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Comics A.M. | Hayao Miyazaki is drawing a samurai manga

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki

Creators | Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement just two months ago, is reportedly drawing a samurai manga set during the Warring States Period. Asked on the Japanese television show Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyō over the weekend how the 72-year-old filmmaker will spend his retirement, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki replied, “I think he will serialize a manga. From the beginning, he likes drawing about his favorite things. That’s his stress relief.” He also confirmed the manga’s setting before cutting off the line of questioning with, “He’ll get angry if I talk too much. Let’s stop talking about this.” Miyazaki has illustrated several manga over the past four decades, most notably the seven-volume Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. [Anime News Network]

Libraries | Mitch Stacy takes a look at the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, which is scheduled to open this weekend with a gala celebration. [ABC News]

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales rise again in book market

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18

Graphic novels | Graphic novel sales are up 6.59 percent in comics shops, and they are also up in bookstores, according to the latest issue of ICv2’s Internal Correspondence. Sales have been increasing in the direct market for a while, but this is the first uptick in bookstore sales since the economy crashed in 2008. There seem to be several factors, including the popularity of television and movie tie-ins — the success of DC’s graphic novel program linked to Man of Steel is singled out — and a turnaround in manga sales. The article winds up with lists of the top properties in a number of different categories. [ICv2]

Digital comics | Here’s today’s news article on Crunchyroll’s new digital manga service, which offers same-day releases of 12 Kodansha manga titles for free and an all-you-can-eat service for $4.99 a month. Tomohiro Osaki interviews Japanese publishing insiders, who are upfront about the fact that this is an attempt to compete with pirate sites, and translator Matt Thorn, who says that better translations on the official site may lure readers away from scanlations. [The Japan Times]

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Comics A.M. | Dark Horse turns to Random House for bookstores

Dark Horse

Dark Horse

Publishing | This may seem a little inside-baseball, but it’s actually pretty significant: Dark Horse will switch from Diamond Book Distributors to Random House for book-market distribution, effective June 1, 2014. The publisher is sticking with Diamond for comics, but a lot of its line has appeal outside the direct market — the Avatar graphic novels, the Zelda guide — and Dark Horse wants to expand its presence in bookstores. This also makes for an interesting consolidation of manga distribution, as Random House also distributes Kodansha Comics (with which it has a strong business relationship) and Vertical books. [ICv2]

Comics | Superheroes may rule on television and in film, but comics continue to be a niche medium. The Associated Press reporter Melissa Rayworth talks to a comic-shop owner whose customers skulk in on the down low, an opera singer whose friends are surprised she reads comics, and Comics Alliance writer Chris Sims, who does a good job of putting things in perspective. [ABC]

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Comics A.M. | Acclaimed editorial cartoonist Roy Peterson dies

Roy Peterson

Roy Peterson

Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]

Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]

Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Taipei Comics Exhibition draws 582,000 visitors

Taipei Comics Exhibition

Taipei Comics Exhibition

Conventions | The Taipei Comics Exhibition drew 582,000 people this year, up from 560,000 last year, with more than 450 booths and appearances by 49 creators, 25 of them from Taiwan. Roger Kao, one of the organizers, said that sales of Taiwanese comics were up, perhaps because of the personal appearances. [Taipei Times]

Conventions | Graeme McMillan notes some comments by First Second’s Gina Gagliano about the cost to publishers, in time and money, of attending comics conventions. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Creators | Unshelved co-creator Gene Ambaum talks with Lucy Knisley about her graphic novel Relish and food in general. [Unshelved]

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Comics A.M. | Archie alters story arc over Russia’s anti-gay laws

Kevin Keller's first kiss

Kevin Keller’s first kiss

Publishing | The Archie gang has canceled a (fictional) trip to Russia because of that country’s draconian anti-gay laws. One law would allow the arrest of foreigners suspected of being gay or “pro-gay,” while another defines any pro-gay statement as pornography and therefore makes it a criminal act to make such statements in front of anyone under the age of 18. Archie cartoonist Dan Parent, who created Riverdale’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, is taking a stand in his own way: “Russia should be boycotted, so much so that actually in an upcoming special four-issue story arc I’m writing the Archie gang are going to take a world tour to four countries. Russia was to be one of them. But they’re not going there now. They just can’t and they won’t. They love and support Kevin.” [Back2Stonewall]

