Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]
Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Yen Press editorial director Kurt Hassler unveiled the online version of Yen Plus magazine at Comic-Con last month, and it has given people plenty of fodder for discussion. The magazine is available in all regions (unlike other online manga sites, which are often limited to North America), and it will cost $2.99 per month, although Yen is offering a free online trial through September 9. What’s up at the moment is a mixed bag of old and new, Korean and original English-language manga—but no Japanese titles, although Hassler has hinted broadly that the all-ages favorite Yotsuba&! will be included in the mix in future.
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the Japanese series Black Butler, Nabari no Ou, and Pandora Hearts, which had been serialized in the print edition of Yen Plus, are now up on a new online manga site from Square Enix, the Japanese publisher of those series. That site is also in a free-sample mode right now, with an online store projected to open in the fall. Hassler would not comment on the relationship between the two, but the Square Enix site is currently hosting the Yen Press editions of these manga.
I spoke to Kurt about the new Yen Plus, the recent removal of all the online manga from OneManga.com, and Yen’s new line of children’s books.
Brigid Alverson: How will the paid version of Yen Plus differ from the free version we have been reading?
Kurt Hassler: It’s really not going to be different. The experience you have now will be pretty much the same. The only different element will be the PayPal component for getting your subscription.
Brigid: What about the Japanese content?
Kurt: That is something we are working on. We have the first title, but finalizing the contract is always getting down to the wire. It is not going to be a ton of material initially; you are going to see material being added gradually over time as licensors get comfortable with digital distribution.
Kurt Hassler pretty much invented the notion of selling comics to girls when he was the head buyer at Borders, so it’s not surprising that he has continued that trend as publishing director of Yen Press. And indeed, Yen’s graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sold 66,000 copies in its first week of release, which is a pretty good indication that Hassler knows what he is doing, regardless of what the rest of us may think. While most comics folk grudgingly admitted that the book itself wasn’t bad, the lettering got a lot of criticism online. So naturally, the subject came up when CBR’s Kiel Phegley interviewed Hassler earlier this week. Hassler parried the question, essentially saying that the critics didn’t understand what the artist was doing: