Comics Lowdown | Youth Media Awards announced

Plus: Egyptian cartoonist arrested; columnist proposes banning MAGA wear at conventions.

Library Talk: The American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting just ended, and the big event, as always, is the Youth Media Awards—this is when the Newbery and Caldecott medals, and a host of other awards, are announced. For over 10 years, graphic novels have won some of these awards; last year, Jerry Craft’s Class Act won the Newbery Medal, the first graphic novel to be so honored. This year’s awards:

  • Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, with color by Lark Pien, was a Printz Honor Book (runner-up for the Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults);
  • When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy, was a Schneider Family Book Award honor book (for “books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience”);
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf and Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh were among the ten winners of the Alex Award for adult books that appeal to teen audiences;
  • Catherine’s War, by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel, and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger, was an honor book for the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated books.

On Twitter, librarian Matthew Noe took a tour of the virtual booths of all the comics publishers at the show, with a word or two about each one. If you are interested in learning more about comics publishing and who does what, this is a great place to start!

Ashraf Hamdy

Legal: Egyptian cartoonist Ashraf Hamdy, the founder of the YouTube channel Egyptoon, was arrested early in the morning of Jan. 25. Hamdy, who is also a dentist, posted “I’m getting arrested” on his Facebook page. Jan. 25 was both the 10th anniversary of the Egyptian revolution and National Police Day in the country. Hamdy had been a cartoonist for the government-run magazine Sabah Al-Khair and the news website Masrawy, and his animated cartoons use the character “Emon Al-Majnoun,” or Crazy Emon, to critique Egyptian society. According to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, which posted the news of his arrest, his work is not overtly partisan.

Conventions: Jef Rouner makes the argument that comics conventions should ban MAGA apparel, as well as Nazi paraphernalia. Rouner points out that bad actors from the “alt-right” often use fan spaces to radicalize “normies” (see: Pepe the Frog, GamerGate) and that these representations are upsetting to many attendees and can even lead to increased violence and harassment. He points to an instructive example from, of all places, the furry community.

This thoughtful essay is well worth a read; it’s an example of the difficult conversations that will be necessary going forward, as the blanket notion of “free speech” must be balanced against the chilling effect of one person’s speech on another’s.


Jennifer Baker interviews David Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson about their new graphic novel, The Black Panther Party, at Electric Lit, and Sean Kleefeld reviews it at his site.

Paul Allor and Paul Tucker talk about their new horror comic Hollow Heart, a “queer monster love story” due out from Vault Comics on Feb. 17.

The Biz

New Publisher: Rodney Barnes, the executive producer of the Boondocks animated TV show and writer of Killadelphia, is setting up his own publishing company, Zombie Love Studios.

Direct Market: Using sell-through data from ComicHub, I calculated publishers’ market shares in comic shops for the fourth quarter of 2020. Marvel stays in the lead, with DC behind, but Vault makes it into the top 10 for the first time.

Reviews and Commentary


At the New York Times, Hillary Chute reviews Allie Brosh’s Solutions and Other Problems and Dan Mazur’s Lunatic: A Wordless Story.

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