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DC Comics targeted for hiring anti-gay author to write Superman story

From the cover of “Adventures of Superman” #1, by Chris Samnee

Just days after announcing its latest digital-first anthology Adventures of Superman, DC Comics faces a growing wave of criticism for hiring Ender’s Game author, and vocal gay-rights opponent, Orson Scott Card to write the first chapter.

An online petition calling on the publisher to drop the “virulently anti-gay writer” has already drawn more than 4,800 signers. And while comic book fans and petitions seem to go hand in hand — it was just last month Marvel was being called upon to cancel Avengers Arena –  this effort is being spearheaded by All Out, an initiative of the Purpose Foundation advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. The drive has already attracted the attention of mainstream media outlets like The Guardian and The Huffington Post.

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14 cartoonists make NRA’s ‘anti-gun’ list

This might be why Mike Luckovich made the list

I don’t know, maybe lists like the widely reported rundown of “National Organizations with Anti-Gun Policies” on the website of the Institute for Legislative Action — the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association — are common, but just seldom made public. It seems rather Nixonian, to be honest. Who keeps an enemies list any more?

The list includes not only organizations but companies and individuals who have in some way publicly endorsed gun regulation, whether as a member of the Brady Campaign or just chattin’. And 14 editorial cartoonists make the cut. Alan Gardner helpfully pulls them out: Tony Auth, Steve Benson, Jim Borgman, Stuart Carlson, Mike Lane, Mike Luckovich, Jimmy Margulies, Jim Morin, Mike Peters, Kevin Siers, Ed Stein, Tim Toles, Garry Trudeau and Don Wright.

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Comics A.M. | Warner Bros. Entertainment names new CEO

Kevin Tsujihara

Business | In a surprise announcement, Kevin Tsujihara was announced Monday to succeed Barry Meyer as CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, the parent company of DC Entertainment. The 48-year-old Tsujihara, who has been with Warner Bros. since 1994, was named in 2005 as president of the Home Entertainment Group, overseeing the company’s home video, digital distribution, video games, anti-piracy and emerging technology operations. He was chosen as CEO over Bruce Rosenbaum, president of Warner Bros. Television, and Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures (under which DC Entertainment is placed in the corporate structure). [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Richard Thompson’s long journey

Richard Thompson

Creators | Michael Cavna talks to cartoonist Richard Thompson in-depth about his Parkinson’s disease, its effect on his cartooning, and the brain surgery he had this year to combat it, and shows the cartoon Thompson drew during the surgery. The story includes an update on how Thompson has been doing since the surgery and interviews with other cartoonists, including a rare comment from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, about Thompson’s work and his struggle against the illness. [Comic Riffs]

Publishing | The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons mocking Mohammed, has released a comic-book biography of the Muslim prophet. Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who has lived under police protection since the magazine first published the cartoons, says the biography is a properly researched educational work edited by Muslims: “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.” [AFP]

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The big deal behind Gail Simone’s firing from Batgirl

NY Times Best Seller Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection

The Internet hand-wringing was set to overdrive when it was announced writer Gail Simone had been summarily dismissed from Batgirl. By email, no less. Virtually every comics news site and blog chimed in, usually followed by a flurry of reader comments. However, freelance creators are let go from comics all of the time. Sure there’s usually disappointment, and it’s never good when someone loses her job. But what made this the event of the week?

There’s a history to this that adds an extra layer of emotion.

Simone is a well-liked creator with a spirited fan base, and she has described Batgirl as a dream job for her. This is the character that hooked her into comics. This is the character she’s always wanted to write. Her dream came true, and now it’s being taken away. So any human being with at least an average level of empathy is going to feel like this is an unfortunate turn of events for her. This was also largely unexpected, as the series was performing well; Batgirl #14 was No. 17 on Diamond Comic Distributors’ November sales chart with an estimated 77,468 copies, although previous issues sold in the 40,ooo to 50,000 range. That’s where some shock and indignation comes in. It seems like an unfair decision (although it is of course fully within DC Comics’ rights to hire and fire whoever it wants).

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James Gunn apologizes for ‘poorly worded and offensive’ comments

James Gunn

Faced with growing criticism, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has apologized for insulting comments he made about women, gays and lesbians in a nearly two-year-old blog post, characterizing his remarks as “poorly worded and offensive to many.”

The statement, released last night by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and re-posted on Gunn’s Facebook page, followed outreach from the organization, condemnation by the Human Rights Campaign — “James Gunn’s blog post is offensive not just to LGBT people and women but rather to anyone with even the slightest sense of decency” — and online outrage, all stemming from a deleted February 2011 post on the filmmaker’s website.

