Libraries | A committee recommended Monday that Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, an anthology of comics about middle school edited by Ariel Schrag, should remain in the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School library in Dixfield, Maine, after the mother of a student challenged its appropriateness because of “objectionable sexual and language references.” The local school board will make a final ruling in January. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom sent a letter of support for the book prior to the hearing. A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pulled the graphic novel from middle-school libraries in November 2009, but allowed teachers to continue to use it in class. [Sun Journal]
Digital | Charlie Sorrel looks at the iPad comic reader called, appropriately enough, Comic Reader. [Wired]
Season’s Greetings and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what we’ve been reading lately. Today our special guests are Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows, editors of Devastator: The Quarterly Comedy Magazine for Humans. Their latest issue has a video game theme, with contributions from James Kochalka, Corey Lewis, Danny Hellman and many more. And if you head over to their website between now through Dec. 16, the code ROBOT6 gets you 20 percent off single issues.
To see what Amanda, Geoffrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Creators | Watchmen writer Alan Moore responds to recent comments made by The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller: “I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.” [Honest Publishing]
Creators | Longtime Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont is donating his archives to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The collection includes materials for all of his major writing projects over the past 40 years, notebooks with story ideas, drafts of short stories, plays, novels and comic books, and materials from his early training in the theater and his career as an actor. “We hope this is the first of more comics papers to come to the University,” said Karen Green, Columbia University’s ancient/medieval studies librarian and graphic novel librarian. “We want it to be a magnet for these kinds of archives in New York City, where the comics medium was born.” [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks to two comics creators with very different takes on Occupy Wall Street, sequential journalist Susie Cagle, who was arrested as part of the Occupy Oakland protests, and conservative editorial cartoonist Nate Beeler, who walks past the Occupy D.C. site every day and regards it as “quaint,” smelly, and out of step with the rest of the country.” [Comic Riffs]
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Mouse Guard is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - With the Flight anthologies done, the all-ages version, Flight Explorer has morphed into this. I expect it to be as lovely as its predecessors and especially like the Mystery Box theme.
Jinx – J Torres and Rick Burchett’s graphic novel aimed at tween girls.
Kevin Keller, Volume 1 and Kevin Keller #1 – Archie collects the first appearances and mini-series of their major, gay character and also launches his ongoing series.
Flash Gordon: Vengeance of Ming – The third volume in Ardden’s Flash Gordon series.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Mad Magazine feature “Spy vs. Spy,” and to celebrate, the magazine created a blank “Spy vs. Spy” toy and asked various artists to customize it. They’ve been sharing them over on their blog since around the time of the San Diego Comic Con, and in New York this weekend they’re unveiling one by DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee.
You can find more of them on the Mad blog The Idiotical, or in person at the New York Comic Con.
Comic-Con International in San Diego hasn’t officially started yet—tonight was Preview Night—but the news has been rolling in. So let’s take a look at today’s announcements
• Dark Horse announced three new projects earlier this evening. They will publish a comics adaptation of The Strain, the sci-fi/vampire trilogy by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The comic will be written by David Lapham with art by Mike Huddleston.
• They also announced a series written by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello with art by Scott Hepburn. Orchid is about a 16-year-old prostitute in a dystopian future “becoming the Spartacus of whores.” Each issue will come with a music track by Morello.
• And finally on the Dark Horse front, they will publish comics set in the young vampire world of P.C. Cast’s House of Night novel series. It will be co-written by Kent Dallan with art by Joëlle Jones. You can see a trailer promoting all three new books on YouTube.
It’s the 50th anniversary of the Mad Magazine feature “Spy vs. Spy,” and to celebrate, the magazine created a blank “Spy vs. Spy” toy and asked various artists to customize it. They’ve been sharing them over on their blog, with plans to display them in the DC Comics booth this week at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Peter Kuper designed the one shown above; check out the rest on the Mad blog, the Idiotical.
You might be familiar with Rick Parker from his work on the Pekar Project, the Beavis and Butthead comics he did for MTV, or his comic Deadboy, but if you don’t have kids around the house, you might not know his most recent work, the parodies Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid, Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring, and Breaking Down, all done for NBM’s children’s comics imprint Papercutz.
If those all sound like updated Mad Magazine parodies, well, all I can say is check out the art. Like seminal Mad artist Will Elder, Parker likes to fill the backgrounds of his panels with lots of small, often hilarious details. (Finding the word “Potrzebie” in one of them convinced me that the similarity was intentional.) Like Mad, the humor in his books is juvenile and sophisticated at the same time.
I have seen Rick at cons, usually sitting at the Papercutz table sketching away, and at MoCCA I decided to say hi. My suspicions were immediately confirmed. “I saw Mad Magazine in 1957 or 1958, and it rocked my world,” he said, reeling off the names of Mad artists—Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Wally Wood. “I modeled myself after Will Elder,” he said. “I wanted to do that in the present day. I was the artist for Beavis and Butthead, and I tried to put some funny stuff in there.”
He pointed out a panel in Harry Potty that featured a room full of crystal balls bearing assorted faces. One had the face of Mad publisher William Gaines, and another featured the face of his editor at Papercutz, Jim Salicrup. “I should give out little magnifying glasses with Harry Potty,” he said.
