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Comics A.M. | Digital comics sales dropped in 2015 for the first time

digital-comics-am

Digital Comics | Digital comics sales dropped 10% in 2015, according to calculations by the geek-industry retail site ICv2. This is the first decline since the category started to take off in 2010. “Industry participants” offered a number of possible explanations for this, including the leveling-off of new tablet and e-reader purchases and competition from Humble Bundle and other bundle services. Conspicuously not mentioned is comiXology’s decision, in spring of 2014, to eliminate in-app purchases on iOS devices, removing the most convenient way to buy comics from the most popular platform. The article does mention that sales through the Google Play store and direct digital sales from publishers of DRM-free comics had increased, although they are still a small segment of the industry. Also, e-book sales in general are down. Despite all this, ICv2 calculates that digital sales totaled $90 million last year, which is still pretty good considering that the market was just $1 million in 2009. [ICv2]

Conventions | New York Comic Con will extend the party with a series of events tagged “NYCC Presents,” running from October 3-9 (the con itself is October 6-9). The events include a “We the Heroes” Ball, Doctor Who costume and trivia contest, a live episode of “Game Grumps,” and “Shipwreck Presents: A Literary Erotic Fanfic Competition based on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.” All events require separate tickets—your NYCC badge won’t get you in. [New York Comic Con]

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Comics A.M. | Hundreds turn out for fan’s cosplay funeral

cosplay funeral

Fandom | When comics fan and cosplayer Erin Roberts learned she was dying from a brain tumor, at age 25, she asked that her life be celebrated with a cosplay funeral. Friends and family raised more than £3,500 to pay the expenses, including a horse and cart to bring her coffin to the church. More than 200 cosplayers attended the funeral. Her friends are also organizing a charity event to benefit the hospice where Roberts spent the last few weeks of her life. [Liverpool Echo]

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Comics A.M. | Nick Sousanis’ ‘Unflattening’ wins Lynd Ward Prize

unflattening-social

Awards | Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening is the winner of the 2016 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Two graphic novels were named honor books: Lucy Knisley’s memoir Displacement and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen’s Russian Olive to Red King. The award is named for Lynd Ward, who published six wordless graphic novels between 1929 and 1937, all based on woodcuts. Ward’s daughters donated a collection of his original art to Penn State, which sponsors the award. [Penn State News]

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Comics A.M. | Manga sales gain momentum in 2015

tokyo ghoul-v1

Manga | ICv2 wraps up a week of intensive manga coverage with a look at the overall market, and it’s looking pretty good: Manga sales were up 13 percent in the first eight months of 2015, and they have been increasing for three years straight. What’s more, it’s a broad-based increase, with healthy sales in all channels — comic shops, bookstores, the mass market (i.e. Walmart) and libraries. ICv2’s Milton Griepp attributes the growth to several factors, including the popularity of streaming anime (which gives related manga properties a strong boost), the emergence of several blockbuster properties (Attack on Titan, One-Punch Man and Tokyo Ghoul), and increasing acceptance of geek culture in general, and anime/manga fandom in particular. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Edinburgh Zoo names Cartoonist in Residence

By Cameron McPhail and the Kartoon Faktory

By Cameron McPhail and the Kartoon Faktory

Creators | The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has named its first Cartoonist in Residence: Cameron McPhail, who left his job in 2002 as chief executive of wealth management at the Royal Bank of Scotland  to become a full-time cartoonist. He and his colleagues in the Kartoon Faktory collective will produce books about the animals in the zoo and possibly a comic strip as well. [Edinburgh News]

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Comics A.M. | College graphic novel challenges on the rise says CBLDF

Fun Home

Fun Home

Censorship | During a panel at Comic-Con International, members of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund criticized a student’s attempt to have four graphic novels banned from her college campus. Crafton Hills College student Tara Shultz and her father, Craig Shultz, have called for Fun Home, Persepolis, the first volume of Y: The Last Man, and the second volume of The Sandman, all of which were included in a course on the graphic novel as literature, to be removed not only from the course but also from the college bookstore. The school has refused. CBLDF director Charles Brownstein noted that this is part of a troubling new trend: Graphic novel challenges at the college level. The CBLDF has been involved in 18 college cases so far this year, up from 10 in all of 2014. [Redlands Daily Facts]