Newly unearthed via Google Cache, the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll include commentary in which Gunn refers to Gambit as “this Cajun fruit,” calls teenage mother Stephanie Brown “easy,” admits wanting “to anally do” Kitty Pryde, and suggests Tony Stark could “turn” the lesbian Batwoman.

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Guardians of the Galaxy director under fire for superhero-sex article

James Gunn

Even as the casting search gears up for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a push has begun online to convince the studio to fire director James Gunn over objections to a nearly two-year-old blog post that many view as misogynistic and homophobic. (Note: This post contains graphic language.)

The Feb. 17, 2011 post containing the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll, complete with Gunn’s commentary, was deleted at some point from the filmmaker’s website but the cached version resurfaced earlier this week on Tumblr before receiving further exposure Wednesday on The Mary Sue. Why Gunn’s post was only recently unearthed is a bit of a mystery (he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy more than two months ago).

Gunn’s superhero sex poll includes male and female characters — 50 in all — ranging from Wonder Woman and Superman to Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. While The Mary Sue notes “there’s nothing wrong about running a poll for the most sex-able superhero on your site,” the complaints arise over some of the filmmaker’s accompanying commentary.

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Comics A.M. | Phoenix accused of axing comic to please advertiser

From the Karl Stevens comic in question

Comics | The editor-in-chief of the Boston Phoenix denies accusations that the alternative weekly canceled Karl Stevens‘ satirical comic Failure because advertiser Anheuser-Busch was offended by last week’s strip, which referred to Bud Light as “diluted horse piss.” Stevens, whose comic has appeared on ThePhoenix.com since 2009, claims he was told by the art director that Failure was being canceled specifically because of the Bud Light jab. “Apparently I offended Bud Light, and cannot be trusted,” Steven told Publishers Weekly. However, Editor-in-Chief Carly Carioli called the accusation “categorically false,” insisting Failure was canceled because it no longer fit The Phoenix, which has changed from a weekly newspaper to a weekly magazine. “It is categorically false that Karl’s strip was discontinued due to any outside objections. As the Phoenix’s editor in chief, it was my sole decision to discontinue Failure,” Carioli told The Boston Globe. “There were no sponsor objections — zero — to this strip or any other that I’m aware of.” [Publishers Weekly, The Boston Globe]

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Comics A.M. | New York mother upset by Chick tract on doorstep

Happy Hour

Comics | After all of these years, the evangelical comics of 88-year-old cartoonist and publisher Jack Chick still stir controversy. The latest is in Buffalo, New York, where a mother is upset that a local church left on her doorstep a Chick tract that was read by her 7-year-old daughter. “It seems like a Lifetime movie or something that was put into a kid’s comic book and expose my 7-year-old to this horrible of an idea of a family life,” Brandi Gillette says. Titled “Happy Hour,” the 2002 comic depicts an alcoholic, abusive father whose wife dies following a beating (while he’s bellied up to the bar). When his two children start to go hungry because he’s spending the family’s money on alcohol, the girl smashes his liquor bottles and, after threatening to cut him with the jagged glass, convinces him to go to church, where he devotes his life to Christ. Chick Publications, which publishes the tract, says “Happy Hour” is intended for adults, not children. [WIVB]

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Student newspaper apologizes, cartoonist fired for anti-gay comic

The comic strip by D.C. Parsons that appeared in the Daily Wildcat

The editor of the University of Arizona student newspaper has issued an apology and fired the cartoonist following backlash over a homophobic  comic strip published Tuesday in the Daily Wildcat.

Created by student D.C. Parsons, the comic (above) depicts a father explaining to his young son, “If you ever tell me you’re gay … I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off a bridge.” The boy replies, “Well, I guess that’s what you call a ‘Fruit Roll Up,’” and the two share a hearty laugh.

The strip drew immediate condemnation both on campus and off, with a petition on Change.org demanding the firing of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, cartoonist and copy editor attracting more than 4,600 signatures.

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Tintin in the Congo: It’s complicated

A youth library in Stockholm pulled Tintin comics from its shelves on the grounds that the racial caricatures of Africans and Arabs are not suitable for children before quickly backpedaling after the removal triggered a media firestorm in Sweden.

“I wanted to highlight an opinion piece about issues of discrimination, but realize now that it’s wrong to ban books,” explained Behrang Miri, the Kulturhuset library’s youth director.

