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Comics A.M. | Japan launches anti-piracy initiative

Luffy of "One Piece"

Luffy of “One Piece”

Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]

Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]

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Jon Stewart: ‘With great power comes lack of impulse control’

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Jon Stewart kicked off last night’s episode of The Daily Show with coverage the weekend scuffle in Times Square between New York City police and a man dressed as Ultimate Spider-Man. Hey, if the New York Post can put the story on the front page, The Daily Show can lead with it.

The webslinger, one of numerous costumed characters (several of whom are dress as Spider-Man), was reportedly confronted by an officer after he demanded at least $5 from a family for posing for a photo. Police say when the wall-crawler cursed at the officer and told him to mind his own business — and when the cop moved in to arrest him, things got heated.

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Future of ZombieWalk uncertain after Comic-Con accident

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Courtesy of ZombieWalk: San Diego

The future of SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, is uncertain after a car drove into a crowd of participants and spectators Saturday, injuring three. A scheduled Oct. 26 event has been called off.

“Yes, the October walk is canceled,” organizers posted on their Facebook page. “We are evaluating continuing at all, at this point.”

Accounts of Saturday’s incident vary, but the San Diego Police Department says Honda Accord driven by a deaf man was stopped at Second and Island avenues at 5:30 p.m. as the procession of hundreds of participants in zombie makeup lumbered by. After waiting several minutes, the 48-year-old driver started rolling slowly into the crowd because his children, who are also deaf, were frightened. According to police, several people the surrounded the car and began hitting it, shattering the windshield. That’s when the father reportedly drove forward again, striking the 64-year-old woman. The crowd chased after the car as the family drove toward a police officer.

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Ultimate Spider-Man arrested in scuffle with NYPD

ny post coverWith a front page that rivals anything J. Jonah James has published, the New York Post trumpeted the news Sunday that Spider-Man struck a police officer in the face during an altercation in Times Square. Or, if you prefer “Times Square rampage.”

Interestingly, after countless crimes (allegedly, in some cases) committed in the past couple of years by guys dressed as the Peter Parker-variety Spider-Man — groping a woman, punching a tourist, robbing convenience stores, fighting two Captains America, etc. — this may be the first that involves someone dressed as Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man.

Perhaps more interesting — and certainly more amusing — is that the New York Police Department referred the suspect, 25-year-old Junior Bishop of Brooklyn, as “Spider-Man” throughout its press release. Also: The incident was caught on video, which you can watch below. (Note: It contains profanity.)

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Photo of the Day | Buzz Aldrin, wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet

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Courtesy of Marvel’s Tumblr arrives what may be my favorite photo of Comic-Con International: Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the Moon, at the Marvel booth wearing not only a T-shirt that reads “Get Your Ass to Mars” but also … the Infinity Gauntlet.

‘As the Crow Flies’: loneliness in the great outdoors

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.00.57 AMMountains seem to have been big theme among Eisner nominees this year. In High Crimes, the ever-looming presence of Mount Everest reminds the readers of the upcoming dangers posed by nature.

A similar thing happens in Melanie Gillman’s Eisner-nominated webcomic As the Crow Flies, although not to quite as perilous an extent. There’s no immediate danger here; the mountain is an expanse of wilderness that stretches as far as the eye can see. Long, wordless passages pause to explore the borders, which seem to stretch beyond the page to show that there is no visible end. No tiny towns dotting the landscape, no tiny outposts of civilization beyond a small camp. Just rocks and trees. While there might be a wild animal in that tangle of leaves and branches, that never poses an immediate threat.

No, the biggest danger in these woods is loneliness.

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Image Comics pushes the needle on gender diversity

FromUnderMountains-13258After the January Image Expo, Image Comics received some flak because most of the creators on stage were white men. On Wednesday, Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address to the Image Expo held in conjunction with Comic-Con International included the following comments: “If we want to build a more diverse industry, though, if we want to develop a more diverse talent pool, then it is of utmost importance that we produce comics that appeal to as wide an audience as possible …”

That was said within the context of the historic gender disparity in comics, especially when looking at mainstream comics and the direct market. There’s more evidence than ever that the gender disparity in readership is no longer true; women are just as likely to read comics as men. If that’s true, then one would hope that just as many would be likely to attempt to make comics. That doesn’t seem to have come to pass in this corner of the industry, but Image announced a trio of upcoming releases that will hopefully start to shift the momentum in the right direction. If nothing else, these are among the most promising books to be announced at Image Expo, and they build on the gratifying surge in creator-owned comics.

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Inside DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin

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With the 25th anniversary of 1989′s Batman, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the Tim Burton movie. As part of that, James at 1989Batman.com has pulled together some excellent threads examining DC Comics’ 1990 redesign of Robin, a project undertaken at the behest of filmmakers.

Out went the elfish garb of the original as DC searched for something more modern — befitting the time, and also primed to be translated into a future Batman film. To accomplish that task, DC turned to several of its top artists at the time, including Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle, Stephen De Stefano, George Perez and Jim Aparo. DC didn’t tell the artists what it was for; simply, they were asked to redesign the Boy Wonder.

