Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
(photo via The Foreign Desk)
Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]
Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility,” the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. “It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.” Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]
Legal | No, the lengthy battle over the rights to the Man of Steel still isn’t over. Attorneys for Warner Bros. and the family of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel on Tuesday were back before the Ninth Circuit to argue once again whether Siegel’s daughter Laura Siegel Larson was entitled to rescind a 2001 settlement agreement. The outlook doesn’t appear promising for the Siegel family. [Courthouse News Service, The Beat]
Political cartoons | The group Palestinian Media Watch has critiqued the cartoons of Palestinian political cartoonist Mohammad Sabaaneh as anti-Semitic, saying they dehumanize Jews and portray them as villains. Sabaaneh, who has done time in an Israeli prison, counters that he is simply reflecting the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his cartoons. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Responding to the removal of Maus from Moscow bookstores as the Russian government cracks down on Nazi symbols, Art Spiegelman said, “It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory. We don’t want cultures to erase memory.” Retailers fear the swastika on the graphic novel’s cover may be enough to run afoul of a new law prohibiting “Nazi propaganda” as the country prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany. “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously,” the cartoonist told The Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.” [The Guardian]
CeCe Bell’s graphic memoir El Deafo today earned a prestigious Newbery Honor for outstanding contribution to children’s literature, while Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer became the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor and only the second to be recognized with a Printz Honor.
The awards were announced this morning by the American Library Association at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
Auctions | An original 1939 drawing of Tintin created by Herge for the cover of the weekly magazine Le Petit Vingtième sold Sunday for $673,468 at an auction of French and Belgian comics art held simultaneously in Paris and Brussels. The auction featured 101 works, of which 86 were purchased for a total of $2.4 million. [Agence France-Presse]
Auctions | A copy of The Hulk #181, featuring the first appearance of Wolverine, fetched $8,000 at an auction held Saturday at Back to the Past comics store in Redford, Michigan. [My Fox Detroit]
Retailing | System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan, who shuttered his online store Torpedo Comics in 2010 after about three years in business, is looking to open a brick-and-mortar shop. A brief story notes that while Las Vegas store Comic Oasis, owner Derrick Taylor is partnering with Dolmayan to open Torpedo Comics in January at 8775 Lindell Road, Building H, Suite 150. [Vegas Inc.]
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]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It’s snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there’s something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it’s become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.
Awards | The finalists for the inaugural Kirkus Prize literary awards include two graphic novels: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is one of six nominees in the Nonfiction category, and Cece Bell’s El Deafo is one of the picks for the Young Readers award. The winners in all three categories, who will receive $50,000 each, will be announced during a ceremony held Oct. 23 in Austin, Texas. [The Washington Post]
Manga | A prequel to Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy manga is in the works for the Japanese magazine Monthly Hero’s. Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, is supervising the production of the story, which focuses on the time before the “birth” of the iconic robot boy. [Anime News Network]
Banned Books Week | National Public Radio’s Lynn Neary covers Banned Books Week, with interviews with frequently banned creators Jeff Smith (Bone) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants). Although Smith acknowledges he was initially shocked to see his acclaimed fantasy adventure among the 10 most challenged books of 2013, he soon came to terms with the distinction. “I mean my heroes are on this list,” he says. “People like Mark Twain and Steinbeck and Melville and Vonnegut, so part of me also kind of says, ‘OK, fine I can be on this list.'” [NPR]
Banned Books Week | Michael Dooley runs a brief excerpt from Fun Home, and Keith Knight does a show-and-tell of his comics that were too controversial for some newspapers. [Print Magazine]
Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]
Book Expo America is the annual trade show where publishers promote their upcoming books to retailers and librarians. BEA is all about books, but comics and graphic novels are a growing presence. Diamond had a dedicated area, as it has in previous years, several comics publishers had their own booths, and several of the big publishers featured graphic novels alongside their other titles, most notably Hachette, which gave quite a bit of space to Yen Press.
I spent Friday at the show looking at which books the publishers were drawing the most attention to. Here’s a very subjective account of what I saw.
Kid stuff! Children’s and YA graphic novels have been hot for a couple of years, and the news that Raina Telgemeier’s Sisters is getting a 200,000 copy initial print run got a lot of buzz. Of course, the BEA crowd has been on board with her work for a while, and they lined up in droves for her book signing. The same was true of Jeff Kinney, who was signing copies of The Wimpy Kid School Planner at the Abrams booth; the crowd just kept on coming. And the staff at the BOOM! Studios table were hustling as attendees grabbed copies of their Adventure Time and Bravest Warrior collections as well as their third original Peanuts graphic novel, Peanuts: The Beagle Has Landed, which takes Snoopy to the moon.