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Comics A.M. | ‘Death of Phoenix’ page fetches $65,000 at auction

From Uncanny X-Men #137

Comics | An original page by John Byrne and Terry Austin from Uncanny X-Men #137, the 1980 issue that featured the death of Phoenix, sold at auction Wednesday for $65,725. As ICv2 notes, the sale continues the trend of 1980s comic art going for high prices; a page of Frank Miller art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 sold for $448,125 in May. [ICv2.com]

Digital | ICv2′s Milton Griepp makes the case for publishers to provide sales information on digital comics. “Why would this information be useful? There are a number of reasons. One is that it would help distributors (most importantly, Diamond Comic Distributors) and retailers selling physical comics and graphic novels identify which titles have the largest audiences in digital form. They could then make sure that they’re merchandising the top digital titles appropriately, so they can take advantage of demand for physical titles that results from digital exposure (we’ve been hearing that there’s a significant phenomenon of digital purchasers looking for collections of comics they’ve purchased online). Digital demand can also indicate potential demand for physical books from consumers that aren’t purchasing digitally; a good book, after all, is a good book, and if digital purchasers are finding a title that’s not as popular in physical form, it may indicate that there’s an untapped market of consumers of physical books as well.” [ICv2.com]

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IDW gives one fan the chance to die for their retailer

Star Trek "Be a Redshirt" cover

I know a lot of people who would likely love to win this costume. Heck, some of them even blog here at Robot 6. And really, what comic fan wouldn’t want to appear on a Star Trek comic cover saving the life of their favorite comics retailer?

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, IDW and CBS have gotten together to give one comic fan and their retailer of choice the chance to do just that. They’ve kicked off the Star Trek “Be A Redshirt” contest, an essay contest where fans explain in 300 words or less why their retailer is the best. The grand-prize winner will appear on a limited edition variant cover of Star Trek #5, along with their retailer. The cover is limited to 300 copies; 100 will go to the fan, 100 to the retailer and 100 to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who will use them to raise funds. The fan will also receive the original art for the cover.

A “redshirt,” for those who may not know, is a character who dies soon after being introduced. On the original Star Trek television show, they’d typically send an away team to a hostile planet consisting of several show regulars along with a no-name actor or actress in a red shirt. Chances were, the “redshirt” wouldn’t make it back to the ship or out of the episode alive.

As redshirts are famous for always catching the phaser in Star Trek episodes, and as comic fans can be so loyal in defending their local retailer, it’s the perfect contest,” said Dirk Wood, IDW’s director of retailer marketing. “And partnering with the CBLDF is perfect, because no one knows more about defending retailers than they do.”

To enter the “Be A Redshirt” contest, e-mail your explanation in 300 words or less about why your retailer is the best to IDW at contests@IDWPublishing.com with the subject: Save My Retailer.

Comics A.M. | Stan Lee to receive visual-effects award

Stan Lee

Awards | The Visual Effects Society has named Stan Lee as the recipient of the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors individuals whose “lifetime body of work has made a significant and lasting contribution to the art and/or science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, invention and/or groundbreaking work.” Previous recipients include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ray Harryhausen and James Cameron. The award will be presented Feb. 7 at the 10th annual VES Awards. [press release]

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports it raised $12,500 last weekend at New York Comic Con. [CBLDF]

Awards | Comic-Con International has opened nominations for the The Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which awarded to “an individual retailer who has done an outstanding job of supporting the comics art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.” [CCI]

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Food or Comics? | Batwoman, 20th Century Boys, Regenesis and more

Batwoman #2

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first grab hold of my favorite of DC’s New 52, Batwoman #2 (DC, $2.99). J.H. Williams III has successfully kept up to the immense expectations he accumulated following his run with Greg Rucka, and the artwork seems to benefit even more by J.H.’s input into the story as co-writer. Next I’d dig down for two of my regular pulls, Northlanders #45 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Uncanny X-Force #16 (Marvel, $3.99). For my final pick, I’d have to miss a bunch of other titles for the chance to get the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4 (Image, $4.99). I love the anthology format, and having that plus the good cause plus the a-list talent makes it a must get; seriously, can you imagine one comic book containing new work by Frank Quitely, Williams, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski, Matt Wagner AND Craig Thompson? BELIEVE IT!

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Comics A.M. | Jury weighs fate of Michael George

Michael George

Legal | The fate of Michael George was placed in the hands of the jury Thursday after closing arguments in the trial of the former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in their Clinton Township, Michigan, comic store. Although a comic collector places George in the shop around the time of the shooting, George’s mother insists he was asleep on her sofa. The jury deliberated for about two hours Thursday, and is expected to continue this morning. [Detroit Free Press]

Legal | Manga blogger Melinda Beasi contemplates the larger implications of the arrest of Brandon X for bringing manga into Canada that authorities deemed to be child pornography: “What terrifies me about Brandon’s case is that each time we allow our courts or communities (any courts or communities) to criminalize comics (any comics), we are inviting them to criminalize our own.” [CBLDF]

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CBLDF gets Comics Code seal of approval

In an ironic footnote to comics history, the Comic Magazine Association of America has given the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund the rights to the iconic Comics Code Seal of Approval.

