Legal | Marvel has sued a Jerusalem retailer for $25,000, claiming the well-known Kippa Man store is infringing on its trademarks by selling unlicensed yarmulkes bearing Spider-Man’s likeness. “A reasonable consumer could be fooled into thinking that the infringing product is manufactured and/or sold by the plaintiff with the knowledge and/or approval of the defendant,” Marvel said in its complaint. Kippa Man owner Avi Binyamin notes the yarmulkes are manufactured in China, and that he only sells them. “There are 20 stores on this street, they all sell the same thing,” he told The Jerusalem Post, theorizing that he’s being targeted because his store is well known. The Times of Israel characterized the lawsuit as “the first move by Marvel against what it perceives as widespread copyright infringement in Israel, where products featuring its copyrighted superheros are commonly sold.” [The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel]
The annual Small Press Expo, better known as SPX, will arrive at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Saturday and Sunday. This particular SPX promises to be excellent — mayhap the bestest SPX evar — so allow me to run through some of the goings-on if you happen to be in that area this weekend.
The Columbus College of Art & Design has announced the schedule for its first-ever comics symposium, Mix 2012. The event is highlighted by a keynote event with Chris Ware, as well as a rare screening, two exhibitions ,and a comics-making marathon for CCAD students.
While the symposium is primarily held Oct. 3-6, there are several events occurring around it, such as a Maus roundtable discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and a three-week gallery exhibit starting Sept. 21 that showcases original artwork from Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.
Thursday night features a screening of the acclaimed BBC Four documentary by Jonathan Ross, In Search of Steve Ditko, which has rarely been shown in the United States (outside of YouTube, that is). There’s also an open house at Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, where the public will be able to dive into the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility of printed cartoon and comics art. How many opportunities have you had to examine original art from Jeff Smith’s Bone, Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, the work of P. Craig Russell, and more?
The Small Press Expo has unveiled Chris Ware’s poster for this year’s convention, which will be held Sept. 15-16 in Bethesda, Maryland. You can see the full poster below, and in much larger form on the SPX Tumblr (which is kind of great, and deserving repeat visits and “likes”).
Ware will be a special guest at the event, along with Dan Clowes and Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez. It’s been several years since I’ve attended SPX, but it’s a terrific (and creator-focused) show. If you’ve never made the trip, this is shaping up to be the perfect year to change that.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics 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.
Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.
Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!
Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”
Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.
Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the Comics: Philosophy and Practice symposium in Chicago last weekend was the revelation that Chris Ware’s upcoming graphic novel Building Stories will not be presented like your traditional graphic novel but will instead be offered as a collection of little mini-comics of various shapes and sizes. The publisher Pantheon has some official pictures on its Tumblr.
This isn’t the first time someone’s attempted something like this (Vol. 5 of the Non anthology comes to mind, as does one of the recent Closed Caption Comics offerings), but the fact that Ware’s doing it with a major publisher like Pantheon holds the promise of great things. My expectations are high on this one.
ACME Novelty Library #1 (1993), page 28. Chris Ware.
Chris Ware is one of a very few artists working in comics — honestly, a very few ever to have worked in comics — to have developed a completely unique visual style. We can look at anything Ware draws and know it’s him by the precision of his meticulous, even lines, the muted but expressive color palette, the simplification of forms that manages to seem both naturalistic and artificial. Any single Ware drawing codes for an entire way of making comics, a language the artist has created for himself from the raw material of panels and balloons.
Which makes it all the more interesting to see work by Ware done in different styles. The experience of reading a comic hammers the style the artist uses into our heads so relentlessly — the goal, after all, is that you fully believe their particular system of shapes and colors represents objective reality — and it can be easy to forget anyone can draw in a different style than we’ve seen on their most recent pages. With Ware especially, the world drawn is so rich, so much more varied in what it presents than almost anywhere else in comics, that seeing him do something outside his usual mode is almost a visceral shock.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
It’s not even a fifth week, but I find myself curiously distanced from this week’s releases for some reason. Outside of some books I’ve been reading for awhile, there’s little to really catch my eye, so if I had $15, I’d likely find myself buying Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse, $7.99) and Memorial #4 (IDW, $3.99), and being quite happy with those two books.
