Comics Lowdown: Olivia Jaimes to appear at CXC

Plus: Kazu Kibuishi, Katie Green, Zunar and more!

Olivia Jaimes, the pseudonymous artist who has revitalized the comic strip Nancy, will be a guest at the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus comics festival in Columbus, Ohio, next weekend. There has been considerable speculation about Jaimes’s real identity, and CXC will be asking the 40 or so lucky attendees at her panel to check their phones at the door to protect her privacy.

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SPX, TCJ, OMG: A Hot Take

Brigid Alverson responds to a recent opinion piece on TCJ.com and shares her thoughts on comiXology/Amazon’s presence at this weekend’s Small Press Expo.

I know that contentious commentary is part of the The Comics Journal brand, but maybe it’s time to drop it. Especially because the latest article isn’t just mean-spirited, it’s straight-up wrong.

I am referring, of course, to RJ Casey’s recent post, ominously titled “A Plague Comes to SPX,” in which he warns that Amazon is poised to ruin comics.

I’m at SPX, and I went to the exhibitors’ reception last night, where, like everyone else, I got a copy of Hit Reblog, the book he disparages:

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Comics Lowdown: Russ Heath, Yim Yee-King pass away

Plus: Jerusalem cartoonist fired over drawing of Prime Minister Benjamin Nettanyahu, comics at Walmart, Thi Bui and more!

Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.

In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.

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Graphic Medicine Conference: Whit Taylor’s keynote and a lightning round of cartoonists

Susan Merrill Squier, Ian Williams, Morgan Sea, Rachel Lindsay and more presented at the second day of the Graphic Medicine Conference in Vermont.

The big news of the Graphic Medicine Conference came Friday evening, at Susan Merrill Squier’s keynote address: Graphic Medicine is going to seek 501(c)(3) status, making it officially a nonprofit organization. When co-director Ian Williams told me this the next day, I thanked him -— up until now, I haven’t ever been sure what noun to use to describe Graphic Medicine. Is it a movement? A community? Now it will be a nonprofit organization, although there are still many details to be hammered out.

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Dispatches from the Graphic Medicine Conference: Day 1

Brigid Alverson reports from the scene of the 2018 Graphic Medicine Conference in Vermont, which is focused on graphic novels that describe the experience of illness and of being a patient.

I’m up in White River Junction, Vermont, home of the Center for Cartoon Studies and, for this weekend only, the Graphic Medicine Conference. Actually, the conference has two venues—it starts at CCS and moves to the Dartmouth medical school on Saturday.

Stephen Bissette giving the opening address at the Graphic Medicine Conference

The term “graphic medicine” may conjure up an image of a comic about healthy eating or the wonderful world of the circulatory system, but graphic medicine in this case has a more literary bent. It’s part of the field called medical humanities and focuses not on educational comics but on graphic novels that describe the experience of illness and of being a patient, embracing titles as disparate as Jennifer Hayden’s The Story Of My Tits, Ellen Forney’s Marbles and Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (I wrote a short primer on the topic for School Library Journal recently.)

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Comics Lowdown: Cartoonists entitled to freedom of expression in India

Parents fight to remove Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ from school curriculum, Hope Larson’s ‘All Summer Long’ and more!

Legal: The high court in Madras, India, has ruled that political cartoonists are entitled to freedom of expression, stating that since it is their job to sway public opinion, often by making fun of public figures, they should not be vulnerable to lawsuits:

Upholding cartoonists’ unbridled freedom of expression, Justice Swaminathan stated that the “art of the cartoonist is often not reasoned or even-handed, but slashing and one-sided.”

He went on to quote extensively from US Supreme Court Justice William Rhenquist’s celebrated judgement in Hustler Magazine Inc v Falwell (1988): “The political cartoon is a weapon of attack, of scorn, ridicule and satire; it is least effective when it tries to pat some politician on the back. It is usually welcome as a bee sting, and it is always controversial in some quarters.”

The judge and several other commentators made numerous references to American cartoons, including the New Yorker cover depicting Donald Trump naked.

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Comics Lowdown: Chinese authorities crack down on Rage Comics

Censorship: The Chinese government has banned rage comics (Baozou Manhua, or Baoman) channels from a number of online platforms, claiming violations of the recently enacted Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs. In addition to the censorship, the article discusses how rage comics migrated from 4Chan to Chinese youth culture and why this is important: They are now a big-money business.

Besides the shutdown of the various social media channels, the closure of the baozoumanhua.com media empire is a huge blow to its fans and creators. The website’s founder Wang Nima’s net worth is estimated to be around 4 billion yuan (±US$628 million), according to Daily Economic News (每日经济新闻).

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Comics Lowdown: ‘XIII’ creator William Vance passes away

Plus: Police investigate Mangamura, the world’s largest comics collection and more.

Passings: The Belgian artist William Vance, creator of the French-language series XIII, has died at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. Born William van Cutsem in Belgium in 1935, Vance served a year in the military and then studied for four years at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He began working for Tintin magazine (not the eponymous series, as stated in one obituary) in 1962, drawing four-page stories, and then launched the his first series, Howard Flynn (written by Yves Duval). He also was the artist for Bruno Brazil, and then he took over as the artist of Bob Morane, a series that had been started by Dino Attanasio. In 1984, he and Jean van Hamme launched XIII, a complex series partially inspired by Robert Ludlum’s Bourne character. Vance illustrated 18 volumes of XIII, which sold over 14 million volumes and was adapted into a television series. In 2010 he announced his retirement due to Parkinson’s disease.

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Comics Lowdown: Looking at the big picture

Comics retailers discuss the comics market, Lion Forge profiled and more.

The Biz, Part I: It’s generally agreed that 2017 was a lackluster year (at best) for comics retailers. Publisher’s Weekly’s Shannon O’Leary went to the source, asking retailers in the direct market and bookstores with a large graphic novel section to discuss what’s going wrong—and right—in the comics market. There’s lots to chew on here, with commentary about Marvel, Image, and the structural issues in the direct market.

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