Comics Lowdown: ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ creator arrested on child porn charges

Plus: The Cartoon Art Museum gets a new home, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the largest X-Men collection, and much more!

The manga world was rocked on Tuesday when Rurouni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki was charged with possession of child pornography. Police didn’t target the 47-year-old manga-ka; they were investigating someone else when he turned up as a possible purchaser of child porn, and indeed he has been charged with possessions of “numerous” DVDs containing footage of nude girls in their early teens. In a deposition, Watsuki, stated that he “liked girls in late elementary school to around the second year of middle school.”

The penalty for possession of child pornography in Japan is up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 1 million yen, if convicted, but for Watsuki the consequences are already grave: His publisher, Shueisha, said it is taking the news very seriously and it has suspended his current series, Rurouni Kenshin: Hokkaido Arc, which he is co-creating with his wife, Kaoru Kurosaki; it has not decided yet what to do about the volumes that are already in print. Rurouni Kenshin started in 1994 and has over 60 million volumes in print; Viz has the U.S. license and has been re-releasing the original series in omnibus format, and is publishing the Hokkaido Arc simultaneously with the Japanese release.

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Comics Lowdown: Berganza aftermath

Reflections on the industry after the firing of Eddie Berganza, plus trouble ahead for Wizard World and new manga licenses from Anime NYC.

Sexual Harassment in Comics: Buzzfeed’s exposé of DC editor Eddie Berganza’s history of sexual harassment, followed by DC’s swift action in firing him (seven years after his actions were first brought to the attention of their HR department) has brought on a round of commentary in comics circles, where this story was well known and discussed for years. Strongly recommended: Caitlin Rosberg takes the broad view with a look at the structural of the comics industry and how the current power shields harassers and makes creators vulnerable. She goes beyond gossip to address the real issues. And if you’re still not clear on what we’re talking about here, BookRiot’s Jessica Plummer takes a look at the January DC, Marvel, and Image solicitations and names the harassers—with links.

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Missing the point: The Eddie Berganza story

DC brass protected Berganza at the expense of the women who worked there.

Right now, DC group editor Eddie Berganza is the comics industry’s poster child for sexual harassment, our own private Harvey Weinstein, thanks to a Buzzfeed article that brought the story of his misdeeds, and DC’s handling of them, to a wider audience.

People are calling for Berganza’s head on a platter, but they probably won’t get it. DC did in fact sanction him at the time: After he “forcibly kissed” a creator at a party during WonderCon in 2012, DC demoted him and banned him from conventions. When the incident hit the comics news, he sent an e-mail to his superiors apologizing and vowing it wouldn’t happen again. It’s conceivable that he actually did have some sort of epiphany and change his ways. He doesn’t seem to have repeated this behavior since, and it would certainly be difficult for DC to fire him now for something that was acknowledged and dealt with, however inadequately, seven years ago.

That doesn’t mean no one should be fired, though. What I find most alarming about this story is not Berganza’s antics per se but the way that the DC brass protected him at the expense of the women who worked there.

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Comics Lowdown: My Favorite Thing Is Comics

Awards, best of the year, comics journalism comics, and how the shift in retail channels is changing the industry.

The Best of the Year lists are starting to roll out. Katie Green’s Lighter Than My Shadow tops Amazon’s list, which also includes Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer and Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing Is Monsters. That book shows up on Publisher’s Weekly’s list as well, but the similarities end there.

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Comics Lowdown: One cartoonist free on bail; another remains in prison

Plus: Kickstarters, Leo Baxendale, and how Chuck Rozanski escaped poverty—with comics!

Indian Cartoonist Free on Bail: A judge in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadhu, India, has granted bail to cartoonist G. Bala, who was arrested on Nov. 5 for creating a “demeaning caricature” of several local officials. The cartoon critiqued the local government, including the collector, after a laborer and his family who were in deep debt to loan sharks set themselves on fire in front of the collector’s office. The entire family, including two children ages two and four, died of their injuries.

