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Chicago’s Challengers Comics opens all-ages Sidekicks

Sidekicks (from Patch.com)

When Challengers Comics + Conversation opened nearly five years ago in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, owners Patrick Brower and W. Dal Bush expected their clientele would be predominantly men. However, families with young children soon began walking through the door.

“When we first started in March 2008, we were surprised by the number of families that would come in,” Brower told Time Out Chicago. “Over the years, that’s grown, and it seems like a large portion of our regular customers have just started to have kids. They’re just infants, but those comic readers will want their kids to read comics.”

So after a 2010 expansion into an adjacent storefront for a sequential-art gallery didn’t prove as popular as they had hoped, the owners decided to transform the 400-square-foot retail space into Sidekicks, a “comic shop within a comic shop” devoted exclusively to family-friendly fare.

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Kickstart My Art | Bryan Q. Miller and Marcio Takara’s Earthward

As he promised Monday in his interview with ROBOT 6’s Tim O’Shea, Smallville writer Bryan Q. Miller has launched the Kickstarter campaign for Earthward, his all-ages graphic novel collaboration with artist Marcio Takara. Only hours into the drive, the project is already $5,401 toward its $30,000 goal.

“From inception, it was always intended to be all-ages, in a sense that I wanted it to live in a space where 7-year-olds could enjoy it, as well as 35-year-olds,” Miller told ROBOT 6. “Often, all-ages winds up meaning “watered down for child consumption.” That isn’t the case with Earthward.”

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Talking Comics with Tim | Bryan Q. Miller on Earthward

Earthward

Writer Bryan Q. Miller (Smallville, Batgirl) is using Kickstarter to fund Earthward, an all-ages graphic novel that celebrates adventure, exploration and family — in space, no less.

It’s the story of six kids (Ben and his sister, Alyssa; Smack, the hustler; twins Cody and Trin; and Daniella, who was orphaned by a space pirate assault) in search of their missing parents. To tell the story of these adventure-seeking children (known collectively as the Mercury Six)  properly, Miller wants to team with artist Marcio Takara, who has worked on BOOM! Studios’ The Incredibles and DC Comics’ Blue Beetle. That’s where the Kickstarter drive comes into play … but more about that in the interview.

Miller’s partial aim with Earthward is to tell a tale that appeals to both kids and adults, without pandering to either demographic — a lofty goal. Miller and Takara are aiming for a September 2013 delivery date.

Tim O’Shea: How early in the development process of Earthward did you know you want it to be all-ages? How long has this story been in development?

Bryan Q. MillerEarthward has been with me as completed story that I would tweak every now and then, for a bit. I could never quite put my finger on the best avenue to pursue with it. Should it be an animated movie? A video game? A live-action movie? A Cartoon Network pilot? From inception, it was always intended to be all-ages, in a sense that I wanted it to live in a space where 7-year-olds could enjoy it, as well as 35-year-olds. Often, all-ages winds up meaning “watered down for child consumption.” That isn’t the case with Earthward.

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Comics A.M. | Steve Ditko won’t be appearing at London convention

Steve Ditko self-portrait

Creators | Contrary to some reports this morning, reclusive comics legend Steve Ditko won’t be a special guest at the second annual London Super Comic Convention, to be held Feb. 25-26 at the Excel Centre in London. A press release that circulated has been confirmed as a hoax. [ComicConventions, Bleeding Cool]

Publishing | Trajectory, publisher of the Classics Illustrated comics, announced at the Beijing Book Fair that it has begun publishing Chinese translations that will be available as ebooks. The first two titles: Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. [press release]

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Art Baltazar and Franco launch Aw Yeah Comics

Holiday or no, it’s a busy week for new comics announcements. The latest is from the Tiny Titans team of Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, who chose Independence Day to announce Aw Yeah Comics, a new independent comic series featuring their mascots Action Cat and Adventure Bug, along with, we are promised, “a wide cast of crazy characters.” Each issue will feature different writers and artists, both veterans and newcomers. The monthly comics will be available, in print form, at conventions and at the Aw Yeah Comics store in Skokie, Illinois, as well as by mail order. No word of any digital release.

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Art Baltazar’s character designs for Superman Family Adventures

Ahead of the debut next week of The Superman Family Adventures, the new all-ages series from Tiny Titans creators Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, DC Comics has unveiled Baltazar’s adorable character designs for the entire cast, from Superman, Supergirl and Lois Lane to Krypto, Streaky and the Phantom Zone villains. Announced in May 2011, The Superman Family Adventures replaces Tiny Titans on DC’s all-ages roster. Here’s the solicitation text for the first issue, which goes on sale May 30:

Superman’s closest allies take the stage like you have never seen before, from the Eisner Award-winning team of Art Baltazar and Franco (TINY TITANS)!

• Don’t miss the action-packed, history-making, super adventure awesomeness!!

• Classic Superman elements reinterpreted for all ages with the humor that only the creative team of TINY TITANS can bring!

Check out the rest of the character designs below.

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You cannot keep Rob Hanes down

Rob Hanes Adventures #13

And that’s just the way I like it. Rob Hanes Adventures creator Randy Reynaldo has announced that the 13th issue of his indomitable, but sporadic, all-ages adventure series will hit in July.

