"Gotham's" Cory Michael Smith Savors the Arrival of the Riddler
Publishing | DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint is the first comics company to use the Wattpad “social reading app,” where writers and publishers can share their work with potential readers around the world. Survivors’ Club writers Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen are starting things off with a list of their favorite horror movies, and Gail Simone and Holly Black are expected to check in as well. [TechCrunch]
Conventions | Journalist Tom Spurgeon and Bone creator Jeff Smith, co-organizers of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, discuss their concept for a truly comics-focused festival. “We’re almost at the point where we’re treating comics as a weigh station before you make your money or impact,” Spurgeon says. “Comics are solely what we do and it’s solely where our efforts go. We want this to be important. We want to celebrate older cartoonists who may have fallen out favor. We want to celebrate the anniversaries of great comics. It’s solely comics-focused.” [Paste]
Cryptozoic Entertainment has partnered with Cartoon Books to produce a line of vinyl figures based on Jeff Smith bestselling fantasy adventure Bone.
Prototypes of the Fone, Phoney and Smiley are on display at Toy Fair 2015, which continues through Tuesday in New York City. The figures are scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of the year.
Retailing | Susana Polo interviews several members of the Valkyries, the organization of women who work in comic shops, and examines the “Valkyrie Bump,” the sales boost that some comics, such as Sex Criminals, Lumberjanes and Batgirl, get when they benefit from their extra support. [Publishers Weekly]
Political cartoons | Reporter James Hookway interviews the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges, and provides some background on Malaysian politics and trial of Anwar Ibrahim, which is the topic of some of Zunar’s controversial cartoons. [The Wall Street Journal]
Trumpeting the yearlong 10th-anniversary celebration of its Graphix imprint, Scholastic has announced new projects from Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Raina Telgemeier and Mike Maihack.
The brother-sister team of Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish) have created a Sunny Side Up, a semi-autobiographical for readers ages 8 to 12, set for release Aug. 25, the same date as Craig Thompson’s previously announced Space Dumplins.
Bone cartoonist Jeff Smith and comics journalist Tom Spurgeon are the driving force behind Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, an annual four-day comics festival set to debut in fall 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.
That will be preceded next year by a two-day CXC Launch Event held Oct. 2, 2015, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and Oct. 3 at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center (the second day is characterized as a comics expo with up to 35 exhibitors).
Smith, who lives in Columbus, will serve as the festival’s president and artistic director. Spurgeon, editor of The Comics Reporter, will be festival director; he plans to relocate to Columbus early next year.
“We’re extremely excited to try and bring a first-class comics festival to Columbus, Ohio,” Smith said in a statement. “I’ve attended and enjoyed so many great shows over the years, and hope that CXC can take its place alongside them.”
Smith and Spurgeon are joined on the CXC executive committee by Lucy Caswell, founder of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, and Vijaya Iyer, president and co-publisher of Cartoon Books. More details are promised in early 2015.
Next week, BOOM! Studios’ KaBOOM! imprint launches Capture Creatures, a new ongoing series by writer Frank Gibson and artist Becky Dreistadt. It’s the latest evolutionary step for a property that began as a website with 151 Dreistadt paintings of cute creatures (inspired by Pokemon) before being Kickstartered as a 300-plus page collected edition with Gibson-written character descriptions.
In anticipation of the series debut, Dreistadt and Gibson shared six exclusive process pages with ROBOT 6 that follow the art from initial pencils (Dreistadt) to the inking stage (by Kelly Bastow), followed by colored pages by Tracy Liang and, finally, letters by Britt Wilson. Along with the process pages, Dreistadt and Gibson also detailed the influences and challenges behind bringing Capture Creatures to KaBOOM!
This year’s pairing of Banned Books Week and comics, with considerable input from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, was pure genius. While it is sponsored by a number of organizations, Banned Books Week is heavily supported by libraries, and librarians have been among the most ardent boosters of graphic novels in the last ten years.
In fact, Banned Books Week is really all about libraries, and to a lesser extent, schools. The days of government censorship in the form of prohibiting publication, import, or sale of a book for offensive content are long gone. Nowadays, “banned books” really refers to books that someone wants to remove from a public library or a school. Often, those attempts are unsuccessful because the library in question has a solid acquisition policy and a process for handling challenges, which is how it should be. Libraries buy books for a reason, and they shouldn’t take them off the shelves without a better reason.
