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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]
The Young Adult Library Association has unveiled the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, a list of 55 titles that cover the spectrum from biography and mythology to superheroes and science fiction.
The finalists were selected by a committee from among 98 nominees recommended for readers ages 12 to 18. From those 55 titles, 10 were singled out for exemplifying “the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences.” The are:
- My Friend Dahmer, by Derf Backderf (Abrams)
- Trinity: A gRaphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (Hill and Wang)
- Annie Sullivand the thr Trials of Helen Keller, Joseph Lambert (Disney Hyperion)
- Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, Vol. 1, by Brian Micahel Bendis and Sara Pichelli (marvel)
- Friends with Boys, Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)
- A Flight of Angels, by Alisa Kwitney, Rebecca Guay and others (DC Comics/Vertigo)
- The Silence of Our Friends, by Mark Long, Nate Powell and Others (First Second)
- Stargazing Dog, by Takashi Murakami (NBM Publishing)
- Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/GRAPHIX)
- Daredevil, Vol. 1, by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin (Marvel)
“What do superheroes, serial killers and the stage crew have in common? They all have a place on the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list,” chair Rachael Myers said in a statement. “There is a graphic novel on this list for every teen reader and we think this is a valuable resource for teens and the librarians who work with them.”
You can see the full list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens on the American Library Association website.
Digital comics | ComiXology, which earlier this week announced the opening of a European branch, has revealed its first big score: a digital-distribution agreement with Delcourt, the top independent publisher in France. And comiXology kicked off the agreement by updating its dedicated Walking Dead app to include a French interface and the French editions of the comic. The company also plans a dedicated Lanfeust of Troy app, and of course it will roll out Delcourt titles on its regular app as well. [ComiXology]
Auctions | A copy of Detective Comics #27, which contains the first appearance of Batman (or, as he was called in 1939, “the Bat-Man”), will go on the auction block later this month. The comic, which is CGC rated 6.5, is expected to fetch $500,000, but there’s no reserve, so this might be an opportunity to pick up a bargain. [Art Daily]
Business | In a surprise announcement, Kevin Tsujihara was announced Monday to succeed Barry Meyer as CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, the parent company of DC Entertainment. The 48-year-old Tsujihara, who has been with Warner Bros. since 1994, was named in 2005 as president of the Home Entertainment Group, overseeing the company’s home video, digital distribution, video games, anti-piracy and emerging technology operations. He was chosen as CEO over Bruce Rosenbaum, president of Warner Bros. Television, and Jeff Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures (under which DC Entertainment is placed in the corporate structure). [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese, has revealed his latest project Boxers and Saints, a set of two graphic novels about the Boxer Rebellion in China; one story is about a peasant who joins the Boxers, while the other is about a woman who converts to Catholicism. First Second will publish them as a slipcased set. There’s a 10-page preview as well as an interview at the link. [Wired]
Comics | Jim Rugg notices that his print copy of Hellboy in Hell doesn’t look as good as his friend’s digital copy, and where most of us would have just shrugged and moved on, he takes the time to think about why that is and how careful publishers can ensure that print comics look their best. [Jim Rugg]
Creators | For Slate’s “Doers” feature — “People who accomplish great things, and how they do it” — David Wiegel spotlights Rob Liefeld’s decision to revive his Extreme Studios line by handing over the properties to creators like Brandon Graham, Joe Keatinge and Tim Seeley. Acknowledging his critics prefer these new versions of Glory, Prophet and Bloodstrike to his originals, Liefeld tells the website, ““The internet snark has zero effect on me. I was there 20 years ago, I’m out there on the convention circuit, I experience the real and tangible enthusiasm for me and my work. You can’t rewrite the history books, you can’t eliminate the impact of my work and my characters. [...] Rob Liefeld is to today as Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan are to my kids.” [Slate.com]
Passings | Paul Gravett pays tribute to the late British writer and critic Les Coleman. [Paul Gravett]
Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]
Awards | Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, by Mary and Bryan Talbot, has won the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Awards) in the biography category, marking the first time a graphic novel has received the literary prize. “Just being shortlisted was amazing and hearing we’d won the category was stunning,” Mary Talbot said. “We’re delighted of course, both personally – it’s the first story I’ve had published – but also for the medium, I can’t believe a graphic novel has won.” [The Guardian]
Awards | Jacques Tardi, the acclaimed creator of West Coast Blues, It Was the War of the Trenches and the Adèle Blanc-Sec series, has refused France’s highest honor, the Legion d’Honneur medal: “Being fiercely attached to my freedom of thought and creativity, I do not want to receive anything, neither from this government or from any other political power whatsoever. I am therefore refusing this medal with the greatest determination.” [AFP]
The shortlist has been announced for the 2012 Stan Lee Excelsior Award, whose winners will be selected by students from 77 secondary schools across the United Kingdom.
