"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Graphic novels | Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye has sold through its second printing in Singapore and is heading into a third, just weeks after the country’s National Arts Council abruptly withdrew funding. The graphic novel traces the career of pioneering Singaporean cartoonist Charlie Chan Hock Chye through 60 years of the country’s history and includes satirical portrayals of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, and his rival Lim Chin Siong. An NAC official said it “potentially undermines the authority or legitimacy of the Government and its public institutions.” The graphic novel has already sold 2,500 copies, making it “the top-selling local fiction title so far this year.”
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” we asked creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, we hear from Joe Keatinge, Sarah Glidden, Dustin Weaver, Jesse Jacobs, Rachel Deering, Will Sliney, Jess Smart Smiley, Neil Kleid, Tim Seeley and Van Jensen!
It’s going to take a while to get to us, but it looks like it will be worth the wait: Drawn and Quarterly announced it will publish Sarah Glidden’s next graphic novel Rolling Blackouts.
Glidden’s first book, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, received quite a bit of favorable attention when it came out in 2010, and since then she has burnished her career with a number of short journalistic comics at Cartoon Movement and other sites; check out The Waiting Room, about Iraqi refugees, and State of Palestine, both of which are short but thought-provoking.
Here are the details on Rolling Blackouts:
Legal | Disney has filed a motion to dismiss a $5.5 billion copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in October by failed dot-com Stan Lee Media Inc. in its sixth attempt to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. Disney calls the lawsuit “completely frivolous,” and argues, in part, that the claims have already been litigated and rejected. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Publishing | As final print edition of The Dandy promptly sells out and the venerable U.K. children’s comic migrates online, David Fickling briefly discusses why he launched The Phoenix — a weekly geared for readers ages 6 to 12 — nearly a year ago, and why comics aren’t dead: “Reading comics was always a delight. Reading them under the bedclothes or the desk, even better. Now at last the experts are understanding the importance of reading comics. The loss of reading for pleasure has been identified as one of the principle reasons for falling standards of literacy. Perhaps part of the reason for our disgraceful literacy rates is that we don’t have comics. Comics are a link to books not competition; in short they are a great leveller.” [The Telegraph]
First of all, we need to think up some new terms to distinguish journalism done via comics — as practiced by, say, Joe Sacco — from journalism about comics. Suggestions gleefully accepted!
Whatever we call it, sequential-art reporting is definitely coming into its own, and we have the links to prove it. For starters, here’s a video of the Comics and Journalism in a New Era panel at Comic-Con International, moderated by Publishers Weekly comics editor Calvin Reid and featuring a stellar lineup of Susie Cagle (who
has been involved in as well as reporting reported* on Occupy Oakland), Andy Warner, Stan Mack, Ed Piskor, Dan Carino and Chris Butcher.
Sales | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to comic books stores through Diamond Comic Distributors increased 27.5 percent in January compared to the same month in 2011. Comics were up 32 percent while graphic novels were up 18 percent compared to 2011. DC Comics dominated all 10 spots at the top of the chart, with Justice League #5 coming in at No. 1. Batman: Through the Looking Glass was the top graphic novel for the month. [ICv2]
Passings | British comics artist Mike White, who illustrated Alan Moore’s The Twisted Man and numerous other stories for 2000AD, Lion, Valiant, Action and Score ‘n’ Roar, has passed away after a long illness. [Blimey!]
Publishing | Because the world demanded it, apparently, Random House plans to publish e-books of all the collected editions of Garfield newspaper comics. [Down the Tubes]
Internet | Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman joined with Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, OK Go and 14 other members of the creative community in signing an open letter to Congress against the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. “We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result,” the letter states.
Warren Ellis and Fantagraphics have also come out against the bill, while Peter David, who is against the bill in its current form, takes aim at those who “endorsed the piracy, supported the piracy, enabled the piracy, felt their own actions weren’t piracy, and now refuse to accept the consequences of their own actions.” ComicsAlliance has posted an editorial against the bill and rounded up webcomic reactions to the blackout. [NeilGaiman.com]
Digital | Retailer Brian Hibbs responds to recent comments around the price of digital comics, commenting on how “channel migration” could effect comic retailers: “The concern of the comics retailer isn’t that there IS digital — fuck, I’m totally all for a mechanism to drive a potentially wide segment of customers to the medium of comics itself. How can that NOT help me? But, rather, that enough customers will ‘change channels’ (of purchase), so as to make segments of work unprofitible to carry. I’ve been pretty straight with you — most periodicals are but marginally profitible; most books are largely unprofitible. That we have stellar, break out, oh-my-god-it’s-like-printing-money successes like WALKING DEAD or BONE or SANDMAN doesn’t mean that this is the way all books can follow. Quite the opposite in fact! So what this means is that even losing a TINY portion of the readership through Channel Migration could potentially have dire effects. Seriously, if I lost just 10% of my customers, I’m done. And what we also know is that when physical stores close, most of that readership for comics UTTERLY VANISHES. The gist of this is that losing 10% of sales to migration could mean that the other 80% of that stores’ sales are COMPLETELY LOST.” [The Savage Critics]
Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]
Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]
Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]
SPX, or the Small Press Expo, returns to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Bethesda, Md. this weekend.
