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WATCH: Mario Helps Announce the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics

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After over two weeks of competition, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are now officially over. Japan did pretty well for itself, racking up 41 medals over the various sports, but its got another pretty big reason to celebrate — in four years’ time, they’ll be hosting the next summer Olympic games ceremony in Tokyo. To help drum up support, Nintendo icon Mario briefly made a video appearance for audiences at this year’s closing. Check out the video below to see the color-coordinated plumber traveling to Rio by pipeline — and transforming into Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.

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Comics A.M. | Gaiman & Williams’ “Sandman” Wins Hugo Award

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Awards | Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams II’s “The Sandman: Overture” took the prize for best graphic novel at the Hugo Awards on Saturday night. In contrast to last year, when voters opted for “no award” in many categories rather than support the Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies slates, there were only two no-awards, and all the major categories had actual winners. The best dramatic presentation (long form) award went to the movie “The Martian,” and the best novel prize was awarded to N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season.” [The Guardian]

Awards | Artist Joe Giella will receive the Hero Initiative’s Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Harvey Comics Awards ceremony on September 3. Giella, who recently retired after 70 years of drawing comics for DC, Timely, Fawcett, and other publishers as well as, more recently, the newspaper comics “Mary Worth” and “The Phantom.” [WMAR]

Conventions | New York Comic Con will venture even further out of the confines of the Javits Center this year than in previous years: ReedPOP has just announced that some celebrity panels and premiere programming will be held at the theater at Madison Square Garden. Programming on Friday, October 7, will include three BBC America panels: A “Doctor Who” panel featuring the current doctor, Peter Capaldi, and co-star Pearl Mackie; the world premiere of “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” followed by a panel made up of the actors and production staff; and a panel featuring the cast and production staff of the new “Doctor Who” spinoff “Class.” AMC will present a “Walking Dead” panel on Saturday, October 8, and other programming is in the works. The walking distance from the Javits to the theater is just under a mile. [New York Comic Con]

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Watch Batman, Iron Man Action Figures Clash in Impressive Stop-Motion Movies

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Everyone knows action figures can’t talk, but they can fight, right?

They certainly can in massive series of stop motion animated videos from Losman Productions, which show toy versions of beloved superheroes feuding around the house enough to make Woody and Buzz proud. Much like “Toy Story,” these action figures come to know themselves to be toys, but that doesn’t stop them from having petty rivalries and tearing up the place when their owners are out of the house.

Directed by Lawrence Osman, the videos comprise a long, connected narrative broken into different series — each following the travails of a different plastic hero. Spider-Man was the first to get the Losman treatment with an adventure in 2013, but from there the series (and quality) has progressed, with new heroes and villains getting in on the action. Other than the Spider-Man series, there is an Iron Man one (which launches with one model of Iron Man taking up arm[or]s against another) and a recently launched Batman series, which begins with the hyper-articulated Dark Knight going for a Batcycle joyride before crossing paths with the Joker and Harley Quinn.

There’s no dialogue in the mini films, but there’s plenty of personality. In the most recent video, released late in July, the many characters come together to stage their own version of a domestic Civil War.

The movies have drawn a ton of eyes, with the first Iron Man v. Iron Man adventure seeing nearly 30 million views. Watch the video, which sets the stage for the Losman-universe’s mythos, below.

The YouTube channel also features a ton of How-To videos that teach the techniques behind their stop-motion magic.

What do you think of Osman’s interpretations of these beloved characters, and the world he’s built for them? Sound off in the comments.

LOOK: ‘Rogue One’ Posters in the Style of ‘Full Metal Jacket’

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By Nigel Mitchell

An artist has created a series of posters for the upcoming “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” movie in the style of the iconic poster for “Full Metal Jacket.”

The tribute posters are the handiwork of vector artist Orlando Arocena, who released them to the website Poster Posse in celebration of the upcoming release of  “Star Wars: Rebels: Season 2” on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as “Rogue One.”

