Comics Lowdown: Con wars, comics in Spanish, new kids’ imprint

Plus: Asterix, Jason Lutes, Derf Backderf, James Romberger and more!

Creator Talk: At The Beat, Matt O’Keefe interviews Chris Eliopoulos about his graphic novels (Cow Boy, Cosmic Commandos), his picture books (Ordinary People Change the World), the difference between comics and book publishing, and how he began his career as a comics letterer—his lettering firm, Virtual Calligraphy, still does a lot of lettering for Marvel.

A Life in Comics: James Romberger talks about his long career in art and comics as well as his newest project, the Jack Kirby tribute For Real.

Publishing: IDW has announced it will start translating some of its line into Spanish, starting with George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy (Nos Ilamaron Enemigo), which will be published in June 2020. Other titles to be translated include the first Sonic the Hedgehog trade and the children’s book Red Panda and Moon Bear.

Publishing: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has announced Etch, a new graphic novel imprint that will launch in September 2020; the imprint will encompass both middle-grade and YA titles, and will include some of HMH’s existing kids’ series (such as the Carmen Sandiego graphic novels) as well as a new edition of Ryan Inazana’s award-winning Ichiro.

Graphic Novels: Steve Bennett muses on why Asterix has never been as popular as Tintin, and whether Papercutz’ acquisition of the license, and their plan to do a new translation in American English, will change that.

Conventions: The third annual AnimeNYC went off this weekend, and it has proved itself a worthy competitor to the anime/manga component of ReedPop’s NYCC. In fact, from what I heard from people who went to both, AnimeNYC was a lot better. Erica Friedman declares it “the clear winner” at The Beat, while I did a roundup at Publishers Weekly and more details on new manga licenses from Denpa and Yen Press and Viz and Kodansha Comics at ICv2. However, the con wars aren’t over yet: ReedPop has just acquired Crunchyroll Expo.

Academia: Dickinson State University, in Dickinson, North Dakota, has hired archivist Rick Marschall to curate a digital collection of political cartoons about President Theodore Roosevelt as part of the university’s Theodore Roosevelt Center.  “The political cartoon can legitimately tell you so much more than a chart or a graph or a Ph.D. thesis about what made people tick and why the issues were so important,” says Marschall.

Review: Publishers Weekly has an advance review of Derf Backderf’s Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, due out from Abrams in April 2020.

Best of the Year: Michael Cavna shares his picks for the best graphic novels of 2019 at the Washington Post. The School Library Journal editors post their graphic novel picks at

Awards: Congratulations to Jason Lutes, winner of the Vermont Book Award for his magnum opus Berlin. This is the first time a graphic novel has won the award.

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