The CMAA administered the Comics Code, a self-censorship scheme agreed upon by publishers, from the 1950s until January 2011, when it was officially disbanded. For most of its existence, the code was enforced by distributors, who would not carry a comic that did not bear the seal. Dr. Amy Kyste Nyberg chronicles the rise and fall of the Comic Code in a nice article on the CBLDF website.

Now the seal goes to the CBLDF, which dedicates itself wholeheartedly to fighting censorship — and even more appropriately, the transfer was announced during Banned Books Week! In keeping with its mission, the CBLDF will not put the seal on comics but instead emblazon it on T-shirts to raise money for the protection of the First Amendment rights of comics creators, publishers and readers. Said CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein, “It’s a progressive change that the Comics Code seal, which is yesterday’s symbol of comics censorship, will now be used to raise money to protect the First Amendment challenges comics face in the future. That goal probably would have been unimaginable to the Code’s founders, who were part of a generation of comics professionals that were fleeing a witch-hunt that nearly trampled comics and any notion that they deserved any First Amendment protection.”

Comics A.M. | SPX attendance up; more on Justice League #1 sales

SPX

Conventions | Executive director Warren Bernard said attendance at this year’s Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, was up 10 to 15 percent, with exhibitors reporting strong sales and many sell-outs. “A great line-up of new material was partially responsible, but the region itself is also a factor — the economy around metro DC has remained relatively stable even in the recession, and a lot of people with good jobs seem to save up their money for the whole year just to spend at SPX,” reported Publishers Weekly’s Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid. Because of the growth, next year the show will move to a bigger room with about 50 percent more space. Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware scheduled to attend. [Publishers Weekly]

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, meanwhile, reports that it raised $12,500 at SPX, thanks to efforts like the Jeff Alexander Memorial Benefit auction and fundraising activities involving Craig Thompson, Roz Chast and Sara Varon. [press release]

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Comics A.M. | CCS’s Schulz Library damaged in flood; when Marvel almost licensed Superman

Schulz Library

Education | The Center For Cartoon Studies’ Schulz Library in White River Junction, Vermont, was damaged over the weekend in flooding caused by torrential rains from Hurricane Irene. According to CCS Director James Sturm, volunteers called in Sunday night were able to remove about 70 percent of the library’s collection and move the remaining materials to higher shelves. However, he indicated to Tom Spurgeon that the building itself may be a loss. [The Comics Reporter]

Publishing | Jim Shooter, former editor-in-chief for Marvel Comics, shares the story of how DC Comics almost licensed the publishing rights to their characters to Marvel in the mid-1980s. Obviously the deal never happened, which Shooter said was due to a lawsuit by First Comics alleging anti-trust violations. [Jim Shooter]

Creators | Gail Simone discusses her upcoming work on Batgirl and Fury of Firestorm. [TFAW]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Pop artist’ accused of stealing art; CBG goes digital

Chad Love Lieberman

Copyright | After running a feature about “New York Multimedia Pop Artist” Chad Love-Lieberman, nephew of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the website Campus Socialite retracted its story upon finding out that Love-Lieberman “is a fraud, taking other people’s art from the web, touting it as his own, and worst of all – selling it for profit.”

Ursula Vernon, creator of the webcomic Digger, noted that one of the pieces in the article was actually hers. “Mad props to the staff at the Campus Socialite, who got back to me in under ten minutes and promised to pull everything and edit the article — they were just as outraged as you’d expect them to me. I’ve actually granted them permission to use the art with appropriate credit if it’ll help illustrate the issue (pun intended),” she posted on her LiveJournal. The domain for Love-Lieberman’s site, art4love.com, isn’t working, but the site is still up. Artist Deirdre Reynolds has a list going on DeviantArt of all the pieces on art4love that artists have identified as their own. Gary Tyrell, meanwhile, has reached out to both Love-Lieberman and his uncle for comment. [Campus Socialite]

Digital | Comics Buyer’s Guide has gone digital; issues of the long-running industry publication are now available on iVerse’s Comics+ application. Johanna Draper Carlson notes that only two CBG-related publications are currently available — the July 2011 issue and 1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella. [press release, Comics Worth Reading]

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SDCC ’11 | You have until 1 p.m. to bid remotely in the CBLDF art auction

Snarkd Ship, Roger Langridge

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is holding an art auction tonight in San Diego to raise money for their various programs, but even if you can’t attend the live auction, you can still bid on some really nice art (like the above Snarked image by Roger Langridge). But you’ll need to hurry — bids will only be accepted until 1 p.m. Pacific today. You can find complete details, including a list of what’s up for auction, on the CBLDF site or after the jump.

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SDCC ’11 | Comic Book Legal Defense Fund brings shirts, scents and more

CBLDF party

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been very busy lately, fighting censorship laws and border searches, as well as launching an advertising campaign. So they’ve got a lot planned for Comic-Con this year, with plenty of chances for fans to help contribute to their cause.

