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Marvel alum James Viscardi launches comics podcast

lets talk comicsJames Viscardi may have left Marvel, but he’s clearly not finished with comics: The publisher’s former associate manager, sales & communications has launched his own podcast, the aptly titled Let’s Talk Comics.

Described as “a new podcast that aims to tell the origin stories of all your favorite creators in the comics industry,” it debuted this week with an in-depth discussion with Rick Remender, the writer and artist known for his work on titles ranging from Strange Girl and Fear Agent to Uncanny Avengers and Black Science (and I’m looking forward to his upcoming Image Comics series with Wes Craig, Deadly Class).

“Rick Remender is quite the journeyman when it comes to being a comic creator,” Viscardi writes in his introduction to the episode. “He’s drawn comics, he’s written comics, he’s worked in animation and he’s written video games. In today’s show, Rick and I go down memory lane and tell some pretty fascinating stories about life as an up and coming creator, how he broke into Marvel (twice), and how he’s somewhat associated with Meg Ryan!”

You can listen to the lengthy interview below.

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MTV Geek calls it a day

mtv geekThe comics and pop culture site MTV Geek came to an abrupt end this afternoon with a short post titled simply “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.”

As a contributor to the site, as well as a reader (I frequently linked them in Comics A.M.), I’m not at all impartial about this: I’m sorry to see it go.

MTV Geek debuted nearly three years ago at New York Comic Con with a launch party that served as a benefit for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The original editor was Valerie Gallaher, who left about five months ago.

The site  covered a lot of topics: comics, yes, but also movies, television, games, toys, cosplay, pretty much everything in the larger world of geeky interests. It ran a mix of news, interviews and fannish content like Twitter roundups and five-best posts. In the beginning there were also original comics, although those seem to have fallen by the wayside.

The demise of the site, which arrives less than a month after iFanboy ceased its”normal day-to-day operations,” doesn’t leave MTV without comics coverage: The final post indicates that MTV News will be reporting on NYCC next month.

Women in Refrigerators: more powerful than Slashdot and 4chan

mental flossIt’s been more than 14 years since a then-unknown Gail Simone and friends launched Women in Refrigerators, a website that attempted to catalog the female characters in superhero comics who have been “killed, raped, depowered, crippled, turned evil, maimed, tortured, contracted a disease” or otherwise suffered “life-derailing tragedies.” The list sparked reflection and debate, and ingrained the phrase “women in refrigerators” into the comic-book lexicon, and even beyond (it’s a reference to the grisly fate of Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend Alex DeWitt).

The website was, without a doubt, critical to fostering important discussion about the treatment of female characters, but just how influential, how powerful, is Women in Refrigerators? More powerful that Yelp, Slashdot or 4chan, it turns out, and (at No. 3) only slightly less powerful than Amazon.

That’s according to the November issue of the trivia/entertainment magazine Mental Floss, which has released its list of the “25 Most Powerful Websites” (see the entry below). Any list of that kind is, naturally, subjective, and Mental Floss‘ definition of “powerful” is especially nebulous. “[T]o us, powerful isn’t just about computations,” the magazine states, explaining the exclusion of Google, “it’s about changing what we eat, how we vote, and the ways we kill time at the office.”

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Jamie S. Rich launching interview webseries ‘From the Gutters’

jamie-rich

Despite the solitary nature of creating comics (or perhaps because of it), it’s very easy for writers and artists to become fast friends with one another — be it at conventions, in-store signings or even just online. Over the years editor-turned-writer Jamie S. Rich has accumulated countless friends and connections in the industry through his time at Dark Horse, Oni Press, writing books like 12 Reasons Why I Love Her and living in the comics mecca of Portland, Oregon. And after moderating numerous panels at conventions and even hosting his own “Evening with Jamie S. Rich” movie night at a Portland theater, the writer is taking things even further with a new comics interview webseries called From the Gutters.

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iFanboy ceases ‘normal day-to-day operations’

ifanboyAfter 13 years, iFanboy announced this afternoon that it’s “ceasing normal day-to-day operations,” with only its podcasts continuing on the website. There will be no new written content.

“The simple fact is that our lives are much different now than they were even five years ago, and with families and day jobs and other opportunities all vying for our time and attention, iFanboy.com has been suffering for it and we couldn’t watch it suffer any longer,” co-founder Conor Kilpatrick wrote on the site. “It hurts us to not be able to put our all into this place that we’ve spent so many years building into a vibrant and wonderful community.

iFanboy, which was purchased in February 2010 by digital distributor Graphicly, split with the company in January 2013, even as website co-founder Ron Richards announced he had joined Image Comics as director of business development.

