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Bullet discovered at scene of 1990 comic store murder

Michael George

Michael George

An unfired bullet discovered last year in the Clinton Township, Michigan, building that once housed Comics World will be tested to see whether it’s connected to the 1990 murder of co-owner Barbara George.

Her husband Michael George was twice tried and twice convicted — first in 2008 and then in 2011 — in the fatal shooting, which prosecutors claim he staged to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George, now 53, is serving life in prison without parole.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the bullet was found in February 2013 by an employee of the company that manages a building while he was cleaning the backroom where Barbara George was shot nearly 23 years earlier. It was turned over to township police, leading defense attorney Joseph Kosmala to file a motion in January for the bullet to be tested for ballistics, fingerprints and DNA (there was a filing delay because of a miscommunication between Kosmala and Michael George’s appellate attorney). Macomb County Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski granted that motion last week.

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Comics A.M. | Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience adds KidCon

Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience

Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience

Conventions | The Salt Lake Comic Con spinoff event FanXperience is shaping up for its April 17 debut with the addition of KidCon, a pavilion dedicated to younger attendees. “We don’t want the impression that we have KidCon there for everything else to become less kid-friendly,” says co-founder Dan Farr. “Although I would imagine 99 percent of the people that are coming are going to take their kids throughout the whole hall, it’s just to have an area where they can go and spend a little more time with their kids.” The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con in September drew an estimated 80,000 attendees; organizers anticipate as many as 100,000 for FanX, which will have almost double the floor space. [Deseret News]

Legal | The judge was a no-show for what was supposed to be the announcement of the verdict in the trial of Algerian cartoonist Djamel Ghanem, who stands accused of “insulting the president of the republic” in a cartoon that was, bizarrely, never published. Ghanem’s lawyer says the verdict has been postponed; the cartoonist faces up to 18 months in prison and a fine of 30,000 dinars ($380 U.S>) if found guilty. [Global Post]

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Viz Media to publish Naoki Urasawa’s ‘Master Keaton’

master keaton1

Viz Media, which has already released Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto is North America, is adding another work to the list: the post-Cold War thriller Master Keaton.

Produced with Hokusei Katsushika and Urasawa’s frequent collaborator Takashi Nagasaki, the detective drama centers on Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, an archeology professor and former member of the British Special Air Service whose skills serve him well as a rather unorthodox insurance investigator for Lloyd’s of London.

Master Keaton was originally serialized from 1988 to 1994 in Big Comic Original magazine, and inspired a 39-episode anime.

The 12-volume manga will debut in December as part of the Viz’s deluxe Signature imprint, with each $19.99 book featuring 18 pages of full-color art. Read the full announcement below.

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Cartoonist Jen Sorensen first woman to win Herblock Prize

jen-sorensonThe Austin Chronicle cartoonist Jen Sorensen on Monday became the first woman to win the Herblock Prize for editorial cartooning.

Established in 2004 by the Herb Block Foundation, the award is design “to encourage editorial cartooning as an essential tool for preserving the rights of the American people through freedom of speech and the right of expression.” Block, aka Herblock, was a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist.

“Winning the Herblock is one of the finest moments in a political cartoonist’s life,” Sorensen, who was a 2012 finalist, told The Washington Post. “Being the first woman to win the prize makes it an extra-special thrill. I’m so grateful that this generous award exists for our profession.”

As the newspaper notes, Sorensen is also the third consecutive alt-cartoonist to win the Herblock Prize, following Matt Bors and Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow). The award comes with a tax-free $15,000 cash prize and a sterling silver Tiffany trophy.

“Jen Sorensen’s strong portfolio addresses issues that were important to Herblock, such as gun control, racism, income inequality, healthcare, and sexism,” the judges stated. “Her style allows her to incorporate information which backs up the arguments she presents. Her art is engaging and her humor is sharp and on target.”

You can see a few of Sorensen’s winning cartoons below.

