INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Legal | A judge has ordered Matthew Pocci to stand trial on charges of felony reckless driving for an incident at last year’s SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego that left one woman seriously injured. In a preliminary hearing held Wednesday, the defense argued that Pocci, who is deaf, was scared for his and his family’s safety, and was just trying to drive through an opening in the crowd of spectators, but the prosecution countered that he had grown angry and impatient. [CBS 8 San Diego]
Comics | Michael Dooley looks at Marvel’s Daredevil through the years, with an emphasis on the art. [Print Magazine]
Toronto Comic Arts Festival organizer Christopher Butcher opened the 2014 show by announcing the “unspoken theme” of that year’s show was spotlighting work by women creators. “Then,” I noted at the time, “Butcher did something truly amazing: He introduced a panel of three women that was not titled ‘Women in Comics.'” This year’s festival continued that theme, showcasing a diverse group of artists and spreading that diversity across the breadth and depth of the show.
In fact, the first thing I noticed when I looked over the schedule was there was no “Women in Comics” or “LGBTQ Comics” panel. There were a couple of more specialized panels — one on gay comics art in Japan, another on older women and comics — but for the most part, the diversity was just sort of there, no further comment needed. The “Art of the Travelogue” panel moderated by my con roommate Johanna Draper Carlson, for instance, featured four women and two men, and it didn’t seem like a particularly big deal until I started to write this article. This may be a watershed in the history of comics events.
Creators | Responding to the removal of Maus from Moscow bookstores as the Russian government cracks down on Nazi symbols, Art Spiegelman said, “It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory. We don’t want cultures to erase memory.” Retailers fear the swastika on the graphic novel’s cover may be enough to run afoul of a new law prohibiting “Nazi propaganda” as the country prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany. “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously,” the cartoonist told The Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.” [The Guardian]
Manga | Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama is writing a new series, to be illustrated by Video Girl Ai artist Masakazu Katsura. The series will run in Young Jump magazine in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s YA graphic novel This One Summer was the first graphic novel to be named a Caldecott Honor Book, but being a pioneer isn’t easy: Because the Caldecott Medal honors illustrators, most librarians think of Caldecott honor books as being for younger readers. Answering a complaint from a librarian, Pat Scales, former chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, points out that the Caldecott Medal is awarded to books for readers up to age 14, and that This One Summer is generally regarded as an eighth grade book—so it qualifies, but it is an unusual case. [School Library Journal]
Awards | The Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, fulfilling a mandate given to him on the day he was hired, when his editor said, “Welcome aboard. Now go win us a Pulitzer.” [The Buffalo News]
Crime | The Wow Cool Alternative Comics store in Cupertino, California, has been burglarized for the second time in two months, and it looks as if it was the same crew both times. The thieves took cash and pretty much every minicomic and digest in the store, as well as a box of Marvel and DC comics. [Wow Cool Comics]
Political cartoons | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges in his home country, has been invited to speak at a United Nations forum next month in Geneva, Switzerland, titled “Defending Artistic Expression — Time for the UN to Act.” “In my speech, I will reaffirm my stand that freedom of expression for artistes including cartoonists is paramount and cannot be compromised,” he said, and he will also criticize the UN’s lack of commitment to the issue, which has “given more power to corrupt regimes and extremist bigots to be more repressive toward artists.” [The Rakyat Post]
Crime | Artist Josh C. Lyman reports that thieves broke into his car sometime on Monday or Tuesday and stole about 40 pieces of original art (some of it commissioned), 1,200 prints, plus convention setup materials, art supplies and clothes. “I’m more devastated in the fact my originals are all gone … some of my better non-commissioned work of the last 3 years … along with all of my tools I have earned and acquired during the aforementioned periods. Tshirts and the like I can slowly replace … but it’s the matter of having all this potential art for shows gone; along with all the posters I had left,” he writes. Lyman contacted police and has notified local comic shops to keep an eye out for the missing work, and he has posted images of the stolen art. [Facebook, via Bleeding Cool]
Censorship | Rachael Jolley takes a long and wide view of the pressures that political cartoonists are subject to, looking at several recent attempts to suppress editorial cartoonists as well as the history of tensions between creators of political cartoons and those they portray; the article also includes comments from Neil Gaiman on the topic of censorship. [The New Statesman]
Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]
Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]
Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has withdrawn the appeal of his conviction last month on charges of sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues in Japana connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 37-year-old former temporary worker admitted to all charges during his first day in court, but mpoved to have his conviction overturned after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Watanabe, who said he doesn’t feel guilty for what he did and won’t apologize, acknowledged that he sent the letters out of jealousy of the success of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. [Anime News Network]
Manga | The most promising new market for manga right now? India, where the comics market in general is exploding. Kevin Hamric of Viz Media says manga is already well known there and fans can’t get enough, while Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP, the company behind New York Comic Con, talks about the planned collaboration with Comic Con India. The one obstacle: the same one that afflicted the American manga market, Japanese publishers’ reluctance to license their properties. [The Japan Times]
Conventions | An advocate for the homeless claims San Diego police are harassing homeless people to keep them away from downtown during Comic-Con International. The mayor and police chief deny the accusation and say officers are simply doing outreach, but at least one homeless man has been given a “stay away” order. Comic-Con begins Wednesday with Preview Night. [ABC 10 News]
Digital comics | Following the news that the comics market was estimated at $850 million in 2013, of which $90 million was digital, George Gene Gustines looks at a couple of different digital models, including Thrillbent’s new subscription service and Panel Syndicate, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s name-your-own-price approach. [The New York Times]
Retailing | An American collector donated about 800 comics to the Books For Amnesty charity store in Bristol, England, just ahead of a planned sale of comics and graphic novels. Volunteer Richard Wallet said the collection, which goes back to the 1960s, is probably worth tens of thousands of pounds. The store, which benefits Amnesty International, recently had another windfall when someone donated a copy of the Beatles album Revolver signed by the designer, Klaus Voormann, and valued at £1,000 (about $1,716 U.S.). [Bristol Post]
Comics | Jim Rugg interviews retailer Andrew Neal about the Ghost Variant cover program, which was created by a group of store owners. The idea was to commission a prominent artist to do a special variant cover for a particular comic and release it, through the stores in the group only, with very little promotion. It turns out that some comics buyers like a little mystery! [BoingBoing]
It’s shaping up to be a red-letter day for fans of free quality comics: As if that digital edition of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s Trees #1 weren’t proof enough, this morning also saw the debut of Moose Kid Comics, an impressive children’s anthology featuring the work of more than 40 creators.
