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Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Hawkeye, Vol. 1, by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido, and Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, are among the 35 official selections for the 41st annual Angoulême International Comics Festival, to be held Jan. 30-Feb. 2.
Other titles familiar to North American audiences include: Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert; Attack on Titan, Vol. 1, by Hajime Isayama; Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel; Goliath, by Tom Gauld; My Friend Dahmer, by Derf; and The Property, by Rudu Modan.
In addition, the French-language editions of Paul Pope’s Battling Boy and Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl are among the nominees for the Sélection Jeunesse (books for young readers), while the eighth volume of Scalped, by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera, Jason Latour, David Furno, received a nod for Prix Polar (crime). The reprints category also has several books readers should recognize.
The full list can be found on the Angoulême website.
The news of Karen Berger leaving Vertigo spread quickly. It wasn’t so much that it was a surprise, but that it finally happened. DC
Comics Entertainment has been going through significant changes over the past couple of years, including grabbing characters long associated with Vertigo and returning them to the DC Universe, and rumored changes to creator contracts. Despite the unfortunate end, Berger leaves behind an amazing legacy no matter what becomes of the nearly 20-year-old imprint.
I have a very clear memory of high school in the 1990s where kids much cooler than me were reading The Sandman. These were kids who otherwise didn’t read comics, and certainly not the superhero stuff from Marvel and DC. This was not an isolated incident. Vertigo in the ’90s brought a new audience to comics, a maturing audience with interests in horror, fantasy, suspense and mythology. These readers didn’t have access to, and probably weren’t ready for, the underground or alternative comix scene. As superhero comics turned into garish collector items, Vertigo provided the alternative: stories.
Following the conclusion this week of Scalped, writer Jason Aaron took to his blog last night to offer his final thoughts on the acclaimed Vertigo crime drama, thank his readers and promise more creator-owned work in that same vein. However, it may be a little while before he tackles a story of that scale.
“I will do more stories like Scalped, that’s for sure,” he wrote. “My next creator-owned project is already in the works, and I think it’s something that will appeal to anybody who enjoyed the exploits of Red Crow and Bad Horse. I actually hope to start writing the first issue next week. But I don’t think I’ll be turning right around and jumping into another 60 issues series. Scalped represents more than six years of my life. I don’t have another journey like that in me just yet. Someday, yes. I think I even know what that next big one will be. But it’ll just have to wait for a bit.”
Debuting in 2007 from Aaron and artist R. M. Guéra (with covers by Jock), Scalped focused on Dashiell Bad Horse, an undercover FBI agent who returns to the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota after 15 years to infiltrate the criminal operation of Chief Lincoln Red Crow and find evidence linking him to the murders of two agents in 1975.
“Lots of people have been asking me how I feel about the series wrapping up, if I’m sad to see it end. I suppose I will miss writing those characters from time to time,” Aaron wrote. “And I will definitely miss working with the team behind Scalped (though hopefully we can all get together again someday). But as far as the actual series goes, no, I’m not sad to finally be done. It’s time. Time to give people of Prairie Rose the ending they’ve always had coming. Time to hopefully pay-off all the years and dollars you beloved readers have spent following their adventures.”
The final Scalped collection, appropriately subtitled “Trail’s End,” arrives in November.
Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]
Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]
Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]
Happy Memorial Day, Americans, and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Mark Andrew Smith, writer of Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, Amazing Joy Buzzards, The New Brighton Archeological Society and Sullivan’s Sluggers, which is currently available to order via Kickstarter.
To see what Mark and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
“It’s a serial medium, they’re not all going to be diamonds. You do the best you can and you move on to the next project. Especially with Scalped. That book represents, to me, the last six or so years of my life, when I went from being a single guy, working shitty day-jobs, to now. I’m married, I have kids, and make comic books for a living. For me, personally, there are a lot of profound changes wrapped up in those years, and Scalped has kind of been that one constant through all of that. That book launched my comic career in a big way. It’ll be strange to move past that, to wrap it up and keep going. But I’m excited to finish this story that’s been in the works for so many years. I haven’t felt sad or regretful about that. At this point, I’m still just really excited to bring it to a close.”
