Comics Lowdown: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart freed from jail

Plus: Violent alt.right felon gets a comic, Zunar exhibit canceled, Box Brown and more.

Musa Kart Freed: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart was released from jail on a judge’s orders Friday, along with six other staffers from the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. Four others, including the editor in chief, remain behind bars, and the freed journalists are under judicial supervision pending the outcome of the trial. The journalists were arrested nine months ago on charges of aiding terrorist organizations; the arrests came shortly after a failed coup against the Turkish government and are widely regarded as an attempt to limit freedom of the press. Kart, who made an opening statement that drew laughter from the audience at times, faces up to 29 years in prison if convicted. The trial will resume on Sept. 11.

Musa Kart, investigative reporter Ahmet Kik, and columnist Kadri Gursel in court. Credit: Tarik Tolunay.

Alt.Riiiiiiight: Banking on their belief that comics readers weary of diversity in their comics characters will flock to a comic about a white guy with a stick beating up on Communists, artist Brett R. Smith (Clinton Cash) and writer Mike Baron (Nexus) are collaborating with conservative darling Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman on a comic about—Kyle “Based Stick Man” Chapman.

Earlier this year, Chapman was filmed hitting anti-Fascist demonstrators with a large stick, and before long, his image was turned into a meme. He’s also the founder of something called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights:

“The Alt-Knights is a group of guys who are willing to stand up for American values,” Chapman said. “I want people of all colors to come together under 1776 Americana and fight these globalist commies, these self-hating whites that want to destroy western civilization, and basically destroy themselves.”

Baron says that Marvel’s attempt to bring diversity to its characters has soured many of its readers:

“There has been a pushback, there’s no question about that,” Baron said on Wednesday. “Americans are sick of having everything politicized. They don’t like being told all the time that they’re racist, sexist, homophobes, because they’re not… Your job as a comic book writer is to entertain. If you don’t entertain, you’re not going to get readers.”

It’s not clear how making an explicitly political comic will address that problem, but Smith, who claims that Clinton Cash (commissioned by Steve Bannon) convinced many voters to switch their votes from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, thinks the comic will produce a similar sort of grass-roots cultural change.

But will it be entertaining? Stay tuned to the Based Stickman Graphic Novel Facebook page for updates!

Zunar Thinks Pink: The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar canceled a planned exhibit of his work, titled “Ketawa Pink Pink (Laugh Till You Are Pink),” after a local political party urged its members to go to the show, presumably to disrupt it (as has happened before). However, he did show up at a forum sponsored by the human rights group Aliran, wearing a bright pink shirt, and presented a slide show of the works that would have been in the exhibit.

Interviews and Profiles

Box Brown and the Rugrats: Sounds like a band, doesn’t it? Actually, Retrofit Comics founder Box Brown, who has also authored several graphic novels (Andre the Giant, Tetris) is going to be writing the new Rugrats comic for BOOM! Studios. He talks about all the various parts of his career at the So Booking Cool podcast.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

&$#%! Etelka Lehoczky reviews Charles Soule and Ryan Browne’s Curse Words.

The Biz

Back to the Newsstand: Small indy publisher Alterna Comics has signed a deal with newsstand distributor Publishers Distribution Group (PDG) to place the publisher’s comics on newsstands in specialty shops, convenience stores, and bookstores, starting in August. The comics will be released to the newsstands in limited numbers (two to five issues), two to three months after they appear in comic shops. Alterna publisher Peter Simeti said his goal is to bring the comics to areas that may not be served by a comic shop.

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