Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]
Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]
Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]
Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]
A course on graphic novels as literature at a California college won’t carry a disclaimer after all, despite a statement by the school’s president that one would be included in response to a student’s complaint about adult content in some of the required reading.
According to Redlands Daily Facts, a Crafton Hills College spokeswoman said the disclaimer was never mandated, and Professor Ryan Bartlett, who teaches the English 250 course, ultimately decided against one.
“College is supposed to be a place where students can have real exchanges about sometimes difficult topics,” Bartlett said in an email. “An English major will have to read works in the literary canon (for example Shakespeare, Chaucer and the Bible) which include similar issues present in the chosen graphic novels. If we put a disclaimer on this course, then we should put a disclaimer on all literature courses, and I do not feel comfortable going down that slippery slope.”
Following a student’s protest over the contents of the graphic novels required by her English 250 class, Crafton Hills College President Cheryl A. Marshall has issued a statement saying the college will not ban any books or alter the content of the course.
I support the college’s policy on academic freedom which requires an open learning environment at the college. Students have the opportunity to study controversial issues and arrive at their own conclusions and faculty are to support the student’s right to freedom of inquiry. We want students to learn and grow from their college experiences; sometimes this involves reaffirming one’s values while other times beliefs and perspectives change. In this specific case, the syllabus distributed on the first day of class contained the list of required reading materials allowing students the opportunity to research the books and make a choice about the class. The class is one of numerous electives available for completion of the English degree. We are attempting to avoid this situation in the future and Professor Bartlett has agreed to include a disclaimer on the syllabus in the future so students have a better understanding of the course content. I know he appreciated the differing views presented by Ms. Shultz in his class.
College student Tara Shultz is the latest in a long line of people to be shocked to find that Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian revolution, contains violence.
A 20-year-old attending Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California, was so dismayed by the graphic content in four of the graphic novels required by her English 250 course — official description: “the study of the graphic novel as a viable medium of literature through readings, in-class discussion and analytical assignments” — that she and her parents are seeking to have them banned by the administration.
In addition to Persepolis, Shultz took exception to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man, and Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg & Co.’s The Sandman: The Doll’s House, due to the depictions of sex, violence and “obscenities.”
“I didn’t expect to open the book and see that graphic material within,” she told the Redlands Daily Facts. “I expected Batman and Robin, not pornography.”
Vertigo has announced the fall release of two Neil Gaiman deluxe hardcover editions, The Sandman: Overture and Free Country: A Tale of the Children’s Crusade.
The first may seem a tad optimistic, as the six-issue bimonthly miniseries by Gaiman and J.H. Williams III, which debuted in October 2013 as part of the 25th anniversary of The Sandman, has yet to release its final two chapters. Set to arrive in November, the deluxe edition will include all six issues, the gatefold from the debut issue, plus extras like pages from the Special Editions and script pages.
DC Entertainment will get a head start on the holiday-shopping season with a seven-day Black Friday sale on Batman digital comics.
Between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, the publisher will offer 750 Batman issues — titles ranging from Gotham By Gaslight to The Dark Knight Returns to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current run — for 99 cents each. They’re available for purchase from the DC Digital Store, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, comiXology and Google Play.
As that offer ends, Vertigo’s Cyber Monday sale begins, with the first collected volumes of 23 titles — from The Sandman to 100 Bullets to Promethea — available for download for $4.99. The offer is for one day only, on Dec. 1.
One of the best things about comic conventions is the opportunity to meet the many talented artists on hand, see their original work and even commission pieces from them. Skottie Young is a familiar face in artist’s alleys across the United States, and over the weekend he set up at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, where he turned out amazing original art for some lucky fans.
Young offered custom sketches on colored paper of a character of fans’ choosing. Many took him up on that, and Young has posted some of his favorite on his website. If after seeing these you’re interested in commissioning one of your own (I am!), Young will be attending four more conventions this summer: Motor City in Detroit in May, HeroesCon in Charlotte in June, Boston Comicon in August and Cincy Comicon in September. Keep an eye on his website, as he normally posts details before each convention.
Academia | The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, is adding a masters of fine arts degree in applied cartooning that will allow students to focus on using the comics medium for journalism, medicine, business and other fields. [Valley News, press release]
Creators | With the arrival of the second issue of The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman talks about the joy of writing the first series and returning for this one, why he chooses to pen a story as a comic rather than a novel, and how his process differs as well: “When I’m outlining a comic, I write down the numbers 1 to 24, and I jot down what’s happening on each page, because I have to think of things in terms of pages, and double-page spreads. In a novel, if I want to move a scene, I just cut and paste. In a novel, it’s a completely different conversation.” [CNN]
Digital comics | The Korea Times takes a look at the comics market in that country, where government suppression of comic books in the 1990s (and school-sponsored book burnings even before that) has combined with the current demand for free digital material (in the form of the wildly popular “webtoons”) to create an uncertain environment for cartoonists trying to make a living from their work. “Unlike Japanese manga, which continues to drive a large part of the country’s publishing market and provide a creative influence to movies, music and video games, Korea’s cartoon culture was deprived of its opportunity to thrive,” said Lee Chung-ho, president of the Korea Cartoonist Association. “However, the most difficult process for us will be to find a sustainable business model. Readership has increased dramatically through webtoons, but you have no clear idea on how many of these readers will be willing to pay for content.” [The Korea Times]
The story, originally published as a short story in Gaiman’s 1998 collection Smoke and Mirrors, is set on the streets of Los Angeles, where a lost angel tells a stranded traveler about being sent by God to solve the mystery of another angel’s murder — and to exact vengeance for the crime.
