Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Awards | Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil won the inaugural 9th Art Award, announced Sunday during the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Presented by Graphic Scotland, the prize recognizes the year’s best English-language graphic novel. The other finalists were: Building Stories, by Chris Ware; Days of the Bagnold Summer, by Joff Winterhart; Naming Monsters, by Hannah Eaton; and The Nao of Brown, by Glyn Dillon. [9th Art Award]
Manga | Raina Telgemeier’s comic about Barefoot Gen has attracted attention in Japan, where one city recently removed the manga from elementary-school classrooms, claiming it’s too violent for children (the manga depicts the bombing of Hiroshima). “I was lucky to have adults in my life who were willing to discuss the violent subject matter with me, and help me put the story in historical context, and clarify things I might not yet understand,” Telgemeier told The Asahi Shimbun. “After I finished volume 1 of Barefoot Gen, I was deeply upset. (But) as a child, I believed that if people simply saw what war was all about, they would take care that it wouldn’t happen anymore.” [The Asahi Shimbun]
As we reported Sunday, the school board of Matsue, Japan, has restricted students’ access to the manga Barefoot Gen, which is based on author Keiji Nakazawa’s own experiences during and after the bombing of Hiroshima. The book will remain in elementary and junior high school libraries, but only teachers can check it out — not students.
The official reason was the level of violence in the books, although the initial complaint about the book was that it depicted atrocities that the person who filed the complaint alleged had not happened.
This reminded Drama creator Raina Telgemeier of her own experience of being disturbed by the book as a child. As she said on her blog, “If you’ve ever seen me talk, you might know that Barefoot Gen is one of my seminal influences as a cartoonist, and I hold its creator Keiji Nakazawa in the highest regard.” And many years ago, she drew a short comic, Beginnings, about the effect that Barefoot Gen had on her nine-year-old self.
There’s a bit of the comic at right, but what’s cool is what happened after the book was banned: A Japanese father, who was unhappy about the banning, contacted Telgemeier and asked if he could translate Beginnings into Japanese, so his daughter could read it and share it with her friends. Telgemeier assented, and the translated version is now up on her website as well. There’s something wonderfully circular about that.
The beautiful and fantastical Flight anthologies put together by Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet) and his friends may be no more, but their spirit lives on in Explorer. The first volume, Flight: Explorer, was Kibuishi’s stab at assembling an anthology for kids using many of the same artists who’d worked on Flight. He followed that up by dropping the Flight label and putting together Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, but if a third volume was ever announced, I missed it.
That third volume is coming soon, though. Amazon is taking pre-orders for Explorer: The Lost Islands, a hardcover to be released Oct. 8. Again edited by Kibuishi, this volume features stories around the theme of “hidden places.” Contributors include Kibuishi, Jason Caffoe (Flight), Raina Telgemeier (Drama, Smile), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Jake Parker (Missile Mouse), Michel Gagné (The Saga of Rex), Katie and Steven Shanahan (Flight, Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales), and new artist Chrystin Garland.
Voting for the 2013 Eisner Awards concludes Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking about them. Last year, I had the privilege of being an Eisner judge, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This year I’m back to being a civilian, and that means once again I can complain about the judges’ choices. Let the games begin!
Actually, I thought the selections were pretty good, and I’m happy that the judges decided to continue having three categories for young readers, as we did last year. However, children’s and YA graphic novels are a burgeoning sector of the market, and there’s a lot of good work out there. Here are six graphic novels that I would have been arguing for this year had I been in the judging room. And incidentally, all of them are good reads for adults as well.
Little White Duck, written by Na Liu, illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez: This book deserves the Eisner for the beautiful art alone, but the story is wonderful as well. It’s Liu’s tale of growing up in China in the 1970s, and she starts with her parents mourning the death of Chairman Mao. The view of Chinese life in the Communist era is very different from what we are accustomed to; Liu writes matter-of-factly about the hardships (their family had two children, so she was not allowed to go to school) but also the joys of family life. It’s a very personal and three-dimensional perspective on an era we often view in flat black and white, and both Liu and Martínez are master storytellers.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Bay Area’s Alternative Press Expo, and Comic-Con International has announced the special guests who will be in attendance when it returns to the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco Oct. 12-13 for what will be its last show at the venue.
This year’s special guests are:
APE was started in 1994 by SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado and was held in San Jose until 1999. It moved to San Francisco after that and has been held at the Concourse since 2004. But according to CCI, the show will be looking for a new home next year. “Sadly, we have been notified that this will be the last year for APE at that location,” a statement on the show’s website reads. “The Concourse is scheduled to be razed at some point in the future to make room for new condominiums.”
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.
