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Comics A.M. | NYC cracks down on costumed characters

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Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty allegedly brawled over a tip in 2015 (file photo)

Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Fan selling comics collection to pay for child’s college

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Fandom | Al Sanders started collecting comics when he was in grade school, at one point selling plasma to support his hobby. . Over the years he amassed a collection of 5,000 comics, all from 1990 or earlier, including such popular titles as Batman and X-Men. But all good things must come to an end, and with his daughter Rose heading to college next year, Sanders has decided it’s time to sell his collection. He’s heading this weekend to Emerald City Comicon, where he hopes to turn the comics into cold cash. He’s not being totally mercenary about this, however: “I just hope someone can enjoy them, as much as me.” The report indicates Sanders believes his collection is in mint condition; he may discover otherwise once he talks to dealers at the convention. [12 News]

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Comics A.M. | Trial delayed in alleged Pokemon gun plot

pokemon world championships

Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Tracing Batman and Robin’s history of gay subtext

batman-robin

Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]

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Comics A.M. | Al Jaffee sets new Guinness World Record

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Creators | Legendary MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career of a comics artist, at more than 73 years. Jaffee was presented with the certificate, and a proclamation from the New York City Mayor’s Office declaring March 30 as “Al Jaffee Day” in a gathering on Wednesday to celebrate his 95th birthday. [DC Entertainment]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Batman vs. Superman’ tops March bookstore sales

batman vs superman2

Graphic novels | With audiences flocking to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s little surprise that the bestselling graphic novel in bookstores in March was Batman vs. Superman: The Greatest Battles, a compilation of previously published stories about the pair’s earlier tiffs. Also not surprising: All five volumes of Tokyo Ghoul are on the chart. That manga series seems to be the new Attack on Titan, with more readers coming in every month. The rest of the chart is a very mixed bag, with two Deadpool titles, a new Plants vs. Zombies graphic novel, and Daniel Clowes’ Patience among the month’s big sellers. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | New York City considers restricting costumed characters

times scare

Legal | New York City Council is once again considering legislation that would restrict Times Square’s infamous costumed characters to specific zones. The council’s transportation committee will take up the bill this morning, just days after after a man in a Spider-Man costume was charged with assault following an alleged fight with a tourist over a tip. “Come to New York, duke it out with a superhero!” said Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Is that really what we want to be known for?” [Fox 5]

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Comics A.M. | Longtime artist Ken Barr passes away

"The Rampaging Hulk" #1, by Ken Barr

“The Rampaging Hulk” #1, by Ken Barr

Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]

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Comics A.M. | Collection of rare DC comics goes on display

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Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]

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Comics A.M. | Kodansha licenses ‘Attack on Titan: Lost Girls’

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Manga | Kodansha Comics has announced seven new titles for fall, including Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, a manga adaptation of the Attack on Titan spinoff novel that gives the backstory of the characters Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman; Cells at Work, a shonen manga in which the white blood cells and neurons battle disease; and The Prince in His Dark Days, a gender-switching version of The Prince and the Pauper in which a poor girl takes the place of a rich boy. [Kodansha Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Japan plans to build national manga museum

Cool Japan

Cool Japan

Manga | As part of its Cool Japan initiative, the Japanese government plans to build the “Manga National Center” — a museum dedicated to manga, anime and video games — in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Expected to cost about $90 million, the project will be funded through a mixture of public and private-sector money. [Chicago Tribune]

Passings | Augie Scotto, an artist whose work appeared in Will Eisner’s PS magazine, passed away March 15 at age 88. He began his career in 1949, drawing largely crime and Western stories for such early publishers as Eastern Color, Atlas and Charlton. Scotto seems to have left comics for a while around 1953, but returned in 1968 as the penciler for Tower Comics’ Dynamo and as an inker for DC Comics until around 1978. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Charting the growth of Chicago’s C2E2

Cosplay at C2E2 2015

Cosplay at C2E2 2015

Conventions | Ahead of this weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Tribune looks at the growth, and the economics, of the convention, which last year drew a reported 71,000 attendees — about 40 percent of which come from outside Illinois. [Chicago Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Ted Rall sues Los Angeles Times

Ted Rall's crosswalk cartoon for the Los Angeles Times

Ted Rall’s crosswalk cartoon for the Los Angeles Times

Legal | Political cartoonist Ted Rall has sued the Los Angeles Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him and unfairly fired him from his position as a freelance cartoonist. In May 2015, Rall wrote a blog post for new newspaper’s website about being mistreated, handcuffed and “roughed up” by Los Angeles police when he was stopped in 2001 for jaywalking. Two months later, the L.A. Times published a column that cast doubt on Rall’s account, and announced it would no longer carry his work. Rall protested and later claimed that an audiotape of the incident supported his side of the story, although the paper found otherwise. In the lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rall claims the Times defamed him by questioning his veracity. The paper’s response: “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims.” [Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Salt Lake Comic Con to take FanX events to Asia

Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience 2014

Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience 2014

Conventions | The producers of Salt Lake Comic Con are expanding westward, and taking their FanXperience spinoff event to Asia. Organizers have announced a partnership with Pop Life Entertainment, the parent company of Funko, to hold FanX events this year in the Philippines (June 10-12), China (Sept. 14-17) and Thailand (Dec. 11). Salt Lake co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said Pop Life has an agreement with a Hollywood talent agency to bring “A level” guests to the Asian shows as well as to Salt Lake Comic Con. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Irving Fine, founder of Siegel and Shuster Society, dies

Jerry Siegel's childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

Jerry Siegel’s childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

Passings | Irving Fine, cousin of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and founder of the Siegel and Shuster Society, passed away March 11 at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 87. Fine, whose late brother introduced Siegel to Joe Shuster in the 1930s, made preserving and promoting Superman’s ties to Cleveland a priority: During his tenure as co-chairman of the Siegel and Shuster Society, Ohio introduced a Superman-themed license plate, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport installed a Superman Welcome Center, and Siegel’s childhood home was restored. Michael Sangiacomo notes that Fine also played a key role in the plans for a monument to Superman and his creators, set to be unveiled in 2018 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

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