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DC announces JSA: The Liberty Files — The Whistling Skull

JSA: The Liberty Files -- The Whistling Skull #1

DC Comics has announced the December debut of JSA: The Liberty Files — The Whistling Skull, a six-issue miniseries by B. Clay Moore, Tony Harris and Dave McCaig.

Set in the world introduced in JSA: The Liberty File, the 2000 miniseries by Harris and Dan Jolley, The Whistling Skull takes place in 1940s Europe, where, “with the Nazi war machine on the move, crimes are still committed even in the smallest hamlets.” No specific story details have been provided.

“For readers looking for a new spin on the DC Universe, combined with brand new headlining characters, I think the book will be a treat, and it’s just the first chapter in a much larger story,” Moore told DC’s The Source.” This initial offering introduces readers to the legacy of the Whistling Skull in a wartime, pulp-infused setting, and should provide something fresh for readers to sink their teeth into.”

Published under DC’s now-defunct Elseworlds banner, The Liberty File and its 2003 sequel The Unholy Three portrayed members of the Justice Society of America as covert government operatives rather than superheroes: Codenamed the Unholy Three, the Bat (Batman), the Owl (Dr. Mid-Nite) and the Clock (Hourman) are eventually joined by the likes of Mister Terrific, Clark Kent, Mercury (The Flash), the Huntress and the Hawk (Hawkman) in their fight against Nazi and KGB agents.

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Comics A.M. | Fun Home musical to open in New York City

From "Fun Home"

Graphic novels | A musical based on Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed 2006 graphic memoir Fun Home will open the fall season of the Public Lab series of the Public Theater in New York City. Featuring music by four-time Tony Award nominee Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Tony nominee Lisa Kron, the show is scheduled to run from Oct. 17 through Nov. 4 at the Shiva Theater. [The New York Times, The Public Theater]

Creators | Gilbert Hernandez guests on the comiXologist podcast to talk about Love and Rockets and what he has been reading lately. [comiXology]

Creators | Brian Wood and Ming Doyle talk about their new comic Mara, which will debut from Image Comics in December and features a volleyball player with superpowers in a world where sports and warfare are no longer so far apart. While Wood is not really a sports fan, he is fascinated by the portrayal of athletes in popular culture: “‘This is tied into the superhero thing, recognizing parallels between the two,’ Wood says. ‘I think there’s a lot to talk about there and part of me feels I’ll need more than one comic series to do it in. We’ll see.’” [USA Today]

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Dragon*Con cosplayers recreate Astonishing X-Men wedding cover

When Marvel orchestrated the wedding of Northstar to his boyfriend Kyle Jindau in this summer’s Astonshing X-Men #51, it received considerable attention from the media for it forward-leaning acknowledgment of gay rights. And earlier this month at Dragon*Con, a longtime gay couple and an army of cosplayers recreated that special moment.

Professional costume maker Brian Parsley and his longtime boyfriend George Lewis recreated the moment (as Northstar and Kyle, respectively), in front of an enormous crowd of friends and fellow cosplayers. While it wasn’t an official marriage ceremony (as Georgia has a ban on same-sex marriage), the Florida-based couple said if Georgia allowed it they would have made the ceremony official. Here is a video from the event:

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Blast from the past: EC’s William Gaines on decency standards

In 1954, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency began an investigation of the comic book industry and its effects on juvenile delinquency. In the course of its hearings, the subcommittee called upon a number of witnesses, including EC Publisher William Gaines. At the time, EC published a number of crime and horror comics, including The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror and Tales From The Crypt. The WNYC radio archives have posted nearly two hours of the investigative hearing with two key, but contrasting, witnesses: Gaines and psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham.

The audio of the hearing is lengthy, but while listening, it’s very indicative of the feeling toward comics at the time — Wertham goes so far as to say, “I think Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic-book industry. They get the children much younger. They teach them race hatred at the age of 4 before they can read.”

The hearing was also where the following now-famous exchange between U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver and Gaines took place, as Kefauver held up a cover of Crime SuspenStories #22:

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Here’s a Lucy Knisley hat trick

Lucy Knisley has three things to delight us this week.

First, a new episode of her seldom-updated webocomic Stop Paying Attention, in which little Lucy asks the big questions while playing with her toys. It’s a wonderful comic, philosophical without being dry or boring.

Second, she has written and illustrated an essay on The New Life of the Comic Book for The American Reader, which is a nice overview of the whole world of comics, sharpened with her own experiences.

And third, she has a process post explaining how she did the main illustration for the article, from concept (and unflattering photo) to finished product. It’s a fun peek at her work process, and a nice addition to the article.

