Round-Up: Jean Fritz, Everytown Authors Council, and Black Panther

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From the passing of Jean Fritz to a new authors council aimed at preventing gun violence, here’s the latest literary news:

  • Jean Fritz, an award-winning author of historical biographies for children, died on May 14 at the age of 101. Fritz wrote more than four dozen books, often about eighteenth and nineteenth century figures in American history, including And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (1973) and Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). After growing up in China as the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary, Fritz has said that her fascination with American history was ignited by stories her parents told of the United States. What made her writing so entertaining to young readers was her inclusion of curious, strange facts and flaws about her subjects.
  • In an effort to increase gun violence prevention, the advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety has created the Everytown Authors Council, which will include more than 130 writers, editors, agents, and others in the publishing industry. Taylor Maxwell, press secretary for Everytown, said the Authors Council’s goal is to engage the literary community against gun violence. Author Jodi Picoult, who is judging an essay contest sponsored by Everytown, said: “Authors are singularly suited to speak out on the need for common-sense gun laws, and to tell the stories of those who have been devastated by gun violence.” The new council’s first initiative will be to urge fans to #WearOrange on June 2, National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
  • Written by author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Black Panther & the Crew comic book series, Marvel’s Black Panther spinoff, has been cancelled, due to less than stellar sales. For the first issue of the Crew, which is about a team of black heroes in Harlem, sales were estimated at 35,604; Black Panther’s first issue sold more than 300,000 copies when it debuted last year. Coates has been writing about Black Panther since his series premiered in April 2016. Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor-in-chief, told the New York Times that the Crew’s cancellation does not signal a move away from comics with nonwhite leads, citing black heroes Nick Fury Jr. and Luke Cage as examples.