At Arocena’s official Behance page, he said, “Back in 2015 I was excited to hear the news about a potential ‘Star Wars Rogue One’ story being developed, and directed by Gareth Edwards. I was very happy to read how the story would be more set within a military, covert ops thematic. A year later and after a few trailers. I’m back to pay tribute with a parody. I decided to pay reverence to one of my favorite wartime movies, Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and the artist who created that films iconic artwork, Philip Castle, by visually combining the intensity and fighting spirit of the Rebellion in a new vector tribute.”

Season two of “Star Wars: Rebels” will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD on August 30, 2016. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will premiere on December 16, 2016. Check out more on Arocena’s creative process at Poster Posse, and sound off on what you think of his rebellious images in the comments.

See the Bootleg ‘Poke Wars’ Action Figure That Blends Bulbasaur with Bounty Hunting

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PokeFever has reached an all-time high with the release of “Pokemon Go,” the pocket monster-hunting, GPS-based app that has made its way onto everyone and their mom’s smartphone. Having reached cultural critical mass, the series has started to bleed into other hugely popular franchises — like “Star Wars.”

An image of an action figure that blends elements of “Pokemon’s” most iconic grass-type, Bulbasaur, and “The Empire Strikes Back’s” enduring bounty hunter, Boba Fett, is the latest cross-franchise anomaly to leave fans scratching their heads. The image was first uploaded to Imgur on August 4, 2016 by user paperPlates with the all-too-apt title, “Jar Jar Jinx.”

Gotta catch 'em all.

Gotta catch ‘em all.

There’s no word on the validity of the image and whether or not these actions figures are in any way real and available for retail or are just a decent work of Photoshop magic, though the grainy image quality and small visual errors point towards a fabrication.

RELATED: Star Wars-Themed “Scum & Villainy Cantina” Coming to Hollywood

Here’s hoping it’s real, because if the figures end up being fakes, there’s bound to be a cross-section of fans disappointed that they won’t be able to cast Leech Seed on Han Solo.

Gun Dealer Uninvited from Wizard World Chicago

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A manufacturer and dealer of replica guns and gun parts who planned to have a booth on the exhibit floor of Wizard World Chicago was told that his business was not welcome after all.

Dave Selvaggio of DSArms in Barrington, Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune that he had been planning since March to have a booth at the show, which takes place this weekend. He advertised his show booth on the DSArms Facebook page and planned to have people walking the con floor. Wizard World bans real weapons, including firearms and sharpened swords, and Selvaggio wasn’t planning on selling any actual guns, just replicas, as well as promoting shooting and gun safety classes.

“Just because people are fans of comic books and sci-fi doesn’t mean they’re not interested in protecting themselves and their family and their belongings,” he said.

Comic Con attendees make for a natural market, he said, as many of the movies and games enjoyed by those fans involve firearms.

“Maybe 90 percent of people walking around in costumes have (presumably fake) firearms,” said Selvaggio, who added that his company has provided props for movies. “All of these movies are filmed with live guns, with firing devices and with replicas.”

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WATCH: Recut “Rogue One” trailers get rowdy to Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”

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Some “Star Trek” fans weren’t too pleased when Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” showed up in the first trailer for “Star Trek Beyond,” but that didn’t stop a “Star Wars” fan from trying the song out over recut footage from the “Rogue One” teasers. The editing and slo-mo action syncs pretty perfectly with what audiences have seen of the film so far — and we gotta admit, the soundtrack definitely is a better fit for a film about infiltrating the Empire to steal the original Death Star plans. Check out the unofficial trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” below.

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Kate Beaton, Daniel Clowes Among Ignatz Award Nominees

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Small Press Expo is happening on September 17-18, and the organizers have announced the nominees for this year’s Ignatz Awards, which will be presented at the event. Tony Breed, Summer Pierre, Keiler Roberts, C. Spike Trotman and J.T. Yost made up the panel who chose the nominees, and attendees at the expo will vote for the final awards. There’s plenty of good reading on this list, from well-known creators to newcomers, so whether or not you can make it to SPX, the comics are worth checking out.

