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Libraries | Michael Cavna talks to Drama creator Raina Telgemeier and Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about graphic novel challenges in libraries and why Drama made the American Library Association’s 2014 list of 10 most challenged books. [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | The East African cartoonist Gado has been let go from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, apparently due to pressure from the government. The move came after the newspaper’s owner met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s been pushing the publication to drop some its contributors critical of his government. Gado’s cartoons about various scandals, and his depictions of the president as a prisoner with a ball and chain and as a turbaned Sikh (following an attempted land grab that involved four entrepreneurs named Singh) have clearly hit a nerve. [Spy Ghana] Continue Reading »
Manga | The first printing of One Piece, Vol. 77, may have dropped below 4 million, but its sales aren’t slacking. According to Japanese market research firm, the latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga has sold nearly 1.67 million copies since its release on Friday, more than seven times that of the No. 2 title on the weekly sales chart, the 67th volume of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. That’s marks a new weekly sales record for the year, surpassing the 67th volume of One Piece, which sold 1.6 million copies upon its release in January. [Crunchyroll]
Passings | Manga creator Cocoa Fujiwara died March 31 at age 31. Fujiwara’s Inu x Boku SS, a story about humans with yokai blood who live together in a special apartment building, with some serving as bodyguards for others, is being published by Yen Press and has been made into an anime. Her first manga, a short story titled “Calling,” was published when she was just 15, and she chose not to go to high school in order to pursue a career as an artist. Her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker magazine, as did Inu x Boku SS. [Anime News Network]
Crime | A comic-shop robbery went awry when the suspect set down her weapon — a hammer — so she could pick up a comic. A woman walked into Conspiracy Comics in Burlington, Ontario, around 8 p.m. Friday and purchased a comic. When the clerk opened the cash register, the customer allegedly pulled out a hammer and said “Empty the till.” When she set down the hammer to pick up the comic, however, another employee grabbed it, gave her the change, and told her to get out. Police checked the hammer for fingerprints and arrested Mary Margaret Ross on charges of robbery. “It was something that was unexpected and shocking,” said store clerk Anton Litvanyi, who wasn’t in the store at the time of the robbery. “At the same time, it is something that is comical … It’s not something that any retailer expects, but especially in a comics store.” [Hamilton Spectator]
Legal | The Malaysian government today charged cartoonist Zunar with nine counts of sedition stemming from his tweets about the sodomy conviction of opposition party Anwar Ibrahim. Zunar was released on bail, then held for questioning when an image appeared on his Facebook page depicting the prime minister’s wife (a frequent target of the cartoonist) in prison garb. Zunar said he knew nothing about the drawing and was released again. The Malaysian government has been ramping up its prosecutions under the colonial-era Sedition Act, which critics contend is being used to suppress dissent. “This is a record, being charged nine times and using the sedition law,” said Zunar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya. “It is excessive and targeted at silencing vocal critics.” If found guilty, Zunar could face 43 years in prison. Before he was even released, Zunar tweeted a defiant cartoon of himself in handcuffs, drawing with a pen in his mouth. [The Associated Press]
Passings | MAD Magazine writer Tom Koch passed away March 22 at age 89. He was a writer for the Bob and Ray radio comedy show in 1957, when MAD was trying to broaden its reach by featuring work by popular comedians. Koch adapted some routines he had written, and editor Al Feldstein realized his work was a good fit and asked him to to become a contribute. He wrote for the magazine for nearly four decades, contributing more than 300 pages, but he said he was proudest of a 1965 work, “43-man Squamish.” It’s still the magazine’s most requested reprint. [News from ME, MAD Magazine]
Retailing | The driver killed early Sunday when her car crashed into the Mile High Comics store in Denver, Colorado, has been identified as 17-year-old Karen Lopez. There were no passengers in the car, and no one was in the store at the time. Mile High Comics will hold an auction to benefit Lopez’s family; in an earlier news report, owner Chuck Rozanski described what happened and said, “When someone suffers a violent death like this within your space, I mean this is my building, I love this building and I love being here every day and now to know someone died here it’s going to alter my perception forever.” [KDVR]
Blade of the Immortal, Hiroaki Samura’s samurai tale, reaches the end of its long run this week with the publication of Volume 31. Dark Horse began publishing the series in 1996, at a time when manga was not only flipped but chopped into single-issue comics. The world has changed a lot since then, and so has Blade. Samura spent almost 20 years writing and drawing the series, and his storytelling style evolved quite a bit over the years.
