Quick Hits | Medar de la Cruz wins the Pulitzer for the Illustrated Reporting and Commentary category

Plus: Cartoonist sue Google over AI, Civics for All Comics Group celebrates 2 million comics, Mark Evanier on who created Wolverine and more!

Medar de la Cruz has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in the Illustrated Reporting and Commentary category. The Brooklyn-based illustrator won for the illustrated story “The Diary of a Rikers Island Library Worker,” which appeared in the New Yorker last May. De la Cruz is an artist who also works in New York City jails as a library assistant for the Brooklyn Public Library. Phones and cameras aren’t allowed inside Rikers Island, so his drawings are based on his memories of the prison.

The other finalists in the category this year included Claire Healy, Nicole Dungca and Ren Galeno for “Searching for Maura,” which appeared in the Washington Post; “Is My Toddler A Stochastic Parrot?” by Angie Wang, which appeared in the New Yorker; and Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, for a “portfolio of deceptively gentle, mostly wordless cartoons full of juxtapositions that ably communicate complex, sophisticated messages.” You can see some of them here. Bennett also recently received a National Headliner Award, which recognizes journalism in a multitude of categories, in the Editorial Cartoon category.

This is the third year now where the Pulitzers have given awards in the Illustrated Reporting and Commentary category. It replaced the Editorial Cartoons category in 2022.

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Quick Hits | Free Comic Book Day founder prepares for the last event at the location where the event was born

Plus: The Comics Journal website has new editors! Frank Miller Presents and Abrams ComicArts strike a deal! Aurora Awards nominees announced! Plus news on Marjane Satrapi, Bubbles Con and a controversial ski town comic!

This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, an opportunity for retailers to not only bring new customers into their stores, but also to get media coverage. You can do a quick search of Google News to see all the local coverage the event has been getting, but this story in particular jumped out at me because it involves Joe Field, who came up with the idea of Free Comic Book Day back in 2001.

Field’s store, Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California, has been a staple of the community for decades, but will have to move to a new location early next year after their lease expires — making this Saturday the last FCBD at their current shop.

“We’re very hopeful and now actually pretty excited by what the future of Flying Colors could be,” Field told the San Jose Mercury News. “There are a lot of unknowns — like how many of our faithful customers will want to create a new habit of going to a different spot to support us? How many new customers can we cultivate moving to a different spot? How strong will the market for comics and graphic novels be over the next bunch of years? Can we afford to do this when we are already technically past the standard retirement date?”

Despite those questions, Field says they hope that “we continue to build community and continue to spread happiness through our comic book business. That’s when everything will be a success.”

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Quick Hits | Rest in peace, Jeffrey Veregge

Plus: news on Robert Beerbohm, layoffs at Marvel, Source Point Press, Scott Dunbier, Joshua Cotter, Earth-2 Comics and more.

Jeffrey Veregge, the award-winning Native American artist and writer whose work appeared in Marvel’s Voices: Indigenous Voices, on comics covers and at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, has passed away at the age of 50. Zack Davisson shared the news on social media late last week, while Jeffrey’s wife Christina confirmed it and said he died of a heart attack after a long battle with lupus.

“For 1025 days he fought lupus like the superhero we knew him to be,” her post reads. “The strength, faith, determination and courage he showed while being in the hospital for a total of 925 days was an inspiration to us all. He fought so hard for his family and his 3 children who were his absolute pride and joy. He will be missed more than words can express. This world was a better place because of him.”

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Quick Hits | DC is looking into whether Andrea Sorrentino used AI to create art for a recent ‘Batman’ story

Plus: Steve Ditko is a Disney Legend, Ngozi Ukazu, Denny O’Neil, banned books and more!

DC is investigating whether artist Andrea Sorrentino used AI to create some of the artwork in a recent Batman arc. Sorrentino contributed some of the artwork to the recent “The Joker Year One” story that ran in Batman #142-144, and that work has come into question as to whether he drew it or if he used AI in some capacity.

A spokesperson for DC Comics told indy100 that”DC Comics has longstanding policies in place that all artwork must be the artist’s original work. We are looking into the specifics of this situation.”

