Malaysia Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist released from prison

Farghadani 2
(photo via The Foreign Desk)

Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility,” the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. “It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.” Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]

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Comics A.M. | Viz licenses ‘Naruto’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ novels

tokyo ghoul-novel

Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Comic Market draws 520,000 over three days

Comic Market 89 catalog

Comic Market 89 catalog

Conventions | The winter edition of Comic Market (aka Comiket), held Dec. 29-31 at the Tokyo Big Sight, drew 520,000 attendees across three days, down from 560,000 last year. (Note that figures are based on the number of visits to the convention site over the three days, rather than individual attendees.) The largest comic convention in the world, Comic Market is held each year in August and December. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Amarillo, Texas, comic store robbed at gunpoint

Big Apple Comics

Big Apple Comics

Crime | Police in Amarillo, Texas, are searching for a man who robbed the Big Apple Comics at gunpoint on Tuesday. An employee was locking up the store at about 7:10 p.m. when a man approached him and told him to unlock the doors. The employee resisted, and the robber reportedly drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. [Amarillo Globe-News]

Passings | Zack Davisson, who translated Shigeru Mizuki’s works into English for Drawn and Quarterly, pens the definitive obituary of the late manga master, writing not only about his impact on Japanese culture but also his criticism of Japan’s actions in World War II and its treatment of disabled veterans, which led writer Jake Adelstein to call him “the Voice of Japan’s Conscience.” [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | Tintinologist named as UK’s first professor of comics

tintin-social

Comics | Benoît Peeters, a French comics writer, critic and Tintin expert, has been named as Lancaster University’s Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, characterized as the first appointment of its kind in the United Kingdom. “This professorship is a great honour for me,” said Peeters, whose works include Tintin and the World of Herge. “I want to explore the connections between the history of graphic fiction and contemporary creation, between the world of French and Belgian bande dessinée, and the world of comics and graphic novels.” [The Telegraph]

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Comics A.M. | The rise of the custom retailer variant cover

John Romita Jr.'s exclusive "Dark Knight III" #1 variant for Ssalefish Comics

John Romita Jr.’s exclusive “Dark Knight III” #1 variant for Ssalefish Comics

Retailing  | The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal looks at the increasing popularity of custom retailer variant covers, focusing on local stores Acme Comics and Ssalefish Comics, which last week debuted an exclusive red-foil variant for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and this week will release a cover by John Romita Jr. for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1. The latter costs Ssalefish $18,800, which covered printing of color and black-and-white covers and Romita’s commission. “Even if we don’t make money back on the books, it’s still nice advertising,” said Bret Parks, owner of Ssalefish. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes our customers realize they’re getting something special, because although you might see a big stack of these ‘Eternal Warrior’ variants in our store, we’re the only store in the world that has them.” [The Winston-Salem Journal]

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Comics A.M. | SDCC preregistration badge sale arrives Saturday

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | Although it may seem way too early to begin the countdown to Comic-Con International, badge sales open Saturday at 9 a.m. PT for those who attended the 2015 convention and preregistration (this isn’t the annual mad dash, which arrives in a few months). If you’re eligible, you should receive your registration code by email at least 24 hours before badge sales open. Comic-Con provides a detailed walk-through of the process. [Toucan]

Legal | The Malaysian Federal Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the government shouldn’t have banned two books of Zunar’s political cartoons, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. “This is a victory for all cartoonists, it tells the Home Ministry and the government that drawing cartoons is not a crime,” Zunar said. He also said the ruling means that the government must also lift bans on all his books and drop sedition charges against him. “Stop raiding this my office, stop harassing my webmaster for selling the books online, and stop raiding and threatening printers and shops involved in the production and sales,” he said. [Malaysyakini]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist challenges nation’s sedition act

Zunar

Zunar

Legal | On the day his trial on sedition charges was due to begin, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar threw a curve ball, asking the high court to declare the sedition law unconstitutional. The Malaysian government has repeatedly attempted to ban or censor Zunar’s cartoons, but this case actually stems from a series of nine tweets he wrote following the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges; Zunar accused the court of following the wishes of the prime minister. On Friday, Zunar’s lawyers (one of whom has also been charged with sedition) filed a petition with the high court saying that the lower court that was to hear the case had no authority to do so. The Malaysian Federal Court recently dismissed a challenge that made a similar argument; Zunar’s case is now scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8, with a decision expected a week later. [Index on Censorship]

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Comics A.M. | Sydney, Australia’s oldest comic store is closing

comic kingdom

Retailing | After nearly 30 years in business, Comic Kingdom — the oldest comic store in Sydney, Australia — will close its doors for good. Clayton Wildridge, who’s worked at the store for two decades and now manages it, points the finger at digital comics: “The culture has changed. It’s all internet and downloads now. The last thing I read said readership of comics was actually up, but purchases of hard copies were down. People download them instead and read them on the phone.” [The Daily Telegraph]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist claims Facebook blocked cartoon

