Tom Spurgeon, RIP

Comics has lost its greatest champion and best friend.

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to say of a person that they left the world a better place than they found it. 

Tom Spurgeon did that. He did it with journalism, and he did it with humanity. He left us this week at the untimely age of 50, but he has indeed left us, the readers and lovers of comics, better off than we were when he first arrived.

His site, The Comics Reporter, has been an essential read for anyone interested in comics since he launched it in 2004. It covers the world of comics with incredible breadth, from  corporate superheroes to tiny indy comics, corporations to creators, manga to BD to what-have-you. For the past 15 years, it has been the essential portal to the comics internet. Much of it was simply links, but Tom published original content as well, including lengthy, Rolling Stone-style interviews and Bart Beaty’s annual reports from the Angouleme Comics Festival.

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Comics Lowdown: Outhungering ‘Hunger Games’

Brian Fies reflects on going through the California fires a second time, Jamal Igle shows how he draws a cover, J. Caleb Mozzocco explains War Bears.

Passings: Coila Davis, longtime editorial cartoonist for the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, has died at the age of 72.

Freedom of Expression: The nonfiction comics blog Cartoon Movement notes that they are currently blocked in China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

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Comics Lowdown: Rio mayor arrives too late to seize ‘Avengers’ comic

Plus: Lynda Barry, ‘Cathy,’ Brian Hibbs and more.

Censorship: The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcello Crivella, sent a team of law enforcement agents to the International Book Fair in his city to confiscate any and all copies of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, on the grounds that it shows a same-sex kiss. The mayor was concerned that it was “sexual content for minors” and would lead the children of Rio de Janeiro astray, but the joke was on him: The comic had sold out by the time his officers got there. The festival organizers took him to court and won an injunction against any further seizures or attempts to pull the festival’s permit, but the ruling was partly overturned the next day. “We will always continue to defend the family,” said the mayor, an Evangelical preacher, who apparently found a drawing of a kiss to be a more pressing matter than the fact that 40% of Brazilian children live in poverty.

Late-breaking addendum: Despite Crivello’s admonition that “Books like this need to be wrapped in black sealed plastic with a content warning displayed on the outside,” the daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo put the image on its front page.

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Dark Horse drops Brian Wood series after harassment accusation

‘Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat’ has been cancelled by the publisher.

The Beat is reporting that Dark Horse has cancelled Brian Wood’s upcoming series Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat following the revelation by writer and editor Laura Hudson that he harassed her repeatedly.

The Beat writer Samantha Puc wrote that when contacted for comment, Dark Horse responded “Effective immediately, Dark Horse will not pursue any new projects with Brian Wood. Dark Horse has cancelled the upcoming series Aliens Colonial Marines: Rising Threat.” The catalog page for the first issue is no longer visible on the Dark Horse website.

This is a significant move because Dark Horse has become the most important publisher of Wood’s work in recent years, most notably since the artist Tess Fowler accused him of sexually harassing her in October 2013.

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Comics Lowdown: Spiegelman withdraws essay after Marvel wanted to remove Trump reference

Plus: Hector Gonzalez Rodriguez III on the El Paso shooting, thieves caught selling comics to their actual owner; and more!

Marvel asked legendary comic creator Art Spiegelman to remove a line from his introduction for a new Golden Age comic collection for being too political. The essay refers to current president of the Unites States Donald Trump as an “Orange Skull.”

“In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America”

The graphic novelist decided to withdraw his entire essay meant for a Folio Society deluxe collection and published it online at the Guardian, fully intact, and added a few paragraphs at the end about his experience with Marvel, being edited, and about how CEO of Marvel Entertainment Ike Perlmutter donated $360,000, the maximum amount allowed, to the “Trump Victory Joint Fundraising Committee.”

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Comics Lowdown: Chelsea Saunders wins Locher Award

Plus Riverdale 10 years later, UK war comics reprinted, and a Scott Adams controversy… again.

Awards: Chelsea Saunders, whose work is often published at The Nib, is the winner of the 2019 Locher Award for emerging editorial cartoonists. Hit that link for some good reading, because the runners-up have a lot of talent as well.

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Preview: First look at ‘Snowpiercer’ prequel

Titan Comics will release ‘Snowpiercer: Extinction’ in September.

Here’s a preview to get your mind off the midsummer heat: A first look at Snowpiercer: Extinction, the prequel to the original Snowpiercer graphic novel… wait, it’s complicated.

The original Snowpiercer series was published as four volumes in French, with art by Jean-Marc Rochette and scripts from three different writers: The Escape, by Jacques Lob, The Explorers and The Crossing, by Benjamin Legrand, and Terminus, by Olivier Bocquet. When they were published in English by Titan Comics, The Explorers and The Crossing were combined into a single volume.

The series has an absolutely smashing premise: In a post-apocalyptic ice-ridden world, the remnants of humanity travel across the snow-covered landscape in a very, very long train. As in life, there are different classes with different levels of privilege aboard this train: The wealthy ride in luxurious quarters toward the front of the train, while the less well-off travel in squalor at the rear. What’s more, that train can’t run forever, so change is coming no matter what. When some folks from the rear start to move toward the front, the entire equilibrium is upset. The first volume was adapted into a film in 2013.

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PRISM Awards winners announced at Comic-Con

The Third Annual Prism Awards, honoring LGBTQ+ comics and creators, were announced at a panel on Thursday at Comic-Con.

The Eisners weren’t the only awards being handed out in San Diego this week: The third annual Prism Awards, recognizing excellence in comics by and about LGBTQ+ people, were announced at a panel on Thursday. The awards are organized by Prism Comics, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ comics creators.

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See you in the funny papers: Sunday Press joins IDW

Sunday Press, the publisher of such classic newspaper comics as Krazy Kat and Little Nemo in Slumberland, is now a part of IDW.

Here’s another of the cascade of announcements coming from Comic-Con International: IDW has acquired the small publisher Sunday Press, which specializes in high-quality collections of old newspaper strips. How high is the quality? Sunday Press has racked up 17 Eisner nominations, that’s how high (including this year’s nomination for their Thimble Theatre and the Pre-Popeye Comics of E. C. Segar).

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