Created and edited by Jamie Smart, the 36-page digital comic boasts such talents as Roger Langridge, Tom Plant, Neill Cameron and Abby Ryder, Mark Stafford, Aaron Alexovich, Sarah McIntyre, James Downing, and Samantha Davies. And did we mention the “Young Tank Girl” strip by Alan Martin and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell?
“Here in the U.K, mainstream children’s comics have been dying out, especially ones featuring original content,” reads the comic’s mission statement. “The Phoenix and The Beano are the only commercially available weekly titles still producing entirely original characters, but they are competing against big-name licensed titles based on TV shows or merchandising. We want to help change things. We want to be creating the next generation of loveable characters for the world to embrace, all created by artists who retain their copyrights and put all their heart into their creations. We want to remind both children and adults alike how fantastical and imaginative comics can be, and to help bring children’s comics back into the public consciousness.”
Publishing | Variety speaks with Madrigall President Antoine Gallimard about how the French publishing giant and its holdings (Gallimard, Casterman, Flammarion and Futuropolis, among them) handle the film rights to their many graphic novels, and the popularity of comics as source material: “I think that the French publishing and film industries feed on, complement, and ultimately do help each other. The number of films adapted from books that are produced every year in France is eloquent testimony to this.” Noting that, “In recent years, there’s a real feeding-frenzy for graphic novels, comic books,” Gaillimard says, “Comedy, in all its variants, is the most popular of adapted materials.” [Variety]
Legal | An Algerian judge has made a preliminary recommendation of 18 months’ imprisonment for cartoonist Djamel Ghanem for drawing a cartoon, which was never published, that government officials deemed offensive. In an odd twist, Ghanem was sued by his own newspaper, La Voix de l’Oranie, which tends to favor the current administration, and as a result, he has been blackballed by the Algerian media. The cartoon is critical of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fourth term but doesn’t even depict the president — it shows two people in conversation, comparing the fourth term to baby diapers — Ghanem said the point was that Algerians were treated like children. Pressed by the district attorney to admit the cartoon was insulting to the Bouteflika, Ghanem insisted that wasn’t his intention. [Global Voices Online]
Comics | Parents at a Woodland Hills, California, elementary school are outraged that a comic handed out to their children turned out to include graphic images of cows being mistreated in factory farms. A calf had been brought to the school for a unit on dairy farming, and when children were given a copy of what looked like a kid-friendly comic titled A Cow’s Life, they didn’t anticipate what they found inside: Images of cows being mutilated, electrocuted and dehorned. PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman apologized, saying the comics were intended for adults (it’s not clear how or why they were distributed to the children, though the copy provided to the local media is labeled on its covers as “PETAkids Comics”), and offered to provide non-dairy ice cream sandwiches to students and staff.
UPDATE: PETA has clarified to ROBOT 6 that the comic itself is a kid-friendly publication. However, it contained an inserted pamphlet intended for parents which featured graphic photographs of “pictures of baby cows being electrocuted, factory farms with machetes.” PETA maintains that the pamphlet was not intended to be included inside the comic, and “intended for the in-depth leaflets to go to the students’ parents so that they could be fully informed about how the dairy industry hurts animals (and how dairy products can make kids and adults sick).” [CBS News]
Publishing | Israeli creators Rutu Modan (The Property) and Yirmi Pinkus have launched a new publishing house, Noah’s Library, to produce graphic novels for children. Modan, who wrote and illustrated Maya Makes a Mess for Toon Books, is creating new illustrations for the 1930s Israeli comics character Uri Kaduri, while Pinkus is illustrating stories about Mr. Gazma’i Habeda’i, another vintage character. They eventually plan to release the work of other creators as well. [Haaretz]
Cartoons | Francoise Mouly presents an array of cartoons by Ad Reinhardt, who eventually made his name as a fine artist with black-on-black paintings that he described as “the last paintings that anyone can make.” (For good measure, Mouly throws in a slide show of New Yorker cartoons about those paintings.) Before he reached that artistic pinnacle, Reinhardt drew cartoons for a number of different publications, including the leftist newspaper PM, where his fellow artists included Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Crockett Johnson, and the trade magazine Ice Cream World, where he was the art director. [The New Yorker]