Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist released from prison

(photo via The Foreign Desk)

Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. "Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility," the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. "It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear." Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]

Awards | Cece Bell's El Deafo has won the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, only the second novel to attain that honor (the first was Raina Telgemeier's Smile). The award is voted on by Vermont middle-schoolers from a shortlist chosen by adults, and the coming year's shortlist includes four more graphic novels. [VPR]

Editorial Cartoons | The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, based in Wasilla, Alaska, has let its editorial cartoonist go, in part because his liberal views did not sit well with readers. Cartoonist Chuck Legge has won a number of Alaska Press Club awards for Best Editorial Cartoonist, but in an editorial announcing his departure, the paper said, "While it’s great to have a local editorial cartoonist (Chuck and his wife live in Sutton), it’s also true that many readers were frequently prodded into complaining about his work. In addition to his admitted biases, Legge also frequently has taken time to skewer national and international politicians and figures. While this is sometimes interesting, it does not fit with the Frontiersman’s philosophy of delivering the best hyper-local content for our readers. We want the paper to reflect community values and tell Valley stories, and having cartoons about national politicians doesn’t always fit that mission." The paper will be replacing his cartoons with "a rotating feature that will include voices from average citizens, interesting historical anecdotes and reader polls." [Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman]

Manga | It's not in the headline, but one of the most interesting facts to come out of ICv2's interview with Viz senior editorial director Beth Kawasaki is this: "This last fiscal year was our best ever, in the history of the company." That's an indicator that the manga market truly has rebounded from its slump of a couple of years ago. Kawasaki oversees Viz's kids' properties, and she talks about their two most popular properties, Pokemon and Yo-kai Watch, and reveals that there's a Pokemon cookbook in the works. The Pokemon creators will also be guests at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Viz is doing some streamlining in advance of its 30th anniversary next year, and as part of that, they will be dropping their Perfect Square kids' imprint and rebranding all their all-ages titles as simply "Viz Media." [ICv2]

Creators | Paul Kirchner discusses his "psychedelic noir" graphic novel Murder by Remote Control, co-created with the mystery writer Janwillem van de Wetering, which was published in 1986 and has recently been re-issued by Dover. The interview is worth a click just to see a sample of Kirchner's amazing art. [Paste]

Creators | The comics creator John Patrick Green (Hippopotamister) is doing a series of interviews with his fellow creators for Children's Book Week, and he kicks it off with a chat with MK Reed, writer of Science Comics: Dinosaurs—Fossils and Feathers. [Teen Lit Rocks]

Webcomics | Veteran creator and writer-about-webcomics Shaenon Garrity writes up the Masters of Webcomics panel she participated in at Silicon Valley Comic-Con. In addition to Garrity, the panel featured Chuck Whelon (Pewfell), Jonathan Lemon (Rabbits Against Magic), Jason Thompson (The Stiff), Jason Shiga (Demon), "surprise mystery guest" Andy Weir (Casey and Andy, The Martian). [The Comics Journal]

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