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Amazon selects best comics & graphic novels of the year, so far

Afterlife With Archie

Afterlife With Archie

If you’re searching for some summer reading, Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far For 2014 is a pretty good place to start.

Led by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s Afterlife With Archie: Escape From Riverdale, the Comics & Graphic Novels division is as diverse as you’d probably expect, with entries ranging from Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s East of West to Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer to Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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Washed-up heroes get another shot in ‘Lark and Eagle’

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Lark and Eagle are two down-on-their-luck heroes just looking for a break — and they find one in Hero Overhaul, a TV reality show that upgrades their powers and spruces up their public images. Now they have an opportunity to redeem themselves for a prime-time audience.

That’s the premise of Lark and Eagle, the superhero comic created and written by Steve Johnson, who’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the first issue a reality. He’s joined by Toro Diego (pencils), Mickey Clausen (inks), Matt Webb (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) and J.K. Woodward (cover).

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One man’s ‘man cave’ is his wife’s ‘nerd room’

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Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, your weekly invitation into one fan’s life. Today’s collection comes from Blaine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee — a graphic designer, comic book collector and toy collector “for many years.” He shared his comics, toys, metal signs, Pez dispensers and more.

If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, you can find submission details at the end of this post.

And now here is Blaine …

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CBLDF debuts ‘Banned Books Week Handbook’

cbldf handbookAhead of Banned Books Week, which this year will focus on comics and graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has unveiled its first Banned Books Week Handbook, featuring a cover by Jeff Smith, whose critically acclaimed fantasy adventure Bone was listed among the most frequently challenged titles of 2013.

Debuting today at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas, the free guide provides an overview frequently challenged comics, and offers tips for readers on how to report and fight censorship and suggestions for librarians, retailers and educators for planning Banned Books Week celebrations.

A PDF of the handbook can be downloaded here; bundles of the printed edition can be ordered on the CBLDF website or through Diamond Comic Distributors.

The organization has also released the first of its discussion guides, designed to begin conversations, and address concerns and misconceptions, about specific comics, including Fun Home, Persepolis and Watchmen.

Banned Books Week is scheduled for Sept. 21-27.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Johns, Romita take on Superman’s big blues

Expectations

Expectations

For their first issue of Superman, writer Geoff Johns, penciler John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson (with colorist Laura Martin and letterer Sal Cipriani) have served up an intriguing blend of action and introspection. There are the requisite nods to semi-obscure (Titano!) and really obscure (J. Wilbur Wolfingham?) Superman minutiae, and one subplot seems destined to undo a New 52 development. However, while Issue 32 of Superman Vol. 3 is concerned with managing the Man of Steel’s status quo, a good bit of it revolves around the new character(s) that will apparently drive this story arc.

Accordingly, the issue doesn’t feel quite so much like the start of a bold new era (although it could well be); instead, the new creative team uses the issue to ease into its story, such that the action serves the character work. Considering that almost half of the issue involves fight scenes, that seems like an odd observation, but it’s kind of an odd issue overall.

The question then becomes whether those characters — Superman included — are compelling enough to follow month in and month out. Last month, Johns told Comic Book Resources that readers should “[j]ust give us one issue and that’s all. I think we’ll earn your trust and your time and your investment in one issue because I really believe in this first issue and I really believe in what we’re doing.”

Whether Superman #32 meets that standard is therefore somewhat unclear. It lays out the characters and their concerns pretty broadly, and (somewhat like Johns’ and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman) it depends to a certain extent on answering reader frustrations. Still, on balance, it works. This is a very good issue of the New 52 Superman, with all that implies.

Read on for more, and as always …

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Comics A.M. | A closer look at Barnes & Noble split, Nook’s future

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron's]

Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Asbury Park Comicon changes cities, name

East Coast Comicon

East Coast Comicon

Conventions | Organizers of the growing Asbury Park Comicon have announced that, after three years, they’re relocating the New Jersey convention to the Meadowlands Exhibition Center in Secaucus and renaming it East Coast Comicon. Founders Cliff Galbraith and Robert Bruce say the nearly 40-mile move was triggered by a sharp increase in rates at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, but the hotel’s manager thinks it’s because the venue couldn’t accommodate the dates requested by organizers. The inaugural East Coast Comicon will be held April 11-12, 2015. [Asbury Park Press]

Passings | Amadee Wohlschlaeger, who drew the comic strip Weatherbird for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 70 years, has died at age 102. Weatherbird, which debuted in 1901, is the oldest continuously published comic in the United States, and Wohlschlaeger (who went by just his first name) is one of just four cartoonists to draw it. He was named one of the top 10 sports cartoonists in the country, and his drawing of Stan Musial inspired the statue at Busch Stadium. [KSDK]

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Hollywood guilds join push for Supreme Court to hear Kirby case

jack kirbyThree organizations representing Hollywood actors, directors and screenwriters have thrown their weight behind an effort to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal by the heirs of Jack Kirby that could have ramifications far beyond Marvel and the comics industry.

