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Ulli Lust, Gene Luen Yang win LA Times Book Prizes

Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life The winners of the LA Times Book Prizes were announced Friday night, and not one but two graphic novels took top honors.

Ulli Lust won the Graphic Novels/Comics prize for Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life, which also picked up an Ignatz Award and won an award at Angouleme in 2011 for the original edition. The other finalists were David B.’s Incidents in the Night: Vol. 1, Ben Katchor’s Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories, Anders Nilsen’s The End, and Joe Sacco’s The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme, so it was a tough field.

In the Young Adult category, Boxers & Saints was up against four prose books: Elizabeth Knox’s Mortal Fire, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Joyce Sidman’s What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings, and Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase. Yang’s earlier book, American Born Chinese, was nominated for a National Book Award and won a Printz Award; both honors usually go to prose books.


David B., Nilsen, Sacco among L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

incidents in the nightThe finalists have been announced for the 34th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes, which for the fifth year include graphic novel/comic among the 10 categories. Those nominees are:

  • David B., Incidents in the Night: Vol. 1 (Uncivilized Books)
  • Ben Katchor, Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories (Pantheon)
  • Ulli Lust, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life (Fantagraphics)
  • Anders Nilsen, The End (Fantagraphics)
  • Joe Sacco, The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (W. W. Norton & Co.)

The winners will be presented in an awards ceremony held April 11, on the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

The finalists, and the winners, are selected by panels of judges — nine panels with three judges each (the fiction panel also handles the first fiction category).

Angoulême: First impressions from a first-time visitor

Intersection with banners web version

Last week, when I was packing my bags to go to the Angoulême International Comics Festival, I kept having to explain to people — even comics people — what it was.

Now that I’m back, it’s not a problem any more.

This year’s selection of Bill Watterson as the winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême, and the president of next year’s festival, has put Angoulême on the map for more U.S. readers — or at least, it has sent the cartoonist’s fans scurrying to the map to see where it is.

What follows is a series of first impressions from my first trip to Angoulême; check out Publishers Weekly (which provided me with a press badge) for more solid coverage, and of course no one can capture an event like Heidi MacDonald.

There are a lot of reasons to go to Angoulême — the international array of creators and publishers who are there, the opportunity to get the hottest new BDs and of course, French food, scenery and wine all spring to mind — but to me, the most impressive thing about it was that I was in a place where comics really mattered. Comics aren’t a niche product in France; they are available everywhere, they are widely read, and they are taken seriously. In my previous sojourns in France, long before I was a comics journalist, I was accustomed to seeing a rack of hardcover, full-color comics at the grocery store, train station, and bookstore.
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Comics A.M. | ‘Jihad Jane’ faces lengthy sentence for cartoonist murder plot

Colleen LaRose

Colleen LaRose

Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]

Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Market shrinks for Australian comic strips

Ginger Meggs

Ginger Meggs

Comics strips | Matt Saracini looks at the impact on Australian cartoonists of a cost-cutting decision by media giant News Corp. Australia to replace individual comics pages in their largest newspapers with one national page. In the process, some more expensive locally produced strips were jettisoned in favor for cheaper syndicated ones from overseas, like Garfield and The Phantom. News Corp. owns more than a hundred daily, weekly, biweekly and triweekly newspapers. [SBS.com]

Creators | Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, now living in Kuwait after troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked him and broke both his hands, talks about his decision to portray al-Assad explicitly in his cartoons, rather than sticking to more generic themes like freedom and human rights: “It was a big decision to start to draw Bashar and, yes, I was scared of what might happen, particularly when I was attacked. But I had a responsibility to do what I did. If I am not prepared to take risks I have no right to call myself an artist. If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a painter and decorator.” [The Guardian]

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