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Comics A.M. | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein passes away

Mostafa Hussein

Mostafa Hussein

Passings | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein died Saturday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 79. Hussein had been a cartoonist for the state-owned Al Akbar newspaper since 1974, and was often accused of being sympathetic to those in power. His final cartoon, published in Al Akbar two days before he died, was inscribed “I ??don’t have time to finish this cartoon, forgive me. I will miss you.” [Ahram Online]

Awards | The Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI) has announced the winners of this year’s Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, and for the first time in the history of the award they are women: Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen. Mishra faced death threats for her cartoons about a religious leader who raped a 16-year-old (and eventually went to prison); Shaheen also was threatened with violence after she drew a cartoon depicting the Al-Quds Brigades as a dog in a cartoon critiquing Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s relationship with the organization. [Comic Riffs]

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Hero Initiative reveals ‘Wake Up and Draw,’ Kirby4Heroes plans

jack kirby1Following the launch of the third annual Kirby4 Heroes campaign, The Hero Initiative has announced of the “Wake Up and Draw” and in-store events planned for Aug. 28 in celebration of Jack Kirby’s 97th birthday.

The nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing a financial assistance to creators in need, has recruited more than 40 artists to “Wake Up and Draw,” with their drawings featured in a special gallery at ComicArtFans.com; they’ll be auctioned later on eBay, with proceeds benefiting The Hero Initiative. Follow #WakeUpAndDraw on Twitter and Instagram on Aug. 28 to see the drawings as they’re posted.

Phil Hester has set out to do a staggering 97 drawings for Kirby’s birthday, which you’ll be able to check out on his Twitter stream. He’ll also have details on where you can purchase the drawings.With Fan Expo Canada kicking off Aug. 28 in Toronto, artists including Kaare Andrews, Greg Land, Joe Prado, Ty Templeton, Jill Thompson, Richard Zajac and more will “Wake Up and Draw” with The Hero Initiative, while in San Francisco, Paolo Rivera will appear at the Cartoon Museum.

For a rundown of in-store appearances, art auctions and retailers who have agreed to donate a portion of sales on Aug. 28 to the organization, visit The Hero Initiative and the Kirby4Heroes Facebook page.

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Quote of the Day | Frank Miller doesn’t hate Superman

dark knight returns

“The Dark Knight series is all from Batman’s point of view. But if you look at Dark Knight 2, you’ll see a Superman who’s much calmer than the one in the first Dark Knight. Batman and Superman are dead opposites. I love Superman. Do I love Batman more? They’re not people. They’re only lines on paper.”

Frank Miller, in a Q&A with Playboy, on whether there’s any truth to the belief that he hates Superman
(via The Comics Reporter)

Valiant teams with DriveThruComics for DRM-free downloads

Valiant-logo-main-master-206x300Following in the footsteps of the likes of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s Panel Syndicate, Image Comics and, just last month, comiXology, Valiant Entertainment will allow readers to download its comics as DRM-free digital files.

Through a new agreement with DriveThruComics, Valiant’s monthly titles are now available as PDFs on the same day of their print release. The online retailer will soon host the publisher’s entire catalog of single issues and collections.

“Valiant has some of the most exciting and entertaining comics on the market today,” Matt M. McElroy, DriveThruComics’ director of publishing, said in a statement. “Several members of the DriveThruComics crew were already huge fans of the Valiant characters and creators, so we couldn’t be more thrilled to have these books available on our site.”

In celebration of the new partnership, the first issues of Valiant’s ongoing series are available for free download from Drive Thru Comics for the next 30 days. They include:

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Humble BOOM! Bundle heads into final 24 hours

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The Humble BOOM! Bundle is in its final day, meaning readers still have time to download 39 issues of DRM-free digital comics for as little as a penny.

That will get you issues of such BOOM! Studios series as Sons of Anarchy, Day Men, RoboCop and Imagine Agents. Those who pay more than the average amount offered (right now that’s $10.10) will unlock issues from 10 more series, including Planet of the Apes, The Woods and Mouse Guard: The Black Axe (the offering has expanded since the launch of the promotion, adding Fairy Quest: Outlaws, Polarity, Suicide Risk Vols. 1-2 and Protocol: Orphans).

