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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Smash Pages Q&A: Eli Valley on ‘Diaspora Boy’

The political cartoonist discusses his first book from OR Books.

Eli Valley has been making comics for just over a decade. Unlike most political cartoonists, though, most of his work aren’t single panel comics, but rather long page-size comics intended for a broadsheet publication. In The Forward, +972 Magazine, The Nib and other publications, Valley has been skewering politics and individuals in hilarious, grotesque and inventive ways.

In these longer comics, which show the influence of EC Comics and other horror artists, Valley shows himself a gifted artist, though sometimes his own exaggerations aren’t nearly as grotesque as the actual words spoken by actual people that he’s skewering. Some of his comics have their own shock and awe, as Valley is not afraid to offend people or worry about people’s sensibilities. This has led to problems with some editors, he’s been denounced by individuals, but he refuses to shy away from controversy.

His first book Diaspora Boy has just been released by OR Books with an introduction by Peter Beinart. He took time out to talk about the book and how his work has changed in the past year.

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Feels good, man: ‘Pepe’ creator serves notice on copyright infringers

Matt Furie unleashes lawyers against the “Alt-Right” use of the cartoon frog.

Matt Furie is taking back Pepe the Frog—and he’s not holding back. Last month, the creator of the cartoon frog sent his lawyers after Eric Hauser, who had used Pepe as one of the lead characters in a painfully Islamophobic children’s book, and now those same lawyers have issued a flurry of cease-and-desist letters and DMCA takedown requests to other copyright infringers and those who host them.

Matthew Gault reports on Motherboard that cease and desist orders have been sent to Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, Tim Gionet (a.k.a. “Baked Alaska”), and the r/the_Donald subreddit. The C&D letters explicitly state that the next step will be to hit the infringers in the wallet:

Furie’s legal team makes clear that Furie plans to ask Spencer, Cernovich, and Baked Alaska for money in addition to demanding they stop using Pepe’s image: “After we have received confirmation that you have ceased infringement, we will contact you to discuss what additional information we need from you to calculate the appropriate amount of damages,” the letters read.

Furie’s legal team has also issued DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests to Amazon, Google Play, and Reddit, naming specific pages that host infringing images. Gionet’s book Meme Magic: Secrets Revealed, which has Pepe on its cover, is no longer available on Amazon, and Google Play has dropped his app Build the Wall: The Game. (Apple has already banned Pepe from its App Store.)

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Smash Pages Q&A: Alberto Ledesma on ‘Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer’

In his first book, Alberto Ledesma combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States.

Alberto Ledesma’s first book, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a pre-American Life combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States. It’s a deeply moving book that is very personal, but Ledesma is also interested in using his own story as a springboard to discussing other topics and towards a larger conversation. Ledesma has a love of comics, and makes clear in the book that keeping a sketchbook is key to how he works. It is a deeply felt, very political book that eschews narrative and seeks many ways to think about these political concerns and the artistic approaches of combining text and art.

The book is the first of a new imprint, Latinographix, part of Mad Creek Books at Ohio State University. Ledesma holds a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and works there today, but he’s very interested in starting a much wider conversation around these issues and how they relate to questions of American identity.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Shannon Wheeler on ‘Sh*t My President Says’

Wheeler discusses his collection of illustrations of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets.

Shannon Wheeler has been drawing cartoons that are sardonic, sarcastic, political, angry but also strange and funny with its own unique viewpoint for a long time. Like many people I first got to know his work with Too Much Coffee Man. In the years since then Wheeler has drawn books like God is Disappointed in You, written by Mark Russell, and Oil and Water, written by Steve Duin. He’s also continued to work as a cartoonist contributing to The New Yorker and other publications.

In recent months though he’s been working on a strange project, illustrating Donald Trump’s tweets. The result is a book just out from Top Shelf, Sh*t My President Says. Since the book went to press, though, Wheeler hasn’t stopped. He’s already made a zine supplement and continues to post the comics on – where else – his Twitter feed. We spoke about how he approaches Donald Trump and why the project wasn’t just parody.

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Comics Lowdown: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart freed from jail

Plus: Violent alt.right felon gets a comic, Zunar exhibit canceled, Box Brown and more.

Musa Kart Freed: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart was released from jail on a judge’s orders Friday, along with six other staffers from the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. Four others, including the editor in chief, remain behind bars, and the freed journalists are under judicial supervision pending the outcome of the trial. The journalists were arrested nine months ago on charges of aiding terrorist organizations; the arrests came shortly after a failed coup against the Turkish government and are widely regarded as an attempt to limit freedom of the press. Kart, who made an opening statement that drew laughter from the audience at times, faces up to 29 years in prison if convicted. The trial will resume on Sept. 11.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Cory Thomas on ‘Watch Your Head’ and more

Thomas talks about his long-running comic strip turned webcomic, his post-election editorial cartoon that went viral and his work with James Patterson on ‘Public School Hero.’

Cory Thomas remains best known for his comic Watch Your Head. First launched as a comic strip in 2006, Thomas relaunched it in 2014 as a webcomic, tweaking the story and characters, though it has remained the story of a diverse cast of characters attending Douglass University, a historically black university. He continues to update the comic occasionally, though a lot of his attention has been focused on other projects like the James Patterson book Public School Superhero.

Late last year Thomas got a lot of attention for a comic he made for Fusion titled “The Weirdness of being Black in White Spaces After the Election,” which struck a nerve with a lot of people from different backgrounds. Thomas sat down to talk about the response to that comics, the status of Watch Your Head, and what he’s working on now.

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Shannon Wheeler to live-draw Trump’s live tweets of Comey testimony

Follow the hashtag #shitmypresidentsays to see, well, what the president has to say in illustrated form.

Shannon Wheeler took one for the team and read all 30,000 of Donald Trump’s Tweets as research for his new book, Sh*t My President Says: The Illustrated Tweets of Donald J. Trump. And on Thursday, he will rise to the occasion again: Trump has threatened to live-Tweet his reactions to former FBI director James Comey’s testimony before Congress, and if he does, Wheeler will live-draw the live Tweets—”bringing vital new insight to these important contributions to American presidential history,” according to Chris Staros, publisher and editor of Top Shelf Productions.

To catch this first draft of history as it unfolds, follow @muchcoffee (Wheeler’s Twitter) or the hashtag #shitmypresidentsays.

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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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