NYCC PHOTO PARADE: Comics, Creators & Cosplay Collide on Thursday
Comic Books, Film, TV, Video Games, Digital Comics
Political cartoons | On the 10th anniversary of the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, experts and journalists reflect on the controversy that followed. While the publication of the cartoons and their aftermath have “made some journalists more thoughtful about the way they cover minority groups,” journalism professor Angela Phillips says, “In other instances I think it made quite a lot of journalists if anything less sensitive to these issues. There is in some countries an even faster recourse to a rather essentialist notion of freedom of expression.” [Agence France-Presse]
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
Comic strips | Cartoonist Jan Eliot has announced that, after 20 years, she will no longer create daily strips for Stone Soup. She will, however, continue to produce a Sunday version. She’s cutting back so she can focus on other projects without all the deadline pressure: “It may seem like a small task, creating one cartoon a day, but it is herculean in many ways. The pressure to be good enough, funny enough, to create interesting-enough drawings, live up to the standards of great cartoonists I admire and share the comics page with is not a small thing.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | As the third Salt Lake Comic Con approaches, co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg talk about the event’s beginnings — how they chose the venue, how they managed to book William Shatner and Stan Lee for the first convention, and how they used social media to build a following before the event itself. [Salt Lake Tribune]
Welcome to Store Tour, ROBOT 6’s weekly exploration of comics shops, and the people who run them. Each Sunday we feature a different store, and also get to know the person behind the register.
This week’s store is Little Island Comics, located at 742 Bathurst St. in Toronto, Ontario. We spoke with store manager Andrew Woodrow-Butcher.
Retailing | Variety Comics, which opened in Chicago in summer 1974, will close its doors for good Halloween. “Business is down,” says co-owner Vin Nguyen. “It’s sad but you know, it is what it is.” Nguyen and his partner Victor Olivarez bought the store in 2009 following the death of original owner Rick Vitone. [DNAInfo]
Conventions | The Houston Press looks at allegations of organizational problems and financial mismanagement at the Houston-based convention Anime Matsuri, which has been growing steadily (attendance at this year’s event was 24,000), despite leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid bills and angry guests. [Houston Press]
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s fantasy comic Nimona has made the longlist for the National Book Awards in the Young People’s Literature category. It’s rare but not unprecedented for a graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first, and his Boxers and Saints made the 2013 longlist. One of the creators of Lumberjanes, Stevenson launched Nimona in 2012 as a webcomic; the print edition was published in May by HarperCollins. [The New Yorker]
Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]
Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]
Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]
Passings | Anastasia Moreno, co-creator of the webcomic Marine Corps Yumi and a manga translator for Seven Seas, has died. Moreno was the translator of Kisses Sighs and Cherry Blossom Pink, Girl Friends, and Strawberry Panic, as well as the Love Hina and Trinity Blood novels. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Political cartoonist Matt Bors has left his post as editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which he had built into a highly regarded online comics site until Medium gutted it. Bors told Tom Spurgeon he would be launching a Kickstarter for a Nib book, but he did not reveal any future plans. [Comics Reporter]
Editorial Cartoons | Political cartoonist Adrian Raeside is being laid off from the Victoria Times Colonist after 30 years. [Vancouver Sun]
Comics | I rounded up the kids’ comics news at Comic-Con. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | “I kind of understood inherently — and I wasn’t really conflicted about this — that comics were not for me or by people who looked like me,” says Noelle Stevenson. Discovering the “free for all” of webcomics, and seeing women making stories for women, changed her attitude, and at 23 she already has a solid career, as the creator of Nimona (which started as a webcomic) and one of the co-creators of Lumberjanes. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her new picture book, The Princess and the Pony, and the power and joy of making kids laugh with poop and fart jokes. [Jezebel]
Creators | Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis talks about comics and being mistaken for Robert Downey, Jr. [Huffington Post]
Graphic Novels | Leah Hayes talks about her graphic novel Not Funny Ha-Ha, which follows the experiences of two women as they have abortions; the book focuses on the procedure itself, not the decision to have an abortion or the discussion that surrounds it. [MTV]
Graphic Novels | Phil Morehart covers three creator panels on diversity in graphic novels at the American Library Association annual meeting. Trina Robbins, Brenden Fletcher, Noelle Stevenson, and Jeremy Whitley were among the participants. [American Libraries]
Manga | Deb Aoki rounds up the recommendations from the Best and Worst Manga panel at Comic-Con (in which I took part). [MangaComicsManga]
This being the Internet, there very well may be someone somewhere who does not, in fact, care for Beaton’s work, but I’ve never run across that person. Similarly, it’s difficult to find a cartoonist whose work is so widely enjoyed and championed that affection for it approaches universal.
