Comics Lowdown | Zunar is in trouble again

Plus: A new graphic novel looks at Japanese Americans who resisted internment.

Zunar’s cartoon critiquing the minster of the state of Kedah, who canceled the festival of Thaipusam. The cleaver says “No Thaipusam” and the caption on the right reads “Kedah’s inhabitants lived in peace until he came.”

The Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar is in trouble with the law again. Police in the state of Kedah have summoned him to appear before them on May 7 (the original date, given in the linked article, was May 2 but it was rescheduled) for violating the country’s sedition law, a much-criticized relic of its colonial past, with a cartoon criticizing the Kedah state minister’s decision to cancel the traditional Tamil Hindu festival of Thaipusam.

Zunar got into lots of trouble during the tenure of Prime Minister Najib Razak, whom he mocked endlessly for his corruption; Razak was not amused and his government repeatedly raided Zunar’s studio, confiscated his books, banned him from traveling, and brought charges against him that could have led to lengthy prison sentences. The pressure eased once Najib was voted out.

Ironically, Zunar’s latest skirmish coincides with World Press Freedom Day, which was Monday; several national and international groups have criticized the Malaysian government for its repressive stance.

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Comics Lowdown | Cartoonist Chronicles Attack

A photo shoot to promote Karl Krumpholz’s new book was punctuated by a surprise attack.

A planned photo shoot went sideways fast for Denver cartoonist Karl Krumpholz.

Krumpholz’s graphic novel Queen City, a chronicle of changing streets and neighborhoods of Denver, is out this month from Tinto Press. The Denver Post did a feature article on Krumpholz, and the photo shoot for the piece was set for mid-afternoon on East Colfax Avenue, one of the venues he depicts for the book. Before he and photographer AAron Ontiveroz could start the shoot, though, a passerby attacked them both with a homemade weapon.

Krumpholz and the photographer escaped unscathed, but since everything is material to a creator, he made a comic about it:

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Comics Lowdown | S. Clay Wilson passes away

Plus: ‘Brzrkr’ orders, ‘Immortal Hulk’ #43, Stan Lee, John Porcellino and more!

Underground cartoonist S. Clay Wilson, creator of the Checkered Demon, Captain Pissgums and his Pervert Pirates, and numerous other transgressive characters, all of whom he wedged into his signature hyper-detailed panels, has died at the age of 79. Wilson grew up in Nebraska and eventually moved to San Francisco, where he was a contributor to Zap Comics and an integral part of the underground comix scene. He suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008 and the condition worsened in 2010.

Brian Cronin sums up his life and career at CBR, but if you really want to get your heart broken, read this 2010 interview with Wilson’s sister about his early work and how the brain injury affected him. And for a fuller appreciation of his art and thought, here’s a Comics Journal interview that was done shortly before his injury.

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Comics Lowdown | TCAF is back

Plus: Angoulême comics awards, Adam Ellis accuses filmmakers of plagiarism, and a look at the world of back-issue collectors and dealers

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, will return in May as a virtual event. The past year has been a difficult one; in June, TCAF co-founder and artistic director Christopher Butcher stepped down for both professional and personal reasons. This year’s festival will be online only, and it’s being run in partnership with the zine festival Canzine and the Toronto Hand Eye Society.

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Comics Lowdown | Youth Media Awards announced

Plus: Egyptian cartoonist arrested; columnist proposes banning MAGA wear at conventions.

Library Talk: The American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting just ended, and the big event, as always, is the Youth Media Awards—this is when the Newbery and Caldecott medals, and a host of other awards, are announced. For over 10 years, graphic novels have won some of these awards; last year, Jerry Craft’s Class Act won the Newbery Medal, the first graphic novel to be so honored. This year’s awards:

  • Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, with color by Lark Pien, was a Printz Honor Book (runner-up for the Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults);
  • When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy, was a Schneider Family Book Award honor book (for “books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience”);
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf and Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh were among the ten winners of the Alex Award for adult books that appeal to teen audiences;
  • Catherine’s War, by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel, and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger, was an honor book for the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated books.

On Twitter, librarian Matthew Noe took a tour of the virtual booths of all the comics publishers at the show, with a word or two about each one. If you are interested in learning more about comics publishing and who does what, this is a great place to start!

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Comics Lowdown | Waid/Meyer lawsuit settled

Plus: Court rules Dr. Seuss/Star Trek mash-up book not protected by fair use, ‘Batman’ #1 auction and more!

Legal: Comics creator Richard Meyer has dropped his lawsuit against Mark Waid, according to Waid’s legal defense GoFundMe page. The suit began in 2018 after Meyer announced that Antarctic Press would publish his comic Jawbreaker. The publisher reversed that decision after a phone call from Waid, however, and Meyer successfully crowdfunded the comic instead. He also sued Waid for “tortious interference with contract and defamation.”

