Comics Lowdown | Creators file class action suit against Action Lab Entertainment

Plus: News on TOON Books, Image Comics, Archie’s new editor-in-chief and more!

Nearly 40 creators have signed on for a class action lawsuit against Action Lab Entertainment and Action Lab president Bryan Seaton. Action Lab has published a long list of titles over the years, including Spencer & Locke, Princeless, Jupiter Jet, Midnight Tiger, Molly Danger and many others.

According to ClassAction.org, the 46-page complaint “contends that although Action Lab promised to print, promote and market creators’ works, report quarterly sales and income numbers, properly maintain social media accounts, and generally make a reasonable effort to sell comics, the company has largely done none of these things and even failed to inform creators when its office shut down ‘without reason.’”

Creators listed in the complaint include David Pepose, Rylend Grant, Jorge Santiago Jr., Jeremy Whitley, Ken Marcus, Tom Rogers and many more. You can read the full legal complaint here.

Legal: Comic Book Workers United, the newly formed union representing workers at Image Comics, has filed a complaint against the publisher, which can be found on the National Labor Relations Board website. The complaint alleges that Image Comics “retaliated against bargaining unit members and Image Comic employees” and “interfered with the exercise of bargaining unit members’ and Image Comic employees’ Section 7 rights by intentionally disseminating misinformation.” The case has been assigned an investigator.

The Biz

3×4 by Ivan Brunetti, published by TOON Books

Acquisitions: TOON Books, which has published graphic novels aimed at kids since 2008, has been acquired by Astra Publishing House. Astra already has a TOON Books page up on their website.

“TOON has established a reputation as the foremost publisher of comics for early readers and, with its graphic novels for middle graders, rounds out the offerings from ABFYR’s now seven very distinguished children’s book imprints in a most organic way,” said Leying Jiang, president and chief financial officer, Astra Publishing House, in the press release about the acquisition. “Board books, picture books, nonfiction, history, poetry, early readers, middle grade, young adult, and now comic books and graphic novels, ABFYR offers something for literally every young reader’s age and interests.”

Archie Editor-in-Chief Mike Pellerito

People: Archie Comics has named veteran Archie editor Mike Pellerito as their new editor-in-chief. Pellerito is only the fourth person to hold this role at Archie in its 80-year history. While Jamie L. Rotante, Archie’s Senior Director of Editorial, will focus more on projects aimed at the direct market, Pellerito will focus more on stories in the “Archie Comics house style,” like their Jumbo Digest line.

“It’s an honor to be named Archie’s new Editor-in-Chief, as I worked under our previous E-i-C Victor Gorelick for many years, and grew to cherish the time we had together and our friendship,” Pellerito said in a press release. “The Archie Comics characters have always felt like they’re living, breathing, people to me, and it’s my job to make sure that our fans and readers continue to connect with them and feel the same way, so stepping into this role feels like coming home again, even though I never left! Whether it’s your first time reading an Archie Digest that you bought at the grocery store check-out aisle or if you’re a die-hard fan picking up the Archie Meets Riverdale crossover from a comic shop, every time you flip open the cover it should feel like you’re visiting a group of friends that you’ve known forever. I’m so grateful to Jon and everyone at Archie for this opportunity to continue to shine a light on the company’s legacy and build on what came before as we reach new heights and bring in new readers.”

Distributors: Happy 40th anniversary to Diamond Comics Distributors.

Banned Books

I hate having to give this its own section, but that’s where we are.

More on Maus: Mother Jones’ David Corn has an extensive breakdown of the minutes from the McMinn County, Tennessee, school board meeting that led to Maus being removed from being taught in an eighth-grade module on the Holocaust. The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, reports on the graphic novel’s jump on Amazon’s sales chart. Also, if you missed it, I’d recommend this open letter to the McMinn school board by The Beat’s Gregory Paul Silber, and also this piece from Kiel Phegley’s newsletter.

Cartoonists against censorship: The Nib has posted two recent comics that relate to this issue. First Nate Powell, artist of March, shares some of the early reactions the creative team heard about that book and what they did to counter them. Second, six cartoonists shared strips about their favorite banned books, including Fun Home and Maus.

Banned in Texas: After filing several public information requests, NBC News shared a list of 50 books that parents have asked to be banned around the state, a list that includes Fun Home, Drama, Gender Queer, This One Summer and more. They also share the reasons shared by the parents in their requests to have them removed.

Banned Book Club: This article’s a little old, but I wanted to end this section with something positive: a group of eighth graders in Kutztown, Pennsylvania have started a banned book club. “I wanted to make sure teens have access to books that they can personally relate to or have interest in and not to let groups in our community dictate what we can and cannot read,” said the group’s founder.

Awards

Awards: Congratulations to Astrid Goldsmith, the winner of this year’s Cape/Observer/Comica award for emerging cartoonists, presented by The Guardian. You can read her winning “graphic short story,” titled “A Funeral in Freiburg,” at the Guardian website.

Awards: The American Library Association released their annual list of awards for kid’s books last week, and a few graphic novels made the list: Lore Olympus won an Alex Award, while Beak & Ally #1: Unlikely Friends was named a Geisel Honor Books and Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero was a silver medalist in the young adult category for the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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