“After five years spent running iFanboy.com as our primary jobs, we had to transition back to running iFanboy part time after Graphicly handed it back to us in February of this year,” Kilpatrick continued, “and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to focus on everything we need to focus on in the manner that it deserves to be.”

There’s much more at iFanboy, including messages from many of the key contributors.

Aquaman crowned king of ‘toxic’ superheroes

aquaman

It’s been a rough 40 years for Aquaman, whose public image has never recovered from Super Friends. Sure, the long-running animated series raised the Atlantean’s profile, but it did so while depicting him as a pretty ineffective hero who had to hope for an aquatic threat and then hitch a ride with Wonder Woman to the nearest body of water. So he could summon a pod of narwhals. Only Zan of the Wonder Twins — “Form of water!” “Form of giant ice handcuffs!” — was lower in the Hall of Justice hierarchy.

And, as if that Entourage story thread and failed 2006 television pilot didn’t add enough insult to injury, now Aquaman has been declared the “most toxic superhero” by McAfee.

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AOL sells ComicsAlliance, three music sites to Townsquare Media [Updated]

comics allianceMore than a month after it abruptly shuttered ComicsAlliance and AOL Music, AOL is expected to announce today that it has sold the comics blog and three music websites to Townsquare Media Group. The staffs will join the Connecticut-based media and digital-marketing company, which owns 243 radio stations and a growing number of websites, including ScreenCrush and PopCrush.

UPDATE (6 a.m.): And, just like that, ComicsAlliance has returned with new content, beginning with a comics explanation of the website’s history. (Original story continues below.)

According to AOL’s TechCrunch, the deal includes hip-hop site The BoomBox, country-music site The Boot and heavy-metal blog Noisecreep, but not the flagship AOL Music or Spinner.

The purchase by Townsquare reunites ComicsAlliance and the music sites with Bill Wilson, the company’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, who helped to develop the properties during his tenure as president of AOL Media.

“I wanted to make sure you saw that we were able to acquire some of the aol music assets (and Comics Alliance),” Wilson tweeted this morning. “Very excited!”

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Shawn Crystal gets personal with artist podcast ‘InkPulp Audio’

inkpulp_audio_logo_by_inkpulp-d5k5utdMuch in the way Marc Maron’s WTF podcast provides a more personal, and sometimes profound, look at comedians as they’re interviewed by a fellow comedian, comic artist and Savannah College of Art and Design professor Shawn Crystal has turned the spotlight on comic-book creators.

Earlier this year Crystal launched the podcast InkPulp Audio (available on iTunes here), and it’s already generating buzz among his fellow creators. The artist who introduced me to it said, tongue in cheek, that he’s “hoping Crystal will soon be the Oprah of comics.” While that remains to be seen (keep checking under your chairs for that new car), the podcast finds him talking shop with such artists as Sean Murphy, Eric Canete, Ryan Stegman and Rick Remender.

The idea for the podcast came to Crystal as he found himself at a crossroads.

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Pirates spend 300% more on content than the rest of us do

piratechart

According to a survey commissioned by U.K. communications regulator Ofcom, the classic Pareto principle is in full effect for people who use pirated versions of copyrighted material. The top 20 percent of copyright infringers account for 88 percent of all infringements (with the top 10 percent being responsible for a whopping 79 percent).

What’s surprising, however, is that the top 20 spent £168 (about $253) on content during the six-month monitoring period. That’s not just more than the amount spent by the lower 80 percent (£105, or about $158), it’s significantly more than the £54 ($81) spent by the average person who never pirates anything. In other words, the worst pirates get the vast majority of their stuff for free, but they take in so much media that they end up spending 321 percent more than people who never pirate.

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AOL pulls plug on ComicsAlliance

comics allianceROBOT 6 has confirmed rumors circulating this weekend at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo that parent company AOL has shut down the comics news site ComicsAlliance. The move came Friday amid the abrupt closings of AOL Music and several music news and video sites.

Launched in its current form in August 2009 by Laura Hudson (AOL had briefly operated a lower-profile comics blog with that name), ComicsAlliance featured a mix of news, humor and commentary and a staff of contributors that most recently included the likes of Caleb Goellner, Chris Sims, Andy Khouri and David Brothers. Hudson left the site in June 2012, to be replaced as editor-in-chief by former Vertigo editor Joe Hughes.

A three-time Eisner Award nominee, ComicsAlliance posted no new content over the weekend, even as C2E2 and Stumptown Comics Fest were unfolding, leading early credence to rumors that it had been closed. This morning, the site published only a link round-up that had been written Friday; the weekly “War Rocket Ajax” podcast, which typically appears on Mondays at ComicsAlliance, was instead posted at Sims’ personal website.

(Kiel Phegley contributed to this report)


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