From her long-running online comics about historical and literary figures (collected in the Hark! A Vagrant books, a second volume of which is due soon) to her online-only, more-doodled-than-drawn strips about visiting her family, Beaton’s work is always engaging and easy to share.
Manga | The Naruto spinoff Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, which is running simultaneously in the Japanese and American versions of Shonen Jump, will end in the July 6 issue. [Anime News Network]
Fandom | Rob Salkowitz presents results of a recent survey of convention-goers conducted by the online ticket platform Eventbrite. Interestingly, they found almost complete gender parity (48.9 percent female, 48.7 percent male, and 3.1 percent non-binary/other) among convention-goers in general but much bigger skews in individual categories: “Comics, toys and gaming are predominantly male, while media, anime/manga and sci-fi/fantasy fandom are predominantly female.” A typical con-goer spends between $100 an $500, with comics fans being the biggest spenders and prints and original art the most popular thing to buy. There’s a lot more detail in the article about what people like and don’t like (biggest beef: lack of wi-fi an connectivity in convention centers). The survey updates and expands on a similar survey conducted last year. [ICv2]
Although the book was teased in Drawn & Quarterly’s Free Comic Book Day listing, the publisher has now officially announced the September release of Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops, the follow-up to her bestselling 2011 collection Hark! A Vagrant.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the 160-page book will combine new material with strips from Beaton’s wildly popular webcomic, including her “Broadside Ballads” series. The cartoonist talks briefly with the newspaper about Hark! A Vagrant, its historical and literary influences, and how she settles upon topics.
“Kate’s wit is sharper than ever in Step Aside, Pops,” acquiring editor Tom Devlin said in a statement. “She’s found the perfect way to explore her love of history, while effortlessly deflating the pompous, self-righteous figures of authority we were taught to respect in school. Her restlessness has made her drawings even funnier.”
Beaton, who’s been producing her webcomic since 2007, has won four Harvey Awards for her work. The 2011 collection of Hark! A Vagrant spent five months on The New York Times graphic books bestsellers list.
Step Aside, Pops will be previewed along with Jillian Tamaki’s SuperMutant Magic Academy in Drawn & Quarterly’s FCBD offering.
Crime | Artist Josh C. Lyman reports that thieves broke into his car sometime on Monday or Tuesday and stole about 40 pieces of original art (some of it commissioned), 1,200 prints, plus convention setup materials, art supplies and clothes. “I’m more devastated in the fact my originals are all gone … some of my better non-commissioned work of the last 3 years … along with all of my tools I have earned and acquired during the aforementioned periods. Tshirts and the like I can slowly replace … but it’s the matter of having all this potential art for shows gone; along with all the posters I had left,” he writes. Lyman contacted police and has notified local comic shops to keep an eye out for the missing work, and he has posted images of the stolen art. [Facebook, via Bleeding Cool]
Censorship | Rachael Jolley takes a long and wide view of the pressures that political cartoonists are subject to, looking at several recent attempts to suppress editorial cartoonists as well as the history of tensions between creators of political cartoons and those they portray; the article also includes comments from Neil Gaiman on the topic of censorship. [The New Statesman]
Kate Beaton remains one of the most recognizable names in webcomics. Hark! A Vagrant began as humorous doodles posted to LiveJournal but has since become one of the most-loved webcomics in the world. It’s been nominated for several awards, winning the Harvey twice for Best Online Comic. In 2011, Time named Beaton’s collection (published by Drawn & Quarterly) one of the Top 10 fiction books of the year.
It’s not difficult to see why Beaton’s comics are popular: Her style is unmistakable; it’s loose and deceptively simple, as if she just had a funny notion only seconds ago, and yet manages to be successfully comedic with its goofiness, bug-eyed faces and rubbery body language. Her love of history helps, too (she has a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from Mount Allison University). There’s a lot of life that goes into both the caricatures of royal dead dudes and the attention to detail on the period costumes. And then Beaton has them act and talk like a bunch of teens. It’s a magical formula that combines goofiness with an air of respectability… like, say, a classy Victorian lady smoking a cigarette and talking like an urban tough guy. It’s the sort of thing that gets her invited to participate in a diverse array of projects, from Marvel’s non-canon superhero anthology Strange Tales to the notoriously sophisticated (and sometimes inscrutable) pages of The New Yorker.
Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]
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.