Rob Salkowitz Archives | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Comics A.M. | Comics, diversity and the ‘Asian superhero’

Silk #1

Silk #1

Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]

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Comics A.M. | Spanish artist Luis Bermejo Rojo passes away

Luis Bermejo Rojo

Luis Bermejo Rojo

Passings | Spanish artist Luis Bermejo Rojo has passed away at age 84. Often credited as “Luis Bermejo” or just “Bermejo,” he began his career with Spanish comics in the 1940s and later was an artist for Warren Publishing’s Creepy as well as numerous British comics, from Girls’ Crystal to Battle Picture Library. “His work could turn the most banal of story lines into an absolute visual treat,” said fellow artist Ron Tiner. “His masterful grasp of narrative composition, his delicate ink line and consummate skill in the use of deep shadow endowed his story sequences with a bewitching, moonlit quality unmatched by any other artist-storyteller I ever saw.” [Down the Tubes]

Comics | Rob Salkowitz looks at the top five comics stories of the year, from the Charlie Hebdo shootings to convention consolidation. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Iconic Neal Adams cover art sells for $442,150

green-lantern-green-arrow-s

Auctions | Rob Salkowitz looks at the recent sale at auction of Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 for an impressive, although not record-setting, $442,150. He notes that the significance of the issue, and the endorsement of the sale by Adams, likely had an effect on the price. In 1970, most publishers didn’t routinely return original art to artist, and Adams has been critical of the sale of artwork that was simply taken, and sometimes given away, by staffers or editors. In this case, however, he announced through the auction house that “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family, I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.” A portion of the proceeds was also donated to The Hero Initiative. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | At retailer summit, concerns arise about slowing growth

Diamond Retailer Summit 2015

Diamond Retailer Summit 2015

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]

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Comics A.M. | Edinburgh Zoo names Cartoonist in Residence

By Cameron McPhail and the Kartoon Faktory

By Cameron McPhail and the Kartoon Faktory

Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland  to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]

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Comics A.M. | Lethem to guest-edit ‘Best American Comics’

"The Best American Comics 2015," by Raymond Pettibon

“The Best American Comics 2015,” by Raymond Pettibon

Comics | Novelist Jonathan Lethem is the guest editor for this year’s Best American Comics collection, the first to come from outside the comics realm. Series editor Bill Kartalopoulos says he was “amazing”: “He clearly knows a lot about comics and cartooning. His novels draw on his lifelong love of comic books, he’s written Omega the Unknown for Marvel, and he’s more than familiar with the historical and contemporary landmarks in comics. But as someone who’s not ‘from’ the comics field he brings an entirely fresh perspective to the material from the past year that we considered for the book. He doesn’t bring any baggage to the table about who ‘should’ be included in this volume based on status or popularity or currency. Comics can be so insular sometimes, so we’re lucky to have this kind of attention from someone like Jonathan.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Archie artist Tom Moore passes away

Tom Moore

Tom Moore

Passings | Archie Comics artist Tom Moore died yesterday at the age of 86. Moore got his start as an artist in the Navy, where he served during the Korean War: His captain found a caricature that Moore had drawn, and instead of calling him on the carpet, he assigned him to be staff cartoonist. Moore’s comic strip, Chick Call, ran in military publications, and after the war he studied cartooning in New York, with help from the GI Bill. Moore signed on with Archie Comics, drawing one comic book a month, from 1953 until 1961, when he left cartooning for public relations. “It’s important to create characters that can adapt to anything, but whose personalities are consistent,” Moore said in a 2008 interview. “Establish that, and don’t deviate. Betty doesn’t act like Veronica, and Charlie Brown doesn’t act like Lucy.” He returned to cartooning in 1970, drawing Snuffy Smith, Underdog, and Mighty Mouse, and then went back to Archie to help reboot Jughead, staying on until his retirement in the late 1980s. After retiring, Moore taught at El Paso Community College and was a regular customer at All Star Comics. [El Paso Times]

Publishing | DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio talk about the comics market as a whole, variant covers, and their move to Burbank, among many other topics, in a three-part interview. [ICv2]

Commentary | Christopher Butcher discusses the way the comics audience has diversified, and the way that parts of the industry (the parts that aren’t involved, basically) have refused to acknowledge the enormous popularity of newer categories of comics by “othering” them: “‘Manga aren’t comics,’ went the discussion. They were, and are in many ways, treated as something else. The success that they had, the massive success that they continue to have, doesn’t ‘count’. All those sales and new readers were just ‘a fad’, and not worthy of interest, respect, or comparison to real comics. It was the one thing that superhero-buying-snobs and art-comics-touting-snobs could agree on (with the exception of Dirk Deppey at TCJ, bless him): This shit just isn’t comics, real comics, therefore we don’t have to engage it.” Butcher sees these attitudes changing at last, though, thanks to the massive commercial and critical success of books like Raina Telgemeier’s Smile (three years on the New York Times graphic novel best-seller list!) and Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer. [Comics212]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Naruto’ spinoff manga to end next week

From "Weekly Shonen Jump"

From “Weekly Shonen Jump”

Manga | The Naruto spinoff Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, which is running simultaneously in the Japanese and American versions of Shonen Jump, will end in the July 6 issue. [Anime News Network]

