky version of what he wanted to do. He knew this was not going to be filmable.” [The Associated Press]
Creators | Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker received messages from the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dolly Parton and Prince Albert II of Monaco ahead of his 90th birthday today. The cartoonist, who introduced Beetle Bailey in 1950, still supervises daily work on the strip at his Stamford, Connecticut, studio. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang discusses his newest work, Boxers and Saints, a 500-page, two-volume set that examines China’s Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of two very different characters. [Graphic Novel Reporter]
Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]
Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]
Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]
Editorial cartoons | Ahmad Akkari, one of the leaders of the protests in 2006 against the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, now says he regrets his activities and has even apologized in person to one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard. “I want to be clear today about the trip: It was totally wrong,” Akkari said in an interview with The Associated Press. “At that time, I was so fascinated with this logical force in the Islamic mindset that I could not see the greater picture. I was convinced it was a fight for my faith, Islam.” [The Guardian]
Passings | The body of Ramen Fighter Miki creator Jun Sadogawa (real name Mutsumi Kawato) was discovered early Tuesday hanging from a tree in a park in Ibaraki Prefecture’s Kitasōma District. According to police, evidence at the scene suggested suicide. The 34-year-old manga creator had been serializing Amane Atatameru in Weekly Shonen Champion magazine at the time of his death. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Editorial cartoonist Matt Bors talks about his life in a tough field, comics journalism and people who want him to work for free: “No one would hold a ‘contest’ for chefs to all prepare food and then only offer pay to the ‘winner’ whose meal they like best … If you want to draw your friend’s wedding invitation for free, I say go for it. If someone is making money from your work, they can afford to pay you.” [Truthout]
Creators | Brian K. Vaughan is crowned “king of the creator-owned comics” by Alex Hern, who acknowledges that may be an “artificially constrained” compliment before laying out the writer’s claim to the title. [New Statesman]
Gravitas Ventures has acquired the North America distribution rights to Dear Mr. Watterson, the Kickstarter-funded documentary that explores the influence of cartoonist Bill Watterson and his beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. It will be premiere in theaters on Nov. 15.
“Mr. Watterson has inspired and influenced millions of people through Calvin & Hobbes,” the documentary’s website explains. “Newspaper readership and book sales can be tracked and recorded, but the human impact he has had and the value of his art are perhaps impossible to measure. This film is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip made such an impact on so many readers in the 80s and 90s, and why it still means so much to us today.”
The documentary began in 2007 as a passion project for director Joel Allen Schroeder, who turned to Kickstarter in 2010 to raise $25,000 to enable him, producers Christopher Browne and Matt McUsic, and cinematographer Andrew P. Waruszewski to film interviews with cartoonists Bill Amend, Berkley Breathed, Keith Knight, Stephan Pastis and Dan Piraro, Charles Schulz’s widow Jean Schulz, Watterson’s editor Lee Salem and others. They then returned to Kickstarter last year, where they generated another $96,772 in pledges. Dear Mr. Watterson had its festival premiere in April at the Cleveland International Fan Festival.
According to Deadline, Gravitas and Submarine Deluxe will make the documentary available On Demand the same day as its theatrical debut.
Creators | Pickles creator Brian Crane, who was recently named Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society, talks about how he was ready to give up on his dream of being a cartoonist after his pitches were rejected by three syndicates, but his wife wanted him to keep going: “To prove her wrong, I sent it to The Washington Post Writers Group. She proved to be right. Since then, I’ve learned: She’s almost never wrong.” [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Chicago City Council recently passed an ordinance, which takes effect in July, regarding wage theft, and Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago organization, has put together a 32-page comic explaining workers’ legal rights and what recourse they have if their employers illegally withhold their wages. [Crain's Chicago Business]
The Boston Phoenix, the groundbreaking alternative weekly that in recent years had carried the work of cartoonists ranging from Matt Bors and David Sipress to Karl Stevens and Brian McFadden, has closed after nearly five decades.
The announcement was accompanied Thursday afternoon by a tweet saying, “Thank you Boston. Good night and good luck.” The current issue, dated March 15, will be the last; a final online edition will appear March 22. Executive Editor Peter Kadzis told The Boston Globe that about 40 employees will be let go within the week with another 10 following soon afterward. There will be no severance pay.
In a statement circulated Thursday to staff members and reposted on the Phoenix’s website, Publisher Stephen M. Mindich attributed the closing to a combination of the economic crisis, changes in the media industry and a decline in advertising. Just six months ago the company changed to a magazine format in an effort to attract more advertisers.
“We are a textbook example of sweeping marketplace change,” Kadzis said in a statement. “Our recent switch to a magazine format met with applause from readers and local advertisers. Not so — with a few exceptions — national advertisers. It was the long-term decline of national advertising dollars that made the Boston Phoenix economically unviable.”
Its sister publications The Portland Phoenix in Maine and The Providence Phoenix in Rhode Island, will remain open.
Awards | Dan Perkins, better known to his readers as Tom Tomorrow, is the winner of this year’s Herblock Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning. Panelist Matt Bors cited his “consistently hilarious takedowns of women-bashers, gun culture and the president’s abuse of executive power.” The finalist was Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman. The award includes cash prizes of $15,000 (after taxes!) for the winner and $5,000 for the finalist. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson explains how the company develops licensed properties, specifically “expanded universes” that build on the world of a movie or video game: “So we came up with the idea that we could approach these licensed properties as sequels, particularly in the early days when we focused primarily on film. We’d sit down like fanboys and say ‘Okay, that was great, what can we do next?’” [Forbes]
Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, a contributor to the Cartoon Movement comics journalism site, was arrested by Israeli authorities on Saturday and is being held without access to a lawyer, a situation that could continue indefinitely. The Cartoon Movement blog has been tracking the story as well as the reaction by international organizations.
Saba’aneh is a political cartoonist for Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Palestinian National Authority, the governing body for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and his cartoons comment on the political and human rights situation of the region, often criticizing the Israeli detention of Palestinians. He also works in the public relations department of the Arab American University. He visited the United States in 2010 as a participant in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
On Thursday, an Israeli military court extended Saba’aneh’s detention for nine days, and further extensions are possible. According to the International Council for Human Rights, “The Israeli security forces refuse to disclose any details on Mohammed Sabaana’s whereabouts and further deny to grant access to his lawyer or his family members. He is also at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.”