– writer Jason Aaron, on Scalped, which comes to an end in June with Issue 60
Friday was a busy day in San Diego, with a full slate of announcements capped by the Eisner Awards in the evening.
• Image Comics will resurrect the classic television show MacGyver as a five-issue miniseries written by MacGyver creator Lee David Zlotoff and Doctor Who writer Tony Lee, and illustrated by Becky Cloonan.
• Brian Wood’s newest project was announced — The Massive, about environmentalists who survive the last environmental collapse. The comic will start its run in Dark Horse Presents #8 in January.
• Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger confirmed that Scalped will end with issue #60.
• Marvel teased the return of the Scarlet Spider.
• DC Comics released more interior art for several of their “New 52″ titles, including Aquaman, Mister Terrific and more.
Scalped, the Eisner Award-nominated crime series by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra, will end in April with Issue 60.
While Aaron had repeatedly suggested the Vertigo comic was nearing its conclusion, he resisted naming a final issue, writing just three months ago that, “It’s never been a secret that Scalped had a definite ending point. I still haven’t put a specific issue number on it, but we’re certainly getting closer.”
However, during Thursday’s Vertigo panel at Comic-Con International, Executive Editor Karen Berger got specific, confirming that Aaron and Guéra will bring the story to a close with the 60th issue.
Debuting in January 2007, Scalped is a gritty crime Western that’s been described as “The Sopranos on an Indian reservation.” It follows Dashiell Bad Horse, an angry undercover FBI agent who’s to return to the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation after a 15-year absence to infiltrate the criminal organization headed by Chief Lincoln Red Crow and bring him to just for the murder of two agents 30 years earlier.
The end of Scalped will follow the conclusion of DMZ in December and the cancellation of Northlanders in March.
One of the perks of working with Robot 6 is often getting to see a glimpse at a new project before it is available for purchase. This past week (thanks to the project’s colorist, Rico Renzi) I was able to read the first issue of Loose Ends, a four-issue southern crime romance miniseries by writer Jason Latour and artist Chris Brunner, which goes on sale this Wednesday, July 13. As a native of the South, it is not often I get to read comics set there–so the comics caught my attention purely on that level at first. But then, when I started reading the issue, I realized it reminded me on some level of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal. That’s not to say Latour and company have done a wannabe story, far from it, as the creators have their own distinctive voices/styles, that mesh quite well. If the remaining three issues are as strong as this first one, I expect it will land on a few best of 2011 lists (at least mine, for sure). Latour and I discuss the first issue and other aspects of the series in this email interview. If you want a preview of the miniseries, be sure to enjoy the one CBR posted a couple of months back.
Tim O’Shea: The opening page of the first issue is all art, no narrative boxes or dialogue. Was the script always that way, or was that a creative choice you made after seeing Chris Brunner’s art for that page?
Jason Latour: Well as an artist myself I’ve worked on a few stories where I was dying to stretch a moment or let something play out visually and it just wasn’t possible. So from the start there was always an allowance for some organic growth in this script. The simplest reason for that is because I trust Chris. We’re collaborating. His point of view is equally important as mine is. If I’m doing my job then I’m inspiring him, not fencing him in. The medium itself, the page limit already does that. I tried to give him a script that communicated the tone, the pace and specific details needed to tell the story within that space. From there it’s on us as a team to communicate. If he has an idea, I listen. If he nails a scene and I’m in the way… I try to move. If he needs me to pick him up, hopefully I’m ready and able.
With the school year ending and summer arriving faster than you know it, now’s the time to update your summer reading list — and there’s no better place to find some good stuff to read than right here in our weekly What Are You Reading? column. This week our guests are Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the creative team behind The Sixth Gun, published by Oni Press. You’ll be seeing a lot of Cullen and Brian over the next few weeks here at Robot 6, so here’s the perfect opportunity to find out what comics they’re into.