How "DC Universe: Rebirth" Fulfills Its Promise of Restoring Legacy to DC Comics
Graphic novels | The latest volume of Tokyo Ghoul topped the February BookScan chart of the bestselling graphic novels in the bookstore channel, and four volumes of that series made the top 20. The third volume of The Walking Dead Compendium took the second slot. Overall, the list is an interesting mix: It’s half manga, a couple of Marvel and DC Comcis titles, Dark Horse’s Plants vs. Zombies (an all-ages graphic novel based on a video game), and Philippa Rice’s Soppy: A Love Story, a print version of her webcomic about her life with her boyfriend. [ICv2]
Legal | Former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Maurice Sinet has sued philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy for calling him an anti-Semite. Levy wrote in an article in Le Point magazine that Sinet, who goes by the pen name Sine, was “a former employee of Charlie Hebdo who was kicked out for his anti-Semitism and racism.” Sine wrote an article in 2008 claiming that Jean Sarkozy, the son of the former French president, had dodged the consequences of a car accident by saying he was planning to convert to Judaism and marry a Jewish woman. The story was intended to be satirical, but it caused a controversy and he was ultimately fired from the magazine. [Times of Israel]
Festivals | More than 40 French publishers, including all the major publishers of graphic novels, have signed on to a press release saying they won’t participate in next year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival without significant, fundamental changes in the way it’s run. The signatories include almost every publisher that was at this year’s festival. Guy Delcourt, head of Delcourt publishing and the president of the BD commission of the national publishers’ association, said there have been problems with the festival for a long time, and attendance has been dropping, but after this year’s omission of any female nominees for the Grand Prix and the unfunny fake awards ceremony, he is fed up with the whole thing. Delcourt stopped short of calling for executive director Franck Bondoux to resign, saying the problem is not with one individual but with the entire structure of the festival, which is overly complex and opaque. The publishers have asked the Minister of Culture to name a mediator to work with them to solve the problema and give the festival, in Delcourt’s words, “the governance it deserves.” [ActuaBD]
Julie Maroh, Chloé Cruchaudet, TanXXX and Aurélie Neyret have announced publicly they will not accept the honor, which recognizes contributions to arts and literature in France. However, Riad Sattouf, author of Arab of the Future, released a statement saying he’ll “accept it with pleasure.”
Political cartoons | The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo is in the headlines again, this time because of a cartoon that asks “What would little Aylan have become if he grew up? A groper of buttocks in Germany.” The cartoon shows two lecherous men running after women; in an inset is a drawing of the famous photograph of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the coast of Turkey while fleeing Syria. The cartoon refers to reports that large numbers of men who appeared to be Arab robbed and sexually assaulted women in several German cities during the New Year’s celebrations. While many critics accused the magazine of racism, others countered that the cartoon is a commentary on how quickly European public opinion has swung from sympathy to xenophobia. The cartoon was drawn by Charlie Hebdo staffer Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who survived the deadly January 2015 attack on the magazine’s Paris offices.[CNN]
Collecting | For the better part of three decades, 78-year-old Ray Brown has been “rescuing” comic books and giving them a good home — namely, his. The South Dakota man estimates his collection includes some 75,000 comics, the bulk of which he purchased from five Rapid City-area stores that went out of business. “They take up a lot of room,” he says. “They don’t eat anything, though.” Brown doesn’t read them, however; instead he simply takes pleasure in saving them from the trash bin. He does sell a few on the Internet from time to time, but he’s in no hurry to get rid them. [Black Hills Fox]
Comics | Wim Lockefeer translates and digests the annual report of the ACBD, the French association of comics journalists, which reveals that Asterix continues to rule the roost: The latest album had a print run of 2.25 million, dwarfing the next largest, Titeuf, with 550,000. Overall, sales are up 3.5 percent, but some of the old standards — like Asterix — are down from their historical peaks. Oh, and relevant to the recent debate involving Angouleme: The report lists about 1,400 active comics creators in France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium, of whom only 173 are women. [Forbidden Planet]
I was an art student in 1979 when Germaine Greer’s The Obstacle Race was published. As it happened, most of the art majors that year were women, and we all read the book and spent late nights in our studios discussing it. Women had been completely absent from our art history courses, and Greer’s book opened our eyes to that fact and the reasons behind it — not a lack of talent, but a lack of recognition and encouragement — and often the deliberate placement of obstacles.
That wasn’t difficult to believe. The university I attended had only admitted women for five years and limited them to 25 percent of the student body at the time.
