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Comics A.M. | ‘Hi Score Girl’ to return following copyright dispute

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Manga | Rensuke Oshikiri’s romantic comedy manga Hi Score Girl will resume serialization in Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan magazine, after a lengthy hiatus due to copyright issues. The manga was suspended in 2014 after the game company SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, claiming the manga used characters from SNK’s games without permission. Copyright violations are taken seriously in Japan: Police raided Square Enix’s offices, and the publisher not only stopped selling the series but issued a recall. Although Square Enix filed a counterclaim, Tokyo police initiated charges against 16 people, including Oshikiri and Square Enix staffers. The parties agreed on a settlement in August 2015. In addition to resuming serialization of the series, Square Enix will publish the sixth volume and new editions of the first five. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M.| Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying volunteers

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Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it’s true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it’s rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that’s essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. “In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage,” says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.” The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]

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Comics A.M. | “Farm News” offers cartoonist his job back, “March” added to NYC schools curriculum

Rick Friday

Rick Friday

Political Cartoons | Cartoonist Rick Friday is enjoying his newfound fame—and considering a proposal from Farm News to bring him back as their editorial cartoonist. Farm News fired Friday, a freelancer, because of a cartoon that noted the large salaries of several CEOS of big agriculture companies. “Today I was instructed by (the publisher) that we will no longer take a cartoon from you. The last one, ‘Profit,’ has caused a (storm) here that I do not understand. In the eyes of some, big ag cannot be criticized or poked fun at. The cartoon resulted in one seed dealer canceling his advertising with Farm News,” Friday’s editor wrote in an e-mail. The story attracted national attention, and while he is considering returning to Farm News, Friday has also been motivated to move in a new direction, drawing cartoons that are not about farm life. [Des Moines Register]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

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Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist released from prison

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(photo via The Foreign Desk)

Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility,” the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. “It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.” Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]

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Comics A.M. | Farm News fires cartoonist Rick Friday amidst comic strip controversy

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

Political Cartoons | Farm News has ended Rick Friday’s gig as its editorial cartoonist, and Friday says he was fired because an advertiser complained about one of his cartoons. In the cartoon, a farmer comments that “In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.” The publisher and editor of Farm News declined to comment on why they let Friday go, and spokespeople from DuPont and Monsanto said they were not aware of the cartoon. But on his Facebook page, Friday wrote, “Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of It’s Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.” [Des Moines Register]

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Comics A.M. | How an aneurysm led to the creation of Koyama Press

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Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]

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Comics A.M. | Mom fights to sell ‘Supermanny’ comic to benefit son

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Legal | An Illinois mother says a trademark dispute is hampering her attempt to raise money for her 3-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Holly Bueno says while sitting in the hospital with her son Manny, she began writing a book called The Adventures of Supermanny. “My driving force was I wanted to give myself a voice and my son a voice, and I want there to be a story out there where the main character is in a wheelchair, there aren’t too many of those,” she says. Bueno had hoped to sell the book to raise money for a wheelchair ramp, but when she filed a trademark application last year for “Supermanny,” she drew the attention of DC Comics, which said it was too close to Superman. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filings show Bueno abandoned the mark in February.) Regardless of what happens with the trademark issue, there is also another fund-raiser for Manny — a superhero-themed 5k race. [ABC7 Chicago]

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Comics A.M. | Woman charged in theft of Terry Brooks’ vintage comics

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Legal | Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara fantasy novels, has been revealed as the owner of a valuable comics collection stolen between 2010 and 2012. The vintage comics, valued at between $100,000 and $500,000, were in the possession of the Sterling, Illinois, law firm Miller & Lancaster, where Brooks was an attorney before becoming a full-time author. Trisha J. Clemens, a former employee of the firm, has been charged with theft in the case. She also faces an earlier charge of theft of between $100,000 and $500,000 from the law firm. One of her bond conditions is that she can neither possess nor sell comics. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 2. [SaukValley.com]

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Comics A.M. | New ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ manga to launch in June

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Manga | The shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi will announce this week that the manga collaborative CLAMP will produce a sequel to their classic series Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s been 20 years since CLAMP launched the original series, which was one of the first shoujo manga to become popular in North America. The sequel will follow the title character, Sakura, in her first year of junior high school. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Accused Salt Lake Comic Con impostor gets new lawyer

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]

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Comics A.M. | Viz licenses ‘Naruto’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ novels

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Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Collection of rare DC comics goes on display

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Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]

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Comics A.M. | Kodansha licenses ‘Attack on Titan: Lost Girls’

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Manga | Kodansha Comics has announced seven new titles for fall, including Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, a manga adaptation of the Attack on Titan spinoff novel that gives the backstory of the characters Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman; Cells at Work, a shonen manga in which the white blood cells and neurons battle disease; and The Prince in His Dark Days, a gender-switching version of The Prince and the Pauper in which a poor girl takes the place of a rich boy. [Kodansha Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Japan plans to build national manga museum

Cool Japan

Cool Japan

Manga | As part of its Cool Japan initiative, the Japanese government plans to build the “Manga National Center” — a museum dedicated to manga, anime and video games — in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Expected to cost about $90 million, the project will be funded through a mixture of public and private-sector money. [Chicago Tribune]

Passings | Augie Scotto, an artist whose work appeared in Will Eisner’s PS magazine, passed away March 15 at age 88. He began his career in 1949, drawing largely crime and Western stories for such early publishers as Eastern Color, Atlas and Charlton. Scotto seems to have left comics for a while around 1953, but returned in 1968 as the penciler for Tower Comics’ Dynamo and as an inker for DC Comics until around 1978. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]

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