Comics Lowdown | S. Clay Wilson passes away

Plus: ‘Brzrkr’ orders, ‘Immortal Hulk’ #43, Stan Lee, John Porcellino and more!

Underground cartoonist S. Clay Wilson, creator of the Checkered Demon, Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, and numerous other transgressive characters, all of whom he wedged into his signature hyper-detailed panels, has died at the age of 79. Wilson grew up in Nebraska and eventually moved to San Francisco, where he was a contributor to Zap Comics and an integral part of the underground comix scene. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008 and the condition worsened in 2010.

Brian Cronin sums up his life and career at CBR, but if you really want to get your heart broken, read this 2010 interview with Wilson’s sister about his early work and how the brain injury affected him. And for a fuller appreciation of his art and thought, here’s a Comics Journal interview that was done shortly before his injury.

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Comics Lowdown | TCAF is back

Plus: Angoulême comics awards, Adam Ellis accuses filmmakers of plagiarism, and a look at the world of back-issue collectors and dealers

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, will return in May as a virtual event. The past year has been a difficult one; in June, TCAF co-founder and artistic director Christopher Butcher stepped down for both professional and personal reasons. This year’s festival will be online only, and it’s being run in partnership with the zine festival Canzine and the Toronto Hand Eye Society.

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Comics Lowdown | Youth Media Awards announced

Plus: Egyptian cartoonist arrested; columnist proposes banning MAGA wear at conventions.

Library Talk: The American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting just ended, and the big event, as always, is the Youth Media Awards—this is when the Newbery and Caldecott medals, and a host of other awards, are announced. For over 10 years, graphic novels have won some of these awards; last year, Jerry Craft’s Class Act won the Newbery Medal, the first graphic novel to be so honored. This year’s awards:

  • Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, with color by Lark Pien, was a Printz Honor Book (runner-up for the Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults);
  • When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy, was a Schneider Family Book Award honor book (for “books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience”);
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf and Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh were among the ten winners of the Alex Award for adult books that appeal to teen audiences;
  • Catherine’s War, by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel, and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger, was an honor book for the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated books.

On Twitter, librarian Matthew Noe took a tour of the virtual booths of all the comics publishers at the show, with a word or two about each one. If you are interested in learning more about comics publishing and who does what, this is a great place to start!

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Comics Lowdown | Special Nazi-punching edition

In an unprecedented week in American history, comics were all over the place.

After seeing a rioter in Captain America gear during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Neal Kirby, the son of Jack Kirby, has condemned the use of his father’s character by the far right. “Captain America is the absolute antithesis of Donald Trump,” he wrote, later adding “My father, Jack Kirby, and Joe Simon, the creators of Captain America and WWII veterans, would be absolutely sickened by these images.”

The problem with the Punisher: The Punisher’s elongated skull logo (and specifically, the version used in the 2004 film) has become an icon for white nationalists, Proud Boys and Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts. At Inverse, Eric Francisco offers a brief history of the alt-right’s use of the skull and Disney’s failure to assert its IP rights. At CBR, Cass Clarke summarizes the thoughts of Gerry Conway, who created the character. At SyFY Wire, Mike Avila calls on Marvel to retire the logo and “give the Punisher a makeover.” He also reached out to former Punisher writer Garth Ennis, who had this to say:

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ryan Estrada and Kim Hyun-Sook

Ryan Estrada talks about being a globetrotting cartoonist, and his wife Kim Hyun-Sook discusses the real story behind ‘Banned Book Club.’

2020 was quite a year for Ryan Estrada: Iron Circus published two of his graphic novels: Banned Book Club (co-written with his wife, Kim Hyun Sook, with art by Ko Hyung-Ju), which was published in both Korea and North America, and the middle-grade graphic novel Student Ambassador, co-created with artist Axur Eneas.

Banned Book Club received rave reviews, including starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. It was also a Junior Library Guild selection and made numerous best-of-the-year lists, including NPR, The Beat and YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Student Ambassador‘s debut was a little quieter, but it’s a very clever, insightful graphic novel and one of my own choices for best of the year.

Kim Hyun-Sook and Ryan Estrada. Credit: Stacy Shmittling

I interviewed Estrada and Kim via e-mail (they live in Korea) about Banned Book Club, Student Ambassador and the comics life in general.

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Looking Back | In Memory 2020

As we move into the new year, here is a look at some of the creators and editors who passed away in 2020.

We continue our series that looks back at the biggest news trends of 2020. Watch for more posts all this week.

In a year of losses, the passing of so many talented creators and editors hit especially hard. Here is a look at some of the comics people who passed away in 2020.

Ron Rogers, alongside a self-portrait (Courtesy of the Rogers Family)

Political cartoonist Ron Rogers died on January 20 at the age of 65. When he became the editorial cartoonist at the South Bend Tribune in the 2000s, he was generally regarded as the first Black editorial cartoonist at a daily newspaper. He was also the staff cartoonist for the Augusta Chronicle. Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1954, Rogers started his cartooning career as a freelancer for The Richmond Afro-American and Planet in 1980.

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Looking Back | COVID and Comics

The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 a bumpy year for the comics industry.

Today we kick off a series that looks back at the biggest news trends of 2020, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the world of comics. Watch for more posts all this week.

COVID-19 was already on the radar when I attended C2E2 on the last weekend of February 2020, but it was still just a vague shadow in the distance. There were only a handful of cases in the U.S., but we knew more were coming. Some folks Tweeted that they wouldn’t be hugging or even shaking hands, but most people went ahead anyway, happy to see old friends after a long winter apart. The folks at McCormick Place put in extra hand sanitizer stations. And since China was already coming out the other side of their epidemic, I spoke to a couple of publishers about how the brief shutdown over there had affected their schedules. Like many of the 95,000 attendees, I roomed with friends I hadn’t seen in months, had lunch and dinner with more friends, attended panels in rooms that held 200 or more, and walked around the crowded convention floor.

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Comics Lowdown | Waid/Meyer lawsuit settled

Plus: Court rules Dr. Seuss/Star Trek mash-up book not protected by fair use, ‘Batman’ #1 auction and more!

Legal: Comics creator Richard Meyer has dropped his lawsuit against Mark Waid, according to Waid’s legal defense GoFundMe page. The suit began in 2018 after Meyer announced that Antarctic Press would publish his comic Jawbreaker. The publisher reversed that decision after a phone call from Waid, however, and Meyer successfully crowdfunded the comic instead. He also sued Waid for “tortious interference with contract and defamation.”

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Comics Lowdown | Eisner judges announced

Also: Batman manga coming to Japan, Ohio legislators complain about anime text, and a chat with the creator of the ‘Sickos’ meme

Eisner Awards: The judges for the 2021 Eisner Awards have been announced: Retailer Marco Davanzo, who is the executive director of ComicsPRO); Shelley Fruchey, a member of the Comic-Con Board of Directors; Pamela Jackson, Popular Culture Librarian and Comic Arts Curator in Special Collections and University Archives at San Diego State Universit; Keithan Jones, founder and owner of the independent publisher KID Comics; Alonso Nuñez, executive director, and lead instructor of Little Fish Comic Book Studio in San Diego; and independent comics scholar Jim Thompson.

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