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Comics A.M. | Funky Winkerbean storyline to tackle gay rights

Funky Winkerbean

Comic strips | Cartoonist Tom Batiuk, whose Funky Winkerbean has addressed such topics as teen pregnancy, land mines and capital punishment, will next turn his attention to gay rights in a storyline about a gay couple that wants to attend the prom at the comic strip’s fictional fictional Westview High School. “It struck me that whenever I sit in classes at Midview High, which I still do, my overall impression is that the younger generation’s attitudes toward gays is more open and accepting than their predecessors,” Batiuk said. “It’s not perfect, but it shows promise for an emerging generation that will bring this issue (intolerance) to an end. I wanted to take those two opposing viewpoints to reach across that divide of intolerance.” The month-long storyline begins April 30. Funky Winkerbean appears in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. [The Chronicle-Telegram]

Conventions | The seventh annual Cape Comic Con kicks off today in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. [Southeast Missourian]

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Comics A.M. | Ali Ferzat named one of Time’s Most Influential People

Matt Wuerker's cartoon in support of Ali Ferzat

Creators | Ali Ferzat, the Syrian cartoonist who was abducted and beaten last year because of his criticisms of the government, was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” “Tyrants often don’t get the jokes, but their people do,” Pulitzer Prize-winning Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker writes in his tribute to Ferzat. “So when the iron fist comes down, it often comes down on cartoonists.” [Time]

Publishing | In one of its wide-ranging interviews with comics publishers, the retail news and analysis site ICv2 talks with Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson about the state of the market, the loss of Borders, his company’s 2011 layoffs, webcomics, and some early missteps with its digital program: “Quite honestly we’ve run into a few issues because the programs that we’ve done haven’t worked as well as we wished. We created some exclusive material and got less participation than we had hoped for. [...] We gave codes out to retail stores to drive customers into their stores. They could pick up the exclusive content by going to their participating comic shop. Evidently we didn’t do a good enough job getting the word out, so we’re retooling that.” [ICv2.com]

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Quote of the day #2 | The ‘residue of shit’ on comics by celebrities

Shia LaBeouf

“The comic book world is a tough business. If you’re a celebrity with a comic, it already has a residue of shit on it because so many shit celebrity slash wrestler slash race-car driver slash who-gives-a-fuck books have already tainted the possible audience for it. This is not a get-rich-quick thing, it’s not a way to prolong my career – I would like the same fans that I respect in comics to like my books, and I know the only way to get there is to earn it, and the only way to earn it is to come up the same way everybody else does, as much as I can.”

Actor and now comic creator Shia LaBeouf, who attended this past weekend’s C2E2 to sell his self-published comics.

Comics A.M. | Archie feud goes into mediation; C2E2 attendance ‘way up’

Archie Comics

Legal | The New York Times ventures deep into the legal battle between Archie Comics Co-CEOs Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater, noting the two sides have gone into court-approved mediation. “Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.” [The New York Times]

Conventions | Although no figures have been released for last weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, organizer Lance Fensterman said attendance was “way up,” noting that, “the size of the show floor doubled and the aisles were much more full than last year. That tells you how much attendance jumped to keep pace with the floor growth.” [Publishers Weekly]

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C2E2 2012 | Sunday Photodiary

Sunday was a great day. It started off awesomely with a marriage proposal. A young man named Matthew had hired my friend Grant to draw a picture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for his girlfriend, Lisa, a Buffy fan. When they picked up the commission, Lisa read the word balloons, “Hi, Lisa. Matthew tells me he loves you very much and he has a very important question to ask…”

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Latest Threadless ‘Comics-On Tees’ available for purchase

The latest round of “Comics-on Tees” that debuted this past weekend at C2E2 in Chicago are now available for purchase on their website. This round is “written” by Jeffrey Brown, who also contributes the design of one of the shirts, along with Jeff Lemire, Anders Nilsen, and Paul Hornschemeier. The shirts can be bought individually, or you can get all four as a set.

Quotes of the day | ‘He’s the Marvel Universe’s Jim Rockford’

“If I could put the Stephen J. Cannell logo at the end of every issue I would be happy, and David Aja recently sent me this amazing piece of music. He said, ‘Here’s the soundtrack to our first issue.’ It’s Dizzy Gillespie and Lalo Schifrin from a record they did together called ‘Free Ride’ and it is great. The whole record is full of car chase music. So this series is very William Friedkin and early Brian Depalma. Rockford Files. It’s an early ’70s urban grit story. You almost expect Hawkeye to come around the corner and bump into Power Man and Iron Fist from 30 years ago.”

