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Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
By Roz Chast
In Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Roz Chast has produced an amazingly honest and clear-eyed memoir of her relationship with her parents in their declining years. It’s both a universal story of something many of us will go through and a very particular account of a single family of quirky individuals.
Chast had an unusual upbringing: She was an only child (a sister died at birth 14 years before she was born), and her parents had her late in life, so she always felt like a bit of an interloper. Her mother had a domineering personality and a sharp temper — she described her own outbursts as “A blast from Chast.” Her father was quieter, easier to get along with, but also plagued by anxieties and phobias, which led him to rely completely on her mother. They were, as Chast describes them, “a tight little unit,” and they seemed to believe that if they carefully avoided the subject of future unpleasantness, nothing would change. She depicts this perfectly in a single panel in which the hooded figure of Death roars “What’s THIS??? The Chasts are talking about me! Why, I’ll show THEM!!!”
Crime | Wichita, Kansas’ KWCH TV is showcasing the Nov. 19 burglary of comics and collectibles store Riverhouse Traders as its Crime Stoppers crime of the week. The thieves apparently knew what they were looking for, and stole a reported $300,000 worth of rare comic books and memorabilia, leaving owner Mark Rowland with an unwanted shift in priorities: He has always given free comics to local children who get As on their report cards, and he provides gifts to local families at Christmas, but this year he has to cut back to pay for a security system. [KWCH]
Creators | Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Terry Dodson discuss their new graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth One. George Perez and Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans were Lemire’s gateway to comics, so he was particularly enthusiastic about this project, and, he that affected his choice of a cast: “My decision early on was just to use the unique characters that Marv and George created that weren’t sidekicks, and that freed me from having to establish the adult superheroes in this world.” [Comic Riffs]
Cartoonist Jose Garcia has been hard at work on a 120-page wordless graphic novel that explores four romance stories set in the four seasons. He’s looking to self-publish the book, fittingly titled Seasons, next year.
“Each one has its own mood and peace,” Garcia writes on the project’s Indiegogo page. “[Seasons is] based solely on feelings so I intend that each reader interpretation depends on his or her mood, and that by reading it in different occasions, the story’s meaning change!”
Crowdfunding | Digital Manga Publishing’s recent Kickstarter campaign raised some questions as to the proper role of crowdfunding in publishing. When DMP acquired the rights to all of Osamu Tezuka’s manga that haven’t already been translated into English, CEO Hikaru Sasahara launched an ambitious Kickstarter effort to publish about 400 volumes in just a few years. The campaign raised eyebrows not only because of the large amount of money involved (with stretch goals, it would have been more than half a million dollars) but also because it went beyond the direct costs associated with single volumes to include travel and staffing. That campaign failed, but DMP immediately launched another one that’s closer to the usual model. I interviewed Sasahara and one of his most prominent critics to get both sides of the discussion. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Brian Jacoby, owner of the Tallahassee, Florida, comic shop Secret Headquarters and a well-known presence on Twitter and comics discussion boards, died suddenly on Thanksgiving. The news was first released in a tweet from the store. His memorial service will be held Tuesday. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Bob Staake’s New Yorker cover showing a broken Gateway Arch in St. Louis, a commentary on the events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, received a lot of attention just before Thanksgiving — and even more when it got around that syndicated cartoonist R.J. Matson had drawn a similar cartoon in August. Matson brushes that aside, however, pointing out that editorial cartoonists often come up with similar visuals: “Finding a good joke is like solving a puzzle and very often there is one very best solution to the puzzle. Any cartoonist worth his salt would kick himself or herself for not finding that solution.” And when five cartoonists do it on the same day, he said, “we call it a Yahtzee.” [The Washington Post]
The 42nd Angouleme International Comics Festival is coming up Jan. 29, and over the Thanksgiving holiday organizers announced the nominations for the four juried prizes: the Sélection Officielle (the general category), Sélection Jeunesse (young people), Sélection Patrimoine (classics and reprints) and Sélection Polar (mysteries and thrillers).
Angouleme lives up to the “international” part of its name, as many of the selections were first published in English, including Chris Ware’s Building Stories, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.
See the full list below.
Creators | Isabel Greenberg has announced she’s working on a “sort-of” sequel to The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, her British Comic Award-winning debut graphic novel. She also posted her new comic Dreadful Wind and Rain, which is being published as a limited edition by Gosh! Comics, and will be included in her follow-up to Early Earth. [Isabel Greenberg, via Digital Spy]
Manga | Yen Press associate editor and letterer Abigail Blackman talks about her job: “I see that the editor has a twofold obligation – to the original creator and to the reader. I think everyone in the process has to be most careful of not imposing his or her own sensibilities onto the material. I and Yen feel very strongly about preserving the meaning and intent of the original and making sure it translates clearly to the reader. It’s so easy for a rewriter to get carried away with his or her own voice, or for a letterer to get too cutesy with the fonts and placing emphasis.” [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]
Legal | The saga of Hi Score Girl continues this week, with the Osaka Prefectural Police charging creator Rensuke Oshihiri and 15 employees of publisher Square Enix with copyright infringement. Game publisher SNK Playmore originally filed criminal charges against Square Enix over the summer, claiming that Hi Score Girl, a comedy about gamers, used its characters without permission. Square Enix has recalled the published volumes of the series and halted serialization in its Monthly Big Gangan magazine. [Anime News Network]
Passings | Political cartoonist and collector Art Wood, a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, died Nov. 4 at age 87. He donated more than 40,000 pieces of original cartoon art to the Library of Congress for its bicentennial, and the library published a book, Cartoon America, based on the collection. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Roz Chast’s graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Kirkus Prize for nonfiction, we selected best in the category; the list is organized in best-selling order.
- The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, by The Oatmeal and Matthew Inman (Andrews McMeel)
- Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleaseant?, by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
- Saga Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
- Seconds: A Graphic Novel, by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Ballantine)
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Dr. George Slusser, co-founder of the University of California, Riversides’ renowned Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, passed away Tuesday at age 75. Curator emeritus and professor emeritus of comparative literature, Slusser expanded the Eaton holdings from 7,500 items to more than 300,000, making it the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction and fantasy literature in the world. It encompasses novels, journals, manuscripts, comics and manga, fanzines and anime, and includes first editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Action Comics #1 and The Fantastic Four #1. “Over three decades, George Slusser built the Eaton Collection up from a small core of titles into the world-class archive that it is today,” Rob Latham, co-director of UC Riverside’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, said in a statement. “The field of science fiction scholarship owes him an incalculable debt.” [UC Riverside]
Legal | Disney on Tuesday asked a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss a two-year-old lawsuit by Stan Lee Media claiming the copyright to such Marvel superheroes as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men. A lawyer for Stan Lee Media, which no longer connected to its namesake, argued a federal judge in Colorado erred last year in dismissing the 2012 complaint, but Disney countered that the copyright claims have been addressed time and again by the courts. “This is their seventh bite of a rotten apple,” Disney attorney Jim Quinn said after the hearing. The three-judge panel hasn’t issued its decision. [The Associated Press]
Manga | The finale of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which will run in an upcoming issue of Shonen Jump (both the Japanese and the North American editions), will be two chapters long, with the second appearing in full color, the manga magazine announced. Naruto was at one time the bestselling graphic novel in the United States and is still one of the top selling manga in the country. [Anime News Network]
Creators | A U.K. researcher argues that Marie Duval was the real creative force behind the wildly popular 19th-century British comic Ally Sloper, which is largely credited to her husband Charles Ross. Duval, the pen name of French cartoonist Emilie de Tessier, drew the character at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and ’70s, but historian David Kunzle now questions what role Ross actually played in his creation. [The Guardian]
Commentary | Chase Magnett pushes back on Chris Suellentrop’s statement, made in a column about GamerGate, that comics are “a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (Maus, or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.” [Comicbook.com]
Awards | The winners of the first Kirkus Prize were announced last night, and Roz Chast took top honors in the nonfiction category for her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Chast is also a finalist for the National Book Award, marking the first time a graphic novel has been nominated in one of the adult categories. [The Washington Post]
Legal | A Turkish court acquitted cartoonist Musa Kart on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stemming from a cartoon Kart drew last year portraying the then-prime minister as complicit in covering up government corruption. “Yes, I drew it [the cartoon] but I did not mean to insult,” Kart said. “I just wanted to show the facts. Indeed, I think that we are inside a cartoon right now. Because I am in the suspect’s seat while charges were dropped against all the suspects [involved in two major graft scandals]. I need to say that this is funny.” If convicted, Kart could have faced nearly a decade in prison. [Today’s Zaman]
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]