Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Crime | The Wow Cool Alternative Comics store in Cupertino, California, has been burglarized for the second time in two months, and it looks as if it was the same crew both times. The thieves took cash and pretty much every minicomic and digest in the store, as well as a box of Marvel and DC comics. [Wow Cool Comics]
Political cartoons | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges in his home country, has been invited to speak at a United Nations forum next month in Geneva, Switzerland, titled “Defending Artistic Expression — Time for the UN to Act.” “In my speech, I will reaffirm my stand that freedom of expression for artistes including cartoonists is paramount and cannot be compromised,” he said, and he will also criticize the UN’s lack of commitment to the issue, which has “given more power to corrupt regimes and extremist bigots to be more repressive toward artists.” [The Rakyat Post]
Dean Mullaney has a bit of good news for fans of former Popeye writer and artist Bobby London: The next volume of the Library of American Comics’ collection Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London will include the first three weeks of the abortion-themed sequence that got London fired — and six weeks’ worth of unpublished strips that were never sent out to newspapers.
Here’s what happened back in 1992, as related at the time by London in an interview with the Comic Art and Graffix Gallery: After writing a strip in which the Sea Hag said “Drat! There goes Roe v. Wade” without getting any pushback from his editors, London figured the topic was fair game and created a storyline in which Olive Oyl, who has a serious Home Shopping Network addiction, gets a baby robot she doesn’t remember ordering and decides to send it back. Despite the fact that the robot is a spitting image of Bluto, Popeye’s arch enemy, Popeye wants her to keep it. Two clergymen overhear them arguing and jump to the wrong conclusion, that Olive Oyl is “in a family way” by Bluto and wants to get an abortion (although the actual word is not used in the strip — the clergymen just call it “the A-word”). One clergyman muses that she must keep the child, and when the other one points out that Bluto is the son of Satan, he retorts, “You fool!! Without Satan, we’re out of a job!! No Satan, no US … You dig?!!”
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
Superheroes | Writer Jim Zubkavich tackles the burning question of why there are so few Canadian superheroes: “We don’t have a long standing superhero tradition in this country. We don’t have a long-standing focal point character people recognize (I like Captain Canuck, but the average person on the street does not know who he is). We’re not a country galvanized by heavy-duty patriotic pride that lends itself to a Superman, Captain America or even a Batman. We don’t have the kind of rampant crime that ‘needs’ a heroic symbol to fight back against.” [Zub Tales]
Digital comics | The first issue of Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy sold more than 100,000 copies in stores, but was that because he refused to allow it to be sold in digital format the same day? Steve Bennett is doubtful, because so many people (including himself) didn’t realize until the last minute it would be print-only for now. [ICv2]