“The self-immolation and the burning children disturbed me a lot… I could not sleep for two days as if my children had charred. I had done nothing personal against the Collector, the complainant of the case against me. When he initiated steps for the ‘Wall of Kindness’ to help the poor, I felt so proud about him. When he failed to act on the repeated petitions of a usury victim, it forced a youth to take the extreme step that disturbed me a lot and I just reflected my agony through my caricature,” a visibly moved Mr. Bala told the waiting reporters while emerging from the court after being enlarged on bail.

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Religious police shut down Libya Comic Con

Police arrested “anyone with a badge” for corrupting youth, importing foreign influences, and inciting violence.

The Rada Special Deterrence Force (SDF), a religious police force that acts for the UN-backed Libyan government, raided the Libya Comic Con on Friday evening, shutting down the convention and arresting the organizers as well as participants.

“Anyone who was wearing a badge” was arrested, according to an account by one of the organizers, who asked to be anonymous, in the Libya Herald. Apparently the police assumed that anyone wearing a badge was an organizer, so participants and visitors were scooped up in the raid. While some of those arrested were released later that night, six members of the organizing committee remained in custody on Saturday. The organizer said that the police had beaten and shaved the heads of some of the attendees who were released, as well as giving them a religious lecture. “They were told that Libya was a Muslim country, not a free/liberal country,” he said.

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Comics Lowdown: Court strikes down gag order in ‘comic-con’ lawsuit

Plus: Top graphic novels, comics retail chat and two new manga from Jiro Taniguchi!

The 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a gag order imposed by a judge in the trademark lawsuit between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con is unconstitutional. The case stretches back to 2014, when Comic-Con International, which produces the San Diego comic con, sued the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con,” which CCI claims it owns. The Salt Lake organization countersued, claiming the term is widely used by other conventions and is a generic term. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 28, and because they were concerned that Salt Lake’s postings about the issue on social media would taint the jury pool, CCI asked that they be restrained from commenting publicly about the case. U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia placed a strict limit on what Salt Lake could post about the case, and limited that even further after CCI claimed that Salt Lake violated the ban. However, the appeals court overturned that order on Monday, saying,

San Diego Comic-Con has presented no evidence as to how many, if any, of the approximately 35,200 Twitter followers are registered voters in San Diego and Imperial counties and how many, if any, of the 120,000 attendees of the 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah are even possibly members of the current San Diego-area jury pool.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘One Punch Man’ tops GN chart

Plus: Another view of Marvel’s Northrop Grumman Comic, Palmiotti and Conner say goodbye to Harley Quinn, and was New York Comic Con too big?

Top Graphic Novels: Viz takes half the slots in the September BookScan top 20 chart, which measures sales of graphic novels in the book channel: Vol. 12 of One Punch Man was the top seller, followed by the all-in-one edition of Death Note (a 12-volume omnibus—yes, it’s a brick). Perennial best-sellers Fun Home, March, and Watchmen all make the chart, as does Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, vol. 3 of Tom King’s Batman: Rebirth, and Avatar’s limited edition of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’s Providence: Act 3. Interestingly, there is not a single Image title on the list.

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Comics Lowdown: Indian cartoonist Mohan Tadi has passed away

Plus: Seth Mann, Bianca Xunise, Mimi Pond, Noah Van Sciver, Peter Bagge and more.

Passings: Indian cartoonist Mohan Tadi, described by one admirer as “a humanist cartoonist” and another as “the first cartoonist to introduce European satire to telugu journalism” has died at the age of 67. (Telugu is an Indian language.) Born in Andra Pradesh in 1951, Mohan studied at Andhra University and began his career in 1970 as a sub-editor at the Vishalandra Telugu, a daily newspaper. He worked for several newspapers and as an independent journalist as well as a cartoonist; he was also the head of animation for Sakshi News.

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