Plus: Adrian Tomine named writer in residence at Substack, Justin Wong Ciu-tat apologizes to Hong Kong police, and more.
Breaking:The BBC reports that the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks has died in a car accident. Vilks, 75, has been under police protection since his cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed’s head on a dog’s body garnered him both international attention and death threats. He was riding in a police car that collided with a truck in southern Sweden. The two police officers in the car with Vilks were also killed, and the truck driver was injured. The local police say that while they aren’t sure yet exactly what happened, there wasn’t any immediate evidence that anyone else was involved in the accident besides the occupants of the two vehicles.
The National Cartoonist Society has trickled out the nominees for this year’s Reuben Award and the accompanying NCS Divisional Awards over the last few months, as they prepare for the big awards ceremony in October.
The divisional awards include categories that cover comic books, webcomics, political cartoons and more. I’ve included the nominations that are relevant to the world of comics, but you can find the complete nominations lists here and here.
Plus: A new graphic novel looks at Japanese Americans who resisted internment.
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.
Comic artist turned political cartoonist Pia Guerra discusses how her work has changed, the current political climate and more.
Pia Guerra is best known among comic book readers as the artist and co-creator of Y: The Last Man, but in recent years she’s spent much of her time and energy writing and drawing gag cartoons and political cartoons for The New Yorker, The Nib and other publications. In 2018 a collection of her political comics titled Me the People was published by Image Comics.
Guerra is living in Vancouver and I reached out to ask about how her work has changed, inking and what she’s working on now.
Site editor Matt Bors says he plans to continue The Nib with member support.
First Look Media, which has funded The Nib for the past three years, will drop its support for the political/non-fiction comics site and lay off its staff at the end of July. Editor Matt Bors said he is working with First Look so they can “hand the publication over to me so that I can continue The Nib.”
In addition to the website, Bors also oversees a print edition of The Nib, with the fourth issue scheduled for July. He said a fifth issue is in the works, and he plans to print it independently.
“This will be a major setback but I will be devoting all my time to continuing this publication with contributions from all the editors and cartoonists who have made this publication what it is,” Bors said.
Plus: Jerusalem cartoonist fired over drawing of Prime Minister Benjamin Nettanyahu, comics at Walmart, Thi Bui and more!
Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.
In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.
Plus: Kickstarters, Leo Baxendale, and how Chuck Rozanski escaped poverty—with comics!
Indian Cartoonist Free on Bail: A judge in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadhu, India, has granted bail to cartoonist G. Bala, who was arrested on Nov. 5 for creating a “demeaning caricature” of several local officials. The cartoon critiqued the local government, including the collector, after a laborer and his family who were in deep debt to loan sharks set themselves on fire in front of the collector’s office. The entire family, including two children ages two and four, died of their injuries.
“The self-immolation and the burning children disturbed me a lot… I could not sleep for two days as if my children had charred. I had done nothing personal against the Collector, the complainant of the case against me. When he initiated steps for the ‘Wall of Kindness’ to help the poor, I felt so proud about him. When he failed to act on the repeated petitions of a usury victim, it forced a youth to take the extreme step that disturbed me a lot and I just reflected my agony through my caricature,” a visibly moved Mr. Bala told the waiting reporters while emerging from the court after being enlarged on bail.
Plus: IDW stumbles, SyFy makes a list, and Darryl Cunningham draws another science comic.
Political Cartoonist Arrested: Government authorities in the African country of Equatorial Guinea arrested political cartoonist Ramón Nsé Esono Ebalé on September 16 and are reportedly preparing criminal defamation charges against him, according to Human Rights Watch. Equatorial Guinea’s defamation law, which dates back to its days as a Spanish colony, makes it a crime to criticize the president or other government officials. Ebalé, who no longer lives in Equatorial Guinea but was visiting to renew his passport, frequently caricatures President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo; he visited the U.S. in 2016 to distribute his book, Obi’s Nightmare, which imagines what the president’s life would be like if he had to live as an ordinary person in his country.
Plus: Hell’s Kitchen is trendy, fun and socially progressive comics, Alex Simmons and Erica Henderson celebrated, industry of immigrants
Legal: Political cartoonist Ted Rall has lost another round in his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times. Rall, a former freelancer for the Times sued the paper for defamation and wrongful termination last year, after the editors determined a blog post he had written about his treatment by the Los Angeles Police Department was inaccurate. The Times dropped Rall as a freelancer and published an editor’s note stating that the blog post was incorrect. Last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kalin ruled that because Rall was a public figure, the editor’s note and any other articles about him are protected by the First Amendment. Consequently, Kalin granted the motion by the Times’s parent company, Tribune Media, to strike the complaint.
Legal: The Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar (pictured above) has filed a lawsuit against the government and the police, including 16 individual police officers, for seizing his books and T-shirts at a fund-raising event last December. Zunar had organized a “Tea with Zunar” event at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur on December 17, but before it began, police arrested the cartoonist and an assistant who was in charge of sales, and they confiscated 1,187 books and 103 T-shirts. Zunar and his assistant were released, but the merchandise was not returned. In the suit, Zunar alleges that the arrest and seizure were illegal and that some booksellers will no longer carry his books because of the fear they will be confiscated.
Plus: Violent alt.right felon gets a comic, Zunar exhibit canceled, Box Brown and more.
Musa Kart Freed: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart was released from jail on a judge’s orders Friday, along with six other staffers from the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. Four others, including the editor in chief, remain behind bars, and the freed journalists are under judicial supervision pending the outcome of the trial. The journalists were arrested nine months ago on charges of aiding terrorist organizations; the arrests came shortly after a failed coup against the Turkish government and are widely regarded as an attempt to limit freedom of the press. Kart, who made an opening statement that drew laughter from the audience at times, faces up to 29 years in prison if convicted. The trial will resume on Sept. 11.
A cartoonist gets his career back, manga and kids’ comics are booming, and a con veteran offers advice for first-timers
Trolling the Trolls: Your bizarre read for the day is Emma Grey Ellis’s account of the strange career of Ben Garrison, a libertarian political cartoonist who became a sort of real-life Pepe the Frog after alt-right trolls started altering his cartoons to include Nazi imagery and seeded the internet with fake stories: