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Gilbert Hernandez’s graphic novel Palomar will be available in the Rio Rancho (New Mexico) High School library when classes resume in the fall, but there’s a catch: Students under the age of 18 will have to get a parent’s signature before they can check out the book.
Parent Katrina Lopez turned to the local news media in February after her 14-year-old son checked out the mature-readers book, reportedly thinking it might be manga. When Lopez leafed through the pages, she saw images she characterized as “pornographic.”
While a school district spokesman initially called the book “clearly inappropriate for students,” a committee chosen by the superintendent later voted to keep the book in the library, saying it met the standard of the Rio Rancho School Board’s Library Bill of Rights.
Lopez said at the time she would appeal the decision.
Libraries | A parent plans to appeal a decision by a New Mexico school district to keep Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar on the shelves of the Rio Rancho High School Library. Catrenna Lopez complained in February after her 14-year-old son brought home the acclaimed hardcover, insisting it contained “pornographic” images and promoted prostitution. A review committee appointed by the superintendent of Rio Rancho Public Schools voted 5-3 last week to retain the book. In response to the decision, Lopez said, “To me, this book is kind of like having a Hustler magazine in the schools.” If she follows through with her plan, the appeal would go to the school board, which would take a public vote on its decision. [KRQE]
Auctions | A page of original artwork from 1971’s Asterix and the Laurel Wreath sold at auction Sunday for more than $158,000, with proceeds going to benefit the families of those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The art included a special dedication by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, who came out of retirement in the days after the attack to draw tributes to the victims. The auction house Christie’s waived its commission for Sunday’s sale. [BBC News]
Political cartoons | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla, who has been sued, threatened and reprimanded by his own government because of his political cartoons, revealed last week that he has also received threats from an Ecuadorean member of ISIS over a cartoon making fun of the extremist group. While he ultimately decided the threat wasn’t credible, Bonilla said, “It has to be understood within this climate of hostility and harassment that’s been created within the country. It’s gotten to the point where even humor is being persecuted and oppressed by the president.” Reporter Jim Wyss also looks at some other cases of government suppression of political cartoons in Latin America [Miami Herald]
Libraries | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has responded to the recent removal of a copy of Gilbert Herandez’s Palomar from a high school library in New Mexico following complaints from a parent, who called the acclaimed graphic novel “pornographic.” Taking a local television station to task for its “biased reporting,” the organization notes the removal of the book by Rio Rancho Public Schools officials appears to violate the district’s own challenge policy. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]
Manga | Here’s an interesting insight into the Japanese publishing industry: Deb Aoki, in Tokyo as a judge for the Manga Translation Battle, collects a series of her tweets and the responses of others (including a number of pros) to the symposium that followed the awards reception. The juxtaposition of two charts is startling: Manga sales are sharply down in Japan but rising in the United States, although of course the orders of magnitude are different. In keeping with the theme, she also discusses what makes a “good” translation, with actual manga translators weighing in with their opinions. [Storify]
Catreena Lopez told KOAT Albuquerque she was disturbed by the “pornographic” images she found in the graphic novel, which her 14-year-old son reportedly checked out Wednesday from the Rio Rancho High School library, thinking it might be manga.
Flipping through the 500-page Fantagraphics hardcover, which collects all of Hernandez’s inarguably mature-themed “Heartbreak Soup” stories from Love & Rockets, Lopez flagged 30 illustrations she considered to be pornographic.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.
To see what Brendan, Pedro and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
CBR and Comics Should Be Good contributor Sonia Harris’s report from the Love and Rockets spotlight panel — in which all three of Los Bros Hernandez, Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario, analyzed one another’s work with moderator Kristy Valenti of The Comics Journal — is pure L&R-nerd heaven for a whole bunch of reasons. But not least among them is the revelation that Gilbert will be returning to the streets of Palomar, the tiny fictional Latin American village in which the bulk of his acclaimed stories for the series were set for years, with next year’s Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 from Fantagraphics. It’s a welcome surprise — emphasis on surprise, given how Beto has talked about his Palomar-based material lately.
Gilbert left the village behind years ago, with the end of the first volume of Love and Rockets in 1996. Subsequent stories were set in the same world, but shifted to Los Angeles and largely centered on the American sisters of Palomar matriach Luba, who moved to the States along with several other Palomar characters. Since L&R Vol. 2 wrapped up in 2007, the bulk of Beto’s work has come in the form of “adaptations” of the Z-grade movies that Luba’s psychologist-turned-actress sister Fritz has starred in within the Palomar world. The resulting material has been much more genre-based than the naturalistic/magic-realist Palomar comics, and absolutely suffused with graphic sex and violence. The move has left critics divided, but Hernandez told our own Chris Mautner that he wouldn’t have it any other way: “The Fritz series frees me of any obligation to be a do-gooder cartoonist, something most regular L&R readers probably don’t want to hear. I felt straight jacketed with ‘Palomar’ and the like after a while, really. I have a lot more going on in my imagination than I’m expected to utilize.”
On the panel where he announced his return to the town, he was appropriately enough a bit more conciliatory about his older work. “People always compare my [current] stuff to the ‘Palomar’ stuff, but lately, my stories have been just a little colder edged because I’m more interested in that,” he said, later adding that creating the “Fritz-verse” of movie-based comics enabled him to go wild without stuffing too much weirdness into “Palomar” for it to work properly as a setting.
As for what, specifically, is in store for Palomar’s residents, Hernandez hinted that the story will involve the legacy mothers leave their daughters — which, if you know your Beto, is enough to make you very excited and very nervous.