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Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo has won the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Grand Prix, marking the first time a Japanese artist has received the event’s top honor. Just five non-Europeans have earned the award.
Jeremiah artist Hermann and Watchmen writer Alan Moore were also finalists for the award, presented annually in recognition of lifetime achievement to a living comics creator. The winner traditionally serves as president of the jury for the following year’s festival.
Although SCRAP Entertainment has yet to announce details for the New York City edition of the Attack on Titan Real Escape stadium game, the trailer for “Escape From the Walled City” now provides a date: Saturday, April 11. However, no location is listed.
That information arrives even as tickets sell out for Sunday’s 2:30 p.m. game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. That’s 3,000 players for that one run-through; tickets are still available for the 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. games, and for the Los Angeles stop on March 21.
Crunchyroll, which rose to prominence as a streaming anime site and added digital manga last year, is launching a new line of original webcomics called Crunchyroll Originals, which will feature Japanese creators. The debut comic will be HYPERSONIC music club, a collaboration between writer Patrick Macias and artist Hiroyuki Takahashi. Here’s the pitch:
In the world of tomorrow… when technology has reached it limits… a group of young cyborgs must battle the extra-dimensional monster girls for final control of the enigmatic force known only as…The Mystery Frequency!
The free comic will be updated with two pages a month. There’s an interview with Takahashi at the Crunchyroll, and we asked Macias to talk a bit more about this comic and the Crunchyroll Originals line.
Robot 6: Will all the Crunchyroll Originals comics be collaborations between a Japanese and a non-Japanese creator, or is yours unique?
Patrick Macias: Right now, we have several projects in active development. Some of them are collaborations between Japan and U.S. staff, and others are coming purely from Japanese creators. The main thing is that we’re open to pretty much anything right now, including other formats besides webcomics, as long as it is a project that seems interesting and has creative potential.
Legal | A 16-year-old in Nantes, France, was arrested last week for posting a cartoon on Facebook that mocks the Charlie Hebdo killings; the charge is “advocating terrorism.” The cartoon shows someone holding a copy of Charlie Hebdo and being struck by bullets. Electronic Intifada posts what is most likely the offending cartoon (it had been shared widely on social media), a takeoff on one of the more notorious Charlie Hebdo covers, accompanied by the text, “Charlie Hebdo is shit. It doesn’t stop bullets.” The original cover featured a cartoon of an Egyptian protestor holding the Koran, with text that read, “The Quran is shit, it doesn’t stop bullets.” [France 3]
Publishing | Sales were down in 2014 for Diamond Book Distributors, even though the industry overall had an up year. The reason: DBD lost a key client, Dark Horse, to Random House. Nonetheless, Vice President Kuo-Yu Liang sees good things in store for 2015, including strong sales of indie graphic novels, expanding international sales, and the much-anticipated March: Book Two, which was released this week. [Publishers Weekly]
Controversy | More than 80 creators and other industry figures, including Jaime Hernandez, Kate Beaton, Alison Bechdel, Warren Ellis, Eleanor Davis, Jeet Heer and David Brothers, have signed an open letter asking Franck Bondoux, head of the Angoulême International Comics Festival, to cut the event’s ties to Israeli soft drink company SodaStream, which has its main plant in an occupied area of the West Bank. A similar action was taken last year regarding the company’s sponsorship of the festival. [Comics & Cola]
Passings | Dutch underground comics artist Peter Pontiac died Tuesday at age 63. Born Peter J. G. Pollmann, Pontiac came of age in the 1960s and started out drawing covers for bootleg songbooks, then moved on to create comics inspired by his own life and experiences, including The Amsterdam Connection, Requiem Fortissimo and the illustrated novel Kraut. His comics appeared in the Dutch underground comics magazines Modern Papier and Tante Leny Presenteert, as well as in the American Anarchy Comix and Mondo Snarfo. He later collected many of his comics in the seven issues of The Pontiac Review. He received the Stripschapprijs, a Dutch lifetime achievement award for comics creators, in 1997 and the Marten Toonder Prize in 2011. Pontiac suffered from liver disease and ran a crowdfunding campaign to finance a book about death and his disease, but he passed away before it could be completed. [Lambiek Comiclopedia]
Passings | Acclaimed sci-fi novelist and manga writer Kazumasa Hirai passed away Jan. 17 at age 76. Hirai was the co-creator of several manga that spawned anime, prose and television franchises, including Genma Taisen and the classic cyborg superhero story 8 Man. He also collaborated with Ryoichi Ikegami on the Spider-Man manga, serialized from 1970 to 1971 in Monthly Shonen Jump, succeeding Kōsei Ono as writer. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The Bombay High Court heard arguments Monday on a public interest litigation petition challenging India’s sedition act. The petition stems from the 2012 arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition charges, which were dropped after national and international protests. “It [sedition charge] can be misused any time,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah. But Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, arguing for the state, said they only acted on the Trivedi case after receiving a dozen complaints: “The cartoonist [Aseem Trivedi] ran perilously close to borderline. He is not absolutely innocent. It is not the case that the state vindictively slapped charges on him.” The court did not immediately hand down a decision but has reserved judgment. [The Hindu]
Editorial cartoons | The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban on Thursday condemned the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, there is a provocation,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. The lower house of the Pakistan parliament unanimously approved a resolution condemning the cartoons, and the Tailban emailed a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this repugnant and inhumane action,” which is “opening the door to provoking the sensitivities of nearly one and a half billion Muslims.” Also, several people were injured when police broke up an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest outside the French Consulate in Karachi. [Bloomberg]
Kodansha Comics, the publisher of the bestselling manga Attack on Titan, announced a slew of new manga licenses late today at an event at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in New York. The new titles, all of which will be published in the second half of 2015, include an Attack on Titan spinoff and a second Colossal Edition, as well as new series by Blade of the Immortal creator Hiroaki Samura and Deadman Wonderland artist Jinsei Kataoka. Here’s the rundown:
The Science of Attack on Titan, by Rikao Yanagita: One of the cool things about Hajime Isayama’s hit Attack on Titan is that the world is really well thought through, and every now and then the story pauses for an explanation of the structure of the walls around the city, or what’s known about the Titans. Yanagita takes this a step further for the curious fan, tackling questions like what, exactly, Titans live on and how the walls were built.
