Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Publishing | We noted in late April that Archie Comics appeared to be embracing cultural and political commentary with its upcoming Kevin Keller miniseries, which features Riverdale’s first openly gay character and his father, a retired three-star general. But now the publisher, or at least the character, is going a step further, marching into the middle of the debate over gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces by revealing that Kevin aspires to be a journalist, but only after attending the U.S. Military Academy and becoming an Army officer. “Even though we don’t tackle the specific issue of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell, the goal was to show that patriotism knows no specific gender, race or sexual orientation,” cartoonist Dan Parent says. “While it sounds like heavy subject matter, I tried to show it simply that Kevin, like his dad, loves his country. Being gay doesn’t effect that in any way.” [The Associated Press]
Publishing | DC Comics’ line-wide reboot has received extensive coverage by mainstream media outlets, based largely on the original USA Today article or The Associated Press report. But my favorite piece is this one by George Gene Gustines that turns back the clock to 1985 and attempts to explain to The New York Times audience the effects, and problems, of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the publisher’s subsequent attempts to streamline continuity: “… If the goal was to make the DC universe easier to understand, the end result was the opposite: to this day, fans frequently mention ‘pre-Crisis‘ and ‘post-Crisis‘ as a way to distinguish stories. Twenty years later, in the Infinite Crisis limited series, DC tried to clean continuity up again: Superman’s career as Superboy was back; Batman knew who murdered the Waynes; and Wonder Woman was a founder of the Justice League again.” [The New York Times]
Retailing | Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field reports that this year’s event drew between 300,000 and 500,000 people to participating retailers, and generated an estimated $1.5 million in publicity for comics and comics stores. “Free Comic Book Day may have been my idea ten years ago, but seeing the remarkable things this event has done for the entire comics world is really encouraging,” he writes on his store’s blog. “Many of my comics retailer colleagues in the U.S., Canada and 40 other countries bring energy, creativity and enthusiasm to FCBD, making it a very special community event that is now the world’s largest annual comics’ event. All of this shows just how current the comics’ medium is — and how vital comic book specialty stores are to our local communities.” [Flying Colors, via The Beat]
Legal | In the wake of the latest confiscation of comics by Canadian customs agents, Laura Hudson looks at how creators and fans can protect themselves when crossing the border. [Comics Alliance]
Comic strips | Tundra marketing director Bill Kellogg has launched Ink Bottle Syndicate, which represents eight comic strips: That Monkey Tune, by Mike Kandalaft; Holy Molé, by Rick Hotton; Sunshine State, by Graham Nolan; Half Baked, by Rick Ellis; Future Shock, by Jim and Pat McGreal; 15 Minutes, by Robert Duckett; Biz, by Dave Blazek; and, of course, Tundra, Chad Carpenter. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Politics | The controversy in Minnesota continues over Neil Gaiman’s speaking fee, with a state House Republican committee chairman now recommending a $45,000 cut to the Twin Cites’ regional library system budget to make up for the Legacy Fund money paid to the author and comics writer in May 2010. “I simply subtracted out $45,000 — just making a point,” Rep. Dean Urdahl said. Gaiman responded that the move “seems like a sad way to make a point.” He talks at length with CityPages about the controversy. [Star-Tribune]
Passings | Prolific Argentine comics writer Carlos Trillo, co-creator of CyberSix, passed away over the weekend while on vacation in London. He was 68. Trillo, whose career spanned five decades, collaborated with such artists as Eduardo Risso, Jordi Bernet, Juan Bobillo, Carlos Meglia and Domingo Roberto Mandrafina. [TN.com, via The Beat]
Retailing | Peter Panepinto turns a Free Comic Book Day preview into one of those perennial articles about the potential effects of superhero movies on comic-book sales. [Carroll County Times]
Canadian customs has long had a reputation for being quick to seize any comics they find potentially obscene, and Tom Neely learned that the hard way this morning, as Canadian customs officers reportedly confiscated the five copies of the Black Eye anthology that he was bringing with him to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Ryan Standfest, editor/publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, which publishes Black Eye, emailed Neely’s account of the incident to The Comics Journal:
… They took ‘em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review… if they found the material to be ‘obscene’ they would take ‘further action.’ I asked what ‘further action’ meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.
Black Eye is an anthology of dark humor, which was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign; apparently a page by singly named artist Onsmith is what first caught the customs officer’s eye. The book also contains work by Ivan Brunetti, Lilli Carré, and Paul Hornschemeier, among others, and essays by Jeet Heer and other luminaries, and an interview with Al Feldstein … it’s hard to argue that this anthology wouldn’t have redeeming features. Nonetheless, the customs agent wouldn’t let it through, and kept talking about “further action,” which certainly sounds ominous.
Although Neely seems to have been taken by surprise, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund issued an advisory just two months ago about taking comics across international borders.
And this certainly isn’t the first time this has happened. Continue Reading »
Comic creators from all over the world will converge in Toronto this weekend for the annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival, or TCAF, which takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Toronto Reference Library. Admission is free.
Guests include Darwyn Cooke, Chris Ware, Seth, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, Jeff Lemire, Paul Pope, Brecht Evens, Adrian Tomine, Becky Cloonan, Chester Brown, Graham Annable, Kate Beaton, Ross Campbell, Brandon Graham, Matt Kindt, Jamie McKelvie, Ryan North, Jay Stephens, Kagan McLeod, James Stokoe, Ben Towle, Raina Telgemeier and many more. It’s an impressive guest list. Publishers attending include Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, AdHouse, Sparkplug, Secret Acres and Vertical, just to name a few.
