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Welcome to Store Tour, ROBOT 6’s weekly exploration of comics shops, and the people who run them; think of it as the retailer version of Shelf Porn. Each Sunday we feature a different store, and also get to know the person behind the register.
For this week’s store, we take our first leave of North America to discover England’s Page 45, 9 Market St., in Nottingham. We spoke with co-owner Jonathan Rigby.
Manga | Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama is writing a new series, to be illustrated by Video Girl Ai artist Masakazu Katsura. The series will run in Young Jump magazine in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s YA graphic novel This One Summer was the first graphic novel to be named a Caldecott Honor Book, but being a pioneer isn’t easy: Because the Caldecott Medal honors illustrators, most librarians think of Caldecott honor books as being for younger readers. Answering a complaint from a librarian, Pat Scales, former chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, points out that the Caldecott Medal is awarded to books for readers up to age 14, and that This One Summer is generally regarded as an eighth grade book—so it qualifies, but it is an unusual case. [School Library Journal]
Publishing | Archaia founder Mark Smylie will leave the company he founded in 2002 to focus on his writing career. Creator of Artesia and author of the 2014 novel The Barrow, sold the company in 2008 to Kunoichi Inc., but remained as an acting principal. BOOM! Studios then purchased Archaia in 2013, transforming it into an imprint of the publisher. [press release]
Conventions | Filmmaker John Waters says the organizers of Shock Pop Comic Con, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the weekend of Feb. 14, owe him $6,250 — and they have told him they don’t intend to pay. Waters said the con seemed legit, if lightly attended, and they paid the first half of his fee up front. “I didn’t think that they were gonna – in a very short time – send a letter from a lawyer that basically was just like, ‘Don’t bother even trying,’” he said. But that’s what they did: The letter said the company that organized the event “had to close their doors and had no assets within which to satisfy its debts.” Freelance talent manager Shade Rupe said the con had “an incredible lineup,” but it was poorly organized; he got stuck with the limo bill for one of the people he represents, actor Danny Trejo. [Broward/Palm Beach New Times]
Crime | A comic-shop robbery went awry when the suspect set down her weapon — a hammer — so she could pick up a comic. A woman walked into Conspiracy Comics in Burlington, Ontario, around 8 p.m. Friday and purchased a comic. When the clerk opened the cash register, the customer allegedly pulled out a hammer and said “Empty the till.” When she set down the hammer to pick up the comic, however, another employee grabbed it, gave her the change, and told her to get out. Police checked the hammer for fingerprints and arrested Mary Margaret Ross on charges of robbery. “It was something that was unexpected and shocking,” said store clerk Anton Litvanyi, who wasn’t in the store at the time of the robbery. “At the same time, it is something that is comical … It’s not something that any retailer expects, but especially in a comics store.” [Hamilton Spectator]
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto ended its weekly serialization in Shonen Jump magazine in November, but a spinoff miniseries, Naruto Gaiden: Nanadaime Hokage to Akairo no Hanatsuzuki (Naruto Spinoff: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring Month), will launch in the April 27 issue of Japanese Shonen Jump. The magazine teases, “”Urgent News: The story enters a new generation …” [Anime News Network]
Comic strips | Prompted by the insult-filled message left by an 8-year-old for the newspaper editor who dropped his favorite comics, Michael Cavna asks Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce whether kids are still even reading comic strips in high numbers. His answer, at least in part: “I’m a firm believer that kids will ALWAYS want their comics…but they’ll want them in whatever formats are the newest and shiniest. So: Yes, kids are still reading plenty of comics. They’re just not reading them in their daily newspapers.” It kicks off an interesting, if brief, discussion with a cartoonist who’s found a great deal of success reaching young readers. Related: Christopher Caldwell looks back on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. [The Washington Post]
Legal | Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into a cartoon he claims depicts the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoonist, Mohammed Sabaaneh, denied that on his Facebook, saying, “The intention was not to represent the prophet. [It was to] symbolise Islam and its role of disseminating light and love on the human race.” It was a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, not an attempt to imitate them: “My point was to defend religion in the face of attempts to distort it, by using the same means: a caricature,” he said. The newspaper that ran the cartoon, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, apologized and stated that the cartoon was not supposed to be an image of Muhammad. Sabaaneh, who spent several months in an Israeli prison on charges of “contacts with a hostile organization,” has been summoned by the Palestinian Authority for questioning. [Middle East Eye]
Creators | “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon,” Malaysian cartoonist Zunar said in an interview following the police raid on his Kuala Lumpur office. Zunar was in London at the time of the raid but expects to be summoned to the police station on his return to face charges under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code. “Why are the police involved in this?” he said. “If it is true I have defamed certain people, why not filed a civil suit? The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attacker but now they are ‘attacking’ me.” He also sent out some photos of the raid. [Malaysian Digest]
Freedom of Speech | Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, called the raid Zunar’s office “shocking and outrageous” and demanded the government to return the confiscated books and drop all charges against him. [The Malaysian Insider]
Publishing | U.K. comics distributor Impossible Books will close up shop on Feb. 28, after two years in the business. On their blog, owners Camila Barboza and Taylor Lilley explained they simply don’t have the time and energy for the enterprise any longer. They are putting their titles on sale in the meantime, and Zainab Akhtar has some recommendations for bargain-minded readers. [Comics & Cola]