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Is Wally Wood’s ‘Witzend’ a lost treasure or a noble failure?

bookcover_witzenIt seems like the stuff of legend: Wally Wood – the Wally Wood, of EC and MAD fame, fed up with being creatively and financially stifled by the oppressive corporate comics business model, discovers the then-nascent world of fanzines, and inspiration strikes. “Maybe I could create one of these fanzines for me and my friends,” Wood thinks. “We could publish any sort of work we wanted, with no editorial restrictions or code to worry about! Best of all, we’d own it!”

Bear in mind, this was 1966, a good two years or so before the first issue of Zap Comix set the still-budding world of underground comics on fire. The mere notion of comics as any sort of medium for self-expression at the time must have been something that drew wide-eyed stares. But while Wood was certainly no hippie, there’s little doubt he saw this as an opportunity to produce work that he and his friends really cared about.

And what a list of friends. Throughout its run, Witzend collected an impressive roster that included creators like Jim Sterenko, Gray Morrow, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall, Art Spiegelman (some of his first published work), Don Martin (yes, that Don Martin), Alex Toth, P. Craig Russell, Mike Zeck and Joe Staton.

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Mile High Comics may pull out of SDCC over exclusive variants

Mile High Comics' display at Comic-Con International

Mile High Comics’ display at Comic-Con International

Pointing to “seismic changes” in the number of convention-exclusive variants offered by publishers and toymakers, Mile High Comics President Chuck Rozanski has announced that after more than four decades, this may be his last year at Comic-Con International.

While he acknowledges in an installment of his Mile High newsletter that “the detrimental effects of exclusives at San Diego is not a new phenomena,” he asserts “the breadth and the scale” of those products have changed.

“No longer are exclusives limited to just a few booths, or only to Wednesday evening,” Rozanski writes. “We are now seeing all of the major comics publishers, and every single toy and game company, creating limited edition products that they deny us. This aversion to helping comics retailers has become so agregious [sic] and pernicious that I heard from my fellow dealers that some publisher and manufacturer booths were refusing to even allow anyone wearing a dealer’s badge to stand in line. That is beyond ridiculous.”

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SDCC | Three injured as car drives through ZombieWalk

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Three people were hurt Saturday in San Diego when a car drove through the annual ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International. A 64-year-old passersby was taken to the hospital with a possible broken arm, and the other two suffered only minor injuries.

Accounts of the incident vary, but the San Diego Police Department says a deaf family with small children was stopped at Second and Island avenues as the procession of hundreds of participants in zombie makeup lumbered by their car. Officer David Stafford told U-T San Diego that after waiting several minutes, the 48-year-old driver started rolling slowly into the crowd because his children were frightened.

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comiXology releases the digital comics shackles

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

After last year’s comiXology server blackout, I asked the digital comics provider to drop the leasing arrangement it was using. I was not the first or the last to protest the use of DRM, or digital rights management, technology to prevent people from owning a file of the comic they just purchased. It has consistently been a point of contention for a segment of potential customers, and now our wish is granted. comiXology shook up Comic-Con by announcing they are now offering true downloads of DRM-free back-up files for purchased digital comics.

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SDCC | Bendis to guest-star in Image Comics’ ‘Nailbiter’

Nailbiter #7

Nailbiter #7

In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s Powers #7 featured a familiar guest star, although not one readers were used to seeing in their comics: Writer Warren Ellis joined series protagonist Christian Walker on a ride-along to conduct research for an upcoming book.

But while the series later moved from Image Comics to Marvel’s Icon imprint, Bendis will make a return, of sorts, in November’s Nailbiter #7 as he pays a visit to Buckaroo, Oregon, to research a book about serial killers.

Created by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson, Nailbiter revolves around Buckaroo, a small town notable for being the birthplace of 16 serial killers. After beating a murder rap, the latest and most notorious of the “Buckaroo Butchers,” Edward “The Nailbiter” Warren, has returned home — and he’s a big fan of Bendis, as is Williamson.

“[The Nailbiter] is a very big Brian Michael Bendis fan,” Williamson said during Saturday’s Image Comics panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. “But he’s a little mad he killed Peter Parker.”

Williamson, who, like Bendis, lives in Portland, Oregon, said the idea of putting words in the fictionalized writer’s mouth “is terrifying.” However, he’s working closely with Bendis to ensure everything feels authentic.

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SDCC, Day 3 | The Force is with Marvel

star warsAlthough Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.

That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.

“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”

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Holy second chances! ‘Lost’ Two-Face episode comes to ‘Batman ’66′

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What’s this? DC Digital Editor Jim Chadwick doubling down on the delayed debut of television’s Two-Face? An unproduced script from the immortal Harlan Ellison to be adapted for the Batman ’66 digital-first series?

That was the word from the DC Digital panel at this year’s Comic-Con. Not to be outdone by IDW’s adaptation of Ellison’s original “City on the Edge of Forever” script, writer Len Wein, penciller Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, and inker Joe Prado are bringing Two-Face into the Batman ’66 world.

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