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Comics A.M. | ‘Comic Con’ trademark feud nears an end

comic con banner

Legal | It looks as if the end is in sight in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con.” The organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego claim legal ownership of the term “Comic Con” and sued the producers of the Salt Lake City even in 2014 for trademark infringement. Although settlement talks have broken down before, attorneys for both sides say they’ve resolved many of their disagreements, and have asked a federal judge to give them until March 1 to work out the finer points of a deal. [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | Noelle Stevenson’s ‘Nimona’ earns Nebula nomination

nimona

Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona has been nominated for a Nebula Award, presented presented by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. As Gary Tyrrell points out, the Nebulas (unlike the Hugos) don’t have a specific graphic novel category; Nimona is nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. [SFWA]

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Comics A.M. | A look at Stan Lee’s complicated legacy

stan lee

Creators | Writing for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Abraham Reisman takes a warts-and-all look at the career and legacy of Stan Lee in a lengthy article article alternately titled “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” and “Why is Stan Lee’s Legacy in Question?” Peppered with quotes from the likes of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Mark Evanier, Colleen Doran, Paul Levitz and Mark Waid, it’s a deep dive into Lee’s history, touching upon everything from his disputes with one-time collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto to his more recent output to the state of his company POW! Entertainment, which by most indications is struggling. [Vulture]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Ms. Marvel’ wins Dwayne McDuffie diversity award

ms marvel

Awards | Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, won the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, presented over the weekend at Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, California. The other nominees were Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven, by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri;  Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin; Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos; and Zana, by Jean Barker and Joey Granger. The Beat has Wilson’s acceptance video. [Long Beach Comic Expo]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Naruto,’ ‘One-Punch Man’ top book store sales

Naruto Seventh Hokage

Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]

Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]

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Comics A.M. | Angouleme Grand Prix goes to Hermann

"Jeremiah" art by Hermann

“Jeremiah” art by Hermann

Awards | Jeremiah creator Hermann has been selected as the winner of the Angouleme International Comics Festival Grand Prix. The Belgian artist, who was a finalist last year, will serve as president of the 2017 festival. The prestigious award was mired in controversy this year when the longlist of nominees featured the names of 30 male creators but no women. Hermann is well known in the French-language comics world; some of his work has been published in English by Dark Horse. [Le Monde, YouTube]

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Comics A.M. | Ben Hatke’s ‘Little Robot’ wins children’s literature award

little robot

Awards | The Center for Children’s Books at the University of Illinois has chosen Ben Hatke’s Little Robot as the winner of this year’s Gryphon Award for Children’s Literature. The award honors children’s books that bridge the gap between being read to and reading on one’s own. “Hatke’s graphic novel is both cleverly crafted and utterly irresistible,” said Assistant Professor Deborah Stevenson, the head of CCB and chair of the committee. “Our young heroine is an admirable adventurer and capable wielder of a tool belt, and the little robot she finds, repairs, and befriends is an endearing pet/sidekick. The balance between wordless sequences and simple speech-balloon dialogue (plus the robot’s sound effects) will reassure tentative readers and encourage them to decode narrative from both visual and textual clues.” [University of Illinois]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Roller Girl’ named as Newbery Honor Book

Roller Girl

Roller Girl

Awards | Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, a graphic novel about a middle-schooler who joins a roller derby team that changes her life, was one of three children’s books named Newbery Honor Books over the weekend by the American Library Association during its midwinter meeting. The John Newbery Medal is given each year to the “most distinguished” children’s book published the previous year, and the Newbery Honor Books are basically the runners-up. Three other graphic novels were Honor Books in different categories: Liz Suburbia’s Sacred Heart won an Alex Award, given to adult novels with teen appeal; Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers, was a Mildred Batchelder Honor Book, which recognizes books originally published in languages other than English; and Don Brown’s Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a category that recognizes excellence in nonfiction young adult books. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Asterix’ still reigns supreme in France

Asterix and the Missing Scroll

Asterix and the Missing Scroll

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]

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Comics A.M. | The convention market ‘is starting to saturate’

New York Comic Con 2015

New York Comic Con 2015

Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman looks back at New York Comic Con 2015, which drew 167,000 people over four days; the increase came from making Thursday a full day, he says. Fensterman also offers some thoughts on conventions in general, saying the market is starting to become saturated, but not in terms of fans, who will always go to a cool show: “I think the saturation is more so on the side of content, and by content, I mean exhibitors, brands, guests, studios,” he says. “They don’t need that many shows.” Dealers will always show up, but, Fensterman says, “Fans don’t want to pay a ticket price to come in to spend money. There needs to be content that is engaging, exciting and unique. And there’s a limited quantity on that.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Comic Market draws 520,000 over three days

Comic Market 89 catalog

Comic Market 89 catalog

Conventions | The winter edition of Comic Market (aka Comiket), held Dec. 29-31 at the Tokyo Big Sight, drew 520,000 attendees across three days, down from 560,000 last year. (Note that figures are based on the number of visits to the convention site over the three days, rather than individual attendees.) The largest comic convention in the world, Comic Market is held each year in August and December. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to mark anniversary of attack with special issue

 

Publishing | French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will release a special double-size issue on Jan. 6 commemorating the one-year anniversary of the  jihadist attack on its Paris office by that left 12 people dead. One million copies will be produced of the issue, which will feature drawings by the cartoonists killed in the massacre, as well as illustrations by current staff members. A special “survivors issue” released after the attack sold 7.5 million copies worldwide. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | The state of the newspaper comics page

Evil Inc.

Evil Inc.

Comic strips | The end of Edge City has generated a conversation about newspaper comics in general. As co-creator Ray LaBan says, creating a comic strip was his childhood fantasy, and he got to do it, “But I got to do it when everybody stopped paying attention.” This article takes a broad view, looking at the fact that newspapers’ budgets for comics, like everything else, are shrinking, online portals are providing alternatives, and readers’ strong preferences for legacy strips like Beetle Bailey and Blondie, as well as safe topics, are limiting the opportunities for new strips. Universal UClick launches one new strip a year, according to president John Glynn. On the other hand, creator Brad Guigar is taking his comic Evil Inc. out of the Inquirer because he can do better with a more mature version, published online and supported through Patreon. With interviews with the syndicates, a newspaper features editor, and creators, this piece is a well rounded look at the current state of syndicated comics. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

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Comics A.M. | Charting the growth of the graphic novel market

"Drama," by Raina Telgemeier

“Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier

Publishing | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald assemble a roundtable of comics insiders to for a detailed discussion of how the graphic novel market has evolved over the past 10 years, how their own business models have evolved, and what challenges they expect the future to bring. “Graphic novels are now firmly established in the book market worldwide in every genre: superhero, creator-owned, kids, middle-grade, young adult, webcomic, media tie-ins … etc,” says Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales & marketing for Diamond Book Distributors. “While the overall book business is flat, most retailers are reporting comics/graphic novels and related merchandise as one of the few segments growing.” [Publishers Weekly]

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‘Saga,’ ‘Ms. Marvel’ and ‘Nimona’ among Angouleme finalists

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1

The 43rd Angouleme International Comics Festival takes place next month, and the organizers have released their list of nominated works in four categories: the Sélection Officielle (the general category), Sélection Jeunesse (young people), Sélection Patrimoine (classics and reprints) and Sélection Polar (mysteries and thrillers).

These graphic novels are eligible for the juried prizes at the festival, and they also make a pretty good reading list that spans the range of graphic novels being made today in Europe, North America, and Japan. As is usually the case, many have been published in English, so I’ll include the English titles, where they are different from the French titles, in parentheses.

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