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 | 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 | Dog Man once again rules the best-seller charts

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-seller charts 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.

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Comics Lowdown: Rio mayor arrives too late to seize ‘Avengers’ comic

Plus: Lynda Barry, ‘Cathy,’ Brian Hibbs and more.

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.

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Comics Lowdown: Comic books sales up in 2018, Marvel top publisher; stalker sets cosplayer’s car on fire

Plus: ‘Drama’ drama with the Ottawa Catholic School Board! Faith Erin Hicks! Jed MacKay! And more!

The 2018 direct market numbers from Diamond are in and comic sales are ever so slightly up from 2017. Comics saw an increase to sales by 3.3%, but graphic novels were down by 6.6%. The combined sales of the two formats mean a wee increase of 0.6% for the direct market.

Marvel Comics increased their market share slightly to gain an extra 2% over DC Comics, who seemed to have flat lined and lost 0.3% of their market share. This indicates that Marvel’s market share gains mostly come from the expense of small publishers or independent comic sales, with the exception of Image Comics, who also saw a slight increase.

The best-selling graphic novel of the year was Infinity Gauntlet. The 1991 story is enjoying a revival because of the Avengers: Infinity War movie. The best-selling comics was Action #1000, a landmark issue featuring unpublished artwork by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan and the introduction of writer Brain Michael Bendis to the DC universe.

Complete lists and more insight are available on comichron.com.

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Comics Lowdown: Cartoonists entitled to freedom of expression in India

Parents fight to remove Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’ from school curriculum, Hope Larson’s ‘All Summer Long’ and more!

Legal: The high court in Madras, India, has ruled that political cartoonists are entitled to freedom of expression, stating that since it is their job to sway public opinion, often by making fun of public figures, they should not be vulnerable to lawsuits:

Upholding cartoonists’ unbridled freedom of expression, Justice Swaminathan stated that the “art of the cartoonist is often not reasoned or even-handed, but slashing and one-sided.”

He went on to quote extensively from US Supreme Court Justice William Rhenquist’s celebrated judgement in Hustler Magazine Inc v Falwell (1988): “The political cartoon is a weapon of attack, of scorn, ridicule and satire; it is least effective when it tries to pat some politician on the back. It is usually welcome as a bee sting, and it is always controversial in some quarters.”

The judge and several other commentators made numerous references to American cartoons, including the New Yorker cover depicting Donald Trump naked.

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Comics Lowdown: Satire comic gets Warsaw Comics Festival in trouble

Plus: profiles on ‘Black’ creator Kwanza Osajyefo and ‘Top Ten’ artist Gene Ha, the Ledger Awards shortlist, and Montreal’s AstroBooks turns to crowdfunding to pay its tax bills.

The Warsaw (Poland) Comics Festival will lose three years’ worth of city subsidies, totaling $44,500, because a comic ridiculing Polish nationalists was distributed at this year’s event. Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki’s Poland: The Champion of Poland, lampooned nationalists, racists and anti-Semites, and that didn’t sit well with the local nationalists, who complained to the city council. The council released a statement saying, “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” and announced it would sanction the festival.

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