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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Comics Lowdown: Creator Eleanor Davis arrested in Georgia protest

Get today’s comics news and updates in new feature here at Smash Pages.

Cartoonist Eleanor Davis was one of eight people arrested at a Georgia Board of Regents meeting on May 16 for protesting the board’s policies with regard to undocumented immigrants. The University of Georgia does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend its five best schools and requires them to pay out-of-state tuition at the others. The protestors, described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “a mix of faith leaders and current and former University System of Georgia students,” were taken to the Fulton County Jail. Davis’s husband, Drew Weing, reported on his Facebook page that she had been released after the Georgia Civil Disobedience Fund paid her bail. Davis’s newest book, You & a Bike & a Road, has just been published by Koyama Press, and Slate ran an excerpt on Tuesday—showing a man being arrested at the border.

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Comics Lowdown: Retailer killed in Kansas City robbery

Get today’s comics news and updates in new feature here at Smash Pages.

Top News

• James Cavanaugh, the owner of Clint’s Comics in Kansas City, Missouri, was killed while attempting to stop a robbery at his store on May 12. According to the Kansas City Star, Cavanaugh was chasing a man who had just stolen about 10 or 15 comics from the shop, according to witnesses. He reached the thief’s car and pulled a gun; somehow the passenger side door opened and when the thief drove away, the door hit Cavanaugh, knocking him to the ground and critically injuring him. Police are still searching for the thief, who was described as a bald, 40-ish white man with glasses; the store posted a photo of the car on Facebook.

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Viz Media joins Comic Book Legal Defense Fund as a corporate member

Viz and CBLDF also release “The Manga Handbook” for retailers and libraries this week.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has added another company to its list of corporate sponsors — manga publisher Viz Media. Viz and the CBLDF released this week The Manga Club Handbook, available here, which is aimed at libraries and retailers so they can start manga book clubs.

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Smash Pages Review: The Monster Book of Manga: Steampunk

HarperCollins has been putting out these nicely produced manga-characters books for years, now, and they keep coming up with new subjects and genres.

The Monster Book of Manga: Steampunk
Edited by Jorge Balaguer

HarperCollins has been putting out these nicely produced manga-characters books for years, now, and they keep coming up with new subjects and genres.

Like all the Monster Books of Manga, this book focuses on one thing: Character design. If you’re interested in the basics of anatomy, draftsmanship, and storytelling, this is not the book for you. That said, it may be helpful for the artist who has mastered the basics and is ready to develop some new characters. It’s not so much a how-to book as a collection of examples, though. Balaguer has designed 39 different characters, from a robot to a firefighter to a Victorian lady, and he has given each of them a name and a paragraph of background information. There’s a lot of story in these little paragraphs, and he clearly has a lively imagination, but there’s no information on how to grow your own.

Balaguer takes us through seven steps for each character, from stick figure to finished drawing. Unfortunately, his step-by-step instructions suffer from a common problem: The distance between step 1, a stick figure, and step 2, a fleshed-out drawing of a realistic looking person, is vast. To the beginner, it’s like magic. Everything after that is basically finish—inking, shading, coloring, and adding rivets. Getting from a few sketched lines and circles to something that looks like an actual figure is the hard part—and this book is no help. (The solution is to spend a lot of time drawing from live models, but a book won’t help you there.)

Furthermore, for a book that’s supposed to be about steampunk, there’s precious little talk of how the characters are designed from the inside out, nor is there any attempt to make them seem logical. There’s more to steampunk than drawing rivets on every surface, but you won’t learn that here. Not only that, the rivets don’t even make sense—in some of the figures they not only don’t fasten anything, they would actually get in the way.

While these factors limit its usefulness, this book may provide a helpful toolbox for artists who are interested in the elements of different characters, or the details of how to ink, shade, and color different types of steampunk characters—and it’s certainly enjoyable to browse through it and see the different characters Balaguer has created.

Monster Book of Manga - Steampunk