“One of the great things about comics is that people don’t move on until they are ready,” he said. “I want to be able to squeeze as much juice out of the lemon as possible. If people are going to spend time on something I have done, I want them to enjoy it.”
“I just want to make people laugh.”
Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading, where we all sit around the virtual coffeehouse and talk about the books we’re currently enjoying (or not as the case may be). Our guest this week is Wilfred Santiago, author of the soon to be released biography of Roberto Clemente, 21. Look for an interview with me and Santiago about his new book in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click on the link below to see what he and my fellow Robot 6ers are reading this week.
Conventions | Comiket 79, the winter installment of the self-published comic book fair held twice a year in Tokyo, set a turnstile attendance record last week with 520,000 people over three days. That’s just 20,000 less than the summer record — and the equivalent of about four Comic-Cons. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Archie Comics reportedly has threatened legal action against the in-production Indian film Boys Toh Boys Hain, which, according to this description, is “based on the lines of the celebrated [Archie] comic book but set in Delhi instead of Riverdale.” However, the director now claims that, “We never made any statement which suggested that the film is inspired from Archie comics. One of my actors may have said in an interview that the film has a feel similar to Archie, but never that the film is based on it.” The publisher was dealt a blow in an unrelated legal matter in September when India’s Delhi High Court refused to hear a complaint challenging the use of the name “Archies” by a Mumbai company. The court said it had no jurisdiction in the matter because Archie Comics doesn’t have an office in India. [Hindustan Times]
Legal | The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly is resurrecting a revised bill to tighten regulations on the sexual depictions of minors in manga, anime and video games. An earlier version of the controversial proposal was voted down in mid-June. The new bill removes vague defining terms like “nonexistent youth” and reportedly avoids references to “characters younger than 18,” increasing the likelihood that the proposed legislation will pass. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | As the small independent retail chain Joseph-Beth Booksellers files for bankruptcy protection, its president warns of even tougher times ahead for bookstores. “I think in the next three to five years, you’ll see half the bookstores in this country close,” Neil Van Uum says. [Lexington Herald-Leader, via ICv2.com]
Specifically, he wants to raise funds to complete interviews with Hugh Hefner, Daniel Clowes, William Stout and Joe Dante about the man whose artistic “technique became the defining look of the early MAD and, subsequently, the visual style that defined a generation.” Like other Kickstarter efforts, he’s offering a range of prizes depending on how much you donate, from copies of the complete film on DVD to a credit in the film for high-dollar donations.
In addition to those named abovem the documentary will feature interviews with Maus/Raw creator Art Spiegelman, underground cartoonists Bill Griffith and Jay Lynch, actor and comedian Andy Kindler, MAD fold-in creator Al Jaffee, cartoonist Arnold Roth, artist Drew Friedman, MAD editor Nick Meglin and the late Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Gaines and Will Elder himself. If you’re interested in seeing this come to life, go check it out.
One of Mad Magazine‘s best-known creators, Al Jaffee, is taking on the auspicious project of chronicling his own life. In the upcoming book Al Jaffee’s Mad Life, Jaffee joins writer Mary-Lou Wiseman to tell the story of the award-winning cartoonist — now 89 years old — who worked in several capacities at Mad, including the popular fold-ins.
Al Jaffee’s Mad Life chronicles the octogenarian’s start as a child in Lithuania, his family’s escape from the Third Reich, and his heights working for Mad Magazine. The book, which will include 65 new illustrations be Jaffee, is scheduled to come out in October.
In addition to the book, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is raising funds by way of Kickstarter for an Al Jaffee exhibit curated by Danny Fingeroth and Arye Kaplan. See more on that here.
And hey, Jaffee has a Facebook page!
Like clockwork, Comic-Con organizers have released the schedule for the third day of the convention, Saturday, July 24.
Below you’ll find highlights of the comics-related programming, ranging from movie panels for Warner Bros.’ Green Lantern and Marvel’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to Joe Quesada’s traditional “Cup O’ Joe” and “Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour vs. The Fans.”
The full programming schedule for Saturday can be found here.
10 to 11 a.m. Spotlight on Carla Speed McNeil — Comic-Con special guest Carla Speed McNeil is best known for her creator-owned title Finder. A few years back, Carla took new stories of Finder to the Internet, and the result was an Eisner Award for best webcomic of 2008 and a new series of reprints from Dark Horse. Carla talks about her work and what’s next in this Spotlight panel. Room 3
10 to 11 a.m. The Black Panel 2010 — This year’s Black Panel will be one for the ages. The focus will be on empowerment, education, real-world networking, and finally but never last, fun. The panelists include entertainment attorney Darrel Miller, novelist Nnedi Okorafor, artist Denys Cowan and writer/producer/director Reggie Hudlin, with moderator Michael Davis. Once they answer life’s burning questions, they’ll chill with a salute and Q&A from the audience with actor/writer/director Bill Duke. As always, surprise guests who will rock your world. Room 5AB
10 to 11 a.m. Marvel Comics Writers Unite! — The third in Comic-Con’s series of “Year of the Writer/Comics Writers Unite!” panels focuses on Marvel Comics and includes Comic-Con special guests Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man), Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, Thor) and Chris Claremont (X-Men Forever, X-Women) in a discussion with writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable). Room 6DE