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Comic Books, Film
Creators | Responding to the removal of Maus from Moscow bookstores as the Russian government cracks down on Nazi symbols, Art Spiegelman said, “It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory. We don’t want cultures to erase memory.” Retailers fear the swastika on the graphic novel’s cover may be enough to run afoul of a new law prohibiting “Nazi propaganda” as the country prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany. “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously,” the cartoonist told The Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.” [The Guardian]
Agence France-Presse reports the move comes as Russian authorities seek to purge the capital of swastikas and other Nazi insignias ahead of May 9, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over German forces in World War II. Raids have already been conducted on toy and antique shops, and bookstore owners are anticipating similar actions.
Of course, Art Spiegelman’s celebrated Maus, released in Russia in 2013, isn’t “Nazi propaganda”; it’s pointedly anti-fascist, telling a story about the horrors of Nazism. However, bookstore owners appear to be erring on the side of caution, figuring the large swastika on the cover is enough to make the title — and retailers — a target.
Legal | The Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan has put the series Hi Score Girl on hold following allegations by the game company SNK Playmore that the manga is using its characters without authorization. The publisher, Square Enix, already recalled the five volumes of the series published so far and stopped releasing the manga digitally. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver talk about bringing Wonder Woman to Gotham City in their two-part story for DC Comics’ new digital first anthology Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Sonny Liew, creator of Malinky Robot and the artist of The Shadow Hero (written by Gene Luen Yang) was born in Malaysia, went to school in Singapore, then went to college in the United Kingdom and art school in the United States on his way to becoming a comics creator. There wasn’t much of a homegrown comics scene when Liew was growing up, so he read mostly imports, but that’s changing, and his newest project is an anthology featuring creators from the region. [The Malay Mail]
Digital comics | ComiXology CEO David Steinberger dicusses the growth of the digital-comics platform, which was the top-grossing non-game iPad app for the third year in a row. “We’re finding that a larger and larger percentage of our user base — our new user base — is people who are buying comics for the very first time with us,” he tells Wired. Steinberger also hints at a next step for comiXology: curation. [Wired.com]
Comics | Torsten Adair looks back at some comics trends in from 2013 and looks ahead to what we can expect in 2014. [The Beat]
Comics | Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie discusses the relaunch of the publisher’s Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator series and the debut of Prometheus. [io9]
Passings | Lew Stringer reports that British artist Charles Grigg died Wednesday at age 97. Grigg is probably best known for drawing Korky the Cat, whose adventures graced the cover of the weekly comic The Dandy for decades, and he drew a number of other strips for The Dandy and The Topper as well. After he retired he had a second career drawing naughty postcards. [Blimey!]
Retailing | The direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO has announced its annual membership meeting will be held Feb. 26-March 1 in Atlanta. [ICv2.com]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talked to students at Lakeland College recently and then sat down to answer some questions about his love of comics, how his depression affected his work, and whether he has any regrets about the way he portrayed his father in Maus. [The Lakeland Mirror]
Events | The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University steps into the spotlight for the Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art, which celebrates the library’s move to a new 30,000-square-foot home on campus. The library’s extensive collection includes more than 300,000 original comic strips, 29,000 comic books, 45,000 books and 2,400 boxes of manuscripts, personal papers and the like. The festival, held today through Sunday, includes such guests as Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Herandez, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Kazu Kibuishi and Dylan Meconis. [The Associated Press, The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Alive]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about history, Maus, and being the creator of Maus: “I have to keep moving as best I can through the shadow of something that I’m glad I had pass through me.” [Tablet]
Digital comics | Despite all the talk about digital comics lately, Paul Delos Santos finds plenty of ink-on-paper comics, as well as creators and fans, at last weekend’s Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con. “Digital is the newsstand of yesteryear for people that are new to comics that are discovering that way,” said Ralph Mathieu, owner of Las Vegas’ Alternate Reality Comics. “Then (they are) going to comic stores and getting the physical format.” [Las Vegas Sun]
