"Deadpool" Screenwriters Talk Political Correctness, PG-13 Petition and the Merc's Mouth
Comic Books, Film
Masked gunmen attacked the Paris headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo this morning, killing at least 12 people — 10 employees and two police officers — and wounding eight others. The three attackers remain at large after fleeing the scene and hijacking a car.
Paris has been placed on highest alert following what Francoise Hollande described as “a terrorist attack.”
While the specific motive for the shooting is unclear, Charlie Hebdo has a history of satirizing Islam, and Charbonnier was included on a “most wanted” list published in the Al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. The last tweet sent out on the Charlie Hebdo account before the shooting was an image of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and this week’s magazine included an article about Michel Houellebecq’s new novel Submission, which depicts a future France under Islamic rule. The Guardian notes that there had been an uptick in threats against the magazine in recent weeks, and security at the Charlie Hebdo offices had been increased.
The magazine’s offices were firebombed in 2011 when it published an issue “guest-edited” by the Prophet Muhammad. The following week, the magazine responded with a cover image of Muhammad kissing a male Hebdo journalist. In 2012 Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of a naked Muhammad, and in 2013 released a serious cartoon biography of the prophet. News reports at the time noted that Charbonnier had received death threats and was living under police protection.
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
Crime | Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested two men on Friday on charges of stealing $5,000 worth of comics from a local collector. After the robbery, the collector contacted local comic shops and asked them to keep an eye out for the stolen goods. Several retailers gave police information, including a license plate number, that led to the arrests of Gino Saenz and Jose Gonzalez on charges of theft. [San Antonio Express-News]
Digital comics | Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of DRM-free digital comics in 2014, the first year in which the company included e-books and comics in its bundles. Total e-book revenues were $4.75 million, of which $1.2 million went to charity (including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). That may sound like a lot of money, but as director of e-books Kelley Allen said, “The numbers generated by the book bundles look like a rounding error in comparison to video games,” because the audience for the latter is so vast. Humble Bundle’s e-books are DRM-free, which has been a stumbling block for traditional book publishers, but comics publishers are more flexible, Allen said. [Publishers Weekly]
It’s not unusual for an editorial cartoon to trigger a reaction from its subject, but Chris Britt’s cartoon above has unleashed not only a vehement response from local police organizations but also an apparent attempt to get local businesses to stop advertising in the paper.
The Bucks County (Pennsylvania) Courier Times published the nationally syndicated cartoon on Dec. 7, leading to a vehement letter to the editor from John McNesby, head of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, that called it “disrespectful and highly offensive,” demanded an apology, and concluded:
Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]
Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]
Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | Keiko Yoshioka explains how Japanese publisher Kodansha is getting into the Chinese market, not by selling Japanese products but by publishing a magazine in China that’s geared toward Chinese audiences — and using Chinese creators as well. The article puts a special focus on the two-woman team known as Navar, whose suspense series Carrier: Xiedaizhe now runs in Japan as well. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Academia | Northwestern University Prof. Irving Rein discusses why superheroes have secret identities, ticking off several superhero comics tropes and then going a bit deeper: “The usual script of a superhero episode revolves around a threat occurring in which the superhero is the victim of the decision making of the criminals. The hidden identity is a standard form of the superhero narrative and it allows the creators to use the formula and still deviate from the script. Throughout the comic book or movie there are a series of fundamental questions. Will the superhero be identified? When and under what circumstances will the superhero become a superhero? How will the superhero get back into his civilian identity without being identified?” [Daily Herald]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller reflects on the news that the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars will sell 1 million copies, and notes the last comic to do so was a Pokemon title in 1999. The last direct market comic to reach that mark was Batman #500 in 1993. Miller also delves deeper into history, pointing out that Marvel’s original Star Wars #1, released in 1977, also sold more than 1 million copies, making it the first comic to reach that height since Dell’s Uncle Scrooge in 1960. [Comichron]
Passings | Maurice Tanti Burlo, editorial cartoonist for the Times of Malta, has died at the age of 78. Burlo, who used the pen name Nalizpelra, was working for Telemalta in 1977 when Prime Minister Dom Mintoff suspended a number of Telemalta staff, including Burlo, for supporting doctors, nurses, and bankers who went on strike. Burlo started cartooning to “get back at Mintoff,” and just kept on doing it; he published three books of his work and won the BPC Award in 1998 an 2002. [Times of Malta]
