Comics A.M. | First Second's Mark Siegel on 'new mainstream'

Publishing | In a three-part interview, First Second Books Editorial Director Mark Siegel talks about 2014, the upcoming year, and the emergence of a "new mainstream." In Part 1 he discusses the 2014 releases and ends with some numbers (print runs rather than sales); the imprint's top books are Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer, both of which have 30,000 copies in print. In Part 2 he looks at the importance of the library market and support from librarians, especially for children and teens, as well as the emergence of a new category of graphic novels that he calls "new mainstream." Part 3 focuses on First Second's planned releases for 2015, including Scott McCloud's The Sculptor, which will have a print run of 100,000. [ICv2]

Manga | Although child pornography that uses images of real children has been banned in Japan, drawn images in manga are still allowed. Reporter James Fletcher gets several points of view on this from a writer who was harassed as a child, a fan of Lolicon manga (which depicts young children in sexual situations), a child protection advocate, and a translator who advocates for free speech. While there is no strong evidence that this sort of manga fosters sexual abuse, some commentators see it as a troubling reflection of Japanese society. [BBC News]

Creators | With an Ant-Man movie in the offing, writer Nick Spencer says his new Ant-Man comic will be a good read for newcomers: "There was a real emphasis on making sure that the book was accessible, making sure that the book was something that if you saw the movie, you could go and pick it up and you wouldn’t be completely lost. You wouldn’t be drowning in continuity. There was a real focus on making sure that the book was new-reader-friendly." [Comic Riffs]

Creators | Artist Maia Kebabe chose comics over children's books because of the immediacy that self-publishing offered: "I was going to the conventions and hearing stories from people saying, ‘It took me four, five, seven years before I got my first book deal.’ I couldn’t wait that long. I want to be making books now. In the comic world, (if) you want to make a book, you make a book. You draw something, fold it in half, staple it, and you’ve got a book." Kebabe, who will be appearing at LumaCON in Petaluma, California, on Jan. 17, has self-published and hand-bound her first comic, The Thief's Tale. [The Press Democrat]

Creators | Here's a nice local-newspaper profile of M.K. Brown, whose comics appeared in the National Lampoon during its heyday; Fantagraphics has just published a collection of her comics titled Stranger Than Life. [Marin Independent Journal]

Creators | Writer Shawn Kittelsen talks about DC Comics' Mortal Kombat X digital comic, a prequel to the game, which will launch on Jan. 14. [Hero Complex]

Creators | Fred Jeffries started drawing cartoons in 1962 but had to give it up due to vision problems; now he is able to draw again, thanks to a special magnifying glass, and is about to publish a new book of cartoons. [The Hemel Gazette]

Retailing | After running Brainstorm Comics in downtown Frederick, Maryland, for 30 years, owner Dan Webb has sold the business — to two of his customers. [Frederick News Post]

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