TOY FAIR EXCLUSIVE: First Look at DC's Jim Lee BlueLine Superman
Legal | A Judge Dredd comic that makes fun of McDonald’s and Burger King is finally being reprinted in a collection, thanks to a change in the European Copyright Directive, which now allows creators to use copyrighted characters if the intent is clearly parody. In the “Burger Wars” story, first published in 1978, Judge Dredd is captured on a trip to the United States and force-fed fast food; the story includes images of Ronald McDonald and the McDonald’s logo. Another story, “Soul Food,” has a mad scientist creating versions of the Jolly Green Giant and the Michelin Man. Ben Smith of Rebellion Publishing says fans have been asking for years for these story to be reprinted in their collected editions, but they were held back for fear of legal action. When the law was changed, Smith said, they took another look: “It was like a light bulb went on. We thought: ‘Surely this means we can look at Burger Wars?’ We looked into it and here we are. This is straight-out pastiche, parody and arch satire. There didn’t seem any reason not to bring them to the public again.” [The Independent]
Political cartoons | Cartoonist Ted Rall, who was cut loose last week by the Los Angeles Times after the Los Angeles Police Department cast doubt on a blog post he wrote for the newspaper about being stopped in 2001 for jaywalking, has posted an enhanced version of the audiotape of that incident, which he says backs his version of the story. [aNewDomain]
Creators | Stan Lee waxes philosophical in an interview conducted at Boston Comic Con: “I think people need somebody to look up to as a role model, you know? Just like people need to believe in God, you need to feel there’s someone somewhere who can help you because you’re aware this is not a perfect world.” [Boston Herald]
Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]
Passings | Artist and writer Alan Kupperberg has died of thymus cancer at the age of 62. Kupperberg got his start writing dummy letters for Marvel in the late 1960s, then moved to the production department at DC and in 1974 was hired by the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard comics, where he played a variety of roles, including letterer, colorist, and editor. That company folded after a year, and he went to Marvel, where he worked on a number of different titles, including The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Savage Sword of Conan, and Amazing Spider-Man. He created the one-shot comic Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men working entirely solo, and he drew the weekly Howard the Duck newspaper comic as well as the comic-strip version of The Incredible Hulk and Little Orphan Annie. His magazine work included National Lampoon, Cracked, and Spy. Kupperberg also taught at the School for Visual Arts, and he was the brother of writer Paul Kupperberg. [ICv2]
Manga | Hiromi Bando has translated Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen into Chinese and is looking for a publisher, but she has been told the Chinese government will not approve its publication. Bando, who is Japanese, was inspired to translate the manga, an eyewitness account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, after hearing of her father’s experiences fighting in China during World War II. The manga is taught in the original Japanese in a few universities in China. [Asahi Shimbun]
Manga | Vernieda Vergara examines the way Attack on Titan reflects Japanese politics and history as well as the current sense of social anxiety experienced by young people of creator Hajime Isayama’s generation: “One of the biggest criticisms levied against Japan’s youth is that they lack the ambition of previous generations. But if the majority have no hope of advancement due to a corporate wall, why is that a surprise? In the manga, most people are content to live inside the walls. It’s safe. But as the manga’s protagonist, Eren, says, that’s like living in a cage. There’s no hope for something more. Eren, along with his allies, don’t accept this fate as easily. They fight against it actively.” [Women Write About Comics]
Attack on Titan, Death Note and Black Butler are on a list of 38 manga and anime the Chinese Ministry of Culture has designated as “severely improper content” and banned from print or digital distribution within the country.
The ministry announced Monday it has shut down eight websites and sanctioned 29 more for carrying comics and anime that either were unlicensed or featured violent content, and it’s threatening to issue warnings and fines to websites that don’t remove the blacklisted titles.
