Comics A.M. | Viz sees 20% rise in shoujo manga in direct market

Manga | ICv2 kicks off a week of manga coverage with a two-part interview with Kevin Hamric, Viz Media's senior director of sales and marketing. Sales are up, with particularly strong growth in the direct market, where their older and darker series, like the Signature line, tend to do better. Interestingly, sales of shoujo (girls') manga are up 20 percent in the direct market as well. In bookstores, as measured by BookScan, they are the number one graphic novel publisher of 2014, and they had five of the top ten best-sellers. Given all that, Hamric is genial about ceding the top spot to a Kodansha title: "Attack on Titan is #1, but whatever works and brings people into the stores and into the category is good for everybody." In Part 2, he reveals what he expects to be the biggest book of 2015, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. [ICv2]

Comic strips | Gene and Dan Weingarten, the father and son team behind Barney & Clyde, explain how they came up with the idea for Sunday's "not-Muhammad" strip. Gene Weingarten explains, "As soon as the [Charlie Hebdo] massacre happened, Dan and I knew we wanted to do something on it in Barney & Clyde — something in solidarity with the dead, but also with a significant message for the living. It had to be something we could offer not just to The Washington Post, but to our syndicated clients, as well. That meant figuring out a way to address the horror in a way newspaper editors could feel was not pointlessly provocative." [Comic Riffs]

Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on this year's meeting of the retailers' association ComicsPRO, which included lots of talk about the diversifying comics audience and the uptick in sales as well as the election of Peter Dolan of Main Street Comics in Middletown, New York, as the new president of the association. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | In an interview with his local newspaper, Jules Feiffer reminisces at length about his career, working with Will Eisner, drawing cartoons for The Village Voice, leaving the Voice and taking up a teaching position, and his return to graphic storytelling with his most recent work, Kill My Mother. [Dan's Papers]

Creators | Danielle Corsetto talked about her webcomic Girls with Slingshots, and her career as a creator, at a recent appearance at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. [The Elm]

Commentary | Liza Donnelly writes about life as a political cartoonist in the post-Charlie Hebdo era, how she feels about the Prophet Muhammad cartoons (she wouldn't draw one, but she would defend someone who did), and her disappointment at the cancellation of the political cartoonists symposium Rencontres du Dessin de Presse. [The New York Times]

Digital comics | Sean E. Williams explains his new webcomics platform Comicker, which launched recently with five original series; he's working on an app as well. [Austin Daily Herald]

Digital comics | Thomas McDonald reviews the Marvel Unlimited service. [Patheos]

Conventions | Nint Anderman reports on the eighth annual Harucon, Jerusalem's anime and manga convention, which drew 3,000 attendees this year. [Haaretz]

Conventions | Rose City Comic Con in Tyler, Texas, is moving to a new venue as organizers expect an increase in attendance from last year's number of 6,000. [Tyler Morning Telegraph]

Retailing | Socko Jones, the owner of Comic Book Jones in Staten Island, New York, talks about getting customers hooked on comics, the nicknames he gives his family and friends, and his approach to his work: "We’re like a corner bar and I’m the bartender. You got to listen to everyone’s problems, even if it’s someone who doesn’t smell too good." [The New York Times]

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