X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has billions of dollars, a customized helicopter and jet, and an affinity for emblazoning his logo on any flat surface, but over the weekend he demonstrated he’s no Bruce Wayne.
While appearing Saturday at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Trump revealed his secret identity — an amateur move. It wasn’t the $7 million helicopter with ‘TRUMP” plastered on the side that gave it away, or the red ball cap with “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” but rather the candidate himself: He confessed to being Batman.
While most of the political world is following the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jeb(!) Bush and Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been making waves in a few nerd realms. First came his Simpsons impressions, and then his assertion that Captain James T. Kirk was/is/will be a Republican. Now Cruz is listing Watchmen’s Rorschach as one of his favorite superheroes.
However, Cruz isn’t the first candidate to invoke nerd culture. President Obama, himself a Star Trek fan, listed The Amazing Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian as his favorite comics growing up, and was photographed in Metropolis, Illinois, imitating its Superman statue. In return, Obama was immortalized on a Spider-Man cover, and depicted in another Superman-inspired pose by painter Alex Ross.
For that matter, the election year of 2008 featured a couple of seminal superhero films with clear political overtones. The first Iron Man showed its hero working within the military-industrial complex, and The Dark Knight inspired pundits to compare Batman’s surveillance technology to government eavesdropping.
The Shanghai International Film Festival has abruptly canceled a screening of Attack on Titan, which was blacklisted earlier this week by the Chinese government. The move comes just days before the start of the June 13-21 event.
Based on Hajime Isayama’s bestselling post-apocalyptic fantasy series, Attack on Titan is among 38 manga and anime titles banned Monday by the Chinese Ministry of Culture from print or digital distribution for containing “severely improper content.” Other works include Death Note, Black Butler and Claymore.
Facing mounting criticism for erecting a 20-foot statue of a robot that some have labeled a “monstrosity,” the longtime mayor of Ankara, Turkey, arrived at a solution: He replaced it last week, at taxpayer expense, with a replica of a 32-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex.
A flamboyant politician who’s been mayor of the country’s capital city since 1994, Melih Gökçek had responded to backlash over the initial statue by saying “Respect the robot,” only to later announce plans to replace it with a dinosaur, because the robot “got on the leftists’ nerves.”
Creators | Responding to the removal of Maus from Moscow bookstores as the Russian government cracks down on Nazi symbols, Art Spiegelman said, “It’s a real shame because this is a book about memory. We don’t want cultures to erase memory.” Retailers fear the swastika on the graphic novel’s cover may be enough to run afoul of a new law prohibiting “Nazi propaganda” as the country prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Germany. “I don’t think Maus was the intended target for this, obviously,” the cartoonist told The Guardian. “But I think [the law] had an intentional effect of squelching freedom of expression in Russia. The whole goal seems to make anybody in the expression business skittish.” [The Guardian]
President Obama officially welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House on Tuesday to address free trade and international cooperation. But before the discussion turned too serious, the Most Powerful Man in the World wanted to talk a little about manga and anime.
Speaking at the arrival ceremony, Obama said the visit by Abe and his wife Akie was an opportunity for he and First Lady Michelle Obama to return the hospitality they received in Japan (where the president played soccer with a robot).
Agence France-Presse reports the move comes as Russian authorities seek to purge the capital of swastikas and other Nazi insignias ahead of May 9, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over German forces in World War II. Raids have already been conducted on toy and antique shops, and bookstore owners are anticipating similar actions.
Of course, Art Spiegelman’s celebrated Maus, released in Russia in 2013, isn’t “Nazi propaganda”; it’s pointedly anti-fascist, telling a story about the horrors of Nazism. However, bookstore owners appear to be erring on the side of caution, figuring the large swastika on the cover is enough to make the title — and retailers — a target.
Political cartoons | Cartoonist Milt Priggee stands by his editorial cartoon, which appeared in the Kitsap (Washington) Sun, depicting a recently slain toddler as an angel and “America’s gun culture” as the devil. Priggee and the newspaper’s editor have come under fire from the public and from the grandfather of the 2-year-old, who accuse him of using a tragedy to score political points. Priggee said his goal was to get people to think critically about gun culture: “A cartoon is a simple machine to make the reader think, not joke. It’s not a comic strip, it’s not entertainment, and this is where newspapers have fallen down. They have not taken any kind of opportunity to educate the public because a lot of times people come to an editorial cartoon and they say, ‘Well there’s nothing funny about this. Why is this in the newspaper?'” [MyNorthwest.com]
The mayor of Ankara, Turkey, has a robot problem. A giant robot problem.
Melih Gökçek, who’s been mayor of the country’s capital city since 1994, is facing criticism after unveiling a 20-foot statue of a robot intended to promote a new theme park.
Seeking to promote the republic’s history and values, officials in Chechnya reportedly plan to produce action figures to replace “unhealthy” Western imports like Spider-Man and the Transformers.
“They have a negative impact on the child’s psyche,” Chechnya’s children’s rights commissioner is quoted as saying. “We therefore proposed refusing Western toys.”
Following Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s signing of the controversial “religious freedom” bill into law, Gen Con organizers announced Thursday they’ve begun “discussions” about whether to remain in Indianapolis once their contract expires in 2020.
Gen Con owner and CEO Adrian Swartout issued an open letter earlier this week urging the governor to veto the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, cautioning that it will “have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years.”
Censorship | The Tanzanian government has banned a regional newspaper, The EastAfrican, apparently because of a cartoon by Godfrey Mwampembwa (GADO) that was critical of President Jakaya Kikwete. [The Washington Post]
Creators | “My idea is that if you want to defend Islam against cartoons, you do it by drawing cartoons, not by killing the cartoonists,” says Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Sabaaneh, who is back on the job after being suspended for a cartoon that some interpreted as being a likeness of the Prophet Muhammad (Sabaaneh insists it was not). This profile of Sabaaneh includes an interview with the creator and a nuanced look at the milieu in which he works. [The Independent]
Creators | “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon,” Malaysian cartoonist Zunar said in an interview following the police raid on his Kuala Lumpur office. Zunar was in London at the time of the raid but expects to be summoned to the police station on his return to face charges under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code. “Why are the police involved in this?” he said. “If it is true I have defamed certain people, why not filed a civil suit? The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attacker but now they are ‘attacking’ me.” He also sent out some photos of the raid. [Malaysian Digest]
Freedom of Speech | Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, called the raid Zunar’s office “shocking and outrageous” and demanded the government to return the confiscated books and drop all charges against him. [The Malaysian Insider]
Editorial cartoons | The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban on Thursday condemned the new Charlie Hebdo cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If someone is printing a cartoon insulting the prophet, there is a provocation,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. The lower house of the Pakistan parliament unanimously approved a resolution condemning the cartoons, and the Tailban emailed a statement saying, “We strongly condemn this repugnant and inhumane action,” which is “opening the door to provoking the sensitivities of nearly one and a half billion Muslims.” Also, several people were injured when police broke up an anti-Charlie Hebdo protest outside the French Consulate in Karachi. [Bloomberg]
Awards | Jillian Tamaki has won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Prize for children’s literature illustration for her work on This One Summer, a graphic novel collaboration with cousin Mariko Tamaki (who was nominated in the text category). Their first book, 2008’s Skim, was previously nominated in the text division, further demonstrating a separation of illustration and story that Jillian Tamaki finds “strange.” ““I think we are both creators of the book,” she tells the Edmonton Journal. “You can’t read a comic without either component, it won’t make sense. It’s something I will always be addressing when talking about the award. But I am completely flattered by the honor and will be sharing the prize with my cousin.” [Edmonton Journal, via The Comics Reporter]