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Comics A.M. | Details emerge about ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threats suspect

Kuroko's Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.

Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga may take a while

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

Manga | Hayao Miyazaki’s samurai manga will be serialized in the Japanese magazine Model Graphix, but progress is reportedly slow: Miyazaki, the director of classic animated films including My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, has completed just three pages. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg, who most recently has been drawing Nancy Drew graphic novels for Papercutz, was in a serious car accident recently, along with his wife Pauline. Tom Spurgeon suggests you send them a car. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | Cleveland’s small-press comics convention Genghis Con is this weekend, with a guest list that includes Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) and Mike Sangiacomo (Tales of the Starlight Drive-In). [The Plain Dealer]

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Box Brown’s ‘Andre the Giant’ biography unleashes its cover

andre-the-giant-cropped

A lifelong wrestling fan, Bellen! and Everything Dies creator (and Retrofit publisher) Box Brown will make his graphic-novel debut in May with Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a biography of the professional wrestler turned actor from First Second (ROBOT 6 interviewed Brown about the project last year). Grantland has a new Q&A with the cartoonist, along with a first look at the cover, which you can check out in full below.

“Every wrestler had a story about him, but wrestlers like to tell stories and like to embellish those stories and make them their own,” Brown tells Grantland’s The Triangle. “And they’re good at it! Even the stories that are generally accepted to be true about Andre have a mythic quality to them. I really wanted to convey his human side and that he was a multifaceted human being with all the same idiosyncrasies as anyone. In our lives, sometimes we are magnificent and sometimes we’re not so much and we’re everything in between.”

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‘Feynman’ creators reunite for Stephen Hawking biography

hawkingJim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick, creators of the bestselling Feynman, have reteamed for a graphic novel biography of renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, to be published in 2016 by First Second.

Titled Hawking, the book “will tell the story of how he made his place in the many worlds he inhabits, from the scientific to the celebrity… and how his discoveries have shown everyone how to understand our place in the universe.” Boing Boing has the official announcement and a preview.

“July 4, 2012 was a good day in physics and for Gordy Kane, Leland and me,” Ottaviani said in a statement. “Not only was the Higgs boson revealed to the world, but Gordy — a prominent physicist and author of The Particle Garden — won a long-standing $100 bet with his friend Stephen Hawking on whether there even was a Higgs. And in an email letting us know about these things, Gordy and his wife Lois also added an ‘Oh, by the way …’ They told us that Stephen had read and enjoyed our Feynman book (!) and invited us to come to Cambridge and talk about doing a book about him. We didn’t get on a plane that same afternoon, but we did start planning our trip, and this book. Like I said, a good day.”

First Second to publish Faith Erin Hicks’ ‘Nameless City’ trilogy

nameless cityFirst Second Books will publish a new graphic novel trilogy by Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong creator Faith Erin Hicks, beginning in 2016.

Compared by the publisher to Avatar: The Last Airbender and Jeff Smith’s Bone, The Nameless City is set in an intricate world inspired by Central Asia and the Silk Road, where “the besieged inhabitants of an ancient city are desperate to learn the secrets of the perished civilization which carved the city out of living rock.” The story centers on Nameless City native Rat, and Kai, whose country recently conquered her home, as they form an unlikely friendship as they try to foil an unlikely conspiracy.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that First Second Books will be publishing The Nameless City,” Hicks said in a statement.It’s a story that’s very close to my heart and something I’ve been working on for a few years.”

Hicks’ previous works include Zombies Calling, The War at Ellsmere, Friends With Boys and The Adventures of Superhero Girl.

‘Same Difference’ first GN selected for World Book Night U.S.

same-differenceDerek Kirk Kim’s Same Difference and Other Stories is among the selections for the 2014 World Book Night U.S., becoming the first graphic novel to earn the distinction. (Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges was chosen last year for the U.K. event.)

Celebrated around the globe on April 23, World Book Night was established in 2010 as a way to encourage more adults to read. Every year since the event was first observed in the United States in 2012, more than half a million books are given to people who might not typically have an opportunity to read.

First published in 2004, Kim’s award-winning debut graphic novel is the story of a group of young people attempting to navigate adulthood and personal relationships.

“It’s amazing to be the author of the first graphic novel included in this celebration of books and reading,” Kim said in a statement. “I never expected the places my book would take me; it’s wonderful that now, over a decade since it was first published, my story is still reaching new readers.”

