X-POSITION: Bennett Talks "Years Of Future Past's" Teenage Mutant Savior Heroes
Legal | Witnesses testified Wednesday in a preliminary hearing that driver Matthew Pocci honked his horn and drove through the crowd of spectators last year during the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, despite attempts by spectators stop him. Pocci, who is deaf, has been charged with felony reckless driving causing serious injury. But Pocci’s fiancee, April Armstrong, said the crowd had mostly passed when he started the car, and that the people surrounding them were frightening: “People then started laughing at us. People were getting close to us. I started to freak out. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was looking back at my son, he was scared. I told Matt, ‘please let’s go.'” Armstrong also testified, however, she had told a neighbor she felt she couldn’t tell the true story because of her relationship with Pocci. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Conventions | Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi will be a guest in July at Comic-Con International. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card-fighting manga that has inspired a number of anime and manga spinoffs as well as, logically enough, a card game. This is the second announcement in two weeks of a high-profile manga-ka coming to America, as Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto will be a special guest in October at New York Comic Con. [Anime News Network]
Awards | Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer is the winner of the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, and Richard McGuire’s Here is the 2015 Honoree. [Pennsylvania Center for the Book]
Creators | The Southern Poverty Law Center, which compiles an annual list of hate groups operating in the United States, said it will add artist Bosch Fawstin to its 2016 report. He drew the winning entry in the Prophet Muhammad contest in Garland, Texas, where two gunmen were killed Sunday in a foiled attack. The American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsored the competition, is already included on the list. Heidi Beirich of the SPLC described Fawstin’s work as “virulently ugly” and “hate views.” The artist, who was raised as a Muslim but is now an outspoken critic of Islam, responded, “So they want to put a cartoonist on there who doesn’t act out violently? Go for it.” Fawstin, creator of the “anti-jihad superhero” Pigman, also vowed to continue his work despite fears for his safety: “I understand the threat, but I’m not going to be cowed by it. I still intend to go up there and I still intend to speak out.” [Reuters]
Manga | Lynzee Lamb lists seven manga that have been banned in different areas, including Ultraman (banned in Malaysia for alleged misuse of the word “Allah”) and Dragon Ball, removed from all school libraries in Wicomico, Maryland, because of nudity and “sexual content.” [Anime News Network]
Retailing | Joe Field, owner of the Concord, California, comics shop Flying Colors, talks about how he markets children’s and all-ages titles, with a staff that is ready to make recommendations special area in his store that is easily recognized as safe for kids. “Besides what we’re doing right in that corner though, I think it’s the approach that we take to the entire store, and that is that I’ve never hung up a poster that has blood splatter on it or that has sexually suggestive stuff. We keep the store very family-friendly for everyone,” he said. “It’s not that we’re not selling things for a mature audience, we just don’t push that in the face of people who come in because we are in a suburban area. It is an area with a lot of families and we want the store to be accessible to everyone.” [ICv2]
Conventions | Calgary Expo organizers asked an exhibitor to leave after learning the group had misrepresented itself and is affiliated with GamerGate. The group, Honey Badger Radio, raised money through crowdfunding to set up a booth at the convention, but registered under a different name (as explained on the crowdfunding site, they were in “stealth mode”). At the convention, the exhibitor displayed a poster with a GamerGate logo and monopolized the Q&A session at a panel on women in comics. In a statement released on Twitter, the event organizers said, “The Calgary Expo is a positive and safe event for everyone. We have reason to believe that the Exhibitor in question does not fall in line with this mandate … so we have politely requested that they not participate in our show or future shows.” [The Mary Sue]
Passings | MAD Magazine writer Lou Silverstone has died at age 90. Silverstone was the writer of many of MAD‘s movie and television satires in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with “Bananaz,” a parody of Bonanza. Later he went to work for Cracked, MAD‘s chief competition, and he also wrote for the Jackson 5 animated series and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comic, a gig that he got through former MAD artist Wally Wood. The MAD website also pays tribute to Silverstone. [News From ME]
Conventions | Oregon’s Cherry City Comic Con has a new owner and a new attitude. The con fell on hard times last year, and at one point this year’s show was canceled. New owner John Roache bought the show when he heard that news; he and his wife, artist Nicole Brune, had been to last year’s show and enjoyed it. He’s keeping the name but changing the format to more of a pop-culture convention, with a long list of entertainment guests, and he has expanded the number of slots available for vendors. The show is scheduled for April 11-12. [Statesman Journal]
The nominees have been announced for this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, a list that, unsurprisingly, includes awards-season favorites Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.
The five finalists in the graphic novel category are:
CeCe Bell’s graphic memoir El Deafo today earned a prestigious Newbery Honor for outstanding contribution to children’s literature, while Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer became the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor and only the second to be recognized with a Printz Honor.
The awards were announced this morning by the American Library Association at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
I got to know Ryan Sands almost 10 years ago, when he was publishing the strangest manga I had ever seen on his blog Same Hat! Since then, I’ve watched him follow his enthusiasm for innovative comics as the publisher of the Electric Ant zine, the translator of Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island for Last Gasp and now, as he explained to Chris Mautner in August, the creator of his own small press, Youth in Decline.
His flagship publication is Frontier, an anthology series in which each issue is a complete comic by a single creator. Frontier ended 2014 strong with comics by Emily Carroll and Sam Alden, and this year’s lineup looks equally good, with Jillian Tamaki, Anna Deflorian, Becca Tobin and Michael DeForge on the roster.
Sands has signed up some of the most interesting up-and-coming creators in the indie comics scene and has presented their works in interesting and sophisticated ways, so I asked him to talk to me in depth about his work on Frontier.
Brigid Alverson: The Frontier anthology seems to be evolving into a place for side stories or experimental work by creators who are already working on other, longer projects. Do you think these comics would be published if not for Frontier?
Ryan Sands: The goal for the Frontier series is to spotlight each individual artist and a distinct story or collection of work. I tried to set out the goal pretty explicitly on our site when starting Frontier, saying we’d focus on three types of books: up-and-coming talent in the North American indie scene, introducing the work of international artists I like, and presenting “uncommon dispatches” from more-established creators. The first year of Frontier was mostly focused on the first two goals, but with Sam Alden and Emily Carroll’s books — and now with Jillian Tamaki and Michael DeForge creating issues for 2015—I’m hoping to mix in some of these interesting stories from established creators.
Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]
Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]
Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]
Awards | Jillian Tamaki has won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Prize for children’s literature illustration for her work on This One Summer, a graphic novel collaboration with cousin Mariko Tamaki (who was nominated in the text category). Their first book, 2008’s Skim, was previously nominated in the text division, further demonstrating a separation of illustration and story that Jillian Tamaki finds “strange.” ““I think we are both creators of the book,” she tells the Edmonton Journal. “You can’t read a comic without either component, it won’t make sense. It’s something I will always be addressing when talking about the award. But I am completely flattered by the honor and will be sharing the prize with my cousin.” [Edmonton Journal, via The Comics Reporter]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It’s snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there’s something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it’s become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.
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]
The Ignatz Awards were handed out Saturday night at Small Press Expo in a ceremony that culminated with a mock wedding in which Simon Hanselmann married Comics (represented by a stack of graphic novels and real-life creator Michael DeForge).
Named in honor of the brick-wielding mouse in George Herriman’s Krazy Kat strip, the festival prize recognizes achievement in comics and cartooning. Nominees are selected by a panel of five cartoonists, and then voted on by SPX attendees.
Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools. [The Washington Post]