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Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it’s true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it’s rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that’s essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. “In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage,” says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.” The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]
Debuting books include The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks; What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing artist and Her Pussy, by the Japanese artist Rokudenashiko, who was just found guilty of obscenity for distributing 3D printer data of her genitals; 20×20, an anthology commemorating Conundrum Press’s 20th anniversary, and Tract, a graphic novella created specially by manga-ka Shintaro Kago for TCAF.
The nominees for the Doug Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning have been announced, with Montreal-based publisher Drawn & Quarterly netting five of the six spots in the Best Book category.
In addition, James Simpkins, creator of Jasper the Bear, will be this year’s inductee to the Giants of the North Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame.
Toronto Comic Arts Festival organizer Christopher Butcher opened the 2014 show by announcing the “unspoken theme” of that year’s show was spotlighting work by women creators. “Then,” I noted at the time, “Butcher did something truly amazing: He introduced a panel of three women that was not titled ‘Women in Comics.'” This year’s festival continued that theme, showcasing a diverse group of artists and spreading that diversity across the breadth and depth of the show.
In fact, the first thing I noticed when I looked over the schedule was there was no “Women in Comics” or “LGBTQ Comics” panel. There were a couple of more specialized panels — one on gay comics art in Japan, another on older women and comics — but for the most part, the diversity was just sort of there, no further comment needed. The “Art of the Travelogue” panel moderated by my con roommate Johanna Draper Carlson, for instance, featured four women and two men, and it didn’t seem like a particularly big deal until I started to write this article. This may be a watershed in the history of comics events.
Manga | Kodansha Comics will publish a “Master’s Edition” of Hiro Mashima’s fantasy-adventure manga Fairy Tail, collecting the first five volumes in a deluxe oversize format, similar to its Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition. Priced at $39.99, the first volume will go on sale in October. [Kodansha Comics]
Political cartoons | Christiane Gruber looks at Muslim cartoonists who are critiquing ISIS: “Over the past year, cartoonists across the Middle East have critiqued ISIS with equal amounts of ferocity and fearlessness. From Jordan to Iran, they frequently lambast ISIS — referring to it through its acronym Daesh, which is related to the pejorative Arabic term meaning ‘to tread under foot’ — as destructive of Islam and the world’s cultural heritage, as the growling lapdog of various superpowers, as the ultimate devil and grim reaper of Iraq and as an Oscar-winning sensation obsessed with bloody forms of self-promotion.” [Newsweek]
Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
Conventions | Convention producer ReedPOP will add Vienna Comic Con in Austria to a growing roster of shows that already includes the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, New York Comic Con, Emerald City Comicon, PAX, OZ Comic Con, Shanghai Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration and Comic Con Paris. It’s scheduled for Nov. 21-22 at Messe Wien in Vienna. ”We aim to make Vienna Comic Con the leading pop culture event in Central Europe,” Barbara Leithner of Reed Exhibitions said in a statement. “Fans at Vienna Comic Con will experience unique programs and events, and meet pop culture creatives from all over the world.” [press release]
The winners of the 2015 Doug Wright Awards, recognizing the best in English-language comics by Canadians, were presented Saturday in conjunction with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. This year’s recipients were:
Best Book: Fatherland, by Nina Bunjevac
The Spotlight Award (aka “The Nipper”): Photobooth: A Biography, by Meags Fitzgerald
Pigskin Peters Awards (for experimental or avant-garde work): “Swinespritzen,” by Connor Willumsen
The finalists have been announced for the 2015 Doug Wright Awards, which recognize the best in English-language comics by Canadians.
The awards are named for Doug Wright, the late cartoonist whose strip Doug Wright’s Family appeared for more than 30 years in newspapers across the country. The winners will be announced May 9 at a ceremony held during the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
In addition to the nominees in three categories, awards organizers announced that longtime London Free Press editorial cartoonist Merle “Ting” Tingley will be inducted into the Giants of the North: The Canadian Cartoonist Hall of Fame.
The nominees are:
The Toronto Reference Library has been the host venue for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) since 2009, and now visitors can sample some of what TCAF has to offer year-round with at the library’s own festival-affiliated comic shop.
With the record-breaking attendance at New York Comic Con 2014 and the hit parade of Comic-Con International, it’s no doubt that comic conventions are big business. But as some who attend these events can attest, it can sometimes be difficult to find the comics amid the multimedia blitz. Not so with the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The event is celebrating its 10th consecutive year May 8-10, with ambitious plans for the fiture.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is opening a boutique store at the Toronto Reference Library, site of the annual event.
The TCAF Pop-Up Shop will kick off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a book launch for the comedy sex guide Just the Tips, featuring co-author Chip Zdarsky (who wrote the book with Sex Criminals collaborator Matt Fraction). The store will begin regular business hours Thursday at 9 a.m.
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
Passings | Manga artist Hiroshi Obi, whose best known work is the Shonen Jump series Ganbare Goemon, died Sunday at age 54. His most recent project was a Yatterman remake, Yatterman Dengeki Daisakusen!, and he also taught in the manga department of Tokyo Kogakuin College of Technology. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Filip Sablik of BOOM! Studios talks about marketing Lumberjanes on Tumblr, and how Beware the Valkyries, a group of women who work in comic stores, helped promote the comic with a special “Lumber Day.” [ICv2]
Creators | Mike Donachie profiles Canadian creator Diana Tamblyn, who’s nominated for a Shuster Award for her graphic novel From the Earth To Babylon: Gerald Bull and the Supergun. [Metro]
About 22,000 people attended this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, according to Chris Butcher, the event’s co-founder and director. That’s up from 18,000 in 2012 and 2013.
In a thorough post-event report, Butcher said Sunday in particular saw more attendees than in 2013 at the Toronto Reference Library, the hub for the event. “In addition to the Toronto Reference Library, our space at The Marriott Bloor Yorkville for panels and programming saw vast increases, and our TCAF Kids Day event at St. Paul’s on Bloor hit capacity at several times. Many programs at The Pilot were standing room only, and our Friday professional programming also had respectable attendance, though we recognize there’s room to grow there too!”
This year’s show featured a stellar guest list that included Lynn Johnston, Kate Beaton, Raina Telgemeier, Jeff Smith, Trina Robbins, Ed Brubaker, Kazu Kibuishi, Michael DeForge, Darwyn Cooke, Luke Pearson and Moyoco Anno.