There’s an Ignatz tradition that the winner of the previous year’s Promising New Talent category draws their own take on Ignatz (the brick-tossing mouse from “Krazy Kat” who is now the awards’ mascot) and the artwork above is by Sophia Foster-Dimino, who took home not one but three Ignatz Awards last year.

Outstanding Artist
Daniel Clowes for “Patience”
Ryan Heshka for “Mean Girls Club”
Kevin Huizenga for “Ganges”
Noah Van Sciver for “Disquiet”
Tillie Walden for “The End of Summer”

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“Kenobi: A Star Wars Story” Fan-Made Trailer Gives Obi-Wan a Western Spin

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With “Rogue One” on the way and a Han Solo film in the works, “Star Wars” fans are eagerly speculating what other adventures in a galaxy far, far away they might see next. Filmmaker Rich Williamson has made his pitch for an Obi-Wan film with a fan trailer titled, “Kenobi: A Star Wars Story.”

Set between “Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV – A New Hope”, Williamson’s hypothetical movie stars Ewan McGregor, reprising his role as the Jedi master, in a “meditative Western” in the deserts of Tatooine. While in the desert, Obi-Wan struggles with his guilt over Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the dark side and the fall of the Republic.

Kenobi: A Star Wars Story Teaser from Rich Williamson on Vimeo.

The trailer primarily uses footage from “Last Days in the Desert,” in which McGregor plays Jesus Christ tempted by the Devil during his 40 days in the wilderness. While the actor has said he “would be happy to” star in an Obi-Wan movie, he also isn’t actively campaigning with Disney and Lucasfilm to get one made.

Rich Williamson, however, has some thoughts about the franchise’s future. “I’d love if ‘Star Wars’ started doing different genres, especially with the ‘Star Wars Story’ films,” Williamson wrote in the Vimeo comments on his trailer. “One film might be a heist movie, one a horror… Shake it up.”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, arrives in theaters on December 16, 2016. The untitled “Han Solo” film, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, is slated for a May 25, 2018 release.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

Comics A.M. | Masashi Kishimoto Teases Plans for Post-“Naruto” Career

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Manga | What’s next for “Naruto” creator Masashi Kishimoto? He revealed last year at New York Comic-Con that he was working on a science fiction story, and in an interview in an upcoming issue of the Japanese manga magazine “Jump GIGA” (formerly “Shōnen Jump NEXT!!”) he said he has already begun planning and researching the project and intends to announce it later this year. Kishimoto wound up the 15-year run of “Naruto” last year and then went on to write a one-shot sequel, “Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring,” and supervise the film “Boruto: The Naruto Movie.” He is also supervising the “Boruto” sequel series in “Shonen Jump.” However, he has indicated that he wants to move on. [Anime News Network]

Legal | Turkish cartoonist Dogan Güzel was arrested, along with a number of other journalists, in a raid on the newspaper Özgür Gündem on Tuesday. A news photo shows him being taken into custody, a torn shirt hanging from his shoulder. According to this more detailed report in a Spanish newspaper, the paper was closed and its computers confiscated because the government accused it of spreading propaganda favoring the PKK, the Kurdish rights party. Güzel was imprisoned for 10 months in 1998 on charges of “drawing a cartoon that called the state ‘weak,’ and for publishing his cartoons in the Kurdish language.” Cartoonist Rights Network International honored him with its first “Courage Award” in 1999. He moved to Spain shortly after that to escape further harassment and now has Spanish nationality, although he divides his time between the two countries. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

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J.K. Rowling Will Release 3 “Harry Potter” Short Story Collections This September

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When you’re picking up the books on your-back-to-school list, don’t forget the most important ones: J.K. Rowling’s three “Harry Potter” short story collections. Announced today on Pottermore, the collections will arrive just in time for your trip on the Hogwarts Express this September.

The three eBooks — which fall under the “Pottermore Presents” name — will collect information from Pottermore’s archives; that is, original writing by Rowling herself. There will be three collections total: “Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide,” “Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Political and Pesky Poltergeists” and “Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies.”

