Legal | The Bombay High Court had sharp words for the Mumbai Police regarding the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on a sedition charge. “How can you (police) arrest people on frivolous grounds? You arrest a cartoonist and breach his liberty of freedom of speech and expression,” said justices DY Chandrachud and Amjad Sayyed during a hearing in the case. The court will issue guidelines for the application of the sedition law, said the justices, who called the arrest of Trivedi “arbitrary.” “We have one Aseem Trivedi who was courageous enough to raise his voice and stand against this, but what about several others whose voices are shut by police.” [The Economic Times]
Creators | Grant Morrison talks about the guy who (literally) ate a copy of Supergods, why he is moving away from superheroes, and his upcoming Pax Americana, which is based on the same Charlton characters as Watchmen: “It’s so not like Watchmen. In the places where it is like Watchmen people will laugh because it’s really quite … it’s really faithful and respectful but at the same time satiric. I don’t think people will be upset by it, in the way that they’ve been upset by Before Watchmen which even though it’s good does ultimately seem redundant … This one is its own thing but it deliberately quotes the kind of narrative techniques used in Watchmen and does something new with them.” [New Statesman]
Publishing | ICv2 sits down for a three-part interview with DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio that takes the long view of the past year, covering the launch of the New 52, the effect of digital and the loss of Borders, and the recent discussions around creators’ rights. “It’s a cyclical thing. It’s an issue that constantly comes back,” DiDio said. “We hear about the great jobs and the great books that creators might participate in, but what we don’t hear about are all the books we’ve invested in over the years that never delivered, where we’ve invested in the talent and the time to make sure they had the opportunity to tell the stories they tell. It’s a very big picture, and it’s a very complex issue that can’t be boiled down. One thing I feel the most strongly is that I feel extraordinarily confident that we do everything we can to make this a very creator friendly company, to make sure they have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell with our characters and also in their creator owned stories too.” [ICv2]
I understand the importance of complaining about things that need changing — it’s the stick that gets the donkey pulling the cart in the right direction. I don’t think it’s completely effective on its own, though. In the conversation about women in superhero comics, the carrot is under-utilized, so I appreciate a blog like This Is What Women in Superhero Comics Should Be (aka This!) that points out specific examples of women used well in superhero comics. The cart needs to get moving, but it also needs a direction, and This! offers one.
The blog’s only three days old and has already captured more than 30 great moments for women, from Wonder Woman and Catwoman to Jessica Jones and Jennie Sparks. It’s pretty DC-heavy so far, but it’s taking submissions for moments from all superhero publishers.
Comics | Dismayed by the portrayal of Catwoman in DC Comics’ relaunched series, Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress asks whether feminists are wasting their time in hoping and lobbying for better portrayals of women in mainstream superhero comics. While she understands the desire to walk away, the decides in the end “it’s worth it to keep nudging”: “… Even if the industry doesn’t change, there should be voices in the background when folks read these books pointing out their problems. The key is getting folks who really just want to see, say, Catwoman bang Batman and nothing else to hear those critiques and to find a way to engage with them constructively, which is really, profoundly difficult. But I’d rather live in a world where people who don’t want to hear the works they like criticized have to work to shut them out, rather than leaving them to relax into the blissful sounds of silence.”
At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky points out that not all comics are like Catwoman or Red Hood and the Outlaws, and recommends some alternatives. Meanwhile, Tom Foss jokingly suggests that the “new” Starfire is merely replacing longtime New Teen Titans creeper Terry Long. [ThinkProgress, The Atlantic]
The second annual Shel Dorf Awards were presented Saturday as part of Detroit Fanfare. Named in honor of the late Shel Dorf, a Detroit native and the founder of Comic-Con, the fan awards “are dedicated to recognizing the comic industries best and brightest talents.”
The winners of the 2011 awards are:
Writer of the year: Robert Kirkman
Artist of the year: Guy Davis
Inker of the year: Klaus Janson
Colorist of the year: Jeff Balke
Editor of the year: Shannon Eric Denton
Cover artist of the year: Mike Mignola
Letterer of the year: Tom Orzcechowski
Miniseries of the year: Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard
Graphic novel of the year: Superman: Earth One
Webcomic of the year: Axe Cop
Syndicated print strip of the year: Zits
Comic to multimedia adaptation of the year: The Walking Dead
Comic blogger of the year: Heidi MacDonald, The Beat
Continuing series of the year: Usagi Yojimbo
Self-published comic of the year: Echo
Kids’ comic of the year: Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard
Jerry Bails Award: Randy Scott
DC Comics has been criticized for the sheer brutality and wholesale slaughter depicted in its blockbuster crossovers and events, where characters are decapitated, disemboweled and devoured with a frequency that approaches parody. But is it possible that Flashpoint, that concludes next week just as “The New 52″ debuts, has a butcher’s bill that makes the body count of Final Crisis seem like, well, kid’s stuff?