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Sean Murphy cover takes us back to ‘Reign of the Supermen’

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I had taken a break from comics during the whole “Death of Superman”/”Reign of the Supermen” era, yet I’m a little excited by this mysterious cover unveiled today by Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus). Even those readers who weren’t around for the early-’90s storyline will undoubtedly recognize the Man of Steel/John Henry Irons/Steel, the Man of Tomorrow/Cyborg Superman, the Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator and the Metropolis Kid/Superboy, who arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman.

Murphy says he doesn’t know what the cover is for, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s part of DC Comics’ “Superman: Doomed” crossover, depicting the first major conflict in the New 52 between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, who was responsible for “The Death of Superman” 22 years ago.

Update: As a helpful commenter below points out, PreviewsWorld states Murphy’s cover is the 75th anniversary variant for Superman Unchained #6, due out on March 19.

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Perry Maple adds a dose of whimsy to Gotham City

gotham1-perry maple

This is particularly timely, considering today’s television casting news: Project: Rooftop showcases Perry Maple’s whimsical redesign of Batman and his allies and enemies, from Robin to Scarecrow to Two-Face.

“The aim for this redesign was to create a colorful, simple, and playful reimagining of the Gotham city universe,” the artist explains on his deviantART page. I think he achieved that goal, too, particularly with Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, who look as if they stepped out of a fairy tale. However, I also really like is older take on Selina Kyle in a decidedly different style.

Check out close-ups of some of Maple’s redesigns below, and visit his deviantART page for more.

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High fashion meets high stakes in trailer for ‘Scarlett Couture’

scarlett couture2

Titan Comics has released a trailer for Scarlett Couture, the upcoming espionage-adventure series from illustrator Des Taylor about an heiress turned super-spy.

The title character is a billionaire fashion heiress who as a teenager is kidnapped and held for ransom, only to be rescued by Lt. Spencer Kelly, who trains her in hand-to-hand combat and intelligence to ensure she’s never in that position again. When she learns her mother was once a spy for the CIA, Scarlett uses her mother’s fashion empire as a cover for her own quest to bring the world’s greatest criminals to justice.

You can see more of Taylor’s work on his blog. Scarlett Couture #1 goes on sale Oct. 15.

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Marvel and Wizard World debut Golden and Mack variants

wizard-daredevil-wolverine

Marvel and Wizard World have revealed exclusive variant covers available to VIP attendees at Wizard World Louisville Comic Con and Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con: Michael Golden’s Daredevil #1 and David Mack’s Wolverine and The X-Men #1.

The covers are available as part of a variant program in which a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year. The Golden and Mack covers follow Miracleman #1 and Miracleman #2, by Neal Adams (available at Portland Comic Con and New Orleans Comic Con, respectively) and Wolverine #1, by Greg Horn (available at Sacramento Comic Con).

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Steve Rude reveals ‘Adventures of Superman’ cover, backstory

rude-adventures1 Steve Rude has debuted the painted cover for his upcoming collaboration with Jerry Ordway on DC Comics’ digital-first Adventures of Superman — a 10-page story featuring none other than OMAC.

In his fan newsletter, the veteran article explained that his editor offered him several scripts, “but it wasn’t until we settled on something specifically catered to ‘The Dude Mentality’ — with characters most memorable to the 60’s and 70’s —  that things finally clicked. And what would fit the Dude mentality? How ’bout OMAC? Of the One Man Army Corps? As created by the great Jack Kirby back in ’75?”

But how did Rude connect with Ordway, well known for his runs as both an artist and a writer on DC’s The Adventures of Superman print series?

“Jerry submitted his script and we all loved it,” Rude said of his DC Digital First debut. “And after a hour or two of of finely tuned script discussion over the phone one afternoon, he and I were able to up the dramatics even further on the cool-meter.”

As for that cover: “Finally, I should mention that though DC’s budget didn’t permit the rates normally required by the Dude to paint this issues cover – I painted it anyway. Such sacrifices does one make in the name of proper presentation.”

Ordway and Rude’s Adventures of Superman story, “Seeds of Destruction,” is scheduled to premiere April 14 at DC Digital First.

