Politics | Reclusive Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter is reportedly poised to become a “key adviser” on veterans affairs in the Trump administration. The New York Post’s article, which cites anonymous sources, comes soon after the 74-year-old Perlmutter was photographed with President-Elect Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. It’s only the second known public photo of the billionaire, whose ties to Trump came to light in January 2016, when he and his wife Laura donated $1 million to the then-candidate’s fundraiser for wounded veterans; Laura is a member of the presidential inaugural committee. The former co-owner of Toy Biz, Perlmutter is a self-made billionaire who earned $1.5 billion in cash and stock from the 2009 sale of Marvel to Disney. He and his wife donated $9 million in 2015 to help fund cancer research at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. [New York Post]
Retailing | Customers at the Huntsville, Alabama, comics store The DeeP were just going about their business on Friday morning when an SUV crashed through the front window of the building, sending display shelves toppling and comics flying. The driver was the only person injured. Ed Walls, owner of The Deep, said, “The car got enough merchandise under it to stop it about halfway through the store.” Security cameras captured some spectacular footage of the car barreling through the shop, and the damage was extensive. However, Walls said the comics section of the store was intact — and he didn’t even close the business. “If people are going to come, we might as well stay open for them to buy something,” Walls said. The store quickly brought in a cleanup crew and posted on its Facebook page that the damage was mostly cleaned up by that evening. [AL.com]
Passings | Chinese cartoonist Alfonso Wong, creator of the popular comic “Old Master Q,” has died at age 93. Wong launched the comic, which commented on everyday life as well as politics and current affairs, in 1962, and it became popular across Asia. “He actually drew himself into the comics,” said his son Joseph Wong, who took over the comic when his father retired in the 1990s. “The way Old Master behaved, the way that he [thinks], the way that he acts to other people, like his neighbors. That’s pretty much my father.” The Hong Kong Arts Centre, which is hosting an exhibit of Wong’s work, described it as “a collective memory of Chinese-speaking communities around the world,” transcending generations and national borders. [CNN]
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar plans to sue police over his latest arrest, which came after protesters disrupted a private event on Nov. 27. “It was a private crowd funding event, but the police came and arrested me along with two of my friends and my assistants,” he said. “They also confiscated 1,300 books, involving 12 titles, and 100 T-shirts that were meant to be sold that day. They used Section 124 of the Penal Code against me and I believe that was done in bad faith.” Although the police were scheduled to question the cartoonist on Dec. 30, they have postponed the interrogation indefinitely. He was arrested again on Dec. 17, at a second event held to raise funds to help him recoup his losses from the first. The cash seized by the police in that incident brought his total losses to $20,000. “This will be my second legal action against the police. The first was after my first arrest back in 2010,” Zunar said. “It is very difficult for me to win, but it’s very important for me to file the suit because it can create awareness. If I don’t win, that’s okay. But at least the people will know that this is the situation in our country. We can’t even draw cartoons anymore.” The cartoonist also faces nine charges of sedition, which could result in a 43-year prison term if he is convicted. [Animation]
Freedom of speech | Zunar is one of five cartoonists facing persecution because of their work who were profiled in a report by Reporters Without Borders. The others are Rayma Suprani of Venezuela, Musa Kart of Turkey, Tahar Djehiche of Algeria, and Jabeur Mejri of Tunisia. [Reporters Without Borders]
Graphic novels | All three volumes of “March” and the boxed set made the BookScan top 20 graphic novels chart for December. That’s not too surprising, as Book Three won the National Book Award in November, becoming the first graphic novel to do so. The first three volumes of “The Walking Dead Compendium” also made the chart, as did two individual volumes. The latest volume of Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s “Paper Girls,” the first volume of Akira Himekawa’s “Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition,” and a couple of Marvel reference books also were in the top 20. [ICv2]
Creators | “March” artist Nate Powell talks about his younger days, going from reading GI Joe comics to Doug Murray’s “The ‘Nam,” which opened his eyes to the power of the graphic medium; his experience as a member of the North Little Rock punk band Soophie Nun Squad; and his experiences while making “March,” as it crossed over from graphic novel readers and English classes to being used as a history text. “It is history, that’s true. But it meant we had to give ourselves a crash course in what it meant to follow historical guidelines to make sure it stayed in history classes,” Powell says—and their research led to some discoveries that actually added to the documentation of the Civil Rights movement. [Arkansas Times]
Creators | Artist Rosa Colón and writer Carla Rodríguez celebrate the 10th anniversary of Soda Pop Comics, the first female-run comics studio in Puerto Rico. It started out with a helping hand from another local studio, Dreamgraphixs, which included their comic “Tick Tock” in a selection of their work at New York’s MoCCA indy-comics festival. “We had only seen the [conventions] here, and when we went to MoCCA, it was incredibly different. There were almost all women making comics, comics of every size, of every quality—hastily stapled stuff, or nicely planned-out things, small batches,” said Colón. Inspired, the pair set up their own studio, making more comics, going to conventions, and ultimately becoming starting their own comics festival and running their own small press. [Remezcla]
Creators | Grame McMillan has a handy checklist of five comics creators to watch out for in 2017. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Digital comics | The digital subscription service Scribd quietly ended its digital comics service in December. The service launched in February 2015 and was described as a “Netflix for comics,” with over 10,000 titles from major publisher such as Marvel and DC available to readers for $8.99 a month. Nate Hoffelder points to the business model for Scribd as one reason why it failed—as well as the fact that so few people use it that it took a month for the press to notice that the comics were gone. [The Digital Reader]
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