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Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Winter pours cold water on comics’ hot streak

Batman #28

Batman #28

Comics sales | ICv2 unpacks February’s miserable direct market sales numbers a bit, noting that for the second month in a row just one comic — in this case, Batman #28 — sold more than 100,000 copies, indicating weakness at the top of the list. Since September 2011, when the most recent “growth spurt” began, at least two comics have sold more than 100,000 copies each month; however, that streak ended with the first two months of 2014. One cause of the poor sales may be the unusually cold winter, which meant higher heating bills and thus less disposable income for some folks. ICv2 also has a separate analysis of dollar sales and the charts of the top 300 comics and graphic novels of the month. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | ReedPOP partners with Australia’s Oz Comic-Con



Conventions | As comics conventions continue to become an international phenomenon, ReedPOP bags a big one: The company behind New York Comic Con, C2E2, Star Wars Celebration and Penny Arcade Expo has announced a partnership with Oz Comic-Con, which runs several conventions in different locations in Australia. [press release]

Passings | Paul Burgarino reports on Sunday’s memorial service for Wee Pals cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died last month at the age of 90. Wee Pals was the first comic strip by a black creator to get a national syndication deal, and speakers remembered him as both a pioneer and an inspiration. “Through your unique artistry and personal kindness, you’ve helped show the world what we can be, should be and must be,” said David Shaffer, the son of one of Turner’s close friends. [Contra Costa Times]

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Previews: What Looks Good for January

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1

Graeme McMillan

Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 (of 12): I’m a sucker for Doctor Who, I think I’ve said that before, right …? No surprise, then, that I’m very much looking forward to this year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC science-fiction show, with each issue spotlighting a different incarnation of the character. That Simon Fraser is providing art helps a lot, too; I’ve been a big fan of his “Nikolai Dante” work for 2000AD for a while. (IDW Publishing, $3.99)

One Trick Rip-Off/Deep-Cuts hardcover: Speaking of things that I’m a big fan of, Paul Pope easily fits that bill, so this enhanced reprint of his Dark Horse graphic novel — with more than 150 pages of rare and unseen work from the same period, including his Supertrouble manga — is far too tempting to pass up. (Image Comics, $29.99)

Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 (of 4): I was very impressed with Star Trek: Countdown back in 2009, and the way it teased the then-upcoming J.J. Abrams reboot without giving too much away, so I’m looking forward to see if this prologue to this summer’s sequel is just as fun. (IDW, $3.99)

Star Wars #1: Brian Wood and Star Wars feel like an odd pairing in my head, but everything I’ve read about this new ongoing series set after the first movie (which is to say, Episode IV these days) seems completely up my alley, and the 5-year-old within me is completely sold on the chance to see more stories set in the “true” Star Wars era. (Dark Horse, $3.50)

Young Avengers #1: Kieron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie pairing on anything is pretty much a must-read for me, but seeing them let loose on Marvel’s teen characters and seemingly determined to make them actually seem like teenagers. … Yeah, this looks like it may be one of my favorite superhero books in quite some time, I suspect. (Marvel, $2.99)

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Comics A.M. | Asterix family feud heats up; WonderCon’s Hollywood appeal


Publishing | In the latest twist in a bitter, and prolonged, family feud, the daughter of Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo is seeking to have her parents declared mentally incapable of running their affairs. Uderzo’s only child, Sylvie, accuses her parents’ advisers of “pillaging” and “destroying an entire family.” Albert Uderzo, 83, fired back by accusing his daughter and her husband of “legal harassment” stemming from his 2007 decision to remove them from senior positions in Editions Albert-Rene, the publishing company he founded in 1979, following the death of Asterix co-creator Rene Goscinny. The family quarrel erupted into the public eye in 2009, when Sylvie Uderzo criticized her father’s decision to sell his stake in the company to Hachette Livre and authorize the publisher to continue Asterix after his death. [The Independent]

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From the archives: Steve Ditko’s 1957 take on CEOs and capitalism

From "Director of the Board," by Steve Ditko

The excellent blog Ditko Comics routinely unearths some rarely seen gems from Steve Ditko’s immense bibliography, and one last week really caught my eye.

Inside the pages of Charlton Comics’ Strange Suspense Stories #33 from 1957, Steve Ditko wrote and illustrated a five-page highly charged boardroom drama called “Director of the Board.” As the site owner describes it, it’s a “strange little story about an executive turning down a job applicant but encouraging him with the tale of a dream he had as a struggling young job-seeker, dreaming about taking the initiative and risks to rise in the company through any number of unethical actions.” Read on here for the full story.

Legendary artist and editor Dick Giordano passes away

Dick Giordano

Dick Giordano

News spread online this morning that artist and longtime DC Comics editor Dick Giordano has passed away, reportedly due to complications from pneumonia. He was 77. Giordano, who suffered from leukemia, recently had been hospitalized in Florida.

As an inker, Giordano is perhaps best remembered for his work with Neal Adams on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow, with George Perez on Crisis on Infinite Earths, and with John Byrne on The Man of Steel and Action Comics. As managing editor and then vice president-executive editor, he helped to steer DC Comics through its 1980s heyday, when the company revitalized many of its decades-old characters.

“Few could ever hope to match what he accomplished in his chosen profession, or to excel while maintaining great humor, compassion for his peers and an unwavering love for the art form,” artist Bob Layton wrote in a widely circulated statement announcing Giordano’s death. “His unique vision changed the comic industry forever and all of those who work in the business continue to share in the benefits of his sizable contributions. I have been honored to call him a business partner, mentor and dear friend throughout the majority of my lifetime. We will not see his like again.”

Born on July 20, 1932, in New York City, Giordano began his career as a background inker for Jerry Iger’s studio before becoming a freelance artist in 1952 at Charlton Comics. By 1965 he’d risen to editor-in-chief of the company, where he fostered such new talents as Jim Aparo and Dennis O’Neil and oversaw the creation of characters like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. Two years later he was hired as an editor by DC Comics Publisher Carmine Infantino, and left in 1971 to form Continuity Associates with Neal Adams.

Giordano returned to DC in 1980, initially serving as editor of the Batman line before being promoted to managing editor and then, in 1983, to vice president-executive editor, a position he held until his retirement from the company in 1993. After leaving the publisher, Giordano continued to occasionally pencil and ink — most notably, Modesty Blaise and The Phantom — and in 2002 co-founded the short-lived Future Comics with Layton and writer David Michelinie.

He is acknowledged as a mentor and inspiration to a generation of artists. Rob Liefeld hailed Giordano this morning as “the godfather of the modern inking style,” while Mike Gold praised his talents as an editor and artist as “nothing short of breathtaking.”

“Dick always defended creative freedom and aesthetic opportunity,” Gold wrote, “sometimes putting him heads-on with management powers, often representing not his own work but that of the editors in his charge, most certainly including myself, for which I will be forever grateful. He knew the good stuff when he saw it, he knew how to improve it, he knew how to incubate it.”

Marv Wolfman added: “Dick was way more than a good inker. He was an encouraging force in the industry who brought in new people and helped nurture them.”

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