Category Archives: Politics

Book and Comic Publisher Françoise Nyssen is Heading Up France’s Cultural Ministry

With the French election over, the task of setting up a new government begins and France’s new Macron government is looking towards books and comics when it comes to their new Minister of Culture. Publisher Françoise Nyssen will head up the ministry in the Macron government. Nussen, Belgian by birth but a naturalized French citizen who also holds degrees in chemistry and urban planning, was the president of the publishing cooperative Paradou and eventually became chairwoman of the board of Actes Sud.

While the story of a book publisher being appointed to such a position would be enough for this site, Actes Sud also has a line of comics/graphic novels, yes a comic publisher is actually in the position. And it’s an impressive line-up of graphic novels and comics.

Some issues Nyssen might tackle include an incentive program to have libraries open on Sundays, an “art allowance,” and making cultural institutions’ executive appointments more reflective of the French population’s diversity.

This is the latest example of comic fans taking over politics and congrats to Nyssen.

(via Publishing Perspectives)

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Comics Creator Eleanor Davis Arrested at Georgia Regents Protest

Eleanor Davis, the creator behind You & a Bike & a Road, Libby’s Dad, How To Be Happy, and more was arrested at a protest at Tuesday’s Georgia Board of Regents meeting. They were charged with obstruction and trespassing charges.

Davis, along with others, were protesting “the system’s policies that restrict those without legal immigration status.” The policy bars attendance from five of the state’s top universities and paying in-state tuition at others.

The Board members chickened walked out of the meeting when the protest began but later returned.

The protest was a mix of “faith leaders and current and former University System of Georgia students.” Similar protests have been held at previous meetings and organized by the Atlanta-based Freedom University. That organization provides tuition-free college preparation for students impacted by this policy.

Davis has been released after the Georgia Civil Disobedience Fund paid her bail.

Comics for Youth Refugees Delivers Comics for Refugee Children

The Syrian all-ages comic, Haawiyat, has arrived to the delight of numerous refugee children. The comic filled with well-known Syrian folktales was created to give comfort and something tangible to children who have lost everything. At just 8 pages with black and white interiors, it was a proof of concept project that has turned wildly successful. The team behind the book is now officially a 501(c)(3) non-profit known as Comics for Youth Refugees Incorporated Collective (CYRIC). Phase two has begun with a crowdfunding campaign on Razoo.

Costs of production and distribution for phase two will be the ultimate goal of the Razoo campaign.

Creators include Rob Croonenborghs, Sajad Shah, Jim Shaw, Joseba Morales, and Ursula Murray Husted. Taylor Hastings’s Ghost Glyph Studios handled the lettering and Farrah Hamza translated for phase one; both are remaining on the team for the next phase.

In the press release, project leader A. David Lewis said:

For phase one, all production and services were donated or volunteered. In phase two, we hope the expanded incarnation of the title will have more stories, be in full color, AND go out to many more deserving children!

Chris Dodd Steps Down from the MPAA, Chris Rivkin To Succeed Him

Former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, Chairman & CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has announced that he will step down from his position as CEO on September 4 and from his position as Chairman at the end of the year. The MPAA board has named Charles Rivkin, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, as Dodd’s successor. Rivkin was also the former Ambassador to France and served under President Obama in both positions. Ambassador Rivkin will join MPAA September 5, and the two executives will work together to complete the transition by the beginning of next year.

Dodd has served as Chairman & CEO of the MPAA since March of 2011. During Dodd’s tenure the organization focused on the digital age and expanded US presence into China. The organization also cracked down on piracy and caused around 1,500 websites to be blocked as well as criple their profitability by working with payment processors. That initiative was not without controversy.

Rivkin most recently served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs from 2014 to 2017. Previously, he was U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco, and before entering public service, Rivkin spent nearly twenty years in the creative sector as CEO of The Jim Henson Company and W!ldBrain.

Donald Trump’s First 100 Days In Office Courtesy of The Simpsons

Donald Trump reviews his accomplishments from his first 100 days in office as only The Simpsons can deliver.

Comic Creator Gisele Lagace Denied Entry into the US for C2E2

It was only a matter of time before this happened, but comic artist Gisele Lagace was denied entry into the United States to attend this weekend’s C2E2 which is taking place in Chicago. Lagace was to table there and have a signing for IDW on Saturday and Sunday.

As Lagace wrote on Facebook:

Welp, no C2E2 for me. Was refused entry at the border. They kept pressing about the comics I had and the sketches, and well, I had to be honest and said that I did get paid for commissions but before hand, but since they weren’t complete, it was considered work in the us. Comics wise, I had maybe $700 in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it’s not a lot.

