Harry Shearer To Return To "The Simpsons"
Legal | Mohammed Moghini, the attorney for jailed Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, has been arrested for shaking his client’s hand. (According to this Pakistani source, the official charge is “fornication.”) Held at Rajai Shahr Prison, his bail has been set at about $7,000. This presents a potential problem for Farghadani, who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for drawing a cartoon “insulting” the country’s Parliament and leader, as she has only a limited time to appeal that sentence, and now her attorney is behind bars. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is seeking a new sponsor for Artists’ Alley after DeviantArt, the sponsor of the area for the past two years, withdrew support. In a letter sent Wednesday to exhibitors, organizers said they are seeking a new sponsor and remain committed to Artists’ Alley. Heidi MacDonald provides context, noting that the development comes amid ongoing fears about the future of Artists’ Alley, which occupies valuable floor space in an exhibition hall starving for more. [The Beat]
Political cartoons | Michael Cavna has issued an open for cartoonists to draw cartoons in support of imprisoned Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, and tweet them with the hashtag #Draw4Atena. Robert Rusell, executive director of Cartoonist Rights Network International, has written an open letter to the leaders of Iran asking them to intervene. [Comic Riffs]
Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “insulting the Iranian supreme leader.”
The charges stem from a cartoon Farghadani posted online that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with the heads of cows and monkeys. A painter as well as a cartoonist, Farghadani was also charged with “gathering and colluding with anti-revolutionary individuals and deviant sects” because she mingled with the relatives of political prisoners and members of the Baha’i faith during an exhibit of her paintings of protesters killed by the Iranian government.
Libraries | Digital media distributor Midwest Tape has announced a new e-book and comics service for libraries, which will be accessed via its hoopla platform. Unlike the widely used Overdrive, the service will allow multiple checkouts for a single book, rather than limiting checkouts to one user at a time. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | The trial began Tuesday for Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani on charges of spreading propaganda and insulting members of parliament, stemming from a cartoon she posted on Facebook depicting politicians as monkeys and other animals. Farghadani has been an activist in other ways as well, meeting with the families of people killed during the 2009 presidential elections. She was arrested last August and sent to prison, released, and then arrested again after posting a video online describing beatings by prison guards. She has been in solitary confinement since January and suffered a heart attack in February, after being on a hunger strike for three weeks. [The Washington Post]
Legal | Police interrupted a launch event for Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, claiming he didn’t have a proper permit. The book, ROS in Kangkongland, makes fun of the Malaysian prime minister’s wife. Zunar tweeted from the event that 20 officers had shown up. “It is ridiculous to have 20 police personnel interfere in this event. This book is not even banned, I don’t even know what offence I have committed,” he said. In the end he shut down the event but told attendees they could order the books online. Zunar is scheduled to speak at the United Nations this week on the topic of freedom of speech. [The Malaysian Insider]
Censorship | The Tanzanian government has banned a regional newspaper, The EastAfrican, apparently because of a cartoon by Godfrey Mwampembwa (GADO) that was critical of President Jakaya Kikwete. [The Washington Post]
Creators | “My idea is that if you want to defend Islam against cartoons, you do it by drawing cartoons, not by killing the cartoonists,” says Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaaneh, who is back on the job after being suspended for a cartoon that some interpreted as being a likeness of the Prophet Muhammad (Sabaaneh insists it was not). This profile of Sabaaneh includes an interview with the creator and a nuanced look at the milieu in which he works. [The Independent]
Censorship | Police confiscated 200 copies of Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, which lampoons the prime minister’s wife, as they were being transported to a book launch party on Saturday. Zunar, who was charged last week with sedition and held for three days because of a comment he made on Twitter, said every time he’s arrested, police raid his printer. Nonetheless, he encouraged the attendees at the launch party to order his books online, and said that ultimately, attempts to suppress him will backfire on the Malaysian government. [The Malaysian Insider]
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]
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]
Manga | While Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been burning up the bookstore sales charts in the United States, the dystopian manga is also giving the smash-hit One Piece a run for its money in Japan. According to market research firm Oricon, Attack on Titan sold more than 15.9 million copies in the past year, just behind One Piece‘s 18.1 million (Kuroko’s Basketball is a distance third with about 8.8 million). Of course, Eiichiro Oda insanely popular pirate manga has little to fear: The 72-volume (and counting) series has 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, meanwhile, is on its 11th volume. [ICv2]
Auctions | Select titles from Don and Maggie Thompson’s collection of rare comics — among them, The Avengers #1, Journey Into Mystery #83 and The Incredible Hulk #1 — sold at auction last week for a combined $835,384. A 9.6 copy of Tales of Suspense #39 alone fetched $262,900. [Heritage Auctions]
Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]
Journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan tweeted this morning:
Iranian MP who brought a case against a cartoonist, which resulted in a sentence of 25 lashes, has withdrawn his complaint – Fars #Iran
No other details are available at the moment, but it’s clear the move was backfiring on lawmaker Ahmad Lofti Ashtiani, who brought the complaint about cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye’s depiction of him in a soccer uniform (the Iranian government has been criticized lately for meddling in sports). Iran’s “media law” court last week sentenced Shokraye to 25 lashes, a move that has drawn a growing chorus of protest both inside and outside Iran. “Iran’s online community has taken to social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook to express anger,” the Guardian reports, and cartoonists have been calling on other cartoonists to draw even more caricatures of Ashtiani. The Guardian has a gallery of Ashtiani cartoons by Iranian and non-Iranian creators, including their own cartoonist Martin Rowson’s depiction of him as a big baby.
Eurasia Review quotes prominent Iranian cartoonist Masooud Shojai Tabatabai, who gives a more nuanced view of the situation in Iran:
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh has been sentenced to 25 lashes for a cartoon he drew that depicted Arak Member of Parliament Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani in a soccer jersey. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview, Dynamite CEO Nick Barrucci talks about the comics market, the demise of Borders, digital comics and the slump in book sales: “[T]here are more and more trade paperbacks and hard covers coming out, so there’s less chance of getting as much attention as you’re used to, and reorders are down because of it. As the number of trade paperbacks and graphic novels increases, the number of SKUs increases, the number of units sold per SKU is decreasing. There are very few exceptions to this. I remember looking at the Diamond chart from a month or two ago and the bestselling trade paperback that month was 7,000 units. It might even have been a Walking Dead trade paperback, and as much as two years ago the bestselling trade paperback sold 12-15,000 units.” [ICv2]
Time magazine named its person of the year—not this year, but the year that just ended last week—“The Protestor.”
2011 was the year of the Arab Spring, in which protestors took to the streets throughout the Middle East—often peacefully, sometimes not—and toppled regimes, threatened others, provoked responses that may ultimately lead to the downfall of regimes this year or in the next few. In the United States, the Occupy movement quickly grew from something the American media tried to ignore for a week or two into something no one could ignore, becoming part of the national conversation, revealing some of the savage urges of repression among our own police forces and outing Frank Miller as cranky old nutcase.