“Rather than try to define what Hawkeye’s role is in the Avengers, I wanted to define what is Clint Barton’s role in Hawkeye — who is he and what drives him and why is he our lead? I could close my eyes and see this Aja drawing of him with a Band-Aid across the bridge of his nose, and I got it. That’s our guy. He’s the Marvel Universe’s Jim Rockford.”

– writer Matt Fraction, in interviews with Comic Book Resources and USA Today, name-checking
the 1970s James Garner crime drama in discussions of his upcoming Hawkeye ongoing series for Marvel. There’s no word yet as to whether Clint Barton works for $200 a day, plus expenses.


DC Comics offers a first look at Before Watchmen pages

DC Comics has updated its New Frontiersman promotional website with a first, albeit small, look at interior artwork from Before Watchmen, the sprawling prequel to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The portfolio, featuring art by the likes of Lee Bermejo, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, J.G. Jones and Jae Lee, was shown Thursday at the Diamond Retailer Summit and Saturday at the “DC All Access: Before Watchmen” panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

First look at Ted Naifeh’s Ame-Comi take on Batgirl and Duela Dent

Ame-Comi Batgirl, by Ted Naifeh

Following the announcement Friday at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo that DC Comics will add Ame-Comi Girls to its digital-first slate, Courtney Crumrin creator Ted Naifeh has posted some of his character sketches for the series, inspired by the popular DC Collectibles line of anime-style statues.

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the series launches in May with five individual character arcs leading up to the united Ame-Comi Girls, as the heroines unite to stop an invasion by a female Braniac and her “bad girl” supervillains. Naifeh, who’ll be drawing the Duela Dent chapter, writes, “If you haven’t already heard about it, this is the concept. What if the DC universe had no superheros of super-villains, but only heroines and villainesses. Right? I love it too! And I was honored to be asked to participate, drawing one of the 30-page chapters of the series.”

Check out Naifeh’s take on Batgirl and Duela here, and visit his blog to see more.

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C2E2 | A round-up of news from Sunday

Gambit

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, wrapped up Sunday, and while there weren’t nearly as many announcements made on Sunday as there were Friday and Saturday, there were a few more tidbits from Marvel and a fun one from BOOM!:

• At the Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel, the company revealed the creative team for the new Gambit ongoing series they started teasing before the show. Writer James Asmus and artist Clay Mann will have the X-Men’s favorite thief stealing items across the Marvel universe, literally, as Asmus promised to send him into space and to “places with Kirby monsters.”

• The Next Big Thing panel also brought the news that Jamie McKelvie will begin drawing Defenders with issue #8.

• Marvel’s Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery will crossover later this year in an event called “Everything Burns.” It’ll feature the villain Surtur. “It stretches the whole nine realms. It threatens every pantheon and planet in all creation. When we say ‘everything burns,’ we mean everything. Everything you’ve seen, anything you’ve cared about, anything at all… cinders, dust. It’s big,” JiM writer Kieron Gillen told Newsarama.

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C2E2 | From Detroit to Chicago, and back again

[Editor's note: Doug Zawisza, who regularly writes reviews for Comic Book Resources, joins us for a look at his one-day con experience at C2E2 this past Friday.]

The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo opened its doors for the 2012 edition at 1:00 in the afternoon on Friday the 13th. I decided to tempt fate, spit in the eye of superstition and join a trio of friends from my local comic shop to make the four-hour trek between Detroit and Chicago, take in the sights to see at C2E2 and return home, all in one day. That’s right: I was silly enough to think a whirlwind visit to Chicago would be a good idea.

We hit the road around eight o’clock and with a pair of stops on the way to coincide with the wonderfully easy traffic all the way into the great state of Illinois, we made it to McCormick place by 11:15 Chicago time. Coming in from the south side of the convention center, we mingled with Chicago White Sox traffic (oddly enough, the Detroit Tigers were in town to play the Sox) and managed to find parking at McCormick after driving through the shipping area of the parking facility.

