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Graphic novels | Dubbing this “the age of the graphic novel,” Glasgow, Scotland’s Sunday Herald asked an unnamed and unnumbered group of cartoonists, novelists, critics, comics historians and the like for a list of titles that should be in everyone’s library. The result is a pretty impressive, and varied, rundown — “the 50 greatest graphic novels of all time” — that ranges from Paul Pope’s Heavy Liquid and Lili Carre’s The Lagoon to Katshuiro Otomo’s Akira and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. [Sunday Herald]
Creators | Rebecca Gross interviews Daniel Clowes about the development of his work, doing comics at a time when comics weren’t considered an art form, and the current exhibit of his work at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, “Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes.” [NEA Arts]
The school board in the Japanese city of Matsue has restricted student access to Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, the autobiographical story of a six-year-old boy who survived the Hiroshima bombing.
The board ruled that the book will remain in elementary and junior high school libraries but only teachers will have access to it; students will not be allowed to check it out.
Barefoot Gen, which originally ran in Shonen Jump, a magazine for teenage boys, is based on Nakazawa’s own experiences; he was seven years old and on his way to school when the bomb was dropped, and the adult who was walking with him was burned to death on the spot, and his father, brother and sister were killed when their burning house collapsed on them.
The Matsue school board made its decision last December, after a complaint was filed with them alleging “Children would gain a wrong perception of history because the work describes atrocities by Japanese troops that did not take place.” Many Japanese nationalists deny that Japanese troops were involved in the Rape of Nanking or committed war crimes during World War II, such as the events depicted in the book. Nonetheless, the school board said its decision was based strictly on the level of violence in the books and not on the political nature of the complaint.
Barefoot Gen has been acclaimed worldwide, and it is included in the Hiroshima Public Schools’ peace education curriculum for elementary school students, although there have been calls for it to be removed from schools there as well.
Digital comics | Jason Snell uses Comic-Con International as an opportunity to take a snapshot of digital comics in “an era of experimentation,” and hones in on Madefire, the convention’s embrace of technology, comiXology and the growing popularity of the digital-first model. “Digital has made us rethink how we fulfill books into the [print] retail market,” Chris Ross, Top Shelf’s director of digital publishing, said during a panel. [TechHive]
Legal | The Attorney-Generals Chambers of Singapore has charged cartoonist Leslie Chew (the pen name of Chew Peng Ee) with contempt of court because of four cartoons posted on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. A hearing on the charges, which could result in jail time and fines, will be held on Aug. 12. Chew’s attorney M. Ravi said in a phone interview, “Our judiciary is not like fragile flowers to be offended easily by such criticism. We have full faith in the impartiality and independence of our judiciary.” [Bloomberg News]
Publishing | Sales of comics, graphic novels and digital comics totaled $750 million in 2012, making that year the best of the millennium so far for the comics business, according to the retail news and analysis site ICv2. Total print sales were estimated at $680 million and digital at $70 million, a hair over 10 percent of print and almost triple the 2011 total of $25 million. The website also breaks down the top properties in eight graphic novel categories (superheroes, genre, manga, etc.), based on interviews with retailers, distributors and manufacturers. Interestingly, Hawkeye is nestled at No. 7 on the list of Top 10 superhero properties, between Iron Man and Spider-Man. [ICv2]
Publishing | Torsten Adair takes a look at IDW Publishing’s financials, and they’re looking pretty good. [The Beat]
Retailing | Saying that video games, texting and digital comics have killed interest in collectibles, 80-year-old Joseph Liesner is closing his Sunnyside, Queens, store Comic Book Heaven after nearly three decades. “The store’s not making any money,” he says, “and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah.” The store will remain open for another two months, with Liesner using the time to search for a much younger girlfriend via a sign in the window. [Sunnyside Post]
Publishing | What begins as a profile of Australian publisher Gestalt Comics dovetails into a brief snapshot of the country’s comics industry — or, perhaps, “industry.” “There are publishers like Milk Shadow Books and Black House Comics, I think we all help to create the impression of there being an Australian industry,” says Gestalt co-founder Wolfgang Bylsma, “but I don’t think we’re established enough to call it an industry yet. There are very few people who are working full time in comics in Australia.” [artsHub]