Here’s a quick rundown of their merchandise, art auctions and more:

  • Graphitti Designs will sell two brand-new CBLDF benefit tees — one featuring Grendel by Matt Wagner, and one featuring Uncle Sam by John Cassaday.
  • Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and J. Gonzo are teaming up to benefit the CBLDF with a new Luchadore inspired print and fragrance set celebrating the launch of J. Gonzo’s new series La Mano del Destino.
  • The CBLDF, Image Comics and T-shirt website Threadless will host a welcome party Thursday night, with gift bags, raffles and the launch of the new Threadless Comics Tee: Noir.
  • Saturday night the CBLDF will hold an art auction featuring art by Frank Quitely, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Tony Harris, Jaime Hernandez, Terry Moore, Camilla D’Errico, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stefano Gaudiano, Terry Dodson, Camilla D’Errico , Jonathan Luna and many more. Details are here.
  • And lastly, they’ve got several Master Classes and panels lined up all week. Details are here.

You can check out the Graphitti Designs shirts after the jump.

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Comics A.M. | Frank Miller talks Holy Terror; CLiNT controversy

Holy Terror

Comics | Frank Miller says he has finished his upcoming graphic novel, Holy Terror, which is due from Legendary Comics in September. The book, which once was set to feature Batman fighting terrorism, now stars a character called The Fixer: “I took Batman as far as anyone, and this guy is just not him. He’s been playing the crime fighter to stay in shape. What he really wants to do is fight terrorism. He knew the day would come. The story is essentially New York under attack by suicide bombers and our hero is out to find out their greater scheme. He’s much more a man of action than a detective. He’s a two-fisted Dirty Harry type, really.”[Hero Complex]

Comics | Calling it a “sick magazine comic strip depicting shootings in schools,” The Daily Mail reports on “Beat My Score,” written by UK comedian Jimmy Carr with art by Ryusuke Hamamoto. The reporter says the comic, which appears in the latest issue of Mark Millar’s CLiNT magazine, “will horrify the families of school shooting tragedies such as Dunblane and Columbine with his ultra-violent story.” CLiNT responded by saying the strip is “a nihilistic satirical sideswipe at the glamourisation of violence, tackling the difficult and disturbing effects as seen in school shootings around the world.” The comments are fun. [Daily Mail]

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Comics A.M. | Revamped Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark performing well

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the retooled $75 million Broadway musical, took in $1.7 million for the week ending this past Sunday, which is above the $1.2 million the producers have indicated they need to reach to stay viable. The amount made it the No. 3 musical for the week, after Wicked and The Lion King. [Associated Press]

Legal | Robert Corn-Revere, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s general counsel, discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. EMA, which sought to ban the sale of violent video games to minors. He notes that the court drew upon the history of comic book censorship in reaching its conclusion to reject the ban: “Citing the amicus brief filed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, it noted the crusade against comics led by Dr. Frederic Wertham and observed that it was inconsistent with our constitutional traditions. The Court traced the history of censorship that targeted various media directed toward the young and held that restricting depictions of violence could not be justified under established principles of First Amendment law.” [CBLDF]

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Supreme Court rejects ban on sale of violent video games to minors

Grand Theft Auto IV

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning struck down a California law that would have banned the sale or rental of “violent” video games to minors, ruling that such a restriction violates the First Amendment.

With a 7-2 vote, the justices upheld a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the 2005 law, which never went into effect because of legal challenges but would have imposed $1,000 fines on businesses that sell violent games to those under the age of 18. According to ABC News, nine similar laws were passed across the nation, but all were blocked.

“Like books, plays and movies, video games communicate ideas,” Justice Antonin Scalia said in the courtroom. “The most basic principle of First Amendment law is that government has no power to restrict expression because of its content. [...] There is no tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence. Certainly, the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — have no shortage of gore. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed.”

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Comics A.M. | B&N has $74M loss; Lew Sayre Schwartz passes away

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | As the bankrupt Borders Group weighs competing bids, Barnes & Noble — the largest book chain in the United States — reports a loss of $74 million for the fiscal year, in part because of heavy investment in its digital initiatives. However, the company saw a 50-percent sales increase at BN.com, fueled by Nook devices and digital content sold through the Nook Bookstore. [Publishers Weekly]

Passings | Lew Sayre Schwartz, one of Bob Kane’s ghost artists on Batman and Detective Comics, passed away June 7 as the result of an injury suffered in a fall. He was 84. Schwartz drew as many as 120 Batman stories between 1948 and 1953, all signed “Bob Kane,” before leaving comics after a junket entertaining troops in Korea. Eddie Campbell quotes Schwartz as saying, “’When I got back, I couldn’t stand drawing another page’ of Batman.” He went on to work in television advertising, co-founding the commercial production company Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz. [Mark Evanier, ComicMix]

Conventions | Scott Lewis looks at the plan by Mayor Jerry Sanders to pay for the $500-million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center: the Convention Center Assessment District, an entity that will add an additional 3 percent tax on room bills for hotels downtown, 2 percent on those out to Mission Valley, and 1 percent on those farther away. [Voice of San Diego]

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