Comics Lowdown: Charlie Hebdo, 3 years later

Charlie Hebdo survived the 2015 attack, but at a steep cost. Also: Phoenix Comic Con changes its name, museum exhibit focuses on photo comics, and retailers reflect on a difficult 2017.

The Long Con: The convention formerly known as Phoenix Comicon has changed its name and will henceforth be known as Phoenix Comic Fest. The reason? “In recent months, the use of the word Comic-Con, and its many forms, has become litigious,” says the official press release. “We would prefer to focus on creating the best events and experiences for our attendees.” This is undoubtedly a reaction to the court decision late last month that stated that Comic-Con International, the organization that runs Comic Con in San Diego, owns the trademark for the term “comic con.”

Three Years After: On the third anniversary of the deadly attack on their offices, the staff of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo reflect on the burden they continue to carry: Security for their office (which is in a secret location) costs over $1.5 million annually, and several of the staff have bodyguards; none of them feel comfortable traveling without extra protection or even going out with their families. The financial and psychological costs are taking their toll, and despite an initial burst of support, the magazine’s director, Laurent Sourisseau, wonders in a column in this week’s issue “How long will Charlie Hebdo be able to sustain such a financial burden?”

Fumetti at an Exhibition: An exhibit at the Mucem museum in Marseille, France, looks at photo comics, which in their heyday were a hugely popular medium that reflected the mores, aspirations, and taboos of their times.

Interviews and Profiles

Missing Persons: Writer Jay Faerber and artist Sumeyye Kesgin discuss Elsewhere, a fantasy tale about what really happened to aviator Amelia Earhart after she and her plane—and her navigator—disappeared. The first trade came out last week, and the series will pick up with issue #5 in March.

Local Hero: The Rochester, New York, paper interviews Nicholas Gurewitch, creator of the Perry Bible Fellowship webcomic, about his new graphic novel, Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little Death, in which the Grim Reaper features as a character. Gurewitch used scratchboard to create the art for the book, working on an ink-covered board and scratching away the black ink to reveal the white underneath, a process he called “reverse inking.”

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

Best of the Year: On Twitter, Lisa Hanawalt, creator of Hot Dog Taste Test, lists some of her favorite comics and graphic novels of the past year.

Manga: Not up for a commitment? At the Barnes & Noble blog, I posted a list of one-shot manga that range from romance to horror to self-help. All good stuff!

The Biz

Retailing: The clouds are gathering, as several retail shops have reported lately that sales were down in 2017. Challengers Comics + Conversation in Chicago posted a gloomy thread on New Year’s Day, saying

We are down 6.8% from 2016, and this is our lowest yearly total since 2013. October and December took the biggest hits. Overall it’s as if our 2017 only had 11 months of sales.

The dedicated a podcast to their 2017 sales, and they also posted a list of their top selling graphic novels of the year.

Retailing: At The Beat, Todd Allen writes about San Francisco retailer Mission Comics, which reported a drop of $72,000 in 2017, and he also looks at some of the common threads—Marvel sales are down, no breakout hit at Image, enamel pins doing surprisingly well.

Retailing: The London retailer Gosh! Comics posts a list of their top sellers of 2017.

Comings and Goings: David Brothers is now an editor at Viz!

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