The top comics-related news stories from March 21 to March 27, 2015:
1. Two Turkish cartoon-makers were sentenced to jail for insulting Recep Erdogan not through a critical cover but through a supposed hand sign made to portray him as homo sexual. There are no words in that last sentence that aren't depressing. Luckily, the sentence was commuted to a fine which -- while not insignificant -- has to be better than going to jail. This practice needs to end.
2. A New Mexico school library board decides to keep Palomar on the shelves after a parent's complaint that compared the comics masterwork to child porn, a complaint that was given a big platform when a local television ran an idiotic report including the old trick of claiming not being able to show the comic in question. I'm glad calmer heads prevailed.
3. Emerald City Comicon launches, the first major North American convention of the year in the sense that a wide swathe of comics pros attend and the rest of the industry pays attention to it from afar. Conventions are one of the things that works about comics, and the perception of how well they work exceeds even their general effectiveness across the board. They're also increasingly important cultural events as a way to facilitate relationships made on-line that's not on-line.
Winners Of The Week Gen Con. That kind of stand is difficult and comes with some cost.
Losers Of The Week
Everyone that backs the idiotic practice of suing people according to a special law that protects elected officials from insult. Just the dumbest laws ever.
Quote Of The Week
"Marvel was more streetwise and funky. When I visited both companies' headquarters in the early 1990s, Marvel's felt more like a college rec room than a serious business place. DC's on the other hand, by then wholly owned by Time Warner, was a grim, unwelcoming place, with dim lighting and employees talking in hushed tones -- more like a bank than an entertainment company." -- Jonathan Ross
the comic image selected is from the brief but notable 1970s run of Seaboard/Atlas
Two Turkish Cartoonists Sentenced To Jail For Insulting Erdogan; Sentences Reduced, Then Commuted
This looks like the best report I can find in English on the outcome of a recent case involving the cartoonists Bahadir Baruter and Azer Aydogan "insulting" that country's president, Recep Erdogan. Those comics makers made a cover for the satirical magazine Penguen in 2014 that included a hand gesture that a Turkish citizen accused of being an indication that the then just-elected Erdogan was homosexual. Erdogan's lawyer joined the case soon after, and help a prosecutor put together what have become the saddest standard story in that country's politics: the "insult to a public official" indictment.
The trial began in Istanbul on March 19. They were sentenced to 14 months in prison on March 24. This was then decreased to 11 months and 20 days because of good behavior, and was finally converted to a fine at approximately $2700 USD. A standard sentence is three months in jail for insult, a year for insulting a public official, and one-sixth more to either standard if the insult is done publicly.
Baruter now faces a second trial for potentially insulting the prosecutor when asserting that the interpretation of the hand gesture may have been related to the prosecutor's subconscious.
A significant number of journalists have been accused, indicted and even convicted of such laws, which free-speech proponents see as being a deterrence against the criticism of sitting officials.
You can see a scan of the offending cover image, hand gesture and all, here.
CBLDF: NM School Library Votes To Keep Palomar On The Shelves
Betsy Gomez has welcome news at the CBLDF web site. In February a parent in Rio Rancho was so troubled by the content of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar, brought home by her high-school aged child that she took her concerns to a local television station where the ambitious comics masterpiece was called "child porn." The news report didn't even show the images, which made the report seem much more damning.
Luckily, clearer heads eventually prevailed, and on March 16 the review committee in charge of the school libary voted 5-3 to keep the book on the shelves.
The CBLDF joined other concerned organizations in signing a letter drafted by Kids Right To Read Project pointing out the work's literary merit, the problems with taken one point of view as the overriding one and asking that the library apply its stated, dispassionate policy towards processing this kind of complaint.
Go, Look: Fantagraphics Is Having A Sale Right Now
I like running news about sales when it pleases me to do so. It doesn't really rate as "news," but is of functional interest to the vast majority of the comics readers who use this site. Fantagraphics has one going right now, which apparently includes a few TCJs to which I made a small contribution. I think that includes the Fort Thunder issues, although the description on the site does not match the issue number of cover. I really liked writing that essay for then-Managing Editor Milo George.
There's also a bunch of Ignatz format material for sale, and I thought those books were super-attractive as well as containing a lot of great comics. If those have be reprinted elsewhere, it probably won't be the way were printed by that book series.
There's an amazing post here from Evan Dorkin where he talks about finishing work on The Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role-Playing Club and his immediate prospects. It's as honest and forthright as Dorkin tends to get on these subjects, which is very. There are elements of getting older in terms of being able to produce work and also having the industry shift to a different place while you remain the same. I think everyone in comics and everyone that love comics and wants creators to do well should read it.
Also, RIP Eltingville. I really enjoyed those comics and look forward to the last installment.
* this nice announcement from Colleen Doran reminds me that every cartoonist I know is trying to deal with the surge in shows they can attend in part by figuring out where they've been recently and balancing that against going to places they haven't be to in years. I can't even imagine the number of factors coming into play.