Zunar

Zunar

Censorship | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar claims Facebook removed his latest cartoon, which portrays the wife of the Malaysian prime minister as the head of a bank. Zunar, who is awaiting trial on nine counts of sedition stemming from tweets critical of the government, said the cartoon was “blocked” half an hour after he uploaded it, and subsequent efforts to upload the cartoon failed. Several of his Facebook pages display the text but no image, but the entire cartoon is gone from his main fan page. “It is really funny because normally you can re-upload the image with a different file name,” he said. “This seems like a well-executed plan by cybertroopers to block the content.” [The Malaysian Insider]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Saga,’ ‘Persepolis’ & ‘Drama’ among most challenged books

Saga Book One

Saga Book One

Graphic novels | This week is Banned Books Week, when the American Library Association releases its list of the 10 most challenged books of the previous year. This year’s list includes three graphic novels: Persepolis, Saga and Drama. Michael Cavna discusses graphic novel with Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who points out that Drama, which was challenged for being “sexually explicit,” is just the opposite: “In the incidents I’ve personally been involved in, and many others, the book’s light touch is precisely what infuriates those who want to take it off the shelves — there’s a sense that’s been communicated to me and others that kids shouldn’t be reading that being gay is a normal part of the human experience.” [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | At retailer summit, concerns arise about slowing growth

Diamond Retailer Summit 2015

Diamond Retailer Summit 2015

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on last week’s Diamond Retailer Summit, where the news was mixed: Comics sales are up this year, but the increase is smaller than in 2013, triggering fears that the market is cooling down. Some publishers are retrenching, with Image announcing it will no longer release variant covers, Marvel simplifying its ordering requirements for variants, and BOOM! Studios cutting the number of titles it will release next year by 15 percent. [Publishers Weekly]

Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar announced Monday that another of his books is drawing government scrutiny, as police are questioning the sales assistant who handles online sales of his book Sapuman – Man of Steal. “My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal’ is not officially banned by the government” Zunar said. “On the contrary, the police should investigate who took RM2.6 billion of public funds instead of clamping down on book sellers who sell books legally.” The cartoonist is currently facing nine charges of sedition stemming from one of his Tweets, and his books have been banned and his assistants harassed in the past. [The Malaysian Insider]

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Comics A.M. | Major ‘Attack on Titan’ announcement teased for NYCC

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Manga | Kodansha Comics is teasing the “Biggest ‘Attack on Titan’ Manga Announcement Ever” for its Oct. 8 panel at New York Comic Con. Considering the worldwide popularity, and sales, of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic fantasy, that’s certainly a bold claim. The series has more than 50 million copies in circulation around the world; 2.5 million of those are in the United States. Kodansha also publishes the manga spinoffs Attack on Titan: Before the Fall and Attack on Titan: Junior High. [Anime News Network, Deb Aoki]

Manga | Attack on Titan has changed the manga market, Kodansha Comics’ top brass tell Deb Aoki, showing that manga can still sell in the millions even after the market slumped, and give publishers a new multimedia model, with spinoff manga and light novels, to build on its success. Hiroaki Morita, editor-in-chief of Shonen Magazine when Attack on Titan debuted, also talks about his early impressions and how he knew the manga would be a hit. Alvin Lu of Kodansha Advance Media also discusses plans for the company’s new digital division, which is publishing digital editions of Kodansha Comics’ current manga but will expand to do digital-first books as well. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Was Snoopy behind the slow death of ‘Peanuts’?

Snoopy

Snoopy

Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ tops 2.5 million copies in English

Attack on Titan, Vol. 12

Attack on Titan, Vol. 12

Manga | More than 2.5 million copies of the English-language editions of Attack on Titan in print, Kodansha USA announced earlier this month at Anime Expo. Although that may seem like a lot, there are more than 44 million copies of the same 15 volumes of Hajime Isayama’s post-apocalyptic manga in print in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun estimates the U.S. comics market as one-fifth the size of the Japanese market. [The Asahi Shimbun]

Passings | Bill Garner, the editorial cartoonist for The Washington Times from 1983 to 2009, has died at age 79. Garner was born in Texas and attended the Texas School of Fine Arts, then went to the University of Texas at Austin for one year. He served in the Army from 1956 to 1962, then went to work as an illustrator for The Washington Star. His editor there suggested he try his hand at cartooning, and it took. He moved on to become the editorial cartoonist for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where in 1981 he won a National Headliner Award. His best-known cartoon is one he drew for the Times shortly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, showing a tank with the bumper sticker “Saddam Happens” driving over a sand dune.  [The Washington Times]

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