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Comics A.M. | Thrillbent launches new iPad app

Thrillbent

Thrillbent

Digital comics | The digital comics publisher Thrillbent has launched its own iPad app, which allows users to read Thrillbent comics and also load in their own comics in PDF, CBR and CBZ formats via Dropbox. [iTunes]

Publishing | Diamond Comic Distributors is dropping the price of its monthly Previews catalog from $4.50 to $3.99 with the January issue (in stores Dec. 24). That, as the company notes, is “the average price of a standard monthly comic book.” [PreviewsWorld]

Publishing | Dark Horse plans to publish the historical graphic novel Nanjing: The Burning City, by Ethan Young (Tails). [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | $2,000 Dunny figure stolen at New York Comic Con

The stolen Dunny

The stolen Dunny

Crime | A man was spotted on security video last week at New York Comic Con stealing a one-of-a-kind, 20-inch Dunny figure hand-painted by by Jon-Paul Kaiser valued at $2,000, plus two other items, from the Clutter Magazine booth. [DNAinfo New York]

Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who uses the pen name “Biantai Lajiao” (Perverted Chili Pepper), has applied for a visa to remain in Japan, saying he’s afraid to return to China. Liming’s account on the Chinese social media site Weibo, where he published his cartoons, was shut down in August, and the People’s Daily newspaper has called him a traitor and accused him of being pro-Japan. Last year, he was arrested and held overnight on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance.” “China’s situation surrounding freedom of speech has worsened during these six months,” Wang said in an interview. “I have no idea where the borderline is (between what is permissible and what is not anymore).” [The Asahi Shimbun]

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Roz Chast’s memoir shortlisted for National Book Award

chast-cant we talkRoz Chast’s acclaimed memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is among the five nonfiction finalists for the 2014 National Book Award, announced this morning by the National Book Foundation. It’s the first graphic novel to be nominated in one of the adult categories.

The first memoir from the longtime New Yorker cartoonist, the bestseller centers on Chast’s efforts to care for her aging parents in their final years.

The other nonfiction finalists are: Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes; John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh; Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China; and Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence. The winner will be announced Nov. 19 during a ceremony hosted by author Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket.

In 2006, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese became the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award when it was recognized in the Young People’s Literature division. His Boxers & Saints was shortlisted last year in the same category.

Also the author of Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006, Chast illustrated Steve Martin’s bestselling children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z.

Comics A.M. | A peek behind the scenes of New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

Conventions | ReedPOP Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about how New York Comic Con reached 151,000 attendees this year, what went well, what could have gone better, and what he learned for next time. The new badges and check in/check out system, introduced last year, let producers know exactly how long people stayed at the show, and that turned into a nice surprise for two attendees: “There was a couple [last year] who literally spent every minute that was possible at New York Comic Con for three and a half days. We reached out to them and did something special for them—gave them a bunch of free stuff and free tickets because they were at the show longer than anyone who wasn’t paid to be at the show.” [ICv2]

Political cartoons | Egyptian cartoonists Mohamed Anwar and Andeel discuss the difficulty of critiquing Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who doesn’t tolerate dissent; Anwar is a cartoonist for a mainstream newspaper and pulls some punches as the tradeoff for reaching a wide audience, while Andeel has moved over to the alternative press, where he can speak more freely. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Guardians’ clings to September bookstore chart

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1

Graphic novels | Although BookScan’s September list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores is populated largely by old stalwarts — The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan, Saga, WatchmenGuardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1, the only Marvel title on the chart, clung to the Top 20 in its second month of release (although it slipped from No. 4. to No. 20). Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds, meanwhile, climbed in its third month to No. 6. One new manga debuted at No. 12: Noragami, about a homeless god who does odd jobs as he tries to build up his reputation; the anime is already out, which probably gave it a boost. [ICv2]

Publishing | A television reporter pays a visit to the Last Gasp offices to talk about the Kickstarter recently launched by the longtime publisher of underground comics (and other quirky books). It’s worth a look just to see the owner’s amazing collection of oddities. [NBC Bay Area]

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‘Persepolis’ survives Illinois school challenge

free-persepolis-1-300x288The Ball-Chatham School Board in Chatham, Illinois, voted unanimously this week to keep Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis on a reading list for seniors at Glenwood High School.

Mike Housewirth, the father of a student, had asked that the graphic novel be removed from the list, questioning the teacher’s judgment in assigning a book about Muslims on Sept. 11. He also objected to the book’s depictions of torture (particularly one in which a guard urinates on a prisoner) and dismembered bodies.

“If my son had drawn a picture like that at school, he would have been expelled,” Housewirth said, adding that while he felt his son was mature enough to read the book, the overall tone was “appalling.”

“Reading controversial material does not hurt students or corrupt them,” countered Glenwood High School Principal Jim Lee. Students don’t simply read a book and accept it at face value, he added; they use it as a springboard for discussion and reach their own conclusions.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ blackmailer withdraws appeal

Kuroko's Basketball, Vol. 24

Kuroko’s Basketball, Vol. 24

Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has withdrawn the appeal of his conviction last month on charges of sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues in Japana connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 37-year-old former temporary worker admitted to all charges during his first day in court, but mpoved to have his conviction overturned after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Watanabe, who said he doesn’t feel guilty for what he did and won’t apologize, acknowledged that he sent the letters out of jealousy of the success of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. [Anime News Network]

