A New Zealand library’s refusal over the summer to carry Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls has received renewed attention, earning a signal boost from Neil Gaiman and a stern denial from the National Library of New Zealand that it had anything to do with the move.
The story illustrates the strange and unenviable predicament of libraries in countries with censorship laws: If they submit the material for government review in hopes it will be cleared, they risk triggering a ban; however, if they don’t submit a potentially objectionable book, they risk later being found in violation of the law.
Here’s what happened in New Zealand: Over the summer, cartoonist Dylan Horrocks reported he had asked his local library in Auckland to purchase a copy of Lost Girls. The library refused, and he posted its response on his Facebook page:
Thank you for your suggestion to purchase ‘Lost Girls’ by Alan Moore. Due to the depictions contained within this graphic novel we have been advised by the Office of Film and Literature Classification that we may be at risk of prosecution if we made the book available to customers. As a result Auckland Libraries will not be purchasing copies of this title.
As it turns out, Stuff.co.nz reported this week, the library had purchased a copy in 2008, at a patron’s request, but removed it from shelves after concerns were raised about the content.
Publishing | As the smoke settles around the turmoil at Platinum Studios, it appears that company founder and CEO Scott Rosenberg remains in his position following an attempt by President Chris Beall to unseat him — and it’s Beall instead who’s been voted out. According to Deadline, Beall stands by his claims that Rosenberg has mismanaged Platinum and transferred controlling interest in the company to a shell entity called RIP Media without the approval of shareholders. Rosenberg denies the accusations, including that he controls RIP. The Beat has background on the whole mess. [Deadline]
Passings | Cartoonist Chris Cassatt, one of the contributors to the comic strip Shoe, has passed away following a short illness. He was 66. Cassatt started out in 1993 as the assistant to Shoe creator Jeff MacNelly and worked with him until MacNelly’s death in 2000. After that, he collaborated with Susie MacNelly and Gary Brookins on the strip. In earlier days he was a photographer for the Aspen Times in Colorado and also created a local comic featuring a character named Sal A. Mander whom he had run in actual local elections. “After candidate Sal A. Mander was thrown off the ballot in an Aspen mayoral election on the shaky (in Aspen, anyway) grounds that he was not a ‘real person,’ Cassatt legally changed his name to Sal A. Mander and ran for Colorado governor in 1978, finishing fifth in a six-candidate contest,” the newspaper writes. The following year, he mounted a write-in campaign for Sal against an unpopular district attorney who was running unopposed. He lost, but the ridicule Cassatt’s character heaped on the D.A. during the campaign took its toll, and he didn’t stay in office for long. [Aspen Times]
Comic strips | Scott Adams’ Dilbert is moving to Universal UClick after two decades with United Feature Syndicate. The news doesn’t come as a big surprise, as it was announced more than three months ago that Peanuts would make the same move in February. Both properties are represented by Peanuts Worldwide. UClick will begin management of Dilbert.com on Saturday, with print syndication to follow in the summer. Dilbert will join a lineup at the syndicate that includes Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Ziggy. [press release]
Comic strips | Writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman discuss the end of Brenda Starr, whose final strip runs on Sunday. “(Brenda) is a continuity strip, like a soap opera. Those have been dropping like flies,” Brigman says. “It is amazing she has lasted. It’s not a laugh-a-day strip. It requires some effort, like reading the paper every day.” [Boston Herald]
Retailing | Gendy Alimurung chronicles the final days of the Borders Books and Music location is Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood: “The protracted demise is helping [12-year employee Camilla] Ostrin gradually acclimate to her new reality, at least. Empty bookshelves are the saddest part. She’s used to seeing them full. Customers likely would agree; they don’t seem to understand that the store isn’t being restocked, that the new Obama calendars aren’t coming in, or that once the Paperchase journals are gone, they’re gone.” [LA Weekly]
Legal | Michael Renaud, the only witness who can place retailer Michael George at his comic store around the time his first wife Barbara George was killed, testified Monday that a meeting with detectives shortly after the 1990 murder detailed in a recently published book did take place, despite its lack of mention in police files. Defense attorney Carl Marlinga questioned during the evidentiary hearing whether Renaud, who admitted to smoking marijuana, has a reliable memory of events. [Detroit Free Press]
Digital piracy | Four publishing groups in Japan, including the Digital Comic Association, is demanding that Apple stop selling pirated works of Japanese authors in its App Store. Apple says that it removes pirated material upon notification by the copyright holder. [The Wall Street Journal]
Publishing | Although a bill to further restrict the sale in metropolitan Tokyo of manga and anime depicting “extreme” sex won’t be voted on until Wednesday, some creators say the legislation has already had a chilling effect. For instance, one boys love artist contends her publisher is refusing to release works set in schools or featuring school uniforms. [Sankaku Complex]
- Wildstorm will bring Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s WildCATS 3.0 back into print in September.
