§ In Tamul Nadu, a state in India, cartoonist Bala G was arrested for a cartoon he posted on his Facebook page. The cartoon, above, refers to a local scandal where a family of four set themselves on fire outside the office of a debt collector who they said was harassing them. Bala’s cartoon is critical of the local government over the incident and apparently after he posted it, the local government was not amused.
The Tamil Nadu cartoonist landed in trouble with the Tirunelveli police in Tamil Nadu over a cartoon targeting the state administration over the immolation of a family hounded by loan sharks. Cartoonist Bala was arrested from his residence in Chennai on Sunday by the Tirunelveli police following a complaint by the Tirunelveli district collector Sandeep Nandhudri. The cartoon that has the administration fuming shows a naked Nellai police commissioner, collector and Chief Minister trying to cover themselves up with wads of cash, as they close their eyes to a child’s burning body.
Bala was charged with defamation, but has been released on bail. Controversy is not new to the cartoonist; previous cartoons have been accused of sexism and misogyny. But still, talk about the Streisand Effect.
§ it’s the 10th anniversary of the Observer/Cape/Comica graphic short story prize, which is presented to a British cartoonist for a short comics story, and The Guardian has a special graphic novel section around the announcement of this year’s winner. Among the features, literary and media stars Zadie Smith, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Palmer, etc. ) discuss why we love graphic novels. Novelist Smith has a particularly fresh view of comics:
Do you have a favourite?Too many. Corrigan, obviously, and all books by Ware, especially Building Stories. Here by Richard McGuire. All of Charles Burns, especially Big Baby. All of Dan Clowes, especially You My Mother?, Alison Bechdel. The Hernandez brothers, Lynda Barry, Tomine… these are all canonical and the list is endless, but of more recent finds, I am blown away by Walter Scott’s Wendy series, and both Beverly and Sabrina by Nick Drnaso seem to me to be masterpieces. Joff Winterhart’s Driving Short Distances is extraordinary and also Everything Is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell. I still like finding things before they become books, but that’s harder to do as a middle-aged lady no longer often in comic stores. But on a visit to Los Feliz I found The Fade Out by Brubaker and Breitweiser in the old serial form, issues 1-5 (but missing 4) and fell in love, even with the gap in the tale.
§ All the previous winners talk about their winning and work and the long ago world of 2007:
In 2007, comics were finally beginning to take off in Britain: the animated film of Marjane Satrapi’s memoir Persepolis was just about to be released; Guy Delisle’s travelogue, Burma Chronicles, and Rutu Modan’s novel Exit Wounds, set in Tel Aviv during a period of bomb attacks, had both been critical hits. Nevertheless, much of the best work still came either from the US, or from France, where bandes dessinées were – and are – such a big deal (the Angoulême international comics festival, attended by 200,000 people every year, has been running since 1974). Franklin’s proposition was that the Observer New Review and Cape would work together to establish a competition to find new British talent. Not too long after this, having secured further support from Comica, the comics festival run by Paul Gravett, we began.
The winners have all been excellent, but not a very diverse bunch, and some of them are established illustrators or artists, not newcomers, but still…British comics have come a long way in a year.
§ The section continues with interviews with two of the all time greats, Alison Bechdel on, what else, Fun Home, and Chris Ware on his favorite books and movies and so on. Ware is one of several pundits to praise next year’s Nick Drnaso book, Sabrina,
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso My own profession currently seems divided between comics fiction and comics memoir, the former more or less growing out of the childish fantasies now grotesquely metastasised as “superhero stories for adults” — which makes about as much sense to me as writing pornography for children. Some middle-aged colleagues and I believe literary comics fiction is possible without resorting to fantastical heroics, however, and the youngest and finest exemplar, 28-year-old Nick Drnaso, offers a new book next year to possibly top us all: Sabrina, about a missing woman, a video and the unspeakable possibilities of our contemporary mitigated reality. (After I recommended his first, Beverly, to Zadie Smith, she wrote back a one-word review: “wow,” and she’s just called Sabrina “the best book – in any medium – I have read about our current moment”.) I have no doubt that if Nick keeps it up, he will do things on paper that no other human has yet imagined (he basically already is), and that’s the best kind of heroism imaginable.
§ Finally, in a piece only the Brits will get, here’s a portrait of cartoonists who work for Private Eye, an upscale humor and commentary magazine…I think?
