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Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing passes away

doris lessingDoris Lessing, the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook, passed away Sunday in London at age 94. Although she was best known as a novelist, poet, librettist and playwright, Lessing also tried her hand at graphic novels with Playing the Game, a 1995 fantasy drawn by Charlie Adlard.

Born in Iran in 1919, and raised in the African bush in Zimbabwe, Lessing began her writing career at age 15, selling short stories to South African magazines. An opponent of apartheid, her first novel The Grass is Singing (1950) addressed racial politics, while her breakthrough work, 1962’s The Golden Notebook, featured anti-war and anti-Stalinist messages and became a pioneering work of the burgeoning women’s movement. She wrote more than 50 books.

In 2007, the 88-year-old Lessing became the oldest author, and only the 11th woman, to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. As The Guardian recounts, she was returned to her London home after a day of shopping to find reporters on her doorstep. When she learned she had won the prize, which comes with $1.5 million, Lessing replied, “Oh, Christ,” adding, “I couldn’t care less.”

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Stan Lee developing ‘Zodiac’ illustrated novel for Disney

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Disney Publishing Worldwide has acquired Zodiac, an illustrated novel by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore and Andie Tong.

Based on the Chinese zodiac, the book follows a Chinese-American teenager who’s drawn into a global conspiracy after he and other youth around the world are suddenly bestowed with magical powers.

Lee already has a relationship with Disney, dating back at least to a 2007 first-look deal with the legendary creator’s POW! Entertainment. In 2009, just as Disney completed its purchased of Marvel, the entertainment giant expanded that agreement and acquired a 10 percent equity stake in POW.

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NYCC ’13 | Cooke to illustrate ‘Parker’ prose novels

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In what would seem like a natural outgrowth of their partnership with the Estate of Donald E. Westlake, IDW announced in New York this weekend that they plan to release deluxe hardcover versions of Westlake’s Parker novels, designed and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.

“The Parker novels written by Donald Westlake had a profound effect on me as a young man,” Cooke said in a press release. “To first be able to adapt them in graphic novel form, and now to illustrate his prose as well… for me, it just doesn’t get much better than this.”

Cooke, of course, has been producing the excellent and well-regarded Parker graphic novel adaptations for the last few years, with the next one, Slayground, set for release in December. The first illustrated novel, The Hunter, will arrive in 2014.

“This is the first time the full series will be published in hardcover,” Cooke said at IDW’s panel on Saturday. He added that he’s taking “a completely different approach” to the art style he used in the graphic novels, and that this represents a chance “to make sure these books are properly preserved.”

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Viz to publish ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ illustrated novel

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Before you take to the skies in Hayao Miyazaki’s final voyage in The Wind Rises, Viz Media is inviting you to take a return trip to an old favorite in a way you’ve never seen before: the world of Totoro.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Viz is publishing two new books about the seminal animated film. Unlike some of Miyazaki’s other films, My Neighbor Totoro wasn’t preceded by a manga, but it’s getting the next-best thing with My Neighbor Tortoro: The Novel, an illustrated novel pairing Miyazaki’s watercolors with a child-friendly novelization by Japanese children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo.

Although some of Miyazaki’s watercolors of My Neighbor Totoro have been seen online and in various magazines, My Neighbor Totoro: The Novel will be the first time they’ve been officially released all in one bound volume. This hardcover will arrive Oct. 1, along with an updated edition of the popular My Neighbor Totoro Picture Book released a few years ago.

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Unpacking Rian Hughes’ ‘Soho Dives, Soho Divas’

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This week finer comic shops will have Rian Hughes’ Soho Dives, Soho Divas available for purchase. The previews don’t really do justice to the book, which collects Hughes’ portraits of London burlesque artists. Read on …

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‘Brandon Bird’s Astonishing World of Art’ revels in surreal pop culture mash-ups

astonishingworldofartThe work of Los Angeles-based artist Brandon Bird can be loosely summarized as “one thing from pop culture intersecting with another, completely unrelated, thing from pop culture.” Thus a painting depicting a doleful Sam Waterston playing with Transformers, or a drawing of a Care Bear with Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans director Werner Herzog as its tummy symbol.