In conjunction with TCAF, the annual Doug Wright Awards will be presented Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall. Admission to the awards is $5 and includes a pin designed by Michael DeForge.
Politics | Minnesota House Majority Leader Matt Dean has apologized for calling Neil Gaiman a “pencil-necked little weasel,” but contends the author and comics writer should return the $45,000 fee he received in May 2010 for speaking at the Stillwater, Minn., library (Gaiman donated the money, minus agents fees, to charity). Dean’s original remarks were made during a discussion of how the state’s tax-generated Legacy funds for the arts are spent. He was quoted as saying that Gaiman, “who I hate,” is a “pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota.”
Now, however, the Republican lawmaker has dialed back the rhetoric while standing by his underlying criticism. “My mom is staying with us right now,” he tells Minnesota Public Radio. My wife’s out of town, and she was very angry this morning and always taught me to not be a name caller. And I shouldn’t have done it, and I apologize.”
Gaiman, who responded to Dean’s initial comments early Wednesday on Twitter, has since expanded on his remarks on his website, writing in part, “I don’t like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing.” [Minnesota Public Radio, Underwire]
Comics | A psychologist has been brought in to a Houston elementary school after a group of fourth-graders created a comic book allegedly depicting them holding a gun to the head of one of their classmates. [My Fox Houston]
Retailing | Following a week in which much of the comics coverage was fixated on Action Comics #900 and Superman’s apparent renunciation of his U.S. citizenship, mainstream media outlets are now shifting their four-color focus to the 10th annual Free Comic Book Day, which will be held Saturday at more than 2,000 stores worldwide. You can see a list of notable creator appearances at the FCBD website, but here’s a rundown of some event previews: FCBD press release, Wired’s GeekDad blog, Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog, Phoenix New Times, The Marietta (Ohio) Times, The Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia), The Daily Athanaeum (West Virginia University) and TribLocal (Evanston, Ill.). [Free Comic Book Day]
Awards | Rich Johnston asks a PRISM executive how DC Comics’ widely reviled miniseries Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal rated the group’s award honoring “the accurate depiction of substance abuse and mental illness.” “Obviously our criteria is a bit different from that of reviewers,” said Larry Deutchman, PRISM’s executive vice president of marketing and industry relations. [Bleeding Cool]
Retailing | DC Comics has advised retailers to immediately unplug the $150 Green Lantern Animated Light Up Display after one of the signs caused a small electrical fire Saturday at Rick’s Comic City in Nashville. Other retailers have reported the smell of burning plastic coming from the displays. The publisher will notify stores in the next few days how it will rectify the problem.[ICv2.com]
Retailing | Borders Group lost more than $50 million in February and March as it sought bankruptcy protection and began liquidating 226 stores, a new court filing shows. [The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | Mike Searle, former editor of Wizard Entertainment’s defunct InQuest Gamer magazine, reportedly will replace Mike Cotton at Wizard World Digital. Cotton, who had been co-chief pop culture editor, left the company on Friday. [Bleeding Cool]
Conventions | Forces of Geek rounds up news from last weekend’s Boston Comic Con. [Forces of Geek]
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, or TCAF, is coming up May 7-8, and to promote it some friends of the organizers have created this nifty video featuring many of Toronto’s talented comics folks — Chester Brown, Michael Comeau, Steve Charles Manale, Vicki Nerino, Michael Cho, Michael DeForge, Seth, Fiona Smyth and Britt Wilson.
Passings | Writer Peter O’Donnell, creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip, died May 3 at age 90. Steve Holland notes that although the prolific novelist suffered from Parkinson’s disease, he “kept in touch with fans and continued to pen introductions for Titan’s Modesty reprints.”
Born in south London on April 11, 1920, O’Donnell wrote such adventure strips as the long-running adaptation of the James Bond novel Dr. No, Garth, and Romeo Brown before being asked in 1962 to create a new character for the Daily Express. He came up with Modesty Blaise, whose catsuit-wearing heroine fought villainy with the help of her right-hand man Willie Garvin. The strip was quickly picked up by the Evening Standard, and ran from May 1963 to July 2002.
Creators | Mark Sable, writer of Unthinkable, reports that he was detained for more than a half-hour yesterday by Transportation Safety Administration agents after a random luggage search turned up a script for the BOOM! Studios series. Unthinkable centers on a U.S. government think tank devoted to imagining nightmare scenarios involving terrorist attacks. “My privacy, a small price to pay for educating the government about the medium,” Sable writes. [Twitter]
Conventions | There’s a bevy of coverage from this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival, including an overview, creator snapshots and a Q&A with Yoshihiro Tatsumi from The Toronto Star, and coverage of the Authors at Harbourfront Centre discussion with Tatsumi, Seth and Adrian Tomine in the National Post. Sequential has a solid roundup of blog discussions. [Toronto Comic Arts Festival]
Awards | Nominations have opened for the U.K.’s annual Eagle Awards. The deadline is May 22. [The Eagle Awards]
Retailing | Xtremes Comics, Games, Toys and Puzzles in Roanoke, Virginia, will close later this month after more than a decade in business. [The Roanoke Times]
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has announced the guests of honor for the May 9-10 event: Ivan Brunetti, Anke Feuchtenberger, Emmanuel Guibert, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Paul Pope, Seth, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine.
The fourth annual festival, held at the Toronto Reference Library, will feature gallery showings, workshops, panel discussions, lectures, and the presentation of the 2009 Doug Wright Awards for Canadian Cartooning.
The free event presented by the Toronto Public Library and The Beguiling Books & Art.
The complete list of guests can be found here. (The list will be updated as more guests confirm.) Read the full press release after the break: