Comics Lowdown: Original Crumb art sells for $717,000

Plus news and updates on NBM, ‘Saga,” Dan Parent and more.

Robert Crumb’s original art for the cover of the 1969 Fritz the Cat collection has set a new record price for a piece of original American comics art: The drawing sold for $717,000 at an auction run by Heritage Auctions; the next highest price for a piece of American comics art is the $657,250 that someone paid for the last page of Incredible Hulk #180, which features the first appearance of Wolverine. Internationally, Tintin art is still top of the heap; one set of drawings brought in $3.5 million, and two other original Tintin drawings have sold for over $1 million apiece.

Marek Chojnowski, a member of the Bialystock, Poland, city council, wants two images depicting anti-Semitic violence removed from a graphic biography of Ludwik Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto. The book, which was first published in 2014, was printed with municipal funds and is due to be reprinted and translated into other languages. From his comments in this article (in Polish), Chojnowski apparently regards the comic as a promotional piece for the city rather than a historical document. In 1906, when Bialystock was under Russian control, the locals carried out an attack on Jewish residents that resulted in the deaths of at least 88 people. “In my opinion, the promotion of the city should consist in showing positive things, its inhabitants in the best light, to encourage tourists and investors,” Chojnowski said (Google translation). He added that while he did not want to censor the book or deny the history it depicted, he felt that history should be left to historians and not be included in promotional materials for the city. A few pages from the comic can be viewed here. (The images with this post are cropped from photos posted on the Radio Bialystock website.)

The Biz

When Terry Nantier began importing French graphic albums to the U.S. in 1977, the concept of “graphic novel” literally didn’t exist—he actually put an explainer in some of the early books. Now, Nantier’s company NBM is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a line that includes some of the most interesting American and European graphic novels.

Interviews

I talked to Archie writer and artist Dan Parent about his creation, Kevin Keller, who debuted as the first openly gay character in Riverdale seven years ago.

Comics and Graphic Novels

Natalie Zutter has a nice introduction-to-the-story piece on Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, which is now up to seven volumes.

Mark Peters pens a thoughtful review of Guy Delisle’s new graphic novel, Hostage.

History

Erica Friedman looks at the way lesbian activism in Japan in the 1970s led to the creation of organizations, publications, and ultimately, yuri manga.

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