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Will the comics industry resolve to take care of its own?

Graphic Artists Guild

Over the holidays, writer Peter David announced on his blog that he had suffered a stroke. On New Year’s Eve, his wife Kathleen explained more, and another update followed Tuesday. She’s planning to let people know of David’s recovery on a daily basis.

Our thoughts are definitely with him and his family and friends. As the husband of someone with multiple sclerosis and lupus, I can somewhat relate to what they’re going through. A health scare like what they’re going through is just that, scary. Really, it’s downright terrifying. In addition to the emotional response and challenging medical decisions to be made, there’s also the question of how to pay for the ambulance ride, CAT scan, MRI, multiple other tests, medication, physical therapy, and whatever else. I don’t know David’s healthcare situation, but it reminded me how many freelancers and self-employed workers, which is the vast majority of comic book creators, have little to no healthcare benefits of any kind.

Rantz Hoseley recently sent out to creators and other industry figures a rough outline for a proposed American Sequential Arts Guild, which would include access to healthcare coverage for members. Note that he is not proposing a union, but instead an advocacy group. Some discussion ensued, like on this thread at The Beat. But I haven’t seen much movement since. Perhaps it’s happening privately, but based on past incidents, I fear it’s not.

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Comics A.M. | Mary & Bryan Talbot win Costa; Tardi refuses top honor

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes

Awards | Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, by Mary and Bryan Talbot, has won the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Awards) in the biography category, marking the first time a graphic novel has received the literary prize. “Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we’d won the category was stunning,” Mary Talbot said. “We’re delighted of course, both personally – it’s the first story I’ve had published – but also for the medium, I can’t believe a graphic novel has won.” [The Guardian]

Awards | Jacques Tardi, the acclaimed creator of West Coast Blues, It Was the War of the Trenches and the Adèle Blanc-Sec series, has refused France’s highest honor, the Legion d’Honneur medal: “Being fiercely attached to my freedom of thought and creativity, I do not want to receive anything, neither from this government or from any other political power whatsoever. I am therefore refusing this medal with the greatest determination.” [AFP]

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The Will Eisner Hall of Fame is now online

Comic-Con International has announced the Will Eisner Hall of Fame is now online, with a browsable catalog of the more than 120 creators — from Neal Adams to Wally Wood — who have been inducted since 1987. Each entry, arranged in alphabetical order, includes a brief biography of the creator, the date of induction and, in many case, a photograph or illustration.

Bill Morrison organizing art auctions to help save Metro Entertainment

Paul Smith

Retailer Bob Ficcara, owner of the well-regarded Metro Entertainment in Santa Barbara, California, is in desperate need of help.

In 2011, he suffered a minor stroke while working at the store, and discovered his health insurance wouldn’t cover much of his medical expenses; that was just a year after Ficcara racked up bills from surgery and physical therapy required for an Achilles tendon injury. He was unable to reach a payment-plan agreement with the medical providers, who took him to court to secure liens and levies. A month ago, Ficcara’s bank account was emptied, and at about the same time his wife Jamie was laid off from work. Now, Ficcara stands to lose the comic store he’s owned since 1991.

However, cartoonist Bill Morrison, co-founder of Bongo Comics, hopes to prevent that from happening. He’s moving quickly to organize auctions of original art to raise the $30,000 Ficcara needs to save Metro Entertainment. Unfortunately, time isn’t on Morrison’s, or Ficcara’s, side: The debt is due Jan. 14.

Morrison is already off to a good start, though, receiving original art from the likes of Dave Gibbons, Bruce Timm, Eric Powell, Paul Smith (shown at right), Dean Yeagle (below), Geof Darrow, Tone Rodriguez (below), Evan Dorkin, Jim Woodring, Humberto Ramos and Herb Trimpe (as well as himself, of course). But he’d like to get more original work from major artists. Those interested in contributing should contact Morrison at roswell2@earthlink.net. Update: Neal Adams has contributed a Hal Jordan/Green Lantern piece, which you can see below.

He plans to begin the auctions Sunday on eBay; although Morrison doesn’t have any auctions set up yet, you’ll be able to find them through his user ID juliennefryes. He’ll promote the auctions at Comic Art Fans as well. Cash donations will also be accepted through PayPal (roswell2@earthlink.net), or by check to:

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Comics A.M. | Natural Selection creator passes away; is Tokyopop back?

