"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
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]
Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.”
The charges stem from a cartoon Farghadani posted online that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with the heads of cows and monkeys. A painter as well as a cartoonist, Farghadani was also charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” because she mingled with the relatives of political prisoners and members of the Baha’i faith during an exhibit of her paintings of protesters killed by the Iranian government.
Libraries | Digital media distributor Midwest Tape has announced a new e-book and comics service for libraries, which will be accessed via its hoopla platform. Unlike the widely used Overdrive, the service will allow multiple checkouts for a single book, rather than limiting checkouts to one user at a time. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | The trial began Tuesday for Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani on charges of spreading propaganda and insulting members of parliament, stemming from a cartoon she posted on Facebook depicting politicians as monkeys and other animals. Farghadani has been an activist in other ways as well, meeting with the families of people killed during the 2009 presidential elections. She was arrested last August and sent to prison, released, and then arrested again after posting a video online describing beatings by prison guards. She has been in solitary confinement since January and suffered a heart attack in February, after being on a hunger strike for three weeks. [The Washington Post]
Creators | Saying his job has become “too much to bear,” cartoonist Renald Luzier (Luz) is leaving the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He said he worked too hard in the aftermath of the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in which 12 people, most of them his co-workers, were killed, and he did not give himself time to grieve. “I needed time but I carried on for solidarity and not to let anyone down,” he said. However, the loss is taking its toll: “Each issue is torture because the others are gone.” He had previously announced he would no longer draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, saying it no longer interested him, and he is tired of the media attention. “We are not heroes, we have never been, we never meant to be,” he said. “Everyone evokes the spirit of Charlie for anything and everything now.” [The Independent]
Creators | Fast Company named writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as one of its 100 “Most Creative People in Business 2015,” a list that includes innovators in technology, scientific research, entertainment, medicine and social media. The writer of such comics as Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick is cited specifically for “reanimating a superhero,” Captain Marvel. [Fast Company]
Awards | Bad Blood, the Dark Horse miniseries written by Jonathan Maberry and illustrated by Tyler Crook, won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a graphic novel, presented over the weekend by the Horror Writers Association. [Horror Writers Association]
Conventions | Calgary Expo organizers asked an exhibitor to leave after learning the group had misrepresented itself and is affiliated with GamerGate. The group, Honey Badger Radio, raised money through crowdfunding to set up a booth at the convention, but registered under a different name (as explained on the crowdfunding site, they were in “stealth mode”). At the convention, the exhibitor displayed a poster with a GamerGate logo and monopolized the Q&A session at a panel on women in comics. In a statement released on Twitter, the event organizers said, “The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate … so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows.” [The Mary Sue]
Libraries | Michael Cavna talks to Drama creator Raina Telgemeier and Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about graphic novel challenges in libraries and why Drama made the American Library Association’s 2014 list of 10 most challenged books. [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | The East African cartoonist Gado has been let go from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, apparently due to pressure from the government. The move came after the newspaper’s owner met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s been pushing the publication to drop some its contributors critical of his government. Gado’s cartoons about various scandals, and his depictions of the president as a prisoner with a ball and chain and as a turbaned Sikh (following an attempted land grab that involved four entrepreneurs named Singh) have clearly hit a nerve. [Spy Ghana] Continue Reading »
“I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against ‘self-censorship,’ one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority — her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.
[…] What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”
— Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, no stranger to controversy, talking about Charlie Hebdo‘s Prophet Muhammad cartoons as part of his remarks on receiving the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University.
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto ended its weekly serialization in Shonen Jump magazine in November, but a spinoff miniseries, Naruto Gaiden: Nanadaime Hokage to Akairo no Hanatsuzuki (Naruto Spinoff: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring Month), will launch in the April 27 issue of Japanese Shonen Jump. The magazine teases, “”Urgent News: The story enters a new generation …” [Anime News Network]
Passings | MAD Magazine writer Lou Silverstone has died at age 90. Silverstone was the writer of many of MAD‘s movie and television satires in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with “Bananaz,” a parody of Bonanza. Later he went to work for Cracked, MAD‘s chief competition, and he also wrote for the Jackson 5 animated series and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic, a gig that he got through former MAD artist Wally Wood. The MAD website also pays tribute to Silverstone. [News From ME]
Conventions | Oregon’s Cherry City Comic Con has a new owner and a new attitude. The con fell on hard times last year, and at one point this year’s show was canceled. New owner John Roache bought the show when he heard that news; he and his wife, artist Nicole Brune, had been to last year’s show and enjoyed it. He’s keeping the name but changing the format to more of a pop-culture convention, with a long list of entertainment guests, and he has expanded the number of slots available for vendors. The show is scheduled for April 11-12. [Statesman Journal]
Conventions | The annual scramble for discounted Comic-Con International rooms in 54 participating hotels kicks off Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Comic-Con badger holders should’ve already received an email containing a link to the Travel Planners hotel reservation website. [Toucan]
Passings | Michael Cavna remembers cartoonist Jim Berry, who died Friday at age 83: “Berry’s World, the syndicated single-panel feature that he drew for 40 years, beginning in 1963, was a remarkably steady stream of thoughtful observational humor that — like the unfussy art itself — rarely seemed to strain for the laugh. Each gag, as steady as a top golfer’s approach shots, just ‘landed.’ Precision meets concision.” [Comic Riffs]
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
Legal | Police interrupted a launch event for Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, claiming he didn’t have a proper permit. The book, ROS in Kangkongland, makes fun of the Malaysian prime minister’s wife. Zunar tweeted from the event that 20 officers had shown up. “It is ridiculous to have 20 police personnel interfere in this event. This book is not even banned, I don’t even know what offence I have committed,” he said. In the end he shut down the event but told attendees they could order the books online. Zunar is scheduled to speak at the United Nations this week on the topic of freedom of speech. [The Malaysian Insider]
Manga | Japanese publisher East Press has released a manga adaptation of the Koran as part of its series devoted to classic or historical literature. “The Koran is the foundation of the daily life and ideology of people who believe in the teachings of Islam,” the publisher writes on its website. “The name Islam is often heard in the daily news, but because we Japanese aren’t usually familiar with it, a perverted image [of Islam] as abstemious or linked to terrorism is liable to persist. So what kind of teachings do [Muslims] actually believe in? What are they thinking about? To understand the modern international community and Islam, let’s try to experience the scriptures where all that is written down.” East Press has adapted 133 famous works, ranging from War and Peace to the Bible to Mein Kampf. [Anime News Network]
The Cartoonists Rights Network International has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to extend its efforts, which include advocating for freedom of speech, getting the word out when a cartoonist is in peril, and working behind the scenes to aid cartoonists in trouble.
The organization offers a downloadable manual for cartoonists, and also presents the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award each year to “a cartoonist who is in great danger or has demonstrated exceptional courage in the exercise of free speech rights, or both.”