Superheroes | Looking at the lineup of Marvel and DC Comics adaptations, Frank Hagler argues, “It is far past time for Hollywood to release a comic book movie based on a minority comic book hero where the characters race is central to the theme of the story.” [PolicyMic]
Awards | Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has established the 9th Art Award for graphic fiction, which will be presented in August during the festival. Submissions are being accepted through July 31. [9th Art Award, via The Beat]
Creators | Howard Chaykin remembers Carmine Infantino. [The Los Angeles Review of Books]
Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his long-lived classic Maus, his thoughts on Israel, and being a New Yorker. [Haaretz]
Creators | Following last week’s news that Stan Lee has canceled his sold-out Thursday engagement at a Toledo library event due to “a very serious circumstance,” Wizard World has announced the 89-year-old writer won’t be appearing as scheduled at this weekend’s Ohio Comic Con in Columbus. Responding to a blog post titled, “Is Stan Lee OK?” the administrator of the Stan Lee’s Comikaze Facebook page wrote, “It sucks Stan had to cancel [the Toledo event], but you know the man doesn’t just do conventions. he puts in a hard days work creating. Its really sad that the Toledo Blade had to go spread nonsense. If you want to be up to date on stan then follow us, cuz he kinda owns our company. Its sad that a some blogs are scaring fans. not really nice.” [The Beat]
Creators | Artist Molly Crabapple, who was arrested Sept. 17 in New York City during a protests marking the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, writes about the experience and her involvement with the movement. [CNN.com]
Sales | The comic book market was up more than 19 percent in November when compared with the same period last year, with comics up 23 percent and graphic novels up 12 percent. So far this year the comics and graphics novel market is up 1.87 percent versus the first 11 months of 2010. If December cooperates, this could be the first up year for the market since 2008.
DC Comics was once again the top company in terms of market share. The company took six of the top 10 spots on Diamond’s Top 100 Comics list, with Justice League #3, Batman #3, Action Comics #3, Green Lantern #3 and Marvel’s Point One #1 making up the top five comics of the month. Batman: Noel took the No. 1 spot on the Top 100 Graphic Novels list. [The Comichron]
Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein to president, with a focus on new markets and acquisitions. He joined the company in 2008 from Upper Deck. [ICv2.com]
A great deal of the source material for Art Spiegelman’s ground-breaking, medium-defining, market-redefining Maus came from the cartoonist recording long conversations with his Holocaust-survivor father Vladek.
A great deal of the source material for MetaMaus, a book-length discussion of Maus that includes an astounding amount of reference, background and process-related material, comes from editor Hillary Chute recording long conversations with Art Spiegelman.
They didn’t put the word “Meta” in the title for nothing.
Less punchy, but also appropriate, might have been Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Maus and Probably Much More Besides, Including Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know Until We Told You.
Pushing 300 pages and including a disc titled “The Complete Maus Files” that boasts the complete Maus and so much material about each page of it that it’s like a little Library of Mausandria, it might at first seem strange that the book about Maus seems to dwarf Maus itself, at least in terms of size. But part of the value of the project, beyond an admirable work of preservation of the astounding amount of research Spiegelman put into creating it and the family and cultural history that resulted and aside from creating an invaluable resource for future college kids writing papers on Maus, is what it reveals about Maus from a different perspective — inside out.
The book exists on a crossroads between family history and comics. And explaining the geography of where the work sits involved answering both questions pretty fully, and it was very difficult to reenter, I’ve got to say. Very painful….Well, you know, you get calluses when you work, and it protects you as you do your gardening, and during the thirteen years of Maus, I got my protective layer of dead skin, so that I could kind of deal with my family and history at least, and even get the comics done efficiently, if thirteen years is efficient. But those went away. You get new skin. And re-entering, looking at my dead family, rereading, and further reading, on an area where I haven’t really been focused, i.e., the death camps, and reading more, is really painful — and even looking back at my own work, and how it’s affected my work life since is difficult. So, I avoided the project for a long time. The first month or so was really devastating. Then the callouses came back, and I could go on to shaping and making a byoo-ti-ful book. So that’s why, basically.
