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Comic Books, Film
Viz Media will release Art for Hope, a digital art book anthology that benefits Architecture for Humanity’s ongoing disaster reconstruction efforts in Japan, on Dec. 1 through VIZManga.com and the Viz Manga app for the various Apple devices. The art book, which will be available until May 31, contains contributions from 40 artists from around the world, including Chew co-creator Rob Guillory, Long Tail Kitty and Mr. Elephanter creator Lark Pien, muralist Sirron Norris and Skullkickers co-creator Jim Zubkavich.
According to the press release, each of the 40 artists participating in the anthology used Autodesk SketchBook digital paint and drawing software applications in some way to create original pieces for the anthology. Selections from it will also be exhibited at the Autodesk annual user conference, Autodesk University, taking place at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. Access to the exhibit is free to the public.
You can find a list of all the contributors after the jump.
Red Giant Entertainment has recruited several top names in the comics industry to contribute to Japan Needs Heroes, a graphic novel that aims to raise money for the Japan Society, a non-profit organization that has created a special disaster relief fund to aid victims of the Tohoku earthquake in Japan.
A press release that went out today from comiXology, which will distribute the book digitally when it is released, listed Stan Lee (who will provide the forward), Peter David, Ron Marz, Mike Deodato, Larry Hama, Jimmy Palmiotti, Elaine Lee, Amanda Conner, Howard Mackie and Brandon Peterson as contributors. You can find a list of additional creators on the book’s Kickstarter page, which Red Giant is using to fund the printing.
“My wife is from Japan,” said Benny R. Powell, CEO of Red Giant, “and her family still lives there. We hear daily reports of the fear and uncertainty they face. I realized we had to do something. Comics have a power to reach massive audiences and that’s a powerful thing. As more and more creators join our cause I believe we can raise a lot of money to help. This transcends any genre, medium, or publisher. This need is bigger than anything our world has ever faced, and we truly believe that together we can make a difference.”
E-books | Amazon announced it will allow Kindle users to read e-books from more than 11,000 libraries, marking a reversal of the company’s policy. Previously library users who borrowed e-books could read them on Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the Sony Reader and other devices, but not the Kindle. “We’re excited that millions of Kindle customers will be able to borrow Kindle books from their local libraries,” Jay Marine, Amazon’s director of Kindle, said in a statement. The Kindle Library Lending will debut later this year. [The New York Times, press release]
Publishing | Several DC Comics staff members laid off as part of the sweeping corporate restructuring — among them, editors Mike Carlin and Pornsak Pichetshote — have been hired by DC Entertainment’s newly formed Burbank-based Creative Affairs division, which operates alongside Creative Services. [Bleeding Cool]
Legal | Japanese police have arrested a 25-year-old man suspected of using Share file-sharing software to upload about 28,000 manga and anime files without the copyright holders’ permission. [Anime News Network]
The March 11 earthquake and the tsunami and nuclear disaster that followed have had all sorts of repercussions for Japan, and while manga and anime are not as serious as the humanitarian problems, it’s interesting to see the industry adjusting quickly to maintain continuity for its customers.
Ayano Yamane, creator of the Finder series, blogged and Tweeted recently that the earthquake caused serious enough damage to several paper mills to put them out of commission, resulting in a paper shortage. Meanwhile, NHK World reports that the Japanese Printing Ink Makers Association has asked newspaper publishers to reduce their output, in terms of both number of pages and number of colors, because damage to several chemical plants has left them short of key ingredients.
Combine that with disruptions to the transportation network due to the disaster, and you have a potentially dire scenario for the manga industry. Manga publishers are responding by putting all or part of their weekly magazines online, for free. Shogakukan will post two issues of Weekly Shonen Sunday online, and Kodansha is putting up a number of different titles. Shueisha put up the manga sections of Weekly Shonen Jump last week, but in a Windows-only format; they have now repeated them on another website that allows non-Windows users to read them. (Shueisha and Shogakukan are the parent companies of the American publisher Viz.)
So far, all the issues that have been posted have been from the past two weeks, so it makes sense to make them available—the work has been done and paid for, and the sales are lost anyway, so putting them online keeps readers from falling away. The question that remains is whether the system can repair itself and print publication can resume in the near future, and if not, whether the publishers will continue their online program or abandon it for another strategy.