Manga | The most promising new market for manga right now? India, where the comics market in general is exploding. Kevin Hamric of Viz Media says manga is already well known there and fans can’t get enough, while Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP, the company behind New York Comic Con, talks about the planned collaboration with Comic Con India. The one obstacle: the same one that afflicted the American manga market, Japanese publishers’ reluctance to license their properties. [The Japan Times]

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Comics A.M. | San Diego & Salt Lake cons to meet about lawsuit

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Legal | A conference has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in San Diego to discuss a possible settlement in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the latter’s use of “Comic Con.” Comic-Con International filed lawsuit last month, claiming Salt Lake organizers are attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term. Salt Lake Comic Con formally responded on Monday, denying those accusations and asking a federal court to find Comic-Con International’s trademarks invalid. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

Banned Books Week | Reporter Sydney Gillette gets the local angle on Banned Books Week, talking with a local comics retailer and a librarian. While Missoula, Montana, has very few book challenges, the most recent one at the public library involved a graphic novel, The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. Neither the public libraries nor the schools in the area have ever removed a book in response to a challenge. [Montana Kaimin]

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Comics A.M. | Jeff Smith, Keith Knight & more on censorship

Jeff Smith's Banned Books Week poster

Jeff Smith’s Banned Books Week poster

Banned Books Week | National Public Radio’s Lynn Neary covers Banned Books Week, with interviews with frequently banned creators Jeff Smith (Bone) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants). Although Smith acknowledges he was initially shocked to see his acclaimed fantasy adventure among the 10 most challenged books of 2013, he soon came to terms with the distinction. “I mean my heroes are on this list,” he says. “People like Mark Twain and Steinbeck and Melville and Vonnegut, so part of me also kind of says, ‘OK, fine I can be on this list.'” [NPR]

Banned Books Week | Michael Dooley runs a brief excerpt from Fun Home, and Keith Knight does a show-and-tell of his comics that were too controversial for some newspapers. [Print Magazine]

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Winners announced for 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards

rat queens1The winners of the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto. Named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world.

In addition to the traditional awards, this year’s event included the introduction of the T.M. Maple Award, which honors “someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community.” The first recipients were the late Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple, who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994, and the late Debra Jane Shelly, longtime volunteer at Toronto conventions and comics events.

The winners are listed in bold below. The Beat has photos and audio from the ceremony, held at Back Space Toronto.

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Moebius and more populate this week’s Shelf Porn

01 pano porn

Happy Saturday and welcome to Shelf Porn, where each week we feature one fan’s collection. Today’s shelves come from Austin Tinius, comics creator and publisher at Bogus Publishing.

If you’d like to see your collection right here on Robot 6, you can find complete details at the end of this post.

And now let’s hear from Austin …

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Tempers flare at school board meeting in fight about ‘Persepolis’

persepolisA school board meeting in Murphy, Oregon, turned heated Tuesday when a board member went head to head with parents about Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis.

According to the Medford Mail Tribune, the parents object to the availability of the graphic novel in the Three Rivers School District’s high school libraries. Some contend teenagers shouldn’t have access to the book without parental approval.

Depicting Satrapi’s experience as a child and young adult in Iran during the Islamic revolution, Persepolis has received almost universal acclaim. The 2007 animated adaptation directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud was nominated for an Academy Award. The graphic novel was at the center of a controversy in March 2013, when Chicago Public Schools ordered its removal, sparking protests from parents, teachers and student. That order was quickly rescinded, but CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett asked that Persepolis no longer be taught to seventh-graders, as it may not be appropriate for that age group.

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales up 10% in bookstores this year

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Graphic novels | Sales of graphic novels are up 10 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to Neilsen BookScan, which tracks sales in bookstores and other general retail channels. In terms of unit sales, that’s about 5.6 million books sold this year, as opposed to 5.1 million in 2013. The trend is echoed by Diamond Comic Distributors’ numbers for the direct market, which show graphic novels up 3.8 percent in dollars and 5.8 percent in unit sales year to date. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Alison Bechdel is having a busy week: Following the news that she has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, she announced her new book: The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a memoir of her obsession with exercise and a history of American fitness fads, to be published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [The New York Times]

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Fantagraphics announces micro imprint FU Press

fu press2Ahead of this weekend’s Small Press Expo, Fantagraphics has launched of a micro imprint devoted to publishing limited editions of quirky or “off-kilter” books by established creators and relative unknowns, as well as archival work by significant cartoonist, that might not fare as well in the traditional marketplace.

In the words of the press release, Fantagraphics Underground Press (aka FU Press) will release limited runs of between 100 to 500 copies that appeal “to a smaller, more rarefied readership.” The books and print projects will be sold at comics festivals and at select stores in North America.

FU Press will debut Saturday at SPX with Jonah Kinigstein’s The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Tower of Babel in the “Art” World, an 80-page oversized collection of political cartoons, and a 144-page compilation of Jason Karns’ Fukitor.

Future projects include portfolios by Richard Sala and Guy Colwell, and a reprint of George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again.

Read the full press release below:

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Small Press Expo

SPX

SPX

Conventions | With the 20th Small Press Expo kicking off Saturday in Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post’s Lori McCue singles out three of the show’s biggest draws: appearances by Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Bob Mankoff. Meanwhile, Michael Cavna spotlights Fear, My Dear, the new release from convention guest Dean Haspiel. [The Washington Post]

Creators | As he prepared to head out to Small Press Expo, Farel Dalrymple paused for an audio interview about his newest book, The Wrenchies, which will debut at the show. [Comics Grinder]

Creators | Writer Tom Taylor teases what we can expect in his new Superior Iron Man series. [Previews World]

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