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.

Koike’s last public tweet was in reference to Monkey Punch:

“40 years ago, in the first era of action manga, Monkey Punch was my rival, with Lupin III and Lone Wolf and Cub battling it out in a popularity war. At one point, we even teamed up to make the manga Secretary Bird Together.

I’m really going to miss him.”


Creator in need: Michael Mantlo, the brother and caretaker of Bill Mantlo, has started a GoFundMe page to pay off debt related to his brother’s care.

“I have been attempting to bring my brother home from the nursing home he has been placed in for the last 10 years, Michael Mantlo wrote. “It has been a difficult struggle, filled with numerous pitfalls and obstacles, but I gave my word to him that I would do everything in my power to make it happen so that he could live out the rest of his life with dignity, and peace. It has become painfully obvious to me in the last few months that the powers that be will not let that happen.”

Comics writer Bill Mantlo, who co-created Rocket Raccoon and Cloak and Dagger for Marvel, was injured in a hit-and-run accident in 1992 that left him with injuries requiring institutional care.

Interviews: Our own Alex Dueben chatted with the president of the National Cartoonists Society, Steve McGarry, about the organization in the lead-up to the annual NCS Fest and the Reuben Awards.


Halfway there: Saga creators Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples are currently taking a break from their award-winning series, which they revealed this week is now halfway over. Issue #54, which came out last July, serves as the series midpoint. Image Comics will release Saga: Compendium One, a collection of the first 54 issues, in October.

Apologies: Uncivilized Books publisher Tom Kaczynski has issued an apology for the preliminary subscription box cover art for Craig Thompson’s comic Ginseng Roots.

“Concerns have been voiced on Twitter over the preliminary cover image to our Ginseng Roots Box Set,” Kaczynski wrote. “Various parties on the internet called out the artist, Craig Thompson, over Orientalism present in the image.”

This isn’t the first time the artist has been called out for Orientalism, defined as “the representation of Asia, especially the Middle East, in a stereotyped way that is regarded as embodying a colonialist attitude.” Thomson’s graphic novel Habibi was met with similar criticism.

“We also understand that the cover image was not the only concern raised and we recognize these concerns as valid,” Kaczynski continued. “I am reaching out to a lot of people, members of the community, listening to feedback, and conferring with other folks involved with Uncivilized. Please give us a little time to figure out an appropriate response.”

Cancelled: Retailer orders for the planned ¡Lucha Explosiva! action figures that reimagined DC superheroes as luche libre wrestlers have been cancelled by DC Collectibles, with no plans to resolicit them. DC has not said why they were cancelled.


Winner: Darrin Bell has been awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning “for beautiful and daring editorial cartoons that took on issues affecting disenfranchised communities, calling out lies, hypocrisy and fraud in the political turmoil surrounding the Trump administration.”

The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna has written a great profile of Bell following his win.

Winner: Tillie Walden’s On A Sunbeam has been awarded the 2019 LA Book Prize in the Graphic Novels/Comics category. This year’s nominees also included Michelle Perez and Remy Boydell’s The Pervert, Eleanor Davis’ Why Art?, Aisha Franz’s Shit Is Real and Jérôme Ruillier’s The Strange.

Nominees: Pop Culture Classroom, the nonprofit that puts on the Denver Pop Culture Con and Reno Pop Culture Con, announced the Category Finalists for the 2019 Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards.

Nominees: The New York Public Library has announced the finalists for the 2019 Young Lions Fiction Awards, “honoring the works of five talented young authors.” Sabrina by Nick Drnaso is the only graphic novel among the five nominees.

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