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Nebraska library refuses to pull ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’

killing joke

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.

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Comics A.M. | C2E2 draws record 53,000 attendees

C2E2

C2E2

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]

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Library hopes to raise $30K for life-size Hulk statue, comics

hulk statueA suburban Chicago library hopes to raise $30,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to purchase a 9-feet-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk, graphic novels and a comics-creation station.

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.

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‘Persepolis’: Choosing is not the same as censoring

persepolisThe 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.

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Chicago Public Schools told not to remove ‘Persepolis’

persepolisChicago 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.

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‘Persepolis’ reportedly removed from Chicago Public Schools [Updated]

Persepolis

Persepolis

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.

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Comics A.M. | Viz teams with iVerse; Image asks ‘What’s next?’

Viz Media

Viz Media

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]

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YALSA reveals 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens

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.

Comics A.M. | ComiXology inks Delcourt deal; Detective #27 auction

comiXology

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]

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Comics A.M. | Warner Bros. Entertainment names new CEO

Kevin Tsujihara

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]

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Comics A.M. | Gene Luen Yang announces two-volume graphic novel

From "Boxers and Saints"

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]

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Comics A.M. | Rob Liefeld is a ‘Doer’; critic Les Coleman passes away

Prophet #21

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]

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Comics A.M. | Turkey lifts ban on thousands of books (and a comic)

Legal

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]

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Comics A.M. | Mary & Bryan Talbot win Costa; Tardi refuses top honor

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes

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]

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Stan Lee Excelsior Award announces 2012 shortlist

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)


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