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Comics A.M. | “Pokemon Adventures” Creators Address Ash/Red Question

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Creators | Writer Hidenori Kusaka and artist Satoshi Yamamoto discuss their series “Pokemon Adventures” and address the fan theories of how Red (from the manga) is related to Ash (from the anime). “The two worlds and the two mediums are different,” Kusaka explains. “But if there were to be a link between them, Red and Ash, maybe. But I think for the fans to go with their creativity and have fun with that is one way of appreciating it.” [Huffington Post]

Legal | Jordanian authorities issued an arrest warrant for political satirist Nahed Hattar on Friday, charging him with causing “sectarian strife and racism” and “insulting religion” by posting a cartoon he shared on his Facebook page. Hattar turned himself in to police on Saturday and is currently in custody. The cartoon, by an anonymous artist, is titled “God of Daesh [ISIS]” and depicts an ISIS fighter in bed with two women, ordering God to bring him more wine and “put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time.” Hattar, a nonbeliever, said his intention in posting it was not to insult religion but to satirize ISIS’s view of religion, and in a response on Facebook, he said he did respect “the believers who did not understand the satire behind the cartoon.” Hattar’s lawyer, Faisal al-Batayneh, who successfully defended him on charges of insulting the king in several earlier cases, has withdrawn from this case, saying “Once I found out about the details of the case and about the offensive cartoon, I decided that my conscience and my commitment to the noble Islamic Sharia would not allow me to continue to represent Mr Hattar in this case.” However, he also said the state’s case is weak and should be dropped. Yesterday, the Jordanian prosecutor issued a gag order forbidding any further news coverage of the case. [Al Jazeera]

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Vinyl Idolz creator scares up “Stranger Things” figures

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If you’re a pop-culture fanatic, you’ve no doubt seen Vinyl Idolz figures lining the shelves of your local comic-book shop or toy store. Distributed by Funko, the action-figure line has lent its whimsical treatment to a wide variety of characters from comics, film, and television, from Batgirl to Marty McFly to Clark Griswold from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”.

Like many great things involving pop culture, Vinyl Idolz was the brainchild of a fan. The creator goes by the name of Kibooki, and his most recent creation is sure to set the internet abuzz: the cast of “Stranger Things.” It should be noted that these figures aren’t officially licensed. For now, they’re just another piece of remarkable fan-made art.

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This LEGO Ideas pitch is all about that (Batman) bass

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A fan has proposed a LEGO set that — in the spirit of the DJ-loving LEGO version of the Caped Crusader — turns the Batcave into a sound system, or, as it’s referred to in the pitch, Batman’s “Bass Base.”

On the surface, the set looks like a Batman-themed speaker, that is, until it’s unfolded to reveal a DJ layer for the Dark Knight of vengeance that, using an auxiliary cable, actually plays music.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Ted Rall’s LA Times Lawsuit Takes an Expensive Twist

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Legal | Ted Rall reports that there’s a new twist in his lawsuit against the LA Times: They are demanding a $75,000 bond against attorney’s fees. Here’s a quick recap of the story so far: In May 2015, Rall wrote an editorial critical of the Los Angeles police, saying that he was treated roughly and handcuffed when he was stopped for jaywalking in 2001. That July, the paper fired Rall from his freelance gig and wrote a column accusing him of making it up. The evidence for this was an audio recording that the arresting officer had made, which the police provided to the paper. Rall protested and eventually sued, claiming the paper had defamed him and improperly let him go. “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims,” the paper said at the time, and they weren’t kidding: They filed an anti-SLAPP motion, something that is supposed to protect whistleblowers from large corporations, not the other way around. As part of this, they asked the judge to compel Rall to pay a $300,000 bond against their attorney’s fees. The judge reduced the amount to $75,000, but as Rall says, “it’s not like the 10% bail that you hear about on TV. I owe the entire $75,000 on or before Thursday, August 18. My lawyers and I prepared a brief to fight it, but because the Los Angeles court system is so backed up, we can’t get a hearing until next summer. So another words, I either cough up $75,000 by next Thursday, or the Times gets away with what they did to me.” He has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money. [A New Domain]

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