Chris Pine in Talks to Join "Wonder Woman" Film
Libraries | Digital media distributor Midwest Tape has announced a new e-book and comics service for libraries, which will be accessed via its hoopla platform. Unlike the widely used Overdrive, the service will allow multiple checkouts for a single book, rather than limiting checkouts to one user at a time. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | The trial began Tuesday for Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani on charges of spreading propaganda and insulting members of parliament, stemming from a cartoon she posted on Facebook depicting politicians as monkeys and other animals. Farghadani has been an activist in other ways as well, meeting with the families of people killed during the 2009 presidential elections. She was arrested last August and sent to prison, released, and then arrested again after posting a video online describing beatings by prison guards. She has been in solitary confinement since January and suffered a heart attack in February, after being on a hunger strike for three weeks. [The Washington Post]
Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media’s senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls’) manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: “Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody.” In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]
Censorship | The Tanzanian government has banned a regional newspaper, The EastAfrican, apparently because of a cartoon by Godfrey Mwampembwa (GADO) that was critical of President Jakaya Kikwete. [The Washington Post]
Creators | “My idea is that if you want to defend Islam against cartoons, you do it by drawing cartoons, not by killing the cartoonists,” says Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaaneh, who is back on the job after being suspended for a cartoon that some interpreted as being a likeness of the Prophet Muhammad (Sabaaneh insists it was not). This profile of Sabaaneh includes an interview with the creator and a nuanced look at the milieu in which he works. [The Independent]
Museums | The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has added comics to its permanent collection for the first time. Abigail and William Gerdts donated 176 comics, including Zap Comix and Arcade: The Comics Revue. Judith Brodie, curator of modern prints and drawings, cited the influence of comics on artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein: “They were all drawing their inspiration from cartoons and comic books. It seems totally logical that we’d want a representation of those.” [The Washington Post]
Passings | Greek cartoonist Ilias Skoulas died passed away Thursday at age 87. Skoulas began his career as an editorial cartoonist at the age of 32, and his work was published in numerous Greek newspapers and magazines, as well as 13 books. [Greek Reporter]
Legal | Three assistants of the Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar were arrested last week for selling his books. They were set up near the Putrajaya courthouse, where opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is on trial for sodomy, a charge Ibrahim claims is politically motivated. In a press release, Zunar said the three assistants were “investigated under The Sedition Act, Penal Code and Printing and Press Act” and released on bail. It has only been a month since a Malaysian appeals court overturned a government ban on two of Zunar’s books. [Cartoonists Rights Network International]
Creators | Garry Trudeau discusses his portrayals of different presidents, and politics in general, in Doonesbury and Alpha House. [The New York Times]
Passings | Tony Auth, editorial cartoonist for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1971 to 2012, died Sunday at age 72. Auth, who won both the Pulitzer and Herblock prizes during his lengthy career with the newspaper, began drawing as a child, when a lengthy illness confined him to bed for a year and a half. He graduated from UCLA in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in biological illustration, and worked as a medical illustrator for a time. He began his cartooning career doing a weekly cartoon for a local alternative newspaper and then started drawing a thrice-weekly cartoon for the UCLA Daily Bruin. He left the Inquirer in 2012 to pursue digital cartooning and became the Digital Artist in Residence for WHYY’s News Works. In addition to his cartooning work, he illustrated 11 children’s books. His editorial cartoons have been collected into two books, and Temple University has begun fund-raising for an archive of his work. Michael Cavna has a roundup of tributes from Auth’s colleagues at Comic Riffs. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
Conventions | With the 20th Small Press Expo kicking off Saturday in Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post’s Lori McCue singles out three of the show’s biggest draws: appearances by Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and Bob Mankoff. Meanwhile, Michael Cavna spotlights Fear, My Dear, the new release from convention guest Dean Haspiel. [The Washington Post]
Creators | As he prepared to head out to Small Press Expo, Farel Dalrymple paused for an audio interview about his newest book, The Wrenchies, which will debut at the show. [Comics Grinder]
Creators | Writer Tom Taylor teases what we can expect in his new Superior Iron Man series. [Previews World]
Awards | Mimi Pond’s Over Easy has been recognized with a PEN Center USA Literary Award for Graphic Novel Outstanding Body of Work. Previous category winners are Gilbert Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco and Matt Fraction. [PEN Center USA]
Publishing | Dark Horse is planning to beef up its lineup of children’s graphic novels, which already includes such successful titles as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Plants vs. Zombies and Itty Bitty Hellboy. Four new titles are slated for 2015: Rexodus, a story about dinosaurs from outer space, and three older properties, Rod Espinosa’s Courageous Princess, Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park’s Veda: Assembly Required, and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Return of the Gremlins. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Vocativ put together an interesting, if somewhat late, video report about the Middle East Film & Comic Con in Dubai, often viewed by Westerners as a conservative Muslim city. Yet the April convention, which drew about 35,000 attendees, featured both women in traditional hijabs and cosplayers in somewhat-revealing costumes. More interesting still, the number of women artists outnumbered the men. The piece also touches upon the reaction to the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim teenager from New Jersey. [Vocativ]
Creators | “Never having known how to work in this style, suddenly in my 80s, I discover I can”: Jules Feiffer talks about his latest graphic novel, Kill My Mother, a noir-ish tale that is a sharp departure from his earlier work. [Los Angeles Times]
Small Press Expo has announced that Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry and James Sturm will be among the special guests Sept. 13-14 for the 20th anniversary event, which will focus on alt-weekly newspaper comics.