Established in 2011 by Paul Register, a school librarian in Sheffield, the awards are designed to promote comics and to encourage children and teenagers to read. The winners — first, second and third place — will be announced in July during a ceremony at Ecclesfield School in Sheffield. The nominees are:
• Peter Panzerfaust: The Great Escape, by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins (Image Comics)
• Wonder Woman: Blood, by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins (DC Comics)
• Strontium Dog: The Life and Death of Johnny Apple, by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (Rebellion/2000AD)
• Soul Eater Not! Vol. 1, by Atsushi Ohkubo (Yen Press)
• X-O Manowar: By the Sword, by Robert Venditti and Cary Nord (Valiant)
• Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, by Sean Michael Wilson and Declan Shalvey (Classic Comics)
• Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton, by Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar (DC Comics)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant, by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan (IDW Publishing)
The director of the Greenville County Public Library system in South Carolina has decided to remove Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Neonomicon from library shelves following a patron complaint — even though her own board recommended that the book continue to be available.
The trouble started in June, when a parent allowed her 14-year-old daughter to check out the book, which was shelved in the adult section. “It looked like a murder mystery comic book to me,” Carrie Gaske said at the time. “It looked like a child’s book. I flipped through it, and thought it was OK for her to check out.”
Neonomicon is, of course, not a child’s book, as Gaske learned when her daughter asked the meaning of a “nasty” word. Gaske then gave the graphic novel a second look and saw that it included explicit sexual content. “I feel that has the same content of Hustler or Playboy or things like that,” she told local media. “Maybe even worse.” Gaske filed an official challenge to the book, and it was removed from circulation while the library’s internal committee discussed it.
Awards | Graphic novels for the first time have made the shortlist for the Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Awards): Mary and Bryan Talbot’s Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes in the Biography category, and Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart in the Novel category. [The Guardian]
Passings | Indian politician and former editorial cartoonist Bal Thackeray has died at the age of 86; Thackeray was in the news most recently supporting fellow cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who was jailed briefly on charges of sedition. [The Comics Reporter]
Awards | The Australian Cartoonists Association has bestowed their highest honor, the Gold Stanley Award, on David Pope, cartoonist for The Canberra Times. [The Canberra Times]
My good friend Robin Brenner is an expert on graphic novels (she’s a former Eisner Awards judge) and the young-adult librarian at the Brookline, Massachusetts, public library. She’s also very clever with her hands, as you can see from these book hedgehogs she made from discarded books.
The basic algorithm for making book hedgehogs is pretty simple, but Robin took it a step further and came up with a whole array of personalized hedgehogs based on comics characters. Here are some close-ups, including the tiny bow and arrows for the Hawkeye hedgehog, and here is a gallery of more characters. It’s amazing what you can do with an old book, some duct tape, and plenty of imagination!
Minnesota’s Twin Cities have a thriving comics community of fans and creators alike, so it’s not surprising — but no less cool — that a couple has opened a comics-themed Little Free Library in their neighborhood. Emily and Jay opened the library to share books they love with their neighbors, but it was Jay’s love of comics that inspired the box’s design and name: the Library of Justice. Not only is it shaped like the Hall of Justice, but on the inside is a special shelf devoted to comics. The library was designed by a friend, Joe Allen, and Emily’s father provided the materials and did the construction. Jay sanded and painted.
Jay and Emily hosted a ribbon-cutting over the weekend with cider, treats (including superhero cookies), and plenty of free books. As you can see in the photos, there was a great turn-out of all kinds of book lovers, though the kids – and some of the grown-ups – were all about the comics. Check out the library’s website for more photos from the event, info about how the library works, and even tips for enjoying the comics that can be checked out there.