The Attack on Titan Colossal Edition, Vol. 2: Kodansha published the first volume last year; it’s a deluxe hardback edition with extra color pages, along the lines of the Walking Dead Compendium, collecting the first five volumes of Attack on Titan. This 1,000-page second volume will collect volumes 6-10.
California dates have been announced for “Escape From the Walled City,” the Attack on Titan x Real Escape stadium game.
According to the SCRAP Entertainment website, the immersive, interactive game — inspired by Hajime Isayama’s blockbuster manga and anime — will be held Sunday, Feb. 1, at San Francisco’s AT&T Park (10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.), and Saturday, March 21, at East Los Angeles College’s Weingart Stadium (also at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.). Tickets are now on sale.
No specific date has been announced for the New York City stop, which is targeted for April.
Manga | Manga accounted for almost 80 percent of Japan’s digital book market in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Yano Research Institute. The marketing research company predicts the country’s larger digital market, which is worth about $710 million, will see a 23.5 percent growth in the 2014 fiscal year. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Tom Devlin, creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, talks about the unlikely success of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics. [Montreal Gazette]
Comics | Noah Berlatsky writes about Wonder Woman the character and Wonder Woman the comic. [The Atlantic]
Graphic novels | December’s Nielsen BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold through the book channels looks markedly different from previous months because it now includes nonfiction. That actually makes it a much more interesting chart, with Roz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? taking the top spot, followed by the first two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium, the fourth volume of Saga and the Oatmeal book The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (which is apparently classified as nonfiction) showing up at No. 5. The chart, which tracks books sold in retail bookstores, some mass market stores and Amazon, also included a couple of much-hyped December debuts, the first collected volume of Ms. Marvel and Richard McGuire’s Here. [ICv2]
Political cartoons | In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Zeidy David revisits the case of Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, who was arrested in Israel and held without charges for several months before being given a five-month sentence and a fine for “contact with a hostile organization” — a Jordanian publisher with whom he had discussed a possible book. [Mint Press News]
Slam Dunk and Vagabond creator Takehiko Inoue illustrated the poster for the 16th World Kendo Championships, to be held May 29-31 in Tokyo. Crunchyroll rounded up some of the artist’s earlier process tweets.
In Q&A on the 16th World Kendo Championships website, Inoue briefly discusses his experiences with kendo, and his approach to drawing his most famous works.
Sometimes after a tough week you just want to relax with something silly. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, by Akira Toriyama, is just that, a goofy story about an alien who just wants to make everything right—as long as nobody annoys him.
The story begins with Jaco’s spaceship crashing on an island with only one inhabitant: Omori, an engineer (or maybe a research scientist—Toriyama doesn’t bother with fine distinctions) who lives alone, away from humanity. Omori’s backstory is that he tried to build a time machine, and the machine exploded and killed his wife. He lost his government funding, but he still spends all his time working on the machine, so he can go back in time and bring her back.
Jaco, who is basically a helpful guy, has come to earth to stop an alien projectile fired our way, but he collided with the moon along the way and his spaceship is damaged. Omori offers to fix it, but they need a special metal that is super expensive. While they ponder how to get that, they go to the mainland for supplies and Jaco ends up causing a scene when he rescues a girl named Tights from a group of thugs. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that the last two men that come running at her are policemen, and he tosses them in the air. A chase ensues, Tights helps him and the professor get away, and they all head back to the island.
Tentative categories — they may be altered at the discretion of the judges — are: best short story, best single issue, best continuing series, best limited series, best new series, best publications for kids and teens, best humor publication, best anthology, best digital comic, best graphic album–new material, best graphic album–reprint, best reality-based work, best adaptation from another medium, best archival collection, best U.S. edition of foreign material, best writer, best writer/artist, best penciler/inker (individual or team), best painter (interior art), best lettering, best coloring, best comics-related book, best scholarly/academic work, best comics journalism periodical or website, and best publication design.
Publishers who wish to submit entries must send one copy each of the comics or graphic novels, along with a cover letter that includes what’s being nominated, and in what categories, and the names of the creators. Creators may submit works for consideration if their publisher is no longer in business or is unlikely to submit nominations itself.
Entries should be mailed to: Jackie Estrada, Eisner Awards Administrator, Comic-Con International, P.O. Box 128458, San Diego, CA 92112. Submissions for the best digital comic category can be emailed to Estrada. The full list of nominees will be announced in April.
Additional details can be found on the Eisner Awards website.
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners: