"Agents of SHIELD's" Lincoln Says Mid-Season Finale Is "A Complete Game-Changer"
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Awards | Emily Carroll’s acclaimed horror anthology Through the Woods has won the 2015 British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel, presented Sunday at FantasyCon 2015 in Nottingham, England. [British Fantasy Awards]
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in July has a decidedly different makeup than usual, with the 1988 one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke topping the list, and seven other DC Comics titles making the cut as well (however, just one of those, Batgirl, Vol. 1, is a new release). Other entries include hardy perennials American Born Chinese and Fun Home make the chart, perhaps as summer reading, and as always, the first volume of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Conventions | Denver, already home to one of the larger comics and pop culture conventions, is getting its own independent comics festival, the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo (DINK), which will launch in March. The show will be held in the Sherman Street Event Center, which organizer Charlie LaGreca describes as “like something out of a Wes Anderson movie,” and is looking for sponsors with ties to the community. “The pop-culture, big-box cons are amazing and incredible, and we have them in spades now. They provide such a huge array [of options],” said LaGreca, a Denver Comic Con co-founder who exited the organization last year in a highly publicized dispute. “What’s cool about this is we can bring the focus back to just art and comics and the cross-pollination of what it means for art. It’s really embracing all comics genres, not [just] focused on sci-fi and superheroes and stuff like that.” [Westword]
Manga | Nearly two decades into his blockbuster fantasy adventure, it appears creator Eiichiro Oda still has a long way to go before he completes the epic One Piece. Just ahead of the manga’s 18th birthday on Sunday, its current editor Taku Sugita revealed on a Tokyo radio show that somewhere around the 60th volume Oda estimated the story had reached the halfway point. With the release of Vol. 78 earlier this month, Sugita guesses One Piece is “maybe” 70-percent complete. “I don’t think it’s at 80 percent yet,” he said. “Something like that.” [Rocket News24]
Creators | Scott Snyder discusses his horror comic Wytches, starting with why he used the unusual spelling: “We wanted to do something that basically would announce that we were trying to make the classic monster our own. For me, it separated the witches that you knew from what we were going to do in our book. It was an aesthetic thing and it made it look a little more ancient.” [Suicide Girls]
Political Cartoons | Laurent Sourisseau, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, says he will not draw any more cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature,” Sourisseau told the German magazine Stern, but he also said, “We have drawn Muhammad to defend the principle that one can draw whatever they want. It is a bit strange though: we are expected to exercise a freedom of expression that no one dares to.” Sourisseau was in the Charlie Hebdo offices when they were attacked in January by armed gunmen who killed eight of his colleagues and four other people. He survived by pretending to be dead. “[W]hen it was over, there was no sound. No complaints. No whining. That is when I understood that most were dead,” he said. Sourisseau is the second Charlie Hebdo staffer to declare he will no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad; the cartoonist Luz said in April that “I am tired of him, just like [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy. I am not going to spend my life drawing them.” [Deutsche Welle]
Graphic novels | The National Arts Council of Singapore has withdrawn a $8,000 publication grant for Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a biography of the Singaporean comics pioneer that depicts some tumultuous events in the nation’s history. “We had to withdraw the grant when the book The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye came out because its sensitive content, depicted in visuals and text, did not meet our funding conditions,” said Khor Kok Wah, senior director of the literary arts sector of the NAC. He did not specify what the “sensitive content” was, but the book makes satirical references to Singaporean politics and history. The publisher, Epigram, will return the $6,400 that was disbursed already and will cover the NAC’s logo on the book cover with a sticker. The book will be published next year in the United States by Pantheon. [Straits Times]
Legal | Nicaragua has refused entry to the French cartoonist Julien Berjeaut, who uses the pen name “Jul.” Berjeaut, who has done freelance work for Charlie Hebdo, was slated to be part of a panel titled “Humor against barbarity, homage to Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression” at a conference in Managua. He made a video that was played at the event instead. Berjeaut said he doesn’t know why he was barred from the country. [Miami Herald]
Legal | Two men were questioned by police after they were spotted taking photos of the home of Laurent Sourisseau, the publishing director of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Sourisseau has been under police guard since the January attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters, in which 12 people were killed. [The Local]
Creators | Saying his job has become “too much to bear,” cartoonist Renald Luzier (Luz) is leaving the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He said he worked too hard in the aftermath of the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in which 12 people, most of them his co-workers, were killed, and he did not give himself time to grieve. “I needed time but I carried on for solidarity and not to let anyone down,” he said. However, the loss is taking its toll: “Each issue is torture because the others are gone.” He had previously announced he would no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying it no longer interested him, and he is tired of the media attention. “We are not heroes, we have never been, we never meant to be,” he said. “Everyone evokes the spirit of Charlie for anything and everything now.” [The Independent]
Creators | Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman and Alison Bechdel are stepping in as table hosts tonight at the PEN American Center gala, after a number of writers dropped out of the event to protest the organization’s decision to give a posthumous freedom of expression award to the staff of Charlie Hebdo. [The New York Times]
Collectors | Scottish collector Alec Whitelaw owns every issue of the Oor Wullie annual ever published, but he was stunned to learn his collection was worth nearly $38,000 when it was appraised on the BBC’s version of Antiques Roadshow. Whitelaw had come to the event by train, but organizers arranged for a chauffeured car for the return trip, as he had brought the books with him. “After they told me the value of the books they wouldn’t let me go home with them,” he said. “They got me transport home in a nice car and I felt like Lady Muck.” [Daily Record]
Political cartoons | The artist who drew the iconic “Je Suis Charlie” cover for Charlie Hebdo says he’s no longer interested in drawing the Prophet Muhammad. In an interview with a French magazine, Rénald Luzier, who goes by the pen name Luz, said “I am tired of him, just like [former French President Nicolas] Sarkozy. I am not going to spend my life drawing them.” Luz was running late the day that two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people, and his tardiness saved his life. [Comic Riffs]
“I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against ‘self-censorship,’ one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority — her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.
[…] What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”
— Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, no stranger to controversy, talking about Charlie Hebdo‘s Prophet Muhammad cartoons as part of his remarks on receiving the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University.
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media’s senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls’) manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: “Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody.” In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]
Legal | A 48-year-old man has been charged in the theft of the extensive comics collection of artist Jim Wheelock last month from a storage facility in Brattleboro, Vermont. William Brown pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 17 counts of burglary, petit larceny and unlawful mischief after he was allegedly recorded on security camera breaking into numerous units. Brown said he sold all of the items, and none of Wheelock’s comics has turned up in searches of the suspect’s home and car. [Brattleboro Reformer]
Retailing | Comics retailers surveyed by ICv2 were more optimistic than ever before, thanks to strong sales and excitement around upcoming titles in the superhero, creator-owned, and kids/teens sectors; the analysis also includes charts of the top-selling properties during the fall and holiday season of last year. [ICv2]