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Comics A.M. | How an aneurysm led to the creation of Koyama Press

koyama-social

Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]

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Comics A.M. | SDCC spells out stance on convention center plan

comic con banner

Conventions | While the San Diego Chargers support the construction of a multi-use stadium that’s not connected to the San Diego Convention Center, Comic-Con International still favors a contiguous expansion. “If a convention center is built across the street or blocks away from the current location, any convention considering an event in San Diego would be forced to determine who gets to stay at the main facility and who is relegated to the ‘other’ venue,” Comic-Con’s David Glanzer writes in a column reiterating the organization’s stance. “Comic-Con experienced a similar scenario some years ago when we attempted to create more exhibit space by moving some exhibitors upstairs to the Sails Pavilion. Even though all exhibitors were in the same building, the fact that some were only one floor removed from others caused a great deal of consternation as they objected to not being on what they considered to be the main exhibit floor.” [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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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. | 78-year-old collector has ‘rescued’ 75,000 comics

brown collection

Collecting | For the better part of three decades, 78-year-old Ray Brown has been “rescuing” comic books and giving them a good home — namely, his. The South Dakota man estimates his collection includes some 75,000 comics, the bulk of which he purchased from five Rapid City-area stores that went out of business. “They take up a lot of room,” he says. “They don’t eat anything, though.” Brown doesn’t read them, however; instead he simply takes pleasure in saving them from the trash bin. He does sell a few on the Internet from time to time, but he’s in no hurry to get rid them. [Black Hills Fox]

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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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Comics A.M. | Amarillo, Texas, comic store robbed at gunpoint

Big Apple Comics

Big Apple Comics

Crime | Police in Amarillo, Texas, are searching for a man who robbed the Big Apple Comics at gunpoint on Tuesday. An employee was locking up the store at about 7:10 p.m. when a man approached him and told him to unlock the doors. The employee resisted, and the robber reportedly drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. [Amarillo Globe-News]

Passings | Zack Davisson, who translated Shigeru Mizuki’s works into English for Drawn and Quarterly, pens the definitive obituary of the late manga master, writing not only about his impact on Japanese culture but also his criticism of Japan’s actions in World War II and its treatment of disabled veterans, which led writer Jake Adelstein to call him “the Voice of Japan’s Conscience.” [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | New Kickstarter study reveals failure rates

Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Crowdfunding | A new report released by Kickstarter shows that about 9 percent of the projects on the crowdfunding platform failed to deliver the promised rewards. While that is fairly consistent across all categories, comics do appear to do a bit better than most. Another interesting tidbit: Projects that raise less than $1,000 are the most likely to fail. [Kickstarter]

Creators | Writer Kyle Higgins talks about his new Power Rangers comic, Green Ranger: Year One, which focuses on the Ranger who was originally a villain before reforming and joining the team: “Basically, in going the modernization route I decided that I didn’t really want to jump in and tell new origins of the Power Rangers or anything like that. So looking at the introduction of the Green Ranger to the team, of him joining the team, was the window that I took for the story in order to get us into the world.” [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Real Stuff’ writer Dennis Eichhorn passes away

Dennis Eichhorn (photo by  Matt Crowley)

Dennis Eichhorn (photo by Matt Crowley)

Passings | Underground comics writer Dennis Eichhorn passed away on Oct. 8 at age 70. He’s best known for his autobiographical comic series Real Stuff, which often involved tales of alcohol, sex and drugs. Published from 1990 to 1995 by Fantagraphics, the multiple Eisner-nominated Real Stuff was illustrated by the likes of Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Joe Sacco, Roberta Gregory and Ed Brubaker. [The Stranger]

Legal | Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, already serving a 12-year sentence for a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads, and under investigation for shaking hands with her male lawyer, had to endure yet another indignity in August: She was forced to undergo a “forced virginity and pregnancy test” as part of the investigation of the latter charge. “In doing so, the Iranian judicial authorities have truly reached an outrageous low, seeking to exploit the stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence in order to intimidate, punish or harass her,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, which is calling for her release. [Amnesty International]

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Comics A.M. | George Lucas’ museum acquires Robert Crumb art

From "The Book of Genesis," by Robert Crumb

From “The Book of Genesis,” by Robert Crumb

Museums | The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by George Lucas and slated to open in 2018 in Chicago, has acquired the original art from Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis. [The Art Paper]

Editorial cartoons | R.C. Harvey writes the definitive piece on the Ted Rall case, rounding up pretty much everything that’s been written in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to cut ties with the cartoonist. In addition to presenting the evidence and all points of view, Harvey sheds a harsh light on the paper’s public statements about Rall and the relationship between the newspaper and the Los Angeles police union. [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | DC and Marvel in the creator-owned era

Daredevil, by Marcos Martin

Daredevil, by Marcos Martin

Comics | David Harper examines why Marvel and DC remain important — “indispensable,” even — despite the ascendance of creator-owned comics. “Opposite to what it was before where you’d form yourself in your own comics and then graduate to the big companies, now the big companies are going to form you in order to graduate you to your own comics,” Marcos Martin explains. “That’s why I think Marvel and DC are indispensable. They’re great. That means there is an industry. We need that industry in order to bring creators and form them so they can at one point put together their own stories.” [Sktchd]

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Comics A.M. | Was Snoopy behind the slow death of ‘Peanuts’?

