Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Libraries | Digital media distributor Midwest Tape has announced a new e-book and comics service for libraries, which will be accessed via its hoopla platform. Unlike the widely used Overdrive, the service will allow multiple checkouts for a single book, rather than limiting checkouts to one user at a time. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | The trial began Tuesday for Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani on charges of spreading propaganda and insulting members of parliament, stemming from a cartoon she posted on Facebook depicting politicians as monkeys and other animals. Farghadani has been an activist in other ways as well, meeting with the families of people killed during the 2009 presidential elections. She was arrested last August and sent to prison, released, and then arrested again after posting a video online describing beatings by prison guards. She has been in solitary confinement since January and suffered a heart attack in February, after being on a hunger strike for three weeks. [The Washington Post]
The Story of the Year award went to Shaft, written by David F. Walker and illustrated by Bilquis Evely. In an interview with CBR last year, Walker discussed the comic and how it was strongly influenced by the original novels that the 1970s movie was based on. Keef Cross took the Best Writer Award for Day Black, the story of a vampire who moonlights (literally) as a tattoo artist. And Nelson Blake II won the Best Artist award for his Image Comics series Artifacts.
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]
Awards | Cartoonist Roz Chast is one of six recipients of this year’s Heinz Awards, which recognize “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” The honor comes with an $250,000 cash prize. “‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” says the author of the acclaimed graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.” [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | In a radio interview, Afghan political cartoonist Habib Rahman Habib talks about his work. [NPR]
Publishing | Archaia founder Mark Smylie will leave the company he founded in 2002 to focus on his writing career. Creator of Artesia and author of the 2014 novel The Barrow, sold the company in 2008 to Kunoichi Inc., but remained as an acting principal. BOOM! Studios then purchased Archaia in 2013, transforming it into an imprint of the publisher. [press release]
Conventions | Filmmaker John Waters says the organizers of Shock Pop Comic Con, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the weekend of Feb. 14, owe him $6,250 — and they have told him they don’t intend to pay. Waters said the con seemed legit, if lightly attended, and they paid the first half of his fee up front. “I didn’t think that they were gonna – in a very short time – send a letter from a lawyer that basically was just like, ‘Don’t bother even trying,’” he said. But that’s what they did: The letter said the company that organized the event “had to close their doors and had no assets within which to satisfy its debts.” Freelance talent manager Shade Rupe said the con had “an incredible lineup,” but it was poorly organized; he got stuck with the limo bill for one of the people he represents, actor Danny Trejo. [Broward/Palm Beach New Times]
She launched Templar, Arizona at a time when the webcomics business model was still being hammered out — and a lot of people were still dubious about it. However, Trotman not only made it work, she expanded the scope of what she does, running a Kickstarter for the Poorcraft graphic novel, then curating and publishing the Smut Peddler anthology, which was also funded on Kickstarter. Her small press Iron Circus Comics is now publishing its first creator-owned work, an omnibus edition of EK Weaver’s webcomic The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, which was just successfully funded on Kickstarter — in fact, the project raised $65,000, far exceeding its goal of $18,500.
This seemed like a good time to talk to Spike about growing her own small press—and what the future holds for Iron Circus.
IDW Publishing will release a hardcover collection of American Barbarian, Tom Scioli’s Jack Kirby-inspired post-apocalyptic adventure.
Debuting in 2010, the webcomic chronicles the saga of Meric, who sets off across New Earthea to seek revenge against Two-Tank Omen, a half-tank/half-mummy creature who murdered his family. Along the way, the young barbarian — the last American — faces all sorts of threats, ranging from the risen dead to mutant motorcycle gangs to robotic dinosaurs.
The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies have announced the shortlist for the third annual Cartoonist Studio Prize, which honors one print comic and one webcomic released in 2014.
The shortlists were selected by Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois, the faculty and students at the Center for Cartoon Studies, represented by CCS Fellow Sophie Yanow, and this year’s guest judge, cartoonist Paul Karasik. Each winner receives $1,000.
Graphic novels | Once again, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? leads the BookScan list of the top-selling graphic novels in bookstores. Volumes one and two of March also did well on the February chart, placing third and fourth, respectively. All four volumes of Saga made the list, along with three volumes of The Walking Dead and, shockingly, just one of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire began getting calls from Hollywood even before the first issue of his new series Descender, a collaboration with artist Dustin Nguyen, came out. But while they sold the film rights to Sony Pictures, Lemire is determined the comic will come first: “I think one of the biggest things that went into us choosing Sony [was], we made it very clear — and they were very receptive — that we were going to tell the comic book the way we wanted to tell the comic. Meaning, if in the comic we wanted to veer left and they wanted to go right with the movie, we could do that.” [Comic Riffs]
What Pumpkin Studios has released the first in-game screenshots from Hiveswap, the point-and-click adventure game based on Andrew Hussie’s insanely popular webcomic Homestuck.
Developed with proceeds from a $2.4 million Kickstarter campaign, the game will debut this spring with the first of four episodes for PC, Mac and Linux. Attendees of the March 2-6 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco will get to see Hiveswap in action; public demos are planned for Emerald City Comicon, Denver Comic Con and other spring conventions.
Manga | The 72nd and final volume of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, released in Japan on Feb. 4, topped the weekly sales charts, with 874,120 volumes sold in its first week. [Crunchyroll]
Conventions | With 10 fan conventions coming to Indianapolis this year, David Lindquist takes a look at the business of comics-themed entertainment, with interviews with Wizard World CEO John Macaluso and Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture author Rob Salkowitz. [Indianapolis Star]
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
Launched globally in July by NAVER, South Korea’s premier Internet portal, LINE Webtoon offers nearly 70 webcomics. It in turn introduced Challenge League, a free webcomic publishing platform where creators can upload their comics with a chance to become a featured artist, meaning they receive monthly pay and promotional support.
More than 1,900 webcomics were reportedly submitted to the contest. The winners are:
Grand Prize $30,000 Winner
Space Boy, Stephen McCranie
Second Place $10,000 Winner
ShootAround, Susanna Ada Alice Nousiainen
Although the contest has ended, each month LINE Webtoon will continue to select a comic submitted through the Challenge League platform to feature as a partnered series, with the creator made an official artist, “eligible for monthly payments.”
Intended to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, the seven comic strips depict Americans living vastly different lives — from the fitness nut to the adrenalin junkie to the hipster — who have one thing in common: They have health insurance. Each four-panel strip has at its center a badge encouraging readers to joint that person at HeathCare.gov.
Being a webcomics creator has its challenges, but here’s one you don’t see too often: finding out the title of your long-running strip is being used by someone who tweeting bomb threats to airlines. That’s the surreal situation Mark Mekkes found himself in on Saturday.
Mekkes is the creator of the long-running Zortic, which he describes as “a weekly science fiction, comedy adventure comic with a lot of parody and popular references.” The comic has been running for 14 years, but on Saturday, Mekkes noticed a spike in traffic and social media mentions. He didn’t think too much of it until he got a phone call from his brother-in-law, who had seen “Zortic” mentioned on the national news. The reason: Somebody using the Twitter handle “King Zortic” had tweeted bomb threats to Delta and Southwest airlines, resulting in two planes being escorted by fighter jets to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and then scoured by bomb squads. The threats were ultimately determined to be a hoax.