In-Depth on Marvel's "Divided We Stand" and The Latest Hydra Cap Twists
Business | WizKids has canceled pre-release events for Marvel HeroClix: The Superior Foes of Spider-Man after losing its shipment in an explosive train collision Tuesday in Texas that killed two crew members. A third is missing and presumed dead. “While a sizable amount of the product release will be in an unknown state for an unforeseeable time,” the company said in a statement, “our current plan is to proceed with the launch of the product as scheduled as we have sufficient quantities for all stores who have preordered to date and the majority of the product is unaffected. Our thoughts go out to the families who lost their loved ones in this horrific accident.” [WizKids, via ICv2.com]
Crime | OneBookShelf, which operates the digital-comics website DriveThruComics and several other retail sites, has suffered a data breach. “A hacker found a crack in our defenses and got in,” the company said in a Q&A on its websites. Hackers stole credit card information from transactions processed between July 10 and Aug. 6, and used the OneBookShelf’s servers to launch DDOS attack on other sites. It’s not clear which numbers were exposed, but the company recommends customers who made transactions, or had credit card information stored on the site during that time, get new cards. [ICv2]
Political cartoons | Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki said in a Japanese radio interview that it was a “mistake” for the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. “For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship,” he said when asked about the January attack on the magazine’s offices that left 12 dead. “It’s a good idea to stop doing that.” Miyazaki reportedly said cartoonists should use caricature to target their own country’s politicians. “”It just looks suspect to go after political leaders from other countries,” he explained. [Kotaku]
Passings | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein died Saturday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 79. Hussein had been a cartoonist for the state-owned Al Akbar newspaper since 1974, and was often accused of being sympathetic to those in power. His final cartoon, published in Al Akbar two days before he died, was inscribed “I ??don’t have time to finish this cartoon, forgive me. I will miss you.” [Ahram Online]
Awards | The Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI) has announced the winners of this year’s Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, and for the first time in the history of the award they are women: Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen. Mishra faced death threats for her cartoons about a religious leader who raped a 16-year-old (and eventually went to prison); Shaheen also was threatened with violence after she drew a cartoon depicting the Al-Quds Brigades as a dog in a cartoon critiquing Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s relationship with the organization. [Comic Riffs]
Manga | Attack on Titan is as much of a manga juggernaut in its native Japan as it is the United States, and the 13th volume had a print run of 2.75 million copies, a new record not only for the series but for publisher Kodansha. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Tom Risen has a thoughtful piece, which includes an interview with Axel Alonso, on how superhero comics have changed since the War on Terror began: “Superheroes since the 2000s have increasingly held up a mirror to controversies like mass surveillance, remote killings using drones and the ‘with us or against us’ mentality espoused by former President George W. Bush. Misuse of military technology also played a key role in recent movie adaptations featuring Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America and Iron Man, showing how fighting dirty to defeat evil can make America its own worst enemy.” [U.S. News & World Report]
Thursday at this time, many Americans will be digging in to their bountiful Thanksgiving dinner or, depending upon the time zone, blissfully enjoying a tryptophan coma. Feasting isn’t the only tradition, however: There’s also the custom of giving thanks, hence the holiday’s name.
With the end of the year approaching, it seems like a good opportunity to reflect on the state of comics, and celebrate what’s working. Sure, this crazy industry can be frustrating at times, but it also gets a lot of things right. So in keeping with the numerical motif of our namesake, here are six things in comics for which I’m thankful.
1. Image Comics is killing it
There are a lot of fantastic comics today. It’s been said a number of times by myself and others but it’s so fun to repeat: We are living in a new renaissance period for comics. I don’t think there’s ever before been such a sustained output of quality books. You can’t reasonably give credit for that to one publisher, but if we’re just looking at the major players in the direct market, Image Comics is just killing it this year. I don’t think they’ve ever had such a stellar line-up of quality creators putting out books that look fantastic, have great hooks to them, and stand on their own as solid entertainment.
Look, I’m not even going to pretend to be familiar with the work of Ali Ferzat, a Syrian political cartoonist who has emerged as an outspoken critic of dictator Bashar al-Assad and his bloody crackdown against anti-government protestors over the past several months. But you can bet Assad and his regime know his work, and hate it, because their security forces abducted Ferzat, beat him, made a point of breaking his hands, and dumped him on the side of the road. This Washington Post article lays out the details as they are known right now, and included the terrifying Facebook picture above. The news comes via Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter, generally your best source for information on the pressures faced by political cartoonists worldwide.
Though people like Mike Diana, Jesus Castillo, and Christopher Handley provide us with sad exceptions to this rule, in general, no one in America is subject to legal (or extralegal) punishment for the comics they draw, sell, or consume. We’re lucky. And while it’s impossible not to be gobsmacked by not just the brutality but the arrogance of a government that would punish a cartoonist critic in such an overtly symbolic manner, it’s just as impossible not to be awed by the bravery of an artist who knows he’s up against a government that would do a thing like that, but goes up against them anyway.
Conventions | On the eve of the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Reader examines the escalating competition between convention owner Reed Exhibitions and longtime Chicago Comic Con organizer Wizard Entertainment: “It’s but one battleground in a war the two powers are waging across the country — an epic struggle that some observers see as a contest between the forces of good and, well, not so good.”
Writer Deanna Isaacs touches upon the rise of Wizard’s Rosemont event to the second-largest comics convention in North America, and its more recent decline. She quotes a couple of local retailers who have become “disenchanted” with the show. But Wizard CEO Gareb Shamus shrugs off the complaints: “Everybody’s going to tell you this or that. You’re talking about one person. We have 1,000 vendors at our show in Chicago, and they make a lot of money.”
The Daily Herald interviews C2E2 show-runner Lance Fensterman, who says he expects between 35,000 and 40,000 attendees this weekend. The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, offers its own preview, with eight “must-see” convention events, and brief Q&As with Alex Ross and Jeff Smith. [C2E2]
According to Bolling, the comic was canceled due to “severe budget constraints” rather than lack of traffic — indeed, as Bolling points out, Tom is frequently one of the site’s most-read features. He later added that Salon, which had hosted the strip since the site’s 1995 inception, seems unlikely to reverse the decision regardless of reader outcry.
I’m sure Tom Spurgeon will have further analysis, but even for someone with my casual dislike and distrust of all political cartooning, the cancellation seems notable for two reasons. First, Bolling is an obvious talent whose imaginative end-runs around the cliché-ridden visual vocabulary of your average political cartoonist made his comics that much more entertaining and his points that much more hard-hitting. Second, it’s almost creepy to think that editorial cartoonists may have just as hard a time making a go of things online as they do amid the staggering carcasses of America’s newspaper industry.
At least he’ll have an easier time getting health care.
(via Greg Pak)
Bill Kartalopoulos emailed me to let everyone know about a panel he’ll be moderating tomorrow, Nov. 3, at the The New York Center for Independent Publishing, 20 W. 44th St., New York.
The panel will discuss the history and current challenges facing political cartoonists in The Big Apple and features Eric Drooker, Tom Hart, Tim Kreider and Peter Kuper.The full press release is below the jump.
The ever acerbic political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow was picked by Pearl Jam to create the cover for upcoming album, Back Spacer. To promote the release, the band is doing an “Internet Easter Egg hunt.” Find images from the album that have been scattered across the Net, and win a free downloadable mp3 of a track from the album.
Back Spacer hits stores on Sept. 20.