Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Comic strips | The soap opera comic strip Apartment 3-G ended its 54-year run Sunday with little fanfare, leaving it up to a handful of bloggers, including Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter and Josh Fruhlinger of The Comics Curmudgeon, to give the longtime funny-page staple a proper sendoff. “It definitely has an unaffected, what-we-call-Lynchian quality where what you’re seeing and what you’re ‘hearing’ as dialogue don’t match,” Spurgeon writes. “The limited sets and slightly faded color choices make it a bit nightmarish, almost like the world is collapsing comic book ‘crisis’ style around these increasingly feckless characters. It’s hard to believe there are more than a dozen “places” in the world these characters exist. [The A.V. Club]
Retailing | The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal looks at the increasing popularity of custom retailer variant covers, focusing on local stores Acme Comics and Ssalefish Comics, which last week debuted an exclusive red-foil variant for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and this week will release a cover by John Romita Jr. for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1. The latter costs Ssalefish $18,800, which covered printing of color and black-and-white covers and Romita’s commission. “Even if we don’t make money back on the books, it’s still nice advertising,” said Bret Parks, owner of Ssalefish. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes our customers realize they’re getting something special, because although you might see a big stack of these ‘Eternal Warrior’ variants in our store, we’re the only store in the world that has them.” [The Winston-Salem Journal]
Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]
Awards | Journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who’ll write Marvel’s new Black Panther series, has won the National Book Award for nonfiction for his acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me; he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur “genius grant” in September. Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona was shortlisted for the National Book Award for young people’s literature, making the 23-year-old cartoonist the youngest finalist ever. However, Neal Shusterman won in that category for his novel Challenger Deep. [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although it may seem way too early to begin the countdown to Comic-Con International, badge sales open Saturday at 9 a.m. PT for those who attended the 2015 convention and preregistration (this isn’t the annual mad dash, which arrives in a few months). If you’re eligible, you should receive your registration code by email at least 24 hours before badge sales open. Comic-Con provides a detailed walk-through of the process. [Toucan]
Legal | The Malaysian Federal Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the government shouldn’t have banned two books of Zunar’s political cartoons, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. “This is a victory for all cartoonists, it tells the Home Ministry and the government that drawing cartoons is not a crime,” Zunar said. He also said the ruling means that the government must also lift bans on all his books and drop sedition charges against him. “Stop raiding this my office, stop harassing my webmaster for selling the books online, and stop raiding and threatening printers and shops involved in the production and sales,” he said. [Malaysyakini]
Graphic novels | The best word to describe October’s BookScan Top 20 is “diverse.” No one publisher or genre dominated the list, which tracks graphic novel sales in bookstores. The list boasts four entries from perennial bestseller The Walking Dead, including the first and third volume of the massive Walking Dead Compendium; five volumes of manga, including the final volume of Naruto and the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul; two Star Wars collections; two kid-friendly titles, the first volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow and the second volume of Lumberjanes; two Batman books; and Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. If any one publisher dominated, it was Image Comics, with six books on the list, including the four Walking Dead titles, the fifth volume of Saga, and the first volume of Bitch Planet. [ICv2]
Censorship | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar claims Facebook removed his latest cartoon, which portrays the wife of the Malaysian prime minister as the head of a bank. Zunar, who is awaiting trial on nine counts of sedition stemming from tweets critical of the government, said the cartoon was “blocked” half an hour after he uploaded it, and subsequent efforts to upload the cartoon failed. Several of his Facebook pages display the text but no image, but the entire cartoon is gone from his main fan page. “It is really funny because normally you can re-upload the image with a different file name,” he said. “This seems like a well-executed plan by cybertroopers to block the content.” [The Malaysian Insider]
The winners of the 2015 Joe Shuster Awards, which honor Canadian comics creators, were announced Sunday in London Ontario, at the Forest City Comic Con. The awards are named after Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.
The winners are:
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]
The Portland, Oregon, comics cafe The Spritely Bean was broken into last week, and whoever did it wreaked considerable damage to the store, smashing the glass door and vandalizing equipment.
That’s the bad news. The good news is the shop, which specializes in independent, creator-owned comics and locally sourced food and coffee, has already built a loyal following: The GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,000 to replace the damaged and stolen property has almost hit its mark. The store was closed last Thursday and Friday but was able to reopen on Saturday.
Museums | The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by George Lucas and slated to open in 2018 in Chicago, has acquired the original art from Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis. [The Art Paper]
Editorial cartoons | R.C. Harvey writes the definitive piece on the Ted Rall case, rounding up pretty much everything that’s been written in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to cut ties with the cartoonist. In addition to presenting the evidence and all points of view, Harvey sheds a harsh light on the paper’s public statements about Rall and the relationship between the newspaper and the Los Angeles police union. [The Comics Journal]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on last week’s Diamond Retailer Summit, where the news was mixed: Comics sales are up this year, but the increase is smaller than in 2013, triggering fears that the market is cooling down. Some publishers are retrenching, with Image announcing it will no longer release variant covers, Marvel simplifying its ordering requirements for variants, and BOOM! Studios cutting the number of titles it will release next year by 15 percent. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar announced Monday that another of his books is drawing government scrutiny, as police are questioning the sales assistant who handles online sales of his book Sapuman – Man of Steal. “My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal’ is not officially banned by the government” Zunar said. “On the contrary, the police should investigate who took RM2.6 billion of public funds instead of clamping down on book sellers who sell books legally.” The cartoonist is currently facing nine charges of sedition stemming from one of his Tweets, and his books have been banned and his assistants harassed in the past. [The Malaysian Insider]
Conventions | Organizers of Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con are reportedly attempting to reach a settlement in their trademark dispute over the term “Comic Con.” Weeks after issuing a cease-and-desist letter in July 2014, Comic-Con International sued the Utah event, insisting organizers were attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term “Comic Con.” The producers of Salt Lake Comic Con have called the lawsuit “frivolous,” arguing that Comic-Con International’s trademarks are invalid. After being granted the trademark in July for “Salt Lake Comic Con,” organizers claimed victory in the feud, but Comic-Con International maintained nothing had been resolved. Now Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg says lawyers updated a federal judge about that case on Tuesday, and that both sides are still working to come to an agreement. A hearing scheduled for next month. [Fox13]
Comic strips | Cartoonist Jan Eliot has announced that, after 20 years, she will no longer create daily strips for Stone Soup. She will, however, continue to produce a Sunday version. She’s cutting back so she can focus on other projects without all the deadline pressure: “It may seem like a small task, creating one cartoon a day, but it is herculean in many ways. The pressure to be good enough, funny enough, to create interesting-enough drawings, live up to the standards of great cartoonists I admire and share the comics page with is not a small thing.” [The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | As the third Salt Lake Comic Con approaches, co-founders Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg talk about the event’s beginnings — how they chose the venue, how they managed to book William Shatner and Stan Lee for the first convention, and how they used social media to build a following before the event itself. [Salt Lake Tribune]
Awards | Noelle Stevenson’s fantasy comic Nimona has made the longlist for the National Book Awards in the Young People’s Literature category. It’s rare but not unprecedented for a graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first, and his Boxers and Saints made the 2013 longlist. One of the creators of Lumberjanes, Stevenson launched Nimona in 2012 as a webcomic; the print edition was published in May by HarperCollins. [The New Yorker]