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]
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]
Manga | Kodansha Comics will publish a “Master’s Edition” of Hiro Mashima’s fantasy-adventure manga Fairy Tail, collecting the first five volumes in a deluxe oversize format, similar to its Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition. Priced at $39.99, the first volume will go on sale in October. [Kodansha Comics]
Political cartoons | Christiane Gruber looks at Muslim cartoonists who are critiquing ISIS: “Over the past year, cartoonists across the Middle East have critiqued ISIS with equal amounts of ferocity and fearlessness. From Jordan to Iran, they frequently lambast ISIS — referring to it through its acronym Daesh, which is related to the pejorative Arabic term meaning ‘to tread under foot’ — as destructive of Islam and the world’s cultural heritage, as the growling lapdog of various superpowers, as the ultimate devil and grim reaper of Iraq and as an Oscar-winning sensation obsessed with bloody forms of self-promotion.” [Newsweek]
Conventions | Ace Parking, which manages parking at the San Diego Convention Center and six other nearby lots, will move to a lottery system this year to assign permits for Comic-Con International (those lots are Hilton Garage, Petco Lots, Padres Parkade, Diamond View Tower, Horton Plaza and Gaslamp City Square). For a shot at one of those spaces, you have to email Ace Parking by April 12. A drawing will be held on April 15, with the winners receiving information about how to purchase permits for their assigned location. See the full details on the Ace Parking website. [SDCC Unofficial Blog]
Publishing | Keiko Yoshioka explains how Japanese publisher Kodansha is getting into the Chinese market, not by selling Japanese products but by publishing a magazine in China that’s geared toward Chinese audiences — and using Chinese creators as well. The article puts a special focus on the two-woman team known as Navar, whose suspense series Carrier: Xiedaizhe now runs in Japan as well. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Academia | Northwestern University Prof. Irving Rein discusses why superheroes have secret identities, ticking off several superhero comics tropes and then going a bit deeper: “The usual script of a superhero episode revolves around a threat occurring in which the superhero is the victim of the decision making of the criminals. The hidden identity is a standard form of the superhero narrative and it allows the creators to use the formula and still deviate from the script. Throughout the comic book or movie there are a series of fundamental questions. Will the superhero be identified? When and under what circumstances will the superhero become a superhero? How will the superhero get back into his civilian identity without being identified?” [Daily Herald]
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto comes to an end in next week’s issue of Shonen Jump, but it’s not going away. Already side projects are popping up, including a miniseries that will launch in the spring, marking the 15th anniversary of the manga, and a series of novels about the different characters in the franchise. It all seems to be part of something bigger, the “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” (Naruto‘s New Era Opening Project), and the official Naruto website has a countdown to an announcement on Monday. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon talks to comiXology’s Chip Mosher about the comiXology Submit program, which is tailored for small publishers and self-published work. To prepare for the interview, Spurgeon gathered questions from creators at the Small Press Expo (which comiXology co-sponsored), and he talks to Mosher about the nuts and bolts of the Submit program, including payments, processing and the willingness to handle unusual formats. “We’ve had people sell thousands of copies and we’ve had people sell one or two copies,” Mosher says. “People have told me they’ve paid their rent with money from Submit. Or they were able to work on more comics with the money they made from Submit. It’s great to offer our customers such diverse comics from the program and at the same time be able to support the creation of more diverse work.” [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
Crime | A man was spotted on security video last week at New York Comic Con stealing a one-of-a-kind, 20-inch Dunny figure hand-painted by by Jon-Paul Kaiser valued at $2,000, plus two other items, from the Clutter Magazine booth. [DNAinfo New York]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who uses the pen name “Biantai Lajiao” (Perverted Chili Pepper), has applied for a visa to remain in Japan, saying he’s afraid to return to China. Liming’s account on the Chinese social media site Weibo, where he published his cartoons, was shut down in August, and the People’s Daily newspaper has called him a traitor and accused him of being pro-Japan. Last year, he was arrested and held overnight on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance.” “China’s situation surrounding freedom of speech has worsened during these six months,” Wang said in an interview. “I have no idea where the borderline is (between what is permissible and what is not anymore).” [The Asahi Shimbun]
In an unexpected turn, the smiling blue robot cat Doraemon has become embroiled in a political controversy in China, where critics charge that the popular anime character is a tool for Japan’s “cultural invasion.”
The New York Times reports the rumpus follows the successful opening in mid-August of the 100 Doraemon Secret Gadgets Expo in Chengdu, which apparently led three major newspapers last week to question the motives of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and not its cultural or economic branches, in naming the cartoon cat as “anime ambassador.” Doraemon, the argument goes, is merely a Trojan Horse for Japan’s political goals.