Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Legal | Anime and manga fans in Japan are raising concerns that a proposed provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would threaten the existence of doujinshi, fan-made comics that are often parodies of commercial manga. Many established manga creators cut their teeth on doujinshi (and some return to it even after their series hit the big time), and the biggest comics expo in the world, Comiket, is devoted to doujinshi. The works are self-published and made in small batches, sold to fellow enthusiasts at large and small conventions, and Japanese publishers generally ignore them. Under current Japanese law, only the rights holder can bring a copyright complaint, but the TPP would allow complaints from third parties, including the creator of a rival doujinshi. “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said Negima creator Ken Akamatsu, himself a former doujinshi-ka. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.” [The Japan News]
Comics | How do you say “Bam! Pow!” in Russian? A group of Russian translators is calling for comics translators to use words derived from the official languages of the Russian Federation rather than simply rendering the existing sound effects in the Russian alphabet. “In comic books you can often encounter words imitating sounds,” the translators said in a letter to the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “How can one express the sound of a phone ringing, of a creaky door, or a soda can being popped open, or the crinkle of an ice cream wrapper, or the sound of a motorcyclist’s foot rubbing against the ground? Often translators simply transliterate the English words.” Instead, they recommend using indigenous substitutes such as “chorkh” (scratching) and “khurt-khurt” (swallowing), both derived from Lezgian, a language spoken in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. [The Moscow Times, The Calvert Journal]
After commandeering a centuries-old rice paddy in Japan, Star Wars went on to infiltrate the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, a traditional summer festival famed for its elaborate, illuminated papier-mache floats.
Held in Aomori, the parade typically features images of samurai warriors, birds and animals, but this year, with Japan in the grip of Star Wars fever, droids, Jedi and Sith Lords were added to the mix. Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and R2-D2 even marched (and rolled) in the procession, officially sanctioned by Disney and Lucsfilm.
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]
Manga | Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto has collaborated with Kenji Taira, author of the Naruto spinoff Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, on a one-shot comic that will appear in the Japanese edition Shonen Jump (and most likely in the North American version as well). The story ties in to the upcoming Boruto: The Naruto Movie, which opens on Aug. 4 in Japan before receiving limited U.S. release in October. The issue also includes a variant cover for the collected edition of the Naruto sequel Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Ethan Gilman looks forward to Boston Comic Con, which kicks off today and will feature appearances by Stan Lee, Jason Latour, and some movie and TV people as well. Boston Comic Con drew 900 attendees for its inaugural show, in 2007, and organizers expect 50,000 this year. [Boston Globe]
Manga | Vernieda Vergara examines the way Attack on Titan reflects Japanese politics and history as well as the current sense of social anxiety experienced by young people of creator Hajime Isayama’s generation: “One of the biggest criticisms levied against Japan’s youth is that they lack the ambition of previous generations. But if the majority have no hope of advancement due to a corporate wall, why is that a surprise? In the manga, most people are content to live inside the walls. It’s safe. But as the manga’s protagonist, Eren, says, that’s like living in a cage. There’s no hope for something more. Eren, along with his allies, don’t accept this fate as easily. They fight against it actively.” [Women Write About Comics]
Digital comics | To celebrate One Piece’s new Guinness World Record, Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ digital manga app has released the entire July 1997 issue of Weekly Shonen Jump for free. That’s the issue that launched Eiichiro Oda’s wildly successful fantasy adventure. The publisher has also unveiled a One Piece app (in Japanese only) that updates daily with a new chapter in color, starting from the very beginning of the series. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | The online sales platform Selz has informed creator Dale Lazarov that it won’t sell his gay comics (despite previous assurances that it would) because its banking partner won’t permit the sale of adult materials. Lazarov reproduces the company’s letter and his response on his Facebook. ComiXology, Gumroad and Ribbon have also declined to carry his comics. [Bleeding Cool]
Even the King of the Monsters can get tangled in red tape.
More than a month after Godzilla was named Tokyo tourism ambassador and honorary resident of Shinjuku ward, Rocket News24 reports this week he finally received his residency documents.
Graphic novels | The National Arts Council of Singapore has withdrawn a $8,000 publication grant for Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a biography of the Singaporean comics pioneer that depicts some tumultuous events in the nation’s history. “We had to withdraw the grant when the book The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye came out because its sensitive content, depicted in visuals and text, did not meet our funding conditions,” said Khor Kok Wah, senior director of the literary arts sector of the NAC. He did not specify what the “sensitive content” was, but the book makes satirical references to Singaporean politics and history. The publisher, Epigram, will return the $6,400 that was disbursed already and will cover the NAC’s logo on the book cover with a sticker. The book will be published next year in the United States by Pantheon. [Straits Times]
Conventions | Chicago’s RedEye has an overview of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, which kicked off this morning at McCormick Place, and talks with Brian Stephenson of producer ReedPop about the future of the five-year-old show. “It has all the potential in the world to be bigger than San Diego [Comic Con] or New York, all based on the square footage at McCormick,” he said. Meanwhile Chicagoist checks in with a convention food guide, while Chicago Now offers a rundown of the best after-parties. [Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo]
Godzilla, who has attacked and destroyed Tokyo no fewer than 28 times, was honored Thursday by the city, adding tourism ambassador and honorary resident of Shinjuku ward to his responsibilities as King of the Monsters.
The tributes arrived as part of a ceremony to officially unveil the life-size head of the kaiju that erupts from the roof of the eight-story Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku. When we say “life-size,” we mean the 80-ton head rises 39 feet from the roof and towers 171 feet above the street, the height of Godzilla in his 1954 film debut.
Retailing | The driver killed early Sunday when her car crashed into the Mile High Comics store in Denver, Colorado, has been identified as 17-year-old Karen Lopez. There were no passengers in the car, and no one was in the store at the time. Mile High Comics will hold an auction to benefit Lopez’s family; in an earlier news report, owner Chuck Rozanski described what happened and said, “When someone suffers a violent death like this within your space, I mean this is my building, I love this building and I love being here every day and now to know someone died here it’s going to alter my perception forever.” [KDVR]
Conventions | The annual scramble for discounted Comic-Con International rooms in 54 participating hotels kicks off Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT. Comic-Con badger holders should’ve already received an email containing a link to the Travel Planners hotel reservation website. [Toucan]
Passings | Michael Cavna remembers cartoonist Jim Berry, who died Friday at age 83: “Berry’s World, the syndicated single-panel feature that he drew for 40 years, beginning in 1963, was a remarkably steady stream of thoughtful observational humor that — like the unfussy art itself — rarely seemed to strain for the laugh. Each gag, as steady as a top golfer’s approach shots, just ‘landed.’ Precision meets concision.” [Comic Riffs]
The city of Sukagawa, Japan, is honoring hometown hero Ultraman with not one but four statues.
The star of a 1960s television series as well as multiple manga and anime series, Ultraman is the brainchild of Sukagawa native Eiji Tsuburaya, and the city has erected four statues — of Ultraman, Ultra Seven, Gomora and Eleking — on the street where he once lived.
The installation marks the second anniversary of Sukagawa’s sister-city relationship with the Land of Light, Ultraman’s homeland in the series, and city officials are hoping that the statues will put the city on the map for tourists, especially Ultraman fans.
Last week we saw only concept art for the Godzilla statue intended to erupt from the roof of the Toho Cinema in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward, but today the full-size head of the King of the Monsters was officially revealed in all its glory.
That statue is what will provide the new 30-story Hotel Gracery, which sits atop the theater, with its Godzilla View Rooms (priced at a reasonable $125 a night).