Creators | “Opus’s [voice] came screaming back at me — true— when I faced those four empty panels that I hadn’t done since 1989,” cartoonist Berkeley Breathed told Michael Cavna, explaining why he is returning to his comic strip Bloom County after a lengthy absence. He also discusses the possibility of self-publishing rather than going with a newspaper syndicate: “Dead-tree media requires constancy and deadlines and guarantees. This flattens the joy. It also presents a huge income. It’s an interesting trade-off, isn’t it?” [Comic Riffs]

Commentary | David Brothers critiques Marvel’s plans to publish hip-hop themed variant covers, given that none of the newly announced creators for Marvel titles are black. [i am davidbrothers dotcom]

Creators | Kate Beaton talks about her family, webcomics, princesses, and her pony character’s guest appearance on Adventure Time. [Time]

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Comics A.M. | ‘One Piece’ Vol. 77 sells 1.67M copies in first week

One Piece, Vol. 77

One Piece, Vol. 77

Manga | The first printing of One Piece, Vol. 77, may have dropped below 4 million, but its sales aren’t slacking. According to Japanese market research firm, the latest volume of Eiichiro Oda’s hit manga has sold nearly 1.67 million copies since its release on Friday, more than seven times that of the No. 2 title on the weekly sales chart, the 67th volume of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. That’s marks a new weekly sales record for the year, surpassing the 67th volume of One Piece, which sold 1.6 million copies upon its release in January. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Charlie Hebdo’ massacre survivor recounts attack

Sigolène Vinson

Sigolène Vinson

Crime | Sigolène Vinson, a writer for Charlie Hebdo, gives her account of the Jan. 7 shootings that killed 12 at the French satire magazine’s headquarters. Vinson was in the kitchen and heard brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi shoot her coworkers; she hid in a colleague’s office but came face to face with Saïd Kouachi, who told her “Don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You’re a woman, we don’t kill women. But think about what you do, what you do is bad. I’m sparing you and because I’ve spared you, you will read the Qur’an.” (However, Chérif killed writer Elsa Cayat, the only female victim of the attack.) [The Guardian]

Awards | This year’s grand prix de la ville d’Angoulême, the lifetime achievement award given every year at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, won’t be given to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, despite a petition started by jury president Gwen de Bonneval that garnered 1,200 signatures plus significant support on Twitter and Facebook. Two Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Wolinski, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack, and Willem, who wasn’t in the office that day, have been awarded the grand prix in previous years. The festival has announced a special Charlie Hebdo award that will go to a cartoonist whose work embodies resistance to oppression and censorship, and organizers will also publish a special album of cartoons drawn in response to the attacks. [France Inter]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian police launch new probe of cartoonist

Zunar

Zunar

Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar is being investigated once more under the country’s Sedition Act, his lawyer revealed Tuesday. Three of Zunar’s assistants were arrested last week for selling two of his books, neither of which has been officially banned, and his webmaster has been summoned to talk to police on Thursday. Zunar has also been called in for questioning at a future date. What’s more, the Malaysian Home Ministry has appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision to remove the ban on two of Zunar’s other books. [Malaysia Chronicle]

Publishing | Red Giant Entertainment has announced that retailers ordered about 900,000 copies each of its four anthology comics, which are ad-supported and will be given away for free. The company, which also releases digital comics and paid print comics, kicked off this program with a package of four zero issues on Free Comic Book Day. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Police seek more video of ZombieWalk crash

ZombieWalk crash

ZombieWalk crash

Legal | The San Diego Police Department is asking anyone with video of the July 26 car accident during the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego to come forward. Police already have several videos of the incident, in which a driver plowed into the crowd, injuring at least three people, but they are hoping to get additional information. [Fox 5 News]