Was asked if I was the only one doing this as I looked surprised to be refused entry. I said no, many artists from around the world attend these to promote themselves. I don’t think they cared.

My car was searched and is a mess. And to top it off, I was body searched and finger printed too (they do that when you get refused entry apparently.) It was an awful experience.

Things then went worse when they searched me throughout and found 2 white pills in my wallet. There was no identification on them and I wasn’t sure what they were. Once I calmed down after being touched all over, I remembered they were generic acetaminophen from the dollar store that I carry around in case Marc gets a headache as it sometimes happen. I forgot they were even in there.

Anyway, I wasn’t turned around for the 2 acetaminophen, as they found those after I was refused entry for the comics in my car and the unfinished sketches but they kept us longer there until they were convinced they weren’t narcotics. I never took drugs in my life!

And to think we drove close to 2 days to get there. For nothing. (No, I didn’t get anything from that body search. Maybe Zii would think it’s a good deal.) Anyway… Driving back home.

Now that I’ve been refused entry in the US for this, it’s on file. Don’t expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won’t happen.

Legace has done work for Marvel, Archie, IDW, and Dynamite, as well as numerous webcomics. The logic for denial of entry sounds similar as to what Italian band Soviet Soviet experienced when attempting to travel to SXSW, the question over what counts as “paid work.”

Expect fewer guests who live outside the US from attending shows until this is cleared up and it should be said, those who are attending from outside the US to be careful about accepting paid commissions while attending conventions.

Welcome to Donald Trump’s America…

We Stand On Guard Wears its Canadian Flag Like a Patch on an American Backpack in Europe

I probably shouldn’t take We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce too seriously as a political commentary on Canadian-American relations or American military-industrial imperialism. On its face, as an action comic, it’s pretty paint-by-numbers, relying on standard set pieces and cardboard characters, which essentially serve to get us from one highly-detailed, impressively-rendered explosion to the next.

But I’m a Canadian. A Canadian who grew up an Army brat in 70’s French immersion schools, graduated high school on a Cold War base in Germany, opposed the 1987 Free Trade Accord, demonstrated against the 1990’s-era budget cuts, got tear-gassed by my own military protesting the 2001 Free Trade Area of the Americas, froze my ass off protesting the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and is writing this as Canada “celebrates” (if that’s the right word) the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge and lines up behind President Trump as he sets up another regime change.

I’d like to say that We Stand on Guard plays with a number of Canadian myths and symbols – we start, for instance, in the year 2112, two hundred years after the War of 1812. For certain Canadians, including one of the kids in the book, this represents the first, last, and only time that “Canada” (although as is rightly pointed out, we weren’t yet an actual country) beat the USA in a shooting war. The British burning of the White House in 1814 is one of those things that we pull out every now and again (usually over beers during a gold medal hockey game).

In the book, the White House has indeed been burned to the ground – and the American invasion begins with the bombing of Ottawa in retaliation (although it is never proven – nor disproven – that Canadians did it). Of course, it’s all a pretext for expropriating Canada’s fresh water. A simple enough idea – but one that rests on a fundamental mischaracterization of how Canada actually works.

We’ve had our differences with the USA, certainly, mostly due to our being a British colony. My current home of Montreal was captured during the Revolutiionary War in 1775; in 1812, the US and UK went to war; in the 1860’s a group of Irish-Americans called the Fenians conducted a series of raids against British North America. You could say that one of the chief purposes of creating the Dominion of Canada was to defend British subjects against America. But at the same time, we have always relied on the size and proximity of the American marketplace as a customer for our abundant and cheap natural resources.

Seminal economic historian Harold Innis famously wrote of the Canadian economy as essentially being “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” From our beginnings as Nouvelle-France and Rupert’s Land to the present day, Canada’s value has fundamentally been as a supplier of natural resources – cod, coal, fur and felt, timber, nickel, wheat, potash, oil and gas, etc. As we evolved politically, we have remained pretty much the same economically.

Which brings me to the point where We Stand On Guard is pure fantasy: America would never have to invade Canada to get our water.

First, American or multinational companies would simply buy pumping rights, one lake at a time. And we would happily sell it to them. After all, as the chairman of Nestlé put it recently, “water is not a human right.” It’s a natural resource, as marketable as any oil, wheat, or timber, and we’ve never put up too much of a fight to think of it any other way.

