Editorial cartoons | The Durban, South Africa, police have confirmed they’re investigating criminal charges against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, who goes by the pen name Zapiro, stemming from a cartoon that portrayed the Hindu god Ganesha in a manner many Hindus found offensive.
The cartoon, which criticizes the local cricket organization for corruption, depicts a scowling Ganesha holding a cricket bat and piles of cash while the head of the cricket organization is being sacrificed before him. Businessman Vivian Reddy, whom the newspaper The Citizen notes is also a benefactor of the African National Congress, filed a criminal complaint; the cartoon has also sparked protests among local Hindus, who marched on the offices of the Sunday Times last week. The ANC is also taking the anti-Zapiro side, perhaps in part because of his depictions of its president, Jacob Zuma. Zapiro, meanwhile, isn’t taking calls, but he stated a few days ago that he stands by his cartoon, adding, “It didn’t cross our minds that so many people would be upset.” [The Citizen]
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
Manga | Hiroaki Samura will bring his long-running samurai revenge epic Blade of the Immortal to a close in the February issue of Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine (on stands Dec. 25) after 19 years. The series is published in the United States by Dark Horse; the 25th volume was released in North America in August. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | NPR talks to several editorial cartoonists about the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s decision to run cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The general sense seems to be that while the magazine had the right to do so, it wasn’t a good idea given the turmoil already caused by the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker said, “Over the last few years, people have gotten the idea that cartoons are radioactive because they have the power to inspire riots. That doesn’t help cartooning in a certain sense.” And Daryl Cagle observes that the long-term effect is to make editors more timid. [NPR]
Comics | Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns talks with The Wall Street Journal about the introduction this week of the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim from Dearborn, Michigan: “As fantastic as the concept of Green Lantern is of an intergalactic police force, the comic has had a history of grounding in the now and dealing with modern characters and concepts and Simon Baz is that. I wanted to create a character that everyday Americans have to deal with. When 9/11 hit, he was 10-years-old. His family was devastated, just like every other American. He’s grown up in that world. It’s just part of the daily life, the new normal.” [Speakeasy]
Comics | The new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, reaches a key moment in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14, when Aunt May gives him Peter Parker’s web-shooters and the formula for for his web fluid. Writer Brian Michael Bendis explains why he waited so long to pass along the iconic tools: “‘This is like Excalibur. This is it. This is like being bequeathed the sword,’ Bendis says. ‘But, young Miles and (his friend) Ganke trying to figure out how to make web fluid is going to be my favorite stuff to write ever in the history of writing of anything. Just because someone gives you a formula and says, “Here, cook this,” doesn’t mean you can.’” [USA Today]
Legal | Susie Cagle, the cartoonist covering Occupy Oakland who was tear-gassed last month, was arrested early Thursday morning during the protests in Oakland. According to her father, cartoonist Daryl Cagle, Susie was being held at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, Calif. and was charged with unlawful assembly, even though she was there covering the event and had a press badge. Update: According to her Twitter account, Susie Cagle is out of jail and was charged with a misdemeanor, “present at raid.” [Fishbowl LA]
Legal | Tom Spurgeon offers more details on comic artist Steve Rude’s Halloween altercation, which led to the Nexus creator’s arrest that same night. According to Rude’s wife by way of Spurgeon, Rude was in costume handing out Halloween candy to kids trick-or-treating when his neighbors’ dogs began barking. Rude threw rocks at the neighbors’ fence, which led to a confrontation with them. Rude tore the neighbor’s shirt and pushed him, leading to the assault charges. Rude suffered physical abuse during the arrest and in jail before posting bail. [The Comics Reporter]
Editorial cartoonists seem to be going the way of buggy-whip makers; the past few years have brought a litany of layoffs and, at least from the outside, it looks like staff cartoonists are becoming a thing of the past.
Cartoonist Daryl Cagle posted some surprisingly frank advice for editorial cartoonists on his blog this week. Depending on how you look at it, this is shrewd business advice or an enticement to dumb down and sell out.
Some of this is good nuts-and-bolts advice for freelancers: Think of what your editors want (not what you want to draw), plan ahead for holiday and seasonal cartoons, sell your archived cartoons on a per-use basis, and avoid local papers — there’s no money in that market. Learn to draw — words alone can’t carry a cartoon.
But it is also rather disturbing. Let’s return to that first point, about pleasing editors: