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Best of 7 | Rocket Raccoon goes solo, ComicsPRO buzz, Jellaby returns and more

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Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

And what a week it was, as we learned about a new Rocket Raccoon series by Skottie Young, Paul Levitz getting a new gig at BOOM!, the return of Jellaby and more. So let’s get to it …

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Comics A.M. | U.K. artists Gordon Bell & Tony Harding pass away

"Dennis the Menace," by Gordon Bell

“Dennis the Menace,” by Gordon Bell

Passings | British cartoonist Gordon Bell has died at the age of 79. He was a contributor to DC Thomson’s children’s comics, including The Beano and The Dandy, in the 1960s and ’70s; his creations include The Bash Street Pups. After that, he went on to become a political cartoonist (under the nom de plume Fax) for the Dundee, Scotland, newspaper The Courier, which is also apparently owned by DC Thomson. Lew Stringer has posted a sampling of his work at Blimey! [The Courier]

Passings | Another U.K. creator who drew for weekly children’s comics, Anthony John “Tony” Harding, has also died. While Bell’s work was on the goofy side, Harding drew soccer stories for action-packed boys’ comics such as Bullet, Hornet and Victor. His best-known gig was as the artist for “Look Out for Lefty,” the story of a hotheaded soccer player with a skinhead girlfriend, which got a bit too close to reality with its depictions of violence during soccer games. Again, Lew Stringer posts some of his work. [Down the Tubes]

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BOOM! Studios tweets its Valentine’s cards

BOOM! Studios' Lumberjanes valentine

BOOM! Studios’ Lumberjanes valentine

The folks at BOOM! Studios are celebrating Valentine’s Day on Twitter with a flurry of cards based on their comics, including Lumberjanes, Two Guns and The Midas Flesh, as well as Archaia properties like Royden Lepp’s Rust. So if you forgot to get your Valentines (or got snowed in), check out the hashtag #youmakemyheartgoBOOM on Twitter and download some comics lovin’ Valentine’s cards.

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Mimi Yoon reveals one of her next covers: ‘Adventure Time’

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Artist Mimi Yoon, whose withdrawn Powerpuff Girls variant cover has been the subject of much discussion over the past several days, has revealed one of her next projects for: a cover for BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time, also licensed by Cartoon Network.

As she pointed out in the comments on her Facebook page, it was painted last year for the miniseries Adventure Time: Candy Capers, which concluded in December, but the publisher now has decided to use it for the main series. Yoon also teased that another, as-yet-unrevealed cover she created will appear before this one.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist summoned after offending Ecuador’s president

Xavier Bonilla

Xavier Bonilla

Legal | Ecuadorean cartoonist Xavier Bonilla has received a court summons on unspecified charges that seem to relate to a cartoon that President Rafael Correa finds offensive. The case was brought by Ecuador’s new media regulator; Correa has stepped up attacks on the press in recent years, and the newspaper that runs Bonilla’s cartoons, El Universo, has been prosecuted in the past. [Business Standard]

Censorship | Michael Dooley looks at successful and unsuccessful attempts to remove comics from schools and libraries over the past 13 years; this short roundup is informative in its own right, and it’s apparently a sidebar to a longer article that’s not available for free. [Print Magazine]

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BOOM! teaser wants readers to ‘Remember why you’re here’

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BOOM! Studios has released a teaser for an unknown upcoming series. The teaser, which features an image of a man on the phone, looking into a mirror, sports the caption, “Why don’t I remember my face? Remember why you’re here.”

It’s reportedly the first of many images that will build up to the reveal of the series and its creative team. It’s unknown whether the title is a part of the publisher’s BOOM! Box line, a new comic being announced in anticipation of April 2014 solicitation reveals, or both. It’s likely more details will surface as the week progresses.

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Comics A.M. | Police auction off criminal’s comics on eBay

Some of the seized comics

Some of the seized comics

Auctions | The Leicestershire (England) Police are auctioning about 1,200 comics — most of them are post-2000 DC Comics titles, described as in mint condition — seized as criminal assets in Dorset (the police force doesn’t have its own eBay account). “Some are signed by the artists and they are mainly Superman and Spider Man, that sort of thing,” said Dave Hargrave, proceeds of crime asset realization manager. “[...] The person who had the comics was obviously a collector.” About 400 comics have been sold, bringing in £600 (about $985 U.S.). [Leicester Mercury]

Publishing | Avatar Press has returned to Diamond Book Distributors as its distributor to bookstores, the mass market, library services, and other markets. Avatar left DBD in 2011 to sign on with BOOM! Studios to distribute its books through Simon & Schuster in the United States and HarperCollins in Canada. [ICv2]

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Will plagiarism affect Shia LaBeouf’s planned BOOM! project? [Updated]

labeouf-campaign bookThe connection between actor Shia LaBeouf and the comics world predates Monday’s revelation that he appropriated — without credit, permission or the legal rights to do so — much of Daniel Clowes’ Justin M. Damiano for his short film HowardCantour.com. In 2012, he self-published a few comic books, which received mostly perplexed reviews.