Chris Weston on his return to 2000AD with ‘Death of Dan-E Cannon’

The timing really couldn’t be better: 2000AD reaches its 1,800th issue the week after the U.K. release of the latest movie adaptation of its lynchpin, Judge Dredd. Even the most die-hard 2000AD fan would have found it hard to summon the bravado to predict just how successful the film would prove in its first weekend. A great time, then, for a relaunch issue of the revered anthology comic, with a headline-grabbing Simon Bisley cover, and a standalone Dredd story both written and drawn by the great Chris Weston.

With the first Dredd movie adaptation, 1995′s Sylvester Stallone star vehicle, previously very much a sore subject for fans of the character, maybe now is a time to put lay old ghosts to rest. To forgive and forget. To put old grudges behind.  Or maybe sod that — now is the time for some arch-triumphalism at the expense of that terrible old flick, and run a strip called “The Death of Dan-E Cannon,” a title seemingly designed to troll the director of the box-office flop that nearly brought the comic to its knees in the mid-’90s?

We spoke to Chris Weston about his abiding love for 2000AD, his feelings about comic-to-film adaptations in general, and whether dissing one of the U.S.’s top TV producers so publicly could prove to be a bad career move. You’ll never work in this town again! 

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Ohio State University announces Dylan Williams Collection

Dylan Williams by Jesse Hamm

Dylan Williams by Jesse Hamm

Ohio State University has announced it will establish the Dylan Williams Collection of small-press and self-published comics in honor of the late creator and publisher of Sparkplug Comics who passed away Sept. 10, 2011. The collection will be part of the university’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. From the announcement:

Beyond his leadership as a small press publisher, Dylan was a constant advocate of under-appreciated artists, and a champion of raising awareness of cartoon art history among his contemporaries. As a friend and disciple of Bill Blackbeard, whose San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection resides here at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, a collection in Dylan’s name also serves as a fitting acknowledgement of that lineage. Though Dylan’s impact on the comics world is irreplaceable, his spirit lives on through the small press publishers that have risen in Sparkplug’s likeness, the artists who have thrived from his influence, and this collection which is intended to represent and support both as he would have done.

The collection will place a special emphasis on handmade works and small-press comics published since 1970, and in-kind donations are welcome. The library’s Caitlin McGurk will be at Small Press Expo this weekend and will participate in a panel on Institution Building and Comics on Saturday afternoon.

Jason Pearson and the redemptive qualities of cheesecake

Is this Jason Pearson's take on Elektra or acceptance?

Body Bags creator Jason Pearson is drawing a number of cheesecake style-commissions and discovering an emotional resonance and significance that might not be apparent to everyone. Even so, they are providing him with some solace following a suicide attempt last December.

“Maybe I’m stupid for using cheesecake to answer questions about psychiatry and quantum physics but it gets me through the fucking day,” he posted over the weekend on his Facebook page. “If I’m wrong, then at least you can be amused by the titillation.”

He has decided to discontinue any more work with Marvel and DC Comics, and instead focus on work that matters to him on some level. As he puts it, “it has to feel right.” To that effect, he is concentrating on a new story arc for his creator-owned series Body Bags (with a Kickstarter campaign possibly to follow), as well as taking on commissions. His commission work is admittedly cheesecake, but for him there are deeper messages within the sexy images that fit his new objective.

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Have a few extra bucks? Check out Top Shelf’s annual $3 sale

Here’s a deal that’s virtually impossible to pass up: For the next two weeks, Top Shelf Productions is holding its annual $3 web sale, which is exactly what it sounds like. Through Sept. 28, the publisher is marking down more than 170 of its graphic novels and comics, with 100 of those titles available for $3 or less.

That means for three bucks you can get books like Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin’s Gingerbread Girl, Jeffrey Brown’s Incredible Change-Bots or Kolbeinn Karlsson’s The Troll King. One dollar can land you an issue of James Kochalka’s SuperF*ckers or Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s The Surrogates, but that’s just for starters. There are also discounts for recent releases, like Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder ($10) and Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol. III): Century #2 and #3 ($5 each).

What’s more, Top Shelf is charging a flat fee for shipping and handling, regardless of how many books you order. You can see the complete list on the publisher’s website.

Sin City showdown: MorrisonCon vs. Las Vegas Comic Expo

If you’re a comics fan, you may want to go to Las Vegas the last weekend of this month. That’s where, on Sept. 29 and 30, there will be two competing comic conventions — Las Vegas Comic Expo and MorrisonCon — taking place just blocks away from each other. Comic-Con International has seen secondary events like Tr!ckster spring up to take advantage of the annual pilgrimage of fans, but these two Las Vegas conventions were planned without knowing the other would be there.