Legal | A Tokyo District Court judge sentenced Hirofumi Watanabe to four years and six months in prison for sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 35-year-old man admitted during his first day in court that he had sent the threatening letters, but he also refused to apologize or pay restitution and says he does not feel guilty. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Taiwan ‘One Piece’ exhibit draws 100,000 in first week

Taipei Metro cars were wrapped in "One Piece" ads for the exhibition

Taipei Metro cars were wrapped in “One Piece” ads for the exhibition

Events | An extensive exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan, devoted to Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece manga and anime has drawn more than 100,000 visitors since its opening on July 1. Overseen by Oda, the exhibition is the first of its kind outside of Japan, where it was held from 2012 to 2013 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the insanely popular manga. “One Piece Exhibition: Original Art x Movies x Experience Pirate King Taiwan” runs through Sept. 22. [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee greeted in Sydney with ‘Captain Australia’ shield

Stan Lee (via The Daily Telegraph)

Stan Lee (via The Daily Telegraph)

Creators | Stan Lee arrived at Sydney Airport for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and was immediately presented with a “Captain Australia” shield, colored gold and green rather than red and blue. The Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicked off today, and continues through Sunday. [The Daily Telegraph]

Comics | Hussain Al-Shiblawi says he doesn’t usually mind the pamphlets he regularly receives from the local Bible Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia; even though he’s Muslim, he finds them inspirational. But he takes strong exception to the latest one, a Jack Chick tract titled Unforgiven, which claims that all Muslims are going to hell. The pastor, who declined to go on camera, says his church doesn’t create the pamphlets, it just distributes them, but he’s willing to meet with Al-Shiblawi to discuss the comic. [WDBJ News]

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Comics A.M. | Ontario family selling 25,000 comics for charity

The Incredible Hulk #271

The Incredible Hulk #271

Comics | The Lussier family of Barrhaven, Ontario, will be offering more than 25,000 comics for sale June 7 in their garage to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The Lussiers not only collect comics, they use them as part of their homeschooling curriculum, and when a comics shop in New Hampshire closed last year, they bought 20,000 comics from the owner; they also buy comics online. “We use comic books to really teach kids about life, and about finances and about debt,” said father Rob Lussier. Their collection includes The Incredible Hulk #271, which has appreciated quite a bit in value because it contains the first an early appearance by Rocket Raccoon, who’s featured in Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Still, 12-year-old Alexandre is philosophical: “If the movie is good, [the value] will go up, but if it’s really bad, it might just plummet.” [Metro]

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Comics A.M. | Australian expo draws criticism for pulling comic

Jesus Reloadeth'd

Jesus Reloadeth’d

Conventions | The organizers of the Supanova pop culture festival in Melbourne, Australia, triggered a social-media firestorm after removing a comic by artist Scarlette Baccini from her table because of explicit sexual content. The festival has a strict ban on pornography, and other adult material must be kept sealed and away from children. One of the organizers stopped by Baccini’s table, flipped through her Jesus Reloadeth’d, and saw a drawing of two men having sex, so he removed the comic. Baccini posted about the incident on Facebook, triggering accusations of homophobia against the event organizers. However, they responded that the issue was the explicitness of the image, not that it depicted two men. [SameSame]

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Comics A.M. | French manga market shows signs of weakening

Naruto, Vol. 60

Naruto, Vol. 60

Manga | While at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, I had a chance to study the French manga market and talk to some of the publishers. Manga represents more than one-third of the French comics market (last year, there were more new manga releases than BDs), and sales and production dipped for the first time last year. [Publishers Weekly]

Comics | Gary Cox rounds up reactions from refugees to the Australian government’s online comic that warns them not to try to enter the country without a visa. “The people who are coming here are not economic migrants, they’re coming to have a safer, peaceful life here,” says Ibrar Hassani. And an advocate for refugees pointed out that the images of refugees suffering in detention centers were evidence that the government is deliberately mistreating them. [SBS]

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