Comics Lowdown | Texas school reverses ‘New Kid’ ban

Plus: Penguin Classics to publish Marvel classics, Joe Ollmann’s ‘Fictional Father’ nominated for Governor General’s award, and more!

Cover of New Kid by Jerry Craft

School administrators in Katy, Texas, have returned Jerry Craft’s New Kid to library shelves and rescheduled a video visit from the creator, according to NBC News. The district pulled the book and canceled the visit after a parent started a petition claiming that New Kid espoused critical race theory. The district told NBC that it had “determined the appropriateness” of the book, which was the first graphic novel to be awarded the Newbery Medal. In a statement last week, Craft said his intention was simply to portray children of color in a realistic setting: “Books aimed at kids like me seemed to deal only with history or misery. That’s why it has always been important to me to show kids of color as just regular kids, and to create iconic African American characters like Jordan Banks from ‘New Kid.’ I hope that readers of all ages will see the kindness and understanding that my characters exhibit and emulate those feelings in their day-to-day lives.” However, parent Bonnie Anderson, who started the petition, disagreed, saying, “The books don’t come out and say we want white children to feel like oppressors, but that is absolutely what they will do.”

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Comics Lowdown | Seuss settlement scotches mash-up

Plus: Politician under fire for threatening cartoonist, Al Plastino’s house is for sale, and more!

Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the creators of a Star Trek-themed parody of the perennial graduation gift Oh, the Places You’ll Go have settled out of court, and the news is not good for mash-up makers.

Johanna Draper Carlson has a quick summary, with links, at The Beat: Former Star Trek writer David Gerrold and artist Ty Templeton mashed up the Seuss book with Star Trek characters and themes to create Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!, which was supposed to be published by ComicMix. The famously litigious Seuss estate sued on grounds of both trademark and copyright infringement; the courts dismissed the trademark case in 2017, and in 2019 a judge found the book was sufficiently “transformative” and met the conditions for fair use. The Seuss folks appealed, and the parties settled out of court this week.

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Comics Lowdown | More ‘Gender Queer’ controversy

Plus: Tanzanian cartoonist arrested, NYCC manga news, and more!

Gender Queer Challenged and Defended: The Brevard, Florida, Public Schools have removed a book from the Melbourne High School public library because it contained “adult images that have no place in education.” While they did not name the book, Florida Today speculates that it was Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, which was the subject of a recent discussion on a local Facebook page. Superintendent Mike Mullins said that “BPS staff immediately agreed that this book violates our guidelines and that it has no place in our school district,” and he added that he has instructed the staff to check that there are no other such books in the school libraries. Gender Queer was also removed from the Fairfax, Virginia, public school libraries, but local station WTOP reports that students have pushed back: Over 400 students from across the district have signed a letter protesting the removal of the book. And in Williamstown, Michigan, parents are objecting to their children getting library cards because the book is in the local public library, according to the Lansing CityPulse.

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Comics Lowdown | Texas school district bans ‘The Breakaways’

Plus: Scout Comics launches Latinx imprint, Marvel’s legal battles, New York Comic Con and more!

Cathy G. Johnson’s The Breakaways joins the list of banned graphic novels making headlines over the past few weeks after Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas banned it from school libraries.

Spring Branch Independent School District, which serves part of Houston, told the Houston Chronicle that the graphic novel was removed from schools because it was “not age appropriate nor was it appropriate for its intended educational use.” A committee decided to ban it after receiving a letter from a parent.

The graphic novel is about a diverse 8th-grade soccer team that includes a trans character.

“The book includes kids of all sorts of identities to reflect the world that is around us,” creator Cathy G. Johnson told the Chronicle. “There is a transgender student who comes out in the book. He is just one of many characters who make up my book, as well as one of the identities that make up the world.”

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Comics Lowdown | Harvey Awards announce 2021 Hall of Fame inductees

Plus: Three new members join the CBLDF board, Noelle Stevenson’s Substack and more!

Harvey Awards logo

The Harvey Awards Committee have announced the five creators who will be inducted into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame this year:  Manga creator Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha); horror comics artist Bernie Wrightson, the co-creator of Swamp Thing; cover artist and painter Jeffrey Catherine Jones; artist Barry Windsor-Smith (Conan the Barbarian); and Michael Kaluta (The Shadow, Starstruck). The latter four formed an artists’ commune called The Studio in 1975; in his 2011 obituary of Jones, Tom Spurgeon explained its significance:

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Comics Lowdown | Graphic Novels challenged in TX, VA, WY

Plus: The latest on the supply chain woes!

It’s almost TOO on the nose that three book challenges involving graphic novels came up during Banned Books Week, but that’s exactly what has happened.

Cover of Jerry Craft's New Kid, showing a boy looking at a school notebook

Katy, Texas: The Katy school board has canceled a virtual appearance by Jerry Craft, after an online petition claimed that his middle-grade graphic novels New Kid and Class Act promote Critical Race Theory. TV news station Click2Houston has a good overview of what happened: After a parent complained, the school district put the Zoom visit on hold and pulled the books from the library for review, per their policy; they will review the books within 15 days and are trying to reschedule the visit outside of the instructional day. Kara Yorio at School Library Journal has more details on the backstory: The petition (since removed) urged the school board to cancel Craft’s appearance, claiming that “these books … are wrought with critical race theory in the form of teaching children that their white privilege inherently comes with microaggressions which must be kept in check.” New Kid has won numerous awards and was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal; both books are best-sellers.

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Comics Lowdown | ‘Prophet Muhammed’ cartoonist dies in accident

Plus: Adrian Tomine named writer in residence at Substack, Justin Wong Ciu-tat apologizes to Hong Kong police, and more.