Same Difference is in good, and varied, company on the 2014 list, alongside such books as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

Comics A.M. | New ‘Asterix’ lands in middle of political debate

Asterix and the Picts

Asterix and the Picts

Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]

Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]

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Comics A.M. | Acclaimed editorial cartoonist Roy Peterson dies

Roy Peterson

Roy Peterson

Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]

Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]

Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Edmonton Comic Expo attracts 25,000 fans

 Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo

Conventions | The second annual Edmonton Comic & Entertainment Expo attracted 25,000 people over the weekend, up from about 14,000 for the inaugural event. [Edmonton Journal]

Conventions | Tom Spurgeon reports in on MIX, the comics expo hosted by the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, this past weekend. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | And Lyndsey Hewitt was on the scene at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College. [Williamsport Sun-Gazette]

Conventions | Jim Steranko and Kim Deitch will be among the guests at the Locust Moon Comics Festival in Philadelphia this weekend. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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First look at Paul Pope’s poster for Miami Book Fair International

pope-poster-cropped

Miami Book Fair International has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at Paul Pope’s Generation Genius Days poster created for the 30th annual event. That of course is the artist’s own Battling Boy reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring while surrounded by monsters (the graphic novel debuts Oct. 8 from First Second).

Held Nov. 17-24 at Miami Dade MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami, this year’s fair will commemorate 500 years since Ponce de Leon landed in Florida by celebrating Spain’s culture literature. Famed Spanish comic artist Francesc Capdevila, better known as Max, created the event’s official poster.

The nation’s largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International includes as part of its programming Generation Genius Days (Nov. 21-24), which features learning and literacy activities for children and teens.

For more information about the fair, visit its website, Facebook page and Tumblr (which features a brief Q&A with Pope), and follow its Twitter and Instagram feeds.

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Comics A.M. | Gilbert Hernandez wins PEN Center USA award

Bumperhead

Bumperhead

Awards | Gilbert Hernandez is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Center USA award for outstanding body of work in graphic literature. Drawn and Quarterly announced the honor along with news that it will publish Hernandez’s next graphic novel, Bumperhead. [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | “SPX is all about the hugs,” says Heidi MacDonald, who relegates her business piece on the Small Press Expo to Publishers Weekly and turns to her blog to discuss not only her impressions but what folks were saying on social media. [The Beat]

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‘Boxers & Saints’ named National Book Award finalist

boxers and saints1

Gene Luen Yang’s two-volume Boxers & Saints is among the finalists for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. His 2006 work American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award.

Published by First Second Books, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories set against the backdrop of the Boxer Rebellion: the first is of Little Bao, a peasant boy who joins in the violent uprising against Westerners following the destruction of his village; and the second is of a girl taken in by Christian missionaries when her village has no place for her. Boxers & Saints was released just last week.

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Comics A.M. | Salt Lake con’s success reignites mega-hotel talk

salt lake comic con logoConventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]

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Delilah Dirk and the dedicated cartoonist: a chat with Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Tony Cliff didn’t have to escape jail, run from enraged armies or travel in flying ships to complete his debut graphic novel Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he had. The energy he invests in his story of a globetrotting, devil-may-care adventurer and the reluctant but noble soldier who inadvertently ends up tagging along suggests Cliff has a bit of the thrill-seeker in him, or at least in his pen.

Wanting to learn more about this former Flight cartoonist and his new book, I lobbed a bunch of questions to Cliff, who was nice enough to lob the answers back my way.

Robot 6: How did Delilah Dirk come to be? What was the original idea behind the character, and how did it change from the initial webcomic to Turkish Lieutenant?

Tony Cliff: It started off as a 30-page comic that I thought I’d put together just as a fun thing to do. I’d been reading a lot of Napoleonic War-era novels and wanted to make something in the same time period, with the sort of spirit I’d enjoyed in Indiana Jones and James Bond movies. Something fun, with a bunch of action and a variety of colorful settings.

I combined that first comic with a short story from the Flight anthologies, added a hundred pages to combine the two, and that became The Turkish Lieutenant as it appeared online. The print edition is more or less the same as the webcomic, though some of the text’s been finessed and there are roughly a dozen new pages of what has been described as “Delilah and Selim being cute in the woods,” a description whose accuracy I cannot dispute.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Cincinnati Comic Expo

Cincinnati Comic Expo

Cincinnati Comic Expo

Conventions | The fourth Cincinnati Comic Expo kicks off Friday, just a week after the inaugural Cincinnati ComicCon, but administrator Matt Bredestege says he thinks his show has a broader appeal: “We are more of a multigenre show. We have a lot of celebrities and vendors that aren’t comic-related. There’s also more cosplay (costuming) and activities for the kids.” Still, he says, local comics creators are the backbone of the show. The comics guest list includes Dough Mahnke, Art Baltazar, Eddy Barrows, Andy Bennett, Heather Breckel, Rich Buckler, Mike McKone, Yanick Paquette and Thom Zahler. [Journal News]

Creators | Writer Geoff Johns talks about the DC Comics crossover Forever Evil and how it will upend the publisher’s superhero universe while making an unlikely hero of Lex Luthor. [The Detroit News]

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