Second, if Canada or any of the Canadian provinces put up any resistance, they would be sued under NAFTA’s infamous Chapter 11 Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. Private corporations are allowed to sue public government against expectations of potential profit, and decisions are made by a secret and binding tribunal. Canada is the most-sued nation under NAFTA, most often for environmental laws. The US has never lost a NAFTA Chapter 11 case.

Third, if the White House ever did give us the stinkeye and ask us to dance, there’s no way we’d drop the gloves on them. Justin Trudeau, having dreamily campaigned on being the progressive option after a decade of Conservative reign, promptly approved the Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL pipelines, over the objections of the First Nations he promised to respect. Trudeau, while in opposition, voted for an anti-terrorist bill which gives the government unlimited rights to spy on citizens, and also created the term “economic terrorist” in order to dispose of pesky anti-pipeline treehuggers. Much the same way the Harper government jailed – er, detained, sorry – hundreds of G20 protestors in Toronto, the way Chrétien pepper-sprayed his G20 protestors, the way Trudeau the First rounded up hundreds of Québécois under the War Measures Act, the way that Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis padlocked the doors of anyone he suspected of being a Communist, the way that Japanese Canadians were jailed – sorry, interned – during World War Two, the way that Ukrainian Canadians were similarly interned as “seditious aliens” during World War One, the way that First Nations children were rounded up to have the “Indian-ness” beaten out of them in residential schools. Canada is not now, nor ever has been, a nation of saints.

True, we do occasionally put up some resistance: I’m thinking of how Lyndon Johnson grabbed Nobel Peace Prize winner PM Lester B. Pearson by his lapels for not following the US into Viet Nam, growling, “You pissed on my rug!” Trudeau and Nixon were not exactly best buddies: Nixon once called Trudeau an asshole. Trudeau replied, “I’ve been called worse things by better people.” And, thanks in part to a protest in Montreal in 30-below zero (Celsius – that’s minus 20 degrees F), Canada didn’t follow the US into Iraq. But I can guarantee you that, had the Prime Minister been a Conservative from Alberta and not a Liberal from Quebec, a Montreal protest would have meant about as much as Quebec anti-conscription protests meant in 1917 and 1944: rien pantoute, nothing at all. Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” for both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

Now, I understand that We Stand On Guard is meant to be a fun action book. But surely there could be more creative and subversive ways of portraying an entirely fictional Canadian resistance to an American military invasion. As I was reading, the missed opportunities piled up like timber. For instance: while I was happy to see my family’s hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan get a shoutout from the captured resistance leader (complete with ladypart joke about the Queen City’s pronounciation), Vaughan could have just as easily made her an actual Mountie (Regina is the HQ of the RCMP and its Academy). “The American” counter-terrorism commander is revealed to be from Canada – but where she could have made a very simple argument about shocking and aweing her own countrymen (the Canadian military being under American command in NORAD, for instance), she’s given a story about having moved to New York as a kid. The resistance cell calls itself the Two-Four (after a 24-bottle case of beer): why not the May Two-Four, in celebration of the most Canadian of holidays, Victoria Day? It’s even something else in Quebec, where the third Monday in May is the Journée des Patriotes, in honour of the 1830’s rebels from what would become Ontario and Quebec fighting for representative  democracy. And never once are we actually treated to a rendition of “O Canada”, in either official language (the French version, by the way, is the original).

Speaking of which: to use Vaughan’s own line, the French in this book sucks. They couldn’t have asked someone to check it? I’ve had the same issue with Chapterhouse’s Captain Canuck and Northguard comics. Language is the linchpin of the Québécois identity – the ability to speak not only French, but the local joual vernacular, is what, in the ears of many, makes you a “real” Quebecker or not. At any rate, to my ear, a Québécois who doesn’t utter a single “criss de câlice de Saint-Ciboire de tabarnak” under fire is just as wrong as a Jewish character who doesn’t speak a word of Yiddish. It’s absolutely essential to character. Never mind the straight-up grammatical and spelling errors that a French proofreader should have caught.

So We Stand On Guard is a comic full of lazy shortcuts by an otherwise good writer who has access to Canadian culture (as he’s married to a Canuck, and his artist is also from the Great White North). Why he couldn’t have, or just didn’t, take the time to invest in something more genuinely interesting, is maddening to me. Not only does this book not dig into a certain set of Canadian myths and symbols, it doesn’t even present them accurately. It’s neither subversive nor playful; neither serious enough nor fun enough. This comic wears its Canadian flag like a patch on an American backpack in Europe.

I must say this, though: I would buy a comic called The Littlest Robo in a heartbeat.

