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Legal | New York federal judge Colleen McMahon made several decisions last week in the case of Jack Kirby’s heirs attempting to terminate Marvel’s copyright of his works. The judge agreed with Marvel that it would be premature to make an accounting of how much money is at stake, but rejected a bid by Marvel to throw out the Kirby estate’s main counterclaim. She also ruled that the Kirby estate’s attempt to reclaim original art is barred by the statute of limitations, counterclaims of breach-of-contract and violation of the Lanham Act were tossed, and Disney will be part of the case, even though Marvel said it shouldn’t be.
“In sum, the judge has narrowed the case to its most crucial issue. Both sides disagree about Kirby’s working environment in the 1950s and 1960s when he, along with Stan Lee, conceived many of Marvel’s most popular characters. The judge will soon be tasked with looking at Kirby’s work history and some of the loose contracts and oral agreements that guided his efforts in those years,” wrote Eriq Gardner. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Creators | Artist, letterer and colorist John D’Agostino died Nov. 29. D’Agostino started his career as a colorist for Timely Comics and was head of their coloring department for several years. He also worked for Archie Comics, Charlton Comics and Marvel Comics, and lettered the first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the 1960s. Tom Spurgeon offers an obituary. [Mark Evanier]
Legal | The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The statute, which was struck down in February 2009 by a federal appeals court, is opposed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, among other organizations. [CNET]
Awards | The Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards will move next year from Toronto Comicon to the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. The seventh annual awards will be presented on June 18, 2011. [Joe Shuster Awards]
Conventions | Exhibitor tables have gone on sale for MoCCA Festival 2011, set for April 9-10 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. [MoCCA Festival]
Conventions | The student newspaper at California State University Long Beach reports on last weekend’s Long Beach Comic Con. [Daily 49er]
Retailing | Peter Hartlaub profiles James Sime, owner of Isotope comic book lounge in San Francisco: “Nobody made a comic store for women. They just didn’t exist. I think women love comics just as much as men do, maybe even more. And there’s so many great comics out there for everybody that I had to try. Isn’t San Francisco the city that’s all about just trying new things?” [San Francisco Chronicle]
News from New York started pouring out last week before New York Comic Con even started, as publishers got a jump-start on press releases leading into the show, and ICv2‘s Conference on Comics and Digital provided plenty of discussion points about the current and future state of the industry.
• At Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley has a thorough report from the conference, where Milton Griepp of ICv2 shared that industry sales are down in 2010, as comic sales are only slightly up at 1 percent, with a 20-percent decline in the graphic novel category. Manga sales are also down 20 percent. The bulk of the conference focused on an area where the story isn’t quite so grim — digital comics. While ICv2’s 2009 report gave a $500,000 to $1 million sales estimate for digital, 2010’s number pointed toward a market of $6 to 8 million.
• Coinciding with the conference and the con, several companies, of course, had announcements regarding their digital plans. Dark Horse announced a new homegrown digital comics app that will work across the various Apple devices and on the web, offering single issues for $1.49. It will be available in January. BOOM! Studios made three announcements late last week, about its comics being available on the PSP and from MyDigitalComics.com. The publisher also announced the availability of Farscape through its comiXology app on the iPad and iPhone. Longbox announced that its comics app will be “the exclusive pre-installed service for purchasing, cataloguing and reading digital comics on all four of Notion Ink’s announced tablets.” And finally DC Comics announced Sunday that Hank Kanalz, former general manager of WildStorm, will head up the DC Digital Comics division in Burbank, Calif. Kanalz jumped right into his new role, leading a Sunday panel on DC’s digital initiatives.
This Wednesday will see the release of the third issue of writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee‘s Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Anyone reading our weekly What Are You Reading column knows how much I’ve praised the first two issues. Samnee and I spoke briefly at this past June’s HeroesCon and from there an email interview came together. In addition to Thor, we discuss some of Samnee’s past work as well as his upcoming collaboration with writer Jim McCann on I Am An Avenger 1. Earlier today, CBR posted a five-page preview to Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3.
