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Winners announced for 2014 British Comic Awards

BCA LogoThe winners of the third annual British Comic Awards were announced Saturday at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds, England. Two of the four awards went to titles published by Image Comics; all four of the winning works are readily available in the United States. Here are the winners:

Best Comic: The Wicked + The Divine #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)

Best Book: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape)

Young People’s Comic Award: Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

Emerging Talent: Alison Sampson for her artwork on Genesis (Image Comics) and “Shadows” from the In The Dark anthology (IDW Publishing)

Hall of Fame: Posy Simmonds

Two years ago, when the first awards were announced, there was some discussion about the gender balance of both the committee that chose the books and the nominations themselves. Last year’s awards all went to men. This year, there were more women on the committee and more women on the shortlist, and the awards were split, with Simmonds giving the women the edge.

Comics A.M. | ‘Big Hero 6′ drives up prices on original comics

Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1

Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1

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]

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Comics A.M. | DiDio and Lee on DC’s move, changing audience

Gotham Academy #1

Gotham Academy #1

Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. [...] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Cosplay, and the fight against harassment

NYCC's "Cosplay Is Not Consent" poster, designed by Amy Reeder

NYCC’s “Cosplay Is Not Consent” poster

Cosplay | Visiting New York Comic Con, Andrea Romano takes a look at the world of cosplay, the issue of sexual harassment — one person notes it’s certainly not exclusive to cosplay, observing, “There’s harassment when a woman is just wearing a crop top on the street” — and efforts being made to stop it.  Convention organizers placed their new anti-harassment policy front and center this year, and it seems to have helped: There were just eight reported incidents of sexual harassment during the four-day event. [Mashable]

Conventions | Fensterman talks at greater length about NYCC’s anti-harassment measures in this article, which contrasts the comics scene with what’s going on in the gaming world. [Time]

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Comics A.M. | Duo jailed for trying to sell $9,000 in stolen comics

Crime

Crime

Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]

Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]

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Licensed DC Comics tees draw accusations of sexism

Shirts

Two licensed T-shirts featuring DC Comics’ Trinity have sparked accusations of sexism among online fans.

The first shirt, as reported at DC Women Kicking Ass and spotted by CBR contributor Tamara Brooks this past weekend at Long Beach Comic Con, depicts Superman and Wonder Woman in a passionate embrace with the caption, “Score! Superman Does It Again!” As takedowns of that shirt began to circulate on social media, another one, bearing the phrase “I’m Training to Be Batman’s Wife,” was brought into the discussion.

Both shirts present undeniably sexist messages: The former positions the most prominent female superhero as a prize to be won, stripping away the character’s 75 years of nuance and feminist themes. The latter would be perfectly acceptable if it had only stopped before that final word; the assumption that the goal of any woman’s training would be to become someone’s wife is antiquated at best.

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Quote of the Day | Jimmy Palmiotti on ‘Harley Quinn’s’ success

harley quinn10“What we are learning is that the traditional idea of done-in-one stories not selling in comics just doesn’t apply to the new audience buying the  books, and believe me, most of that new audience are female. I think the problem right now is we have some people running the companies that just aren’t going out and trying new comics or interacting with the next wave of readers and keep pushing things the traditional way they did years ago. The retailers themselves are seeing this happening daily now and I feel it’s the reason Image Comics will continue to grow and eventually outsell the big two, unless they start thinking outside the box and just make superheroes a PART of their publishing plan and not the entire thing and start looking at the different ways a superhero type of book can be done. Harley is one example, Hawkeye is another. The traditional graphics people associate comics with have been changing for years now and the market is embracing different looks and styles that are outside the house style and its pretty cool to see.”

Jimmy Palmiotti, discussing the success of DC Comics’ Harley Quinn, and the series’ significant female audience

Comics A.M. | Axel Alonso on Marvel’s female superheroes

Ms. Marvel #9

Ms. Marvel #9

Publishing | Admitting that “I don’t think men are as sexualized as women” in Marvel comics, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says the publisher is moving toward including more types of female characters: “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this and we want to make sure they get it. This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.” Later he states, “I challenge you to find in Ms. Marvel anything that resembles the Playboy model standard. But I don’t want to be Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. We’re creating stories. I don’t want to say there’s no room for stuff that’s not just fun. Then you’re censoring yourself. I want to make sure I have books like Ms. Marvel and Black Widow that I’m proud about and could give to my daughter. But at the same time I don’t want to be the PC police and say you can’t be naughty; you can’t be fun.” [The Telegraph]

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Quote of the Day | “We never hear ‘strong male character'”

Rapunzels_Revenge“I dislike the phrase ‘strong female character.’ Perhaps it began as a way to applaud the few realistic and complex female characters among the flat ones that merely play a role (mother, love interest, damsel in distress) in a hero’s story. But we never hear ‘strong male character’ because that idea is default. Almost as if the idea that a female character could be strong is so unusual, so unexpected, that it’s noteworthy. It’s also become a way to justify that lack of female characters in stories. ‘Yeah, there’s only one female character in this show/comic/book, but she’s STRONG!’ Variety, diversity, complexity are more important than ‘strength,’ whatever that word means.”

