Comics Lowdown: CxC guest list unveiled

Plus news and updates on Noah Van Sciver, Ivan Brunetti, Thom Zahler, Hannah Berry and more.

Tom Spurgeon unveils the logo and guest list for this year’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus festival, of which he is the executive director. Here’s the roster:

That’s Derf Backderf, Peter Bagge, Kyle Baker, Darrin Bell, Howard Cruse, Lilli Carré and Alexander Stewart, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kat Fajardo, Emil Ferris, Ann Marie Fleming, Matt Fraction, Jennifer Holm, Kevin Huizenga, Nilah Magruder, Ann Nocenti, Laura Park, Dav Pilkey, Mimi Pond, Dana Simpson, Chris Sprouse, Leslie Stein, Tillie Walden, Connor Willumsen and Judd Winick.

(Spurge’s list has links if you want to know more about the creators.)

Interviews and Profiles

David Pilling pays a visit to Kenyan political cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa, a.k.a. Gado, who talks about politics (of course) and his family, but the high point of this article is Fredrik Lerneryd’s photos of the cartoonist’s Nairobi home.

Noah Van Sciver’s Blammo 9

Noah Van Sciver talks to Caitlin McGurk about his year at the Center for Cartoon Studies, the joys of Columbus, Ohio, and how he would cast a Fante Bukowski movie.

Ivan Brunetti discusses his first children’s comic, Wordplay, which is published by TOON Books:

As far as the content goes, Françoise [Mouly] sent me a general list of possible topics, and the one that jumped out at me was “compound words”; since English is not my first language, I thought it might be nice to play with the language, using my immigrant’s ear. The book is really about daydreaming (which I have much experience with), but compound words are the vessel through which that theme is poured. As with every project I have ever done, it became deeply autobiographical, though it doesn’t look it on the surface. Sometimes the least autobiographical-looking stuff, however, reveals the most about my true self. As to why, I guess that’s a mystery.

Gabrielle Bell talks about her new graphic novel, Everything Is Flammable.

Thom Zahler talks about his new series, Time & Vine, about a winery where vintage bottles of wine take the drinker back in the time. If that sounds intriguing, check out the preview.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

Jean Mathew takes a quick look at Robin Ha’s Cook Korean.

Comics and Culture

Suleiman Bakhit’s Princess Heart

Jordanian comics creator Suleiman Bakhit has created a set of Arabic comics with positive male and female role models to provide an alternative the current narrative of violence in the Middle East. Bakhit was the target of anti-Arab violence when he was a graduate student in Minnesota, and he started speaking in local schools to counter the notion that all Arabs are terrorists. That caused him to realize the dearth of positive characters in his culture, and led him to create some of his own. His comics have been adopted as textbooks in Jordan and will be distributed to fourth- and fifth-graders.

Writing for The Atlantic, Paul Wisenthal explores the different ways that teachers are using digital comics generators to help special needs students. The piece starts out reading like an ad for Make Beliefs Comix but eventually branches out to other products and strategies.

The Biz

Asher Elbein takes a comprehensive look at what’s wrong with Marvel: Too many titles, too many #1s, too much turnover of creative teams, too many crossovers. Prices are too high, and editors and creators are not conducting themselves well in public. The biggest problem may simply be that comics are no longer a priority:

The media conglomerates that own DC and Marvel use both publishers largely as intellectual-property farms, capitalizing on and adapting creators’ work for movies, television shows, licensing, and merchandise. That’s where the money is.

In an impassioned piece, British creator Hannah Berry explains why Livestock may be her last graphic novel: She works all the time and still can’t make a living. Even with book advances and a grant, she only made £24,000 over three years.

To make a graphic novel takes me three years of blinkered, fanatical dedication, and I realised while working on Livestock that I just can’t do it again. I’m done. I’m out. And from quiet talks with many other graphic novelists, ones whose books you know and love, I can tell you that I’m far from being the only one.

This is the problem with making graphic novels in the UK today, and it’s one we need to address: the numbers do not add up.

Conventions and Festivals

The Women Empowerment Society at the Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, held a Feminist Comic Con last year to highlight comics by and about women; guests included Khaya Ahmed, who is a consulting writer for Ms. Marvel, and Pakistani cartoonist Nigar Nazar.

Not Comics, But Cool

Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, a quartet of adventuresome kids and their dog, are still going strong at 75.

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