The concern was initially raised on social media by James Leech, who expressed his concerns that Sorrentino hadn’t drawn the artwork himself. “First off, there are the usual telltale signs – strange anatomy, errors a human is unlikely to make. The weird hands, Joker being insanely ripped in one panel and wasting away in another. His wandering nipples!” Leech said. “Secondly, there’s the style, which Sorrentino doesn’t appear to have used before outside of a couple of instagram posts. His other work is very distinctive – heavily photo-referenced, high contrast lighting. This is quite a departure from that. Not enough on its own, but telling.”

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Quick Hits | NFT collectibles company VeVe launches a digital comics platform

Plus: Dog Man teams with Little Free Library, the direct market at 50, Todd Klein and more.

Here’s another story coming out of Marvel’s South by Southwest panel in Austin yesterday — VeVe, an online collectibles site that sells NFT collectibles and artwork, has launched a digital comics storefront that now includes more than 300 titles from Marvel.

VeVe already has partnerships in place with Marvel, DC, Todd McFarlane and more to sell NFTs. Now they’ve expanded to selling digital comics that can be read in their app (much like Amazon), as well as “limited edition” versions of those same comics. These cost more but are collectible NFTs that can be sold in their marketplace and read using their augmented reality reader (which I’m very curious to see, especially if it can be used with the Apple Vision Pro). Each limited edition comic comes in a variety of variant covers, which apparently you buy “blind” and hope you get a rare one.

While Marvel is the only company currently on the platform, VeVe says they plan to expand that in the future.

“Being passionate readers and collectors ourselves, we recognized that digital comics fans have been calling for a more immersive experience,” said David Yu, CEO and co-founder of VeVe. “Our aim is to create a platform that makes comics discovery fun and easy—one that’s centered on function and design, fosters community and accessibility for all. We understood those pain points and created VeVe Comics to be the solution.”

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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.”

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Quick Hits | Whatever happened to ‘Tales from the Quarantine’?

Plus: A ‘Doonesbury’ controversy (maybe?), Image launches a retailer award, and a Seattle comic shop’s staff unionizes.

Crowdfunding | Broken Frontier has a lengthy article up where they talk with many of the creators involved with Tales from the Quarantine, a project spearheaded by Frazer Brown of Red Cabin Comics that was funded in the early days of the pandemic and was meant to raise money for the Hero Initiative and other charities. The anthology was supposed to feature comics by a long list of creators, including Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Rachael Stott, Charlie Adlard, Jim Zub and Max Dunbar, among others. Almost four years after being funded, the anthology has yet to materialize in print, with many angry backers wanting to know what happened and creators left with little answers themselves.

“It was a damaging situation for our individual reputations,” said one of the anthology’s contributors, Lucy Sullivan. “The way the project was marketed suggested we were all complicit in its concept and production rather than, the reality, that we all gave our time and expertise for free in aid of charity. The only recourse was to publicly state this. Of course that put me on the blocked list, off the contributors’ emails and potentially amongst those threatened with police investigation. It was really quite stressful.”

Visit Broken Frontier to read more.

Comic strips | A former Iowa State Representative went to social media to question why this Sunday’s Doonesbury strip didn’t appear in any Gannett papers over the weekend. The strip in question featured a Florida teacher sharing facts about the Civil War, while one student questions if it is still legal for her to do so — a very real issue in the state.

But did Gannett actually remove the strip because of the content, as Cracked.com suggests? The Daily Cartoonist says another factor may be in play here — Gannett previously announced plans to limit the comic strips offered to their papers to a set 34, and Doonesbury isn’t on the list.

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Quick Hits | Rest in peace, José Delbo

Plus: Amy Chu, Rob Liefeld, Frank Johnson and what the heck is going on with Cadence Comic Art?

José María Del Bó, known professionally as José Delbo, passed away at the age of 90 yesterday. The news was reported on social media by his grandson.

The Argentine comics artist career began in the 1940s as a teenager, with a science fiction tale that appeared Carlos Clemen’s Suspenso title. He left Argentina in the 1960s, migrating first to Brazil and then to the United States in 1965. He worked for Charlton, Dell and Gold Key, contributing art to many of their TV adaptations, including The Brady Bunch, Gentle Ben, The Monkees, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Yellow Submarine.

In the late 1960s, he began drawing comics for DC, working on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, World’s Finest, Batman Family and Wonder Woman, which he drew for about five years in the late 1970s. From there he moved to Marvel, where he worked on their popular Transformers comic, as well as ThunderCats, Captain Planet and the Planeteers and NFL SuperPro. He also worked on The Phantom and the Superman comic strips.

