Current Transmissions

These custom ‘Batman v Superman’ figures set a high bar

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Director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will arrive in March 2016, and with it an avalanche of merchandise, from lunchboxes and clothing to backpacks and, of course, action figures. However, FigureRealm user STjuggernaut is already making life difficult for official licensees with his impressive custom creations.

Using bits and pieces from other characters — a She-Hulk head here, an Indiana Jones whip there — he’s crafted 4-inch scale figures of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman (with and without his cowl). The join the Superman, Jor-El and Kryptonian villains he assembled based on Man of Steel.

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The Holy See gets unholy in ‘Roman Ritual’

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Exorcism has long been staple of horror fiction, whether film, television, comics or prose. But two Spanish creators are dialing up  turning it up a notch by showing a person in need of an exorcism who lives at the Vatican. That’s right, the pope is possessed.

Debuting next week from Amigo Comics, Roman Ritual is a four-issue miniseries by El Torres and Jaime Martinez that sees self-exiled Catholic priest John Brennan summoned to Rome when the Pope becomes possessed. It’s certainly a provocative premise, and Torres and Martinez don’t shy away from it.

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ComiXology unleashes second wave of DRM-free publishers

comixology-new-logo-thumbLess than two months after launching its DRM-free backup program, digital comics platform comiXology has announced a second wave of 14 more participating publishers.

Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent and Top Shelf Productions are now joined in the program by IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devil’s Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media.

Digital rights management (DRM) allows comics to be read only with proprietary software. DRM-free comics are simply files — usually PDF or CBZ  — that can be accessed using different readers. They don’t come with any bells or whistles, such as comiXology’s Guided View.

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Power couples: ‘Superman/Wonder Woman’ and ‘Astro City: Victory’

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Superman is the world’s greatest superhero, Wonder Woman is the world’s greatest superheroine. They have so much in common — their superpowers, their costume colors, their hobbies, their social organizations — that they seem perfect for each other … if only it weren’t for that nosy reporter friend, or girlfriend, or wife, or object-of-his-affection that’s kept the Man of Steel more or less spoken for over the course of his 75-year career.

I suppose that’s why Superman and Wonder Woman so often become a couple in various out-of-continuity stories like Kingdom Come and Injustice, and a large part of why DC Comics decided to use its 2011 reboot as an opportunity to make the pair a super-powered power couple, one of the more dramatic, non-sartorial changes in either characters’ milieus the reboot has so far introduced.

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‘Flight’ artist spreads his wings with ‘Jellybots’

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After years of working on anthologies and as a concept artist, Nicholas Kole is looking to make a name for himself … with jelly.

The Rhode Island artist recently launched Jellybots, a webcomic about a boy named Sam who’s enrolled by his family in a prestigious school called the Frontier Academy. Not much else is known about the series, given that it’s just six pages into its run, but the concept material and pin-up art show Sam interacting with supernatural, whimsical and fluid jellyfish.

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Marvel to be honored by Los Angeles LGBT Center

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Marvel will be presented with a Vanguard Award at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th-anniversary gala on Nov. 8. Activists George and Brad Takei and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will also be honored.

“Marvel Entertainment, through its award-winning portrayals of LGBT characters and storylines that parallel the struggle to end discrimination against our community, has helped brighten the lives of LGBT kids — and adults alike — around the world,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in s statement.

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Comics A.M. | ‘The 99′ creator discusses fatwa, death threats

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Creators | In an article translated from an Arabic newspaper, The 99 creator Naif Al-Mutawa discusses what life has been like since a fatwa was issued earlier this year in Saudi Arabia against the animated adaptation of his comic: “You can imagine the call I had with my parents and my children when the front page of Kuwait’s leading daily newspaper quoted various death threats. ‘Look on the bright side,’ I told my parents, ‘This shows the impact of The 99.’” He ends on a chilling note: “Why would anyone invest in media content if the producers can be sent off to the public prosecutor’s office and potentially serve jail time? Isn’t it just easier to keep dubbing Turkish, Mexican and American dramas? And if we keep doing that, aren’t we diluting our culture?” [The Beat]

Censorship | The Hartford Courant published two of the most influential editorials of the great comics scare of the 1950s — one was reprinted by Readers’ Digest — so it’s appropriate that David Hajdu, author of The Ten Cent Plague, will visit the city next week during Banned Books Week. This article includes an interview with Hajdu and an excerpt from a 2008 interview with former managing editor Irving Kravsow, who wrote one of the scare pieces. [The Hartford Courant]

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Roz Chast’s graphic memoir nominated for National Book Award

chast-cant we talkRoz Chast’s memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? has been nominated for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction, marking the first time a graphic novel has made the longlist in one of the adult categories. The five finalists will be announced Oct. 15.

In 2006, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese became the first graphic novel nominated for a National Book Award when it was recognized in the Young People’s Literature division. His Boxers & Saints was shortlisted last year in the same category.

The first memoir from the longtime New Yorker cartoonist, the bestselling Can’t we Talk About Something More Pleasant? centers on Chast’s efforts to care for her aging parents in their final years.

