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Comics A.M. | Court rules Zunar’s arrest is lawful, books seizure is not


Legal | Human Rights Watch reports on the lawsuit filed by Malaysian cartoonist Zunar after he was arrested and his books seized by authorities. The court ruled that while the arrest, on grounds of sedition and publishing without a license, was lawful, the government’s continued possession of his materials was not. Zunar was never formally charged — a judge threw the arrest out after authorities could not point to any actual seditious material in his book, Cartoon-O-Rama — and therefore, the court ruled, the government had no right to continue to hold the books and must return them and pay him damages to boot. [Human Rights Watch, via The Daily Cartoonist]

Legal | Rich Johnston reports that copies of Howard Chaykin’s super-erotic Black Kiss 2 have been held at the border by U.K. customs. Diamond Comic Distributors is in talks with customs officials and hopes to get the books into the country next week. [Bleeding Cool]

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What Are You Reading? with Kevin Church

Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.

To see what Kevin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Food or Comics? | Team Cul de Sacher torte

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Volume 3: High Noon at Inferno Gulch

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, Casanova: Avaritia #4 would be the first thing I’d pick up. I’ve been enjoying Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s return to their dimension-hopping super-spy immensely and am looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up.

If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then.

Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here: Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work; Bill the Boy Wonder, a new prose biography of Batman co-creator Bill Finger; and a Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus featuring Jack Kirby’s run. If I were in a charitable mood, however, I’d likely snap up Team Cul de Sac, the anthology/art book/tribute to Richard Thompson’s delightful comic strip featuring contributions from folks like Lynn Johnston, Mort Walker, Gary Trudeau and even Bill Watterson! Proceeds from the book go to help fight Parkinson’s disease, which Thompson unfortunately suffers from. It’s hard for me to think of a more worthy – or potentially enjoyable – book to spend your money on this week.

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Donald Duck comic recalled in Germany after ‘Holocaust’ printing error

A production error in a reprint of a 1972 Donald Duck story led a German publisher to recall the comic after the word “Holocaust” mistakenly appeared in place of “Congratulations.”

Spiegel Online reports the error crept into a panel in the Carl Barks story “Where’s the Smoke?” in which a Duckburg dignitary honors a team of firefighters for pinpointing an “awesome” blaze. However, instead of using the word “fire” or “inferno,” the legendary cartoonist went with the phrase “awesome holocaust!”

Fast-forward some 40 years, when, according to German publisher Egmont Ehapa, “holocaust” wasn’t thoroughly removed from the original English text, resulting in the dignitary praising “our brave and always alert fire lookouts! Holocaust!” in the latest reprint.

The publisher quickly recalled copies of Micky Maus Comics #6, which was released on May 8, and blacked out the offending word by hand (as you can see above). However, The Telegraph reports the incident prompted humorous allegations in the German press about the political leanings of Donald Duck, “and revealed the occasional perils of reusing aging cartoons in different cultures.”

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Robot 6 Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part 4

And a partridge in a pear tree … we wrap up our Holiday Gift-Giving Guide today with even more gift suggestions from comic pros. Like the previous days, we asked them:

1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?

Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve gotten the chance to check out the previous three installments. If not, it isn’t too late:

Part 1: Jim McCann, Matt Kindt, Daryl Gregory, Jim “Zub” Zubkavich, Jamie S. Rich, Ryan Cody
Part 2: Jeff Parker, Tim Seeley, Ross Campbell, Kody Chamberlain, Ian Brill, Jamaica Dyer
Part 3: Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kagan McLeod, Kevin Colden, Thom Zahler, Van Jensen

And here is today’s round-up …

Joey Weiser

1. For the kids (or kids-at-heart): Okie Dokie Donuts by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos – One of my favorite books of the year. Each page is crammed to the brim with kinetic artwork and fun comics!

For the art lover: “Behold! The Dinosaurs!” print by Dustin Harbin – Absolutely gorgeous print featuring one of my favorite subjects: Dinosaurs!

For the comic strip enthusiast: Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson – Super engaging strips that are full of life and very funny. I’m very glad that Fantagraphics is publishing these.

For the manga reader: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi – A recent series that I’ve been infatuated with after having it recommended to me by several friends. A manga with a very welcoming atmosphere and tons of heart.

For the indie-minded: A few comics from Blank Slate Books: Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards and The Survivalist by Box Brown – Two great-looking books from a publisher that might be off some folks’ radars at the moment. I haven’t even read these yet, and I feel confident recommending them!

2. Well, my dad has a long-standing tradition of giving me a volume of the Complete Peanuts collections for birthdays and holidays, so I’ve got that covered. Let’s see…

I suppose there are a few Japanese imported books that would make the top of my list of things I’ve had my eye on, but haven’t had the chance/extra cash to buy for myself. These fall under the category of “Things That I’m Not Likely to Stumble Across In-Person and Say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get that!’” Two that come to mind are One Piece Green, a “databook” which contains a treasure-trove of sketches and notes from Eiichiro Oda from the years leading up to and during his epic manga series One Piece. I’ve also been eyeing some Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege No Kitaro, Onward Towards Our Noble Death) yokai encyclopedias that pop up on eBay. Those look Beautiful with a capital B!

