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Comics A.M. | Oz Comic-Con scrutinized for scarcity of female guests

Oz Comic-Con

Oz Comic-Con

Conventions | Clem Bastow notes a disconnect at Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne, Australia, where women were a slight majority in the audience but were severely underrepresented as guests; DC artist Nicola Scott was the only woman in the comics contingent. Organizer Rand Ratinac said it was purely a matter of availability: “We offered for literally dozens if not hundreds of different guests, we always do, because you’re dealing with people whose schedules they sometimes can’t lock in until a month before the event. This time, of the people that we wanted, there were just a lot of guys that were available. Next year, it could be a whole bunch of girls; it all just depends who can come.” But Scott points out that there are simply fewer women in superhero comics than in the other sectors of the industry and superhero creators are what brings the audience in the door. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Turkish cartoonist begins prison sentence

Mehmet Düzenli

Mehmet Düzenli

Legal | Turkish cartoonist Mehmet Düzenli began serving a three-month sentence this week on charges of insulting Muslim preacher Adnan Oktar, who espouses controversial views, such as creationism and Holocaust denial. Oktar sued Düzenli over a cartoon about him, and Düzenli refused to appeal the sentence on the grounds that even if it were suspended, he still would not be able to express himself freely. “If Mr. Oktar has the right to claim that he is the Mahdi [the redeemer who is supposed to appear at the ‘end times’], I have the right to say that he is lying,” he said. [Reporters Without Borders]

Comics sales | ICv2 has sales estimates for the direct market in May, which was a good month for chart-toppers, with four titles selling more than 100,000 copies, compared to just one in each of the first three months of the year. The top seller was Marvel’s Original Sin #1, at 147,045 copies, but ICv2 notes that sales were juiced by incentives, including variant covers and a plastic eyeball, and that orders for the second issue are considerably lower. They also give the top 400 comics and the top 300 graphic novels charts for the month. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Happy 80th birthday, Donald Duck

Donald Duck

Donald Duck

Pop culture | Eighty years ago today, Donald Duck was introduced as a supporting character in the animated short “The Wise Little Hen,” part of Walt Disney Productions’ Silly Symphonies series. His comic strip debut came a few months later, in an adaptation of the short by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro that ran in Sunday newspapers between Sept. 16 and Dec. 16. To mark the milestone, the National Turk publishes “a love letter to the duck,” while The Telegraph offers 10 surprising facts about the character. [National Turk, The Telegraph]

Political cartoons | The South African cartoonist Zapiro, himself no stranger to controversy, said the Eyewitness News cartoon depicting the South African legislature and the people who voted for them as clowns (and calling the voters “poephols,” or idiots) was a mistake. “I think the EWN cartoonists made a big error in the way they depicted the voters, what they called them and the shadow in the bottom corner, which could be misconstrued as meaning black voters,” he said. “They should have – and the editors of EWN should have – picked it up. But, they have apologised and anything that goes beyond that now is just bandwagoning by politicians.” Meanwhile, a fake Zapiro cartoon made the rounds on social media over the weekend. It’s based on a real 2002 cartoon that showed doctors finding the brain of then-president George W. Bush while giving him a colonoscopy; the fake cartoon substitutes South African President Jacob Zuma, who went into the hospital over the weekend. [Times Live]

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Comics A.M. | Amazon backs off Marvel in Hachette dispute

Marvel

Marvel

Retailing | Amazon’s war with Hachette has taken an odd turn: The retail giant has restored discounts and preorders for Marvel (which uses Hachette as its distributor), and the shipping delays are gone, but it seems to have doubled down on Hachette imprint Yen Press. [ICv2]

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on Diamond Comic Distributors’ year-to-date sales figures, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with sales of monthly comics down but graphic novels and merchandise up, for a slight uptick in overall sales. Another interesting statistic: The number of individual Diamond accounts (which is generally regarded as a measure of the number of comics shops) is up 1.3 percent for 2014 so far; last year’s increase was 3 percent over the entire year. She also reports on the numbers for this year’s Free Comic Book Day; retailers ordered 4.65 million comics, and most were happy with the way the day went. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Tunisian court denies cartoonist’s appeal

Jabeur Mejri

Jabeur Mejri

Legal | A Tunisian court denied cartoonist Jabeur Mejri’s appeal of an eight-month sentence on charges of insulting a public official. Mejri was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2012 for drawing cartoons that insulted the Prophet Mohammed, but was pardoned by President Moncef Marzouki earlier this year. Before he was released, however, news leaked that he had also been charged with embezzlement stemming from his time working for the Tunisian railway. Mejri was released from prison in March, but six weeks later he was arrested again, this time on charges of insulting a court official. His support committee said Mejri is being subjected to “judicial harassment” and released a statement saying “It’s clear … that there is a desire not to accept the presidential pardon and to keep Jabeur in prison at all costs, to make him pay dearly for his freedom of expression and deter him from any further attempts.” [Naharnet]

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Comics A.M. | Is the world ready for a cosplay invasion?

Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]

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Comics A.M. | TOON Books launches imprint for older readers

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

Publishing | I talked with TOON Books founder Francoise Mouly about her new imprint, TOON Graphics, which will feature “visual books” (picture books and comics) for readers ages 8 and up. The line launches with three titles: Theseus and the Minotaur, by Yves Pommaux, Cast Away on the Letter A, by Fred, and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. [Publishers Weekly]

Commentary | Former DC Comics senior editor Joan Hilty tackles the issue of sexism in comics and calls for publishers to include more women in their senior editorial rank:. “Women are getting the bestselling books into stores and greenlighting the million-dollar movie franchises, but they’re barely represented among the creative executives who map out the universes and storytelling strategies. That’s where you cement broad-based, long-term loyalty to authors and characters, tap new audiences and trends, and grow readership, without which none of those books or movies would exist.” [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | A demand for rollback on same-day digital release?