Yes, pop-culture mash-ups may not exactly be novel at this point — they’re everywhere from Tumblr and to unlicensed T-shirts — but it takes a special kind of thinker to insert Steven Seagal onto the cover of X-Men #4. And that’s showcased in Brandon Bird’s Astonishing World of Art, a celebration of the artist’s sensibilities in the guise of an old-school coloring book (keeping with the motif, it’s mostly black and white). Out now from Chronicle Books, there are stickers, postcards, full-color reproductions of Bird’s paintings and a couple of ridiculously complex paint-by-number pages. Bird’s knack for likenesses help sell the jokes — a painting of Christopher Walken building Optimus Prime works much better when it’s rendered as realistically as possible.

As Bird fans have come to expect, there’s also a lot of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit material, including valentines featuring Ice-T and the gang. The Dick Wolf franchise has long been a source of inspiration for the artist, who curated a Law & Order-inspired exhibition back in 2010.

Remembering Elmore Leonard and his ’10 Rules of Writing’

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Although prolific crime author and screenwriter Elmore Leonard didn’t have a direct connection to comic books, it’s clear from the number of tweets about his death today at age 87 that he influenced a number of comics writers. Of course, labeling Leonard a “crime author” undoubtedly does him a disservice, as he wasn’t restricted by genre; his earliest works were Westerns, like his 1952 short story “Three-Ten to Yuma,” which has been adapted twice for the big screen.

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Brain food? ‘The Walking Dead’ getting a parody cookbook

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In what’s either a sign of the zombie apocalypse or that The Walking Dead has reached the status of pop-culture phenomenon, the publisher of the parody cookbook Fifty Shades of Chicken is turning its attention to the comic book turned hit television series (and video games, and collectible toys, and …).

Entertainment Weekly has the final-cover reveal for The Snacking Dead: A Parody in a Cookbook, due on shelves Oct. 29 from Crown Publishing’s Clarkson Potter imprint. Written by “D.B. Walker,” the 160-page book features recipes and photographs for 50 dishes, ranging from Guac and Load Guacamole to Sticky Ribs to Cold-Blooded Ice Cream Sandwiches. According to EW, it also offers tips, The Snacking Dead also offers suggestions for “cooking in tricky and direful situations,” as well as a zombie story.

You can see the full final cover below.

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See Kazu Kibuishi’s final ‘Harry Potter’ cover, plus boxed set

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At a special event held today at The Scholastic Store in New York City, the publisher premiered cartoonist Kazu Kibuishi’s new cover for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster fantasy series.

Announced in February, the new covers by the acclaimed creator of Copper, Daisy Kutter and Amulet were commissioned to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The complete series of new trade paperbacks will be available Aug. 27, along with a new boxed set featuring Kibuishi’s renditions of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. You can see that artwork below.

However, that’s not the end of the reveals, as new back covers will debut at the rate of one a day from Aug 1. to Aug. 7.

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SDCC ’13 | Kazu Kibuishi’s sixth ‘Harry Potter’ cover debuts

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Scholastic unveiled the new cover by cartoonist Kazu Kibuishi for the sixth book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Half-Blood Prince, during a party held last night at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Announced in February, the new covers by the acclaimed creator of Copper, Daisy Kutter and Amulet were commissioned to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. debut of Rowling’s beloved fantasy series. The art for the seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will premiere July 31 at a birthday party for the books.

The new editions will be available beginning Aug. 27, with a boxed set scheduled for release in September.

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Massive ‘Superman Files’ chronicles life of Man of Steel

superman filesTo celebrate the 75th anniversary of the world’s greatest superhero, Andrews McMeel Publishing The Superman Files, a hardcover tome described as “a complete, in-depth life story of the Man of Steel.” The 312-page book will arrive Nov. 5.

