Tynion Promises Cassandra Cain, Grayson & Bluebird Are Vital to "Batman and Robin Eternal"
Gilbert Shelton, creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, recently turned 75, and the digital comics app Sequential is celebrating with a free collection of his work.
It includes some classic Freak Brothers strips, covers and a history of the comic, as well as a few interesting bits of ephemera such as the package design for the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers rolling papers and the label for Tall Toad ale, Fat Freddy’s favorite brew. The sampler is available for free through the end of June.
Shelton was one of the pillars of the underground comics movement of the 1960s and early 1970s, a co-founder of Rip Off Press as well as the creator of the Freak Brothers and Wonder Wart-Hog. He was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame in 2012 (I was proud to be one of the judges that year).
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar is being investigated once more under the country’s Sedition Act, his lawyer revealed Tuesday. Three of Zunar’s assistants were arrested last week for selling two of his books, neither of which has been officially banned, and his webmaster has been summoned to talk to police on Thursday. Zunar has also been called in for questioning at a future date. What’s more, the Malaysian Home Ministry has appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision to remove the ban on two of Zunar’s other books. [Malaysia Chronicle]
Publishing | Red Giant Entertainment has announced that retailers ordered about 900,000 copies each of its four anthology comics, which are ad-supported and will be given away for free. The company, which also releases digital comics and paid print comics, kicked off this program with a package of four zero issues on Free Comic Book Day. [ICv2]
Manga | The widow of Barefoot Gen creator Keiji Nakazawa, has found 16 pages of penciled notes and sketches for a possible sequel to Nakazawa’s semi-autobiographical account of living through the Hiroshima bombing and its aftermath. Before he died in December, Nakazawa donated the first 16 pages of the projected volume to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; this is the outline for the second set of pages. The new story would have taken Gen to Tokyo to become a manga creator, just as Nakazawa did in real life. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Glen Weldon, who writes about comics for National Public Radio, explains why he, as a gay man, won’t be reading Orson Scott Card’s issues of Adventures of Superman: “DC Comics has handed the keys to the ‘Champion of the Oppressed’ to a guy who has dedicated himself to oppress me, and my partner, and millions of people like us. It represents a fundamental misread of who the character is, and what he means. It is dispiriting. It is wearying. It is also, finally, not for me.” [NPR]
Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.
To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
“5 years, 20 volumes, 72 artists, and 2,352 pages of comics.” Strictly by the numbers — taken from the Editor’s Notes that kick off Mome Vol. 20: Fall 2010, on sale this month — Fantagraphics’ signature anthology is a force to be reckoned with. Launched in 2005 with the intention of providing a regular home for new work by promising young cartoonists like Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Anders Nilsen, Paul Hornschemeier, and Sophie Crumb, it rapidly evolved into something else, something arguably more: a showcase for alternative comics of nearly every style and stripe. During its five-year history, Mome‘s diverse accomplishments have included publishing work from European greats like David B. and Lewis Trondheim, serializing Tim Hensley’s acclaimed graphic novel Wally Gropius, reintroducing Al Columbia to the comics scene prior to the release of his landmark Pim & Francie, giving Dash Shaw yet another forum for his experimental take on science fiction, providing an unlikely venue for underground legend Gilbert Shelton, showcasing up-and-comers like Jon Vermilyea and Nate Neal…and, like all anthologies, starting a good deal of debate over which contributors were any good at all. With its like-clockwork quarterly schedule, Mome is a go-to destination for finding out what’s going on at comics’ cutting edge.
Presiding over all this has been editor Eric Reynolds, who inherited full control of the anthology from original co-editor and co-publisher Gary Groth. When last I spoke to Reynolds about Mome in October of 2007, he was prepping Vol. 10, which sported a new look, new work from Columbia, and the second half of a story by altcomix titan Jim Woodring. Three years and ten issues later, the series has gotten a full-on makeover from designer Adam Grano, and is in the midst of some of its most challenging work ever from Shaw, Josh Simmons, Derek Van Gieson and more. What has changed, what has remained constant, and what lies in store? Reynolds spoke with Robot 6 about all this and more in a fifth-anniversary interview.
If I’d ask you five years ago to describe what Mome Vol. 20 would look like, what would you have said?
I would’ve said there’s no way this thing’s going to last 20 issues. Really, I’m sure I would have had no other answer.
I first started covering the comics industry in the late 1990s, and at first I had a mindset of trying to cover the mainstream stuff, DC and Marvel. Fortunately I soon broadened my horizons and started to cover independent and/or mini-comics creators. More recently, when I learned that Fantagraphics had tapped Michael Dowers to edit and compile Newave! The Underground Mini Comix of the 1980s, I jumped at the chance to interview him. Here’s a rundown of the book from Fantagraphics (plus a Flickr flipthrough of the book): “Newave! is a gigantic collection of the best small press cartoonists to emerge in the 1970s after the first generation of underground cartoonists (such as R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, and Art Spiegelman) paved the way. These cartoonists, inspired by the freewheeling creative energy of the underground comix movement, began drawing and printing their own comix. The most popular format was an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet, folded twice, and printed at local, pre-Kinkos print shops on letter-size paper; because of the small size, they were dubbed ‘mini comix.’ As they evolved many different artists, one by one, became interested in this do-it-yourself phenomenon. By the 1980’s they became known as Newave Comix, a term taken from England’s Newave rock ’n’ roll movement. An explosion of do-it-yourself artists emerged. Many talented artists went onto bigger and better things, others have disappeared into the fog never to be heard from again.” The collection is a staggering 892 pages–and Fantagraphics offers a 32-page preview here.
Tim O’Shea: The book is dedicated in “Memory of Michael Roden, Clay Geerdes, and R.K. Sloane”. Would you mind telling folks a little bit about each of them?
Michael Dowers: All three of these guys were very dedicated to what they were doing. It was their lives. Michael Roden was a very creative type and not only drew and made mini comix, but was a musician, a sculptor, and an entertainer. This man lived and breathed creativity almost all his life. Clay Geerdes was extremely dedicated to the world of underground comix. He saw Newave as the new underground and was responsible for encouraging, inspiring, and developing many cartoonists along he way. I do believe that Newave would have been a very different world with out him. R.K. Sloane was an amazing creative mind. He had accomplished many things in his life. In the early days he even had real underground comic published before undergrounds died in the latter 70’s. He made a movie called “Goblins” in the latter 70’s and went on to draw comics working for people like Big Daddy Roth. I met R.K. Sloane right around this time and published a full size comic of Big Daddy Roth’s RAT FINK drawn by Sloane. He went on to be one of the best of low-brow surrealistic painters that Robert Williams influenced before Sloane died. We will miss all three of these highly creative and influential people.