Comics Lowdown: RIP Alfonso Azpiri

Also: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Gabe Soria, comics for Costa Rican kids, Shigeru Mizuki, ComiXology, Rocket and Groot prints

Alfonso Azpiri’s Lorna

Passings: Spanish artist Alfonso Azpiri, a frequent contributor to Heavy Metal magazine, died on August 18 at the age of 70. (The headline of the linked article gives an incorrect birth year.) From the obit:

Azpiri’s most famous creation was Lorna, a sexually insatiable space adventurer (often compared to Barbarella), accompanied on her travels around the galaxy by a pair of artoo-threepio-ish robots named ADL and Arnold. Azpiri will also be remembered for Mot, a more family-friendly series about a boy who has adventures with his huge monster companion.

His work was first published in Heavy Metal in 1984, and three issues of the magazine were devoted almost entirely to Lorna stories.

The Corbyn Comic Book (SelfMadeHero)

Corbyn Comix: When UK publisher SelfMadeHero announced they were accepting submissions for short stories about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, they got a “tsunami” of responses, according to publisher Emma Hayley. With his garden, his cat (named El Gato), and his hobby (jam-making), Corbyn offers all sorts of narrative possibilities, and the publisher is collecting the stories in an anthology titled The Corbyn Comic Book, which will be released during the Labour Party conference in September. The prime minister’s response to being re-created as a superhero: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Interviews and Profiles

Dark Blues: Gabe Soria, who has written several Batman comics, talks about his new graphic novel, Murder Ballads, a bloody tale about the music industry. The graphic novel is accompanied by an original soundtrack produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and featuring blues singer Robert Finley.

Mizuki’s Misgivings: In a recently discovered essay, written in 1967, the late manga creator Shigeru Mizuki complained that he had to write and draw stories about Japanese victories in order to sell his work:

“The stories I wanted to tell were of losing battles, but that was not possible,” Mizuki wrote. “Boys are only interested in reading about spectacles – up until the battle of Guadalcanal, or so.

“To make sure that a book sells, the content needs to be affirmative of war,” he wrote, according to the Asahi newspaper. “Drawing out your own thoughts and making money – the manga business does not work like that.”

At the time, Mizuki was churning out stories like “Kaiten, the human torpedo” for boys’ magazines, but the essay may mark a turning point, because around the same time he shifted to different subject matter, focusing on manga about yokai, Japanese spirits. Later he would write and draw Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths, which told the story of Japanese troops living in appalling conditions, and ultimately being sent off on a suicide mission, during World War II.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

Hey Kids, Comics! Katie Quirk writes about spending a year in Costa Rica with two kids who are avid readers; her parents sent a bundle of graphic novels every month to keep them busy.

The Biz

Digital Dilemmas: ComiXology CEO David Steinberger discusses how the company managed to keep its own identity after being acquired by Amazon three years ago—and had to give up one of its signature features, the ability to purchase comics in-app:

“That was the hardest thing we ever did,” says Steinberger of ComiXology’s attempts to win back customers’ trust after the switch. “We spent the first eight months with Amazon making it as easy as possible to go from a ComiXology website purchase to reading it on the app. But there’s no question it adds a click or two. We tried to respond with understanding, acknowledging when it’s harder for customers, and how to make it easier for them.”

Shopping and Merchandising

Groot, Baby Groot and Rocker prints by Mike Mitchell (image: Mondo)

Time limited Trash Panda: Mondo is offering gorgeous limited edition Guardians of the Galaxy prints of Rocket, Groot, and Baby Groot. But here is the catch: these giclee prints, by artist Mike Mitchell, are only on sale until Friday, August 25, 12 pm CST. Potential buyers will have to act fast before the death button is pushed.

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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