Continuing RHA‘s tradition of telling stand-alone stories inspired by various genres and (often) current events, the issue will contain two, self-contained tales. “Crime Takes a Holiday” sounds like a crime caper set in the French Riviera, while “Not Your Father’s Private Eye” is set in a fictional version of the Arab Spring uprisings.

I’ve read most of the Rob Hanes Adventures series and they’re great fun for young readers as well as older fans of Milton Caniff-esque adventure comics. You can get more info and see some sample pages at Reynaldo’s website.

Comics A.M. | Sheldon Moldoff dies; record sellout for Comic-Con

Batman #92

Passings | Classic comics artist Sheldon Moldoff, who co-created Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and Ace the Bat Hound, passed away Wednesday. He was 91. Moldoff broke into comics at the age of 17 with a sports filler that appeared on the inside back cover of Action Comics #1. He went on to become a prolific cover artist, drawing the first cover image of the Golden Age Flash for Flash Comics #1 and the Golden Age Green Lantern for All-American Comics #16. He also worked on comics featuring Hawkman, Kid Eternityand Black Pirate. He also was one of the pioneers of horror comics in the late 1940s and worked as a “ghost artist” for Bob Kane on Batman from 1953 to 1967. After being let go by DC Comics in 1967, he went on to work in animation. [News from ME]

Conventions | Badges for Comic-Con International sold out Saturday morning within an hour and a half, a record for the annual pop-culture extravaganza. Last year it took about seven hours for badges to disappear. [U-T San Diego]

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Comics A.M. | Anya’s Ghost, Zita the Spacegirl win Cybils Awards

Anya's Ghost

Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]

Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]

Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]

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Comics A.M. | James Sturm on why he’s boycotting The Avengers

Artwork by James Sturm

Creators | Market Day creator James Sturm explains he’ll be boycotting The Avengers movie because he believes Jack Kirby, co-creator of many of Marvel’s longest-lasting characters,  “got a raw deal”: “What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel’s media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain. As Stan Lee famously wrote, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’” Tom Spurgeon notes the position seems to mark a shift for Sturm, who wrote the Eisner-winning 2003 miniseries Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules for Marvel. [Slate, The Comics Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Thief steals all 64 volumes of One Piece

One Piece, Vol. 46

Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]

Legal | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Susie Cagle about being taken into custody again over the weekend during Occupy Oakland protests. [Comic Riffs]

Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]

Comics | Jeff Parker and Erica Moen’s webcomic Bucko has reached its last panel, but Parker says a book is on the way, and there will be “exciting news” at Emerald City Comic Con. [Parkerspace]

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Food or Comics? | Winter squash or Winter Soldier?

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-man: Artist's Edition

Graeme McMillan

Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?

If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.

When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.

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DC and LEGO team up for kid-friendly comics app

DC Entertainment and LEGO this morning announced that several of the publisher’s all-ages titles, including The Batman Adventures, Tiny Titans and Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, on the LEGO Hero Factory app created by DC and sponsored by LEGO.

As the name of the app suggests, the emphasis is on digital comics based on the LEGO Hero Factory toy line — they’re free! — other kid-friendly DC books like Teen Titans Go!, Young Justice and Superman Adventures are also available for 99 cents per download.

“LEGO Hero Factory is all about building heroes so it’s the perfect match for an app that also features DC Comics Super Heroes,” Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president of digital, said in a statement.  “We’ve had a great, longstanding relationship with LEGO Systems and we’re really excited to bring these comics to kids through the LEGO Hero Factory app.”

Saturday Morning Webtoons debuts, for your all-ages reading pleasure

From "The Little Tales of Otto & Olive," by Stephanie Buscema

J. Torres brings to our attention the premiere of Saturday Morning Webtoons, a new web “channel” linking readers to a lineup of all-ages webcomics from some familiar names: Boo Bear & Flo, by Jack Briglio (Digger & Friends, Scooby Doo) and Agnes Garbowska (Marvel’s Girl Comics, You, Me and Zombie); Gobukan, by J. Bone (Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Owl Magazine), The Little Tales of Otto & Olive, by Stephanie Buscema (Rocketeer Adventures, Pugs in a Bug); Orchard of Laughs, by Eric Orchard (Maddy Kettle, Yo Gabba Gabba: Comic Book Time); and Princess at Midnight, by Andi Watson (Glister, Skeleton Key).

In addition to the stable of weekly and biweekly comics, the site also offers each month a free downloadable comic; first up is Lopopo’s Lost Sock, by Alex Serra (Handy Manny, Teen Titans Go). Next will be Funnies Farm, by J. Torres (Archie & Friends, Disney/Pixar’s WALL-E) and Tracie Mauk (Comic Book Crossfire, Fight).

Comics A.M. | Teen sentenced in comics burglary; Reuben Awards adds webcomics

Legal

Legal | A teenager was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison for his role in the July 2010 theft of a valuable comic collection from an elderly Medina, New York, man, who later died of a heart attack. Eighteen-year-old Juan C. Javier, who pleaded guilty last fall to attempted second-degree burglary, is one of seven people whom police say were hired by businessman Rico J. Vendetti to break into the home of Homer Marciniak to steal his comics. Marciniak, 77, awoke during the burglary and was beaten, suffering only cuts and bruises. However, he had a fatal heart attack later that day. Eight people, including Vendetti and Javier, were indicted in November 2010; the indictments were dismissed against four of the accused so the U.S. Attorney could charge them with murder under federal law. [The Daily News]

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