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Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

by  in Comic News Comment
Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

Libraries | Alison Flood follows up on the reaction to the recent removal of Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer from the library of the sole kindergarten-grade 12 public school in Henning, Minnesota. “I deemed it as being vulgar,” Superintendent Jeremy Olson told a local newspaper. “There was a lot of inappropriate language.” The book, which deals with young teens learning about more adult situations, is rated by the publisher as appropriate for readers aged 12 to 18; the Henning school has a single library for all grades. “While the book may be above the maturity and reading level of elementary school students, its value for young adults at the high-school level has been recognised by leading professionals,” the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote in a letter to Olson that was supported by several other organizations. The letter urged him to return the book to the library, saying, “any other decision threatens the principle that is essential to individual freedom, democracy, and a good education: the right to read, inquire, question and think for ourselves.” [The Guardian]

Legal | Following up on the class-action lawsuit against Emerald City Comicon for using unpaid labor, Milton Griepp checks in with Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP and learns something interesting: ReedPOP pays its convention staff, and has for years, even though they’re called “volunteers.” ReedPOP acquired ECCC in 2015 and ran the 2016 show, and this year paid workers who were formerly unpaid. “We pay all ‘volunteers,'” Fensterman told Griepp. “Because we pay them they are not really volunteers but the name kind of sticks. We’ve been doing this for many years now.” [ICv2]

Political cartoons | In an interview conducted just before he accepted the Herblock Prize, political cartoonist Mark Fiore describes himself as a “free-speech absolutist,” but he adds, “Personally, of course, I always strive to have my cartoons say something with a punch, but at the same time respect other cultures, races and religions. Just because you can be a loud-mouthed idiot, doesn’t mean you have to be one.” [Comic Riffs]

Manga | Yoshitoki Ōima, creator of A Silent Voice, will start a new fantasy manga series this fall, according to an announcement in Weekly Shōnen Magazine, which teased it with the line “The knowing look, that passes through his eyes and tells of the world’s kindness and severity, will wrench your heart.” A Silent Voice, the story of a teenager who bullies a deaf girl in his class and seeks reconciliation with her years later, was nominated for a 2016 Eisner Award; the seventh and final volume was published in North America this week. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Rebecca Bates interviews Aidan Koch, creator of the recently released After Nothing Comes. [Nylon]

Creators | Drew Damran writes about Gertrude Van Houten, the first woman to create topical editorial cartoons for a local newspaper. Van Houten’s work began appearing on the front page of the Grand Rapids Press in 1917, and she drew several cartoons a week about life in the city — riding the streetcars, skating on a local lake, fashion, high society. She later went on to have a successful career in advertising and illustration. [The Rapidan]

Graphic journalism | Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Threadbare collects comics drawn by Leela Corman, Julia Gfrörer, Simon Häussle, Delia Jean, Ellen Lindner, and Melissa Mendes, based on Moore’s reporting, that cover the garment industry from a number of different angles, including conditions in garment factories, the anomaly of free-trade zones, and the connection between the garment industry and sex work. [Los Angeles Times]

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