Crime | Daryl Cagle’s website, which hosts a lot of editorial cartoons, went down last week after being hit by a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Cagle tells Alan Gardner that his site gets attacked by hackers fairly frequently, but the latest was different in that the only goal was to take down the site. Gardner speculates it may be related to cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Charlie Hebdo. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Graphic novels | December’s Nielsen BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold through the book channels looks markedly different from previous months because it now includes nonfiction. That actually makes it a much more interesting chart, with Roz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? taking the top spot, followed by the first two volumes of The Walking Dead Compendium, the fourth volume of Saga and the Oatmeal book The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances (which is apparently classified as nonfiction) showing up at No. 5. The chart, which tracks books sold in retail bookstores, some mass market stores and Amazon, also included a couple of much-hyped December debuts, the first collected volume of Ms. Marvel and Richard McGuire’s Here. [ICv2]
Political cartoons | In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Zeidy David revisits the case of Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh, who was arrested in Israel and held without charges for several months before being given a five-month sentence and a fine for “contact with a hostile organization” — a Jordanian publisher with whom he had discussed a possible book. [Mint Press News]
Legal | DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer is seeking to have his December 2013 conviction for child molestation thrown out, insisting he was forced into a plea deal by prosecutorial misconduct. His attorney Stephen Reba also claims that Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers ruled in 2009 that Kramer could determine whether he was healthy enough to stand trial, something she deemed unlikely. With the trial suspended, Kramer — who was accused of molesting three minors — was permitted to leave Georgia under conditions that included he not be alone with anyone under the age of 16. He was found in a Connecticut motel room in 2011 with a 14-year-old and subsequently extradited back to Georgia.
Reba claims that Beyers colluded with Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter to improperly reopen the case and denied Kramer the medical accommodations he needed to stand trial, forcing him into a plea deal. Porter has been removed from the case, as he is now a witness, and Reba wants Beyers removed as well. Nonetheless, Porter said the case is not going to go away: “The only way it will die is he’ll have to die or I’ll have to die and even that might not stop it.” [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Legal | The Japanese publisher Square Enix has filed a counterclaim against SNK Playmore, asking Osaka District Court to rule that its manga Hi Score Girl doesn’t infringe on copyrights held by the video game company. Earlier this year, SNK brought criminal copyright violation charges against Square Enix after learning Hi Score Girl contains more than 100 unauthorized images of characters from SNK Playmore games. The manga has been put on hold because of the dispute. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Who’s buying, and how much are they spending, at conventions? Rob Salkowitz mines the numbers from a recent Eventbrite poll of convention-goers to get some answers: Most people spend between $100 and $500 per person; cosplayers actually spend a bit more than average; and women shell out more money at conventions, while men spend more online. [ICv2]
THE DARE: To create a complete 24 page comic book in 24 continuous hours.
That means everything: Story, finished art, lettering, color (if applicable), paste-up, everything. Once pen hits paper, the clock starts ticking. 24 hours later, the pen lifts off the paper, never to descend again. Even proofreading has to occur in the 24 hour period. (Computer-generated comics are fine of course, same principles apply).
No sketches, designs, plot summaries or any other kind of direct preparation can precede the 24 hour period. Indirect preparation such as assembling tools, reference materials, food, music etc. is fine.
The 24 hours are continuous. You can take a nap, but the clock keeps ticking. If you get to 24 hours and you’re not done, either end it there (“the Gaiman Variation”) or keep going until you’re done (“the Eastman Variation”). I consider both of these “Noble Failure” Variants and true 24 hour comics in spirit; but you must sincerely intend to do the 24 pages in 24 hours at the outset.
It was Nat Gertler who turned the dare into an event: As he told ROBOT 6’s Tim O’Shea earlier this year, on the 10th anniversary, it started as a way to drum up publicity for an anthology of 24-hour comics he was publishing, and it snowballed from there. Now it is organized by the retailer group ComicsPRO, and participants are invited to send their 24-hour comics to the the national 24-Hour Comics Day archive at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.
This year’s pairing of Banned Books Week and comics, with considerable input from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, was pure genius. While it is sponsored by a number of organizations, Banned Books Week is heavily supported by libraries, and librarians have been among the most ardent boosters of graphic novels in the last ten years.
In fact, Banned Books Week is really all about libraries, and to a lesser extent, schools. The days of government censorship in the form of prohibiting publication, import, or sale of a book for offensive content are long gone. Nowadays, “banned books” really refers to books that someone wants to remove from a public library or a school. Often, those attempts are unsuccessful because the library in question has a solid acquisition policy and a process for handling challenges, which is how it should be. Libraries buy books for a reason, and they shouldn’t take them off the shelves without a better reason.
Many public library challenges have a similar narrative: Kid checks a book out of the library, mom finds the book and freaks out, mom goes to the library, or the press, and demands the book and all others like it be removed from circulation. When the proper process is followed, a committee of professionals reviews the book and makes a decision, and you and I seldom hear about it; it’s when someone goes to a public meeting and starts yelling and waving a book that things go haywire. That’s what happened in South Carolina, where the a mother let her daughter check out Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, which the library had correctly shelved as an adult book, then was shocked to discover it had sex in it. In this case, the library review committee recommended that the book remain on the shelves but the library director overruled them.
Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]
Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]