Quick Hits | Massachusetts police officer searched an 8th grade classroom for a copy of ‘Gender Queer’

Plus: News on IDW, Fantagraphics, Joe Sacco, Jim Lee, Chris Gooch and more.

In a chilling chapter in the ongoing culture war against LGBTQ+ books and graphic novels, several sources reported that a plain-clothes police officer searched an eighth grade classroom for a copy of the graphic novel Gender Queer in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The officer notified the school he was coming and was accompanied by the principal as he searched for the memoir by Maia Kobabe, which has topped the most banned book list for the last couple years. The search reportedly took place after school hours and was the result of a single complaint by a community member.

“Police going into schools and searching for books is the sort of thing you hear about in communist China and Russia. What are we doing?” Ruth A. Bourquin, senior and managing attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts, told the Berkshire Eagle.


Passings | Ian Gibson, the British comic book artist who co-created Halo Jones and Robo-Hunter in the pages of 2000 AD, passed away on Dec. 11 at the age of 77 from cancer. His son posted the news on Facebook.

“He loved all of you so much, and he always spoke of how much you all meant to him, continuing to draw right up until he could no longer hold a pencil,” his son said. “Your kind words have helped us through this dark time, and now my father has gone to be with the many legends he helped create I know that he will live on, in all of our hearts and minds as the hero he was to so many.”

His son has set up a GoFundMe page to buy a headstone for his father’s grave and to cover funeral expenses. At The Comics Journal, Tom Shapira writes an obituary for Gibson.

Passings | Artist Dærick Gröss Sr., an artist and painter whose comic work spanned companies like Marvel, DC, Image, Malibu and Innovation, passed away from cancer on Dec. 9 at the age of 76. His family posted the news on Facebook and also is crowdfunding to cover funeral expenses.

Gröss painted the comic book adaptation of Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat series that was published by Innovation Comics back in the 1990s, and also worked on Marvel titles like Excalibur, Domino and the Spider-Man CyberComics series. In 1991 he was named the Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer. He was also the creator of a comic strip called Trumpy that appeared on the First Comics News website; that site’s editor, Rik Offenberger, has a remembrance up of his friend.

Interviews | Kotaku talks with Under-Earth creator Chris Gooch about his new graphic novel In Utero.

Creators | Big Think interviews DC Publisher Jim Lee about his early life, his career, parental expectations and his love of comics.

Creators | Award-winning letterer Todd Klein has a great, long-running series on his blog looking back at letterers and logos of the past, but this one about Jim Novak caused a lot of discussion with the Smash Pages crew as we tried to figure out all the titles Novak referenced when creating the logo for the old Comics Interview magazine:

Anyone know where the second “e” came from?

Creators | Patrick McDonnell, creator of Mutts, has posted an open letter about the Guard Dog story I mentioned this past weekend.

I’ve been touched by all the comments on the MUTTS social media posts. I’ve always hoped readers would care about and relate to the MUTTS characters as they do their own furry loved ones. It is heartening that so many of you have written to say that Guard Dog (now Sparky) and Doozy inspired you to help a chained dog, or that one of your own dogs lived their life at the end of a chain until you gave them a loving, forever home. May this comic strip story open more hearts to help chained dogs.

He also noted that Guard Dog’s new name, Sparky, was a nod to Snoopy creator Charles Schulz.


Anniversaries | IDW Publishing will celebrate its 25th year in 2024, and to celebrate, their titles will include a special 25th anniversary logo starting in February. The logo was created by Nate Widick, IDW’s Director of Design.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the next evolution of IDW Publishing,” said IDW’s Co-Publisher Mark Doyle. “We have some great plans to celebrate the past while building towards the future! We’ve got an amazing lineup of talent we’re working with during this momentous year, from some of the biggest names in comics to new voices who will become the super stars of tomorrow. I’m so excited for fans to read these great stories and learn more about our plans.”

IDW will also begin releasing its own solicits catalog for titles arriving next year. The first edition is available digitally, and future editions will release both physical and digital versions.

Distribution | Fantagraphics has announced that they’ve signed with Lunar Distribution to distribute their graphic novels and comics to the direct market. Fantagraphics will still continue to partner with Diamond as well.

“We’re excited to partner with Lunar Comics Distributors and diversify our distribution to direct market retailers,” said Fantagraphics VP and Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds. “We believe that retailers should have multiple distribution options when making their purchasing decisions and by joining forces with Lunar, while continuing our longstanding relationship with Diamond Comics Distributors, we can best contribute to a healthy and robust Direct Market that has proven essential to evolution and vitality of the comics medium.”

Back in Print | Palestine by Joe Sacco, which was first published back in the 1990s before being collected by Fantagraphics in the early 2000s, is not surprisingly seeing a surge in demand right now given the current crisis occuring in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

“We blew out of our inventory of several thousand copies quickly and are reprinting now,” Fantagraphics publisher Gary Groth told The Guardian. “Retailers and wholesalers began ordering the book in far greater quantities than in the recent past, which indicates that every element down the chain – consumers and retailers – are expressing demand for it.”


Missed Opportunities | At Polygon, Susana Polo makes the case for the now-in-the-public-domain Jay Gatsby to become a Batman villain.

The “ultimate What if?” | Chad Nevett discusses at the recently released Batman: Robin Lives issue released by DC, which features the unused ending that saw Jason Todd surviving the attack by the Joker in Batman #428. Fans decided to kill Jason Todd in a phone-in vote, and Nevett notes that not much changed between the two takes: “Call it an incredibly crafted issue to allow for minimal disruption from a publicity gimmick; or call it for what it truly is: Robin’s death was immaterial to the story, even though it has grown to define it.”

The “faux-simile” edition is also getting a second printing by DC, which will include a variant cover featuring Jim Aparo artwork:

Homes with Style | I’ll end this edition with a link that will make my mother proud — one to Better Homes and Gardens, which has a guide on how to create a Scott Pilgrim-inspired room.

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