Quick Hits | Nirvana Comics in Knoxville wins the first Image Select Retailer Award

Plus: News on Rob Liefeld, Scout Comics, G. Willow Wilson and the Robert E. Howard awards.

Nirvana Comics in Knoxville, Tennessee has won Image Comics’ inaugural Image Select Retailer Award. The winner was announced this weekend at the Emerald City Comic Con during an event hosted by Lunar Distribution.

Images Comics announced the award last month as a way to recognize retailers “that are going above and beyond to serve their customers, expand readership and grow a healthier marketplace.” Customers were able to vote for their favorite store via an online form.

“This is such a huge honor,” said Grant and Jasmine Mitchell, co-owners of the store. “Thank you Image Comics for all you’ve done to help the comic shop industry. Thank you to all our customers who nominated us. Your support and friendship is why we do this everyday. The best is yet to come!”

According to Image, the shop was in the top tier of most nominations by sheer volume from “happy customers eager to pay it forward to the store they love.” They’ll receive several prizes from Image, including a commemorative medallion and their choice of a comic with a gold foil exclusive variant cover branded with their store logo.

“The response to this award was phenomenal with thousands of nominations submitted in just a few days,” said Alex Cox, director of direct market sales at Image Comics. “Reading that many testimonials from people praising their local comic shops was a great reminder of how amazing the comics community can be, and Nirvana Comics stood out as a prime example of a store that truly values their customers, and makes new fans every day.”

Publishers | Several creators have called out Scout Comics for nonpayment, non-communications and even threats of blacklisting if they complained publicly. Jarred Luján, the writer of the All the Devils Are Here, got the ball rolling, with several more creators chiming in.

Scout Comics has posted an open letter to social media in response, which says they “dropped the ball,” promises better communications with creators and claims they haven’t heard from that many creators on this issue. Luján’s tweet, meanwhile, has been liked almost 1,000 times as of today and retweeted almost 500 times.

Creators | Rob Liefeld talks with ComicBook.com about Last Blood, a comic he created, self-published and has been selling directly on WhatNot in limited quantities. The comics sold out quickly and are now going for “sky high” prices. Liefeld has not shared any of the interior artwork or even much about the story publicly, beyond the fact that it features several characters he created in the Extreme/Image days.

“The truth of the matter is, I just wanted to tell a story,” Liefeld told the site. “I wanted to tell a story that I could just do whatever I wanted. It didn’t even feel like Image Comics. Image Comics had a system that we fed. I’m just drawing these pages with some familiar characters, some new characters, and the story is starting to take on a life of its own and it’s talking to me. I was really going to make it only 23 pages, and then I made it 28 pages because when you’re printing to order, a 24 page signature is way more affordable than a 32 page signature. But I went, no, I’m going bigger. I’m going bigger because I’m going to keep telling this story. Then you send it to the printer and you go, ‘Is anyone going to want even buy this?'”

Creators | Ahead of this past weekend’s Emerald City Comic Con, G. Willow Wilson spoke to local NPR affiliate KUOW about her work on DC’s Poison Ivy.

“Poison Ivy is just such a fascinating character who gets, sadly, more and more germane every day given what’s happening with climate change,” Wilson told KUOW. “It’s a book whose time has come, and I’m just glad that it’s found its audience.”

Creators | The Comics Journal has posted an obituary for Italian comics creator Alfredo Castelli, creator of Martin Mystère for Sergio Bonelli Editore. Castelli passed away on Feb. 7 at the age of 76.

Creators | The Austin Daily Herald interviews writer Chad Corrie and artist Matthew Wendt about their work on Sons of Ashgard as they prepare to make the rounds in Austin, Minnesota on March 16. They’ll visit several local comic shops as well as the Austin Public Library’s Comic Con.

Cover of Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Banned Books | Rounding up a few recent stories on graphic novels being challenged, let’s start with some good news out of Brookfield High School in Connecticut, where the board of education voted to keep Alison Bechdal’s Fun Home on library shelves.

Meanwhile, in Milford, Connecticut, a middle school is considering pulling the graphic novel Heartstopper from shelves following complaints from parents that the content is not age appropriate.

The Times-Call in Colorado, likely seeing the book-banning trend sweeping the country over the last few years, spoke with local libraries in Boulder and surrounding areas to find that not many books have been challenged in the area. One of them that has been challenged isn’t one you typically hear about: the Italian comic Squeak the Mouse by Massimo Mattioli, which was collected by Fantagraphics here in the U.S. It’s kind of like “Itchy and Scratchy” without the network censors.

In New Jersey, Democrats are looking to pass the Freedom to Read Act, which would offer protections to librarians who may face harassment from overzealous citizens looking to ban books. The story quotes a poll that shows more New Jersey citizens are concerned about books being banned than they are about inappropriate content in said books.

Speaking of politics, the Oregon senate passed a bill that would prevent Oregon school districts from banning books simply because authors or characters are immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ+, disabled or from other protected classes. The bill now moves on to the Oregon House of Representatives. Similar bills have been introduced in Virginia, Washington, New Jersey, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Minnesotsa and Massachusetts.

Awards | Jim Zub, Roberto De La Torre, Dean White and Richard Starkings’ work on Conan the Barbarian for Titan Comics made the shortlist in the “literary achievement” category of the 2024 Robert E. Howard Awards. Meanwhile in the “artistic achievement” category, De la Torre and colorist José Villarrubia were recognized for their work on the ongoing series, while Mike Mignola and Francesca Baerald were both shortlisted for variant covers they drew for the first issue.

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