Comics A.M. | 'Attack on Titan' Vol. 18 tops Japan's weekly chart

Publishing | The 18th volume of Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan sold 969,743 copies in its first week of release in Japan, claiming the top spot on the weekly manga sales chart. According to market research firm Oricon, thats an increase of nearly 200,000 copies from the debut of Vol. 17 in August. Attack on Titan has sold about 8.8 million copies this year, a drop of almost 50 percent from 2013. [Crunchyroll]

Passings | Cartoonist and editor Jacques Hurtubise, who went by the pen name Zyx, has died at age 65. Hurtubise attended college in Montreal during a time of separatist turmoil, and in 1971 recceived a government grant to publish L’Hydrocéphale illustré, an anthology of work by emerging Quebecois cartoonists. The magazine folded a year later, but Hurtubise continued to be an active promoter of local comics in various forms, and in 1979, he teamed up with two other editors to start the children's humor magazine Croc, which carried a large selection of comics. The magazine, which ran until 1995, provided paying work to many eminent Canadian cartoonists in their early years. After Croc folded, Hurtubise left the comics industry for a career in technology, but he was inducted in 2007 into the Shuster Awards Hall of Fame. [Sequential]

Political cartoons | Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier finished writing his manifesto, Open Letter: On Blasphemy, Islamophobia, and the True Enemies of Free Expression, two days before two gunmen burst into his office and killed him and 11 others in revenge for the magazine's publication of cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. The book will be published next month. Michael Cavna writes, "And what Charb most often does, in 'Open Letter,' is wield a self-assigned moral authority as he 'calls out' those he sees as guilty and complicit: the 'racists' who view Muslims more as symbols than as citizens; the journalists who irresponsibly use terms like 'Islamophobia' to sell papers and stir up clicks; the unmoored politicians who blow with the winds of cultural change and hate; and all critics who willfully misstate what Charlie Hebdo means and says. Many self-interested parties benefit by peddling fear and hate and misunderstanding and mistrust, he writes — and he believes that Hebdo’s humor shines a light on these dark forces." [Comic Riffs]

Best of the year | Abraham Reisman picks the 10 best graphic novels of 2015, while Joshua Rivera selects the 10 best comics series. [Vulture, Vulture]

Creators | Writer Steve Orlando talks about writing the gay character Midnighter for DC Comics, and his creator-owned comic Virgil: "Virgil is my book at Image Comics, and much like we’ve done with Midnighter, giving us the confident gay male superhero, Virgil is the next step. Not just exploitation or blacksploitation, but queersploitation. It’s about an outed cop in Jamaica fighting his way across the country to rescue his man. I’ve talked a lot about the type of roles that any underrepresented group is allowed to have and how that has to change. Representation isn’t just about seeing people in books, but about where you see them in books." [Out]

Creators | Gail Simone discusses rebooting Dynamite's classic female characters, including Vampirella, Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris. [ICv2]

Creators | Art Spiegelman writes about the radical political cartoonist Art Young, whose work is still relevant today because of both its artistic qualities and (unusual for a political cartoonist) the timelessness of the subject matter: "Many of his cartoons have no overt political agenda, except insofar as everything is political. They are most often intentionally and genuinely amusing (though, astonishingly, never cruel or condescending). His drawing of two slum urchins holding hands and staring at the night sky while one says, “Chee, Annie, look at de stars — thick as bed-bugs!” is a poignant example of what it means to laugh that we may not weep. While many of Young’s political cartoons were direct lessons on America’s rigged economic con game, all of his work was also a lesson in empathy. We have never needed more of both." [Harpers]

Commentary | Zainab Akhtar questions the notion, expressed most concretely in a New York Times article, that the publisher Drawn and Quarterly is a feminist paradise, and she directly challenges the allegation that the publisher's catalog splits 50/50 male/female, finding it to be closer to 75/25. [Comics & Cola]

Conventions | Salinas Valley Comic Con returns to the Steinbeck Center, and in its second year, the con expands to two days and features a number of creators and comics workshops. [The Californian]

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