Comics A.M.| Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying volunteers

Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it's true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it's rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that's essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. "In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage," says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff's attorney. "We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do." The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]

Fans | Nine-year-old Neal Batra loves both comics and animals, so he is selling off his collection of Archie, Pokemon and other comics via social media to raise money to feed the stray dogs in his area. "I had already read the books and instead of stacking them in the book shelf, I thought of using them to raise funds," he said. Batra, who lives in the Indian city of Gurugram (formerly Gurgaon), has raised more than 2,600 rupees so far. [Hindustan Times]

Publishing | Cartoonist and designer Seth talks about the collected editions of Charles Schulz's Peanuts, which Fantagraphics has been publishing for the past 13 years; the final volume will be out in October. While the strips were collected in different formats over the years, the Fantagraphics set, which Seth designed, is the only complete, chronological archive edition. [Comic Riffs]

Passings | Kenyan cartoonist Edward Gicheri Gitau, creator of the long-running comic strip Juha Kalulu, has died at age 86. Gitau studied at Kenya Teachers College, where his instructors included future president Jomo Kenyatta, then trained as an electrician. He left that profession after breaking both arms in a fall from a roof; he was out of commission for almost a year, and said that after that he was too afraid of falling again to go back. Inspired by a Mickey Mouse cartoon, he took a drawing class and a few years later he launched Juha Kalulu, a slice-of-life strip about an ordinary couple and their dog. The strip has run in Kenyan papers for over 60 years. [Daily Nation]

Political cartoons | A group that supports the current Malaysian government has filed a police report against cartoonist Zunar and asked the Swiss group Cartooning for Peace Swiss Foundation to withdraw the Cartooning for Peace Award he received earlier this month. "The freedom of expression does not mean that a person can insult or embarrass the government," said Zulkarnain Mahdardas, the leader of the group, which calls itself Pakatan Pro-BN (Sabah). Zulkarnain filed a police report with the Karamunsing police in Malaysia, referencing an exhibit of Zunar's work in Geneva, Switzerland, and threatened to hold a peaceful demonstration if the award was not rescinded. Despite Zulkarnain's claim that "Malaysia is the most free country that practises freedom of speech and expression for the people, either cartoonists or journalists," Zunar faces nine counts of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, for his tweets critical of the government. [Free Malaysia Today]

Graphic novels | Calvin Reid reports on last week's Book Expo America, the trade event for booksellers. Upcoming graphic novels that generated a lot of buzz include Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts, Jessica Abel's Trish Trash, the collected edition of Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce's We Stand on Guard, and the third volume of Rep. John Lewis' graphic memoir March. [Publishers Weekly]

Festivals | Heidi MacDonald files her con report on the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which continues to expand and to attract a wide array of international guests. This year's guests included Jeff Lemire, Marguerite Bennett, French artists Balak and Bastien Vivès, Japanese artist Rokudenashiko, who's embroiled in an obscenity case over her art, and a host of other creators from around the world. MacDonald includes a brief account of what sounds like a lively panel on small press publishing. [Publishers Weekly]

Festivals | Speaking of TCAF, Jamie Coville has posted audio of a number of panels, including the small press panel mentioned above as well as comics and mental health, black comics, diversity, manga for adults, and spotlight interviews with Brian K. Vaughan, Chester Brown, Jennifer Hayden, and Marguerite Abouet. [The Comic Books]

Reviews | Christopher Mautner does an in-depth analysis of Chester Brown's Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus: Prostitution and Religious Obedience in the Bible, looking at the book in the context of Brown's earlier work as well as evaluating it on its own merits. [The Smart Set]

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