Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean "Moebius" Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

Retailing | The Minneapolis comic shop Big Brain is closing its doors after 20 years because owner Michael Drivas is simply tired: "You’re either always working, or never working." [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Passings | Former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Siné (Maurice Sinet) died May 5 at age 87. Siné contributed to Charlie Hebdo from the time the magazine started, in the 1970s, until 2008, when he was fired following accusations of antisemitism for his comments about Jean Sarkozy, who had married a wealthy Jewish woman and was reported to be considering converting to Judaism. Siné sued for wrongful dismissal and won a 90,000 euro award; another court found him not guilty of inciting racial hatred. He started his own satirical paper, Siné Hebdo, which did not do well and eventually went from a weekly to a monthly release; he drew the final cover while he was waiting for the lung surgery during which he died. [RFI]

Graphic novels | The 25th volume of The Walking Dead tops the BookScan list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores in April. The deluxe edition of Batman: The Killing Joke comes in second, followed by the third volume of The Walking Dead Compendium. Image Comics had the most titles on the list, with five volumes of The Walking Dead, plus Vol. 1 of Paper Girls and Vol. 3 of Rat Queens. Viz Media was next, with three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul and the first volume of One-Punch Man. [ICv2]

Creators | Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints) has announced his new graphic novel will be his first nonfiction story: Dragon Hoops, which chronicles the attempt by the Bishop O’Dowd High School boys’ basketball team to win the California state championship. Yang spent the 2015 season with the team, and the story will revolve around six seniors, one of whom is the only Sikh in the league. "With him, I want to talk about culture and race and religion, and how those things have played into the history of basketball," Yang says. He will draw the book as well as write it; this is his first solo title since Boxers and Saints, which came out in 2013. [Comic Riffs]

Political cartoons | Jack Murtha explains why Farm News' firing of cartoonist Rick Friday over a cartoon that offended an advertiser is serious business: "Until now, pressure from advertisers and self-censoring editors has mostly spiked individual cartoons, not led to cartoonists being canned. Neither outcome benefits readers, but the case of Friday and Farm News seems a predictable step forward for those who aim to curtail freedom of the press." This may lead not only to more firings but to self-censorship on the part of editors, writers, and cartoonists, and Murtha argues that's a bad outcome: "What good is Farm News if it lacks the guts to take on issues that matter most to its readers?" Meanwhile, the agribusiness giant Monsanto, one of the companies named in the cartoon, commented on its blog, saying it was not aware of the cartoon until after the cartoonist was fired and it had no part in his dismissal, adding, "It is much easier to laugh at ourselves than it is to stifle humor." [Columbia Journalism Review]

Publishing | Dark Horse Publisher Mike Richardson talks about the challenges of publishing graphic novels for children and how Dark Horse makes it work. [ICv2]

Creators | Robert Jimenez's Strangewise No. 9 is a graphic novel inspired by pulp fiction. [Miami New Times]

Retailing | Houghton, Michigan, finally has its own comic shop: Black Ice Comics opened on May 7. The owners are Shana Porteen and Laura Smyth, both of whom worked in higher education before joining forces. [The Keeweenaw Report]

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