“This spotlight on the cartoonists of the alt-weekly world for our 20th anniversary show is long overdue,” SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard told The Washington Post. “Starting with Jules Feiffer almost 60 years ago, the unfortunately now-declining alt-weekly has a rich heritage whose influence extends into today’s graphic novel and comics scene.”
An Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner, Feiffer is considered the godfather as alt-weekly comics, as his strip Feiffer ran in The Village Voice for more than 40 years. Barry, whose new book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, arrives in October from Drawn and Quarterly, is well known for her long-running comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, which began in the Chicago Reader in 1979. Co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Sturm also co-founded The Onion and Seattle’s legendary alt-weekly The Stranger.
Other announced guests include Tom Tomorrow, French, Box Brown and Michael DeForge.
Death, taxes and new comics. Those are just a few things we can expect in the New Year (not YOUR death necessarily, just death in general). Anyway, lots of comics will be published this year. Here are six I’m really looking forward to and that I think you should be excited about as well. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments.
1. Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Random House). A bit of an obvious choice perhaps. Still, whether you loved Scott Pilgrim or hated it to tiny, tiny pieces, there’s little doubt that O’Malley’s big follow-up to his uber-successful and much ballyhooed series is going to draw a lot of attention from all corners of comics fandom. There’s a lot of people curious about this book, about which little is known other than it takes place in a restaurant. Count me among them.
2. Arsene Schrauwen by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics). Is Olivier Schrauwen one of the most amazing, inventive and original cartoonists to come along in decades? Well, duh. If you’ve read The Man Who Grew His Beard, My Boy or perhaps the initial chapter of this (I’m assuming) invented tale of the author’s grandfather, you know how creative and fearless he can be. This might well be the book I’m most looking forward to this year.
Publishing | ICv2 notes the near absence of DC Comics and Marvel on the August BookScan chart, which tracks sales in bookstores. There were no Marvel titles in the Top 20, and the four DC titles — Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta — were all evergreens, not new releases. Particularly noticeable by their absence were any volumes of Wolverine or Kick-Ass, properties with movies released in July and August, respectively. What’s hot? Attack on Titan, apparently, with two volumes charting and Volume 1, which was released more than a year ago, getting stronger every month — which means new readers are finding the series now. Curiously, the series is not selling well in comics shops, perhaps because retailers simply aren’t ordering it. Eight of the top 20 volumes were manga, including the top seller, the 62nd volume of Naruto. Chart mainstay The Walking Dead placed four books, including the nine-year-old first volume. [ICv2]
Legal | EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein and the estate of Mad editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman have taken steps to reclaim the copyright to their early work under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (the same provision invoked by the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). Feldstein has already reached an agreement with the William M. Gaines Agency, which holds the rights to Tales from the Crypt and other classic EC comics of the 1950s; the deal will bring him a small amount of money and the freedom to use the art any way he wants in his autobiography. Kurtzman’s people are in the early stages of negotiations with Warner Bros./DC Comics, which holds the rights to Mad magazine. [The Comics Journal]
Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels list for October makes for strange bedfellows, with The Walking Dead Compendium Two at No. 1, Chris Ware’s Building Stories at No. 2, and the third volume of Gene Yang’s Avatar: The Last Airbender at No. 3. It’s an interestingly mixed list, with the usual sprinkling of manga (Sailor Moon, Naruto, Bleach), a volume of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine compilations, and four more volumes of The Walking Dead. And bringing up the rear, at #20, the perennial Watchmen. [ICv2]
A brief indulgence before we get started: July 14 marked eight years since I started blogging about comics on my own little website, the now-dormant Comics Ate My Brain. Since one of my first posts was called “Robin Problems,” it’s a happy coincidence that this week we return to the original superhero-sidekick identity.
Although I’m not always happy with DC Comics as a company, I have a lot of empathy for the people who work on superhero comics, especially those who populate convention panels. Regardless of how we think they’re doing their jobs, those are still their jobs, and I wouldn’t want to go to work every morning facing a steady torrent of criticism from my customers. (We lawyers get more than enough workplace second-guessing as it is.) It also can’t be easy traveling around having to face one’s critics in person.
That said, if the alternative-fuels industry could harness avoidable fan outrage, DC Comics would be the new OPEC. Once again demonstrating a knack for how not to behave, its panelists practically laughed off legitimate questions about switching out fan-favorite Bat-protege Stephanie Brown for the “more iconic” Barbara Gordon.
After those original accounts appeared online (on Friday the 13th, no less), more details emerged to help explain just who did what. It’s still a situation where DC higher-ups asked to remove Stephanie (which, it can’t be said enough, is really asking for trouble); but apparently the series’ writer got to choose her replacement. Don’t worry, we’ll get into all the nuances.
Conventions | A group of 21 events companies, including New York Comic Con and BookExpo America organizer Reed Exhibitions, are opposing a plan by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In a letter to the governor that was also distributed to 600 other officials, the Friends of Javits said they would not patronize the much larger venue that’s to be built in Ozone Park, Queens, primarily because of its distance from Manhattan. [Crain’s New York Business, via ICv2]
Conventions | Comic-Con International is just six weeks away, and you know it’s coming when Tom Spurgeon posts his annual list of tips for enjoying the convention. It’s a wealth of information, compiled over 17 years of con-going, so go, learn. [The Comics Reporter]