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The iTunes’ Terms and Conditions agreement has got to be the least-read-yet-most-signed contract in human history. For pages and pages (and a nearly limitless downward digital scroll), it enumerates Apple’s latest subtle shifts in policy regarding the ways we purchase, license and “own” music and media acquired through the most influential online marketplace to date. Who reads those things? Who could even pretend to? Can one even imagine a more arduous task than going through that document, line by line, and trying to parse what exactly it is we are all signing on for?
But ah, the magic of comics. Cartoonist R. Sikoryak, whose work has appeared in Drawn and Quarterly and The New Yorker, is publishing his painstakingly thorough, unabridged graphic adaptation of the iTunes Terms and Conditions agreement on Tumblr. This version of the contract is no mere dry rendering of legalese — instead, Sikoryak has transformed the document into a showcase of styles from talent all across the history of comics, making each page an experiment in the diverse visual language of the medium’s most beloved luminaries.
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]
Comics | How do you say “Bam! Pow!” in Russian? A group of Russian translators is calling for comics translators to use words derived from the official languages of the Russian Federation rather than simply rendering the existing sound effects in the Russian alphabet. “In comic books you can often encounter words imitating sounds,” the translators said in a letter to the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “How can one express the sound of a phone ringing, of a creaky door, or a soda can being popped open, or the crinkle of an ice cream wrapper, or the sound of a motorcyclist’s foot rubbing against the ground? Often translators simply transliterate the English words.” Instead, they recommend using indigenous substitutes such as “chorkh” (scratching) and “khurt-khurt” (swallowing), both derived from Lezgian, a language spoken in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. [The Moscow Times, The Calvert Journal]
Legal | Mohammed Moghini, the attorney for jailed Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, has been arrested for shaking his client’s hand. (According to this Pakistani source, the official charge is “fornication.”) Held at Rajai Shahr Prison, his bail has been set at about $7,000. This presents a potential problem for Farghadani, who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for drawing a cartoon “insulting” the country’s Parliament and leader, as she has only a limited time to appeal that sentence, and now her attorney is behind bars. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Manga | Dark Horse has announced the September release of Astro Boy Omnibus Volume 1, an oversized collection featuring nearly 700 pages of Osamu Tezuka’s most popular creation, billed as the first in a series. The news follows the recent announcement of the publisher’s oversized editions of The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. [Dark Horse]
Publishing | David Carter takes a hard look at Vertigo as part of his analysis of DC Comics’ December sales. He notes that most of the series are selling poorly (under — often well under — 15,000 copies) and speculates that the reason may be that creators, even those who do work for DC, are taking their creator-owned books to Image Comics. He also thinks Vertigo’s trade policy isn’t working, as releasing the trades early and pricing the first one low encourages readers to skip the monthly comics — but then there’s a high probability they will forget about a new series altogether. [The Beat]
Legal | There’s one fewer party in the lawsuit over the use of the term “comic con”: Newspaper Agency Corp., which produces materials for Salt Lake Comic Con, has settled with the organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic-Con sued both in August, claiming trademark infringement. Update: A Comic-Con International spokesman clarified that the settlement with the Newspaper Agency Corp. — a printing, advertising and delivery company owned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News under a joint operating agreement — is already in effect, with the company agreeing to a court order that prevents it from using the mark “Comic-Con,” “Comic Con” or its variants in the materials it produces. The lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con organizers continues. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Crime | Someone tossed a homemade fire bomb into the offices of the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. Firefighters put out the fire quickly, and no one was in the offices at the time. The paper published three of the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons from Charlie Hebdo on Thursday with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” [The Telegraph]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Kupperman relates his frustrating, and short-lived, experience as a cartoonist for The New York Times. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
Crowdfunding | Digital Manga Publishing’s recent Kickstarter campaign raised some questions as to the proper role of crowdfunding in publishing. When DMP acquired the rights to all of Osamu Tezuka’s manga that haven’t already been translated into English, CEO Hikaru Sasahara launched an ambitious Kickstarter effort to publish about 400 volumes in just a few years. The campaign raised eyebrows not only because of the large amount of money involved (with stretch goals, it would have been more than half a million dollars) but also because it went beyond the direct costs associated with single volumes to include travel and staffing. That campaign failed, but DMP immediately launched another one that’s closer to the usual model. I interviewed Sasahara and one of his most prominent critics to get both sides of the discussion. [Publishers Weekly]
