The U.S. government reportedly has seized an advance payment to artist Tim Hamilton for his work on nonfiction graphic novel detailing the activities of notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in the Congo, claiming the money was being laundered for a terrorist organization.
The news comes from journalist David Axe, who collaborated with Hamilton on Army of God: Joseph Kony’s War in Central Africa, which was serialized online by the Dutch website Cartoon Movement. It will be published next year by Public Affairs.
According to a press release, the title Army of God, which is also the name of a terrorist organization, “threw up a red flag” with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the division of the Department of the Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions. The money was seized early this month, and neither Hamilton nor his agent have been able to secure its release; the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been contacted.
Cartoonist Matt Bors, who edited Army of God, offers: “OFAC hasn’t responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury’s website. Comics wouldn’t be a great way to fund terrorism. They don’t pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.”
Hamilton, who’s worked on titles ranging from Green Lantern to Deadpool to MAD, illustrated the Eisner-nominated adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451.
It seems every time Superman, Spider-Man or any comics character steps near a political issue it becomes front-page news, not just on Comic Book Resources but in mainstream publications like USA Today. But politics and comics aren’t that unfamiliar to each other — in fact, they cross paths every day in editorial cartoons and comic strips. And one of the strongest and most popular voices in modern editorial cartooning is Portland, Oregon-based cartoonist Matt Bors. A 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Bors can be read regularly nationwide in independent papers, as well as on Daily Kos and, of course, his own website.
It’s a busy time of year for Bors, as he just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first collection of his editorial cartoons and essays under the banner Life Begins At Incorporation: Cartoons & Essays By Matt Bors. He’s taking time away from his post as comics journalism editor at Cartoon Movement and moving forward with more projects of his own. I talked to him about his career, his thoughts on the industry, and the perceived divide between comic books and editorial cartoons.
Wired has the exclusive on David Lloyd’s cover for the second issue of Occupy Comics, which shows a figure in the Guy Fawkes mask that Lloyd and Alan Moore brought to the world in V for Vendetta taunting a bull.
The second issue of the Occupy Comics anthology was released Monday, the first anniversary of the movement; besides Lloyd, the contributors include cartoonist Matt Bors, activist Bill Ayer, and artist Molly Crabapple, who lives near the Occupy site and was arrested at the first-anniversary event. (And check out the Occupy illustrations that Crabapple did for The Nation — before becoming part of the story herself.)
Editor Matt Pizzolo says the emphasis of the anthology has shifted in this second issue:
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald catches word that Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik is moving on to a new job, which will be announced next month at Comic-Con International (Rich Johnston contends that gig is at BOOM! Studios). Friday will be Sablik’s last day at Top Cow; Social Marketing Coordinator Jessi Reid will assume his marketing duties. [The Beat, Bleeding Cool]
Creators | Through its partnership with the Small Press Expo, the Library of Congress has acquired works by cartoonists Matt Bors, Keith Knight, Jim Rugg, Jen Sorensen, Raina Telgemeier, Matthew Thurber and Jim Woodring. Dean Haspiel’s minicomics collection was added to the holdings just last week. [Comic Riffs]
Crime | Michael Lewis, owner of Rocket Comics in Pensacola, Florida, is being held on a $11,000 bond after his store was raided by police for allegedly selling “Spice,” a synthetic form of cannabis. [WEAR ABC]
Publishing | The Economist’s Babbage blog takes a look at R. Stevens’ successful Kickstarter for his webcomic Diesel Sweeties, which raised $60,000, far overshooting his initial goal of $3,000. [The Economist]
Creators | Gary Groth previews his interview with renowned children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who passed away last week at age 83. The interview, conducted in October, is scheduled to appear in the next issue of The Comics Journal. [TCJ.com]
Comics | A near-mint copy of 1940′s Batman #1, which marks the first appearances of the Joker and Catwoman, sold this week for $850,000 — a record for that issue — in a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller purchased the comic just two years ago for $315,000. [CNN]
Publishing | Cory Casoni is leaving his position as director of marketing for Oni Press for a position with NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. as the head of marketing for ShiftyLook comics. Thomas Shimmin and Amber LaPraim, who joined Oni earlier this year, are taking joint positions as marketing coordinators. [press release]
Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses her family, her psyche, and the challenges of drawing a memoir that’s set in therapy sessions: “I watched all the episodes of “In Treatment” at one point, to see how they managed to make two people sitting in a room so very dramatic. And it was basically just good writing and good acting. So that gave me the hope that I could pull this story off without adding a car chase or an explosion. Though there is a kind of a car chase, now that I think of it, when a Sunbeam bread truck almost runs me off the road. My story also goes in and out of other texts — movies, psychoanalytic papers, children’s books — which creates some more overt visual excitement. And I use a dream to begin each chapter. I know you’re not supposed to write about your dreams, but the dreams have a dramatic sweep that everyday life doesn’t.” [The New York Times]
Awards | Matt Bors is the 2012 winner of the Herblock Award, and the first alternative political cartoonist to do so, according to the Herb Block Foundation. The award includes a $15,000 prize — and that’s $15,000 after taxes, which is mighty thoughtful of them. “The prize money is extremely generous and important, as it is more than I’ve ever made in a year from my editorial cartoons,” said Bors, who plans to use it to upgrade his website. The finalist for the prize is Jen Sorensen, creator of Slowpoke and also an alternative cartoonist; she gets a $5,000 prize. [Comic Riffs]
Awards | The Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE, has announced the winners of its annual awards, which will be presented April 21 at the convention in Columbus, Ohio. Winners include Diabetes Funnies by Colin Upton, Sing, Sing by Paul Zdepski, and Spoilers by Kevin Czapiewski. [SPACE]
Occupy Wall Street and the related protests in other cities are proving fertile ground for comics journalists—by which I mean those who use sequential art to report about an issue rather than journalists who cover comics. The comics-journalism site Cartoon Movement posted an Occupy Sketchbook this week featuring work from Susie Cagle, Sharon Rosenzweig, and Shannon Wheeler, and they promise another installment next week. At Comic Riffs, cartoonist and Cartoon Movement editor Matt Bors explains why cartoonists and Occupiers get along so well:
“Corporate media is met with skepticism by protesters — and with good reason,” Bors tells ‘Riffs. “I’ve found that sitting and talking to people with a sketchbook is a far better way to gain insight than shoving a network camera in their face. That only yields sound bites.
“Susie Cagle’s approach of essentially being an embedded journalist with the movement,” Bors continues, “will no doubt result in great comics and the kind of insight you aren’t going to find on television.”
Many of the comics in the Occupy Sketchbook are sound bites too, but Shannon Wheeler’s drawing of Occupy Wall Street is a birds-eye view that a camera simply couldn’t capture as well.