Shannon Hale, co-creator of the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge and author of the novel Dangerous and the children’s book Princess in Black, in an interview before her appearance at Salt Lake Comic Con. Growing up, Hale was a fan of the Wonder Woman television series, but she never read comics because, she says, “I thought they weren’t for girls and simply didn’t have access to them.”

Comics A.M. | The changing demographics of comics industry

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]

Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Disney layoffs hit DisneyToon Studios

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Business | Marvel parent company Disney has reportedly laid off as many as 17 of the 60 full-time employees at DisneyToon Studio, the Glendale, California-based division that produces animated direct-to-video sequels and prequels, such as The Lion King 1 1/2 and Mulan II, the Disney Fairies releases and the occasional feature film, most recently Planes: Fire & Rescue. While Disney has been cutting positions throughout the company for the past few years — dating back to 2011 with the elimination of 200 jobs in its interactive division and about a dozen at Marvel — Variety chalks up these layoffs to the declining home-video market. [Variety, Deadline]

Passings | Dan Lynch, former editorial cartoonist for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, died Sunday at age 67. Lynch also worked for the Kansas City Times, and his cartoons were syndicated nationally and appeared in Time and Newsweek. However, his career was cut short by a debilitating stroke in 2001. “Dan had (what I thought was) a fabulous drawing style,” said Julie Inskeep, publisher and president of The Journal Gazette. “And, in the 20-plus years he worked at the JG, he provided a vast array of cartoon topics – always welcome, though not always in agreement with our editorial board. But he got people to think and react in his special and powerful way.” [Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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Comics A.M. | Oz Comic-Con scrutinized for scarcity of female guests

Oz Comic-Con

Oz Comic-Con

Conventions | Clem Bastow notes a disconnect at Oz Comic-Con in Melbourne, Australia, where women were a slight majority in the audience but were severely underrepresented as guests; DC artist Nicola Scott was the only woman in the comics contingent. Organizer Rand Ratinac said it was purely a matter of availability: “We offered for literally dozens if not hundreds of different guests, we always do, because you’re dealing with people whose schedules they sometimes can’t lock in until a month before the event. This time, of the people that we wanted, there were just a lot of guys that were available. Next year, it could be a whole bunch of girls; it all just depends who can come.” But Scott points out that there are simply fewer women in superhero comics than in the other sectors of the industry and superhero creators are what brings the audience in the door. [The Guardian]

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Why Toronto Comic Arts Festival matters

Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston, and Kate Beaton at the opening panel at TCAF

Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston and Kate Beaton at the opening panel at TCAF

On the opening night of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, organizer Christopher Butcher articulated a simple and very important vision for the event:

I looked at the people we were already approaching for 2014 last year, and we had an incredibly strong lineup already of people who wanted to participate who were women who were working in the industry with a history or who were fresh faces doing exciting, wonderful material, and we decided that was going to be an unspoken theme, we were going to really try to spotlight, highlight, the work of women in the industry … This isn’t a one-year thing for us. This isn’t just a theme this year, we aren’t going to be going back to anything, I think we have done a good job of showing the diverse faces of the comics industry but we can always be better… I want us to continue to be as inclusive as possible and to include all different kinds of work. I want comics to be the theme of TCAF and that means including everyone who makes comics, and particularly people who are doing a good job.

Then Butcher did something truly amazing: He introduced a panel of three women that was not titled “Women in Comics.” At TCAF, women were simply treated as equals and judged on their merits. And trust me, I walked the halls at the Toronto Reference Library and came back with two bags of comics and graphic novels, so I know: There were no charity cases at TCAF. Every exhibitor, male and female, was top-notch. This is a show that a huge number of people want to be a part of, so organizers can pick and choose. What they did this year was simply choose more women, which makes sense in a field where women have been well represented for many years. (There were plenty of men as well, they just weren’t in the majority as they are at every other show.)

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Survey: More than half of Emerald City attendees were female

Via the Emerald City Comicon Facebook page

Via the Emerald City Comicon Facebook page

Although North America comic conventions are typically thought of as male-dominated events, that doesn’t appear to have been the case with this year’s Emerald City Comicon.

According to a survey of attendees, 52 percent identified as female, compared to 46 percent as male; 2 percent of respondents “referred to themselves in non-binary terms,” including agender, genderfluid, genderqueer and “a nebulous glow cloud.”

Of course the survey isn’t completely accurate, because not everyone filled one out, and of those who did, probably not everyone did so honestly (I’m willing to wager the person doesn’t really gender-identify as “Cthulhu”). However, as The Mary Sue notes, “at the very least, you cannot say that women were rare or a minority in the community.”

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Buffy to Batgirl conference explores women in sci-fi and comics

buffy-to-batgirl-logoWhile many fans may be looking forward this weekend to Free Comic Book Day or The Amazing Spider-Man 2, some of those with more scholarly leanings may be busy getting ready for the Buffy to Batgirl conference being held Friday and Saturday at Rutgers University-Camden.

Organized by reference librarians Julie Still and Zara Wilkinson of the Paul Robeson Library, Buffy to Batgirl: Women and Gender in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics is an academic conference focusing on female representation across those genres (and mediums). I imagine a few eyes glazed over with the term “academic conference,” but the panels and papers sound fascinating.

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