- Wildstorm also adds another video game franchise to its publishing line, in the form of Kane & Lynch.
- Dark Horse had a few items I was unaware of in their latest round of solicitations. There’s another Grandville book coming out by Bryan Talbot called Grandville Mon Amour, and Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother books are being collected into one huge “deluxe” edition. Also, the out-of-print Hellboy/Starman/Batman stories by James Robinson, Mike Mignola and many others are being released as a part of the Hellboy trade paperback line. There’s lots more, of course, coming from Dark Horse in August, but those jumped out at me as stuff I hadn’t heard about or missed when they were announced.
- NBM will collect Gerard Jones and Mark Badger’s Networked: Carabella on the Run in July. This is a webcomic that runs on privacyactivism.org.
- Artist David Hahn is working with comedian John Roy on a new book for Image Comics.
- Tyler James, creator of the webcomic Over, is working with Matt Zolman on a new comic called Epic.
- Sports club bars in a South Auckland, New Zealand will give away an anti “drink-driving” comic by Hicksville creator Dylan Horrocks. “An advantage with the comic medium is that people are more relaxed when they start reading one and you can reach all kinds of people and tell a story of characters making the right choice,” the creator said. Via
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading. JK Parkin is off having fun at WonderCon, so it falls to me to handle this week’s column. Our special guest this week is New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks, who some of you might know as the author of the seminal graphic novel Hicksville, which was just re-released by Drawn & Quarterly.
To see what Dylan and the rest of us are reading hit the link below. Hard. Then let us know what you yourself are perusing in the comments section.
Nate Powell‘s Swallow Me Whole is a graphic novel that demands and warrants repeated readings. Released by Top Shelf last year, the publisher describes it as “a love story carried by rolling fog, terminal illness, hallucination, apophenia, insect armies, secrets held, unshakeable faith, and the search for a master pattern to make sense of one’s unraveling.” My thanks to Powell for this email interview and his level of candor.
Tim O’Shea: What motivated you to start self-publishing mini-comics at the age of 14?
Nate Powell: Well, I’d been drawing comics with a few friends for a couple of years already. We had many issues of a comic series mapped out, and a friend’s uncle suggested that we finish up each issue and self-publish it. We didn’t really know what that entailed, but soon discovered a few neglected copy machines around town and in my dad’s office. We made 100 copies of the first comic, and they all sold in about two months; we’d never anticipated recovering our expenses, or anyone actually BUYING the books, to be honest. We just wanted to have a comic too, and found the most accessible way to make them. At this time I was already into the punk subculture and had been exposed to people who made zines and released records in much the same manner, but it was not until a few years later when I started writing zines and putting out records that I saw the inherent connections between these two realms of DIY entrepreneurship.
The American Dream: this is a totally new story that I’ve been working on for some years (I think I began writing notes for it in 2003 or 2004). Not sure exactly how long it will be, but probably less than 100 pages, and I plan on putting up a few new pages per week.
Sam Zabel & the Magic Pen: I already published the first chapter of this story in Atlas #2 & 3 (from the wonderful Drawn & Quarterly), so the first 26 pages will look pretty familiar to anyone who read them there. But I’ve now added colour (which I’d always hoped to do eventually), and of course from chapter two onwards, it’ll be all new.
Horrocks has a couple other short stories up as well and also says he plans on serializing the main story from Atlas on his site, and that he will still be collecting these tales in book form at some point down the road. Go check it out.