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Ed Kramer didn’t violate plea deal, district attorney determines

ed kramerEd Kramer’s social-media activity didn’t violate the terms of his plead agreement, meaning he isn’t headed back to jail just yet. However, Gwinnett County (Georgia) District Attorney Danny Porter indicated it’s only a matter of time before the DragonCon co-founder makes a misstep.

“He’s very adept at the Internet … and he’s going to test us at every opportunity,” Porter told Atlanta’s WSB-AM last week.  ”So it’s still my belief that before this is all over, he’s going to violate his probation and I’m going to have him in prison.”

The D.A. began an investigation last month into Kramer’s online activity after reports circulated that his Twitter account was being followed by a 14-year-old girl and his Google+ page showed a connection to the then-14-year-old boy he was found with in a Connecticut hotel room in 2011.

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DC unveils an interactive version of its Multiverse map

dc multiverse

Although fans were already treated to a new map of the DC Multiverse during Comic-Con International, DC Comics has gone a step further, unveiling an interactive version on its blog.

On the eve of the launch of The Multiversity, the nine-issue miniseries by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Chris Prouse, Karl Story, Ben Oliver and Frank Quitely, the information is kind of slim: You can hover your cursor over just three Earths — Earh-0, Earth-8 and Earth-23 — to get details, but DC states, “New Earths are being revealed frequently so visit often.”

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‘Doomed!’ goes behind the scenes of Corman’s ‘Fantastic Four’

doomed

As comics fans continue to grumble about casting and rumored plot details, and predict box-office doom for director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, filmmaker Marty Langford takes us back 20 years with a sneak peek at his documentary Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four.

Even if you haven’t picked up a DVD bootleg at a convention, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the legend of the 1994 film, shot over 28 days for a meager $1 million so producer Bernd Eichinger could retain the film rights to the Marvel Comics property. Featuring low production values and high levels of camp, The Fantastic Four was never released in theaters, and many — including Stan Lee — have long contended it was never intended for distribution. However, Eichinger, Corman and others involved tell a different story.

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At halfway point, bidding for ‘Action Comics’ #1 hits $1.95 million

action1Halfway through the 10-day eBay auction, bidding for the finest known copy of Action Comics #1 has surpassed $1.95 million dollars.

Owned by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, it’s just one of two copies of Superman’s first appearance to receive a 9.0 rating from the Certified Guaranty Company. The other, previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage, sold at auction in 2011 for a record $2.16 million. The difference between the two is that the Cage issue had “cream to off-white pages,” while Adams’ copy is considered to be in pristine condition.

Bidding has slowed considerably as the price inches higher: The comic jumped from a starting price of 99 cents to more than $1.6 million in the auction’s first day. Still, already this morning the price has moved from $1.8 million to a little more than $1.95 million. It appears just nine people have participated in the auction, for a total of 27 bids.

The auction continues through Aug. 24, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to curing spinal cord injury. Adams, who acquired the comic several years ago, is only its fourth owner. He said he recently turned down an offer of $3 million, deciding instead to sell the book on eBay.

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Comics A.M. | Man accused in Tokyo store theft turns himself in

"Tetsujin-28 go" figure

“Tetsujin-28 go” figure

Crime | Kazutoshi Iwama, the 50-year-old man accused of shoplifting a Tetsujin-28 go figure worth more than $2,400 from a Mandarake store in Tokyo, has turned himself in to police. The theft became a matter of high public interest when Mandarake posted a security-camera photo of the man, with his face pixelated, and threatened to show his face if he didn’t return the figure by Aug. 12. The stunt attracted scores of journalists to the store, but Iwama reportedly told police he wasn’t aware of the threat until after he sold the figure to a secondhand store … for about $623. [Anime News Network, The Japan Times]

Publishing | Alex Segura, senior vice president of publicity and marketing for Archie Comics and editor of the newly renamed Dark Circle superhero line, talks about where the comics are coming from, what to expect — and his new dual role at Archie: “Usually, I’m the PR guy collecting the information from editorial and deciding how to announce it. Now, I was the editor getting the details together for the PR guy to announce and basically having conversations with myself. I’m exaggerating slightly.” [13th Dimension]

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jesse Jacobs on ‘Safari Honeymoon’

Safari-banner

It is fair to say a newlywed couple experiences a honeymoon like no other, on myriad life-changing levels, in writer/artist Jesse Jacobs‘ new Koyama Press book Safari Honeymoon — and jungle madness is only the beginning of what transpires. Jacobs’ art belies any description that accurately conveys the complexity and intoxicating absurdity of his work.