Passings | Spanish artist Luis Bermejo Rojo has passed away at age 84. Often credited as “Luis Bermejo” or just “Bermejo,” he began his career with Spanish comics in the 1940s and later was an artist for Warren Publishing’s Creepy as well as numerous British comics, from Girls’ Crystal to Battle Picture Library. “His work could turn the most banal of story lines into an absolute visual treat,” said fellow artist Ron Tiner. “His masterful grasp of narrative composition, his delicate ink line and consummate skill in the use of deep shadow endowed his story sequences with a bewitching, moonlit quality unmatched by any other artist-storyteller I ever saw.” [Down the Tubes]
Comics | Rob Salkowitz looks at the top five comics stories of the year, from the Charlie Hebdo shootings to convention consolidation. [ICv2]
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari was arrested Monday in the Teheran newspaper office where he works, a day after posting a cartoon on Instagram showing a weeping face with the Eiffel tower for a nose. According to Heidari’s co-workers, “a young man came with a warrant. He showed Hadi the warrant and they took him quietly.” They speculated that he was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization.
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in July has a decidedly different makeup than usual, with the 1988 one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke topping the list, and seven other DC Comics titles making the cut as well (however, just one of those, Batgirl, Vol. 1, is a new release). Other entries include hardy perennials American Born Chinese and Fun Home make the chart, perhaps as summer reading, and as always, the first volume of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Conventions | Denver, already home to one of the larger comics and pop culture conventions, is getting its own independent comics festival, the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo (DINK), which will launch in March. The show will be held in the Sherman Street Event Center, which organizer Charlie LaGreca describes as “like something out of a Wes Anderson movie,” and is looking for sponsors with ties to the community. “The pop-culture, big-box cons are amazing and incredible, and we have them in spades now. They provide such a huge array [of options],” said LaGreca, a Denver Comic Con co-founder who exited the organization last year in a highly publicized dispute. “What’s cool about this is we can bring the focus back to just art and comics and the cross-pollination of what it means for art. It’s really embracing all comics genres, not [just] focused on sci-fi and superheroes and stuff like that.” [Westword]
Manga | Kentaro Miura’s action-fantasy manga Berserk has 35 million copies in print — 27 million in Japan, and 8 million overseas — Hakusensha’s Young Animal magazine announced today. Miura returned to the series this week after a 10-month hiatus. The manga, which centers on a pair of mercenaries in a medieval Europe-inspired fantasy world, debuted in 1989; 37 volumes have been released to date. Dark Horse holds the license to Berserk in North America. [Anime News Network]
Crime | Russell Brandom and Colin Lecher describe a fascinating case in which comics figured in two types of crimes, money laundering and theft of evidence. Along the way, they explain the importance of grading, how slabbing works, and why it’s pointless to steal a really valuable comic that’s already known to collectors. [The Verge]
Passings | Artist and writer Alan Kupperberg has died of thymus cancer at the age of 62. Kupperberg got his start writing dummy letters for Marvel in the late 1960s, then moved to the production department at DC and in 1974 was hired by the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard comics, where he played a variety of roles, including letterer, colorist, and editor. That company folded after a year, and he went to Marvel, where he worked on a number of different titles, including The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Savage Sword of Conan, and Amazing Spider-Man. He created the one-shot comic Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men working entirely solo, and he drew the weekly Howard the Duck newspaper comic as well as the comic-strip version of The Incredible Hulk and Little Orphan Annie. His magazine work included National Lampoon, Cracked, and Spy. Kupperberg also taught at the School for Visual Arts, and he was the brother of writer Paul Kupperberg. [ICv2]
Manga | Hiromi Bando has translated Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen into Chinese and is looking for a publisher, but she has been told the Chinese government will not approve its publication. Bando, who is Japanese, was inspired to translate the manga, an eyewitness account of the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath, after hearing of her father’s experiences fighting in China during World War II. The manga is taught in the original Japanese in a few universities in China. [Asahi Shimbun]
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Awards | Roz Chast won the Reuben Award for cartoonist of the year, presented over the weekend in Washington, D.C., by the National Cartoonists Society. Divisional award winners of note include Jules Feiffer (Kill My Mother) for Graphic Novel, Jason Latour (Southern Bastards) for Comic Book, Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots) for Online Comics-Short Form, Minna Sundberg (Stand Still, Stay Silent) for Online Comics-Long Form, Hilary Price (Rhymes with Orange) for Newspaper Panel Cartoon, and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) for Newspaper Comic Strip. [National Cartoonists Society]