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Comics A.M. | Kadokawa’s app to offer manga in English

ComicWalker

ComicWalker

Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans on March 22 to launch ComicWalker, a digital comics service that will carry manga in three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese. The stories will include some well-known classics (Sgt. Frog, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam: The Origin) as well as new manga, and apparently they will be free. The launch will include 150 titles, 40 of which will be translated, so it sounds like not everything will be available in English right away. [Anime News Network]

Conventions | Lewis Trondheim, a former winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême and therefore a member of the academy that chooses each year’s winners, provides an insider’s view of the voting and the causes and effects of the changes that have been made over the past two years: “In its forty-three years, the festival has had, I believe, three Americans, one Argentine, one Swiss, three Belgians, and over thirty Frenchmen. This doesn’t seem to correspond with the reality of the comics world to me.” [The Comics Journal]

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‘Justice League’ comics fly back into General Mills cereal boxes

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DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products have reteamed with General Mills to include four collectible editions of Justice League in specially marked boxes of Big G cereals, sold in grocery stores nationwide. A fifth issue is available in select boxes of Cheerios available exclusively at Target.

The companies first partnered for the initiative in late 2011, shortly after the publisher relaunched its superhero line with the New 52. For that cereal promotion, 12 million comics were printed. Once again, the stories begin in print and continue online at BigCerealHeroes.com, where you can get a sampling of the titles.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Toni Fejzula on ‘Veil’


Veil-toni

It’s a cause for celebration any time Greg Rucka launches a new series, as he does Wednesday with Veil, the story of a girl who awakens with amnesia in an abandoned subway station. Teaming with Rucka on this new Dark Horse ongoing is artist Toni Fejzula. I challenge you not to read Veil once you see the eyes of the lead character as drawn by Fejzula — that and so much more about his art instantly caught my attention to the series. With this interview, I aimed to gain insight into Fejzula’s passion and approach for this new collaborative project. It’s an added bonus to learn he might be listening to Rock Lobster while drawing Veil

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Kickstarter celebrates $1 billion in pledges

kickstarterKickstarter announced this morning it has surpassed $1 billion in pledges, with half that figure contributed in the past year alone, giving an indication of the crowdfunding website’s growth.

Comics, the 10th-largest category, account for $25.47 million of that; games leads the pack with $215.93 million.

That $1 billion came from about 5.7 million  donors in 224 countries and territories on all seven continents. However, the United States is responsible for the majority of pledges, $663 million, followed by the United Kingdom with $54.5 million.

Kickstarter also singled out a handful of donors, beginning with Neil Gaiman, which it labels as the “most influential.”

Other interesting statistics: The day Kickstarter launched, April 28, 2009, 40 people pledged $1,084 to seven projects; Wednesday is the most popular day of the week for pledging; and the biggest single day for pledges was March 13, 2013, when 54,187 backers pledged $4,029,585.45 to 1,985 projects.

Wizard World saw 66% increase in convention revenues in 2013

wizard worldWizard World Inc., which debuted in January 2011 as a publicly traded company, reported nearly $11.2 million in convention revenues in 2013, but still claimed a $3.6 million net loss for the year.

According to documents filed today with the Federal Exchange Commission, those revenues amounted to an increase of 66 percent from 2012, attributed to the expansion from seven conventions to eight, and “management running better advertised, social media driven events resulting in an increase in attendance.”

Wizard World also increased ticket prices, as well as “the overall size and scope of each event,” leading to an average per-convention revenue of about $1.4 million (up 45 percent from 2012).

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Find out what Frank Quitely does all day in BBC documentary

frank quitely

Scottish fans on Tuesday will be able to tune in for a 30-minute documentary on Frank Quitely airing as part of BBC Four’s series What Do Artists Do All Day?

For the acclaimed Glaswegian artist, the answer is “Draw Jupiter’s Legacy,” his Image Comics collaboration with Mark Millar. The episode follows Quitely over the course of the day, until “he eventually calls it a night at 04.30am, sleeping in his studio, as he does regularly.”

Full details are available on the BBC Four website, along with a clip, which apparently won’t play in the United States.

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