Fandom | Rob Salkowitz presents results of a recent survey of convention-goers conducted by the online ticket platform Eventbrite. Interestingly, they found almost complete gender parity (48.9 percent female, 48.7 percent male, and 3.1 percent non-binary/other) among convention-goers in general but much bigger skews in individual categories: “Comics, toys and gaming are predominantly male, while media, anime/manga and sci-fi/fantasy fandom are predominantly female.” A typical con-goer spends between $100 an $500, with comics fans being the biggest spenders and prints and original art the most popular thing to buy. There’s a lot more detail in the article about what people like and don’t like (biggest beef: lack of wi-fi an connectivity in convention centers). The survey updates and expands on a similar survey conducted last year. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Adam Zyglis wins Pulitzer for editorial cartooning

From Adam Zyglis' winning portfolio

From Adam Zyglis’ winning portfolio

Awards | The Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning, fulfilling a mandate given to him on the day he was hired, when his editor said, “Welcome aboard. Now go win us a Pulitzer.” [The Buffalo News]

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Comics A.M. | What does the future hold for conventions?

Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City Comicon

Conventions | Rob Salkowitz, author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, gazes into his crystal ball and predicts some new wrinkles to the convention scene this year, including more sophisticated use of technology: “New innovations such as beacons and near-field communications now enable real-time integration between digital content and the event itself in real time. In English, this means attendees can get instant notifications of nearby items that fit their specific interests, which could help navigate confusing and noisy exhibit halls.” And they could be used for real-time gaming as well. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ drives manga sales turnaround

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Attack on Titan, Vol. 13

Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]

Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Nostalgia, franchises and the new comics economy

Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck

Analysis | Rob Salkowitz kicks off the new year with big-picture questions about “geek culture”: With the popularity of comics-based movies, will continuity and nostalgia become less important? And will comics themselves become less important? “Putting out comics is a relatively costly and troublesome process with limited revenue potential relative to other ways of exploiting the intellectual property. A fan base that buys licensed merchandise and watches entertainment programming without needing a monthly fix of new art and story is probably considered a feature of the new comics economy, not a bug.” [ICv2]

Creators | Chew artist Rob Guillory, who will appear this weekend at Wizard World New Orleans, talks about the strange comics that he read as a kid (The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man) and the unexpected success of Chew, which will end next year with its 60th issue: “In the beginning, John and I were kind of like, ‘Well, best-case scenario, we can go 60 issues. Worst-case scenario, we can do five and go our separate ways and never speak again.’ I don’t know if we’ve seen the peak of our reception. I don’t think we’ll see how popular we’ve been until it’s over. When it’s wrapped and it’s the complete thing, I think people will start missing us.” [Best of New Orleans]

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Comics A.M. | Furry convention disrupted by chlorine gas

Midwest FurFest

Midwest FurFest

Crime | Nineteen people were sent to hospitals early Sunday following what appears to have been the intentional release of chlorine gas at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont, Illinois, host of the Midwest FurFest furry convention. The incident began shortly after midnight, when firefighters and hazmat crews responded to a complaint of a noxious odor on the ninth floor of the hotel, where they found high levels of chlorine gas. Guests were evacuated, with many sent to the nearby Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Hazmat technicians found what they suspect to be powdered chlorine in a stairwell at the ninth floor. The Rosemont police are treating the event as a crime, as it appears the gas release was intentional. The hotel was decontaminated and the attendees were allowed to return around 4:20 a.m. Midwest FurFest, which with nearly 4,000 attendees in 2013 claims to be the second-largest furry convention in the world, issued a statement about the incident. [Chicago Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | ‘The 99′ creator on death threats, political pressure

The 99

The 99

Creators | In a new profile of Naif Al-Mutawa, the creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 addresses the death threats made against him by ISIS and the fatwa issued against the animated adaptation in Saudi Arabia, and reveals he recently met with Kuwaiti police “to answer the charges of being a heretic.” Mutawa also blames pressure from “a handful of conservative bloggers” in the United States for The Hub not following through with plans to air the animated series. He said that after President Obama praised his work in 2010, attacks on him escalated in the United States, where he was painted as a jihadist “intent on radicalizing young kids to make them suicide bombers. And here [in the Gulf] I became an apostate Zionist. My mother told me growing up, be careful who your friends are because you end up inheriting their enemies. And that’s what happened: I don’t know President Obama. I’m very honored he called me out. But the hate became magnified after that.” [Al-Monitor]

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Comics A.M. | Turkish cartoonist speaks out about prosecution

Musa Kart

Musa Kart

Political cartoons | Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart, who was acquitted last month on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaks out: “It’s a well known fact that Erdogan is trying to repress and isolate the opponents by reshaping the laws and the judiciary and by countless prosecutions and libel suits against journalists.” Kart faced a possible penalty of nine years in prison if he had been found guilty, and it’s not clear the case is over yet, as Erdogan could appeal the acquittal.“Unfortunately, day by day, life is getting harder for independent and objective journalists in Turkey,” Kart said. [Index on Censorship]

Political cartoons | Syrian Kurdish cartoonist Dijwar Ibrahim talks about his anti-ISIS cartoons, which are on exhibit in Iraq. [Al-Shorfa]

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