The show’s special guests include Roz Chast, Jim Woodring, Diane Noomin, Jim Rugg, Ann Telnaes, Chester Brown, Johnny Ryan, Craig Thompson and Matthew Thurber, and fans who attend will also have the opportunity to meet and/or hear from Kevin Huizenga, Anders Nilsen, Jessica Abel, Sarah Glidden, Alex Robinson, Brian Ralph, Mike Dawson, Meredith Gran, Roger Langridge and Julia Wertz, just to name a few. I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that our own Chris Mautner will be attending and conducting a Q&A with Johnny Ryan on Saturday, so be sure to tell him hi for us.
Sarah Glidden is winning plaudits all over for How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, and while that title is obviously facetious, here’s another project of hers that uses comics to explain a complex situation: The Waiting Room, a non-fiction webcomic about the lives of Iraqi refugees in Syria. If your mental picture of refugees includes skeletal people huddling in mud-spattered tents, go read this comic; these refugees are living in an urban area, but they are still trapped in limbo, unable to work or leave. Sarah “puts a face on the problem,” as we say in the newspaper biz, by allowing several of the refugees to tell their own stories. It’s great documentary comics and well worth a look.
New York Magazine has a slideshow up this week about Pizza Island, the Greenpoint, Brooklyn, studio where six comics creators make the magic happen.
The slideshow includes self-portraits of Julia Wertz (Fart Party, Drinking at the Movies), Kate Beaton (Hark, A Vagrant) Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You), Sarah Glidden (How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) Domitille Collardey (whose works are mostly in French), and Meredith Gran (Octopus Pie) as well as comments on each one by a co-worker. (It was Lisa and Domitille who commented on that Frank Quitely piece, so it’s interesting to contrast their self-portraits with his version of a woman cartoonist.)
There’s a whole lot of talent working in that small space, and if you’re fortunate enough to be going to MoCCA, be sure to check out their panel, which will feature all six. If you’re not, then head on over to the Pizza Island blog, where, at the moment, everyone is showing off their work spaces and discussing the quirks of their desktops.
Graphic novels | Metro, the graphic novel by Egyptian cartoonist Magdy El Shafee that was banned in 2009 under Hosni Mubarak’s regime, will be published in English next year by Metropolitan, a division of Macmillan. El Shafee who, along with his publisher Mohammed al Sharqawi was convicted of disturbing public morals, has appealed to Egypt’s new Ministry of Culture to have the ban lifted. “I’m waiting to hear if the minister of culture will allow it to be published again,” El Shafee says. “They will have to consult with the courts. I’m hoping there may be some kind of apology.” [CNN.com]
Legal | In an article that’s heavy on background and light on new information, Matthew Beloni reports that the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to determine exactly what elements from the Man of Steel’s mythology his clients can reclaim as a result of the 2008 court ruling. [THR, Esq.]
Retailing | Barnes & Noble stock fell 16 cents following a report that bookstore chain, the largest in the United States, will likely end its months-long search for a buyer. Although the auction isn’t over, initial interest from at least seven potential buyers is said to have waned following the first round of bidding. [Bloomberg]
Everyone knows the central role that Jewish writers and artists have played in the history of comics, from Siegel and Shuster to Lee and Kirby to Eisner to Spiegelman to Bendis. But what of the female members of the tribe? That’s the question at the heart of “Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women,” a traveling art exhibit curated by Michael Kaminer and Sarah Lightman. Following a stint in San Francisco, the show re-opens this coming Thursday, February 17, at the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Focusing on the role that Jewish women have played in the development of the autobiographical comic — arguably the genre responsible for the medium’s new-found respectability over the past three decades — it boasts contributions from Miss Lasko-Gross (that’s her grabber of an image above) Vanessa Davis, Sarah Glidden, Miriam Katin, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Diane Noomin, Trina Robbins, Ariel Schrag, Lauren Weinstein, and many more. I know a person named “Sean T. Collins” is dubiously qualified to use Yiddish, but I could plotz over seeing original art from that line-up.
Click here to see the Koffler Centre’s impressive suite of events revolving around the exhibit, and click here for the Graphic Details blog.
If you were like me, the Egyptian Revolution that unfolded over the past several weeks and culminated (for the moment) in President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on Friday was a complicated thing to know how to react to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like Glenn Beck prophesying the coming Luthor/Braniac-style Communist/Islamist team-up against the West, nor am I even a more run-of-the-mill conservative commentator rumbling ominously about the power of the Muslim Brotherhood. And my feelings upon seeing untold millions of ordinary, unarmed people weather the attacks of government goons quads and kick out a man who’s looted and tortured them and their country for decades (in part at America’s behest) with nonviolent protest was unalloyed joy.
But how to express that joy? Should I, even? After all, I know no more about the real political situation inside Egypt than any of the overnight experts who suddenly popped up to opine on the talk shows and cable news nets. My information was coming primarily from Al Jazeera English’s invaluable live-streaming broadcast on its website and from the Twitter streams of international and native Egyptian reporters on the ground, and from the relative oasis of calm analysis that was MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and its dialogues between host Maddow and correspondent Richard Engel. Was that enough?