It also appears that, at least at one point, LaBeouf planned to bring a release from his Campaign Book imprint to BOOM! Studios.

On Dec. 4, 2012, LaBeouf announced on his @thecampaignbook Twitter account that a book titled Hotah had picked up a “publishing partner,” BOOM! Studios. Accompanying the tweet was a piece of art (above) with the BOOM! Town logo — it’s the imprint that released Shannon Wheeler’s Eisner-winning collection I Thought You Would Be Funnier — with a version of the same image, logo intact, used as LaBeouf’s Twitter background.

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Comics A.M. | Why ‘One Piece’ is world’s most popular manga

"One Piece" newspaper ad

“One Piece” newspaper ad

Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]

Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead’ reclaims top spot in bookstores

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]

Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]

Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]

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BOOM! Studios brings collected editions to comiXology

adventure time-digital collectionBOOM! Studios will make all of its collected editions and graphic novels available on comiXology beginning today, with the digital debuts of volumes of Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors, Irredeemable, 2 Guns and others. The publisher’s entire back catalog will be available soon on comiXology for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and the web.

“We’ve been talking about making our backlist catalog available digitally in collected form for some time and it’s a great way to help cap the amazing year BOOM! has been having,” BOOM! CEO Ross Richie said in a statement. “With new fans discovering our brand every day through series like Adventure Time, Day Men, Suicide Risk and Herobear and the Kid, what better time to make everything available? I’m really excited about all of the co-promotions we have planned with comiXology as we roll out new editions!”

The full list of the publisher’s collected editions available today can be found below:

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Talking Comics with Tim | Steve Downer on coloring

Panel from Sons of Anarchy #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Panel from Sons of Anarchy #1 (BOOM! Studios)

I first became aware of colorist Steve Downer due to his work on MonkeyBrain Comics’ Edison Rex. But as I quickly learned, he serves as colorist on a variety of projects, as well as artist on Dracula the Unconquered. Given the variety of Downer’s projects, I thought it would be insightful to discuss his craft with him.

Tim O’Shea: How long have you been a colorist?

Steve Downer: I’ve been working full-time as a colorist since 2009, though I started coloring as a side job much earlier, in 2007, while I worked as a T-shirt graphic designer.

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NYCC ’13 | BOOM!, kaBOOM! & Archaia reveal con exclusives

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BOOM! Studios and its imprints KaBOOM! and Archaia Entertainment have announced their exclusive comics and prints for New York Comic Con, held Oct. 10-13 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. All of the convention exclusives will be available for sale at the BOOM! booth (#1344), where a number of creators also will be signing.

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‘Because movies would be better if the audience voted on an ending’

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Richie with wife Johanna Stokes at the “2 Guns” film premiere

“As a comic book publisher, I am growing tired of third parties coming up to us and saying, ‘You know what your problem is? More people would read comic books if they were digital somehow, like with some bad animation or if they were more Choose Your Own Adventure, where you clicked somehow while you were reading them.’ Yes, because the problem with novels is that the reader can’t control the story. Because movies would be better if the audience voted on an ending.

These people clearly never realize that their approach is insulting to the medium.”

BOOM! Studios President Ross Richie

Talking Comics with Tim | Sam Humphries on ‘Sacrifice’

Sacrifice

Sacrifice

In interviews I typically stay away from the “how did you get started in comics” question, but periodically I’ll delve into a question about a book dedication, hopeful for an interesting answer. I was hopeful with good reason with this week’s interview with writer Sam Humphries about the new Dark Horse hardcover collection of Sacrifice, by Humphries and artist Dalton Rose. To learn the death of his father was the push Humphries needed to pursue writing comics was a moment that gave me pause.

In fact, the book itself — about Hector, who through an epileptic seizure departs from modern time and space, back to when the Aztec civilization was in its prime — stopped me in my tracks. Storytelling that maps a psychedelic journey in a coherent and fascinating manner is no easy feat, but Humphries and Rose have accomplished it. Dark Horse’s collection of the self-published series will be released Wednesday.

Tim O’Shea: On a most rudimentary level, let’s talk about the logo design for Sacrifice. Who designed it, [comics designer] Dylan Todd or Dalton Rose?

Sam Humphries: Dylan Todd. Sacrifice largely takes place in the past, but it’s not a stodgy period piece. I wanted the design to reflect a modern sensibility without ignoring the core of the story, which is the Aztec Empire. It was a difficult balance but Dylan killed it. He gave Sacrifice a “face” to people who had never seen the story.

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