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee, ‘the Godfather of comic book heroes’

Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]

Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman –  wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | For Superman’s 75th, a look back at rights battle

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]

Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]

Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]

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Comics A.M. | Direct market sales climb more than 22% in March

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Comics sales | The direct market continued its rise last month, with comics and graphic novel sales up 22.59 percent compared to March 2012, according to Diamond Comic Distributors. Marvel routed DC Comic in this month’s sales, claiming 40 percent of the market to DC’s 27 percent. [ICv2]

Conventions | The fire marshal had to turn away hundreds of people Sunday from the DoubleTree Hotel in Tampa, Florida, where the two-day Tampa Bay Comic Con was being held. An estimated crowd of 4,000 were crammed into the lobby and the ballroom (which is designed to hold a maximum of 1,200 people), with many hoping to see The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan. Organizers conceded they need a larger venue for the twice-yearly event. [Tampa Bay Times]

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Comics A.M. | Asbury Park Comic Con gets back to basics

Asbury Park Comic Con

Asbury Park Comic Con

Conventions | The organizers of Asbury Park Comic Con emphasize they are getting back to basics, with a comics event that eschews movies and other media to focus solely on comics. The headline guests for the Saturday event are Michael Uslan, Al Jaffee and Herb Trimpe. [The New York Times]

Conventions | In Pennsylvania, the first-ever Nittany-Con drew about 400 people to enjoy the three c’s of comics conventions: Creators, cheap comics, and cosplay. [Centre Daily Times]

Conventions | And in New Jersey, the Hasbrouck Heights Comics Expo drew an equally enthusiastic, if somewhat smaller, crowd. [NorthJersey.com]

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Comics A.M. | Judge won’t sanction lawyer in Superman battle

Superman

Superman

Legal | A federal judge on Friday denied DC Comics’ bid for sanctions against the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, finding that Marc Toberoff made “no deliberate attempt to mislead” during the discovery process and, perhaps more importantly, did not interfere with the publisher’s rights to the Man of Steel when he allegedly inserted himself into settlement talks in 2001. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Legal | Stan Lee will be deposed this week by lawyers representing Stan Lee Media in its multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against Disney involving the rights to the characters the legendary writer co-created for Marvel. Stan Lee Media, which no longer has ties to its namesake, claims Disney as infringed on the copyrights Iron Man, the Avengers, X-Men and other heroes since 2009, when it purchased Marvel. The long, tortured dispute dates back to a sequence of events that occurred between August 1998, when Marvel used its bankruptcy proceedings to terminate Lee’s lifetime contract, and November 1998, when Lee entered into a new agreement with the House of Ideas and signed over his likeness, and any claims to the characters. Stan Lee Media has long claimed that on Oct. 15, 1998, Lee transferred to that company the rights to his creations and his likeness. SLM asserts in the latest lawsuit that neither Marvel nor Disney, which bought the comic company in 2009, has ever registered Lee’s November 1998 agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Viz’s digital strategy; keeping Fantastic Four fresh

Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha

Digital comics | I talked to Viz Media Executive Vice President Alvin Lu and the head of Viz Labs, Gagan Singh, about the company’s digital strategy, which includes the recent announcement that their digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will publish manga chapters simultaneously with Japan; the idea, Lu explains is to create the same sort of weekly ritual that superhero comics readers have, and to use the digital releases to build a community both online and in the real world. [Good E-Reader]

Creators | Fantastic Four was the first Marvel Universe comic, so it has been around for a while, but writer Matt Fraction is doing his best to keep it fresh: “Anything you can do to run contrary-wise to expectation to keep people guessing and wondering and entertained and surprised, you should do because otherwise people are going to dismiss the book as ‘Been there, read that.'” [USA Today]

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