Like a U.N. observer, Funnybook Babylon’s Chris Eckert surveyed the sprawling battlefield — no easy task, considering there’s the core title, 16 miniseries and a handful of one-shots — and emerged with a death tally that’s staggering, as entire nations fell in alternate-timeline global wars involving Aquaman’s Atlanteans, Wonder Woman’s Amazons, Gorilla Grodd’s armies, and other factions.
“Given that everything is going to be returned to The New Normal at the end of it, DC has gone hog wild with killing people off in Flashpoint,” Eckert wrote. “It’s not just ‘shocking’ death scenes for beloved intellectual property: the Flashpoint Earth got seriously depopulated.”
Legal | The Los Angeles Times reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Toby G. Scammell with insider trading. Scammell has been accused of using confidential information “surreptitiously gleaned” from his girlfriend to make $192,000 off of Disney’s 2009 acquisition of Marvel Entertainment. Scammell’s girlfriend was an intern working in the corporate strategy department at Disney. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Heidi MacDonald rounds up questions creators have raised about the Womanthology project, which raised $109,000 on Kickstarter, specifically about how the extra money will be used and whether the creators who are involved will be paid. Organizer Renae De Liz has posted additional details on the Womanthology site. [The Beat]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con gets into full swing today in Rosemont, Illinois. Comics guests include Brian Azzarello, Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Gary Friedrich, Patrick Gleason, Mike Grell, Dave Johnson, Ariel Olivetti, Eduardo Risso, Bill Sienkiewicz and Ethan Van Sciver. The Chicago Sun-Times briefly spotlights attending artists Ivan Brunetti and Don Kramer, while the Daily Herald interviews Brunetti and Nate Powell. [Wizard World]
Shawn Crystal sends word that a stellar group of artists have formed a new sketchblog, Ashcan All-Stars. The line-up includes Crystal, Christopher Mitten, Erik Jones, James Stokoe, Khary Randolph, Moritat, Nathan Fox, Robbi Rodriguez, Ryan Stegman, Sheldon Vella and Tyler Crook. This week the crew kicks off their blog with a bunch of Sin City sketches, while future themes will include Blacksad, Zelda and Skydoll.
I should also point out that Sin City features strippers, so several of the pieces are not safe for work.
Retailing | Bankrupt bookseller Borders Group said in court papers filed Friday that it will name a stalking-horse bidder by July 1, with an eye toward completing the sale of all of its assets by the end of July. The Detroit News spotlights the two private-equity firms that have placed bids to buy at least a majority of the book chain’s 416 remaining stores: Phoenix-based Najafi Cos., which owns the Book of the Month Club, Columbia House and BMG; and Los Angeles-based Gores Group — the likely stalking-horse bidder — whose investments include Alliance Entertainment and Westwood One. [Reuters, The Detroit News]
Legal | Peanutweeter, a blog that combined frames from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts strips with real, out-of-context tweets, has been taken down by Tumblr as the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from Iconix Brand Group, which acquired a majority stake in the Peanuts assets last year. One blogger, however, argues the blog should be considered fair use. [RIPeanutweeter, Boing Boing]
Publishing | As the fallout mounts from the revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child more than a decade ago with a member of his household staff, plans to revive the Terminator star’s acting career have been put on hold — a move that now extends to The Governator, the comics and animation project co-developed by Stan Lee. “In light of recent events,” representatives announced last night, “A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have chosen to not go forward with The Governator project.” However, Entertainment Weekly notes the statement was revised two hours later, putting the project “on hold.”