Natural Selection

Passings | Dr. Scott Henson, who retired from a career as a neurosurgeon and became a cartoonist, has died at the age of 52. Henson, who treated Superman actor Christopher Reeve after his fall, took up the pen after his health problems forced him to leave the medical field and created the panel cartoon Natural Selection under the pen name Russ Wallace. The cartoon was picked up by Creators Syndicate and syndicated nationwide. [The Charleston Gazette]

Publishing | Deb Aoki provides a thorough analysis of Tokyopop’s Anime Expo panel, in which the once-shuttered manga publisher announced a new title and hinted at more. [About.com]

Creators | Paul Levitz discusses Worlds’ Finest, his buddy comic featuring Power Girl and Huntress: “There’s always been a certain level of humor and cool confidence in a light way associated with Power Girl that’s been fun, and the Huntress has always been the more determined of the women in the DC Universe — a woman with a sense of mission and a crossbow ready to take your eye out. [USA Today]

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2012 Harvey Awards nominees announced

The executive committee of the annual Harvey Awards today announced the nominees for 2012, which will be presented at the Baltimore Comic-Con Sept. 8.

Named in honor of the late Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist and founding editor of MAD magazine, the Harvey Awards recognize outstanding work in comics and sequential art. Nominations for the Harvey Awards are selected by creators–“those who write, draw, ink, letter, color, design, edit or are otherwise involved in a creative capacity in the comics field,” according to the press release.

The nominees are:

Best Letterer

Chris Eliopoulos, Fear Itself, Marvel Comics
Laura Lee Gulledge, Page By Paige, Amulet Books
Todd Klein, S.H.I.E.L.D.: Architects Of Forever, Marvel Comics
David Lanphear, Secret Avengers, Marvel Comics
Jason Shiga, Empire State: A Love Story (or Not), Abrams ComicArts

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Comic creators pay tribute to Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak portrait by Paul Hornschemeier

Following the death of Where The Wild Things Are author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, the comics community has been paying tribute to the influential creator all week. He may not have been a quote-unquote “comics creator” in the traditional sense of how we think of the term, but you could make the argument that he was as influential on the art form as much as anybody has been. (I believe our own Chris Mautner will be making that argument, actually, so watch for it soon).

“As a parent, I read Where The Wild Things Are to my children, but Holly’s favourite Sendak book was Outside Over There, and I must have read it to her hundreds of times, perhaps thousands of times, marvelling at Sendak’s economy of words, his cruelty, his art,” Sandman writer Neil Gaiman wrote on his blog. “What I loved, what I always responded to, was the feeling that Sendak owed nothing to anyone in the books that he made. His only obligation was to the book, to make it true. His lines could be cute, but there was an honesty that transcended the cuteness.”

The Unsinkable Walker Bean creator Aaron Reiner, who spent time with the author in his later years, shared memories on his blog.

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The best of the best of the year lists

Infinite Kung Fu

With only a couple days left in 2011, here are a few more “best of 2011″ lists from the past few days:

• iFanboy has chosen DC Comics as their publisher of the year. They’ve also listed their best collections of the year, including Infinite Kung Fu, Mr. Murder is Dead, Bone 20th Anniversary Full Color Edition and the Walt Simonson Thor Omnibus.

• ComicsAlliance finished up their countdown of their top comics of the year, with Daredevil and Love and Rockets New Stories Volume 4 taking the top two positions.

• The A.V. Club has posted two separate lists–one focused on superhero and mainstream comics, the second on “graphic novels and art comics.” The mainstream list includes a separate “Best of” section that includes categories like best new characters, best one-shot and “best fix.”

• Kelly Thompson lists 13 “fantastic female creators” for 2011 on Jezebel, which is a companion piece to previous lists she’s done (i.e. no repeats). This year’s list includes Marjorie Liu, Carla Speed McNeil, Renae De Liz and Kelly Sue DeConnick, among others.

