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DC and Sanrio team up for Hello Kitty superhero products

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Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment have partnered with Sanrio for a new Hello Kitty line, which features the international marketing phenomenon dressed as her favorite DC Comics superheroes, such as “Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman” (although it’s obvious in the image above that those are classic Supergirl and Batgirl).

Debuting next year, the costume-clad Hello Kitty will appear on apparel, accessories and footwear, stationery, publishing, personal care, promotional products and food products. Continue Reading »

Ming Doyle’s convention sketches show an artist ready for super-stardom

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I first came across Ming Doyle’s work when she illustrated a new Michael Moorcock Elric short story in Weird Tales #349, the series’ 85th birthday issue. I’m something of a Moorcock nut, and prone to strong opinions about his artistic collaborators, but Doyle’s work more than passed muster: Here was an artist whose progress I was going to have to keep a close eye on.

Since then, Doyle’s career trajectory has been consistently upward, from the Star Trek-loving webcomic Boldly Gone with Kevin Church, to her current work on the Image comic Mara with Brian Wood. Every time some editor at DC Comics or Marvel claims he isn’t employing female creators because there just aren’t any out there fit for purpose, she’s always one of the first names that pops into my head as I mentally compose a list as long as your arm of women one big gig away from comics super-stardom.

Anyway, it’s convention season, that happy time when my favorite artists post lots of lovely sketches on their blogs, Instagram timelines, Facebook and the like — y’know, that newfangled social media the kids are all talking about. The collective Doyle belongs to, Out of Step Arts, has posted several sketches done at last weeks HeroesCon, some of which can also be seen at her own site, along with more May’s Phoenix Comicon. There’s a selection of my favorites after the break, including probably the most smouldering-est rendering of Bones McCoy ever.

(Note: The headline has been changed to better reflect the intention of this post, which is to celebrate Ming Doyle’s artwork. We apologize if our meaning wasn’t clear.)

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It’s a Gotham City wedding for two Nightwing and Batgirl fans

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What happens when a Nightwing fan and a Batgirl devotee meet and fall in love? They have a Batman-themed wedding, naturally.

“This guy stopped to help me hang up a poster and three years later he proposed after jumping out of a plane,” user “babsgordon” writes on imgur. “Our relationship bonded over our superhero obsessions, so why not have a Batman wedding?”

This Dynamic Duo didn’t skimp on the details: As you can see from the photos here an on imgur, they wore Nightwing and Batgirl T-shirts in their engagement photos, sent invitations designed to look like tickets to Haly’s Circus, displayed a Gotham City cake, and the bride sported Bat-Signal earrings, custom-made garters, and even a utility belt (for her bridal shoot, at least)!

And the wedding party? Nightwing-blue for the groomsmen and groomswoman, and Batgirl-yellow for the bridesmaids and “bridesdudes” — complete with the appropriate insignia for the boutonnieres.

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Conversing on Comics with Gail Simone

HEADER Gail Simone

Gail Simone has one of the most personable and idiosyncratic voices in comics. It’s why fans follow her in books like Batgirl, Birds of Prey and Secret Six, and it’s how she broke into the comics industry from being a Comic Book Resources columnist. And 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Simone with the launch of her creator-owned Leaving Megapolis with Jim Califoire, a new Red Sonja series at Dynamite and The Movement at DC Comics (which she spoke about at length Friday with Comic Book Resources), and continuing on her cathartic run on Batgirl.

I reached out to Simone following the Red Sonja announcement to talk to her about that new book, but also her career in general. Her off-again, on-again time on Batgirl has already been covered ad nauseum, and there’s more to her story than that.

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DC’s ‘Batman Beyond,’ ‘Justice League Beyond’ get new creators

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DC Comics’ digital-first series Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond will get new creative teams this summer, which will also see the official debut of the Batgirl of the future.

IGN.com reports Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins and Venom artist Thony Silas will take the reins of Batman Beyond, with Sean Murphy and Jordie Bellaire providing covers, while Avengers Academy writer Christos Gage and Superboy artist Iban Coello will take over Justice League Beyond. JT Krul and Howard Porter will remain on Superman Beyond.

However, before Higgins and Silas make their debut, writer Scott Peterson and artist Annie Wu will introduce the future Batgirl, who’s said to have a good working relationship with Commissioner Barbara Gordon, in her own story arc in July.

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Comics A.M. | National Organization for Marriage responds to Card backlash

Adventures of Superman #1

Adventures of Superman #1

Comics| Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, expressed dismay about the backlash to DC Comics hiring sci-fi author, and outspoken gay-rights opponent, Orson Scott Card to write Adventures of Superman. Card is a board member of the organization, which works against the legalization of same-sex marriage. “This is completely un-American and it needs to be stopped,” Brown said. “Simply because we stand up for traditional marriage, some people feel like it’s OK to target us for intimidation and punishment.” NOM last year launched boycotts of Starbucks and General Mills because of their support of same-sex marriage initiatives. [The Huffington Post]

Retailing | Gabi Shepherd, owner of Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, Washington, talks about the importance of courting teenagers, who are often not welcome in other retail stores: “I have found that if I am going to make this the community center that I want to make it then the kids are a big part of that. It makes them feel good when they come in and someone knows who they are. It’s important. It’s respect.” [ThurstonTalk]

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A little about each of the stories in DC’s Young Romance special

Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.

This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.

An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.

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Women of Action | Ame-Comi Girls

Amanda Conner's Wonder Woman

When DC Comics announced it was launching a series based on its popular Ame-Comi line of figures, I don’t think I heard a single person say, “Yes! I was hoping for that!” The Ame-Comi collectibles can be imaginative and attractive (some more than others), but no one was clamoring for a series that sexualized DC’s superheroines even more overtly than they already are. In fact, the most common responses were either head-scratching or eye-rolling, depending on how much the person thought DC has legitimately tried to reach out to female readers lately. But then the creators were announced.

Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray write the series and Amanda Conner drew the first couple of installments, which were serialized digitally first, 10 pages at a time. Putting the creators of the well-regarded Power Girl series on Ame-Comi Girls was a smart move and convinced a lot of readers who otherwise would have dismissed the comic – including me – to give it at least an initial look.

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Mike Maihack brings back Supergirl/Batgirl (and cookies)

Here at Robot 6, we’ve been strong supporters of the notion of Mike Maihack’s (Cleopatra in Spaaace!) doing a Supergirl/Batgirl comic. It all started with a fake cover, turned into a strip that begat a Christmas strip last year, which is now (hopefully!) an annual tradition. If Maihack keeps this up, we’ll have ourselves a full issue in 17 years. Fingers crossed that DC Comics doesn’t wait that long to hire him.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s March solicitations come in like a lion

The sociopathic apple doesn't fall too far from the incredibly-driven tree

No small amount of drama accompanies the March solicitations, thanks to Gail Simone’s unexpected dismissal from Batgirl.  There’s also turnover at Swamp Thing and Birds of Prey, potential clues to the end of “Death of the Family,” and the usual I-remember-this! commentary on collections.

Ready? O-kay!

FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL

The big stories are the departures of Simone from Batgirl and Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette from Swamp Thing. It seems particularly odd in Simone’s case because it leaves the fate of Batgirl’s current antagonist in the hands of a different writer. Maybe that means Simone’s original plans for him didn’t go over particularly well with DC, or maybe it’s something totally unrelated. Either way, looks like it’ll be at least another month (in January’s Issue 16, her last issue) before we learn anything significant. At any rate, Ray Fawkes writes two issues of Batgirl starting with Issue 18.

As of March, Jim Zubkavich is your new Birds of Prey writer, Andy Kubert draws the lead story in Batman #18, and Trevor McCarthy draws Batwoman #18. Also, in a move that threatens to have me try out Phantom Stranger, the very fine J.M. DeMatteis comes aboard as co-writer with Issue # (guest-drawn by the equally fine Gene Ha and Zander Cannon).

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The big deal behind Gail Simone’s firing from Batgirl

NY Times Best Seller Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection

The Internet hand-wringing was set to overdrive when it was announced writer Gail Simone had been summarily dismissed from Batgirl. By email, no less. Virtually every comics news site and blog chimed in, usually followed by a flurry of reader comments. However, freelance creators are let go from comics all of the time. Sure there’s usually disappointment, and it’s never good when someone loses her job. But what made this the event of the week?

There’s a history to this that adds an extra layer of emotion.

Simone is a well-liked creator with a spirited fan base, and she has described Batgirl as a dream job for her. This is the character that hooked her into comics. This is the character she’s always wanted to write. Her dream came true, and now it’s being taken away. So any human being with at least an average level of empathy is going to feel like this is an unfortunate turn of events for her. This was also largely unexpected, as the series was performing well; Batgirl #14 was No. 17 on Diamond Comic Distributors’ November sales chart with an estimated 77,468 copies, although previous issues sold in the 40,ooo to 50,000 range. That’s where some shock and indignation comes in. It seems like an unfair decision (although it is of course fully within DC Comics’ rights to hire and fire whoever it wants).

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Ray Fawkes to fill in for two issues on DC’s Batgirl

Even as fans react to Sunday’s announcement that Gail Simone will no longer be writing Batgirl, word has trickled out that recently appointed Justice League Dark co-writer Ray Fawkes will fill in on a two-part story arc beginning in March.