Marvel Releases a Statement on Controversial X-Men Gold Ardian Syaf Art

You know how we can’t have nice things? Well, here’s another example. Artist Ardian Syaf decided to make a statement in his artwork for this week’s X-Men: Gold #1 by adding in some coded religious messages preaching intolerance and a political protest taking place in Indonesia.

Marvel released a statement distancing themselves from the art.

The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.

Syaf’s references were focused on numbers being used by Muslim Indonesians in protest of the Christian Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Purnama is accused of making intolerant statements with the protests being led by Islamists.

The scene(s) in places Kitty Pryde (a prominent Jewish character) next to the “Jew” part of a sign for a jewelry store in the background. 212 and 51 appear in the issue, including the scene with Pryde. Colossus in the comic in another scene also has QS 5:51 on his shirt. QS meaning Qur’an Surah. 212 refers to a mass protest and 51 is a reference to a Qur’an verse forbidding Muslims from being led by non-Muslims. It’s interpreted as being anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.

The X-Men were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two Jewish creators and this comic is written by Marc Guggenheim who is also Jewish. Marvel is run by Ike Perlmutter, also Jewish. The X-Men themselves have always fought for inclusiveness regardless of a person’s background.

It’s unknown if Syaf will stay on the series after this and what “disciplinary actions” are.

Baltimore Comic Con Announces a New Weapons Policy for 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con will be held on September 22-24, 2017 at the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center and the convention has announced a new weapons policy for this year.

Due to recent tragedies as well as new legislation passed by the City of Baltimore, there has been some changes and it is now prohibited to bring weapons of any kind into the convention.

The new legislation passed in the city of Baltimore makes possession of replica guns illegal. Replica guns are subject to seizure and forfeiture, and certain penalties are imposed for possession.

The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive and the Baltimore Comic-Con reserves the right to prohibit additional items not listed in this policy. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  1. Firearms of any kind (including air soft guns, BB guns, cap guns, paintball guns, and pellet guns)
  2. Replica firearms (including reproductions, or toy guns that can be confused for actual firearms)
  3. Any projectile weapons (including blow guns, crossbows, long bows, silly string, slingshots, water balloons, and water guns)
  4. Bladed weapons (including axes, daggers, hatchets, knives and swords, sword canes, and switch blades)
  5. Explosives of any type (including black powder, firecrackers, and fireworks)
  6. Chemical weapons (including mace and pepper spray)
  7. Blunt weapons (including bats, mallets, brass knuckles, clubs, and any type of martial arts weapon)
  8. Prop weapons made of anything besides soft plastic or foam. The Baltimore Comic-Con reserves the right to deny admission to individuals attempting to bring any prop into the show deemed unacceptable by staff.

Any replica or prop weapon purchased from a Vendor at the convention must remain in the packaging or be taken out of the convention center.

The above list is meant to “ensure compliance with new legislation in Baltimore,” and the convention strongly encourages everyone to continue wearing the costumes on which they have spent so much time and effort. They realize that this change puts a hamper on some cosplay.

It’s unknown how likely the Baltimore police would enforce such legislation at a convention, but for all the work individuals do and money spent, it may not be the best idea to test it.

While We Talk “Power Rangers” Breaking Down Barriers, How About Haim Saban’s Islamophobia?

With the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers film opening up this weekend, the full court press is on to show the film is updated and fresh with one Ranger being autistic and another figuring out their sexuality. While the changes have been met with glowing articles, the reality is they overlook the darker side of the Power Rangers. I’m not talking about the on-set homophobia experienced by actor David Yost (the original Blue Ranger) during the original Power Rangers show; my focus is a bit different.

If you look at the logo of the 2017 big budget film reboot of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you’ll see the word “Saban’s” is subtly located in the advertising including television and posters. “Saban” is a reference to Haim Saban, the individual credited with bringing the popular kids show to the United States after coming across the concept during a trip to Japan. Saban was able to make billions off of it all and has parlayed that into political capital.

“I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Saban is the Israeli-American who is one of the largest donors to Democratic causes and campaigns. He not only runs an entertainment empire but also is a very politically influential individual who is able to shape policy. It was in a letter to Saban that Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel. Her opposition wasn’t a surprise, the fact she did so in a letter to her biggest donor instead of a press release or speech was and suggests Saban’s influence within political circles and the parts of the Jewish community.

Saban vehemently describes himself as a one-issue person, and that issue is Israel, where he has shifted from a more left-leaning view a decade ago to more of a hardline right-wing hawkish view today. That view also includes disturbing statements about Muslims.