Creators | Jamie Hewlett chats about art, influences, Gorillaz and whether he might considering returning to comics: “Would I go back to doing comics? I dunno, maybe. It’s a lot of work drawing a comic. [Laughs.] And, you know, I did 10 years of drawing comics, and I really enjoyed it, but I’m kind of keen to try other things that I haven’t done. But I was talking with Alan [Martin] about the possibility of doing something in a comic form together. We haven’t agreed upon anything yet. It’s just a conversation. I’d love to work with Alan again. I really like Alan; he’s really cool.” [Consequence of Sound]
Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh, who was arrested in March by Israeli authorities and held for what many feared would be an indefinite period, is expected to be released today. [Palestine News Network]
Graphic novels | Aligning itself with the latest trend in education, Diamond Book Distributors has released a list of 98 graphic novels that can fit in with a Common Core curriculum. [Diamond Book Distributors]
Awards | The shortlist has been announced for the Scottish Comic Book Alliance Awards. [Forbidden Planet]
Conventions | The New York Post previews what’s now called the Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience, which kicks off in about three hours at Basketball City (Pier 36) in New York City: “Wizard cons, which are kind of a traveling road show hitting cities across the country, tend to focus more on celebrity appearances and (paid) meet-and-greets than other shows. But they still have plenty of programming that will scratch a given itch. And there will be plenty of comics/memorabilia/ephemera dealers to help empty your wallet. [Parallel Worlds]
Editorial cartoons | The Cartoonists Rights Network International will honor Syrian cartoonist Akram Raslan, who has been imprisoned on charges of sedition for the past seven months because of his cartoons critical of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
A library in suburban Chicago fell well short of its $30,000 fundraising goal to purchase graphic novels, a comics-creating station and a 9-foot-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk, but thanks to the generosity of a California businessman, it’s still getting a life-sized Green Goliath to call its own.
The trustees of the Northlake Public Library launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 26 in hopes of expanding its collection of about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, adding computer software and hardware, and buying a Hulk statue that might help attract visitors. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy,” the campaign description reads. “The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”
But with mere days to go, the Indiegogo drive has raised just $3,710; the statue alone costs in the neighborhood of $8,000.
A Nebraska public library has rejected a request to either remove Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke from shelves or move the 1988 DC Comics one-shot out of the young-adult area.
“I don’t find it worthy of being removed from the shelf,” the Columbus Telegram quotes Columbus Public Library board member Carol Keller as saying at last week’s meeting.
Conventions | Last week’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo drew 53,000 attendees, the largest crowd yet for the Chicago-based show, which is in its fourth year. Reed Exhibitions Group Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about the high points of the show and plans for the next couple of years. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald tracks the rise in popularity of graphic novels among librarians, whose support has been integral to the growth of the industry. Her well-researched article includes interviews with public librarians, school librarians, and academic librarians, as well as publishers and others in the field. It’s a comprehensive overview of one of the most important, and least reported-on, areas of our world. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Alex Hern looks at three comics that have long been out of print but are now back, or possibly on their way back: Flex Mentallo, Marvelman and Zenith. [The New Statesman]
Just as Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, we want our library community members to make their own personal transformations through books, programs, and awesome new equipment,” Tom Mukite, a trustee of the Northlake Public Library, writes on the project’s Indiegogo page. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy. The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”
According to the Franklin Park Herald-Journal, Mukite became a library trustee in October specifically so he could spearhead the campaign. “We’ve been working on The Hulk statue since August when we first got the idea for it,” he tells the newspaper. “It was running a bit slow. We have to get everything approved by the trustees. I figured if I was on the board, everything would be easier.”
The library has about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, but hopes to greatly expand the collection. In addition to the books and the statue, made by licensed sculptor Studio Oxmox, the goal is to purchase an iMac with a drawing pad, editing software, a 3D printer and more.
So far, the Northlake Public Library has raised $775. The campaign ends June 9.