Together he and writer Simon Furman created Brute Force, a short-lived Marvel series that was intended to be a toy line, but that never came to pass. The series was revived a couple years ago as an Infinity Comics title.

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Quick Hits | ‘Demon Slayer,’ Dav Pilkey, Bill Watterson top 2023 graphic novel sales charts

Plus: ‘Monica’ wins in Angouleme, the Bram Stoker Awards ballot and more.

Pulling information from Circana BookScan, ICv2 has listed the top 20 graphic novels sold in 2023 in the superhero, manga and “author” categories. They’ve also posted lists of the top adult and kid’s graphic novels.

Looking through the lists (which don’t provide exact numbers, just rankings), it looks like the first volume of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge is the big winner, topping both the manga chart and the adult graphic novel chart. Or maybe I should say “a big winner,” because over on the kid’s graphic novel chart, Dav Pilkey rules supreme, as Dog Man and its Cat Kid Comics Club spinoff took 13 of the 20 positions, including the top 3.

Also, I’m not exactly sure how the superhero and author categories are defined. For instance, the Invincible Compendium shows up on the author list — which makes sense, given how popular the Amazon show is — with Robert Kirkman listed as the author. But I would have expected it to be on the superhero list, given it’s about superheroes and Kirkman isn’t the sole author.

Then for superhero graphic novels, IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin hardcover topped the list, followed by Tokyopop’s Nightmare Before Christmas: Battle for the Pumpkin King manga. I think you could make the argument that the Last Ronin is a superhero title, but the Nightmare Before Christmas manga seems like it’s in the wrong place. But maybe I’m misunderstanding the catgeories.

All that aside, sales numbers for comics disappeared during the pandemic when the industry went from a single distributor to multiple distributors, so seeing any kind of data like this is appreciated and interesting.

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Quick Hits | Posy Simmonds wins the 2024 Grand Prix at Angoulême

Plus: News on the Eisners, Brett Lewis, Bill Griffith and more.

British cartoonist and illustrator Posy Simmonds has been awarded the Grand Prix at France’s annual Angoulême International Comics Festival. Simmonds beat out Daniel Clowes and Catherine Meurisse to capture the prize, and is only the fourth woman to be awarded the Grand Prix in its 50-year history.

Simmonds, 78, has done it all in her career, including comic illustration, daily press cartoons, weekly comic strips, best-selling albums, children’s books and screen adaptations. Her debut graphic novel, True Love, is one of the first British graphic novels, and she went on to create the well-regarded Gemma Bovery, Tamara Drewe and Cassandra Darke. She began her career doing comic strips for the Sun, the Times and the Guardian, where she spent the majority of her career. Later in life, she would start creating children’s books, and her most famous, Fred, went onto become an Academy Award-nominated short film, Famous Fred.

“I always think in a perfect world, the gender of a prize winner shouldn’t be remarkable,” Simmonds told the Guardian. “But it’s an imperfect world and the comics and bande déssinée world has always been a masculine milieu, a bit of a boys’ club. But, bit by bit, especially over the last decade, women have infiltrated it, so I’m pleased to be one of them, of course.”

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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.

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Quick Hits | ‘Chivalry’ wins at the Locus Awards

Plus: #ComicsBrokeMe, Lambda Literary Awards, Hoopla adds manga and more.

Awards | Chivalry, the short story by Neil Gaiman adapted into a graphic novel by Colleen Doran, has won a Locus Award in the category of “Illustrated and Art Book.” The graphic novel, which was published by Dark Horse, was up against several traditional art books and a few other graphic novels like The Night Eaters in the category. Artist Charles Vess also won another Locus Award in the category of “Best Artist.”

Industry | Writing for the Daily Beast, Chris Kindred talks to several comic creators about the #ComicsBrokeMe hashtag that Shivana Sookdeo created after the death of Ian McGinty and the stories they shared about working in the comics industry.

“The act of creating hundreds of well-illustrated pages takes serious time, significant strain on the body, and mental stamina. So many of us have sustained significant damage to our health trying to make ends meet,” Sookdeo told Kindred.

The article also notes the creation of the Cartoonist Cooperative, a creator-run organization trying to address these issues within the industry.

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