The case, as most readers know by now, involves the copyrights to the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor and other characters created or co-created by Kirby during his time at Marvel in the 1960s. The artist’s children filed 45 copyright-termination notices in September 2009, seeking to reclaim what they believe to his stake in the properties under the terms of the U.S. Copyright Act. Marvel responded with a lawsuit, which led to a 2011 ruling that Kirby’s 1960s creations were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision in August 2013, which brings us to the Kirby family’s petition to the Supreme Court.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Screen Actors Guild-Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America have filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief that insists the Second Circuit’s ruling “jeopardizes the statutory termination rights that many Guild members may possess in works they created.”

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Hyundai Tucson rolls out ‘Walking Dead’ Special Edition

hyundai-twd1

Those die-hard fans who can’t get enough of The Walking Dead, even with the comic books, television series, video game, special events, clothing and collectible toys, now have an opportunity to kick up their devotion several notches: the Hyundai Tucson Walking Dead Special Edition soon will be arriving at U.S. dealerships.

Announced in November, the release of the limited-edition model coincides with the 10th anniversary of the comic series created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. Featuring an Ash Black exterior with red accents (including surprisingly subtle walker hands), the Tucson comes with decals representing the comic’s four factions — Hilltop, Kingdom, Saviors and Survivors — and a 72-hour custom zombie survival kit/backpack, branded with the Walking Dead logo, naturally.

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Action figures galore take over this Shelf Porn from Toronto

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If it’s Saturday, it’s time for Shelf Porn — our weekly look at one collector’s pride and joy. Today’s collection of action figures, comics and lots more comes from Ryan in Toronto.

If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, you can find submission details at the end of this post.

And now let’s hear from Ryan!

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Grumpy Old Fan | Deja vu for DC in September

"I wanted new Bill Watterson comics, but not like this!"

“I wanted new Bill Watterson comics, but not like this!”

Hey, remember in April, when the July solicitations also included all the September Futures End tie-ins? Well, guess what: The September solicits are out, and they’re pretty much all the same!

What’s more, “all the same” isn’t much of an exaggeration. The 41 New 52 titles that are getting Futures End one-off tie-ins bear the same prices, release dates and copy as they did in the July solicits. The September listings do add cover art and credits, which are important details; but they don’t change the gist or tone of the previewed plots. More on this later.

Otherwise, these solicits contain only a handful of additional main-line superhero titles. These include the second Multiversity issue (with the awesomely alliterative subtitle Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World), the final issue of Superman Unchained, four issues each of Futures End and Batman Eternal, and the first Teen Titans: Earth One hardcover.

Therefore, this month’s solicitation roundup might get a little weird.
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The completist age is over

I'll take one of everything

I’ll take one of everything

Is there just too much to ever buy and read?

I remember when the CBR forums were young and spry in the late ’90s and early 2000s: People would share which comics the plan to pick up every month or every week, and a good number would have massive lists. Today, I see what people post in their replies to the solicitations, and most are more selective. It’s obviously a very narrow sampling, but I can’t help feel that it reflects a general shift in comics culture.

When I first got into comics, part of what fascinated me was the unknown history told in back issues I didn’t have yet, and I became obsessed with hunting them down. In those days, maybe 25 to 30 years ago, comic shops were on the rise and most stores had a healthy selection of back issues because that was really the only way to read those stories. As such, they tended to be pricy, but it didn’t matter when you could spend nearly your entire allowance on comics alone.

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Comics A.M. | Turkish cartoonist begins prison sentence

Mehmet Düzenli

Mehmet Düzenli

Legal | Turkish cartoonist Mehmet Düzenli began serving a three-month sentence this week on charges of insulting Muslim preacher Adnan Oktar, who espouses controversial views, such as creationism and Holocaust denial. Oktar sued Düzenli over a cartoon about him, and Düzenli refused to appeal the sentence on the grounds that even if it were suspended, he still would not be able to express himself freely. “If Mr. Oktar has the right to claim that he is the Mahdi [the redeemer who is supposed to appear at the ‘end times’], I have the right to say that he is lying,” he said. [Reporters Without Borders]

Comics sales | ICv2 has sales estimates for the direct market in May, which was a good month for chart-toppers, with four titles selling more than 100,000 copies, compared to just one in each of the first three months of the year. The top seller was Marvel’s Original Sin #1, at 147,045 copies, but ICv2 notes that sales were juiced by incentives, including variant covers and a plastic eyeball, and that orders for the second issue are considerably lower. They also give the top 400 comics and the top 300 graphic novels charts for the month. [ICv2]

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SDCC | Diamond reveals exclusive comics and collectibles

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Diamond Comic Distributors and Diamond Select Toys have announced 22 exclusives for Comic-Con International, ranging from limited-edition variant covers to statues and busts to Minimates.

All of the items will be available, while supplies last, July 24-27 at the Diamond PREVIEWSworld booth (#2401):

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BOOM! and Steve Jackson Games team for ‘Munchkin’ comics

boom-munchkin

Steve Jackson Games announced Friday at Origins Game Fair that it’s partnering with BOOM! Studios to produce comic books based on the popular Munchkin line of card games.

In the unlikely event you’ve never heard of Munchkin, it takes a humorous approach to traditional role-playing games — its slogan is “kill the monster, steal the treasure, stab your buddy” — based on the concept of “munchkins,” immature players whose aim is simply to “win.”

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