Comics Lowdown: ‘XIII’ creator William Vance passes away

Plus: Police investigate Mangamura, the world’s largest comics collection and more.

Passings: The Belgian artist William Vance, creator of the French-language series XIII, has died at the age of 82 from Parkinson’s disease. Born William van Cutsem in Belgium in 1935, Vance served a year in the military and then studied for four years at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. He began working for Tintin magazine (not the eponymous series, as stated in one obituary) in 1962, drawing four-page stories, and then launched the his first series, Howard Flynn (written by Yves Duval). He also was the artist for Bruno Brazil, and then he took over as the artist of Bob Morane, a series that had been started by Dino Attanasio. In 1984, he and Jean van Hamme launched XIII, a complex series partially inspired by Robert Ludlum’s Bourne character. Vance illustrated 18 volumes of XIII, which sold over 14 million volumes and was adapted into a television series. In 2010 he announced his retirement due to Parkinson’s disease.

Graphic Novels: First Second has announced a new YA graphic novel by Sarah Winifred Searle, The Greatest Thing:

Winifred faces her sophomore year of high school with dread until she meets a pair of queer, punky freshmen. They teach her how to modify her clothing to feel more comfortable in her skin, using pins and patches to create a suit of armor. These new friendships and the comic zines they produce together keep Win afloat as she navigates issues of body image, disordered eating, and depression. The Greatest Thing is a fictionalized memoir about the kinds of well-meaning moments and quiet mistakes that help a person figure out not just who they are, but who they need to become.

Legal: Japanese police are investigating the bootleg manga site Mangamura, which shut down in April but at one time was pulling in 100 million visitors a month. Readers were flocking in because Mangamura carried popular titles including Attack on Titan and One Piece, but now two of the largest publishers in Japan, Kodansha and Shueisha, along with several others, have filed criminal copyright complaints against the site.

Events: Inner Space pays a video visit to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Places: Alex Vadukul discovers a New York sports bar that has a little-known wall of work by famous cartoonists.

Collecting: Bob Bretall holds the record for the largest comics collection, with over 100,000 issues, and he has been buying and reading comics since he was eight years old—yes, he actually reads all the comics he buys. And it’s precisely because he does read so many comics that he’s OK with change—otherwise it would get monotonous:

“Some of my favorite books are the ones that have really pissed off a lot of other grey-bearded, old-timey comic book collectors,” he says, laughing. “I love Riri Williams as Iron Heart. I love Squirrel Girl. I love Jane Foster as Thor. And I am really, really happy whenever I open up the letters page and I see little girls or little boys with a picture of themselves in a Squirrel Girl costume. I love that they’re doing something that gets kids excited about reading comics and growing new fans.”

Digital Comics: Abhay Khosla critiques ComiXology’s browsing interface, which serves up alphabetical lists rather than suggesting interesting titles.

Publishing: Lion Forge has hired Carol Burrell as the executive editor for the Cubhouse kids’ line. As an editor at Lerner, Burrell introduced French comics to the American children’s comics landscape. ICv2 interviews Burrell and her boss, vice president and executive editor Andrea Colvin, about the middle-grade graphic novel landscape in bookstores and comic shops.

Publishing: Jason Thibault has created an infographic that sorts comics publishers into helpful categories.

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