Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna interviews Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s demand that the newspaper apologize for an April 25 cartoon in which the politician is depicted boasting that “Business is booming in Texas!” beneath a banner that reads, “Low Tax! Low Regs!,” juxtaposed with an image of the deadly fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas. “It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon,” Perry wrote in a letter to the editor. “While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won’t stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans.” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reportedly called for Ohman to be fired.
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
Since its launch in 2006, First Second has built a solid reputation as a publisher of high-quality graphic novels: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer, Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, and Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware testify to both the breadth and the quality of the company’s line.
I was offered the opportunity to interview editor Calista Brill and designer Colleen AF Venable about the past year at First Second and what we can expect in 2013, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak in some questions about the nuts and bolts of working with creators and editing graphic novels.
Publishing | Comics sales were up 22 percent in the direct market over January 2012, and graphic novels increased by nearly 38 percent. This good news is tempered a bit by the fact there were five Wednesdays in this January (or 25 percent more Wednesdays, if you want to look at it that way), but that fifth week is usually a quiet one for new releases, so I think we can call this a win. The retail news and analysis site ICv2 credits Marvel NOW! and a strong backlist for the boost. [ICv2]
Publishing | Dark Horse’s video-game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia last week was the No. 1 book in the United States, according to Nielsen BookScan — not merely in the graphic novel category, but in any category. The initial print run was 400,000 copies. (Comic Book Resources interviewed the book’s editor Patrick Thorpe last month.) [ICv2]
Legal | In the aftermath of last month’s ruling that DC Comics retains full rights to Superman, the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are urging federal judge to dismiss claims that their lawyer interfered with the publisher’s copyright to the character. DC sued attorney Marc Toberoff in May 2010, accusing him impeding a 1992 copyright agreement with the heirs by striking overriding deals with them in 2001 and 2003. The families insist the publisher filed its claims two years too late, as the statute of limitations expired in 2008. [Law360]
Webcomics | Malicious hackers hit the Blind Ferret servers last week, and they didn’t just wipe out the websites that host Least I Could Do, Girls with Slingshots and other high-profile webcomics — they also wiped out the backups. Gary Tyrell has the story and advises creators to have multiple backups in multiple locations. [Fleen]
Creators | Colorist Jordie Bellaire launches a protest against a convention that refuses to include colorists as guests. “Your one sentence, ‘this is not a colorists thing,’ was surely the most pigheaded and dismissive thing I’ve been told since I began professional coloring,” she writes, and then goes on to point out all the things colorists do to make comics great and make a forceful argument for including them (as many major cons already do). In a later post she explains why she won’t name the convention. [Jordie Colors Things]
Graphic novels | A study soon to be released by a University of Oklahoma researcher shows that students who read a textbook in graphic novel form retained more than those who read a straight prose textbook. [The Oklahoman]
Manga | Eight manga creators, including Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Maison Ikkoku), will create new comics featuring the characters they are known for and donate the royalties to the effort to rebuild the Tohoku region of Japan, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The fund-raiser is being spearheaded by Gallery Fake creator Fujihiko Hosono. [The Japan Times]
Awards | While we were all busy at New York Comic Con, the Frankfurt Book Fair was going on in Germany, and Torsten Adair rounds up the comics awards that were given at the fair to German and international creators. [The Beat]
Conventions | Christopher Spata talks to some of the attendees at this past weekend’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, including the parents of a 1-year-old who was in costume—and already has a room full of superhero items. [Tampa Bay Online]
As Brigid reported earlier this month, Mark Siegel is on tour promoting his new graphic novel Sailor Twain (which I reviewed here on Robot 6). First Second has photos from one of those events, the book’s launch party on board an actual boat that sails on the Hudson River, the Clearwater. Most of Sailor Twain takes place aboard a Hudson River steamboat, so the Clearwater was an especially appropriate venue even though it’s a sailboat and doesn’t run on coal. First Second marketing director Gina Gagliano speculates that “maybe they are all gone because it is not the eighteen hundreds anymore?”
Hit the jump to see the Hudson from the sloop’s bow as well as pictures of honest-to-Neptune Sailor Twain wine. And if that’s not enough for you, heed the siren call of the First Second blog for even more.
As we noted earlier, Mark Siegel has been writing some diary posts at The Comics Journal’s website; in yesterday’s post, he casually dropped an exciting bit of news: First Second will be publishing … something … with art by Becky Cloonan. No details, but he posted this sketch, which should give a good flavor of what’s in store. Cloonan posted the sketch on Twitter and remarked that it is “something longer I’m starting next summer …” And that’s all we have for now.
Publishing | Belgium, birthplace of Tintin and the Smurfs, is beginning to see its government-funded efforts to revive the country’s once-thriving comics scene pay off, with small publishing houses, self-publishers and digital comics portals springing up. [Deutsche Welle]
Creators | Habibi creator Craig Thompson posts an account of his recent trip to Jordan, which coincided with the troubles in Libya. Disconcertingly, he learned that Habibi is banned there, but his experiences in the schools and studios he visited stand in stark contrast to what the rest of us were watching—and even what he experienced while traveling from place to place. (Craig also gives a shout-out to a couple who got engaged while waiting in line to see him at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC; the groom-to-be concealed the ring in a hollowed-out copy of Blankets.) [Craig Thompson]
Mark Siegel is going to be hard to avoid over the next few weeks, as he takes to the road and the Internet to promote his graphic novel Sailor Twain, a beautiful, moody story about the captain of a steamship on the Hudson River in the 1880s who has a close encounter with a mermaid. Siegel first published the book online, with the print edition set for release this week.
Siegel, the founder and editorial director of the much-acclaimed First Second Books, knows how to promote a book: He has set up a book tour that includes an actual sail on the Hudson (no word if there will be mermaids), an appearance at the Mark Twain House (no relation to his main character), and a talk at the Center for Cartoon Studies; he will also be at New York Comic Con, of course.
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what’s been on our nightstands lately. Our guest this week is Jay Faerber, writer of Dynamo 5, Near Death and Noble Causes. The second Near Death trade just came out this week, and his new comic, Point of Impact, comes out Oct. 10.
To see what Jay and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Legal | Marvel has sued a Jerusalem retailer for $25,000, claiming the well-known Kippa Man store is infringing on its trademarks by selling unlicensed yarmulkes bearing Spider-Man’s likeness. “A reasonable consumer could be fooled into thinking that the infringing product is manufactured and/or sold by the plaintiff with the knowledge and/or approval of the defendant,” Marvel said in its complaint. Kippa Man owner Avi Binyamin notes the yarmulkes are manufactured in China, and that he only sells them. “There are 20 stores on this street, they all sell the same thing,” he told The Jerusalem Post, theorizing that he’s being targeted because his store is well known. The Times of Israel characterized the lawsuit as “the first move by Marvel against what it perceives as widespread copyright infringement in Israel, where products featuring its copyrighted superheros are commonly sold.” [The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel]
Although I sometimes revisit old favorites of mine, I never re-read a book as soon as I’m done with it. Ever. Life’s too short, and I have too much on my reading pile, so it just isn’t done. It is a Rule. But it’s a rule I broke with Sailor Twain.
When I finished it the first time, I had a feeling similar to the one I had after seeing The Sixth Sense. Sailor Twain doesn’t rely on a big reveal at the end the way that movie does – Mark Siegel unpacks the mysteries of his story slowly and all along its course – but at the end I still wanted to go back and re-read earlier chapters knowing what I’d learned in later ones. And the experience of the book was so enchanting the first time that I wouldn’t mind reliving that again as well.
Sailor Twain begins at the end with the title character Captain Elijah Twain sitting with a beautiful woman in a rough-looking pub near the Hudson River. They’re impatient with each other. She’s eager to learn what he knows about the death of someone they were both close to; he’s eager not to tell her. But she presents a curious stone on a necklace, and that’s enough to make him tell the tale.
Publishing | First Second editorial director Mark Siegel sits down with Milton Greipp to talk about his company’s success, which comes in part by marketing books in a number of different channels — independent bookstores, libraries, even textbook adoptions. He also talks numbers, and it’s interesting to see that Feynman spent 11 weeks at the top of The New York Times graphic books best-seller list with a print run of 10,000; that’s an indication of the order of magnitude of book sales for the titles on that list. Siegel also gives a preview of the fall list. Updated (Aug. 13): Siegel notes to Robot 6 that Feynman has had multiple printings, exceeding 35,000 copies. It will soon be released in paperback. [ICv2]
Legal | The attorney for Tony Moore explains why the artist’s legal dispute with his former Walking Dead collaborator Robert Kirkman has moved into federal court. “Once Moore establishes fraud and rescinds the agreement [as laid out in the first filing], the issue is going to be whether he was a co-author of these works,” Devin McRae tells Newsarama. “And it’s the federal court that has the power to decide that. So we still have to first go in the state court and prove the fraud, which we think we’ll do. This is just something that is part and parcel of the whole thing. Nothing’s really changed.” [Newsarama]