Comic-Con Trailers: The Best of the Best, Ranked
Crime | Screenwriter and graphic novelist Blake Leibel has been arrested on charges of torturing and murdering his girlfriend Iana Kasian, who recently gave birth to their child. Leibel, the 35-year-old son of a wealthy Toronto family, is the co-creator of the graphic novel Syndrome, published in 2010 by Archaia, which he described at the time as “a lengthy graphic novel that grappled with the questions surrounding what provokes a person to commit evil acts.” The press was quick to pick up on several aspects of the murder that mirrored the graphic novel: among them, that he allegedly drained Kasian’s blood, as a character does to several victims in Syndrome. Leibel has pleaded not guilty to the charges. [The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times]
Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]
Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novel This One Summer has been removed from the library of the public school in Henning, Minnesota, which serves grades kindergarten through 12, on the basis of a single complaint.
The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog reported on the incident, which, ironically, might never have occurred if the book hadn’t won so many awards and garnered such good reviews:
This One Summer, the award-winning graphic novel by cousins Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, has been removed from elementary school libraries in two Florida school districts. One district is also pulling the book from high school libraries.
The action followed a complaint from Melissa Allison, the mother of a third-grader who checked the book out of the library at Sabal Point Elementary School in Longwood, Florida. “How do you explain to a 9-year-old the graphic things that were in this book?” Allison said.
The main character of This One Summer, Rose, is on the brink of adolescence but not quite there yet. She and her family are spending their summer vacation at a lake house, where Rose is fascinated by the lives of the local teens (one of whom is pregnant). At the same time, she’s dealing with tensions within her own family and with her younger friend Windy. The book includes some crude language and blunt talk about sex. Publisher First Second gives This One Summer an age rating of 12-18 years on its website, and a number of library review sites give it 12+ and 13+ ratings.
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
The winners of the 2015 Joe Shuster Awards, which honor Canadian comics creators, were announced Sunday in London Ontario, at the Forest City Comic Con. The awards are named after Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.
The winners are:
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]
Conventions | Yu-Gi-Oh! creator Kazuki Takahashi will be a guest in July at Comic-Con International. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card-fighting manga that has inspired a number of anime and manga spinoffs as well as, logically enough, a card game. This is the second announcement in two weeks of a high-profile manga-ka coming to America, as Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto will be a special guest in October at New York Comic Con. [Anime News Network]
Awards | Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer is the winner of the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, and Richard McGuire’s Here is the 2015 Honoree. [Pennsylvania Center for the Book]
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]
Welcome to Store Tour, ROBOT 6’s new weekly exploration of comics shops, and the people who run them. Think of it as the retailer version of Shelf Porn. Each Sunday we’ll feature a different store, and also get to know the person behind the register.
Today’s store is Escape Pod Comics, located at 302 Main St. in Huntington Village, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. We spoke with co-owner Menachem Luchins.
The nominees have been announced for this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, a list that, unsurprisingly, includes awards-season favorites Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.
The five finalists in the graphic novel category are:
CeCe Bell’s graphic memoir El Deafo today earned a prestigious Newbery Honor for outstanding contribution to children’s literature, while Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer became the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor and only the second to be recognized with a Printz Honor.
The awards were announced this morning by the American Library Association at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
Publishing | Alex Abad-Santos examines how Marvel has created a mystique around its writers’ retreats, using the necessary secrecy to transform the planning meetings “into something fans are genuinely interested in.” The piece goes beyond that, however, touching upon recent accusations of sexism, and the inclusion of newly Marvel-exclusive writer G. Willow Wilson in this month’s retreat. [Vox]
Comics | Matt Cavna interviews Matt Bors, editor of The Nib, the comics section of the website The Medium, which has become the go-to site for journalism and commentary in comics form. [Comic Riffs]
Best of the year | The Publishers Weekly critics vote for the best graphic novels of the year; Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer tops the list, and there are plenty of interesting suggestions as books that got even one or two votes are included. [Publishers Weekly]
Awards | Jillian Tamaki has won the prestigious Governor General’s Literary Prize for children’s literature illustration for her work on This One Summer, a graphic novel collaboration with cousin Mariko Tamaki (who was nominated in the text category). Their first book, 2008’s Skim, was previously nominated in the text division, further demonstrating a separation of illustration and story that Jillian Tamaki finds “strange.” ““I think we are both creators of the book,” she tells the Edmonton Journal. “You can’t read a comic without either component, it won’t make sense. It’s something I will always be addressing when talking about the award. But I am completely flattered by the honor and will be sharing the prize with my cousin.” [Edmonton Journal, via The Comics Reporter]
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It’s snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there’s something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell’s El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it’s become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.