Japan has a special place in the comics world (and the greater geek universe), so it’s not surprising that a lot of artists are doing fund-raisers right now. Neill Cameron, creator of Mo-Bot High and a member of the British kid’s comics group The DFC, is really going the extra mile: He will go through the alphabet, drawing a picture a day of something from Japanese anime, manga, gaming, or other Things That Are Awesome. Neill has set up a JustGiving page for donations, as well as a Facebook group, and he’s taking suggestions:
Bonus points for alliteration, and it might be nice to get a bit of cross-cultural exchange going on in there – if, for example, for ‘D’ you were to suggest Doctor Who and Doraemon Dunking Donuts Daintily, well then I would probably have to draw that. You get the idea.
As the drama in Japan continues, we are reminded that comics are everywhere. Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy has been ferrying food and supplies to the victims, charting his progress on Twitter as he goes.
On this side of the ocean, the response is less dramatic but no less heartfelt: Creative types are coming up with all sorts of benefits for Japan. Comics Alliance has a nice roundup of events and art sales, and Daniella Orihuela-Gruber and Michael Huang have set up Anime and Manga Bloggers For Japan, a site where blogger can direct their readers, with links to Doctors Without Borders and Shelterbox. The fan-run One PIece Podcast is planning a 24-hour podcast marathon this weekend that will feature many bloggers and voice actors and hopefully raise $25,000 for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. At the Otaku USA site, editor Patrick Macias explains why he is endorsing the Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund. Dane Ault, of Monkey Minion Press, is auctioning off an original Swamp Thing cover on eBay. And Pinguino Kolb updated me on the We Heart Japan art auction, which happens tomorrow at Meltdown Comics in LA, saying that they are flooded with art and expect lots of celebrities to stop by, so if you’re in LA right now, that’s the place to be—and if you’re not, stay tuned, because they expect to do several more fund-raisers later this month.
In the wake of last week’s devastating earthquake in Japan, organizers have canceled the Tokyo International Anime Fair, set for March 24-27 at the Tokyo Big Sight.
The announcement, made on the event’s official website, pointed to concerns about the safety of participants and attendees, given unstable transportation services and power shortages. Last year’s fair drew more than 130,000 attendees.
According to Anime News Network, the Tokyo Big Sight convention center, located on Odaiba island in Tokyo Bay, suffered unspecified damages during the quake.
This year’s fair, operated by the Tokyo metropolitan government, had been boycotted by a group of 10 manga publishers, including Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kodansha, following the passage of a controversial amendment further restricting the sale or rental to minors of manga and anime containing “extreme” depictions of sexual acts. As a result of the protest, the number of companies participating in the event fell dramatically, from 244 in 2010 to 161 this year.
Comics artist, designer and photographer Pinguino Kolb, and voice actress, director, writer and producer Stephanie Sheh have pulled together an art auction, under the name We Heart Japan, to benefit the victims of last week’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The event will take place at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood on Thursday. Yes, this Thursday: In less than a week, the two have pulled together donations from a number of local artists as well as the anime companies Bandai and Geneon, the anime streaming site Crunchyroll and the anime convention AM2. They are still looking for donations, though; if you are a Los Angeles-area artist and want to contribute framed sketches, paintings or digital art, contact information is on their website (or direct-message them via Twitter). Anime actors and cosplayers will also be there to mingle and sign autographs; check the Facebook page to see who’s coming.
“Japan has always been a huge inspiration for those working in anime and comics, and we’re doing this show as a way to give back to the community there,” Kolb said in an e-mail to Robot 6.
Proceeds will go to the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund, which will work with Japan’s Give One initiative to relay the money directly to local charities that are helping with the relief efforts. And more events are in the offing; follow them on Twitter to get the latest news.
Even as rescue operations continue and officials scramble to avert a nuclear disaster in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday, some manga artists are reaching out to their fans with a message of hope.
Takehiko Inoue, the creator of Vagabond and Slam Dunk, has been posting pictures of ordinary Japanese people smiling with the Twitter hashtags #prayforjapan and #tsunami, as a sort of prayer. Shoujo manga creator Arina Tanemura (Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross) also drew one of her characters with a big smile. Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) posted a lively drawing with a message of support on the Shonen Jump website. And Itou Noizi, who illustrated the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya light novels, has drawn a picture of Haruhi in prayer.
A number of well-known creators, including Naoki Urasawa (Pluto, 20th Century Boys), Natsume Ono (House of Five Leaves) and Kanata Konami (Chi’s Sweet Home) have posted drawings and messages of encouragement at the website of Kodansha’s Morning magazine. Anime News Network has a full list of contributors in English.