INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]
Museums | San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum, which announced last month that it would have to move by the end of June, will be able to remain at its current location at 655 Mission St. through September, thanks to a lease extension. Skyrocketing rent is forcing the museum to leave property that’s been its home since 2001; officials have yet to find a new location. [KRON]
Political cartoons | Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi has launched an online magazine of political cartoons, Black and White: Strokes of Resistance. The first issue includes work from another project, “A Cartoon for Every Lash,” a series of 50 cartoons in support of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam. Trivedi himself was arrested in India in 2012 on sedition charges that were later dropped. [Reporters Without Borders]
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” we asked creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, we hear from Joe Keatinge, Sarah Glidden, Dustin Weaver, Jesse Jacobs, Rachel Deering, Will Sliney, Jess Smart Smiley, Neil Kleid, Tim Seeley and Van Jensen!
Today DC Comics released The Flash #36, an issue that represents the final work of Brazilian artist André Coelho. His death, while not widely reported until today, occurred in mid-October, as noted by this Oct. 20 MeiaLua memorial podcast. DC dedicated the issue of The Flash to the 35-year-old artist.
Co-writer Van Jensen also paid tribute to Coelho on his blog, writing, “He was an incredible artist, able to convey so much emotion into every panel. André also was always as nice as could be, responding to any request with a simple, ‘No problem!'”
On Saturday, Greenville, South Carolina, retailer Richards Comics & Collectables hosted an all-ages ComicFest featuring a range of guests, including Andy Runton, Van Jensen, J. Chris Campbell, Gregbo Watson, Duane Ballenger and Tracy Yardley. Judging from the Halloween Costume Contest photos, the event drew a fair number of children.
This past Friday, Pat Quinn, SCAD Atlanta Associate Chair of Sequential Art, invited me to observe GENERATE, the school’s version of 24-hour comic day. (SCAD calls it GENERATE to allow any other of the school’s departments that wants to participate can do their own 24-hour challenge). The event kicked off at 10 AM on Friday. Students participating in GENERATE are challenged to create a 24 page black and white print ready comic in 24 hours from a blank slate. This year, they introduced an option for students to form a team to produce the book, those who chose that option had to also color the comic.
Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]
Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]
Legal | A former Marvel intern has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging he was incorrectly classified and unfairly denied “minimum wages.” Kenneth Jackson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, claims he’s owed back pay for the work he performed for Marvel from August 2008 to December 2008, and seeks to include in his motion “all similarly situated persons who are presently or formerly employed by Marvel Entertainment, LLC.” [TheWrap]
Passings | Pran Sharma, the creator of the Indian comics character Chacha Chaudhary, died late Tuesday of complications from cancer. He was 75. The first comic featuring Chacha, “a wise old man who solves problems with his sharp intellect,” was published in 1971, and the character went on to star in his own comics and animated series. Sharma also created the teenage character Billoo. “If I could put a smile on the face of the poor, I would consider my life successful,” he once said. [The Wall Street Journal]
On the first day of HeroesCon 2014, the 32nd edition of the Charlotte, North Carolina, comics convention founded and still run by Shelton Drum, I tried to cover a lot of ground in taking photographs. When possible I found out about the current or upcoming projects in the pipeline for the creators photographed.
He’s written sentient living planets, talking wooden puppets and the Fastest Man Alive, but The Leg: Or, the Remarkable Return of the Disembodied Limb of Santa Anna may feature Van Jensen’s strangest protagonist yet.
Jensen teamed up with artist Jose Pimienta to tell the tale of, yes, the leg of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the famous Mexican general and president who fought for Mexican independence from Spain as well as against Texas rebels at the Alamo. He later lost his leg while fighting the French in the Pastry War.
And now the leg is back, in a graphic novel that Jensen and Pimienta hope to self-publish by raising funds through Kickstarter. They’re looking for $10,000 to bring story to print, while their $25,000 stretch goal would allow them to also release a Spanish-language edition.
I spoke with Jensen about the Kickstarter and his inspiration for this tale.
Manga | The 13 volumes to date of Hajime Isayama’s dystopian fantasy Attack on Titan have sold a combined 30.37 million copies in Japan, making the manga only the third series to do so since market research firm Oricon began tracking the numbers in 2009 (the first two were, of course, mega-hits One Piece and Naruto). [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | John Casteele considers the acquisition of comiXology from Amazon’s point of view: “It’s easy to see how the ComiXology purchase is going to benefit Amazon. Access to the ComiXology platform not only provides the company with additional revenues from the growing digital comics market and to the comic series that had the highest-selling single issue in 2013 (The Walking Dead, which also had five of the top 10 best-selling graphic novels for the year). It could also provide synergy with Jet City Comics and the Kindle, giving both access to the ComiXology publishing platform. Amazon could also use its Kindle platform to further refine the ComiXology’s ‘Comics’ app, which is already available for the Kindle Fire but might enjoy more direct integration in the future.” [Business Insider]
Digital comics | In today’s Amazon-acquires-comiXology article, Rachel Edidin deflates much of the hype, and the panic, surrounding the deal, pointing out that comics distribution is already a monopoly, large corporations already run the comics market, and comics have been available on Kindle all along: “Is the concern […] a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins — or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers — is frankly ridiculous.” [Wired]
Awards | Michael Cavna talks with Kevin Siers of the Charlotte Observer about winning the Pulitzer Prize in cartooning. [Comic Riffs]
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In this round, see what Van Jensen, Faith Erin Hicks, Thom Zahler, Andrew MacLean, Tyler Kirkham, Ian Harker, Ryan Ferrier, Jay Faerber, Matt Silady and Matthew Petz had to say.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson and many more. And we still have plenty to go, so check back Wednesday to hear from more creators!
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Joining us today is Van Jensen, writer of the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer series and Green Lantern Corps.
Now let’s get to it …
Did we know there’s another Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer story in the works? ‘Cause I just stumbled across this image on the PVS website with the announcement that it’s something creators Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen are working on.
In a throwaway line from Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, Volume 3, a character mentions a vampire-infested zoo and quips, “Remember the vampire gorilla?” Higgins and Jensen not only remember it, they “have always planned on eventually telling it.” It’ll be a short story featuring all the vampire-slaying puppets from the graphic novels; the creators just have to work out the details of how it’ll be released.
Update: Jensen provides some additional PVS-related info in our comments section: “Also, for those who missed the announcement at Comic-Con, Top Shelf Productions will be publishing an omnibus edition of PVS in 2014. We’re thrilled to partner with the Top Shelf folks and to have the entire story in one place. Digital editions will be coming as well. Release dates not set as of yet, but we’ll announce all of that soon.”