Comics A.M. | 'Ms. Marvel' wins Dwayne McDuffie diversity award

Awards | Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, won the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, presented over the weekend at Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, California. The other nominees were Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven, by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri;  Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin; Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos; and Zana, by Jean Barker and Joey Granger. The Beat has Wilson's acceptance video. [Long Beach Comic Expo]

Publishing | Kwanza Osajyefo, who ran DC Comics' Zuda webcomics imprint and is spearheading a Kickstarter to fund the graphic novel Black, recounts how the hour he spent with Dwayne McDuffie at age 17 changed his life: "I scribbled down names, numbers, and notes on everything he said, and it wasn’t until he said farewell and I was ushered to the door that I realized the wealth of knowledge he’d shared with me. Dwayne had taken the time to entertain this random kid off the street and impart to me wisdoms that wouldn’t even register in my mind until long after I’d left his office. What I did know was that a Black man had determined his own fate in comics and I wished to do the same." [Entertainment Weekly]

Passings | Freelance cartoonist John L. Caldwell, whose work appeared in National Lampoon, MAD Magazine, The New Yorker and many other periodicals, has died of pancreatic cancer at age 69. Caldwell attended Hudson Valley Community College and the Parsons School of Design, and he worked for a while drawing maps for the New York Department of Transportation. Apparently he didn't take the job too seriously: "Indeed, you might still find an occasional topographic map of New York showing roads that never existed bearing names like HEY, IT'S ME JOHNNY AVENUE and HOW BORING IS THIS BOULEVARD. There's even a IF I LIVED HERE THIS WOULD BE CALDWELL LANE just north of Rochester," he wrote on his website. He left the DOT to become a full-time cartoonist. He did a one-panel cartoon, Caldwell, that ran in 60 newspapers from 1986 to 1989, and in the 1990s he published two books, Fax This Book and Faxable Greeting Cards. [Albany Times-Union]

Passings | Manga creator Satomi Koe died of gallbladder cancer on Feb. 15, at age 65. Although none of Koe's work appears to have been translated into English, he collaborated with Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike on the 110-volume Nijitte Monogatari, plus two sequels. [Anime News Network]

Graphic novels | Mark Siegel, editorial director of First Second books, looks back at 10 years in the business, and reflects on the way the conversation around graphic novels has changed: "It used to be all about the graphic novel format — every other news article on a graphic novel for a while was 'oh wow, it's comics, but it's good,' which sometimes got a bit insulting to all these prodigious authors doing remarkable work. But now it's about substance, and it's about author voice. It’s about the writing, as you say, about immigration, or the speeding up of modern life, or about getting married, or growing up with a disability, or simply growing up — about the human experience, in other words. Which is a far more vital conversation than endlessly discussing a format." [Kirkus Reviews]

Creators | RJ Casey interviews Nick Drnaso about his first graphic novel, Beverly: "I’m more concerned now with solid cartooning and transitioning from one panel to the next. If I was spending all that time drawing tiny hatches, my hand would hurt and I would get lost in all the meaningless details. With minimal amounts of detail, I want to worry about the story and the flow — what’s really important. The dialogue and if I can somehow make characters contradict themselves — those types of things are much more interesting to me than hatching for five hours." [The Comics Journal]

Museums | Curator Andrew Farago discusses how the Cartoon Art Museum is keeping its mission alive while it searches for a new venue, after losing its quarters in San Francisco's Mission District last year. [Hoodline]

Conventions | The first Empower Comic Con, which took place over the weekend in Topeka, Kansas, is a comic convention with a twist: "We are a minority-based convention and we are a fundraising convention. So every year we will have a minority based theme," said organizer Charity DeLay. "This year is empowering women, next year’s will be pride and we will go on for there. We are a comic-convention with a cause." This year's convention raised over $2,000 for Connie’s Closet, which provides clothing for children in need. [KSNT]

Retailing | The folks at Floating World Comics in Portland, Oregon, list their 25 top-selling comics of 2015. It's heavy on creator-owned comics, with only one Marvel title, Ms. Marvel; the comic that sold the most copies was the self-published zine How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety. [Floating World Comics]

Retailing | The comic shop from the former Quaker Square Mall in Akron, Ohio, has now moved to its new home and reopened as Rubber City Comics. The store first opened as a comic stand in the mall in 1976. The move to the new location was partially subsidized by the Downtown Akron Partnership's "pop up" program, which helps businesses find vacant locations to move into and helps with the rent for the first six months. [Akron Beacon Journal]

Retailing | Granite City Comics, the only comic shop in St. Cloud, Minnesota, has been in business for 30 years, but the popularity of movies based on comics characters has brought new customers to the store. [St. Cloud Times]

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