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Conventions | Chicago’s RedEye has an overview of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, which kicked off this morning at McCormick Place, and talks with Brian Stephenson of producer ReedPop about the future of the five-year-old show. “It has all the potential in the world to be bigger than San Diego [Comic Con] or New York, all based on the square footage at McCormick,” he said. Meanwhile Chicagoist checks in with a convention food guide, while Chicago Now offers a rundown of the best after-parties. [Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo]
ComiXology Submit will sponsor Artists Alley at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, held this weekend at McCormick Place.
To celebrate, comiXology’s two-year-old self-publishing portal will give away limited-edition posters of Fabian Rangel Jr.’s comiXology Submit hit Doc Unknown, as drawn by Courtney Crumrin and Princess Ugg creator Ted Naifeh. A different version of the poster, each with its own color theme, will be offered daily at the show on a first come, first serve basis. Rangel and Naifeh will be signing at the comiXology Submit booth.
The beer, which boasts a label drawn by Norton and the slogan “A Hoppy Brown Ale You’ll Drool Over,” will debut next week, just in time for the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.
Publishing | I talked with TOON Books founder Francoise Mouly about her new imprint, TOON Graphics, which will feature “visual books” (picture books and comics) for readers ages 8 and up. The line launches with three titles: Theseus and the Minotaur, by Yves Pommaux, Cast Away on the Letter A, by Fred, and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. [Publishers Weekly]
Commentary | Former DC Comics senior editor Joan Hilty tackles the issue of sexism in comics and calls for publishers to include more women in their senior editorial rank:. “Women are getting the bestselling books into stores and greenlighting the million-dollar movie franchises, but they’re barely represented among the creative executives who map out the universes and storytelling strategies. That’s where you cement broad-based, long-term loyalty to authors and characters, tap new audiences and trends, and grow readership, without which none of those books or movies would exist.” [The Guardian]
One of the best things about comic conventions is the opportunity to meet the many talented artists on hand, see their original work and even commission pieces from them. Skottie Young is a familiar face in artist’s alleys across the United States, and over the weekend he set up at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, where he turned out amazing original art for some lucky fans.
Young offered custom sketches on colored paper of a character of fans’ choosing. Many took him up on that, and Young has posted some of his favorite on his website. If after seeing these you’re interested in commissioning one of your own (I am!), Young will be attending four more conventions this summer: Motor City in Detroit in May, HeroesCon in Charlotte in June, Boston Comicon in August and Cincy Comicon in September. Keep an eye on his website, as he normally posts details before each convention.
Buzzkill writer Donny Cates is teaming with Space-Mullet cartoonist Daniel Warren Johnson and colorist Lauren Affe for Ghost Fleet, a 12-issue series the Dark Horse teases will blend big rigs and conspiracies.
Arriving Nov. 5, the action series centers on Ghost Fleet, the go-to trucking service for transporting the world’s most valuable, most dangerous and most secretive cargo. But when one driver takes a peek at his payload, his life is changed forever.
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Convention organizer ReedPOP is partnering with the social network Wikia to launch the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay, described as “the biggest and most prestigious costume contest in the United States.”
Debuting in April at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the competition will bring together veterans and amateurs alike in a battle for more than $10,000 in cash and prizes.
“With some of the amazing costumes we’ve seen at our other shows, we thought it would make for a great showdown between the best of the best in cosplay,” Lance Fensterman, Global Vice President of ReedPOP, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to have teamed up with Wikia for the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay to truly celebrate pop culture and the creativity of its fans.”
The inaugural event will feature a panel of celebrity judges that includes Ashley Eckstein (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Her Universe fashion line), Yaya Han (Heroes of Cosplay) and Nan Cibula-Jenkins (costume designer and head of costume design at The Theatre School at DePaul University).
Naturally, the subject matter — the Sentinel of Liberty flinging his mighty shield in front of Willis Tower, now the second-tallest building in the United States — is no accident: Sure, the convention is held at Chicago’s McCormick Center, but there’s also the matter of Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opens just three weeks before the event.
Conventions | Last week’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo drew 53,000 attendees, the largest crowd yet for the Chicago-based show, which is in its fourth year. Reed Exhibitions Group Vice President Lance Fensterman talks about the high points of the show and plans for the next couple of years. [ICv2]
Graphic novels | Heidi MacDonald tracks the rise in popularity of graphic novels among librarians, whose support has been integral to the growth of the industry. Her well-researched article includes interviews with public librarians, school librarians, and academic librarians, as well as publishers and others in the field. It’s a comprehensive overview of one of the most important, and least reported-on, areas of our world. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | Alex Hern looks at three comics that have long been out of print but are now back, or possibly on their way back: Flex Mentallo, Marvelman and Zenith. [The New Statesman]
Retailing | As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act, Jacob Weisberg looks at how Amazon and Congress have managed to delay online sales taxes for more than a decade, giving online retailers a significant advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon, which has long fought any attempts to collect sales tax through lobbying, campaign contributions and threats to move to warehouse jobs, now supports the legislation, with Weisberg contending the retail giant “has played out the clock longer than it dared hope and would now like to be able to build warehouses everywhere without doing state-by-state battle over its ‘physical presence.'” The bill seems likely to pass the Senate, but its fate in the House is far less certain. [Slate.com]
Publishing | DC Comics has put together a guide to its graphic novel backlist, which will be available both in print and digitally. [Publishers Weekly]
Sure, there was plenty of news released by just about every comic publisher over the weekend at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (as rounded up right here), but the most exciting thing I noticed about the convention was Dave Johnson’s Instagram feed going ballistic. If he produced a sketch for you at the event, chances are he recorded it for posterity on his phone and has posted it already. And if you’re really lucky, Eric Canete has logged in and made a daft gag about it, too.
Also below: the sexiest Death ever.
Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]
Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. This morning there’s just enough time to catch up on the announcements from the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo before making plans for Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day.
But before retailers hand out more than 4.6 million free comics, they have Wednesday’s offerings to contend with: Among them are the debuts of Sesame Street and The Movement, and archival editions featuring Jack Kirby and Korak, Son of Tarzan.
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]