Editorial cartoons | The Indianapolis Star first altered a cartoon by Gary Varvel and then removed it from its website after receiving an outpouring of protests from readers. The cartoon, a reaction to President Obama’s executive actions delaying deportations, showed a white family sitting around a Thanksgiving table, looking in horror as brown-skinned people, presumably immigrants, climbed in the window. The caption was “Thanks to the president’s immigration order, we’ll be having extra guests this Thanksgiving.” “Gary did not intend to be racially insensitive in his attempt to express his strong views about President Barack Obama’s decision to temporarily prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants living and working illegally in the United States,” Executive Editor Jeff Taylor said in a post explaining the removal of the cartoon. “But we erred in publishing it.” Tom Spurgeon offers some commentary. [Indianapolis Star]
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
Awards | Alexis Deacon has won the 2014 Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize for “The River,” “a luscious, tangled, whispering kind of story” that earned him £1,000 (about $1,611 U.S.). The runners-up were Fionnuala Doran’s “Countess Markievicz” and Beth Dawson’s “After Life.” The short-story competition has been held annually since 2007 by London’s Comica Festival, publisher Jonathan Cape and The Observer newspaper. [The Observer]
Publishing | Mark Peters spotlights Archie Comics’ recent transformation from staid to startling, with titles like Afterlife With Archie and the new Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. [Salon]
Awards | The finalists for the inaugural Kirkus Prize literary awards include two graphic novels: Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is one of six nominees in the Nonfiction category, and Cece Bell’s El Deafo is one of the picks for the Young Readers award. The winners in all three categories, who will receive $50,000 each, will be announced during a ceremony held Oct. 23 in Austin, Texas. [The Washington Post]
Manga | A prequel to Osamu Tezuka’s classic Astro Boy manga is in the works for the Japanese magazine Monthly Hero’s. Tezuka’s son, Makoto Tezuka, is supervising the production of the story, which focuses on the time before the “birth” of the iconic robot boy. [Anime News Network]
He’s gathered a Murderers’ Row of great contributors and collaborators to tell the life’s stories of 16 cartoonists, in the most obvious format to do so — comics, of course.
But what, exactly, constitutes a cartoonist? Some of those included might have worked at one point in the field, but made their greatest marks in other areas: people like Walt Disney, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Hugh Hefner (whose inclusion will likely be the biggest surprise to more readers; and, make no mistake, the book is made as much for the casual reader as the expert, armchair or otherwise). Others you might not think of as cartoonists at all, like Edward Gorey or Al Hirschfeld.
And changing the world — the whole world?! — is a pretty bold claim, certainly bolder than changing, say, a genre, or a medium or an industry. Certainly Disney and Osamu Tezuka qualify, as do Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who introduced the superhero as we know it, and Jack Kirby, who reimagined the superhero, made countless contributions to the form and who created or co-created characters and concepts that today make billions of dollars.
But what about Harvey Kurtzman, Robert Crumb and the aforementioned Hirschfeld? Are their influences and innovations on equal footing?
Conventions | Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP’s global senior vice president, talks about his company’s strategy of focusing on a few big shows, rather than a lot of smaller ones, and gives the numbers for last month’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo: Attendance was about 62,900, up 18 percent from last year, and the show floor grew by 15,000 square feet. Attendees are mostly in the 18-to-35 age group, and the majority are male, although the proportion of women at C2E2 has increased by 6 percent since 2011. Male or female, many of the folks on the floor seem to be “casual consumers” rather than “hardcore fans”: About 50 percent of attendees at New York Comic Con were there for the first time. “Depending on which exhibiting company you’re talking to, they either love it or they’re not sure what to do with it,” Fensterman said. “You’re delivering new readers and new potential consumers. We think it’s cool that you’re getting that fresh perspective, not quite so jaded (been there, done that).” [ICv2]
The Google Cultural Institute has compiled images, videos and documents for an exhibit on Osamu Tezuka, marking the first time a manga artist has been featured in the digital historical archive.
Launched in 2011, the initiative is “an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.” With the participation of 40 institutions in 14 countries, the Google Cultural Institute offers free access to photographs, footage and documents from historical events and figures of the 20th century.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the Tezuka exhibit was added to the “Cultural Figures” section on Monday, the fiction birthday of Astro Boy. The collection consists of 172 images, video and text pieces from Tezuka Productions and the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum.
“Tezuka repeatedly expressed his opposition to war and discrimination and emphasized the preciousness of life through his works,” said Yoshihiro Shimizu, chief of the copyright business division of Tokyo-based Tezuka Productions. “I am happy that information concerning Tezuka is spread around the globe (through the site) and his ideas are shared.”