§ ALSO cartoonist Myfanwy Tristram has a round-up of all the Observer/Cape/Comica short listed comics for the year. Poke around!
§ Here’s a piece called on how small publishers are boosting female talent in comics which at first sounded like old territory, but it profiles Koyama Press, Line Webtoon, Emet Comics and more and it turned out to be an informative piece.
The publishing house Emet Comics, which releases comics intended to empower women and girls, is notable for its efforts to build major audiences for its titles. Maytal Gilboa founded Emet three years ago to develop and publish high-concept genre stories aimed at millennial women and told from their perspectives. The ultimate goal for Gilboa, a former animation studio employee, is to build a media company that turns comics into “intellectual properties” — the Hollywood term for existing properties with built-in audiences that can be primed for small- or big-screen adaptations. When Gilboa publishes comics, she simultaneously pitches them to studios and production companies as shows or movies.
§ Here’s a good interview with Martha Donato, head of MAD Events which puts on comics events in New Jersey and Long Beach that gives some insights about how showrunners cope with the proliferation of cons:
MD: We always start with the comic book talent and build from there. We don’t have quotas; I would describe it more as expectations, so we’re flexible. Fortunately, there is a healthy pool of creators and cosplayers who are willing to support the large pool of comic conventions around the country.
DW: The number of conventions have been growing a lot over the recent years, and more and more companies are throwing their hat into the ring. Is this a positive thing, or are we nearing a saturation point? Can the industry and the fan base continue with there being multiple cons almost every weekend?
MD: To my earlier point about the creator pool, I think there is potentially a tipping point where there will be more events than talent to support them. But we haven’t reached that point yet. I’m a believer in survival of the fittest, so I think we’ll see the stronger shows thrive and the weaker ones will fall away.
§ While we’re talking cons, this piece answers a burning question: What it’s really like to bring a life-size TARDIS to Los Angeles Comic Con – as in a Tardis Costume that is lugged aorund by a young woman, to great acclaim and comraderie.
She admitted that the TARDIS brings its own set of complications though. “It doesn’t have the best ventilation system and it’s hard to hear inside, so it’s very difficult to get through crowded areas,” Reyes said. “But usually if a con-goer sees you struggling with the TARDIS, people tend to stop and help you out.”
§ Conosaurus is a new listing of comic cons, with a newsletter and an evolving searchable database. That’s for everyone who asks me “WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF ALL THE COMIC-CONS????”
§ Director Taika Waititi made quite an impression with Thor’ Ragnarök’s $121 million opening weekend, and also at a press event where he swigged coffee and whiskey and took a nearly literal victory lap:
He admitted not having much experience in the arena. “Full disclose, I’ve never made a superhero movie before.” His movies were more around the budgets where he’s cutting up carrots for the crew. “So I thought Marvel didn’t care anymore,” he zinged. “My strengths were tone and that’s it,” he joked before adding more attributes like character, dialogue, and humor, which was clear. “I said ‘you guys can take care of the explosion, I’ll focus on what I’ve done before,” he continued, “and I didn’t get fired because I’m a G.”
§ Word that Amazon is developing a ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series, which is really, no more than a trial balloon headline at this point:
Sources stress that a deal for a Lord of the Rings TV series is far from official. Talks are said to be focusing on rights issues with the Tolkien estate; the project has yet to even go out to search for a writer. The news comes four months after Warner Bros. and the Tolkien estate settled an $80 million lawsuit after a five-year battle. That happened after Warners offshoot New Line Cinema and the Tolkien estate waged a courtroom battle over profit participation from the film franchise that consisted of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003), as well as 2013 prequel The Hobbit. The property is a multibillion-dollar worldwide franchise.
Incredibly, Christopher Tolkien, the son of JRR Tolkien, and main custodian and collaborator on the posthumous works, is still alive at age 92 and he , and most of the family, hate the movies and any adaptations. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Adapt the Silmarillion! The family won’t option the book, but there’s enough material in the Appendices to cobble something together.
§ Because it’s Monday, here’s a video of Chris Hemsworth working out.
§ Ghost World, the movie, came out 16 years ago, long enough for it to get it’s own Buzzfeed article with 42 Facts Every “Ghost World” Fan Should Know
§ Finally, the ‘My Friend Dahmer’ promo train rolls on.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.