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Comics A.M. | Tunisian court denies cartoonist’s appeal

Jabeur Mejri

Jabeur Mejri

Legal | A Tunisian court denied cartoonist Jabeur Mejri’s appeal of an eight-month sentence on charges of insulting a public official. Mejri was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2012 for drawing cartoons that insulted the Prophet Mohammed, but was pardoned by President Moncef Marzouki earlier this year. Before he was released, however, news leaked that he had also been charged with embezzlement stemming from his time working for the Tunisian railway. Mejri was released from prison in March, but six weeks later he was arrested again, this time on charges of insulting a court official. His support committee said Mejri is being subjected to “judicial harassment” and released a statement saying “It’s clear … that there is a desire not to accept the presidential pardon and to keep Jabeur in prison at all costs, to make him pay dearly for his freedom of expression and deter him from any further attempts.” [Naharnet]

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Viz to publish new ‘Battle Royale’ graphic novel

BattleRoyale-AngelsBorderBefore there was The Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale, the novel, manga and film about a teenagers subjected to a deadly elimination game. And now there’s more.

Viz Media has announced it will publish Battle Royale: Angels’ Border, a new graphic novel by Koushun Takami, author of the original Battle Royale novel. The two-chapter story is complete in a single volume and features artwork by Mioko Ohnishi and Youhei Oguma. It’s a stand-alone story about six of the girls who lock themselves in a lighthouse during the competition, and like all of Battle Royale, it deals with the precarious balance between the need to unite with others and the need to kill them in order to survive.

In the original, an authoritarian government transported a high-school class to a deserted island, gave them deadly weapons and instructed them to fight each other to the death; only one student could survive. Viz published the original novel in 2003, and this year released a new translation, Battle Royale: Remastered, under its Haikasoru science fiction imprint. The manga was published in 2003 by Tokyopop, which re-released it four years later in Ultimate Edition format.

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Comics A.M. | Phoenix Comicon to cap attendance for first time

Phoenix Comicon

Phoenix Comicon

Conventions | Phoenix Comicon, which in 2013 drew a record 55,000 people, has placed a limit on attendance for the June 5-8 show, raising the possibility that the convention could sell out for the first time. However, convention director Matt Solberg said organizers have been working with the fire marshal to increase capacity at the Phoenix Convention Center. This year’s guests include Andy Kubert, Andy Runton, Camilla d’Errico, Chris Claremont, Christopher Golden, Dennis Calero, Don Rosa, Francis Manapul, John Layman, Katie Cook, Kevin Maguire, Marc Andreyko and Mark Bagley. [Facebook, via Modern Times]

Manga | Lillian Diaz Przybyl, who was the senior editor at Tokyopop until shortly before its demise, talks about her early days in fandom, her experiences at the company when it was a market leader, and the issue of piracy and creators’ rights. She also sheds some light on why the manga publishers were so slow to go to digital: The Japanese licensors were reluctant to put content from different publishers together and worried that their books would be re-imported back to Japan. [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]

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‘Dogs’ artist Shirow Miwa sketches ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

miwa-cap3-cropped

Shirow Miwa, the artist best known for his action manga Dogs, recently tweeted a series of sketches inspired by Captain America: The Winter Soldier that could spur an editor to lobby for another take on Marvel Mangaverse. Seldom has Steve Rogers or Bucky Barnes looked so pouty …

Check out some of the drawings below, and visit Crunchyroll or Miwa’s Twitter feed to see more Winter Soldier, as well as Godzilla and adorable takes on Thor, Loki, Batman and The Joker.

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‘Oishinbo’ editor defends controversial Fukushima story

Oishinbo

Hiroshi Murayama, editor of the popular food manga Oishinbo and managing editor of the weekly magazine Big Comic Spirits, defended the series’ portrayal of possible radiation dangers in the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake.

