Graphic novels | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has written to the Enfield, Connecticut, school district to ask that Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers be reinstated to its summer reading list and to point out that the district did not follow its own procedures when it removed the book last month after the mother of a ninth-grader complained about the graphic novel’s profanity and sexual references. [CBLDF]
Digital comics | Digital distributor iVerse has unveiled a new deal to sell foreign-language translations of Marvel and Archie comics worldwide. iVerse will have exclusive global rights to Marvel’s foreign-language comics, both floppies and trades, while for Archie they will create apps in different languages for different countries, starting with Japan, China, and India. iVerse CEO Michael Murphy says that 50 percent to 65 percent of the company’s digital sales are to international customers (including Canada). Nonetheless, the comics will be “platform-independent”: iVerse will provide translation (through a combination of machine translation and human editors) and distribution, so the comics will be available through their Comics + app but also through other channels, such as Amazon or iBooks. [Publishers Weekly]
A Connecticut school district will more closely scrutinize summer reading lists following a mother’s complaint about the profanity and sexual references in Matthew Loux‘s 2006 graphic novel SideScrollers.
Published by Oni Press, the book centers on three video game-playing friends slackers who suddenly become motivated when one of their secret crushes announces she’s going to a rock concert with a bullying jock. The well-reviewed comic was named one of the Young Adult Library Association’s 2008 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, which is probably how it ended up on the reading list.
But no more. According to WFSB TV, the Enfield Board of Education has removed SideScrollers and will take reading-list selections out of the hands of individual schools. Now a board committee will choose the books for district.
Christie Bosco told the board on Tuesday that she was “floored” after she read the graphic novel recommended to her freshman son. “I was absolutely amazed that anybody would recommend this and put a school’s seal of approval on it. Parents are busy and they expect that if it’s a book that a school system endorses, it’s going to be appropriate for their children. And that’s where Enfield failed.”
The board clearly agreed, with one member telling Bosco, “This kind of reading material doesn’t belong in the schools.”
“I think that the book is a bit vulgar,” Superintendent Jeffrey Schumann offered. “The topics they tried to cover were covered well, but perhaps there would be other texts that could cover them in a better way.”
Back in April, writer/artist Matthew Loux released the fourth volume in his all ages Salt Water Taffy series for Oni Press, Caldera’s Revenge (Part 1). This installment (as detailed by Oni): “Part 1 of Jack and Benny’s first multi-volume adventure! The boys are having a hard time reading The Hidden History of Chowder Bay, given to them by Captain Hollister. So when a spooky whaling ship appears in the bay, it’s no time at all before the boys abandon the tome and find themselves in the middle of the action, searching for the fiercest whale that ever lived: Caldera!” The advantage of an interview like this is the fact that back in June 2009 Loux and I discussed the early days of Salt Water Taffy for Robot 6–and this second go-round allowed me to consider Loux’s work then and now (when developing my questions). Thanks to Loux for his time and thoughts. As happens periodically with these discussions, Loux has a question for his readers at the end.
Tim O’Shea: The most recent volume (Vol. 4/Caldera’s Revenge) of Salt Water Taffy was the first part of a two-parter tale (to be completed with Volume 5). Was there any trepidation on your part to do a two-parter split between two volumes, or in fact are you hoping it will draw readers even more into the story than if the two volumes were standalones?
Matthew Loux: When I was working out the story for Caldera’s Revenge I had originally figured it to be one volume like the previous three Salt Water Taffy‘s, but once the script was finished and I started laying out pages, I quickly realized that there was no way I could fit it all and still do the storytelling justice. We were faced with the option of doing a larger book and breaking from the original format, or splitting it into two. I was in favor of keeping the original format and doing two books instead of one. Luckily I was able to end Caldera pt. 1 on a really nice cliffhanger which became a perfect place leave off, and it will be a great spot to pick up again in Caldera pt. 2. Even though I didn’t originally write the story with that in mind, I think It works extremely well for both books.
The world needs more kid friendly but goofy stories like Matthew Loux‘s Salt Water Taffy (Oni), which has seen two volumes released to date. You can get a taste for the wacky pursuits of brothers Jack and Benny by checking out the webcomic site here. After email interviewing Loux, I look forward to seeing Volume 3–The Truth About Dr. True (be sure to check out these preview pages) when it comes out sometime later this year.
Tim O’Shea: Your art style has some distinctive elements I would love to ask you about. You seem to favor a style that is almost like an old time TV series. And what I mean by this is the establishing of long exterior shots, setting a scene and then you move into the smaller panels for dialogue and plot development. How did you arrive at such an approach visually? I love the way you draw arms when they are slack–the lack of elbows on people. What’s the thinking on wavy arms?
Matthew Loux: Thank you. I think i just watched to many cartoons and TV in my lifetime. In a lot of ways this series is my way of doing a cartoon. Each volume is it’s own stand alone episode while still having throwbacks to previous adventures. It also might seem like old TV because I’m pretty straight forward about my visual storytelling. I keep pretty normal panel shapes and don’t mess around with overly dynamic panel composition. I like to show depth and detail in a panel, but I don’t do dynamic for dynamic’ sake. Also there are certain jokes that only work with very straight forward, full body compositions, much in the way of Donald Duck comics, Pogo, Peanuts, and early Bone. And when drawing my arms, They can easily become emotional explanation points. I can show almost as much about a characters mood through they’re arms than i can with their faces. Or at least I can hammer an emotion home. It works for two Kid characters since sometimes it seams like kids are made of rubber.