Comics Lowdown: Bookscan charts, female readers and the Big Two

Comics gets a wake-up call, Wonder Woman gets a long-lost brother and Ted Rall gets SLAPPed.

It’s like comics is going through its half-year review, and manga and kids’ graphic novels get high marks but Marvel and DC get a low “needs improvement.” Heidi MacDonald has a long but very readable article at The Beat summarizing what’s going on: Comics are thriving, but not monthly comics and not in comic shops:

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Comics Lowdown: Trolling the trolls

A cartoonist gets his career back, manga and kids’ comics are booming, and a con veteran offers advice for first-timers

Trolling the Trolls: Your bizarre read for the day is Emma Grey Ellis’s account of the strange career of Ben Garrison, a libertarian political cartoonist who became a sort of real-life Pepe the Frog after alt-right trolls started altering his cartoons to include Nazi imagery and seeded the internet with fake stories:

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Comics Lowdown: Bricks fly through one comic shop; Grant given to another

Plus: The mother of shojo manga, Naruto and real-life politics and more

Galactic Comics in Ocean Beach, California was vandalized. Screen cap from KGTV San Diego.
David Draize, owner of Galactic Comics in Ocean Beach, California, doesn’t know why someone hurled several bricks through his store window, but he’s grateful for the police response that followed. Security camera footage shows a man in his 40s or 50s, clad in black, throwing several bricks and cinderblocks through the store window at about 1 a.m. on June 12. Nothing was taken from the store, in part, Draize believes, because the police officers who responded stayed to guard the store till he could get there.

Amalgam University Gets Its First Grant: In happier retailing news, Ariell Johnson, proprietor of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to set up a programming space, which will expand the footprint of the store and allow her to create an “Amalgam University.” Johnson says that because she sells self-published work, she sees a lot of comics that have potential but are falling short in terms of craft. She hopes to offer classes to help those who can’t go to art school learn the nuts and bolts of making comics.

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Comics Lowdown: RIP James Vance

The man who finished ‘Omaha the Cat Dancer’ passes away, Frank Quitely finally gets that degree, and more.

James Vance

Passings: James Vance, the author (with artist Dan Burr) of the graphic novels Kings in Disguise and On the Ropes, died on June 5 at the age of 64. Kings in Disguise was first published as a limited series by Kitchen Sink Press in 1988 and in 1989 won the Eisner and Harvey awards for Best New Series, and the first issue won the Eisner for Best Single Issue. W.W. Norton published a collected edition in 2006, with an introduction by Alan Moore. The sequel, On the Ropes, was published by Norton in 2013. Vance was married to Omaha the Cat Dancer writer Kate Worley from 1994 to 2004, and many years later he collaborated with Omaha artist Reed Waller to complete the story, which was left unfinished at Worley’s death; it was published in 2013. Vance, who was also a playwright, talked about his work with Alex Dueben at CBR in 2013. His illness and death leaves his family in a difficult financial situation, so a GoFundMe has been set up to help.

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Comics Lowdown: The woman behind Wonder Woman

Plus: ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena’ returns, Red Planet opens in Albuquerque, Melanie Gillman, Alex Segura, Harley Quinn and more.

The Wonder Woman movie has lots of people looking at the history of the character and how she has evolved over the years. The Fresh Toast has a great interview with Trina Robbins, the first woman to draw Wonder Woman and a pioneering underground comics artist and comics historian as well. She’s a delightful person who has had a fascinating life, and this interview is a great way to start off your week.

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Comics Lowdown: Comics will break your heart

Plus: Jillian Tamaki on Q, Comic Nurse compiles HIV stories, Drawn to Change wins, Chris Ware, Captain Harlock returns

Today’s thoughtful read is a painful one: Maggie Umber chronicles the end of her marriage and the struggle to make 2dCloud a successful indy publisher. It’s a reminder that nothing is ever simple when viewed from the inside—she writes poignantly about the part she played in 2dCloud and the tension between that and her own career as a cartoonist, and the strain that put on her relationship with her soon-to-be-ex-husband Raighne Hogan:

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Comics Lowdown: Satire comic gets Warsaw Comics Festival in trouble

Plus: profiles on ‘Black’ creator Kwanza Osajyefo and ‘Top Ten’ artist Gene Ha, the Ledger Awards shortlist, and Montreal’s AstroBooks turns to crowdfunding to pay its tax bills.

The Warsaw (Poland) Comics Festival will lose three years’ worth of city subsidies, totaling $44,500, because a comic ridiculing Polish nationalists was distributed at this year’s event. Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki’s Poland: The Champion of Poland, lampooned nationalists, racists and anti-Semites, and that didn’t sit well with the local nationalists, who complained to the city council. The council released a statement saying, “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” and announced it would sanction the festival.

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Comics Lowdown: Armed man arrested at Phoenix Comicon

Plus news and updates on The Dark Knight III: The Master Race., comiXology’s Valiant High, Marissa Moss, These Machines Are Winning and more.

Police in Phoenix, Arizona, arrested 31-year-old Matthew Sterling at Phoenix Comicon on Thursday after being alerted that he was posting photos of police officers from inside the convention center and talking about harming the police. He told police he was the Punisher and could tell which police officers were good and which were bad.

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Battle Angel Alita returns in new digital and print graphic novels

Yukito Kishiro’s post-apocalyptic classic manga Gunnm returns to English audiences with a new translation by Kodansha Comics and Comixology Originals. Known as Battle Angel Alita to English audiences, it was first published as a serial in Shueisha’s Business Jump magazine in the 1990s. This re-release is a digital exclusive through ComiXology Original and is free today for ComiXology Unlimited subscribers.

Battle Angel Alita on ComiXology

Battle Angel Alita tells the story of Alita, a female cyborg. Parts of her were found in a scrapyard and she was eventually assembled into a mercenary hunter-warrior with no memory and then as a player in the brutal sport of Motorball. Memories of life on Mars begin to return to her during combat.

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