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Gene Luen Yang named ambassador for young people’s literature

gene luen yang

The Library of Congress has named acclaimed cartoonist Gene Luen Yang as its national ambassador for young people’s literature. It marks the first time a graphic novelist has been selected since the position was established in 2008.

A two-time National Book Award finalist, he is perhaps best known for his graphic novels American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints, and for his work on Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yang, who’s won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and two Eisner Awards, began writing DC Comics’ Superman in June.

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Comics A.M. | Ignatz ceremony celebrates women cartoonists

Ignatz Awards

Ignatz Awards

Awards | All the presenters for last weekend’s Ignatz Awards ceremony were women, and that was no accident: This year’s host, New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly, explains, “More and more of us are now in the business, unlike previous years, and I wanted to celebrate that fact by bringing attention to it.” [Comic Riffs]

Creators | Tom Spurgeon has an in-depth interview with experimental cartoonist Warren Craghead. [The Comics Reporter]

Creators | Stan Lee, in town for Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, chats with reporter Michael Grossberg about superheroes as modern fairy tales. [The Columbus Dispatch]

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Comics A.M. | Publisher Filip Sablik leaves Top Cow Productions

Filip Sablik

Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]

Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Wedding bells ring for Northstar — and for comics fans

Astonishing X-Men #51

Comics | With the release today of Marvel’s heavily publicized Astonishing X-Men #51, which features the wedding of Northstar and Kyle, writer Marjorie Liu and associate editor Daniel Ketchum reiterate that “their story is just beginning.” When asked whether he’d be interested in a Northstar solo series, Ketchum replied, “Is that even a question? I can have a pitch ready by the end of the day. Spoiler alert: Storm and Dazzler will be recurring guest stars.” The New York Times, meanwhile, spotlights Ohio couple Scott Everhart and Jason Welker, who were set to be married this morning in a ceremony at Midtown Comics in Manhattan. Unlike Northstar and Kyle, however, Scott and Jason can’t count Mayor Michael Bloomberg among their wedding guests. [The Advocate]

Publishing | Todd Allen turns an analytical eye on Marvel’s twice-a-month releases as well as the cover prices of the publisher’s comics. Overall, prices are down a bit and frequency is up, but Allen isn’t sure if that’s an actual trend. [The Beat]

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The Library of Congress wants your minicomic!

You know those ideas that you’d never think of yourself, but when you hear about them, they’re so brilliant and so obvious that you wonder how you couldn’t have thought of them? This is one of those ideas: The Library of Congress is creating The Small Press Expo Collection, with the intent of adding a gravely under-preserved area of comics to the permanent archives of the United States’ official storehouse of knowledge.

Spearheaded by SPX executive director and chairman of the board Warren Bernard, the Collection will serve multiple purposes. It will archive the ephemera of the Bethesda-based alt/indie comics convention itself, including the posters, badges, and programs created by cartoonists for the Expo, and even each year’s SPX website. It will also include every print comic nominated for the Expo’s festival award program, the Ignatz Awards. (For the time being, only the winner of the Best Webcomic Ignatz will be digitally archived.) And it will collect a selection of the comics that are available for purchase at each year’s show — a selection dominated by minicomics and other self-published works that are often difficult if not impossible to find once their tiny initial print runs have sold out.

As someone who’s gotten a lot out of SPX over the years, I think this is providing a vital service — a time capsule of the state of alternative and art comics, updated yearly. An Please read editor Dan Nadel’s entire interview with Bernard about this fascinating project. Then be sure to go to this year’s SPX next weekend, where my fellow Roboteer Chris Mautner and I will be hosting panels about the kinds of comics that will soon make the Library of Congress their permanent home.

Papers of Fredric Wertham open at Library of Congress

Fredric Wertham

The papers of the infamous psychiatrist at the center of the anti-comics crusades of the 1940s and 1950s are now available to the public.

In 1987, the Library of Congress acquired the papers of Dr. Fredric Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, from the estate of his wife Florence Hesketh Wertham. Now all 222 containers are open for research; previously, access was granted only those people approved by the estate.

Wertham, who died 1981 at age 86, served as head of the Court of General Sessions psychiatric clinic, which examined every convicted felon in New York City. In 1935 he testified at the trial of serial killer Albert Fish, declaring him insane. The following year Wertham was named director of Bel­levue’s Mental Hygiene Clinic in New York and later became director of psychiatric services at Queens Hospital Center.

However, it was his concerns with violence and protecting children, and the 1954 publication of Seduction of the Innocent, that propelled Wertham to the national stage and forever changed the comics industry. The book paid particular attention to the gore and violence in EC Comics’ crime and horror titles, “homoerotic overtones” of some science fiction and jungle comics, and the “psychologically homosexual” nature of the Batman stories and, now quite famously, the Batman-Robin relationship.

Wertham went on to testify on the harmfulness of comics before the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which led the comics industry to adopt the self-regulatory Comics Code Authority.

The Library’s collection includes a selection of comics Wertham deemed offensive, along with his notations. “His copy of Kid Colt, Outlaw (1967) includes a note that of the 111 pictures, 69 were scenes of violence,” Matt Raymond writes on the Library of Congress blog. “An issue of Justice League of America (1966) includes markings calling attention to the sounds of violence like ‘thudd,’ ‘whapp’ and ‘poww’.”

(via Ars Technica)

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