Samura’s superb art belies the startling violence of his story: Manji, a renegade samurai, cannot die because his body harbors bloodworms that heal every wound. To shake the curse of immortality, he must kill 1,000 evil men. This task gains focus when he teams with Rin, the daughter of a dojo master whose father was slain in front of her; she seeks not only to avenge his death but also to stop his killers from slaughtering the members of the other dojos to consolidate the power of their own school of fighting, Ittō-ryū. Samura fills the pages with baroque villains and and elaborate weapons of his own invention. The early volumes have a punk feel to them, but eventually he settles into a more traditional style.
Libraries | A parent plans to appeal a decision by a New Mexico school district to keep Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar on the shelves of the Rio Rancho High School Library. Catrenna Lopez complained in February after her 14-year-old son brought home the acclaimed hardcover, insisting it contained “pornographic” images and promoted prostitution. A review committee appointed by the superintendent of Rio Rancho Public Schools voted 5-3 last week to retain the book. In response to the decision, Lopez said, “To me, this book is kind of like having a Hustler magazine in the schools.” If she follows through with her plan, the appeal would go to the school board, which would take a public vote on its decision. [KRQE]
Retailing | The driver died early Sunday after crashing a car into Mile High Comics’ Jason Street “mega store” in Denver. There were no passengers, and no one was in the store at the time of the accident. [CBS Denver]
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto ended its weekly serialization in Shonen Jump magazine in November, but a spinoff miniseries, Naruto Gaiden: Nanadaime Hokage to Akairo no Hanatsuzuki (Naruto Spinoff: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring Month), will launch in the April 27 issue of Japanese Shonen Jump. The magazine teases, “”Urgent News: The story enters a new generation …” [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Rob Salkowitz, author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, gazes into his crystal ball and predicts some new wrinkles to the convention scene this year, including more sophisticated use of technology: “New innovations such as beacons and near-field communications now enable real-time integration between digital content and the event itself in real time. In English, this means attendees can get instant notifications of nearby items that fit their specific interests, which could help navigate confusing and noisy exhibit halls.” And they could be used for real-time gaming as well. [ICv2]
Creators | Cerebus creator Dave Sim was scheduled for surgery Tuesday after checking himself into the emergency room for severe stomach cramps. According to Sim’s friend, Dr. Troy Thompson, “the presumptive diagnosis is cecal volvulus, which is a twisting of the colon causing obstruction.” However, nothing will be known for sure until after the surgery. Sim was already feeling better after doctors inserted a nasogastric tube to remove the contents of his stomach. [A Moment of Cerebus, which is offering updates]
Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., who in July drove into the crowd of ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of felony reckless driving. His lawyer said that Pocci, who is deaf, was scared for his safety and that of his family when his car was engulfed by a crowd of people during the event. He initially stopped the car but then restarted the engine and moved forward, striking several people. [UT-San Diego]
Publishing | Papercutz, which has had an extremely successful program of LEGO graphic novels based on the Bionicle, Ninjago and Legends of Chima properties, is losing that license to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, which will have its own graphic novels in bookstores by the end of this year. Papercutz reveals it will continue to publish Bionicle and Ninjago through the end of this year, and Legends of Chima through mid-2016. [Publishers Weekly, ICv2]
Passings | Fred Fredericks, who drew the Mandrake the Magician comic strip from 1965 to 2013, has died. In addition to his daily newspaper work, Fredericks drew comics for Western Publishing and Marvel. [ComicMix]
Lianne Sentar is a member of the generation that came to comics through manga and stuck with it, moving from reading to creating to publishing. The author of Tokyo Demons, she was writing Sailor Moon novels for Tokyopop when she was still a teenager and later worked as an adaptor and editor.
Two years ago, Sentar teamed up with former Tokyopop senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl and two other women to create Chromatic Press, an independent publisher of comics, fiction and audio dramas. Their flagship publication, Sparkler Monthly, is a digital magazine that is based on the Japanese model of serialized stories. They caught the attention of manga fans immediately by getting the rights to one of the best-regarded graphic novels from Tokyopop’s global manga line, Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat. Their lineup also includes Christy Lijewski (RE:play) and rem (Priscilla Hamby), who won the Japanese Morning International Manga Competition for non-Japanese creators. Jason Thompson just dedicated his weekly “House of 1000 Manga” column to an in-depth review of the magazine.