—Art Spiegelman on how revisiting his masterwork Maus was hazardous to his mental health, in an interview on the exhaustive new Maus-umentary book/DVD MetaMaus with Robot 6’s Chris Mautner for The Comics Journal.
I have to say that even if I were dismiss the difficulty of having this personal and painful a work as your personal career centerpiece, and even if I were to discount his editing of RAW, his New Yorker covers, his illustration and children’s books, his publishing work, In the Shadow of No Towers, and the expanded re-release of Breakdowns, I’m still much more sympathetic than many with regards to Spiegelman’s supposed failure to produce another work commensurate with his Pulitzer Prize-winning family history of the Holocaust. That comic changed the entire art form for the better, and that’s one more art-form-changing comic than most people have drawn.
Publishing | Emily Nilsson, wife of Sparkplug Books publisher Dylan Williams, said she plans to continue running the publishing company after the death of her husband. “We need your support now as much as ever,” she said in a post on the Sparkplug blog. “We are grieving at the same time as we are trying to keep business afloat, and trying not to overstrain ourselves. We want to publish again soon but that is a step we will consider more once we get through the next few months.” Nilsson, Virginia Paine and Tom Neely will continue to run Sparkplug, with plans to continue online sales and attend conventions like the upcoming MIX in Minneapolis next month and the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in December. Williams passed away in September due to complications from cancer. [Sparkplug]
Legal | Michael George, the former comics retailer found guilty of murder for the second time, is in the Macomb County (Mich.) jail after his bond was revoked following Tuesday’s verdict. George was found guilty of murdering his first wife Barbara in the back of their comic book store in 1990. “The family’s ecstatic,” said Barbara’s brother Joe Kowynia. “There’s no way a jury is going to get this wrong twice. I feel sorry for my nieces, this is long overdue. Now that this is over, Barb can rest in peace. And we can move on and he can rot in jail.” [Detroit Free Press]
Legal | Defense testimony began in the Michael George trial Monday after the judge denied a motion by the defense to order an acquittal. George’s daughter Tracie testified that she remembers her father sleeping on the couch in his mother’s house the night in 1990 when his first wife Barbara was shot and killed in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Another defense witness, Douglas Kenyon, told the jury he saw a “suspicious person” in the store that evening and that Barbara George, who waited on him, seemed nervous. [Detroit Free Press]
Conventions | Last weekend’s Alternative Press Expo inspired Deb Aoki to offer a burst of suggestions on Twitter as to how it could be made better. Heidi MacDonald collected the tweets into a single post, and the commenters add some worthwhile points (including not scheduling it opposite the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which attracts much of the same audience and is free). [Deb Aoki’s Twitter, The Beat]
Awards | Ian Culbard’s adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness won the British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel, presented Saturday by the British Fantasy Society. [The British Fantasy Society]
Art Spiegelman’s Maus has a straightforwardness to it that makes it look easy, but the book MetaMaus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic is testimony to the years of preparation that went into the book. MetaMaus includes a lengthy interview with Spiegelman on his sources, his process, and the research he put into Maus, as well as illustration of primary source material and lots of sketches. The book is accompanied by a DVD that includes both volumes of Maus and audio recordings of Spiegelman’s father Vladek, who narrates the story to his son.
Suvudu has posted a 24-page excerpt from the MetaMaus DVD that shows the preliminary sketches and finished pages of two pages of Maus, and it’s well worth a look to see how Spiegelman developed his story on paper. The book complements this nicely with Spiegelman’s descriptions of the work, and it’s well worth checking out when it is released on Oct. 4.