"The Amazing Spider-Man" #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

Retailing | Dennis Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, and the driving force behind the new retailer association CBRA (Comic Book Retailers Alliance), says direct-market stores want publishers to pull back on same-day digital release, and debut the print comics first. He says ComicsPRO, the established, much larger, trade organization, is taking the wrong approach in trying to adapt to digital. Barger also feels that hand-selling by employees, not social media, is what propels sales of comics, especially non-Big Two titles: “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200 and the bottom 300 in sales for those books.” A shift to digital, which removes the local comics shop from the equation, would thus harm second-tier publishers such as Dark Horse, BOOM! Studios and IDW. The association was able to purchase an exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, drawn by John Romita Sr., for its members. [The News-Herald]

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‘Indian Spider-Man’ runs (and climbs and swings) for parliament

Gaurav Sharma wants the votes of residents of South Mumbai, India, and he’ll  go to almost any lengths — or heights — to get them.

An Independent candidate for the lower house of the Parliament of India, Sharma is a martial-arts instructor better known as the Indian Spider-Man. Earlier this year he donned the familiar red-and-blue costume of the Marvel superhero to climb one of Mumbai’s tallest buildings in record time, but now he’s scaling apartment complexes and jumping from window to window and balcony to balcony to drum up support.

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Comics A.M. | Carol Corps, and the changing face of fandom

Captain Marvel #1

Captain Marvel #1

Fandom | Rachel Edidin attends a gathering of the Carol Corps, the group of mostly female Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel fans that has built a community around a shared interest. “It is not a formal organization,” says Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “There are no rules. People write and ask me all the time, ‘How do I join the Carol Corps?’ You join Carol Corps by saying you are Carol Corps. There is no test. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up anywhere. If you decide you are a part of this community, bam, you are. The other part of that is that if you decide you are a part of this community, you will be embraced and welcome.” [Wired]

Piracy | The Japanese government will consider several measures to fight online piracy of anime and manga in the next few months, while publishers are taking a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach by launching two free digital manga services, ComicWalker and Manga Box, to lure readers away from bootleg scanlation sites. [The Japan News]

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Comics A.M. | Rare copy of ‘The Beano’ #1 goes up for auction

The Beano #1

The Beano #1

Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]

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Comics A.M. |’Airboy’ artist Fred Kida passes away

Fred Kida

Fred Kida

Passings | Eisner Hall of Fame nominee Fred Kida has died at the age of 93. Kida was an active comics artist for almost 50 years; he got his start drawing Airboy for Hillman Comics in about 1940 and went on to work for Lev Gleason and then Marvel. He assisted Will Eisner occasionally on The Spirit and also drew a number of newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon and The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics,” said Mark Evanier. [News from ME]

Publishing | ICv2 has a two-part interview with Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci, who has plenty to say about variant covers, the launch of Twilight Zone and Legenderry, their Gold Key properties, and what’s coming in the year ahead. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Signe Wilkinson named in defamation suit

From the Wilkinson cartoon in question

From the Wilkinson cartoon in question

Legal | Signe Wilkinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, has been named in a defamation lawsuit filed against the newspapers by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery and his wife Lise Rapaport. The judge and his wife accuse the two papers of running a smear campaign against them, and the suit specifically mentions a Wilkinson cartoon satirizing their marital and work relationship (it’s complicated). Blogger Alan Gardner adds that he hasn’t been able to find a case in which a cartoonist was successfully sued for defamation, although in this case the newspapers’ reporting is part of the issue as well. [Philadelphia, The Daily Cartoonist]

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Comics A.M. | Image, manga dominate March bookstore sales

The Walking Dead, Vol. 20

The Walking Dead, Vol. 20

Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores in March divides neatly into eight Image Comics titles (six volumes of The Walking Dead and two of Saga), eight volumes of manga (four Attack on Titan, four Viz Media titles) and four volumes of media tie-ins. For the second month in a row, not a single DC Comics or Marvel title cracked the Top 20, although an older DK Publishing character guide to the Avengers (not actually a graphic novel) came in at No. 11. The top-selling title was the 20th volume of The Walking Dead, and the No. 2 was the third volume of Saga. It’s also interesting to note that the first three volumes of Attack on Titan charted higher than the most recent release, which suggests new readers are still coming into the franchise in substantial numbers — and sticking with it. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | CCS to offer masters in applied cartooning

The Center for Cartoon Studies

The Center for Cartoon Studies

Academia | The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is adding a masters of fine arts degree in applied cartooning that will allow students to focus on using the comics medium for journalism, medicine, business and other fields. [Valley News, press release]

Creators | With the arrival of the second issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman talks about the joy of writing the first series and returning for this one, why he chooses to pen a story as a comic rather than a novel, and how his process differs as well: “When I’m outlining a comic, I write down the numbers 1 to 24, and I jot down what’s happening on each page, because I have to think of things in terms of pages, and double-page spreads. In a novel, if I want to move a scene, I just cut and paste. In a novel, it’s a completely different conversation.” [CNN]

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