The story has stirred controversy, resulting in complaints and angry letters from Fukushima government officials and residents, who fear it will lead to prejudice against those who live there and will make Japanese consumers even more wary of food from the region. The series has been suspended indefinitely, although it’s not clear whether that was a response to the controversy or a previously planned hiatus.

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Comics A.M. | C2E2 sees growth in attendance, floor space

C2E2

C2E2

Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]

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‘Oishinbo’ manga suspended after Fukushima controversy

Oishinbo

Oishinbo

The long-running foodie manga Oishinbo will be suspended after protests from the government and residents of Fukushima prefecture over a storyline that suggests radiation from the damaged nuclear plant there could be making residents ill. Nonetheless, the final chapter of the controversial story arc will run in this week’s issue, according to The Japan Times.

An announcement is scheduled to appear today in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits magazine that the manga will not appear as of May 26. Anime News Network reports the series was scheduled to go on hiatus anyway, so it’s not clear whether the editors are taking advantage of a planned break. In addition to the final chapter, this week’s issue of the manga magazine will include a note from the editor pledging stricter review of storylines; a 10-page section (the link is in Japanese) of interviews with government officials and experts on the topic; and letters from Fukushima residents. In addition, Asahi.com reports the editors have agreed to scrutinize such stories more closely in the future.

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Comics A.M. | In larger venue, Dallas Comic Con draws big crowd

Dallas Comic Con (courtesy of the event's Facebook page)

Dallas Comic Con (courtesy of the event’s Facebook page)

Conventions | Preliminary estimates place attendance at Dallas Comic Con at 45,000, easily a record for the event, which not only moved this year to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from the smaller Irving Convention Center but is also under new ownership. [The Dallas Morning News]

Conventions | Joe Rodriguez does some shoe-leather reporting at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose, talking to creators and attendees about cosplay, digital comics and the perils of self-publishing. [San Jose Mercury News]

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Why Toronto Comic Arts Festival matters

Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston, and Kate Beaton at the opening panel at TCAF

Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton at the opening panel at TCAF

On the opening night of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, organizer Christopher Butcher articulated a simple and very important vision for the event:

I looked at the people we were already approaching for 2014 last year, and we had an incredibly strong lineup already of people who wanted to participate who were women who were working in the industry with a history or who were fresh faces doing exciting, wonderful material, and we decided that was going to be an unspoken theme, we were going to really try to spotlight, highlight, the work of women in the industry … This isn’t a one-year thing for us. This isn’t just a theme this year, we aren’t going to be going back to anything, I think we have done a good job of showing the diverse faces of the comics industry but we can always be better… I want us to continue to be as inclusive as possible and to include all different kinds of work. I want comics to be the theme of TCAF and that means including everyone who makes comics, and particularly people who are doing a good job.

Then Butcher did something truly amazing: He introduced a panel of three women that was not titled “Women in Comics.” At TCAF, women were simply treated as equals and judged on their merits. And trust me, I walked the halls at the Toronto Reference Library and came back with two bags of comics and graphic novels, so I know: There were no charity cases at TCAF. Every exhibitor, male and female, was top-notch. This is a show that a huge number of people want to be a part of, so organizers can pick and choose. What they did this year was simply choose more women, which makes sense in a field where women have been well represented for many years. (There were plenty of men as well, they just weren’t in the majority as they are at every other show.)

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Comics A.M. | Restricted erotic manga removed from Kindle store

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Younger Sister Paradise 2

Digital comics | Amazon has removed the manga Younger Sister Paradise 2 (Imōto Paradise! 2) from the Japanese Kindle store, two days after the Tokyo Metropolitan Government declared the manga a “harmful publication to minors” because of its “glorification of incestuous acts” and restricted its sale to customers over 18. As a result, beginning Friday, brick-and-mortar bookstores in Tokyo must keep the manga in a separate area for adults only. Whether because of all the attention or because it was unavailable elsewhere, the manga was the top-selling comic in the Japanese Kindle store before Amazon removed it. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Is the world ready for a cosplay invasion?

Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]

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Tokyo restricts sale of erotic manga ‘Younger Sister Paradise 2′

Younger Sister Paradise 2The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced Monday that it will classify the erotic Younger Sister Paradise 2 as a “harmful publication” to minors, the first time the designation has been made since 2011, when restrictions were tightened on the sale of sexual manga and anime.

According to The Tokyo Reporter, Younger Sister Paradise 2 is Sekizai Mikage’s adaptation of an adult video game about a boy who’s propositioned by his five younger sisters. It was published last month by Kadokawa Shoten.

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Comics A.M. | Marvel, Yen Press caught in Amazon/Hachette feud

Amazon

Amazon

Publishing | Both Marvel and the manga publisher Yen Press are caught in the middle of the Amazon/Hachette dispute: Hachette is accusing Amazon of suppressing sales of Hachette titles in order to force the publisher to agree to its terms, according to The New York Times. Marvel uses Hachette as its distributor and Yen is a Hachette imprint; ICv2 found evidence that several of Amazon’s cited tactics, which include shipping delays and lower discounts, were being used on their titles. In fact, Amazon is offering no discount at all on Yen Press titles at the moment. [ICv2]

Comics sales | ICv2 runs the numbers on April comics sales, and The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is the spring phenom: After three months of no comic selling more than 100,000 copies, ASM #1 sold more than 500,000, thanks in no small part to its nearly 50 variant and retailer custom covers, generating a record $3.19 million. Two other comics, Superior Spider-Man #31 and Batman #30, also hit the six-figure mark. ICv2 has the numbers for the top 300 comics and graphic novels as well. [ICv2]

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This weekend, it’s the Toronto Comic Arts Festival

lynn_johnston_500pxToronto has become Comics Town this week, as the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (aka TCAF) presents an entire week of events capped by a two-day MoCCA-style show this weekend at the Toronto Reference Library.

As it has in previous years, the event has drawn a stellar list of comics creators, including Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton (who will be doing a kick-off panel tonight, moderated by Raina Telgemeier), Jeff Smith, Trina Robbins, Ed Brubaker, Kazu Kibuishi, Michael DeForge, Darwyn Cooke, Luke Pearson and Moyoco Anno. The list of debut books includes Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, Michael DeForge’s A Body Beneath, Anno’s Insufficient Direction, Gabrielle Bell’s Truth Is Fragmentary and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant. You can just save this list now and use it as a cheat sheet for next year’s Eisner nominations.

And, recognizing the most important demographic in comics, there will be a full slate of children’s programming on Saturday.

TCAF has an indie vibe, more in the vein of MoCCA and SPX than Wizard World, but with a strong manga component. There are no cast members from The Walking Dead, no Marvel and DC panels, and no booths selling T-shirts or plushies. Cosplay is politely, but firmly, discouraged:

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Comics A.M. | Why WonderCon matters to San Francisco

WonderCon

WonderCon

Conventions | Marking San Francisco’s third year without WonderCon, pop-culture critic Peter Hartlaub relates the feelings of “confusion, withdrawal and anger” experienced by local fans, and explains why city leaders should care whether the convention ever returns from Anaheim. [SFGate]

Creators | Gary ODD Edmund combined two things he loved, comics and “marijuana culture,” to come up with the comic The Bud. While weed may be the news hook in this story, the numbers are interesting as well, as Edmund claims to have made $10,000 last year selling The Bud at comics conventions, where he typically moves 200 to 300 copies per event. He is now at the point where it’s worth his while to drop other projects to make more time for The Bud, and he figures his Bud-related income will at least triple this year. Can’t make it to a comic con? There’s a digital version as well, available via indie publisher CCP Comics. The digital release of The Bud (on 4/20, of course) drew so much traffic it crashed CCP’s website. [AOL Jobs]

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