As reported by Haaretz, Saban is quoted as saying in November 2015:

“I’m not suggesting we put Muslims through some kind of torture room to get them to admit they are or they’re not terrorists,” he is quoted as telling The Wrap in a story posted Wednesday, “but I am saying we should have more scrutiny.” Suggesting that some civil liberties may need to be suspended in the face of security threats, he asked rhetorically: “You want to be free and dead? I’d rather be not free and alive.”

He later walked back some of those statements, but doubled down on the threats to civil liberties and opinions on policy that eerily echo President Trump’s logic for his Executive Order regarding immigration.

“I believe that all refugees coming from Syria – a war-torn country that ISIS calls home – regardless of religion require additional scrutiny before entering the United States. At this moment in time, with hundreds killed in Paris and thousands more around the world, freedom as we know it is under existential threat. And while in contradiction to our country’s principles in time of peace, I’m comfortable with the government taking additional measures, including increased surveillance of individuals they deem suspicious. Our first priority is to protect the lives of our citizens and no liberty is more valuable than our safety. I regret making a religious distinction as opposed to a geographical one: it’s about scrutinizing every single individual coming from a country with ISIS strongholds.”

Saban was also a leader in the organized effort to smear Congressman Keith Ellison during his recent bid to be the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison is a Muslim Congressman who has criticized the foreign assistance to Israel when some of their actions make peace difficult and run counter to requests made by the United States.

During the Brooking Institution’s Saban Forum, an annual gathering, Saban unprompted called Ellison an anti-Semite saying:

“If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” the Israeli-American said Friday about the Minnesota lawmaker. “Words matter and actions matter more. Keith Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party.”

What Saban, and other Democratic Jewish donors like Alan Dershowitz, were hinting at is donations. This was a veiled threat to pull vital dollars that’d otherwise be donated to candidates and the party if Ellison became chair.

When CNN researched claims against Ellison, they turned up nothing. As CNN acknowledged when digging up old Ellison quotes:

“None of the records reviewed found examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself.”

The attacks on Ellison led to numerous Jewish organizations and individuals such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, J Street, and Senator Chuck Schumer to defend Ellison. In a statement, J Street said:

“It is time to retire the playbook that aims to silence any American official seeking high office who has dared to criticize certain Israeli government policies.”

In reality, Ellison is a pretty average liberal Democrat supporting a two-state solution and advocating for peace. But, the damage was done, the toxicity thrown towards Ellison was a factor in his loss as DNC chair.

But this wielding of influence shouldn’t be a surprise. At a Saban Forum event, Saban laid out his three-pronged approach to influence American politics: fund political campaigns, bankroll think tanks (Saban is the founder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, a foreign policy think tank that’s part of the Brookings Institution and a supporter of the conservative pro-Israel organization AIPAC with their Saban National Political Leadership Training Seminar), and control the media (as part of a group of investor Saban Capital Group is a partial owner of Univision).

Interestingly, Saban was rebuked during the DNC chair race. When asked if Saban should apologize, those running generally agreed he should.

“There were some fireworks. When asked whether billionaire Democratic donor Haim Saban should apologize for smearing Ellison as an anti-Semite, everyone on stage but Ellison and Greene agreed ― a rare rebuke from political aspirants directed toward a deep-pocketed supporter.”

Greene felt the question was a “gotcha” moment attempting to divide the party from its donors, showing where Greene’s loyalty lies. Turning the other cheek, Ellison said the following:

“I just think everybody should know that Haim and I did have a phone call, I won’t disclose what we talked about, but it was amicable, and we’re going to get together and build on our relationship. So I don’t want everybody to think that that was the last word, it wasn’t. And I think we’re on the road to recovery in that regard. So I just wanted people to know that.”

Keep in mind, the DNC chair is a leadership and management role, it doesn’t decide on policy. But, the damage was done with Saban sending one of the loudest messages. Ellison’s bid was sunk… because he’s Muslim and due to Islamophobia.

So while all the article praise the Power Rangers update they overlook a disturbing few recent years where an ugliness has reared its head. As seen in the DNC chair race and the President Trump’s actions, Islamophobia is alive and well. The advocating for profiling, the support of curtailing civil liberties, and unfounded attacks on a Muslim Congressman who wants to serve his party and nation, all in the “support of Israel.” For someone whose show espouses teamwork and bringing together individuals of varying backgrounds as a team, Saban’s statements and actions are divisive and refutes the lessons the show teaches. Go go Power Rangers?

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