Graphic novels | April was a slow month for new graphic novel releases, so the BookScan Top 20 had plenty of room for some backlist titles. The Walking Dead dominated, of course, but the 10th volume of Sailor Moon was there for a second month and actually moved up a notch. And the first volume of Saga came in at No. 12, perhaps because people were curious as to what all the fuss is about. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | Nick Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Houston Chronicle, has responded to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s criticism of Jack Ohman’s cartoon with a cartoon of his own. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Jeff Smith, Brian Wood, Sean Murphy and Raina Telgemeier are the headline guests at the Maine Comics Arts Festival in Portland on May 19. [Foster’s Daily Democrat]
Cartoonist Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, rounded up 23 cartoonists to contribute their work to an animated ad for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of mayors, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, that is advocating for “common-sense measures that will close deadly gaps in our gun laws.”
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns ads eschew detailed discussion of the issues in favor of a simple images of people making an emotional appeal. This particular ad follows that format with cartoon characters, some familiar (the teenagers from Zits, the Family Circus family, Jason and his dad from FoxTrot), some more generic.
It takes a hell of a creator to write a graphic novel about dental work that anyone would want to read, but Raina Telgemeier’s Smile: A Dental Drama not only won an Eisner and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award (the first graphic novel to be so honored), it was also a big hit with young readers. Her followup Drama was just named to the YALSA Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens list and was recognized as a Stonewall Honor book, and it’s a cinch to garner more awards as the year goes on. Both books have spent a lot of time on The New York Times bestseller list; Drama hit the No. 1 spot in January, and Smile made the list recently as well, even though it was published more than two years ago.
So Tuesday’s announcement is big news: Telgemeier has signed with Scholastic’s Graphix imprint (the publishers of Drama and Smile) for two more books. The first one, due out next year, will be called Sisters and, like Smile, will be autobiographical, dealing with the relationship between Telgemeier and her younger sister. That’s all we know for now; Telgemeier is working on the book and shared a penciled drawing on her blog. The second book doesn’t have a title yet, but it will also be a graphic novel.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary in style May 11-12 with a truly stellar lineup of guests. Let’s get right to that, actually. Here’s the list, straight from the TCAF site:
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …
Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.
If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).
Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).
Comics | The August direct market sales numbers are in, and things look good: Comics sales are up almost 20 percent over August 2011, and graphic novels are up 15 percent. This isn’t just a fluke, either: Year-to-date sales are up about the same in both categories. DC had a slight edge in market share, Marvel did slightly better on unit sales, and interestingly, the Big Two stole back a bit of market share from everyone else. And as with bookstore sales, Batman ruled the direct market: “The influence of The Dark Knight Rises is more obvious in the bookstore channel with its tendency to foster backlist sales (Frank Miller’s 1980’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns was tops in the bookstores), while the direct market sales are concentrated more on the most recent releases such as Johns’ Batman: Earth One, which was released in July and Snyder’s New 52 volume that was out in May.” [ICv2]
Passings | Illustrator and panel cartoonist Art Cumings has died at the age of 90. Mike Lynch describes Cumings as “an illustrator’s illustrator and a cartoonist’s cartoonist”; his work appeared everywhere from Dr. Seuss books to Penthouse magazine, and it’s worth hitting the link to see his Balloonheads cartoons from the latter. (NSFW, but in a cute, colorful way.) [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
“I don’t mean to suggest that there isn’t work to be done of course, but we’ve hit a point where the lie espoused by the industry gatekeepers, that ‘there isn’t an audience for kids comics’ or ‘there isn’t an audience for girls or womens comics’ has finally been put to rest. Oh, the gatekeepers hung onto it as long as they could, ‘webcomics aren’t comic books’ or ‘manga aren’t comics’ or whatever nonsense they dug up. They’re still espousing it to some degree or another–I particularly liked this article by Heidi MacDonald on why superhero publishers will never ‘get’ women–but it’s demonstrably false. Comics for kids sell now, the Lego Ninjago comic has a 425,000 copy first printing, a number that dwarfs most others in comics… and DC had that license at one point btw. Comics for girls (and boys) like Smile continue to sell very well. Despite the gleeful hand rubbing over the demise of manga, it still sells quite well, thanks. And the internet…? The internet is home to a fantastically diverse array of cartoonists either making their living or a significant chunk of it from the online serialization of their work–and they’re coming for print too. They are COMING FOR PRINT.”
–Comics retailer and blogger Chris Butcher, reacting to the news that Smile by Raina Telgemeier took the No. 1 spot on The New York Times’ bestselling graphic novels list, but also providing follow-up commentary on the essay by Heidi MacDonald that Brigid quoted earlier this week. It’s a great piece by Butcher; go read the whole thing.
Derek Kirk Kim was at the American Library Association midsummer meeting last weekend, and he went through the Artists Alley with a video camera asking the creators what they think of ALA versus comic conventions. The lineup includes Dave Roman, Raina Telegemeier, Gene Luen Yang and Cecil Castelucci, among others, and the answers are interesting; several people focused on the way that the ALA attendees (who are, obviously, mostly librarians) are very engaged in the subject matter and interested in learning about something new, while comic con attendees tend to be looking for more of the same familiar comics.
Check out the video; it’s 10 minutes well spent.