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C2E2 | A round-up of news from Saturday

Hawkeye

If the first day of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo was dominated by announcements from Dark Horse and DC Comics, then the second day belonged to Marvel, which followed through on its teaser for a new series, revealed an Icon relaunch, and shuffled some creators. Here are some of the highlights from Saturday (along with a couple of holdovers from Friday):

• As usual, the “Cup O’ Joe” panel was where Marvel rolled out its biggest publishing announcements, beginning with confirmation that the teaser released last week is indeed for a Hawkeye ongoing series reuniting The Immortal Iron Fist collaborators Matt Fraction and David Aja. In the title, which debuts in August, Clinton Barton will be accompanied by fan-favorite Young Avenger Kate Bishop as he fights organized crime in New York City. “It’s very Avengers, by which I mean John Steed and Emma Peel. There’s a whole healthy person between the two of them,” Fraction told Comic Book Resources. “There’s a line in Rocky where he says, ‘I got bumps. You got bumps. Together we fit,’ or something like that — the two of them fit together. Each one has what the other doesn’t, which means they work very well together. She’s young, incredibly gifted, incredibly cultured, and incredibly headstrong. She doesn’t suffer his crap and also wants to be someone worthwhile, but she’s trying to figure out how to make that possible. She follows him not because of his abilities, but his accomplishments. So they work together quite well. It’s an apprentice and master style relationship.”

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Help turn a Neil Gaiman poem into a rad T-shirt for charity

The Day The Saucers Came

I’ve linked before to the series of Comics-On Tees that the T-shirt site Threadless has created, featuring stories and artwork by everyone from Brian Azzarello to Jhonen Vasquez. In fact, a new round of them debuted this weekend at C2E2.

Their next round of shirts will debut at the San Diego Comic Con, and this time they’ve gone to Sandman writer Neil Gaiman to provide the story … or in this case, a poem. They plan to adapt his awesome poem “The Day The Saucers Came” onto four shirts, featuring artwork by John Cassaday, Ben Templesmith, Brandon Graham and … well, maybe you. Threadless is holding an open contest for submissions based on the first two lines of the poem, the ones about aliens and zombies. I’ve embedded a dramatic reading of the poem with some familiar artwork after the jump; you can also read it on the Neverwear site, where they were selling a pretty awesome print by artist Jouni Koponen that I’d tell you to buy, but it has sold out.

The designer of the winning shirt will receive $750 cash, a $250 Threadless gift certificate, a 2012 CBLDF Protector Membership, a signed and numbered Paul Pope screened print, a print featuring “The Day the Saucers Came” script (presumably the one I linked to above) and four issues of Chew signed by John Layman. A quarter of the T-shirt sales will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

“We couldn’t be happier to partner with Threadless on this project,” said CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox in a press release. “Between Neil Gaiman and the artists involved, you couldn’t ask for a more talented group. It’s going to produce some amazing shirts, and we can’t wait to see the designs that are submitted over the next several weeks. This is going to be a great fundraiser, and an awesome way to see fans and supporters show off their creative chops!”

If you think you’ve got the chops, you can find more information on the CBLDF site or on Threadless.

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C2E2 2012 | Friday Photodiary

Welcome to C2E2

One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.

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C2E2 | A round-up of news from Friday (and before)

C2E2

Publishers, creators, retailers and fans rolled into Chicago this weekend for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2. While the convention officially kicked off Friday, the announcements started rolling out Thursday during the Diamond Retailer Summit. After going through Kiel Phegley’s lengthy report on CBR, I’ve pulled out a few tidbits that publishers shared with attending retailers:

• Dynamite Entertainment shared that the first issue of Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell’s The Shadow, which comes out next week, will likely go to second print. Following their Vampirella and Pantha projects, they also plan to roll out more of the former Harris Publications characters they now own, and they said they plan to work again with Kevin Smith in the future, who they’ve worked with on Bionic Man and Green Hornet.

• Dark Horse Comics announced two Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries; one featuring Spike and one featuring Willow (Editor Scott Allie spoke more about them with CBR). In addition, legendary artist Russ Heath will draw some pages in an upcoming issue of Buffy. Dark Horse will launch a new Dragon Age series in August, following the online miniseries that’s been running on Dark Horse Digital. They also confirmed that Becky Cloonan will return to Conan after James Harren’s three issues, and they announced Ex Sanguine, a five-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons. Finally, The Goon will go monthly with issue #40.

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