Smash Pages Q&A: Melanie Gillman

The creator discusses ‘As the Crow Flies,’ now available from Iron Circus Comics, as well as the upcoming ‘Stage Dreams,’ Colorado, colored pencils and more.

Since it launched in 2012, As the Crow Flies has been a webcomic beloved by many people. Drawn in colored pencil by Melanie Gillman, the comic tells the story of Charlie, a black queer 13 year old on an all-white Christian youth backpacking trip. It is not just a striking beautiful comic that looks like nothing else, but it tells an important story in a thoughtful, nuanced way. It is a story of identity and religion, community and discrimination with a cast of real, relatable and beautifully drawn characters.

Gillman just finished writing a run of Steven Universe comics for BOOM! Studios and has already announced their next project, Stage Dreams, a graphic novel that Gillman described as a “queer western romance adventure story.” The first half of As the Crow Flies was just published in a print edition by Iron Circus Comics and Gillman was kind enough to talk about writing, life, Colorado and colored pencils.

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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: 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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Sunday Comics: The best of what’s online

This week, we’re starting a new feature: A roundup of the best comics we’ve seen online in the past week. If we missed something, let us know in the comments!

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comiXology announces ‘Originals’ line with new Valiant, Kurtzman and ‘Adventure Time’ comics

The digital comics platform’s new program features exclusive comic content for comiXology and Kindle.

ComiXology has announced a line of exclusively digital comics, teaming with BOOM! Studios, Valiant Entertainment and the estate of Harvey Kurtzman on new content. Called “comiXology Originals,” the comics can only be found on comiXology and Kindle starting next year.

“Our mission is to make everyone on the face of the planet a comic fan, and with comiXology Originals we’re excited to offer a range of content by diverse creators,” said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger in a press release. “It’s fantastic to be working with publishers across the spectrum to deliver great comics to comiXology and Kindle, offering fans stories that they can’t get anywhere else.”

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