Passings | Bermuda-based cartoonist Peter Woolcock died Wednesday after being struck by a car as he was walking to the office of The Royal Gazette to deliver his weekly cartoon. He was 88. Born and raised on a farm in Argentina, Woolcock served on a British tank crew in World War II (during which time he also kept a sketchbook) and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for almost 60 years, first for children’s magazines in the United Kingdom and then, after moving in 1981 to Bermuda, as an editorial cartoonist. Both his editors and the politicians he depicted have kind things to say in this lengthy obituary, which notes that his final cartoon was about San Diego losing the bid to host the America’s Cup. [The Royal Gazette]
Creators | Candorville cartoonist Darrin Bell talks about the political cartoons he drew in response to the non-indictments of the police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as his own experiences as a black man who got “the talk” when he was 6 or 7 years old and will some day have to give it to his own son. [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Brian Jacoby, owner of the Tallahassee, Florida, comic shop Secret Headquarters and a well-known presence on Twitter and comics discussion boards, died suddenly on Thanksgiving. The news was first released in a tweet from the store. His memorial service will be held Tuesday. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Bob Staake’s New Yorker cover showing a broken Gateway Arch in St. Louis, a commentary on the events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, received a lot of attention just before Thanksgiving — and even more when it got around that syndicated cartoonist R.J. Matson had drawn a similar cartoon in August. Matson brushes that aside, however, pointing out that editorial cartoonists often come up with similar visuals: “Finding a good joke is like solving a puzzle and very often there is one very best solution to the puzzle. Any cartoonist worth his salt would kick himself or herself for not finding that solution.” And when five cartoonists do it on the same day, he said, “we call it a Yahtzee.” [The Washington Post]
Legal | The saga of Hi Score Girl continues this week, with the Osaka Prefectural Police charging creator Rensuke Oshihiri and 15 employees of publisher Square Enix with copyright infringement. Game publisher SNK Playmore originally filed criminal charges against Square Enix over the summer, claiming that Hi Score Girl, a comedy about gamers, used its characters without permission. Square Enix has recalled the published volumes of the series and halted serialization in its Monthly Big Gangan magazine. [Anime News Network]
Passings | Political cartoonist and collector Art Wood, a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, died Nov. 4 at age 87. He donated more than 40,000 pieces of original cartoon art to the Library of Congress for its bicentennial, and the library published a book, Cartoon America, based on the collection. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
Legal | The Japanese publisher Square Enix has filed a counterclaim against SNK Playmore, asking Osaka District Court to rule that its manga Hi Score Girl doesn’t infringe on copyrights held by the video game company. Earlier this year, SNK brought criminal copyright violation charges against Square Enix after learning Hi Score Girl contains more than 100 unauthorized images of characters from SNK Playmore games. The manga has been put on hold because of the dispute. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Who’s buying, and how much are they spending, at conventions? Rob Salkowitz mines the numbers from a recent Eventbrite poll of convention-goers to get some answers: Most people spend between $100 and $500 per person; cosplayers actually spend a bit more than average; and women shell out more money at conventions, while men spend more online. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has apologized to readers who were offended by an editorial cartoon about India’s space program that depicted the country as a man in traditional dress, leading a cow and knocking at the door of the “Elite Space Club.” “The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries,” reads the apology, signed by editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Mr. Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text — often in a provocative way — to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens.” [The New Indian Express]
Conventions | Thousands filed into Moscow’s Crocus Expo over the weekend for what’s billed as Russia’s first-ever comic convention. While Misha Collins of long-running CW series Supernatural was a big celebrity draw, the main attraction appeared to be the idea of the convention itself. “I’ve wanted to come for years,” 31-year-old Elena Formina told The Guardian. “There have always been geeks and fans here, it’s just now they call it Comic-Con. American, Russian – all fans are the same. They love their heroes. It’s about sharing that love.” [The Guardian]
Passings | Italian comics creator Lorenzo Bartoli died Sunday at the age of 48. Bartoli made his comics debut in 1988 in the pages of the comic anthology L’Eternauta but is best known as the co-creator, with Roberto Recchioni, of John Doe, a comic about an employee of a firm that deals with the management of death. His series Dolls was published in the United sTates by Sirius, and his Morrigan appeared in Heavy Metal. He also wrote two cyberpunk novels under the name Akira Mishima. [Comicus]
Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.
In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]