If I had $30, I might go back to Justice League with #7 (DC, $3.99); I wasn’t entirely convinced by the opening arc, but I found myself enjoying the Pandora back-up in #6 enough that I found myself more curious about sticking around than I would’ve expected. I’d also grab Legion of Super-Heroes #7 (DC, $2.99), another book I’ve found myself liking more than I initially thought, as well as Thunderbolts #171 (Marvel, $2.99) for one of the few, final times before it becomes a part of the Avengers family.
Splurging, oddly, is a much easier choice for me than what I’d get in single issues: Avengers: West Coast Avengers – Lost In Space-Time (Marvel, $34.99) collects some of the first issues of West Coast Avengers that I read way back when, launching a love affair with Steve Englehart’s writing that continues to this day. Those original issues are long since lost to history (Somewhat fittingly, considering the time travel subject matter), so this will be a welcome nostalgia trip for me.
Comics | Heavy rains and a leaky roof led to the loss of between $20,000 and $25,000 worth of comics and books that Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum was storing temporarily in a warehouse. “I guess the best way to put it, the warehouse was where we kept things that did not individually have high value, but put together [were] worth a large amount,” said Executive director Joe Wos, who believes that most of the material can be replaced eventually. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Publishing | The digital comics distributor comiXology has hired Marc Goldberg as its chief technology officer. Goldberg formerly served as CTO for the Viacom-owned “multiplatform premium entertainment channel” EPIX. [comiXology Blog]
OK, so after I posted my list of comics I’m looking forward to this year, my buddy David Ball was like, “Dude, what about Building Stories?” And I was all like, “Building the what now?” And he was all like “You know, man, Chris Ware, the thing he’s been serializing forever in stuff like The New York Times and Acme Novelty, etc.” And then I was like, “No way man, for realz?” And he was like “Totes, man.” And then he sent me this link and it’s totally true. New Chris Ware book comin’ atcha this autumn.
Did anyone catch this before? The Pantheon post seems to be at least three months old, but I don’t remember anyone talking about it beforehand.
Chris Ware fans take note — the comics creator/designer has created a poster for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a 2010 Thai film directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul that won the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.
The poster is for sale from Mondo Tees; it’s $75 and limited to 400.
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Art Spiegelman about being only the third American to receive the Grand Prix from the Angoulême International Comics Festival. As recipient of the honor, the 62-year-old artist will help plan next year’s festival. “I don’t know whether you should say ‘congratulations’ or ‘condolences,’ ” he says. [The Washington Post]
Legal | A Michigan judge on Monday ordered the DNA of former retailer Michael George to be compared with a hair found on the body of his wife when she was shot to death in 1990 in their comic book store. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder, but that conviction was set aside because of prosecutorial misconduct and the possibility of new evidence. [The Detroit News]
Awards | Art Spiegelman on Sunday won the Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, marking only the third time an American has received the honor (the other two were Will Eisner and Robert Crumb). “Considering my poor skills, I’m looking a little like the president Obama receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” he told the festival by telephone from the United States. Spiegelman will serve as the grand marshal for next year’s event.
Other winners at the four-day festival, which drew an estimated 200,000 visitors, include David Mazzuchelli for Asterios Polyp (Grand Jury Prize), and Naoki Urasawa and the late Osamu Tezuka for Pluto (Intergenerational Award). The full list of winners can be found here. [Agence France-Presse]
Retailing | The beleaguered Borders Group announced on Sunday that it’s delaying January payments to vendors and landlords in an effort to save cash while it tries to complete a debt restructuring. This marks the second round of delays for the bookseller, which has been pressuring large publishers and distributors to agree by Feb. 1 to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. The bookstore chain announced just last week that it secured a $550 million credit line from G.E. Capital, but only if several tough conditions were met — including an unlikely agreement from publishers. [The Wall Street Journal]
Comics creator Chris Ware provides the cover for Presspop’s upcoming Tank Tankuro: Perwar Works, which collects Gajo Sakamoto’s pre-World War II robot manga.
Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond’s full release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
I’d pick up Salimba ($9.99), because it’s Paul Chadwick drawing a jungle girl who fights pirates. Then I’d add Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99) to that pile. I’m a huge Alpha Flight fan and can’t wait to read about the original team’s new adventure, even if they are dead.