Also the author of Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons of Roz Chast, 1978-2006, Chast illustrated Steve Martin’s bestselling children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y, with Bonus Letter, Z.

The National Book Award’s fiction nominees will be revealed Thursday. Winners in all categories will be announced Nov. 19.

Alison Bechdel wins prestigious MacArthur ‘genius grant’

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Acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel is among 21 people named the 2014 fellows of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The prestigious award, commonly referred to as the “genius grant,” comes with a $625,000 cash prize distributed quarterly over five years, with no strings attached.

“When I got the call from the MacArthur Foundation, I thought I was going to faint,” Bechdel, creator of the graphic memoirs Are You My Mother? and Fun Home, says in the video below. “It was crazy. It was like someone had actually almost hit me. It was this physical blow. I feel like I’ve been in a state of shock. I think getting this kind of recognition from the MacArthur Foundation, I can feel it already changing my life. I’m having to adjust to the fact that this has happened, therefore, I must be doing something worthwhile. And to have that kind of confidence put into my work is a huge gift, and I’m going to work very, very hard to live up to those expectations.”

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Dynamite Digital is now accepting Bitcoin payments

Dynamite10thAnnivImageDynamite Entertainment has announced it will now accept the much-discussed virtual currency Bitcoin as payment on its recently launched online storefront for DRM-free digital comics.

Created in 2009, Bitcoin is an online payment system that allows one person to send online payments (in units of digital cash called bitcoin) directly to another without the involvement of a financial institution. Commercial use of Bitcoin is relatively low but growing rapidly, with companies ranging from Dell to Overstock.com to the Sacramento Kings accepting the digital currency. There’s also a sizable speculator market, which leads to a volatile exchange rate.

Bitcoin joins Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and PayPal as accepted forms of payment on Dynamite Digital. Users need only to log in with a Bitcoin client.

With the announcement comes word of the publisher’s latest digital comics bundle — 25 comics for $10, as part of Dynamite’s 10th-anniversary celebration: Project Superpowers #0-3, Jungle Girl #0-1, Mocking Dead #1, Sherlock Holmes: Trial #1-2, Red Sonja #-12, Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time #1-3, Legenderry #1, Chaos! #1, Jim Butcher’s Dresden War Cry #1, Pathfinder: Dark Waters #1, Miss Fury #1-2, American Flagg #1-2 and Vampirella #1-2.

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You can now text Groot (go ahead, you know you want to)

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His conquest of pop culture nearly complete, Groot is now taking up residence in your phone.

TechCrunch reports that Twilio employee, and Guardians of the Galaxy fan, Ricky Robinett developed an SMS chatbot that enables you to carry on lengthy, if slightly repetitive, text conversations with the breakout star of the Marvel Studios film.

Need career or relationship advice? Groot is there for you with invaluable pearls of wisdom like “I am Groot” and “I am Groot.” In the mood for a joke? Well, have you heard the one that starts out “I am Groot …”? Just drop him a text at (866) 740-4531.

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Will ‘Disney Infinity’ introduce a new generation to comics?

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With its ambitious sandbox video game Disney Infinity, Disney has hit upon a way to generate sales — to the tune of $500 million worldwide — and to further promote a range of movie properties, ranging from The Pirates of the Caribbean to Frozen to The Incredibles (version 2.0 arrives next week, bringing the Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy into play). But could it also be quietly marketing comic books? Well, at least Marvel comic books?

Introduced in August 2013, Disney Infinity allows players to bring an assortment of characters into the game by purchasing $13 figurines and placing them on a special scanner, and to create their own world within the Disney universe using “Toy Box Mode.”

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Krispy Kreme rolls out ‘Ghostbusters’-themed doughnuts

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The Ghostbusters 30th-anniversary celebration is about to get delicious.

Krispy Kreme has partnered with Sony Pictures to introduce Ghostbusters and Stay Puft Marshmallow doughnuts, available Sept. 29-Oct. 31 at participating U.S. and Canadian locations. While supplies last, naturally.

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New service Comic Cartel thinks outside (and about) the box

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Mail-order comics services have been around for decades, but with the Internet they’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Still, when you put together the words “online” and “comics,” many people naturally think digital, but a new online mail-order business is putting print — and comics as a physical product — squarely into the limelight.

Launched earlier this summer, Comic Cartel has the standard offerings of other online mail-order services, with the ability to shop for individual issues and graphic novels, as well to create subscriptions. But what sets Comics Cartel apart is its attention to detail when it comes to comics as a physical object — one worthy of high care and exceptional packaging.

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With Marvel makeover, Captain Citrus has his day in the sun

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The Florida Department of Citrus today unveiled — at a comics store, no less — the $1 million Marvel makeover of its three-year-old mascot Captain Citrus.

Gone is the cartoonish anthropomorphized orange, replaced by muscular, Spandex-clad superhero who fights alongside the Avengers in a special comic created by writer Ralph Macchio, penciler Kevin Sharpe and a host of others. The aim is to market orange juice to children and teens. As The Associated Press reports, the U.S. demand for orange juice peaked in 1998 with annual per-capita consumption close to 6 gallons; now it’s about 3.5 gallons.

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