Photo of cartoonist Lars Vilks
Lars Vilks (OlofE, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Breaking: The BBC reports that the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks has died in a car accident. Vilks, 75, has been under police protection since his cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed’s head on a dog’s body garnered him both international attention and death threats. He was riding in a police car that collided with a truck in southern Sweden. The two police officers in the car with Vilks were also killed, and the truck driver was injured. The local police say that while they aren’t sure yet exactly what happened, there wasn’t any immediate evidence that anyone else was involved in the accident besides the occupants of the two vehicles.

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Comics Lowdown | RIP Takao Saito

Plus: DC does NFTs, the Uffizi opens its doors to comics, and small publishers discuss distribution.

Cover of Golgo 13, vol. 8, showing a man holding a gun and smoking a cigarette.

Takao Saito, the creator of Golgo 13, died on September 24 at the age of 84. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. Saito made his manga debut in 1955 and launched Golgo 13, which follows the exploits of a taciturn hitman, in 1968. Volume 202 of the series has just come out in Japan, making Golgo 13 not only the longest continuously running manga series but also the one with the most volumes. Saito has said he would like the manga to continue after his death, and his publisher, Shogakukan, says the series will continue.

Comics at an Exhibition: The Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, Italy, is adding comics to its collection. The museum, which started out in the 1600s as the Medici family’s portrait collection, has commissioned 52 self-portraits by prominent Italian comics artists. The self-portraits will be on display in a special exhibit in Lucca from October 8 to November, 1, then moved to the Uffizio to join its permanent collection.

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Comics Lowdown | Marvel creators suit, CEO’s legal wrangles

Catching up with the Marvel court case, plus the latest on Ike Perlmutter, Scott Adams and Ben Garrison.

Cover of Marvel-Verse Black Widow, showing the title character wielding a glowing sword.

Marvel: In case you haven’t had time to digest the news that Marvel has sued several creators who had taken legal action to get the rights to their characters back, here’s the scoop from The Hollywood Reporter. If you have access, the New York Times talks to the lawyers on both sides.

Meanwhile, Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter has had a busy week. On Monday, the Military Times reports, the House Oversight Committee stated that Perlmutter and two others had “violated the law and sought to exert improper influence over government officials to further their own personal interests.” At the time, the three were “unofficial advisors” to Trump on Veterans Administration Affairs. Things went better for Perlmutter on Tuesday, when he succeeded in fending off a lawsuit by a neighbor, with whom he had quarreled over tennis courts, and who subsequently accused him of sending poison-pen letters to their neighbors and 1,000 prison inmates. If you like true-crime stories where all the crimes are petty misdemeanors, get comfy and settle in with THR’s coverage, which has plenty of links to the various tentacles of this story.

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Comics Lowdown | Action Lab accused of lack of payment and more by their creators

Plus: Joe Bennett, Ninja Turtles, Substack and more!

Action Lab Entertainment, the publisher of Spencer & Locke, Princeless, Jupiter Jet, Midnight Tiger and Molly Danger, among many other titles, has come under scrutiny on social media by a long list of creators for the terms of their contracts, soliciting comics that are never published, lack of payment to creators and poor communications.

At Women Write About Comics, Claire Napier rounds up a number of these allegations against the publisher, from creators like Jeremy Whitley, John J. Peréz, Tom Rogers and Nick Marino, among others. Napier focuses a good portion of her article on Gordon McLean, writer of Supermom: Expecting Trouble, who went missing in December of 2019 around the time that the first issue of his comic was supposed to come out — but according to sources, the comic was canceled and McLean was never told.

Action Lab President Bryan Seaton spoke with Bleeding Cool in a very brief interview on the subject. He talks about many of the speed bumps the company hit during the COVID crisis, but as folks pointed out on Twitter, many of these issues predate the pandemic. Seaton did note he has set up an email address, alecreator@actionlabent.com, that creators can use to contact them directly about any outstanding issues regarding a title.

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Comics Lowdown | Supply chain issues cause delays for DC Comics

Plus: Free Comic Book Day woes for New York library, Marvel’s vaccination comic, Osamu Tezuka and more.

Newsarama has reported that several titles from DC scheduled to come out over the next few months have been delayed due to supply chain issues.

“DC faces an unprecedented strain on the global supply chain, affecting all of us in the comic industry and beyond,” DC Marketing Manager Albert Ching said in a statement to retailers. “Up to this point, we’ve been able to keep delays and shortages to a minimum, but with recent notifications about COVID-related port closures, international and domestic freight delays, workforce shortages, and a severely allocated paper supply, we are unable to continue to manage this situation without disruption.”

Some Batman Day comics, DC has said, will be allocated to retailers as well due to these same issues, but

Supply chain issues have been in the news recently as manufacturers face raw materials shortages, transportation delays, higher energy costs and of course COVID-related issues. They are expected to continue into next year and will likely be exasperated with the upcoming holiday season.

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Comics Lowdown | All hail the king as ‘King Spawn’ #1 sells nearly 500,000 copies

Spawn continues its big comeback with big numbers. Plus: news on censorship in Texas, Tim Drake’s big revelation, Kim Dwinell, ‘Chickaloonies’ and more.

Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is coming back in a big way this year, as the creator launches a universe of titles built around the character. Spawn’s Universe #1 set a sales record for the 21st Century for Image Comics, and it looks like the first issue of King Spawn has already broken it, with a reported 497,000 pre-orders.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, that puts King Spawn #1 in the same neighborhood as DC’s Action Comics No. 1,000, which has pre-orders of an estimated 504,000 copies, and Detective Comics No. 1,000 with its 574,705 copies. So it’s a respectable neighborhood.

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