Joey Weiser is the creator of Cavemen in Space, Monster Isle, The Ride Home and Mermin. He also writes the Spongebob Squarepants comic.

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Robot Reviews | Hark! A Vagrant, Pope Hats and Mickey Mouse

Hark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly, 168 pages, $19.95.

The thing that amazes/impresses me the most about Kate Beaton’ comics is how much everyone loves them. OK, not everyone — I do know one or two stragglers that refuse to find anything amusing in her sly little comics — but a lot of people from disparate fan bases really like her stuff. Indie readers like Kate Beaton, Superhero fans like Kate Beaton,, and (perhaps most notably) people who hardly ever (if at all) read comics like Kate Beaton (like my wife). She crosses boundaries in a way I don’t think I’ve seen any modern cartoonist do, let alone a webcartoonist. I think that’s even more impressive when you consider how often she relies upon (relatively) obscure historical figures and literature as the basis for her strips.

Other than that I really don’t have much to say, except that those who own her first book, Never Learn Anything From History, and haven’t bought this one yet because they’re worried it reprints the same material can relax; it doesn’t. Basically if you appreciate intelligence, wit (or smartassery) and the chance to learn something on the side, then this is the book for you.

More reviews after the jump …

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Food or Comics? | Heaping helpings of Kirby, Manara, X-Men and more

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d be a judicious comics buyer and pick the top four out of over 20 titles I’d want this week. DC/Vertigo makes it slightly easier by making the new Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso joint Spaceman #1 only $1. This dollar price point for first issues combined with the $9.99 price point they sometimes do for the first volume of comic trade paperbacks surely gets a lot of traction. Next up I’d get Jason Aaron’s new era of the X-Men in Wolverine & X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99) with Chris Bachalo. I’d also get my regular pulls of DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and The Walking Dead #90 (Image, $2.99) and last–but first in my stack to read-–would be Secret Avengers #18 (Marvel, $3.99). I hear some Ellis guy is writing it, but the big draw for me is artist David Aja. His Iron Fist run is one of my top favs in comics in the past ten years, and he’s a titan in my book.

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Fantagraphics reveals covers for upcoming Barks, Gottfredson collections

Fantagraphics has revealed the final cover to Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes, the first volume in their series of Carl Barks collections. In addition, you can get a good look at the cover and spine courtesy of a brochure they published to promote the book.

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It’s tough to top a headline like ‘Fantagraphics’ Groth Discusses the State of Comics’

Gary Groth in action

Gary Groth in action

…so I’m not even going to try. Instead I’m just going to link you to Alex Dueben’s thusly titled interview with Fantagraphics Co-Publisher and The Comics Journal Editor Gary Groth over on the CBR mothership, in which the trailblazing alternative-comics publisher and critic tackles a wide variety of the biz’s big topics. Here are a few choice nuggets:

On Fantagraphics shifting to digital:

To one degree or another, all of our books can be read on a screen.

We’re cognizant of that and we’re certainly moving in that direction. I think what the future is going to hold is that books are going to be on multiple platforms, in digital and in print. I don’t think one is going to necessarily overshadow the other. They can be available in various formats. We’ve been literally working on the digital formats for the last year, just working out all the bugs and talking to the various platforms. I’m sure by this time next year, a lot of our books, if not the majority of them, are going to be available digitally.

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Robot Reviews | Mickey Mouse Vol. 1

Mickey Mouse Vol. 1

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley
by Floyd Gottfredson; edited by David Gerstein and Gary Groth
Fantagraphics Books, 288 pages, $29.99

It must seem difficult for younger generations to fully understand just how integral Mickey Mouse once was to the  Disney franchise. While at one time his smiling, three-circle face was the iconic symbol for the company, today that image has been shoved aside to make room for Cinderella’s castle. The Disney bread is now officially buttered by a bunch of divas and Buzz Lightyear. These days Mickey is relegated to stalwart supporting cast member, fit for entertaining the preschooler crowd on daytime television, though efforts like the recent Epic Mickey video game show an interest in making him a viable player in their stable once more.

