EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
This year’s pairing of Banned Books Week and comics, with considerable input from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, was pure genius. While it is sponsored by a number of organizations, Banned Books Week is heavily supported by libraries, and librarians have been among the most ardent boosters of graphic novels in the last ten years.
In fact, Banned Books Week is really all about libraries, and to a lesser extent, schools. The days of government censorship in the form of prohibiting publication, import, or sale of a book for offensive content are long gone. Nowadays, “banned books” really refers to books that someone wants to remove from a public library or a school. Often, those attempts are unsuccessful because the library in question has a solid acquisition policy and a process for handling challenges, which is how it should be. Libraries buy books for a reason, and they shouldn’t take them off the shelves without a better reason.
Many public library challenges have a similar narrative: Kid checks a book out of the library, mom finds the book and freaks out, mom goes to the library, or the press, and demands the book and all others like it be removed from circulation. When the proper process is followed, a committee of professionals reviews the book and makes a decision, and you and I seldom hear about it; it’s when someone goes to a public meeting and starts yelling and waving a book that things go haywire. That’s what happened in South Carolina, where the a mother let her daughter check out Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, which the library had correctly shelved as an adult book, then was shocked to discover it had sex in it. In this case, the library review committee recommended that the book remain on the shelves but the library director overruled them.
Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]
Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]
New York Comic Con hopefuls who missed out on passes when they went on sale June 27 will get another chance beginning Thursday — as long as they live near one of the convention’s official retailers.
Organizer ReePop is rolling out a limited number of tickets for the sold-out event, starting Thursday at Midtown Comics’ Downtown location in New York City. After that, they’ll also be available while supplies last at select retailers in New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts. The full list of comic stores can be found here.
Some of those stores will also have cards for the Oct. 3-12 New York Super Week, a “week-long immersive and inclusive experience,” featuring concerts, live radio shows and podcasts, game shows and more, all leading up to New York Comic Con. Among those activities, ReedPop has announced, is a special edition of NPR’s Ask Me Another, featuring Neil Gaiman as the VIP (Very Important Puzzler).
Benefits of the New York Super Week Card include priority seating at events, drink specials and merchandise discounts. New York Comic Con will be held Oct. 9-12 at the Javits Center in New York City.
Originally scheduled to debut last fall, the game experienced a bit of a delay. However, according to the official website, it was worth the wait: “Although it was a difficult decision to delay the release of the game, we did it with the knowledge that we were creating an even more immersive, enjoyable experience for amazing fans like yourself. Because, hey, you deserve the best, as your enthusiasm for Neil’s first game has only been outdone by your patience. Now, it’s time to reward your forbearance and open the doors for haunting.”
Colleen Doran loves comics. Although she’s best known for her creator-owned series A Distant Soil, she has no qualms about working on someone else’s projects, from The Sandman to Spider-Man to licensed properties. To Doran, it’s all part of a balanced diet.
On June 4, DC Comics will release The Vampire Diaries #6, a standalone story written and drawn by Doran, who has previously penned issues of the series, based on The CW’s hit supernatural drama. She completed the work months ago, and has a busy schedule ahead of her that includes a graphic novel with Neil Gaiman, a new series with Top Cow’s Matt Hawkins and a resumption of The Book of Lost Souls with J. Michael Straczynski.
In a previous interview, Doran told me she enjoys being busy, defining herself as a “work reveler” as opposed to a workaholic, but I managed to catch up with her to talk about these projects, her process and discussing the business of comics.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has teamed with Heritage Auctions to auction original art to benefit the nonprofit organization. Although Charlie Adlard’s contribution has already been snatched up, the rest of the inaugural lot — original art by Jim Lee and Paul Pope, and a letterpress broadsheet signed by Neil Gaiman — are up for bid through Saturday.
“CBLDF’s important work on behalf of the comics industry makes them an important organization to support,” Lon Allen, Heritage’s managing director for comics and comics art, said in a statement. “We’re proud to join the artists who donated these pieces by contributing our services to help the Fund reach our bidder community. We hope to make a meaningful impact on their work protecting comics!”
