Comics A.M. | Palestinian cartoonist defends 'Muhammad' caricature

Legal | Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into a cartoon he claims depicts the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoonist, Mohammed Sabaaneh, denied that on his Facebook, saying, "The intention was not to represent the prophet. [It was to] symbolise Islam and its role of disseminating light and love on the human race." It was a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, not an attempt to imitate them: "My point was to defend religion in the face of attempts to distort it, by using the same means: a caricature," he said. The newspaper that ran the cartoon, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, apologized and stated that the cartoon was not supposed to be an image of Muhammad. Sabaaneh, who spent several months in an Israeli prison on charges of "contacts with a hostile organization," has been summoned by the Palestinian Authority for questioning. [Middle East Eye]

Political cartoons | Khalil Bendib, an Algerian Muslim who was raised in France and now is a political cartoonist in Berkeley, California, reflects on Charlie Hebdo, censorship, and freedom of expression. [Columbia Missourian]

Political cartoons | In a interview conducted at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, Derf Backderf (who used to draw political cartoons himself) reflects on Charlie Hebdo and why it couldn't happen here: "Our print media is all controlled by large corporations now and the people in charge are pretty cowardly. Very few printed the Hebdo cartoons at all after the attack, not because they were afraid of being attacked themselves, but because they were afraid to offend. Our newspapers and magazines are very dull and are all dying fast. I think most of them will be gone in five years." [Empirix]

Creators | Scott McCloud is best known for his books explaining how comics work, which meant there was pressure when he created his first graphic novel in 25 years, The Sculptor: "Each book painted a big target on my chest, especially the last one. But when I wrote Making Comics, I said in the introduction that I was doing this in part to teach myself how to make comics because I had this graphic novel in mind. I was trying to make myself a better cartoonist, because I knew I had a big job ahead of me." [Wired]

Creators | Cathy Camper explains why she chose to write about Latino characters and car culture for her graphic novel Lowriders in Space, and how her admiration of Joe Sacco figured into it. [Chronicle Books Blog]

Creators | As the first 18 issues of his Eightball are released as a boxed set, Daniel Clowes reflects on the comic and its creation, in an era when comics seemed "moribund": "The original guys who'd revitalised Marvel in the '60s had faded, and they were replaced by guys imitating them, who were then replaced by guys imitating them, it was this fourth generation of boring, awful comics. At the same time all the head shops, all the drug paraphernalia shops were being closed down - and they were where underground comics by the likes of Robert Crumb would be sold, so that was disappearing as well. There was nothing, it felt dead. But there was a whole generation of us who'd grown up on Mad magazine and National Lampoon and the comedy of Monty Python and Richard Pryor, and we wanted to do good comics. All of a sudden these people started to appear all over the country, trying to do something different, it was a miracle that we got an audience. We were a very, very small offshoot of the comics industry - it didn't feel like we were taking over anything…" [i-D]

Creators | Josef Bastian was fascinated for years by the urban legend of the Nain Rouge (literally, red dwarf), and when he lost his job, he started researching it — and ended up making a graphic novel about it. [Press & Guide]

Creators | Lisa Hanawalt shares a few pages of her sketchbook and her three favorite tweets. [Splitsider]

Comics | Mey looks at the representation of trans women in Image comics. [Autostraddle]

Collecting | "If it says 'Collector's item,' don't believe it": Bob Beason of Captain Bengal's Comic Cove in Pocatello, Idaho, has some advice for would-be collectors and those who want to cash in on old comics. [KPVI]

Theater | Kennesaw State University's theater department is staging Bloody Pulp: Crisis in the American Comic Book, a play about the comics industry in the 1950s. [WABE]

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