On MorrisonCon’s website, the organizers address this comic culture double-booking by saying the secretive nature of both events made it so they didn’t know their dates conflicted until both had signed venue contracts and announced dates.

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Comics A.M. | Prosecution lays out case against artist Brett Ewins [Updated]

The Art of Brett Ewins

Legal | The prosecution has laid out its case in the trial of former 2000AD artist Brett Ewins, who was charged with “grievous bodily harm with intent” following a January incident in which he allegedly stabbed a police officer responding to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Ewins, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia years ago and is on medication for it, suffered cardiac arrest during the confrontation and was hospitalized for three weeks. He reportedly has no memory of the incident. The defense will contend that the blow to the head rendered him unconscious (like a sleepwalker) so he was not aware of what he was doing. [The Evening Standard]

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Indian cartoonist free on bail, will fight sedition charge

Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi is free on bail today after being jailed Saturday in Mumbai on charges of sedition and insulting Indian national symbols. The case, which stems from a display of cartoons at a protest in December and on his website Cartoons Against Corruption, has led to a widespread public outcry within the country.

Trivedi was arrested after a complaint was filed by a law student, Amit Katarnayea:

“I saw the exhibition of cartoons at the protest organised by [anti-corruption activist] Anna Hazare at Bandra-Kurla Complex in December 2011. It had Kasab’s face on animals peeing on Constitution, the lions of the Ashoka emblem were replaced by wolves and Parliament was shown as a commode. As a responsible citizen, I felt duty bound to complain to the police against Trivedi for exhibiting such insulting cartoons,” the third-year law student from DY Patil College, Nerul, said on Monday.

“Anna and his team should have stopped the exhibition.” Katarnaware said the charges of sedition have been rightly applied as the cartoons are an insult to Constitution.

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Watch the trailer for this week’s The Massive #4

Writer Brian Wood has released a brief trailer for The Massive #4 that not only teases the story and showcases the work of new artist Garry Brown — he replaces original artist Kristian Donaldson — and colorist Dave Stewart, but also offers up some catchy music. (Wood welcomed Brown to the series last month with a Q&A on Comic Book Resources.)

The Dark Horse series follows direct-action environmentalists in the wake of a crippling global ecological disaster as they sail the oceans aboard the Kapital in search of their lost sister ship the Massive, coming up against pirates, thieves and murderers as they try to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

In Issue 4, which arrives today, pacifist Captain Callum Israel is confronted by a ghost from his past as a corporate mercenary as he searches for essential supplies in the black market.

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The Middle Ground #120 | While we wait

The plus side of something being creator-owned is that, in most cases, that means it’s also creator-controlled; the more practical and technical aspects — release schedule, pricing, etc. — are something that creators have some level of input into, even if not final say over. Which is, let’s be honest, a pretty great thing … well, until it means you have to wait for the good stuff, of course. Which is to say: I can’t tell you how glad I am that Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth’s Stumptown is back this week.

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Claiming trademark infringement, Jazan Wild sends C&D letters to reviewers

Jazan Wild, the comics creator who gained attention in 2010 when he sued NBC and the producers of Heroes for $60 million, has begun sending cease-and-desist notices to reviewers who publish excerpts from Melissa Marr’s new young-adult fantasy novel Carnival of Souls, claiming the title violates his trademark.

Children’s literature website Bookalicious today posted an email from Wild, aka Jason Barnes, insisting that a recent excerpt of Marr’s book amounts to a “willful and malicious infringement” of his “Carnival of Souls” trademark and demanding its removal.

Wild’s objection follows a trademark-infringement lawsuit he filed in July against HarperCollins, accusing the publisher of intentionally using the title Carnival of Souls and the phrase “Enter the Carnival” in an effort to create confusion between Marr’s novel and his own 2005-2006 comic series and related works. He’s asking a federal court to prevent HarperCollins from using the title, and seeking the destruction of all of the allegedly infringing books and promotional materials, as well as unspecified damages. In court documents, Wild’s lawyer recounts his client’s repeated attempts to head off the release of Marr’s book as Carnival of Souls, which were ultimately dismissed with HarperCollins’ trademark counsel allegedly saying, “You’re not an attorney, are you?”

It’s worth noting that Wild’s legal dispute is with HarperCollins, so it’s unclear why his cease-and-desist notice is directed at book reviewers. More baffling, however, is how in Wild’s estimation an excerpt from Marr’s novel (whose copyright is held by Marr) infringes on his “Carnival of Souls” trademark; his objection is with the title, not the text.

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