Cosplay | The Christian Science Monitor looks at how cosplay is spilling out of comics and sci-fi/fantasy conventions and into “daily life,” such as movie theaters, pubs and public squares: “The spread of cosplay owes a lot to the Internet. Social media sites build buzz around the next big cosplay event. Tumblr and Instagram allow strangers to pass around photos of past work and offer words of encouragement from afar. YouTube videos reveal how to craft foam core into realistic-looking armor and braid hair like an elf.” [The Christian Science Monitor]
Publishing | I talked with TOON Books founder Francoise Mouly about her new imprint, TOON Graphics, which will feature “visual books” (picture books and comics) for readers ages 8 and up. The line launches with three titles: Theseus and the Minotaur, by Yves Pommaux, Cast Away on the Letter A, by Fred, and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. [Publishers Weekly]
Commentary | Former DC Comics senior editor Joan Hilty tackles the issue of sexism in comics and calls for publishers to include more women in their senior editorial rank:. “Women are getting the bestselling books into stores and greenlighting the million-dollar movie franchises, but they’re barely represented among the creative executives who map out the universes and storytelling strategies. That’s where you cement broad-based, long-term loyalty to authors and characters, tap new audiences and trends, and grow readership, without which none of those books or movies would exist.” [The Guardian]
The British Library has debuted a trailer — a “Curators’ Introduction” — to promote “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.,” the largest comics exhibition to date in the United Kingdom.
Opening Friday to the public, “Comics Unmasked” spans the history of British comic books, from the 19th century to the present, exploring how they’ve addressed such subjects as violence, sexuality and drugs while breaking boundaries. The exhibition kicks off with a screening of the documentary Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot, followed by a conversation with Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth.
Academia | The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is adding a masters of fine arts degree in applied cartooning that will allow students to focus on using the comics medium for journalism, medicine, business and other fields. [Valley News, press release]
Creators | With the arrival of the second issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman talks about the joy of writing the first series and returning for this one, why he chooses to pen a story as a comic rather than a novel, and how his process differs as well: “When I’m outlining a comic, I write down the numbers 1 to 24, and I jot down what’s happening on each page, because I have to think of things in terms of pages, and double-page spreads. In a novel, if I want to move a scene, I just cut and paste. In a novel, it’s a completely different conversation.” [CNN]
Digital Story Engine has released a trailer for its documentary The Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot, which, as the title suggests, chronicles the four-decade career of the creator of The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, The Tale of One Bad Rat, Alice in Sunderland and Grandville.
The trailer, which clocks in at more than three minutes, showcases plenty of shots of Talbot and his work, interspersed with excerpts from interviews with the likes of Neil Gaiman, David Lloyd, Warren Ellis, Pat Mills and Michael Moorcock about the artist and his impact.
Eddie Campbell has made a name for himself among the upper echelon of modern comics creator, both for his collaboration with Alan Moore, From Hell, and for his own stories like Alec, Bacchus and the recent, great look at the concept of money, The Lovely Horrible Stuff. He’s created a lot of stories, but he’s far from finished.
This summer William Morrow will release the cartoonist’s illustrated version of Neil Gaiman’s The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, and Top Shelf will publish a two-part omnibus edition of Bacchus. In addition, the Glasgow-born artist is working on two new projects, the first being a book about the roots of sports cartoons in late 19th-century San Francisco, and the other a collaboration with Audrey Niffenegger, author of the smash prose novel The Time Traveler’s Wife. ROBOT 6 spoke with Campbell about these upcoming projects, as well as his past works and the stories behind them — including last year’s From Hell Companion, which he compiled and wrote using never-before-seen materials from both himself and Moore.
Courtesy of Neil Gaiman, we’re treated to an all-too-brief preview, with the covers, of P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of The Graveyard Book, the author’s award-winning 2008 children’s novel.
Russell, a longtime Gaiman collaborator, is joined on the two-volume graphic novel by an impressive roster of artists, each illustrating one chapter: Kevin Nowlan, Tony Harris, Scott Hampton, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson and Stephen B. Scott on the first book, and David Lafuente, Hampton, Nowlan and Showman on the second.
The first volume will be released on July 29, followed by the second on Sept. 30.
In addition to donating signed books to a fundraiser for Worldbuilders, author and comics writer Neil Gaiman also promised to record himself reading the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham if they hit $500,000 in their fundraising. Which they did. So he did.
“It made me miss having small kids around to read to. I hope you enjoy it,” he wrote on his blog. Check it out below.
Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]
Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]