Even for my generation (that’s Gen X for those of you keeping score), understanding Mickey’s appeal was a tough proposition at times given how bland he seemed to appear in various cartoons and other products we or our parents were expect to shell good money out for. Everything about him stank of goody-two-shoes pitchman. No wonder he eventually faded from the limelight.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Space Warped

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Brigid Alverson

If I had $15:

I’d surround myself with good-humored, good-natured comics. Sometimes you just gotta do that. My stack would include Veronica #207 ($2.99), which launches the new Kevin Keller miniseries; Donald Duck #367 ($3.99), with a rework of a classic Carl Barks story; Space Warped ($3.99), kaboom’s new Star Wars parody comic (I probably won’t get half the jokes, but it looks like it’s worth checking out); and Love and Capes Ever After #5 ($3.99), just because Love and Capes is such a charming comic. I may be poor, but at least I’ll be happy.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Fear Itself #3

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first do a two-fisted grab of this summer’s big event series Flashpoint #2 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #3 (Marvel,$3.99). It’s required reading if you’re writing about comics like I am, and as a reader I’m intrigued by both. Two questions come out of this: 1. I wonder which one jiggered their release dates to come out the same week as the other event book, and 2. I guess DC will have to take off its “Holding The Line at $2.99” logo, or at least add some fine print. Next up would be Uncanny X-Force #11 (Marvel, $3.99); Rick Remender and the artists here have made this the best x-book on stands, hitting me right between the eyes by revisiting older storylines and characters and giving them a modern spin. Lastly, I would get Turf #5 (Image, $2.99), because I’m one of the biggest Tommy Lee Edwards fans out there.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget


Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d get Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish ($3.50) to see Hellboy fight some giant robots in space, Salt Water Taffy, Volume 4: Caldera’s Revenge ($5.99) to see Jack and Benny sign aboard a spooky ship in search of a Moby Dick-like whale, and Sweets #5 (2.99) to see Kody Chamberlain wrap up his delicious New Orleans murder mystery.

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Good Lord, do these Floyd Gottfredson Mickey Mouse comics look amazing

Over on the CBR mothership, Shaun Manning interviews Fantagraphics co-publisher Gary Groth about his upcoming reprints of the Mickey Mouse comic strips by artist Floyd Gottfredson, kicking off with Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, vol. 1: The Race to Death Valley in May. With his trademark blend of erudition and bluntness, Groth details the nuts and bolts of the whole project: The reason Mickey Mouse’s comic strip was an action-adventure serial to begin with, Mickey’s surprisingly feisty personality, the basics on the first few storylines being collected, the essays and other supplemental materials being included in the package, the eventual inclusion of racist material and other items of potential controversy, how big the books will be, and even a bit about Fantagraphics’ parallel plan to release the complete Carl Barks Disney Ducks comics. But I’m sure Groth wouldn’t mind if I said that the real star attraction for the piece are the actual Gottfredson strips used to illustrate it. Simply put, my jaw literally dropped once I opened up these action-packed images, so impressed was I by their power and grace. And since most of Gottfredson’s work has been reprinted rarely, if that, chances are you’ll be bowled over too. Click on over and check them out for yourself.

Mickey Mouse in Egypt

Cover of an Egyptian Mickey Mouse comic

All eyes are on Egypt right now, but the question that’s being hotly debated at The Hooded Utilitarian is how the localization of Mickey Mouse comics for Egyptian readers expresses the imperialism of the Walt Disney corporation. This being The Hooded Utilitarian, the answer is long, a bit rambling, and filled with interesting images.

The comics examined by writer Nadim Damluji were created between 1959 and 2003, so this is not about the current revolution but rather about how cultures permeate one another. The Mickey Mouse comics in the article have locally created covers that touch on a number of aspects in Egyptian culture, and that art alone makes the article worth reading. The covers and other local content just form the wrapper for translated comics by Western creators, however, and there’s the rub. Damluji points to a Carl Barks comic in which Uncle Scrooge discovers a pyramid and, convinced it will be full of gold, hires generic local Arabs to excavate it. The story does raise issues of ownership and primacy (Why does Uncle Scrooge think he can keep the gold? Why couldn’t the Arabs find the pyramid?), and it seems rather clueless of the Disney folks to print it in an Egyptian comic—had they run out of more generic storylines? On the other hand, the most interesting thing to me was those Egyptian covers. While Damluji seems to be presenting the comics as a wolf in sheep’s clothing—here’s something familiar, kids, but what’s inside is going to make you feel bad!—I see it the other way, as Mickey adapting to local mores by adding content the local audience finds attractive, much as manga publishers put new covers on Japanese content and serve it up more or less unchanged. My guess is that this is more about keeping costs down than the heavy hand of imperialism. And surely Egyptian kids, especially in this day and age, are savvy enough to know that Mickey is an import, even if he does celebrate Mawlad.

The other thing that seems to go uncommented upon is that these are comics. Uncle Scrooge finds the pyramid by sitting on its pointy top. It’s a gag! Huey, Duey, and Louie acting more mature than Donald? That’s funny! A dog biting a man isn’t funny, but a man biting a dog is. Finally, it’s also true that the stories are old and represent cultural values that are passe and have been for a long time. A 50-year-old Disney story may say something about attitudes in the 1950s, but it’s more an artifact than a measure of current opinion.

Seriousness aside, it’s a fascinating post just because of the cultural information. And for more, check out Damluji’s blog, in which he follows in the footsteps of another cultural icon from an imperialist country, Tintin.

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