Unveiled in late March, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, no less, The Governator features a semi-fictional Schwarzenegger who, after leaving the governor’s office, decides to become a superhero — complete with a secret Arnold Cave under his Brentwood home that not even his family knows about. “We’re using all the personal elements of Arnold’s life,” Lee said at the time of the announcement. “We’re using his wife [Maria Shriver]. We’re using his kids. We’re using the fact that he used to be governor.” But even before the couple’s separation became public, producers had backed off depicting Shriver and their children. [TMZ, Entertainment Weekly]
Politics | The controversy in Minnesota continues over Neil Gaiman’s speaking fee, with a state House Republican committee chairman now recommending a $45,000 cut to the Twin Cites’ regional library system budget to make up for the Legacy Fund money paid to the author and comics writer in May 2010. “I simply subtracted out $45,000 — just making a point,” Rep. Dean Urdahl said. Gaiman responded that the move “seems like a sad way to make a point.” He talks at length with CityPages about the controversy. [Star-Tribune]
Passings | Prolific Argentine comics writer Carlos Trillo, co-creator of CyberSix, passed away over the weekend while on vacation in London. He was 68. Trillo, whose career spanned five decades, collaborated with such artists as Eduardo Risso, Jordi Bernet, Juan Bobillo, Carlos Meglia and Domingo Roberto Mandrafina. [TN.com, via The Beat]
Retailing | Peter Panepinto turns a Free Comic Book Day preview into one of those perennial articles about the potential effects of superhero movies on comic-book sales. [Carroll County Times]
Team Cul de Sac is that rare combination of a worthy cause and total awesomeness. Founded by the friends of Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s Disease, it is a fund-raiser for Parkinson’s research in which famous artists make Cul de Sac fanart, and it just made news recently when Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson contributed a painting.
Now the writers are going to get their turn as well. Enter the Team Cul de Sac zine, with Craig Fischer at the helm. Here, I’ll let him say it:
To that end, I’m cobbling together a big, fat, old-school zine to raise money for the Team. I’ve asked an armada of bloggers, critics and fans (and maybe a cartoonist or two) to each write a short essay answering the following questions: what is your favorite comic (comic book, comic strip, graphic novel, whatever), and why? The Team zine will be a compilation of these essays, an explosion of wildly divergent opinions, and an ideal shopping list to take with you as you plunge into an unfamiliar longbox or used book store.
And he has a stellar lineup: Derik Badman, Noah Berlatsky, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Kleefeld, Joe McCulloch, Chris Schweizer, Tom Spurgeon, and our own Chris Mautner. The zine will premiere at Heroes Con, where it will sell for $5 a copy, with every penny going to the cause. After that, it will be available through the mail and at other cons.
Retailing | Borders Group says it’s determined that fewer than 150 customer names and emails were “obtained” by outsiders when a website published a searchable database of information associated with the retailer’s Borders Rewards loyalty program. The site, apparently set up by the marketing firm that helped the bookseller design and implement the program, was shut down over the weekend after Borders learned of its existence. A spokeswoman said the company is continuing its investigation. Borders Rewards has more than 41 million members. [AnnArbor.com]
Retailing | Amazon’s first-quarter profits tumbled 33 percent, even as revenue rose 38 percent, due largely to the costs of expanding its warehouse and data centers. [The New York Times]
Conventions | For the first time, organizers of the American Library Association’s Annual Conference & Exhibition will make space available for an artists alley — for free. This year’s conference, which will draw about 19,000 librarians, is held June 23-28 in New Orleans. [American Library Association, via The Beat]
Retailing | A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear arguments today from the bankrupt Borders Group, which is seeking to pay $8.3 million in bonuses in a bid to retain key corporate personnel. The struggling bookseller says that 47 executives and director-level employees have quit since the company declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16 — two dozen just this month — leaving only 15 people in senior management positions. In a court filing last week, U.S. bankruptcy trustee Tracy Hope Davis objected to the bonus proposal, characterizing it as “a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders.” [The Detroit News]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at sales estimates for the first issues in Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, which featured self-contained stories designed to serve as a jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers: “With the sole exception of Hulk, retailers ordered less copies of the ‘jump on’ issue, than the regular series. If you figure people picking up the title would also pick up the ‘.1′ introductory issue, this is a flaming disaster and there aren’t going to be a lot of these comics finding their way into the hands of new readers. It smack of very low buy-in from the retail community.” [Indignant Online]
Publishing | Disney Publishing is pushing further into the kids’ periodical market with four new magazines, including two standalone issues tied to Marvel’s upcoming Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger movies. Marvel’s comics division apparently won’t be producing content for the publications. A third magazine, based around Cars 2, will be monthly beginning in the fall, while the fourth, tied to the Disney Channel animated series Phineas and Ferb, will be bimonthly. [Variety, Deadline]
Broadway | On the heels of the recent departure of director Julie Taymor, producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are reportedly in talks to replace choreographer Daniel Ezralow, who designed the $70-million musical’s complex flying sequences. Chase Brock is likely to step in for Ezralow, who was described by a cast member as “a Julie person.” [Bloomberg]