Although the articles don’t specify which Tintin books were pulled, it’s safe to say the primary culprit was Tintin in the Congo, published in 1930, in which the Belgian creator Herge depicted Africans in crudely stereotyped ways. The book has come under heavy criticism in the United States and in Europe, and several attempts have been made, some successful, to remove it from libraries and bookstores (in February, a Belgian court rejected a five-year-old bid to ban the book).

So it’s something of a surprise to learn that Tintin is actually quite popular in the Congo, with locally made statues of the characters and mockups of the covers selling briskly to European tourists. While the director of the national museum objects to the proliferation of Tintinabilia, preferring to focus on the rich native heritage of the country, artisan Auguy Kakese, who makes and sells Tintin figures for a living is more sanguine:

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Comics A.M. | CBLDF goes to bat for SideScrollers in Connecticut

SideScrollers

Graphic novels | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has written to the Enfield, Connecticut, school district to ask that Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers be reinstated to its summer reading list and to point out that the district did not follow its own procedures when it removed the book last month after the mother of a ninth-grader complained about the graphic novel’s profanity and sexual references. [CBLDF]

Digital comics | Digital distributor iVerse has unveiled a new deal to sell foreign-language translations of Marvel and Archie comics worldwide. iVerse will have exclusive global rights to Marvel’s foreign-language comics, both floppies and trades, while for Archie they will create apps in different languages for different countries, starting with Japan, China, and India. iVerse CEO Michael Murphy says that 50 percent to 65 percent of the company’s digital sales are to international customers (including Canada). Nonetheless, the comics will be “platform-independent”: iVerse will provide translation (through a combination of machine translation and human editors) and distribution, so the comics will be available through their Comics + app but also through other channels, such as Amazon or iBooks. [Publishers Weekly]

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Frightened ‘Innocence of Muslims’ actress reaches out to Neil Gaiman

Anna Gurji

Even as anti-American protests spread to 20 countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, details about “Innocence of Muslims” and what role the controversial video may have played in sparking the violence have been difficult to come by. In the hours after the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya (in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed), no one seemed to know who the pseudonymous producer of the anti-Muslim video was, or where he was from.

Soon, however, several actors involved in the film began to step forward to say they were duped by the producer, who cast them for a project called Desert Warriors that did not contain a Prophet Muhammad character, but rather a man named George; it was also dubbed with new dialogue. Among the cast members is Anna Gurji, an actress who wrote to Neil Gaiman — they had met during a read-through of Blood Kiss, in which he has a small role — saying, “I feel shattered.”

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Comics A.M. | Why collectors’ market is booming; Homestuck Kickstarter

Action Comics #1

Comics | Auction prices for comics and original comics art have soared over the past few years, ever since a copy of Action Comics #1 broke the $1-million mark in 2010. Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions (admittedly, not a disinterested party) and Michael Zapcic of the comics shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash discuss why that happened—and why prices are likely to stay high. [Underwire]

Crowdfunding | Homestuck is a phenomenon. Kickstarter is a phenomenon. Put them together and you get … a Kickstarter to fund a Homestuck game that raises $275,000 in a matter of hours. [Kotaku]

Creators | Brian Michael Bendis looks back on his eight-year run on Marvel’s Avengers franchise. [Marvel.com]

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School board changes policy after complaint over ‘vulgar’ SideScrollers

A Connecticut school district will more closely scrutinize summer reading lists following a mother’s complaint about the profanity and sexual references in Matthew Loux‘s 2006 graphic novel SideScrollers.

Published by Oni Press, the book centers on three video game-playing friends slackers who suddenly become motivated when one of their secret crushes announces she’s going to a rock concert with a bullying jock. The well-reviewed comic was named one of the Young Adult Library Association’s 2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, which is probably how it ended up on the reading list.

But no more. According to WFSB TV, the Enfield Board of Education has removed SideScrollers and will take reading-list selections out of the hands of individual schools. Now a board committee will choose the books for district.

Christie Bosco told the board on Tuesday that she was “floored” after she read the graphic novel recommended to her freshman son. “I was absolutely amazed that anybody would recommend this and put a school’s seal of approval on it. Parents are busy and they expect that if it’s a book that a school system endorses, it’s going to be appropriate for their children. And that’s where Enfield failed.”

The board clearly agreed, with one member telling Bosco, “This kind of reading material doesn’t belong in the schools.”

“I think that the book is a bit vulgar,” Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann offered. “The topics they tried to cover were covered well, but perhaps there would be other texts that could cover them in a better way.”

Loux, who’s better known for his Salt Water Taffy series, may beg to differ. “I have officially made it,” he wrote last night on Facebook. “Stay strong, teens of Enfield!”


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