comics a..m. Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | “Legend of Zelda” creators hint at English-language manga license

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Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team behind the Legend of Zelda manga, hinted on their Facebook page last week that Viz would license the English-language version of their new series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Viz refused to confirm the license, but given that they published the earlier Legend of Zelda manga (which they are planning to reissue as two-in-one omnibus editions), and the Japanese publisher of the series, Shogakukan, is one of Viz’s parent companies, it would be odd if they didn’t get the license. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Hi Score Girl’ to return following copyright dispute

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Manga | Rensuke Oshikiri’s romantic comedy manga Hi Score Girl will resume serialization in Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan magazine, after a lengthy hiatus due to copyright issues. The manga was suspended in 2014 after the game company SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, claiming the manga used characters from SNK’s games without permission. Copyright violations are taken seriously in Japan: Police raided Square Enix’s offices, and the publisher not only stopped selling the series but issued a recall. Although Square Enix filed a counterclaim, Tokyo police initiated charges against 16 people, including Oshikiri and Square Enix staffers. The parties agreed on a settlement in August 2015. In addition to resuming serialization of the series, Square Enix will publish the sixth volume and new editions of the first five. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M.| Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying volunteers

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Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it’s true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it’s rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that’s essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. “In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage,” says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.” The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]

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Comics A.M. | Looking back on 30 years of Dark Horse

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Publishing | Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson looks back at 30 years in the business in a two-part interview that covers the rise of shoujo manga and the way it changed American comics, the evolution of comics distribution and the direct market, the status quo and future plans for Dark Horse, and how the comics world is changing and continues to change: “The internet, of course, has changed the industry dramatically. The comic book industry was pretty much focused on the East Coast. As the internet rose, it helped companies like Dark Horse build a comics industry here in Portland. Portland right now is probably the epicenter of the comic book industry in the United States — companies, creators, organizations, all related to comics. We have a huge comic book population here from all angles of the business. It’s pretty amazing.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Wait, comics depicting crime are illegal in Canada?

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Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

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Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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Comics A.M. | Tokyopop returns with first books in five years

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Manga | Pioneering U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop is back with its first new books in five years, and all three are tie-ins with other media. Alice in Wonderland: Special Collector’s Manga is a hardcover collection of Jun Abe’s manga adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, which will be released just before the premiere of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Similarly, Finding Nemo: Special Collector’s Manga, Ryuichi Hoshino’s adaptation of the Pixar blockbuster, will be released a week before the sequel Finding Dory. The third property is the five-volume series Kilala Princess, a shoujo manga series featuring Disney princesses. Tokyopop published the first two volumes of Kilala Princess during its earlier incarnation. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist released from prison

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(photo via The Foreign Desk)

Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility,” the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. “It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.” Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]

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Comics A.M. | Farm News fires cartoonist Rick Friday amidst comic strip controversy

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

Political Cartoons | Farm News has ended Rick Friday’s gig as its editorial cartoonist, and Friday says he was fired because an advertiser complained about one of his cartoons. In the cartoon, a farmer comments that “In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.” The publisher and editor of Farm News declined to comment on why they let Friday go, and spokespeople from DuPont and Monsanto said they were not aware of the cartoon. But on his Facebook page, Friday wrote, “Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of It’s Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.” [Des Moines Register]

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Comics A.M. | How an aneurysm led to the creation of Koyama Press

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Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]

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Comics A.M. | Mom fights to sell ‘Supermanny’ comic to benefit son

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Legal | An Illinois mother says a trademark dispute is hampering her attempt to raise money for her 3-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Holly Bueno says while sitting in the hospital with her son Manny, she began writing a book called The Adventures of Supermanny. “My driving force was I wanted to give myself a voice and my son a voice, and I want there to be a story out there where the main character is in a wheelchair, there aren’t too many of those,” she says. Bueno had hoped to sell the book to raise money for a wheelchair ramp, but when she filed a trademark application last year for “Supermanny,” she drew the attention of DC Comics, which said it was too close to Superman. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filings show Bueno abandoned the mark in February.) Regardless of what happens with the trademark issue, there is also another fund-raiser for Manny — a superhero-themed 5k race. [ABC7 Chicago]

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Comics A.M. | Woman charged in theft of Terry Brooks’ vintage comics

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Legal | Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara fantasy novels, has been revealed as the owner of a valuable comics collection stolen between 2010 and 2012. The vintage comics, valued at between $100,000 and $500,000, were in the possession of the Sterling, Illinois, law firm Miller & Lancaster, where Brooks was an attorney before becoming a full-time author. Trisha J. Clemens, a former employee of the firm, has been charged with theft in the case. She also faces an earlier charge of theft of between $100,000 and $500,000 from the law firm. One of her bond conditions is that she can neither possess nor sell comics. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 2. [SaukValley.com]

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Comics A.M. | New ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ manga to launch in June

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Manga | The shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi will announce this week that the manga collaborative CLAMP will produce a sequel to their classic series Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s been 20 years since CLAMP launched the original series, which was one of the first shoujo manga to become popular in North America. The sequel will follow the title character, Sakura, in her first year of junior high school. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World CEO resigns after $4.3 million loss

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Business | John Macaluso resigned last week as chief executive officer and president of Wizard World after four years in the position. His resignation, revealed Monday in filings with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, came on the same day the company reported $4.3 million in losses in 2015, due largely to a drop in per-show revenues and a money-losing investment in the startup ConTV. Board chairman John D. Maatta will succeed Macaluso as CEO and president. [Street Insider]

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