GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION: Duggan Brings Deadpool & Cable Together in "Uncanny Avengers"
Legal | On the day his trial on sedition charges was due to begin, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar threw a curve ball, asking the high court to declare the sedition law unconstitutional. The Malaysian government has repeatedly attempted to ban or censor Zunar’s cartoons, but this case actually stems from a series of nine tweets he wrote following the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges; Zunar accused the court of following the wishes of the prime minister. On Friday, Zunar’s lawyers (one of whom has also been charged with sedition) filed a petition with the high court saying that the lower court that was to hear the case had no authority to do so. The Malaysian Federal Court recently dismissed a challenge that made a similar argument; Zunar’s case is now scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8, with a decision expected a week later. [Index on Censorship]
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]
Comic strips | Cartoonist Jan Eliot has announced that, after 20 years, she will no longer create daily strips for Stone Soup. She will, however, continue to produce a Sunday version. She’s cutting back so she can focus on other projects without all the deadline pressure: “It may seem like a small task, creating one cartoon a day, but it is herculean in many ways. The pressure to be good enough, funny enough, to create interesting-enough drawings, live up to the standards of great cartoonists I admire and share the comics page with is not a small thing.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | As the third Salt Lake Comic Con approaches, co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg talk about the event’s beginnings — how they chose the venue, how they managed to book William Shatner and Stan Lee for the first convention, and how they used social media to build a following before the event itself. [Salt Lake Tribune]
Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]
Awards | The Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, fulfilling a mandate given to him on the day he was hired, when his editor said, “Welcome aboard. Now go win us a Pulitzer.” [The Buffalo News]
Legal | DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, who entered a plea deal in December to avoid more jail time on child molestation charges that date back to 2000, could find himself back behind bars for his use of social media. Kramer, who’s no longer associated with DragonCon, ended years of legal wrangling with an Alford plea that, among other stipulations, barred him from having any direct or indirect contact with anyone under the age of 16. A registered sex offender, Kramer set up a Twitter account under his real name in 2011, but didn’t do much with it until a couple of weeks ago, when he suddenly became active and began following people — including a 14-year-old girl. His Google+ page also shows a connection with the then-14-year-old boy he was charged with molesting. Kramer lists his address as Brooklyn on his social media accounts, but he apparently is still in Georgia. The Gwinnett County district attorney is investigating; a violation of the plea agreement could result in a 60-year prison sentence, 20 years for each of the three counts of child molestation. Heidi MacDonald has more at The Beat. [Gwinnett Daily Post]
Passings | Eisner Hall of Fame nominee Fred Kida has died at the age of 93. Kida was an active comics artist for almost 50 years; he got his start drawing Airboy for Hillman Comics in about 1940 and went on to work for Lev Gleason and then Marvel. He assisted Will Eisner occasionally on The Spirit and also drew a number of newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon and The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics,” said Mark Evanier. [News from ME]
Publishing | ICv2 has a two-part interview with Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci, who has plenty to say about variant covers, the launch of Twilight Zone and Legenderry, their Gold Key properties, and what’s coming in the year ahead. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The Korea Times takes a look at the comics market in that country, where government suppression of comic books in the 1990s (and school-sponsored book burnings even before that) has combined with the current demand for free digital material (in the form of the wildly popular “webtoons”) to create an uncertain environment for cartoonists trying to make a living from their work. “Unlike Japanese manga, which continues to drive a large part of the country’s publishing market and provide a creative influence to movies, music and video games, Korea’s cartoon culture was deprived of its opportunity to thrive,” said Lee Chung-ho, president of the Korea Cartoonist Association. “However, the most difficult process for us will be to find a sustainable business model. Readership has increased dramatically through webtoons, but you have no clear idea on how many of these readers will be willing to pay for content.” [The Korea Times]
Kevin Blankenship used to be a newspaper cartoonist — you might have seen his strip @random in your local paper, and there’s a hefty sample of his work at his website — but we all know that’s a tough field nowadays. So a few years ago, when he had kids, Blankenship put away his pen and focused on his day job in advertising.
He still manages to be creative every Sunday morning, however, when he makes his kids’ favorite breakfast: pancakes. He has turned it into sort of a cartoon challenge — the children tell him what to draw, and he sketches it on a hot griddle, using thinned-out pancake batter in a squeeze bottle. Over time he has refined his technique to create a three-toned look by putting down the darkest lines first, letting them brown a bit, then adding two more layers, one at a time. He started posting his pancake creations on Instagram and Twitter, and now he’s on Tumblr as well.
Pancakes turn out to be a rather forgiving medium. “As long as the pancakes taste good,” he told Business Insider, “you don’t have to worry too much about messing up the shape.”
Check out Blankenship’s Tumblr for more images like the ones above and below; he has been on a roll with Christmas pancakes lately, including two versions of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.
Digital comics | Apple rejected 59 comics this year for in-app buying, although many of them were allowed into the iBookstore. I looked at the phenomenon, and talked to Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson about the effect that had on Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals, which is available via the comiXology website and Android app, iBooks, and Image’s own website, but can’t be bought in-app from comiXology’s iPad app. “”It absolutely hurt digital sales on Sex Criminals #2,” Stepheneson said. “This is a series that is getting fantastic word of mouth, it’s amazing work by Matt and Chip that is receiving rave reviews and selling out instantly. Not being able to offer the book to curious readers through our app or the comiXology app is a significant deterrent to reaching the widest possible audience.” [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Tierney Sneed went to the Women in Comics panel at New York Comic Con and then hit the floor to talk to creators (and also yours truly) about the mismatch between the number of women comics readers and the industries that cater to them, including the publishers and cons like NYCC (where women made up 35% of attendees but only 6% of guests). [U.S. News & World Report]
Digital Comics | I interviewed Darya Trushkina, vice president for business development of NARR8, a digital comics app that features motion comics with some gamelike features. Here’s what caught my attention: When I asked her why they went with motion comics, she said “It boosts our retention rate and boosts usage significantly.” Their retention rate—readers who return to the app—is 50%, and the average session is 15 minutes. [Good E-Reader]
Creators | Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s turn on in the reality show Bigg Boss seems to have ended badly: Trivedi was tossed off the show, perhaps due to political pressure, and his political commentary did not make the final cut. In true reality-show fashion, he left in a cloud of acrimony, saying that his fellow contestant Salman Khan “overstepped the bounds of decency” with another cast member, Sapna Bhavanani. And apparently the producers did not deliver on their promise to allow him to use the show as a platform for his views: “I and Sapna were constantly talking about corruption and women`s empowerment inside the house, but after coming out, I was zapped to learn that none of those things were telecast. … These guys lied to us. We were told – `you will not have to do any naach gana [melodrama] and you will just have to put forth your views on revolution, society and corruption.` But it was all humbug!” [India TV News]
Publishing | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, the action-fantasy manga by Hajime Isayama, has sold more than 9 million copies in Japan, according to the Sports Nippon newspaper. The eighth volume was released last week in Japan; Kodansha USA will publish the second volume next month in North America. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Alex Zalben pays a visit to the Valiant offices and talks shop with editor Warren Simons: “Asking whether the idea was to set these up so that you can go right to TV, video games, or other properties, Simons strongly denies that was behind the relaunch. ‘I think you have guys who really love comic books,’ said Simons. ‘I’m just interested in publishing comic books. Obviously in this space, in this day and age you want to pay attention to everything – just like everyone does. But I think it all derives from publishing … [The publishers] just wanted to read comics about the characters that they loved growing up!'” [MTV Geek]
Passings | Dave Thorne, sometimes called the father of Hawaiian cartooning, has died at the age of 82. His most recent strip was Thorney’s Zoo, which ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Mark Evanier has a personal appreciation of Thorne and his love of Hawaii. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
Creators | Carl Barks once wrote, “Ninety-nine readers out of 100 think Walt Disney writes and draws all those movies and comic books between stints with his hammer and saw building Disneyland,” but for much of his career he was happy to remain anonymous and avoid the hassles that come with fame. Jim Korkis writes the fascinating story of how two fans got through the Disney wall of anonymity — and Barks’ own reticence — to figure out who Barks was and bring him into contact with his admirers. [USA Today]
Passings | Dr. Scott Henson, who retired from a career as a neurosurgeon and became a cartoonist, has died at the age of 52. Henson, who treated Superman actor Christopher Reeve after his fall, took up the pen after his health problems forced him to leave the medical field and created the panel cartoon Natural Selection under the pen name Russ Wallace. The cartoon was picked up by Creators Syndicate and syndicated nationwide. [The Charleston Gazette]
Publishing | Deb Aoki provides a thorough analysis of Tokyopop’s Anime Expo panel, in which the once-shuttered manga publisher announced a new title and hinted at more. [About.com]
Creators | Paul Levitz discusses Worlds’ Finest, his buddy comic featuring Power Girl and Huntress: “There’s always been a certain level of humor and cool confidence in a light way associated with Power Girl that’s been fun, and the Huntress has always been the more determined of the women in the DC Universe — a woman with a sense of mission and a crossbow ready to take your eye out. [USA Today]