The graphic novel version, initially published in 2002, was described by Publishers Weekly this way: “Using sharp, crystalline drawings of the eternal city and ribbons of color that suggest creation’s simultaneous plasticity and solidity, Russell conveys a bright, illuminated world of purity and divine experimentation. His crisp and vividly rendered drawings capture the haunting sense of loss and isolation Gaiman expresses in this mythic tale of love and jealousy.”
Russell and Gaiman famously collaborated on The Sandman #50, “Ramadan,” and on The Sandman: Endless Nights story “Death and Venice”; the artist also adapted Gaiman’s prose works The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock, Coraline and The Graveyard Book for comics. Russell’s adaptations of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales are currently being published by NBM.
Conventions | The standalone Stumptown Comics Fest may be history, but an event has popped up to help fill the void: Linework NW, organized by Zack Soto and Francois Vigneault, a free, one-day show that will take place April 12 in Portland, Oregon. Michael DeForge has been announced as a special guest for the event, which will include such exhibitors as Fantagraphics, Koyama Press, Oni Press and Top Shelf Productions. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Scott Snyder is the subject of a glowing profile in The New York Times, which states the writer has “reinvented Batman in the past two years, deepening and humanizing the Dark Knight’s myth — in the making since 1939 — like no one since Frank Miller in the 1980s.” [The New York Times]
I have a confession to make: I had a complete geek tantrum over the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finalizing a deal to produce, and possibly star in and direct, a feature adaptation of Neil Gaiman and company’s The Sandman. I actually blurted out, “Who asked for this?!” Quite loudly. In a well-populated room.
I’m not proud; I should be above such pettiness. In fact, I should be thrilled because we all know what this means: DC Comics’ recently remastered collections of The Sandman are going to get a nice sales boost from the movie promotion (see Watchmen, 300, Scott Pilgrim, Hellboy, et al).
That’s nothing but good news for the creators, retailers and DC. It’s also good news for a new generation of readers that will likely be introduced to the landmark Vertigo series. More people being exposed to such an excellent example of comics is great, and when it comes down to it, I just want comics to succeed. So my feelings should be put aside, and I should be trumpet the adaptation as good news. But …
I don’t wanna. I really don’t wanna.
“It was terrifying. It was really, really scary. It was mostly really scary because — at the beginning of writing Sandman, nobody expected anything. All I wanted was not to be canceled. Back then, DC Comics had a really nice system, where they would give you a year to save face for everybody. So I knew I had twelve issues, and I loved the fact that I had my twelve issues. That was great! All I wanted was not to be canceled at the end of issue twelve, not to get the phone call.
Back then, I wasn’t nervous. Nobody was looking, nobody cared. Since then, “Sandman” has sold millions upon millions upon millions of graphic novels. You have a generation that grew up reading them, and then a younger generation that got infected. Now, I will do signings and it’s kind of weird that I’ll be signing copies of “Sandman” graphic novels for people who were not born when the first issues came out.”
– Neil Gaiman, on sitting down to write the six-issue Sandman: Overture
Creators | Newsday picks up the story of Al Plastino’s original art for the John F. Kennedy comic that was canceled when the president was assassinated, and then published a few months later at the request of the Johnson administration. Plastino, now 91, had been told the artwork would be donated to the Kennedy Library, but last month at New York Comic Con he learned that a private individual had the art and was planning to sell it through Heritage Auctions, which now says it won’t move forward until the ownership question is resolved. Copyright lawyer Dale Cendall, former DC Comics President Paul Levitz and artist Neal Adams weigh in on the case. [Newsday]
Kickstarter | In the wake of the successful Fantagraphics Kickstarter campaign, Rob Salkowitz looks at the evolution of the crowdfunding platform from a way for individual creators to connect with their audiences to a pre-sale mechanism that eliminates a lot of the risk for smaller publishers. [ICv2]
With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be wondering what to buy that special Neil Gaiman fan in your life. If you have a generous budget, and really like this person, you may want to consider the limited-edition Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition from DC Comics.
Like the standard Omnibus, it’s a two-volume hardcover collection of the entire 75-issue run of The Sandman, released to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the landmark series. Of course, it comes with additional bells and whistles, like a slipcase, silver-gilded pages and a numbered art page autographed by Gaiman himself. Only 500 copies will be printed, so you’ll score serious points with that Sandman enthusiast.
But here’s where you have to decide just how special that Gaiman fan is to you: The Sandman Omnibus Silver Edition costs a whopping $499.95 … plus shipping. It’s limited to one per customer, in case you had any ideas about stocking stuffers.