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.

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‘Gender Queer,’ ‘Flamer’ among the most banned books of 2023

For the third year in a row, a record number of books were challenged in libraries and schools.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe was once again the most challenged book in libraries in 2023, as reported today by the American Library Association. This makes the third year in a row that the graphic novel about gender identity has topped the list.

Gender Queer was one of seven books in the top 10 that was challenged based on LGBTQIA+ content, along with two other graphic novels — Flamer by Mike Curato, which was the fifth most challenged book, and Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, which was the ninth.

“In looking at the titles of the most challenged books from last year, it’s obvious that the pressure groups are targeting books about LGBTQIA+ people and people of color,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski. “At ALA, we are fighting for the freedom to choose what you want to read. Shining a light on the harmful workings of these pressure groups is one of the actions we must take to protect our right to read.”

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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 | 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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‘Gender Queer’ once again tops the ALA’s list of most challenged books for 2022

For the second year in a row, a record number of books were challenged in libraries and schools.

Gender Queer, Maia Kobabe’s touching graphic novel memoir about gender identity, topped the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for 2022. It’s the second year in a row that Gender Queer has landed in the No. 1 spot.

The ALA’s annual top 10 list of the most challenged books expanded to 13 for 2022, which saw a record number of 1,269 book challenges for 2,571 unique titles (many challenges include more than one book). Most of the targeted books in the top 13 were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.

“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.”

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‘Gender Queer’ tops the ALA’s ‘Most Challenged Books of 2021’ list

Half the books on 2021’s top 10 list were targeted for including LGBTQIA+ content.

In a year that saw the highest number of book challenges in libraries and schools since the ALA began compiling data on the topic, the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe topped the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for 2021.

More than 700 book challenges — which are reported attempts by citizens and parents to have books removed from their public library or a school library — were recorded by the ALA, a record number since they began sharing data and making this list in 2000. This resulted in almost 1,600 individual book challenges or removals, as some challenges were against multiple titles.

“The 729 challenges tracked by ALA represent the highest number of attempted book bans since we began compiling these lists 20 years ago,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “We support individual parents’ choices concerning their child’s reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others. Young people need to have access to a variety of books from which they can learn about different perspectives. So, despite this organized effort to ban books, libraries remain ready to do what we always have: make knowledge and ideas available so people are free to choose what to read.”

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Ohioan launches ‘Banned Books Box’ subscription service

The first month’s box will include a copy of ‘Gender Queer,’ along with a lapel pin designed by creator Maia Kobabe.

Ariel Hakim, a librarian former library reference associate in Northeast Ohio, has put a timely spin on the subscription box idea with the Banned Books Box, which delivers banned books and graphic novels to your door each month.

And December’s selection couldn’t come at a better time; it’ll feature Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, a graphic novel that has been making headlines recently in Virginia, Michigan and Florida as school districts face a barrage of criticism from overzealous parents for including it on their library shelves. (Kobabe recently responded to critics in a write-up published by the Washington Post).

“Maia wrote this graphic novel that parents of high schoolers have found in the school library and been completely vocal about how offended they are by some of the images,” Hakim told Cleveland Scene. “Maia wrote it to explain to family members about what non-binary means. Maia came out as queer and then several years as non-binary. When I decided that this was the book I wanted to use, I emailed the agent to see about getting signed books, and we got some book plates, and then Maia designed an enamel pin that will be one of the pieces of the book box. I like the book a lot, and I think it’s entertaining and educational. I love memoirs. Just reading anyone else’s story written in a sincere way is something I will always enjoy.”

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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 | 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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Comics Lowdown | Alex Segura leaves Archie for Oni-Lion Forge

Plus: the comics industry loses two inspirational creators.

Alex Segura has left Archie Comics to become senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group. Segura has been with Archie for a total of about 10 years now, most recently as co-president, and worked for DC Comics before that. He’s also a mystery author and comics writer, on projects like The Dusk, The Black Ghost and Archie Meets the B-52s.

“While it’s been an amazing honor and privilege to call Riverdale my professional and creative home for over a decade, when Oni-Lion Forge approached me with this opportunity, I couldn’t say no,” Segura said in a statement to Publisher’s Weekly. “Getting the chance to help amplify the ever-expanding, talented, and diverse voices at Oni is a great fit.”

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‘Drama’ once again lands on the ALA’s ‘Most Challenged Books’ list

Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel continues its run on the yearly list of the most challenged/censored books.

The award-winning, best-selling graphic novel Drama by Raina Telgemeier has yet again found its way onto the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books list. The ALA released the list of the most challenged/censored books of 2019 earlier this month.

Challenged for “LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against ‘family values/morals,’” Drama has appeared on the yearly list five times since it was published in 2012. This year it came in at No. 8, sandwiched between The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

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Idaho school bans ‘The Walking Dead’

Despite a committee vote to keep it at the school, the district superintendent calls for the removal of the popular Image Comics series.

Wallace Junior/Senior High School in Wallace, Idaho has removed The Walking Dead from its library shelves following complaints from a teacher and parents.

According to the Shoshone News-Press, a teacher saw a student reading a volume of The Walking Dead during the 2018-2019 school year and objected to the content, including the “graphic language, violence and sexually explicit content.” Upon discovering the school library had several volumes of the comic, he took his concerns to the school’s principal, Chris Lund.

The principal then formed an 11-person committee that included students, staff and parents to review the material and vote on whether The Walking Dead should be removed from the school library.

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