In this interview, I gain insight into his creative approach, among other areas of interest.

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‘Thunderpaw’: Always keep moving

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.30.24 AM

Thunderpaw: In the Ashes of Fire Mountain is a comic that literally cannot stop moving. Jen, the comic’s creator, has constructed a series of panels made out of looping animated images. The entire comic, in fact, is a study on the various creative ways the often-dismissed animation technique can be used to enhance traditional sequential art.

I mean, just look at all the stuff that Jen throws us in the second page. We begin with the unsettling image of twitchy eyes, with pupils rolling and getting bigger and smaller. Then we have an image of a lightning storm. The sky lights up, and the mountain itself glows then the lightning strikes. Then we get a scene where a flock of birds dive across the sky. Although each image is replayed in a short loop, each panel elicits slightly different reactions: unease, awe, dread.

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Stanford biologist explores science of Captain America, Hulk

stanford-hulk

As much as I enjoyed my well-worn copies of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the often-strained pseudoscientific explanations for superhuman abilities sure could sap the fun of out comics. For instance, the Hulk wasn’t simply (!) a gamma-irradiated man who turned big, green and strong when he got angry — if I remember correctly, his additional mass came from another dimension. In an amusing contrast, the “Powers & Abilities” section of a Handbook entry could go on for paragraphs, even pages, while in Who’s Who in the DC Universe, it might only rate a sentence or two.

Stanford researcher Sebastian Alvarado manages to find a nice middle ground in a pair of videos exploring the science behind Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. There’s no mention of other dimensions or unstable molecules here, but there are some big, and impressive-sounding words — such us epigenetic modification, which Alvarado theorizes might be behind Bruce Banner’s transformations.

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‘Agents of the Realm’: She is the one named Sailor Norah

Screenshot 2014-08-17 19.23.26The Americanization of Japanese properties isn’t a new thing — in fact, it’s a time-honored tradition. Ever since Raymond Burr was inserted into the original Godzilla, there’s a history of cultural sharing on both sides of the Pacific.

Perhaps someone’s mixing the Japanese series Super Sentai to form a popular new show about teenagers with attitude on American shores. Or maybe there’s a North American company somewhere that used the familiar visuals of cyberpunk anime like Ghost in the Shell for its third-person action game. The style and high-octane action of anime and manga are alluring. However, few created in the Western world manage to gain any traction … although that never stops the passionate fans from trying to recapture the magic with their own works.

Mildred Louis’ Agents of the Realm doesn’t, at a glance, look like it was inspired by manga. Her style bears more similarity to the Hernandez brothers than to the dewy-eyed teens who populate most shoujo titles. The characters don’t look like elegant models, but rather like harried, exhausted college students. Also, none seems Caucasian. Our main character, Norah Tanner, is of African heritage, and a role call of the class reveals that most everyone, aside from some vaguely drawn background characters, is non-white. That’s not only a departure for the magical girl subgenre, but for comics in general.

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Dustin Harbin will draw anyone (once) for $50

vader-harbin

If you’re looking for some original art, artist Dustin Harbin has a deal for you: He’ll draw a portrait of any real or fictional person, “as long as they are moderately famous and/or universally recognizable,” for $50.

The catch? He’ll only draw each person once, “so if there’s someone you’re really into, act fast. The only exception to this is if it’s a sufficiently separate instance of that person: i.e young Bill Murray versus older Bill Murray, or Han Solo in his winter gear in Empire Strikes Back, versus his vest-style outfit in Star Wars.”

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