Quick Hits | Idaho graduate offers her superintendent a banned graphic novel while accepting her diploma

Plus: Tom Luth, Bram Stoker Awards, Broom Hilda and the Ernie Bushmiller Society.

One of this year’s high school graduates from the Idaho Fine Arts Academy tried to hand her superintendent a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that was removed from her school’s library earlier in the year.

The ABC affiliate KVUE reports that Annabelle Jenkins, one of 44 seniors to walk at the graduation, brought the book with her and tried to give it to Superintendent Derek Bub as she went on stage to accept her diploma. Bub would not accept the copy of the book, so Jenkins then dropped it at his feet.

Jenkins, a volunteer at her local library and a lifelong reader, said an argument between a teacher and the school librarian brought the book to her attention. “It was over the graphic novel The Handmaid’s Tale and I was just so shocked because I had never seen school staff behave that way in a school setting,” she said.

The book ended up being contested and removed from West Ada school shelves.

“It is a book with a lot of heavy themes and it has some very difficult scenes to get through; it deals with a lot of sexual themes. I believe the word I heard being tossed around that book is ‘pornographic,’ which I very strongly disagree with,” Jenkins told KVUE. “My main issue is the teacher that was contesting it had not read the book.” Jenkins said she was protesting the fact that students weren’t included in the removal process.

The graphic novel, which adapts Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, features artwork by Renee Nault and was published in 2019. Both the original novel and the graphic novel have been challenged in several states, so much so that Atwood partnered with Penguin Publishing to produce an inflammable version of the book as a commentary on censorship.

Tom Luth

Passings | Mark Evanier reports that Tom Luth, the longtime colorist of Groo the Wanderer and other titles, has passed away. Luth was found dead from an apparent heart attack in his apartment on May 23 by his friend and fellow artist Phil Yeh.

Luth worked with Evanier and Sergio Aragones on Groo for close to 40 years, coloring the series as it moved from Pacific Comics to Marvel’s Epic line to Image Comics and then Dark Horse. Luth also worked with Stan Sakai — who lettered Groo — on Usagi Yojimbo, coloring the series when IDW relaunched it in 2019. He also worked on titles like The Badger, Nexus, MAD Magazine and more. Luth’s last work will be the cover to a Space Circus collection, a miniseries drawn by Aragones back in 2000 that Luth originally colored. The collection is due out from Dark Horse later this year.

Retailers | Zach Rabiroff speaks with Edward Uvanni, owner of the Hudson Valley comic shop Pure Folly, about closing his store — a popular refrain in the challenging world of comics retail right now. Uvanni also spoke about what he plans to do next — keep selling comics.

“Rents are crushing everybody. Sales are down in a lot of shops. I’ve been doing comics for 20 years, and I like selling comics. So if I want to continue doing that, we have to find a new way forward. How do we continue to do that? Right now it seems like the option is online with pop-ups. It’s going back to the old school con days, where your primary object is doing the con circuit, but obviously a little bit different with pop-ups, flea markets, and things like that,” he said.

Awards | Amy Chu and Soo Lee’s graphic novel Carmilla: The First Vampire has won a Bram Stoker Award in the “Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel” category. The awards were presented during StokerCon over the weekend; the ceremony is available to watch on YouTube.

Carmilla: The First Vampire was published by Dark Horse Comics in January of 2023 and features Carmilla, a vampire who first appeared in the 1872 gothic novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. She predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was published 26 years later in 1897. Chu and Lee set their story in 1990s New York in order to “explore themes of cultural identity, gentrification, homophobia and racism,” Chu said. A sequel is due from Dark Horse later this year.

Awards | While the annual Locus Awards don’t have a comics or graphic novel category, they do have an “Illustrated and Art Book” category that graphic novels sometimes sneak into. This year’s nominees include Home to Stay! The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories, one of Fantagraphics’ collections of old EC Comics stories; Megascope’s The Last Count of Monte Cristo by Ayize Jama-Everett and Tristan Roach; Voyaging, Volume One: The Plague Star by George R.R. Martin, adapted into a graphic novel by Raya Golden for Ten Speed Graphic; and Thalamus, Volumes 1 & 2: The Art of Dave McKean, published by Dark Horse Comics. Charles Vess and Abigail Larson were both nominated in the “Best Artist” category as well.

Comic strips | The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Broom Hilda as the longest-running daily cartoon strip by a single author. Russell Myers has been writing and drawing the strip since April of 1970, operating as a “one-man show” for the strip’s entire existence — which amounts to almost 20,000 strips.

Comic strips | J. Caleb Mozzocco has posted a lengthy and thorough report from Nancy Fest, a two-day celebration of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy comic strip. The event was held at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, Ohio last month.

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