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Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | Wait, comics depicting crime are illegal in Canada?

detective27

Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]

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‘This One Summer’ removed from Minnesota school

this one summer

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novel This One Summer has been removed from the library of the public school in Henning, Minnesota, which serves grades kindergarten through 12, on the basis of a single complaint.

The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog reported on the incident, which, ironically, might never have occurred if the book hadn’t won so many awards and garnered such good reviews:

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Comics A.M. | Nick Sousanis’ ‘Unflattening’ wins Lynd Ward Prize

unflattening-social

Awards | Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening is the winner of the 2016 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Two graphic novels were named honor books: Lucy Knisley’s memoir Displacement and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen’s Russian Olive to Red King. The award is named for Lynd Ward, who published six wordless graphic novels between 1929 and 1937, all based on woodcuts. Ward’s daughters donated a collection of his original art to Penn State, which sponsors the award. [Penn State News]

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‘This One Summer’ pulled from libraries in two Florida school districts

this one summer1This One Summer, the award-winning graphic novel by cousins Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, has been removed from elementary school libraries in two Florida school districts. One district is also pulling the book from high school libraries.

The action followed a complaint from Melissa Allison, the mother of a third-grader who checked the book out of the library at Sabal Point Elementary School in Longwood, Florida. “How do you explain to a 9-year-old the graphic things that were in this book?” Allison said.

The main character of This One Summer, Rose, is on the brink of adolescence but not quite there yet. She and her family are spending their summer vacation at a lake house, where Rose is fascinated by the lives of the local teens (one of whom is pregnant). At the same time, she’s dealing with tensions within her own family and with her younger friend Windy. The book includes some crude language and blunt talk about sex. Publisher First Second gives This One Summer an age rating of 12-18 years on its website, and a number of library review sites give it 12+ and 13+ ratings.

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Comics A.M. | Trial date set in alleged Pokemon gun plot

Pokemon World Championships

Pokemon World Championships

Legal | Two Iowa men suspected of plotting an armed attack in August against the Pokemon World Championships will stand trial on May 9 in Boston. A pretrial hearing is set for Dec. 30. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been held since their Aug. 22 arrest on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. [Ames Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Locust Moon to close store, focus on publishing

Locust Moon

Locust Moon

Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World reports $1.8 million loss

Wizard World

Wizard World

Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonists call for review of tape in Ted Rall firing

Ted Rall

Ted Rall

Political cartoons | The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists is calling for an independent review of the audio tape provided by the LAPD to the Los Angeles Times to refute Ted Rall’s claim he was treated roughly by an officer when he was stopped for jaywalking. “Determining the truth in this matter is important to Mr. Rall’s personal and professional reputation, and to the rights of journalists to freely express themselves,” the statement said, adding that the newspaper “should have demanded a higher standard of proof in this matter.”

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Last Gasp launches ‘Barefoot Gen’ Kickstarter

barefoot gen

The comics publisher Last Gasp has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a new edition of the manga Barefoot Gen for distribution to libraries, schools and individual readers.

Barefoot Gen is a partially fictionalized account of creator Keiji Nakazawa’s experiences during the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath. Nakazawa, who was six years old at the time, was walking to school when the bomb was dropped. The woman who was walking with him was killed instantly, and his father, brother and sister died when their burning house collapsed on them — in front of his mother, who managed to escape; she gave birth that day to a baby who died a few days later.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Ted Rall calls out LA Times over firing

From Rall's blog post

From Rall’s blog post

Creators | Political cartoonist Ted Rall talks to the local news about his firing by the Los Angeles Times, which concluded a post he wrote in May for its OpinionLA blog about being stopped by police in 2001 for jaywalking contained “inconsistencies.” Rall, who worked for the Times on a freelance basis, insists the audiotape of the incident provided to the newspaper by the Los Angeles Police Department doesn’t contradict his statements about being treated rudely and handcuffed. “I would do it all over the same way today,” Rall told CBS Los Angeles. “I’m disgusted that the Times took the LAPD’s word, based on nothing.” [CBS Los Angeles]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Please let me rest now,’ says ‘Naruto’ creator

Naruto, Vol. 72

Naruto, Vol. 72

Creators | Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto isn’t getting the break he was looking forward to, although he was finally able to take his honeymoon, more than 10 years after his wedding. At a preview of Boruto: The Naruto Movie, he talked about moving from the hit manga, which ended its 15-year run last fall, to working on the movie: “I had thought that I could finally rest when I finished the manga series, but I couldn’t rest …” His own son is the same age as Boruto, the protagonist of the new movie (and Naruto’s son). And when asked about a sequel, he said, “I can’t. Please let me rest now,” adding that he thought Boruto was “perfect.” The movie will open on Aug. 7 in Japan and Oct. 10 in the United States. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Matt Bors quits The Nib, Beaton talks new book

Ana MorenoPassings | 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]

‘Palomar’ returns to library shelves at New Mexico high school

palomarGilbert Hernandez’s graphic novel Palomar will be available in the Rio Rancho (New Mexico) High School library when classes resume in the fall, but there’s a catch: Students under the age of 18 will have to get a parent’s signature before they can check out the book.

Parent Katrina Lopez turned to the local news media in February after her 14-year-old son checked out the mature-readers book, reportedly thinking it might be manga. When Lopez leafed through the pages, she saw images she characterized as “pornographic.”

While a school district spokesman initially called the book “clearly inappropriate for students,” a committee chosen by the superintendent later voted to keep the book in the library, saying it met the standard of the Rio Rancho School Board’s Library Bill of Rights.

Lopez said at the time she would appeal the decision.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund wrote to the school board in March to defend Palomar, and accused the TV station that aired the initial story of biased reporting.

Comics A.M. | Spider-Man toy inventor disappointed by ruling

webblaster

Legal | Inventor Stephen Kimble, who was dealt a final loss Monday by the Supreme Court in his years-long fight with Marvel over royalties for a Spider-Man toy, is of course disappointed by the 6-3 decision. However, he seems hopeful that there might be a legislative solution to the outdated patent law. “We can take this opinion, go to the legislators … and say, ‘Look, the court is saying that if this needs to be changed, you’re the guys to change it,’” he said. “And there is a huge body of evidence out there that this needs to be changed.” [Tucson Sentinel]

Manga | Kathryn Hemmann looks at the ways publishers courted female readers in the early days of manga, and how their strategies led to permanent changes in the comics landscape. [Contemporary Japanese Literature]

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