Snoopy

Snoopy

Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | ‘The Killing Joke’ leads July bookstore sales

The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke

Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in July has a decidedly different makeup than usual, with the 1988 one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke topping the list, and seven other DC Comics titles making the cut as well (however, just one of those, Batgirl, Vol. 1, is a new release). Other entries include hardy perennials American Born Chinese and Fun Home make the chart, perhaps as summer reading, and as always, the first volume of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]

Conventions | Denver, already home to one of the larger comics and pop culture conventions, is getting its own independent comics festival, the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo (DINK), which will launch in March. The show will be held in the Sherman Street Event Center, which organizer Charlie LaGreca describes as “like something out of a Wes Anderson movie,” and is looking for sponsors with ties to the community. “The pop-culture, big-box cons are amazing and incredible, and we have them in spades now. They provide such a huge array [of options],” said LaGreca, a Denver Comic Con co-founder who exited the organization last year in a highly publicized dispute. “What’s cool about this is we can bring the focus back to just art and comics and the cross-pollination of what it means for art. It’s really embracing all comics genres, not [just] focused on sci-fi and superheroes and stuff like that.” [Westword]

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Comics A.M. | Lethem to guest-edit ‘Best American Comics’

"The Best American Comics 2015," by Raymond Pettibon

“The Best American Comics 2015,” by Raymond Pettibon

Comics | Novelist Jonathan Lethem is the guest editor for this year’s Best American Comics collection, the first to come from outside the comics realm. Series editor Bill Kartalopoulos says he was “amazing”: “He clearly knows a lot about comics and cartooning. His novels draw on his lifelong love of comic books, he’s written Omega the Unknown for Marvel, and he’s more than familiar with the historical and contemporary landmarks in comics. But as someone who’s not ‘from’ the comics field he brings an entirely fresh perspective to the material from the past year that we considered for the book. He doesn’t bring any baggage to the table about who ‘should’ be included in this volume based on status or popularity or currency. Comics can be so insular sometimes, so we’re lucky to have this kind of attention from someone like Jonathan.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ tops 2.5 million copies in English

Attack on Titan, Vol. 12

Attack on Titan, Vol. 12

Manga | More than 2.5 million copies of the English-language editions of Attack on Titan in print, Kodansha USA announced earlier this month at Anime Expo. Although that may seem like a lot, there are more than 44 million copies of the same 15 volumes of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic manga in print in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun estimates the U.S. comics market as one-fifth the size of the Japanese market. [The Asahi Shimbun]

Passings | Bill Garner, the editorial cartoonist for The Washington Times from 1983 to 2009, has died at age 79. Garner was born in Texas and attended the Texas School of Fine Arts, then went to the University of Texas at Austin for one year. He served in the Army from 1956 to 1962, then went to work as an illustrator for The Washington Star. His editor there suggested he try his hand at cartooning, and it took. He moved on to become the editorial cartoonist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where in 1981 he won a National Headliner Award. His best-known cartoon is one he drew for the Times shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, showing a tank with the bumper sticker “Saddam Happens” driving over a sand dune.  [The Washington Times]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Naruto’ spinoff manga to end next week

From "Weekly Shonen Jump"

From “Weekly Shonen Jump”

Manga | The Naruto spinoff Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, which is running simultaneously in the Japanese and American versions of Shonen Jump, will end in the July 6 issue. [Anime News Network]

Fandom | Rob Salkowitz presents results of a recent survey of convention-goers conducted by the online ticket platform Eventbrite. Interestingly, they found almost complete gender parity (48.9 percent female, 48.7 percent male, and 3.1 percent non-binary/other) among convention-goers in general but much bigger skews in individual categories: “Comics, toys and gaming are predominantly male, while media, anime/manga and sci-fi/fantasy fandom are predominantly female.” A typical con-goer spends between $100 an $500, with comics fans being the biggest spenders and prints and original art the most popular thing to buy. There’s a lot more detail in the article about what people like and don’t like (biggest beef: lack of wi-fi an connectivity in convention centers). The survey updates and expands on a similar survey conducted last year. [ICv2]

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