Jeff Smith Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
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.
In addition, the NCS presented awards in 15 other categories during the ceremony in San Diego. Isabella Bannerman’s Six Chix was named best newspaper strip and Speed Bump by Dave Coverly won for best newspaper panels. Sergio Aragones Funnies, published by Bongo, won for best comic book, while The Fifth Beatle by Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker won for best graphic novel. Jeff Smith’s Tuki won for long-form webcomic, while Ryan Pageow’s Buni took home the award for short-form webcomic.
You can find a list of the other award winners below.
According to the cartoonist, readers of the webcomic, which features gorgeous colors by Tom Gaadt, have been lobbying for the same treatment in print. “That’s what I hear over and over while I’m on the road at comic shows,” Smith said in a statement. “To which I say: It’s on!”
The mission statement for Stripped!, a documentary by Dave Kellett (Sheldon) and Frederick Schroeder, is about forging a common history between webcomics and newspaper funnies. Not comic books, interestingly. I suppose that makes sense, as the most popular webcomics (xkcd, The Oatmeal and Penny Arcade) most closely resemble the four-panel forebears. It’s starting to become standard practice, by the way, to refer these sort of webcomics as “gag-a-day” or “short-form.”
Still, it’s a delight to explore this oft-neglected corner in the world of sequential art. The days of the celebrity cartoonists like Milton Caniff and Al Capp are long past, as depicted in archival footage where they were treated as major celebrities on early TV shows. However, the list of interviewees for Stripped! are still recognizable industry titans: Lynn Johnston. Jeff Smith. Greg Evans. Jim Davis. Mort Walker. Cathy Guisewite, who hilariously has the letters “AACK” hanging in her home. And one name that brings the directors to the point of fanboy glee, Bill Watterson … the first time he’s allowed his voice to be recorded. (Charles Schulz may no longer be with us, but his influential presence looms over the entire documentary.) It’s wonderful seeing the faces of the creators behind so many iconic characters. They gather here to reminisce, sharing crude doodles drawn as a child, their cherished influences, and the highs and lows of working under the syndicate system.
Bone, Jeff Smith’s critically acclaimed fantasy adventure about three cousins swept up in epic populated by dragons, rat creatures and evil forces, was among the books most frequently challenged last year in schools and libraries.
The news comes from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which has released its annual Top 10 List of Frequently Challenged Books as part of National Library Week. In 2013, the organization received 307 reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from library bookshelves and school curricula across the United States. That’s down from 464 official challenges in 2012.
Bone came in at No. 10 on the list, which was led once again by Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series and populated by the likes of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (see the full rundown below). The last comic to make the list was Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Earth in 2011.
The ALA’s 2014 State of American Libraries Report doesn’t cite specific challenges to Bone or reveal how many there have been, but it does offer broad reasons for the objections: “political viewpoint, racism, violence.”
Although the challenges last year apparently failed to attract media attention, there was a good deal of coverage of complaint filed in 2010 by a parent in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, objecting to the depictions of drinking, smoking, gambling and sexual situations in Bone. However, a school district committee voted 10-1 to keep the books on library shelves. (There’s a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund case study, if you’re interested.)
The November launch of Jeff Smith’s webcomic Tüki Save the Humans was met with excitement, followed almost immediately by grumbling that the interface seemed as ancient as the adventure’s prehistoric setting. But now Smith’s Boneville.com has unveiled a redesign that allows readers to enjoy the Reuben Award-nominated comic in an easily navigated widescreen format that better showcases the work of the cartoonist and colorist Tom Gaadt.
“When Tüki began, we redesigned the site for the occasion. Unfortunately, our rollout made Healthcare.gov look good,” Smith said in a statement. “Still, like Rasl, our motto is: It’s never too late to fix it! We listened to our readers and came up with what we hope is a better experience for reading Bone, RASL and Tüki.”
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has expanded its already-impressive creator lineup with the addition of international guests Christophe Blain, Abel Lanzac, Luke Pearson, Jeff Smith, Mimi Pond and Kuš.
“The comics medium is thoroughly celebrated the world over,” Festival Director Christopher Butcher said in a statement. “I’ve had the great fortune to travel around the world, and I’ve seen how both the medium and its authors are highly-regarded … it’s my privilege to bring a little bit of that sentiment, that respect, back to Canada through TCAF.”
Previously announced featured guests for the May 10-11 event include Darwyn Cooke, Michael Deforge, Lynn Johnston, Kazu Kibuishi, Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki.