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Harlan Ellison recovering in hospital following stroke

harlan-ellisonSci-fi legend Harlan Ellison has been hospitalized following a stroke late last week that left him paralyzed on his right side. However, according to multiple sources — including Patton Oswalt, Clifford Meth and Mark Evanier — the 80-year-old author remains as sharp, and as sharp-tongued, as ever.

Ellison’s wife Susan broke the news Sunday on his website in a brief announcement that’s been followed by updates and reassurances there and elsewhere from friends who’ve spoken to or visited with him.

“I was with him the day before yesterday when the specialist who checks verbal and memory impact was there, and it was like an SNL skit,” screenwriter Josh Olson wrote Sunday evening. “She’s checking for slurring and loss of memory, and he’s being quintessential Harlan — talking a mile a minute, and throwing out more obscure references per minute than anyone can possibly keep up with. (He did, at one point, forget the name of an actor with a wooden leg who played a supporting part on one of his favorite radio shows back in the forties, but last time I talked to him, he couldn’t remember the name of the key grip on Passage to Marseilles, so it’s probably safe to say that’s nothing to worry about. ) I can’t say he’s fine, because he’s had a stroke … but he’s as well as well can be under the circumstances, and had all of the nurses laughing. And he complained a lot. So, you know … Harlan.”

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Comics A.M. | Duo jailed for trying to sell $9,000 in stolen comics

Crime

Crime

Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]

Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]

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NYCC | ‘The Witcher’ returns to Dark Horse with ‘Fox Children’

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A year after confirming the first comic series based on The Witcher, Dark Horse and CD Projekt RED announced at New York Comic Con that the video game’s legendary monster hunter Geralt is back for a sequel.

Writer Paul Tobin and artist Joe Querio will return for The Witcher: Fox Children, in will which Geralt boards “a ship of fools, renegades and criminals, where some passengers are more dangerous than others, but one is hiding a hideous secret!”

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Aspen Comics acquires Big Dog Ink library, launches imprint

ShahrazadAspen Comics has announced a deal to acquire the exclusive publishing rights for Big Dog Ink’s library of properties, which includes The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, Shahrazad and Penny For Your Soul.

Under the terms of the agreement, the five-year-old Big Dog Ink will become an imprint of Aspen, with owners Tom and Kim Hutchison at the helm. The plan calls for a reprint release of BDI’s catalog, beginning in the spring with the re-release of Shahrazad, the fantasy adventure starring the legendary Persian queen and storyteller from One Thousand and One Nights.

“We are thrilled to be able to team up with Tom, Kim and Big Dog Ink to introduce their original and exciting titles to our fans, and welcome their own fans to our house as well,” Aspen Vice President/Editor-in-Chief Vince Hernandez said in a statement. “They have really built something special at BDI, and their passion for creating exceptional new titles is something we knew would make for a perfect fit here at Aspen Comics. Their creative vision will continue forward, and based off the early plans we have in place, I am certain BDI fans can expect more of the same high quality storytelling in addition to some exciting new ideas coming your way.”

Read the full press release below:

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James Jean art inspires Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sculptures

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Eagle-eyed attendees at New York Comic Con may have been lucky enough to see prototypes of Good Smile Company’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sculptures, based on the work of Eisner Award-winning artist James Jean.

The four sculptures, which can be combined into a larger diorama, is the result of a collaboration between Jean and Good Smile President Takanori Aki, who asked his friend to create an image reminiscent of the comic-book version of the Turtles.

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NYCC | Vertical Inc. launches Vertical Comics imprint

harsh mistress of the cityVertical Inc. has announced the launch of Vertical Comics, an imprint dedicated to manga and anime-related books, leaving the publisher’s primary line to focus on contemporary Japanese prose works in crime fiction, fantasy and sci-fi.

According to Publishers Weekly, beginning in the fall, the new imprint will publish 20 new manga titles over the next year, with plans to expand to 30 t0 40 manga and anime-oriented works.

The New York-based company also announced at New York Comic Con that, following the release next summer of the Attack on Titan – Before the Fall: Kyklo light novel prequel, it will publish Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City, written by Ryo Kawakami, with illustrations by Range Murata. Yes, Range Murata.

Vertical also confirmed the release of the manga Prophecy, Vol. 1, by Tetsuya Tsutsui in November and My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige in January, the anthology Dream Fossil: The Complete Collection of Satoshi Kon in summer 2015, and A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai in May.

NYCC | ‘Walking Dead’ game’s Clem scores her own action figure

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Clementine, the pint-sized hero of the Walking Dead video game, is getting her own action figure, it was revealed Sunday during the Telltale Games panel at New York Comic Con. The figure, from McFarlane Toys, Skybound Entertainment and Telltale, will come in two versions — clean and blood-splattered. Each variety comes with with backpack, pistol and hammer.

Introduced in the game’s first season as a secondary character, 11-year-old Clem becomes the playable protagonist in Season 2. According to Skybound, “she is probably the figure we get asked to make the most often.”

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NYCC | IDW Limited to release Marvel Artist Select series

idw limitedCapping a string of joint announcements that included collections of the Amazing Spider-Man comic strip and more Marvel Artist’s Editions, IDW Publishing and Marvel revealed they’re partnering on a series of deluxe, limited-edition books.

Produced by IDW Limited, the Marvel Artist Select series will showcase stories hand-picked by the featured artist, packed in overized tray cases containing such extras as signed plates and original artwork. Each volume will focus on one Marvel character, beginning with Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, and many of the creators most closely associated with the superheroes.

“To be able to create limited-edition versions of the comic books we grew up on is a dream come true,” IDW President Greg Goldstein said in a statement. “This line is going to be something special. We plan on going to great lengths to create the kind of books that will be the absolute treasure of any fan’s collection. We’re going to work with the biggest names, and make sure we deliver an absolutely top-notch line of books.”

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NYCC attracts a reported 151,000, surpassing San Diego

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New York Comic Con is now the largest pop-culture convention in North America, with producer ReedPOP reporting it sold tickets for this weekend’s event to 151,000 unique individuals.

Comic-Con International has been forced to cap attendance at about 130,000 due to the capacity San Diego Convention Center, leading organizers to turn to nearby hotels and Petco Park for additional space. New York Comic Con last year strained the limits of the Javitz Center with 133,000 attendees. However, ReedPOP Global Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman told ICv2.com that by expanding Thursday to a full day this year, organizers were able to sell another day’s worth of tickets.

This year’s figure doesn’t include the inaugural New York Super Week, the weeklong series of 110 events held at 25 venues across New York City, Fensterman said.

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‘Astro City’ gives an old ‘Wish’ new life

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Ever since its return under the Vertigo banner, Astro City (from Kurt Busiek, Brent Eric Anderson, and company) has been pretty great on a consistent basis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always been a highlight of my pull list; but the current run has really been something special. Last month’s issue #15 — concluding the story of a sweet little old robotics genius and the supervillain who sought to ruin her — was particularly heartwarming. (What’s that? Something in my eye? No, I’m just tired….)

Then, however, I read this week’s issue #16. Readers looking for familiar pastiches will be rewarded immediately, since the broad strokes of the story are deliberately reminiscent of Silver Age Superboy and Lex Luthor. (The energy-headed hero Starbright also looks a bit like Firestorm, but that’s more incidental.) It’s a tale of awkward friendship, super-powered rivalry, and an act of simple kindness which literally transforms a life. As Busiek reveals on the letters page, the middle part of the story comes from his unpublished eight-page script for an installment of the backup feature “Superman: The In-Between Years.” In hindsight it’s easy to see how that script would have worked as a look into the developing dynamics between the Collegian of Steel and his former friend — but as usual, Astro City has taken those elements in undreamt-of directions.

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Eleanor Davis holds 17-hour fundraiser for friend’s wheelchair van

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On Friday, How to Be Happy creator Eleanor Davis embarked on a 17-hour drawing marathon to raise money for her friend Kyle Coldwell (“a 23-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, resident with a severe congenital condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy [SMA]“), who is the midst of a $10,000 GoFundMe campaign for funds to repair or replace his wheelchair van.

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Shelf Porn | A brother ‘spawns’ a love for comics

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Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly visit into the home of a fan. Today’s shelves comes from Brett Jones, who credits his brother with introducing him to Spawn and comics. Check out his collection of comics, original art, action figures and more below.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find instructions at the end of this post.

And now here’s Brett …

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NYCC | ‘Star Wars Rebels’ ‘cowboy Jedi’ lands Marvel comic

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Marvel will expand its forthcoming Star Wars line in April with Star Wars — Kanan: The Last Padawan, an ongoing comic that ties in to Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Announced today during the “Cup o’ Joe” panel at New York Comic Con, the series will be written by animation veteran Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Young Justice), an executive producer for Rebels‘ first season, and illustrated by Pepe Larraz (The Mighty Thor).

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3 questions with Cory Doctorow about ‘In Real Life’

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Anda is a teenager eager for a place to spread her wings, and she finds it in Coarsegold Online, a massively multiplayer role-playing game in which she can make friends, slay monsters and build self-confidence. But when she befriends a gold farmer — a poor kid from China whose avatar collects valuable game objects to sell to players with money to spare, in violation of the rules — Ada quickly learns life is more complicated than it first appears online.

Arriving Tuesday from First Second Books, In Real Life is Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s adaptation of the acclaimed author’s 2004 short story “Anda’s Game.” It’s a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that touches upon myriad timely issues, ranging from bullying to economic inequality to safe spaces for female gamers, while maintaining the strong emotional thread of Anda’s journey.

To celebrate the release of his debut graphic novel, Doctorow — the author of Little Brother, Homeland and Pirate Cinema — participated in a “30 Questions” blog tour, answering a few questions at a different site each day. Today is ROBOT 6’s turn.

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Baby Groot is officially dancing your way in time for Christmas

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That Dancing Baby Groot everyone’s been clamoring for will arrive — officially licensed! — in time for Christmas.

Sure, Funko has that adorable little bobblehead, but this one from Marvel and KIDdesigns actually dances to a rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” the plays from a speaker built into its base. (The pot is emblazoned with the words “I Am Groot,” in case there’s any doubt to his identity.) However, you’ll have to come up with your own Drax if you want to reenact the scene from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Mashable has revealed the first look at Dancing Baby Groot in action (below). It’ll be priced at $14.99, give or take, which means you’ll be able to buy one for all the Guardians fans in your life. Or, you could just get several for yourself.

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