Many public library challenges have a similar narrative: Kid checks a book out of the library, mom finds the book and freaks out, mom goes to the library, or the press, and demands the book and all others like it be removed from circulation. When the proper process is followed, a committee of professionals reviews the book and makes a decision, and you and I seldom hear about it; it’s when someone goes to a public meeting and starts yelling and waving a book that things go haywire. That’s what happened in South Carolina, where the a mother let her daughter check out Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, which the library had correctly shelved as an adult book, then was shocked to discover it had sex in it. In this case, the library review committee recommended that the book remain on the shelves but the library director overruled them.
Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]
Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]
Banned Books Week | National Public Radio’s Lynn Neary covers Banned Books Week, with interviews with frequently banned creators Jeff Smith (Bone) and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants). Although Smith acknowledges he was initially shocked to see his acclaimed fantasy adventure among the 10 most challenged books of 2013, he soon came to terms with the distinction. “I mean my heroes are on this list,” he says. “People like Mark Twain and Steinbeck and Melville and Vonnegut, so part of me also kind of says, ‘OK, fine I can be on this list.'” [NPR]
Banned Books Week | Michael Dooley runs a brief excerpt from Fun Home, and Keith Knight does a show-and-tell of his comics that were too controversial for some newspapers. [Print Magazine]
This is Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of all the books that someone, somewhere, thought was objectionable — which usually means they make good reading. This year, the focus is on comics and graphic novels, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is working with the other sponsors, including the American Library Association, to produce a number of resources for librarians and others, including a Banned Books Week Handbook; the organization has also posted a handy list of Banned Book Week events across the country (including this panel discussion, which I’ll be part of).
Scholastic’s Graphix graphic novel imprint turns 10 next year, and editorial director David Saylor announced at Comic-Con International that the imprint will kick off its anniversary with a new edition of its launch title, Jeff Smith’s Bone #1: Out from Boneville.
The new edition will include a new poem by Smith, illustrated in full color, as well as Bone tribute art from 16 creators, including Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi), Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters), Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants) Jeffrey Brown (Vader’s Little Princess) and Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet).
The new edition will be published simultaneously in the United States and Canada.
In addition to Bone, Graphix is the publisher of Telgemeier’s Smile, Drama and the upcoming Sisters, Kibuishi’s Amulet and Doug TenNapel’s Bad Island and Cardboard. Seven Graphix books have made The New York Times graphic books bestseller list, and Sisters is likely to join them, as it is debuting with an initial print run of 200,000.
Saylor made the announcement Thursday night at Scholastic’s Comic-Con party, where Smith and most of the contributing artists were present. The poem was projected on a wall above the venue.
Ahead of Banned Books Week, which this year will focus on comics and graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has unveiled its first Banned Books Week Handbook, featuring a cover by Jeff Smith, whose critically acclaimed fantasy adventure Bone was listed among the most frequently challenged titles of 2013.
Debuting today at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the free guide provides an overview frequently challenged comics, and offers tips for readers on how to report and fight censorship and suggestions for librarians, retailers and educators for planning Banned Books Week celebrations.
A PDF of the handbook can be downloaded here; bundles of the printed edition can be ordered on the CBLDF website or through Diamond Comic Distributors.
The organization has also released the first of its discussion guides, designed to begin conversations, and address concerns and misconceptions, about specific comics, including Fun Home, Persepolis and Watchmen.
Banned Books Week is scheduled for Sept. 21-27.
Saturday, aka Day 2, of HeroesCon was much busier for creators, so I didn’t always get the opportunity to chat with them that I did on the first day of the Charlotte, North Carolina, convention. In those instances, in place of project updates I provide links to the creators and/or their related works.
Conventions | While the South Jersey Times and Philadelphia Inquirer focus on the fans who turned out over the weekend for the 14th annual Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, Philadelphia Business Journal zeroes in on its economic impact: an estimated $5.9 million, which seems like a lot, until you compare it to the expected $16.2 million impact of the 6,000-person American Industrial Hygiene Association conference. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Conventions | First-timer Michael Smith reports on the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. [Liberty Voice]
Creators | John Romita Jr. talks about moving from Marvel to DC Comics to draw Superman and about comics being his family business; and his father, John Romita Sr., chimes in as well. [The New York Times]
Set two million years ago, as a great ice ages grips Earth, the adventure is the story of the first human to leave Africa.