Comics Lowdown: RIP Monkey Punch, Kazuo Koike

Plus: Bill Mantlo in need, halfway through ‘Saga,’ awards and more.

The manga community has lost two legends in April, as both Lupin III creator Monkey Punch and Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike have passed away. Both men died from pneumonia six days apart, and were once considered rivals when their respective manga ran in Weekly Manga Action magazine. They also worked together on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series that ran in the magazine in 1970.

Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, was 81 when he passed away. His most famous creation, Lupin III, started as a manga and was later adapted into six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and several video games. He passed away April 11.

In addition to Lone Wolf & Cub, Koike is also known for such titles as Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, Samurai Executioner and many other popular series. His work influenced many American creators, including Frank Miller, who drew covers for First Comics’ publication of the series. Koike also worked on a few western series, including a Hulk manga and an issue of X-Men Unlimited. He passed away April 17 at the age of 82.

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Comics Lowdown: Comic books sales up in 2018, Marvel top publisher; stalker sets cosplayer’s car on fire

Plus: ‘Drama’ drama with the Ottawa Catholic School Board! Faith Erin Hicks! Jed MacKay! And more!

The 2018 direct market numbers from Diamond are in and comic sales are ever so slightly up from 2017. Comics saw an increase to sales by 3.3%, but graphic novels were down by 6.6%. The combined sales of the two formats mean a wee increase of 0.6% for the direct market.

Marvel Comics increased their market share slightly to gain an extra 2% over DC Comics, who seemed to have flat lined and lost 0.3% of their market share. This indicates that Marvel’s market share gains mostly come from the expense of small publishers or independent comic sales, with the exception of Image Comics, who also saw a slight increase.

The best-selling graphic novel of the year was Infinity Gauntlet. The 1991 story is enjoying a revival because of the Avengers: Infinity War movie. The best-selling comics was Action #1000, a landmark issue featuring unpublished artwork by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan and the introduction of writer Brain Michael Bendis to the DC universe.

Complete lists and more insight are available on comichron.com.

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For the first time, a graphic novel makes the longlist for the Man Booker Prize

Nick Drnaso’s ‘Sabrina,’ published by Drawn and Quarterly and Granta Books, up for the prestigious prize this year.

Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, published by Drawn and Quarterly and Granta Books, has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize — the first such nomination for a graphic novel.

A baker’s dozen of books made the prize’s longlist, with the shortlist due out in September. The final winner will be announced in October.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded every year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK. Established in 1969, the award includes £50,000 in prize money as well as the £2,500 awarded to each of the shortlisted authors.

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Drawn and Quarterly announces 2018 titles

New graphic novels by Shigeru Mizuki, Rina Ayuyang, Nick Drnaso, Matthew Thurber and more.

At Comic-Con International on Saturday, Drawn and Quarterly shared their spring/summer line-up for 2018, which includes titles from Matthew Thurber, Nick Drnaso, Shigeru Mizuki, Rina Ayuyang and more. Here’s a rundown of what they shared:

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