Comics Lowdown: Off to a roaring start

Zunar sues his persecutors, Bosch Fawstin is booted (temporarily) from Twitter, and the Best of the Year lists keep rolling in.

Legal: A Malaysian High Court judge has set aside five days in April to hear the cartoonist Zunar’s lawsuit against the Inspector-General of Police and 19 other defendants. Zunar, who has been charged with sedition and is currently prohibited from leaving the country, is suing for damages and wrongful arrest. In December 2016, police stormed the venue where a “Tea with Zunar” event was about to take place and arrested the cartoonist and several other people; they also confiscated books and T-shirts. In the lawsuit, Zunar is asking for monetary damages for wrongful arrest, the return of his merchandise, and a declaration that the defendants had violated his rights.

Twitter: Cartoonist Bosch Fawstin was suspended from Twitter for “hate speech” after one of his Tweets was reported by another user. At first Twitter refused to tell him why, but then they told him his account would be unlocked if he deleted a Tweet reply that read “@NyaDnart1 There are degrees. Muslims who follow in Mohammad’s footsteps mass murder. Christians who follow in Jesus’s footsteps?” They subsequently reinstated his account with a statement that it had accidentally been caught in a spam filter.

Judge Dredd and Batman, by Jim Baikie

Passings: John Freeman writes of the passing of two notable UK comics artists: Jim Watson, who drew science fiction, horror, and battle stories for TV Century 21, Battle Picture Weekly, and many other comics, and Jim Baikie, who collaborated with Alan Moore to create Skizz for 2000AD and had an eclectic career in British and American comics.

Interviews and Profiles

Keep It Kosher: G. Willow Wilson explains why she introduced the Jewish character Naftali in her series Ms. Marvel, which has a Muslim main character.

The inspiration for Naftali, Wilson told me, first took root after it was pointed out to her “that we did not have an acknowledged, openly Jewish character in Ms. Marvel yet.” To Wilson, this was “kind of a sin against art and against life, given the fact that it’s set in New Jersey, which has a huge Jewish population. The suburb that I grew up in as a kid in north central Jersey was probably one of the only majority Jewish places outside of Israel.”

The easy fix would have been to introduce a Jewish backstory for a preexisting character. But Wilson did not want Jewishness to be tacked-on to her universe; she wanted it to be central to its characters, just as Islam was central to hero Kamala Khan. “There are probably characters already in the series that we could kind of say were secular Jews or had some Jewish background, and just drop it in,” she said. “But I was like, ‘No, you know what, I think it would be more interesting to introduce a new character who is a practicing religious person to whom things like ritual law and prayer were openly and obviously important, for the simple reason that we don’t really get a whole lot of that in superhero comics.’”

Comics to Film: Chuck Forsman talks about seeing his graphic novel The End of the Fucking World transformed into a TV show.

Bingo! I talked to Tee Franklin, the creator of Bingo Love, a story about two women who find love late in life. The comic was a Kickstarter sensation and will be published by Image next month.

The Biz

The Publishing Life: At ICv2 I interviewed Hope Nicholson about her publishing company Bedside Press, which just got distribution in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Hope has been involved in a number of interesting projects, including reviving the classic Canadian comic Nelvana of the North and editing themed anthologies such as Moonshot, and she has some interesting titles in the works for 2018.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

Looking Ahead: The AV Club’s Oliver Sava lists the comics he’s most looking forward to in 2018.

Convert Your Friends: Amy Estersohn lists 10 graphic novels for people who don’t like graphic novels (yet).

It’s Almost February: With Black History Month just around the corner, Martha Cornog recommends some graphic novels by and about people of color, and she points to some useful web references as well.

Best of the Year: The Advocate tallies the best LGBTQ graphic novels of the past year.

Best of the Year: Rob Salkowitz lists his picks for the Best Graphic Novels of 2017.

Best of the Year: The editors of The Comics Journal check in with their list of the best comics of 2017.

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