Comics Lowdown: Archie goes day-and-date on ComiXology Unlimited

Covid, ComiXology, and ‘Contradictions.’

Big news from Archie Comics, which this week began releasing all its comics on the ComiXology Unlimited service the day they come out. This is the first time a publisher, other than ComiXology itself, has put its comics on the all-you-can-read platform on the publication date. The Beat has a good piece putting this move into perspective, noting that Archie has been publishing fewer single-issue comics of late, and that these comics are also available day-and-date on the free (to the user) library service Hoopla.

IDW Entertainment has set up a new initiative within its Kids, Family, and YA division that will focus on developing original material for young readers. Erika Turner has been named senior editor of original content at IDW Publishing; she comes to IDW from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she was senior editor of their Versify imprint. On the IDW Entertainment side, Jeff Brustrom is the new vice president of kids, family, and animation, and Daniel Kendrick is the director of animation; both will work on developing animated properties.

Above the Fold

Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj was arrested and now faces charges of “undermining relations with a friendly country” for his cartoon mocking the treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The message: Don’t mess with the UAE:

Hajjaj’s arrest is more evidence of the deteriorating state of press freedom in Jordan, where police in July beat journalists covering a teachers’ protest. But it also illustrates the growing soft power of the UAE in the region. Jordan’s authorities would “rather abuse the rights of their own citizens than risk offending a Gulf leader’s feelings,” Human Rights Watch deputy Middle East director Joe Stork said in a statement calling for his release on Aug 28.

At left, the original scene from the webtoon ‘Bokhak Wang’ and at right, the modified version.

Webcomics, a.k.a. webtoons, are a popular and commercially important medium in South Korea, and recently several have come under fire for misogyny and belittling immigrants and people with disabilities. But in a country with a history of government censorship (see Kim Hyoon Sook and Ryan Estrada’s Banned Book Club for a first-person account of that), the Webtoon Association is pushing back, while the webtoon platform Naver released a statement but has taken a largely hands-off position with regard to editing content. And as a professor points out, Naver makes its money from web traffic, so it has no incentive to edit the comics that appear on its platform.

Covid and Comics

Where did things go wrong? Creators Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare) and Josh Adams (Doctor Who) lay out the timeline of the U.S. government’s failure to contain COVID-19 in Totally Under Control, a comic on the Insider website. The comic takes the reader step by step through the early COVID-19 response in both the U.S. and South Korea, drawing on a wealth of previously published information and synthesizing it into an easy-to-read narrative.

Suppose COVID-19 was anime? That’s the thought that got Malaysian creator Ernest Ng rolling with his webcomic Covidball-Z, which he posts on Instagram and has now collected into a book.

Talk to Me!

R. Sikoryak guests on the Virtual Memories podcast to talk about his new book, Constitution Illustrated, in which he illustrates the entire text of the Constitution using panels drawn in classic comics styles, mimicking everyone from the Golden Age greats to Raina Telgemeier and Alison Bechdel.

Japanese artist Tomomi Shimizu has been documenting the situation of Uighur Muslims in China in her manga, which include What Happened to Me: One Uyghur Woman’s Testimony, a first-person account by a woman who was held in a Chinese internment camp.

Journalist Sarah Mirk and artist Nomi Kane discuss Guantanamo Voices, which collects ten stories about the prison, all told in comics form. It’s a beautiful book about an ugly reality: “What I realized while working on this is there’s actually a really simple story here,” Mirk says. “We put a lot of people in prison and we didn’t put them on trial.”

Reviews and Commentary

Wondering what to read in November? Paul Gravett has some graphic novel recommendations.

At NPR, Etelka Lehoczky reviews Sophie Yanow‘s The Contradictions.

There’s more to the story of the Nutcracker than what you see in the ballet, and at Good Comics for Kids, J. Caleb Mozzocco reviews The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a graphic novel based on the original story,

The Biz

Solutions and Other Problems, the second book by Allie Brosh, creator of Hyperbole and a Half, came out yesterday.

Looking for some kids’ comics? I posted a roundup of upcoming titles from Scholastic Graphix at ICv2.

Marvel will publish a 680-page omnibus edition of Roy Thomas’s The Defenders.

Scout Comics has signed a distribution deal with book publisher Simon & Schuster.

First Second has announced the next title in its Maker Comics series: Maker Comics: How to Survive in the Wilderness.

Retailing News:

Tulsa: Mike McCormick, the owner of the oldest comic shop in the nation, Comic Empire, has retired, but the store will go on: McCormick sold it to a customer.

Houston: Meanwhile, Third Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Superstore, the oldest comic shop in Texas, is still going strong as it celebrates its 45th anniversary.

Boulder: On the other end of the age scale, My 4 Sons Cards, Comics & Games, which just opened a year ago, is relocating to a new location in downtown Boulder.

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