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.
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!
Plus: Steve Morrow passes away, New York Times stops editorial cartoons, and more!
The New York Times reports on a new digital comics service, Graphite, that operates on a subscription basis, like ComiXology Unlimited. Graphite will offer a free version with ads, and their premium ad-free version is priced at $4.99 a month, a buck cheaper than ComiXology Unlimited, but their real selling point is automated recommendations:
On other platforms, recommendations are typically offered by editors, said Tom Akel, Graphite’s chief content officer. “Ours takes into account your user behavior, what you’ve watched before, what the pool of people around you liked and cross references that the same way a Netflix algorithm will,” he said.
The real test of a digital comics service, of course, is content. Graphite’s lineup will include BOOM! Studios, Tokyopop, Dynamite, IDW and the children’s publisher Papercutz, but not Marvel or DC (both of whom have their own subscription services). This is a choice that seems to make sense for the smaller publishers; as BOOM!’s Filip Sablik commented, “We’ve had free content available for multiple years, and it hasn’t cut into our Comixology business. In fact, it has continued to grow.
Also: Dave Gibbons talks about writing, Dyer and Dorkin discuss ‘Calla Cthulhu,’ and ‘Criminy’ finds a publisher.
Cold Case Files: Thirty years after the murder of Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, London police have appealed to the public for any information they may have on the case. Ali was shot in the back of the neck on July 22, 1989, near the London office of the Kuwaiti publication Al-Qabas, and he died on August 29 of the same year. Police released descriptions of the two suspects and a sketch of what the shooter might look like today.
The former owners of Emerald City Comic Con will pay $493,227.84 to former volunteers and the attorneys who represented them under a settlement that will keep the matter from going to court. Jerry Michael Brooks, a former volunteer at the con, filed a class action suit on behalf of all volunteers who worked at ECCC in 2014 and 2015, claiming that they were treated like employees and therefore should have been paid for their work. (Seattlish posted the details of the suit when it was first filed.) Under the settlement, Eitane Emerald Corp. and the Demonakos family will pay almost $500,000 to the volunteers, with the lawyers scooping up $123,300 for their troubles, Brooks getting $5,000, and the 250 or so other “volunteers” will divvy up the rest according to how many hours they worked. Although the defendants admit to no wrongdoing, the payments to the volunteers are to be regarded as part wages, part settlement for nonpayment of wages. ReedPOP, which purchased the con in 2015 and ran the 2016 and 2017 events, does not use unpaid volunteers.