EXCLUSIVE: Grodd Strikes in New "The Flash" Photos
Comic strips | Prompted by the insult-filled message left by an 8-year-old for the newspaper editor who dropped his favorite comics, Michael Cavna asks Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce whether kids are still even reading comic strips in high numbers. His answer, at least in part: “I’m a firm believer that kids will ALWAYS want their comics…but they’ll want them in whatever formats are the newest and shiniest. So: Yes, kids are still reading plenty of comics. They’re just not reading them in their daily newspapers.” It kicks off an interesting, if brief, discussion with a cartoonist who’s found a great deal of success reaching young readers. Related: Christopher Caldwell looks back on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. [The Washington Post]
Legal | Police interrupted a launch event for Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, claiming he didn’t have a proper permit. The book, ROS in Kangkongland, makes fun of the Malaysian prime minister’s wife. Zunar tweeted from the event that 20 officers had shown up. “It is ridiculous to have 20 police personnel interfere in this event. This book is not even banned, I don’t even know what offence I have committed,” he said. In the end he shut down the event but told attendees they could order the books online. Zunar is scheduled to speak at the United Nations this week on the topic of freedom of speech. [The Malaysian Insider]
Legal | A 48-year-old man has been charged in the theft of the extensive comics collection of artist Jim Wheelock last month from a storage facility in Brattleboro, Vermont. William Brown pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 17 counts of burglary, petit larceny and unlawful mischief after he was allegedly recorded on security camera breaking into numerous units. Brown said he sold all of the items, and none of Wheelock’s comics has turned up in searches of the suspect’s home and car. [Brattleboro Reformer]
Retailing | Comics retailers surveyed by ICv2 were more optimistic than ever before, thanks to strong sales and excitement around upcoming titles in the superhero, creator-owned, and kids/teens sectors; the analysis also includes charts of the top-selling properties during the fall and holiday season of last year. [ICv2]
Awards | Six graphic novels are finalists for the eighth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, Happy Birthday Babymouse, Sisters, The Dumbest Idea Ever, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl and El Deafo. This is the largest number of graphic novels to make the cut; the previous high was three. Children and teens can vote for the winners, which will be announced during Children’s Book Week, which starts this year with Free Comic Book Day. [Children’s Book Council, via ICv2]
Retailing | When water got into the stock room of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, Florida, it destroyed a number of valuable comics, including a 1956-vintage Superman comic and a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. Rather than just toss them, however, owner William Insignares is using them to redecorate his store, starting by decoupaging some of them to his front door using a Mod Podge-like substance. [Bradenton Herald]
Censorship | Police confiscated 200 copies of Malaysian cartoonist Zunar’s latest book, which lampoons the prime minister’s wife, as they were being transported to a book launch party on Saturday. Zunar, who was charged last week with sedition and held for three days because of a comment he made on Twitter, said every time he’s arrested, police raid his printer. Nonetheless, he encouraged the attendees at the launch party to order his books online, and said that ultimately, attempts to suppress him will backfire on the Malaysian government. [The Malaysian Insider]
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]
Manga | Japanese publisher East Press has released a manga adaptation of the Koran as part of its series devoted to classic or historical literature. “The Koran is the foundation of the daily life and ideology of people who believe in the teachings of Islam,” the publisher writes on its website. “The name Islam is often heard in the daily news, but because we Japanese aren’t usually familiar with it, a perverted image [of Islam] as abstemious or linked to terrorism is liable to persist. So what kind of teachings do [Muslims] actually believe in? What are they thinking about? To understand the modern international community and Islam, let’s try to experience the scriptures where all that is written down.” East Press has adapted 133 famous works, ranging from War and Peace to the Bible to Mein Kampf. [Anime News Network]
A lone gunman fired as many as 200 shots into a cafe in Copenhagen this afternoon in an apparent attempt to assassinate Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who has received numerous death threats since drawing a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007. Vilks wasn’t harmed in the attack, but one person was killed and three police officers were injured.
The Danish security service called the shooting “a terror attack,” and the suspect is still at large. UPDATE: Danish police shot and killed a man they believe was responsible for both this attack and a later shooting at a synagogue that left one man dead.
The first attack occurred during a forum titled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression” held in the cafe Krudttønden in North Copenhagen on the anniversary of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. Vilks was one of the organizers of the discussion, and the French ambassador to Sweden, François Zimeray, was also present; he escaped without injury.
The Cartoonists Rights Network International has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to extend its efforts, which include advocating for freedom of speech, getting the word out when a cartoonist is in peril, and working behind the scenes to aid cartoonists in trouble.
The organization offers a downloadable manual for cartoonists, and also presents the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award each year to “a cartoonist who is in great danger or has demonstrated exceptional courage in the exercise of free speech rights, or both.”
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
Crime | Artist and collector Jim Wheelock talks about the loss of his comics collection, which was stolen from a storage unit in Brattleboro, Vermont: “I remember where I was and what I was doing when I bought or read many of [the comic books]. Later, when I worked in the financially rickety world of a freelance artist, knowing the books were in Vermont gave me a sense of security, a retirement nest egg. This is what the culprit robbed me of.” Vermont-based cartoonists James Kochalka and Harry Bliss weigh in on what such a loss would mean. Wheelock’s thousands of comics included extensive runs of The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four, in some cases beginning from the first issues. [Seven Days]
Legal | Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into a cartoon he claims depicts the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoonist, Mohammed Sabaaneh, denied that on his Facebook, saying, “The intention was not to represent the prophet. [It was to] symbolise Islam and its role of disseminating light and love on the human race.” It was a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, not an attempt to imitate them: “My point was to defend religion in the face of attempts to distort it, by using the same means: a caricature,” he said. The newspaper that ran the cartoon, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, apologized and stated that the cartoon was not supposed to be an image of Muhammad. Sabaaneh, who spent several months in an Israeli prison on charges of “contacts with a hostile organization,” has been summoned by the Palestinian Authority for questioning. [Middle East Eye]
Crime | The Wow Cool Alternative Comics store in Cupertino, California, has been burglarized for the second time in two months, and it looks as if it was the same crew both times. The thieves took cash and pretty much every minicomic and digest in the store, as well as a box of Marvel and DC comics. [Wow Cool Comics]
Political cartoons | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, who’s facing sedition charges in his home country, has been invited to speak at a United Nations forum next month in Geneva, Switzerland, titled “Defending Artistic Expression — Time for the UN to Act.” “In my speech, I will reaffirm my stand that freedom of expression for artistes including cartoonists is paramount and cannot be compromised,” he said, and he will also criticize the UN’s lack of commitment to the issue, which has “given more power to corrupt regimes and extremist bigots to be more repressive toward artists.” [The Rakyat Post]
Auctions | A restored copy of Detective Comics #27, which marks the first appearance of Batman, is expected to bring in more than $100,000 in a Feb. 20 sale held by Heritage Auctions. According to the company, this would be only the second restored copy of that issue reach that milestone (several restored copies of Action Comics #1 have broken $100,000). A CGC-graded 4.5 copy of Batman #1 is expected to fetch more than $65,000 in the same auction. [Antique Trader]
Passings | Cartoonist Joseph Farris, whose work appeared in The New Yorker and other publications for almost 60 years, died last week at his home in Bethel, Connecticut. He was 90. Farris served in the Army during World War II, and he later wrote a memoir, A Soldier’s Sketchbook, that included drawings he did while on the front lines in France and Germany. He recently completed another memoir, Elm Street, about growing up in Danbury, Connecticut. Farris once described his work as “subtly political,” adding that his goal was to make the reader laugh, then stop and think “Wait a minute. What did he say?” [The News-Times]