The news arrives courtesy of DC Comics’ Batman Group solicitations for March (via The Outhousers), which appear to have leaked a little early on Newsarama:

BATGIRL #18
Written by RAY FAWKES
Art and cover by DANIEL SAMPERE and VICENTE CIFUENTES
On sale MARCH 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
• The first of two issues by guest writer Ray Fawkes!
• Batgirl must face the man who sold her out to The Joker during “DEATH OF THE FAMILY”…her own brother, James Gordon, Jr.
• Can Barbara help him, or will this conflict be the final nail in her family’s coffin?

Best known for his such books as Mnemovore, Apocalipstix and Possessions, Fawkes joins Jeff Lemire in February as co-writer of Justice League Dark.

Gail Simone ‘no longer the writer of Batgirl

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Gail Simone, the writer of Batgirl since the comic was rebooted as part of DC Comics’ New 52 relaunch, said on Twitter today that she will no longer be writing the title.

“On Wednesday of last week, new Batgirl editor Brian Cunningham informed me by email that I was no longer the writer of Batgirl,” Simone said. “It is baffling and sad, I will probably have a statement later today or maybe tomorrow. But I want to give huge, huge thanks to the other creators in the bat-offices, and editors Bobbie Chase and @yourpallsmitty, champions all. And the biggest thank you of all to you guys for supporting this book so hugely and making it a commercial and critical success. I honestly don’t have the words right now to thank you all. I’m pretty choked up and it’s all gratitude, not bitterness. I am very proud of what we accomplished with Batgirl and it was an honor to get to write Barbara Gordon again. Love that dame.”

Simone has a long history with the character. In addition to writing the New 52 relaunch title that saw Barbara Gordon back in the familiar tights, Simone also wrote the character for years in Birds of Prey before the relaunch, back when Gordon was the wheelchair-bound Oracle. No word yet on what issue will be Simone’s last; presumably it will be issue #17, which was solicited for February. March solicitations I believe are due to be released tomorrow.

This also leaves Simone without a project in the DCU; she was the co-writer of Fury of Firestorm until issue #7, when Joe Harris replaced her on the title. She and her Secret Six collaborator Jim Calafiore are working together on a creator-owned project called Leaving Megalopolis, which had a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

Update: Simone has a longer post on her Tumblr about this, as well as one that seems to confirm that issue #17 is indeed her last.

The case of Li’l Gotham and the magically changing Batgirl costume [Updated]

While some are pointing to changes to a Batgirl costume in the digital-first Li’l Gotham comic as further evidence of behind-the-scenes hijinks designed to erase Stephanie Brown from DC Comics, the truth may less conspiratorial — if still a little odd.

Bleeding Cool pointed out this morning that a panel from the Dustin Nguyen/Derek Fridolfs story had been altered from the preview released early Wednesday. In the original version, a blonde girl can be seen among the trick-or-treaters dressed in what’s unmistakably a Stephanie Brown-Batgirl costume. However, in a second version posted on the website, the same girl is shown now with dark hair but without the purple stripe familiar to Stephanie fans, leading Bleeding Cool to conclude, “Yup, in the DC Universe, not even little kids are allowed to dress up as Stephanie Brown.”

But in the comic downloaded this morning by Robot 6 (below), the purple stripe remains, clearly marking the costume as Stephanie Brown’s. Still, it’s definitely odd, particularly considering that the ash-colored hair is almost indistinguishable from the mask. Of course, why that figure was the only one on the page changed is a bit of a mystery — as is why there are seemingly two edited versions of the panel floating around.

We’ve reached out DC Comics for clarification, but the offices are closed because of Superstorm Sandy, so it may take a while for a response.

Update (9:25 a.m.): It appears the panel posted at Bleeding Cool is fake. The girl’s hair color was changed from the time of the preview’s release, as Robot 6′s downloaded image shows, but not her costume.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Beginning the Joker’s eight-way revenge

There's a killer on the road / His brain is squirmin' like a toad

As written by Scott Snyder, penciled by Greg Capullo and inked by Jonathan Glapion, the lead story in Batman Vol. 2 #13 is a terrific kickoff to the latest Batman event. “Death of the Family,” the Joker-centric crossover running through the Batman line for the next few months, will eventually involve seven more ongoing series — including Batgirl and Batman and Robin, which we’ll discuss later — but this opening chapter by itself shows me that Snyder, Capullo and company intend to kick out all the stops when it comes to the Clown Prince of Crime.

Naturally, SPOILERS FOLLOW for this week’s Bat-books.

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