Plus: News on Danica Novgorodoff, Lucy Knisley, ‘Gender Queer’ and more.
Events | The Comic-Con Museum has announced the latest character to be inducted into their Character Hall of Fame. Spider-Man will join Batman, Pac-Man and Wonder Woman. The induction ceremony will take place on July 20 during Comic-Con International. The museum will also host a Spider-Man exhibit, “Beyond Amazing,” starting on July 1, which will showcase art, costumes and interactive experiences featuring everyone’s favorite web-slinger.
Plus: News on Popeye’s new artist, Free Comic Book Day and more.
Passings | Fantasy artist Ken Kelly, whose art appeared on rock albums, book covers, magazines, video games and comics, passed away June 3 at the age of 76. Kelly was heavily in demand as a painter in the 1970s and painted the covers of two albums by the band KISS — Destroyer and Love Gun. Comic fans in the 1970s would know his work on covers for The Spirit, Vampirella and Creepy, and in the 1990s for some of the Star Wars titles when Dark Horse held the license. A cause of death has not bee reported.
The American Booksellers for Free Expression responds as politicians continue trying to ban ‘Gender Queer.’ Also: comiXology’s app is ‘annoying,’ the first graphic novel to win the Jhalak Prize and more.
Censorship | The American Booksellers for Free Expression “strongly condemns” a recent decision by a judge in Virginia that the graphic novel Gender Queer and the book A Court of Mist and Fury might be “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” Two politicians in Virginia are attempting to restrict access to the book by minors not only in libraries, but also in bookstores like Barnes & Noble.
Activism | In Washington State, students at Walla Walla High School responded to attempts to ban certain books like Gender Queer from the school library by forming a Banned Book Club. There plan is to read one “banned” book per month, and a local bookstore is giving them a discount on the books they choose.
The move comes a week after the Virginia Beach school board removed the book from library shelves.
Virginia State Delegate and lawyer is seeking a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools “to enjoin them from selling or loaning” the graphic novel Gender Queer and the novel A Court of Mist and Furyto minors without parent consent, according to Book Riot.
On his Facebook page, Tim Anderson, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, says he is seeking the restraining order on behalf of his client, Tommy Altman, who is currently running for U.S. Congress in Virginia.
“Today, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books Gender Queer and a Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors,” Anderson posted. “My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent.”
The bill bans lessons about sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade and prohibits lessons in other grades unless they are “age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.” Critics say the law could stigmatize LGBTQ+ students, and lead to bullying and attacks. The bill has yet to be signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but it’s just a matter of time, as the governor has expressed his support for it.
Plus: News on TOON Books, Image Comics, Archie’s new editor-in-chief and more!
Nearly 40 creators have signed on for a class action lawsuit against Action Lab Entertainment and Action Lab president Bryan Seaton. Action Lab has published a long list of titles over the years, including Spencer & Locke, Princeless, Jupiter Jet, Midnight Tiger, Molly Danger and many others.
According to ClassAction.org, the 46-page complaint “contends that although Action Lab promised to print, promote and market creators’ works, report quarterly sales and income numbers, properly maintain social media accounts, and generally make a reasonable effort to sell comics, the company has largely done none of these things and even failed to inform creators when its office shut down ‘without reason.’”
Creators listed in the complaint include David Pepose, Rylend Grant, Jorge Santiago Jr., Jeremy Whitley, Ken Marcus, Tom Rogers and many more. You can read the full legal complaint here.
‘Drama’ is once again at the center of school drama as the often-banned book is targeted by a conservative political group; this comes a few weeks after ‘Maus’ was banned in Tennessee.
Raina Telgemeier’s Drama, one of the most challenged books of the last decade, has been “quarantined” by a school district after a conservative political group complained it contained “obscene material.”
Polk County Public Schools removed 16 books from shelves and placed them in “quarantine” — that’s actually how they referred to it; I hope they gave it a mask — after County Citizens Defending Freedom complained that they violated two Florida statutes related to distributing obscene or harmful materials to children.
“While it is not the role of my office to approve/evaluate instructional or resource materials at that level, I do have an obligation to review any allegation that a crime is being or has been committed,” Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid wrote in the email to the Ledger. “It is also my obligation to provide safeguards to protect our employees. The district will be taking the following steps to ensure that we address this issue honestly, fairly, and transparently.”
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.
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.”
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.
Plus: News on ‘Fun Home,’ Vault Comics, IDW, DC’s new GM and more.
Not surprisingly, Dog Man has once again claimed the top spot on best-sellercharts for USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Indie Bound, Toronto Star, and The Globe and Mail, among others. It’s the ninth book in Dav Pilkey’s popular kids graphic novel series to land at No. 1 on the best-seller chart.
Censorship: The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcello Crivella, sent a team of law enforcement agents to the International Book Fair in his city to confiscate any and all copies of Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, on the grounds that it shows a same-sex kiss. The mayor was concerned that it was “sexual content for minors” and would lead the children of Rio de Janeiro astray, but the joke was on him: The comic had sold out by the time his officers got there. The festival organizers took him to court and won an injunction against any further seizures or attempts to pull the festival’s permit, but the ruling was partly overturned the next day. “We will always continue to defend the family,” said the mayor, an Evangelical preacher, who apparently found a drawing of a kiss to be a more pressing matter than the fact that 40% of Brazilian children live in poverty.
Late-breaking addendum: Despite Crivello’s admonition that “Books like this need to be wrapped in black sealed plastic with a content warning displayed on the outside,” the daily newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo put the image on its front page.