Comics Lowdown: Legal woes for political cartoonists Ted Rall and Zunar

Plus: Hell’s Kitchen is trendy, fun and socially progressive comics, Alex Simmons and Erica Henderson celebrated, industry of immigrants

Legal: Political cartoonist Ted Rall has lost another round in his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times. Rall, a former freelancer for the Times sued the paper for defamation and wrongful termination last year, after the editors determined a blog post he had written about his treatment by the Los Angeles Police Department was inaccurate. The Times dropped Rall as a freelancer and published an editor’s note stating that the blog post was incorrect. Last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalin ruled that because Rall was a public figure, the editor’s note and any other articles about him are protected by the First Amendment. Consequently, Kalin granted the motion by the Times’s parent company, Tribune Media, to strike the complaint.

Legal: The Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar (pictured above) has filed a lawsuit against the government and the police, including 16 individual police officers, for seizing his books and T-shirts at a fund-raising event last December. Zunar had organized a “Tea with Zunar” event at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur on December 17, but before it began, police arrested the cartoonist and an assistant who was in charge of sales, and they confiscated 1,187 books and 103 T-shirts. Zunar and his assistant were released, but the merchandise was not returned. In the suit, Zunar alleges that the arrest and seizure were illegal and that some booksellers will no longer carry his books because of the fear they will be confiscated.

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Comics Lowdown: Businessman wins against Marvel, DC Comics to use  the word ‘superhero’

Plus: assistant principal fired for Pepe the Frog book, new Madefire/DC Comics digital deal, and the hunt for H. G. Peter photos

When Graham Jules (pictured above) wrote his book, Business Zero to Superhero, he had no idea he would end up in a battle against the two largest comic publishers in the world. When his book was about to be published in 2014, he received a letter from Marvel and DC Comics claiming the word infringed on their jointly owned trademark since 1979. Jules, who also studies law, decided to represent himself in the case. A two-and-a-half year legal case ensued and this week, the two comic giants decided to drop the case for “commercial reasons.” The entrepreneur estimates that he spent a total of £200 and 200 hours in writing letters.

“This is an amazing result. It shows that even the little guy can achieve something with determination.”

It will not be surprising if his next book is about being a superhero of trademark cases.

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‘Saga,’ Sonny Liew, Jill Thompson take home 2017 Eisner Awards

Ceremony honors legends, including Jack Kirby, George Perez, Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and Los Bros Hernandez.

Sonny Liew, Jill Thompson and the team behind Saga all took home multiple awards last night at the 28th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Saga took home four awards, including Best Continuing Series and Best Writer for Brian K. Vaughan, while artist Fiona Staples won Best Cover Artist and Best Penciller/Inker. Liew ‘s awards for his graphic novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, included Best Writer/Artist, Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia, and Best Publication Design. And Jill Thompson was recognized three times: for Best Single Issue/One-Shot for her work on Beast of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In, Best Graphic Album—New for Wonder Woman: The True Amazon and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist.

Several comics legends were also honored at the ceremony. Jack Kirby and William Messner-Loebs both received the Bill Finger Excellence in Comics Writing Award, while Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, George Perez, Milt Gross, H.G. Peter, Antonio Prohias and Dori Seda were all inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, created to honor those people in comics and the popular arts who have worked to help others, went to Joe Ferrara, for his work in prostate cancer awareness, and Mark Andreyko for curating the Love Is Love anthology after the Pulse nightclub shooting. Love is Love also won for best anthology.

Other awards presented at the ceremony include the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailer Award, which went to Comicazi in Somerville, Massachusetts, and the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award, which wnet to Anne Szabla, writer/artist of Bird-Boy.

Here’s the complete list of all nominees, with the winners bolded:

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Comics Lowdown: Walking Dead to end, Remembering Bernie Wrightson

Todd Klein walks us through Comic-Con. Plus: Robert Sikoryak parodies Trump, San Diego Police, beer for the thirsty con-goer.

And the winner is…: The Eisners are tonight! Our own Brigid Alverson will be live tweeting the awards show and the results on our Twitter feed @smash_pages. The Eisners are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Pacific.

Robert Kirkman with some pals (photo: Skybound Entertainment)

The Walking Dead will die: Creator Robert Kirkman has confirmed that the Walking Dead will have an ending. At the Walking Dead panel in San Diego, Kirkman told fans, “I think about two or three years ago, I had a pretty good idea for a definitive ending. I have known that since then and been working towards that, so I know exactly where I’m going and what’s going to happen when I get there.” He expects the series will wrap up in the next 2-3 years.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘Abadazad,’ ‘Ghost Rider’ artist Mike Ploog to retire

Plus: designing variant covers, Sonny Liew, Tillie Walden, Simon Hanselman, food in San Diego.

Veteran artist Mike Ploog, known to comic fans as the co-creator of Ghost Rider, announced he will be retiring after a 47-year career. His career began with Filmation, as a clean-up artist on Batman and Superman, and eventually was promoted to layouts. He moved onto Hanna-Barbera, continuing his layout work until he became the assistant to Will Eisner.

He made his comic book debut on Werewolf by Night in 1972. Since then, he was credited as a co-creator of Ghost Rider and notable artist on Man-ThingPlanet of the Apes and The Monster of Frankenstein. Later in his career, he did minimal comic work, but teamed with J.M. DeMatteis on Abadazad in 2004.

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Get great deals on this year’s Eisner noms in latest Humble Bundle

And the nominees are … on sale! Buy Eisner-nominated titles at a great price and help two charities while doing it.

With the Eisner Awards presentation set to occur at Comic-Con International next month, Humble Bundle is offering a great deal for two good causes in its latest offer. They’re offering 16 Eisner-nominated comics, including Black Hammer, Blammo, Hot Dog Taste Test, Faith, Beasts of Burden and Love Is Love, to name a few, in support of the Hero Initiative and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Helm’s Hasan and Caballero break out with Eisner nomination

Last June, the high fantasy series Helm launched through Crookshaw Creative’s website. Less than a year later, it has been nominated for a prestigious Eisner Award in the digital comics category alongside industry luminaries such as Colleen Coover and Chris Roberson. (See the full list of Eisner nominations.)

Writer Jehanzeb Hasan and illustrator Mauricio Caballero’s enthusiasm for their work is infectious. We talked about creating a high fantasy world that mixes steampunk, the comic’s video game origins, the animation-style look and feel of Helm, and plans for a print edition. We also talked about coffee as inspiration and Scarlett Johansson.

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Sonny Liew, ‘Kill or Be Killed,’ ‘Saga’ top this year’s Eisner nomination list

Fantagraphics and Image Comics receive 20 nominations each.

Comic-Con International has announced the nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards, presented annually in San Diego at the convention.

Sonny Liew’s The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye tops the list with six nominations, while Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga tied with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Kill or Be Killed tied with four nominations each. On the publisher front, Fantagraphics and Image Comics both received 20 nominations each, the most of any publisher.

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‘Southern Bastards,’ ‘Paper Girls’ and more take home 2016 Eisner awards

Other winners include ‘Bandette,’ ‘March Book 2,’ ‘Two Brothers’ and ‘Over the Garden Wall.’

Both Southern Bastards and Paper Girls took home multiple awards last night at the 28th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Southern Bastards won for best continuing series, while Jason Aaron took the Eisner for Best Writer. Paper Girls was named Best New Series, while Cliff Chiang was named Best Artist. Other winners included Bandette, the second March book and Peter Kuper’s Ruins.

Here’s the complete list of all nominees, with the winners bolded:

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