The National Coalition Against Censorship has written to Lee Ann Lowder, deputy counsel for the Board of Education of Chicago, questioning the school district’s authority to remove Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis from seventh-grade classrooms. The letter is signed by NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein, as well as representatives from PEN American Center, the National Council of Teachers of English, and other organizations. I don’t usually find myself on the opposite side of an issue from these folks, but my own opinion is that this case has been overblown.
Here’s the backstory: On March 14, employees showed up at Chicago’s Lane Tech to physically remove Persepolis from classrooms and the library and ensure no one had checked out any copies. This seemed sinister, to say the least, and word spread literally overnight. As parents planned a protest on March 15, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett backtracked and said the book was to be removed from seventh-grade classrooms but not from school libraries. Byrd-Bennett said the district would develop guidelines for teaching the book to juniors and seniors, and possibly in grades eight through 10 as well, but it’s not clear whether the books also were removed from those classrooms.
I think the issue here is really not the removal of Persepolis but rather the way the Chicago Public Schools handled it.
Chicago Public Schools have been told to disregard an earlier order to remove Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed 2000 graphic novel Persepolis. Instead, the Chicago Tribune reports, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has asked that the autobiography no longer be taught to seventh-graders. It will, however, remain in libraries.
Word of the initial order spread quickly following the removal of copies of the book Wednesday afternoon from Lane Tech College Prep, one of the largest schools in the city. The move sparked outcry from teachers, parents and students, who had organized a protest for later this afternoon.
Although Persepolis in included in the district’s curriculum for seventh-graders, Byrd-Bennett said in a letter sent to principals this morning that it may not be appropriate for that age group. According to the Tribune, the district released images from the graphic novel depicting a man being whipped, burned with an iron and urinated on.
Depicting Satrapi’s experience is a child and young adult in Iran during the Islamic revolution, Persepolis has received almost universal acclaim. The 2007 animated adaptation directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud was nominated for an Academy Award.
Reports began circulating last night that Chicago Public Schools has instituted a ban on Marjane Satrapi’s 2000 graphic novel Persepolis. Copies of the book apparently were taken Wednesday afternoon from Lane Tech College Prep High School, one of the oldest, largest schools in the city, as a preamble to a district-wide ban.
ROBOT 6 reached out to the CPS press office this morning and has been promised a response by the end of the day.
Word spread through a post on the parent/teacher news blog CPS Chatter that included a photo of an e-mail (below) from Lane Tech Principal Christopher Dignam to his staff regarding the move. The only reason given was a directive handed down from a regular Chief of Schools meeting held Monday.
Retired CPS teacher Fred Klonsky had more information on his blog, noting a report from one teacher that “News on social media boards yield that CPS is claiming that there was a set of new books sent to schools and the distributor included copies of this one by mistake. Since CPS hadn’t paid for them, schools were asked to pull the books and send them back. ‘a mix-up.’ The books, in fact, were purchased some years ago by an English teacher when she applied (and received) a grant to pay for them.”
The story of Satrapi’s own experience as a young girl living through Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Persepolis has experienced near-universal acclaim, winning, among other awards, the American Library Association’s Alex Award for adult books that have special appeal to teenage readers.
UPDATE (9:46 a.m.): DNAinfo Chicago reports teachers, parents and students are planning a protest this afternoon in response to the graphic novel’s removal. The website spoke to a representative for Pantheon Books, Satrapi’s North American publisher, who noted that Persepolis has never been banned in the United States.
UPDATE 2 (10:38 a.m.): Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told DNAinfo Chicago he’ll “take a look into” the book’s removal.
UPDATE 3 (12:50 p.m.): Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has told principals to disregard the previous directive. However, she’s asked that Persepolis not be taught to seventh-graders.
Digital comics | The manga publisher Viz Media has signed on to iVerse’s digital comics app for libraries; this is big news, because manga, especially Viz’s teen-friendly line, is still very popular in libraries. [press release]
Publishing | In his address last weekend to the ComicsPRO annual meeting in Atlanta, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson urged the audience to continue asking “What’s next?” [Comics Alliance]
Retailing | Journalist and retailer Matthew Price wraps up the ComicsPRO meeting, noting Diamond’s report of a healthy year for comics retailers, with comics sales up 16 percent, graphic novels up 13 percent, and merchandise up 9 percent from last year. [The Oklahoman]