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Comics A.M. | Wizard tries to ‘reach out'; Image Expo adds creators

Wizard

Conventions | Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews tells Heidi MacDonald that after the resignation of former CEO Gareb Shamus, the company wants to be “a Switzerland of entertainment” and mend fences with members of the industry: “Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go — we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” MacDonald notes the company is offering a $100 credit toward Wizard conventions to former Wizard subscribers whose subscriptions abruptly ended when the magazine was shut down. A new CEO is expected to be named early next month. [The Beat]

Conventions | Image Comics announced several more guests for the Image Expo, scheduled for Feb. 24-26 in Oakland, California. The lineup now includes Blair Butler, John Layman, Rob Guillory, Nick Spencer, Joshua Fialkov, Joe Keatinge, Jim McCann and Jim Zubkavich, among many others. [press release]

Organizations | The Associação da Luta Contra o Cancer is running an awareness campaign in Mozambique featuring images drawn by artist Maisa Chaves of Wonder Woman, Catwoman, She-Hulk and Storm checking their breasts for lumps. [Daily Mail]

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With this strip, I thee wed

Leigh Gallagher's marriage proposal

Leigh Gallagher has illustrated books for DC Comics and 2000AD, but I bet none of them were as life-changing as his latest comic will likely end up being — a marriage proposal, in comic strip form, that he posted on his blog. It’s a cute strip and a great proposal … hopefully he’ll follow it up soon with the sequel, Wohoo! She Said Yes.

Update: She said yes.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con | A reminder: Four-day and single-day passes for Comic-Con International go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. PT. Note, though, that four-day memberships with Preview Night sold out on the last day of this year’s convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased oh so slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes.

Convention organizers also announced the first 20 special guests for the 2011 event, including Jordi Bernet, Jo Chen, Alan Davis, David Finch, Dave Gibbons, Jonathan Hickman, Jamal Igle, Mark Tatulli and Roy Thomas. [Comic-Con International]

Legal | A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a new Massachusetts Internet law designed to protect children from sexually explicit material, say the legislation was so broad that it would criminalize legitimate websites and electronic communication. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit opposing the statute. [The Boston Globe]

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Breaking: Harvey Pekar passes away [Updated]

Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar

Legendary underground comics writer Harvey Pekar was found dead early this morning by his wife Joyce Brabner in their Cleveland Heights, Ohio, home, The Plain Dealer reports. He was 70.

Pekar, best known for his American Splendor series of autobiographical comics that inspired the acclaimed 2003 film of the same name, had been suffering from prostate cancer, asthma, high blood pressure and depression. He was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1990, which inspired him to collaborate with Brabner and Frank Stack on Our Cancer Year.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner said an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

The curmudgeonly writer, who began publishing his American Splendor comics in 1976, most recently had been working on The Pekar Project webcomic series for Smith magazine.

Born on Oct. 8, 1939, in Cleveland to Saul and Dora Pekar, Polish immigrants who owned a small grocery store, Pekar dropped out of college and joined the Navy, only to return to his hometown. There he worked at a string of menial jobs until settling in as a file clerk for the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Cleveland, where he remained until his retirement in 2001.

In recent years Pekar released two new American Splendor series through DC’s Vertigo imprint, as well the autobiographical hardcover The Quitter. In 2009, he released The Beats, a history of the Beat movement, and Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation.

Pekar is survived by his third wife Joyce Brabner and their foster daughter Danielle.

Update: Vertigo Editor Jonathan Vankin, who worked with Pekar and Dean Haspiel on The Quitter, has released a statement: “I am terribly sad today. Working with Harvey Pekar was one of my first experiences at Vertigo and it’s still one of my best, not only in comics but in my life. Underneath the well-known gruff exterior, Harvey was a deeply compassionate person and of course, a brilliant mind. He created, almost singlehandedly, an entirely new kind of comics and his commitment to what he did was absolute and uncompromising. We’ve all suffered a huge loss today, in comics of course, but also in American culture.”

Sneak a peek at Andy Diggle and Jock’s Image thriller Snapshot

A snapshot of "Snapshot" #1

A snapshot of "Snapshot" #1

Jock has revealed a first look at Snapshot, the long-teased Image Comics miniseries that reunites him with writer Andy Diggle, his collaborator on The Losers and Green Arrow: Year One.

First mentioned as early as November 2008, the thriller reportedly centers on a protagonist who finds a cellphone belonging to a hitman that contains snapshots of his work. Jock’s tweeted photo, of the opening page of Issue 1, seems to support that setup.

There’s been no mention of when the miniseries will debut, but perhaps we can expect an announcement later this month at Comic-Con International.

Jock and Diggle’s collaborative history dates back to 2000, when they created Lenny Zero for Judge Dredd Megazine.

(via Multiversity Comics)


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