Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Hajime Isayama, creator of Attack on Titan, talks about how he came up with the idea for the blockbuster manga in a video interview with BBC News — and he reveals he was rejected by so many publishers that when an editor did show interest, he wondered, “What’s wrong with this guy?”
“I was beginning to give up,” recalls the 29-year-old artist, “because there are so many people who want to become manga artists. I didn’t think I could become one of the big ones. […] If I didn’t become a manga artist, maybe I’d have tried to work at an Internet cafe.”
Police and school officials in Nashua, New Hampshire, held a public forum Wednesday night to soothe concerns about a Death Note-inspired notebook discovered last week at a local high school.
The list, found Oct. 9 at Nashua High School North, reportedly contained the names of 17 students, along with a description of how and when they would die. In Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s hit manga turned anime and live-action movie franchise, a high school student sets out to rid the world of evil using a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it.
Passings | Underground comics writer Dennis Eichhorn passed away on Oct. 8 at age 70. He’s best known for his autobiographical comic series Real Stuff, which often involved tales of alcohol, sex and drugs. Published from 1990 to 1995 by Fantagraphics, the multiple Eisner-nominated Real Stuff was illustrated by the likes of Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Joe Sacco, Roberta Gregory and Ed Brubaker. [The Stranger]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, already serving a 12-year sentence for a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads, and under investigation for shaking hands with her male lawyer, had to endure yet another indignity in August: She was forced to undergo a “forced virginity and pregnancy test” as part of the investigation of the latter charge. “In doing so, the Iranian judicial authorities have truly reached an outrageous low, seeking to exploit the stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence in order to intimidate, punish or harass her,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, which is calling for her release. [Amnesty International]
The discovery of a Death Note-inspired notebook at a New Hampshire high school has left parents rattled.
According to NH1, administrators at Nashua High School North met Tuesday with the parents of 17 students who were listed in the book, along with a description of how and when they would die.
“This book was found by a student with the ways, times and dates 17 students were going to die,” one unnamed parent said. “My daughter in particular was pretty horrific, disturbing and explicit.” School officials maintain that no one was ever in any danger.
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]
Museums | The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by George Lucas and slated to open in 2018 in Chicago, has acquired the original art from Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis. [The Art Paper]
Editorial cartoons | R.C. Harvey writes the definitive piece on the Ted Rall case, rounding up pretty much everything that’s been written in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to cut ties with the cartoonist. In addition to presenting the evidence and all points of view, Harvey sheds a harsh light on the paper’s public statements about Rall and the relationship between the newspaper and the Los Angeles police union. [The Comics Journal]
Publishing | DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint is the first comics company to use the Wattpad “social reading app,” where writers and publishers can share their work with potential readers around the world. Survivors’ Club writers Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen are starting things off with a list of their favorite horror movies, and Gail Simone and Holly Black are expected to check in as well. [TechCrunch]
Conventions | Journalist Tom Spurgeon and Bone creator Jeff Smith, co-organizers of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, discuss their concept for a truly comics-focused festival. “We’re almost at the point where we’re treating comics as a weigh station before you make your money or impact,” Spurgeon says. “Comics are solely what we do and it’s solely where our efforts go. We want this to be important. We want to celebrate older cartoonists who may have fallen out favor. We want to celebrate the anniversaries of great comics. It’s solely comics-focused.” [Paste]
Political cartoons | On the 10th anniversary of the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, experts and journalists reflect on the controversy that followed. While the publication of the cartoons and their aftermath have “made some journalists more thoughtful about the way they cover minority groups,” journalism professor Angela Phillips says, “In other instances I think it made quite a lot of journalists if anything less sensitive to these issues. There is in some countries an even faster recourse to a rather essentialist notion of freedom of expression.” [Agence France-Presse]
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa will relaunch its English-language e-book service BookWalker on Oct. 8 with 700 new manga and light novel titles. BookWalker, which includes a website and iOS and Android apps, debuted last year with a library of Kadokawa books, including Sgt. Frog and Neon Genesis Evangelion, some of which have also been published by Viz Media and Dark Horse. The new site will include a wider range of books from other Japanese and North American publishers. Kadokawa also runs ComicWalker site, which offers free chapters of manga in English. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Colin McEnroe interviews Zippy creator Bill Griffith about his new book, Invisible Ink, which is the story of his late mother’s affair with a cartoonist — or, as McEnroe puts it, “Zippy Meets Freud.” [NPR]
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
Retailing | Variety Comics, which opened in Chicago in summer 1974, will close its doors for good Halloween. “Business is down,” says co-owner Vin Nguyen. “It’s sad but you know, it is what it is.” Nguyen and his partner Victor Olivarez bought the store in 2009 following the death of original owner Rick Vitone. [DNAInfo]
Conventions | The Houston Press looks at allegations of organizational problems and financial mismanagement at the Houston-based convention Anime Matsuri, which has been growing steadily (attendance at this year’s event was 24,000), despite leaving a trail of lawsuits, unpaid bills and angry guests. [Houston Press]
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]
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s fantasy comic Nimona has made the longlist for the National Book Awards in the Young People’s Literature category. It’s rare but not unprecedented for a graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first, and his Boxers and Saints made the 2013 longlist. One of the creators of Lumberjanes, Stevenson launched Nimona in 2012 as a webcomic; the print edition was published in May by HarperCollins. [The New Yorker]
Crime | A bronze statue of Dennis the Menace stolen nearly a decade ago from a playground in Monterey, California, was discovered in a scrapyard in Orlando, Florida. Commissioned by cartoonist Hank Ketcham and installed in 1988 at the Dennis the Menace Playground, the life-size statue is valued at between $25,000 and $30,000. The statue was about to be melted with other metal objects last month when the scrapyard owner’s daughter recognized the comic strip character. Monterey officials replaced the statue five months after it disappeared; they’ll move the replacement once the original is returned. [ABC 7 News]
Comics | David Harper examines why Marvel and DC remain important — “indispensable,” even — despite the ascendance of creator-owned comics. “Opposite to what it was before where you’d form yourself in your own comics and then graduate to the big companies, now the big companies are going to form you in order to graduate you to your own comics,” Marcos Martin explains. “That’s why I think Marvel and DC are indispensable. They’re great. That means there is an industry. We need that industry in order to bring creators and form them so they can at one point put together their own stories.” [Sktchd]