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Comics Lowdown | Eisner judges announced

Also: Batman manga coming to Japan, Ohio legislators complain about anime text, and a chat with the creator of the ‘Sickos’ meme

Eisner Awards: The judges for the 2021 Eisner Awards have been announced: Retailer Marco Davanzo, who is the executive director of ComicsPRO); Shelley Fruchey, a member of the Comic-Con Board of Directors; Pamela Jackson, Popular Culture Librarian and Comic Arts Curator in Special Collections and University Archives at San Diego State Universit; Keithan Jones, founder and owner of the independent publisher KID Comics; Alonso Nuñez, executive director, and lead instructor of Little Fish Comic Book Studio in San Diego; and independent comics scholar Jim Thompson.

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Comics Lowdown | Alan Moore script on eBay

Plus: New graphic novels by the Mayor of Montreal and rapper Rico Nasty

Auction Watch: An unpublished Alan Moore script is being auctioned off on eBay. The 35-page script was written circa 1997 for a Wildstorm one-shot, Gen13 Annual: The Coming of the Collector!, which was never completed or published.

Scott Dunbier, who is auctioning off the script, acquired it when he was an editor at Wildstorm. Proceeds from the auction, which has Moore’s blessing, will benefit inker Bob Wiacek, who is suffering from vision problems that prevent him from working.

You can also donate directly to Wiacek via this GoFundMe project.

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Comics Lowdown | Manga gets Naomi Osaka right

Plus: How comics ease quarantine, who buys variant covers and more.

Manga drawing Naomi Osaka

Tennis champ Naomi Osaka is the star of a new story in the Japanese shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi (which first published Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, among others), and the creators are taking pains to get her skin tone right. Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian-American, describes herself as “tan,” but an instant-noodle brand that depicted her with light skin caused an uproar last year. This time, the Nakayoshi designers consulted Osaka’s sister Mari Osaka, who is a tennis player and illustrator, for help in getting the skin tones right. The story features Naomi using her tennis skills to battle extraterrestrials in outer space, supported by Mari and her parents. Osaka has drawn some criticism in Japan, where she was born, for her outspokenness on racial matters, but the magazine focuses on her skill and dedication rather than her political statements.

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Comics Lowdown | Court OKs contempt complaint against Indian cartoonist

Plus: Authors Guild objects to PRH-S&S deal, a look at the Eritrean comics scene and more!

Legal: The Indian Attorney General has given the go-ahead for contempt charges to be pressed against Rachita Taneja, creator of the webcomic Sanitary Panels, because of several Tweets that, the AG found, portray the Supreme Court of India as “biased towards the ruling party.” A law student, Aditya Kashyap, requested permission to begin contempt proceedings, citing three of Tanecha’s tweets, all of which are basically political cartoons.

Other Indian artists have spoken out publicly in support of Taneja, and on Dec. 2, Taneja tweeted “Thank you for the outpouring of love. I am filled with gratitude. It’s a rough time for a lot of people, and we’ll get through it by sticking together” along with a comic showing hearts pouring out of her computer:

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Comics Lowdown is back!

Your roundup of essential comics news is back, with an Angoulême update, cussin’ Stan Lee and more!

Big publishing news: Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, announced the day before Thanksgiving that it will buy Simon & Schuster. This will affect graphic novels and manga in a big way, because PRH and S&S distribute a LOT of graphic novels and manga.

In a series of Tweets, Ed Chavez sketches out what the manga landscape will look like, and why it matters. ICv2 lists all their comics/distribution clients; keep in mind that this is in addition to the graphic novels the companies themselves publish under a variety of imprints: Random House has RH Graphics and Pantheon (which publishes the works of Chris Ware and other literary graphic novels), and S&S has Gallery 13 and, just announced, two new lines of graphic novels for young readers.

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Comics Lowdown | UCS will no longer distribute DC Comics starting in January

Plus: News on Terrific Production, Archie Comics, Rebellion, L.A. Comic-Con and more.

Distributors: UCS Comics Distributors, one of the two comics distributors that began working with DC Comics during the COVID-19 industry shutdown earlier this year, has told retailers they will no longer distribute DC’s books as of January 2021. Their accounts will be serviced by Lunar Distribution, the other distributor for DC that came into being during the pandemic. UCS was formed by retailer Midtown Comics, while Lunar was formed by Discount Comic Book Service.

So is UCS going away? Not according to the email they sent to retailers, which you can read over at The Beat. It says “UCS is not closing. We will be offering other exciting items that stores can use!” So it’ll be interesting to see what they offer in the future. John Jackson Miller has additional commentary.

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