Compiled in the 31st century by Brainiac 5, better known as author Matthew K. Manning (DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle, The Batman Vault), the book outlines Superman’s history, offering details about friends like Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White as well as facts about such enemies as Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Doomsday and Bizarro.

Among the features: secrets of the daily life of Clark Kent; Daily Planet newspaper articles and eyewitness accounts of Superman’s exploits; childhood mementos and journal entries; top-secret data known only to Superman; favorite destinations in Metropolis; surviving artifacts from Krypton; schematics for the Fortress of Solitude and technology used by Superman; files from Stryker Island Prison; and hundreds of images of Superman’s enemies and allies.

You can see a preview below. The Superman Files retails for $75.

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Atomic Robo Kickstarter shoots past goal within hours of launch

tesladyne field guideJust hours after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a companion “field guide” to Atomic Robo, creators Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener have already rocketed past their $7,500 pledge goal — by more than $16,000. The project was fully funded within two hours.

Tesladyne Field Guide isn’t a comic book, however: It’s a handbook for employees of the fictional Tesladyne Industries, founded by Atomic Robo, that tackles such topics as “How To Deal With Errant Dinosaurs,” “So You’ve Got An Evil Twin” and “Coping With Alternate Realities.”

While the book is certainly incentive enough for many Atomic Robo fans to donate, some of the pledge rewards may be a big draw. “We […] figured if we were doing a Kickstarter, then we should throw in some crazy tiers and do stuff we would never do if we were just opening an online store,” Clevinger writes on the Kickstarter page. “So, we’re making campaign exclusive polos and lab coats and other goodies that we will likely NEVER MAKE outside the Kickstarter.”

The lower tiers feature prints, buttons, T-shirts and the like, but it’s when you get to the $250 level that things start to get fun: the “Junior Action Scientist Kit,” with lab coat and a Tesladyne polo shirt; the “Junior Doctor Dinosaur Kit,” with a lab coat (“slightly ruined), “Genuine Hollow Earth Crystals”; and so on (the rewards for the $500 tier and one of the $250 tiers are already gone). Clevinger also quickly added stretch goals, which the campaign has already surpassed.

“We’re choosing to err on the side of caution with regard to calling out our goals at this point,” Clevinger writes. “We’d rather not say or suggest or imply what we’re planning until we’re 100% certain we can make it a reality. ‘Cause otherwise we’re just jerkin’ your chains.”

The Kickstarter campaign ends Aug. 9.

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Scholastic unveils Kazu Kibuishi’s third Harry Potter cover

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Scholastic is doing a slow rollout of Kazu Kibuishi’s new covers for the Harry Potter novels, and today at LeakyCon, a fan convention in Portland, Oregon, Arthur A. Levine Books unveiled the third one, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Scholastic will release a boxed set of all seven Harry Potter books on Aug. 27, just shy of the 15th anniversary of the debut of the first volume, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Kibuishi, the creator of Copper and Amulet and the moving force behind the Flight anthologies, will be creating new covers for all seven of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, each one revolving around a crucial moment in the story.

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Help Meltzer, Eliopoulos pick the cover for ‘I Am Amelia Earhart’

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Author and comic writer Brad Meltzer is working on a children’s book series, Ordinary People Change the World, which is being published under Penguin’s Dial Books for Young Readers imprint. The first book, I Am Amelia Earhart, which will be illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos, is due out next year.

But before the book can go to press, it’s going to need a cover, and Meltzer has taken to his blog to ask the internet to help pick the cover. He’s posted two options illustrated by Eliopoulos, so head over there to cast your vote.

Warren Ellis’ ‘Dead Pig Collector’ finds a new home

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Dead Pig Collector, the ebook by Warren Ellis that was postponed after the author split with Mulholland Books, will now be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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