O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of working from a Roger Langridge script?
Samnee: Roger’s scripts are really funny – I laugh out loud when I read them! I love the humor as well as his ability to tell quiet, emotional moments. Since Roger’s also an artist, he’s really good with pacing and page turns as well. And the scripts have a very silver-age feel, which is right up my alley.
O’Shea: I keep re-reading Thor: The Mighty Avenger 1 trying to figure out what my favorite scene was–and I can ‘t decide if it’s when we first see the Rainbow Bridge on page 2; or the first scene where Thor smiles. Was the smiling Thor a character suggestion from Langridge or was that your idea?
Samnee: The smile was in the script. Roger made clear right from the outline for the book that this Thor smiles and enjoys himself. For me, that was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book, as an artist and a reader of comics. I’ve worked on a lot of heavy books – it’s a nice change of pace to be on something a bit lighter, a comic where the characters are having fun.
Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, once upon a time, was “big movie day” at the con … back before every day became big movie day at the con. Still, today somewhat lived up to its reputation for being eventful, as the Avengers assembled on stage, Green Lantern movie footage was shown and one poor fan was stabbed in the eye while attending programming in Hall H, where several of the big movie panels took place. The victim was taken to UCSD Medical Center, while his attacker was taken away by police after attendees detained him.
In happier news, here’s what was announced on the comics front:
• Marvel Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada confirmed that Marvel is “gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff.” CrossGen, which published numerous titles like Sojourn, Way of the Rat, Abadazad and Meridian starting 1998, went bankrupt in 2004. Disney bought their assets that same year.
Their titles covered many different genres, from fantasy to horror to detective stories. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint,” Quesada said. No word yet on what properties they plan to bring back.
• Kurt Busiek announced that American Gothic, the urban fantasy comic announced at last year’s WildStorm panel, will now be called Witchlands. The series will be drawn by Connor Willumson. Busiek is also working on an Arrowsmith novel titled Arrowsmith: Far from the Fields We Know, which will include illustrations by Carlos Pacheco.
DC Comics is keeping PR guru and blogger Alex Segura really busy this week, as they continue to roll out project announcements over on the Source blog. The latest is a new Ragman one-shot, called Ragman: Suit of Souls. Christos Gage will write, with Stephen Segovia providing art.
“Could the souls he has consigned to redeem themselves within his suit have the answers he needs about the great beyond?” Segura posted. “What mysteries surround Rory’s own father? Gage and Segovia give readers a look inside one of the DCU’s most unique and peculiar heroes in this one-shot event.”
The former Shadowpact member’s one-shot comes out in October.
This week we were treated to the announcement of an all-new title for our upcoming Heroic Age: Avengers Academy. From Mike McKone of Exiles fame and Christos Gage of Avengers: The Initiative fame, one may take a moment and think to yourself that this whole ‘Academy’ idea sounds like a less-ROTC version of the Initiative program. In fact, one could say that giving up four Avengers titles (New, Mighty, Dark and the Initiative) for … four Avengers titles (‘Adjectiveless’, New, Secret and Academy) might seem a little ‘welcome to the old boss, same as the new boss’ by the mighty Marvel marketing machine. On the other hand, this is the Heroic Age; it wouldn’t be the same if all slates weren’t cleared, new #1s heralded and new storylines started afresh, even if they are rather similar to the stories we have right now.
In fact, Avengers: The Initiative eventually grew out of its Event Book origin into something more important than the title on the cover of the book would suggest: essentially, it was a start point for the Marvel Universe. Enough old characters came and went, new characters allowed the reader to have a fresh look at teams and tropes on how heroes and villains worked in the ol’ MU. With the groundwork well laid out for Avengers Academy (well, suspected groundwork considering how much we have to go on with the title right now), this could be the most important book coming out of the new age of heroes.
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