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Comics A.M. | Accused Salt Lake Comic Con impostor gets new lawyer

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]

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Comics A.M. | Hundreds turn out for fan’s cosplay funeral

cosplay funeral

Fandom | When comics fan and cosplayer Erin Roberts learned she was dying from a brain tumor, at age 25, she asked that her life be celebrated with a cosplay funeral. Friends and family raised more than £3,500 to pay the expenses, including a horse and cart to bring her coffin to the church. More than 200 cosplayers attended the funeral. Her friends are also organizing a charity event to benefit the hospice where Roberts spent the last few weeks of her life. [Liverpool Echo]

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Comics A.M. | Ringleader gets 20 years in death of comic collector

"The Human Torch" #23 was among the comics in Marciniak's collection

“The Human Torch” #23 was among the comics in Marciniak’s collection

Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]

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Comics A.M. | Nick Sousanis’ ‘Unflattening’ wins Lynd Ward Prize

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Awards | Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening is the winner of the 2016 Lynd Ward Prize for Graphic Novel of the Year. Two graphic novels were named honor books: Lucy Knisley’s memoir Displacement and Kathryn and Stuart Immonen’s Russian Olive to Red King. The award is named for Lynd Ward, who published six wordless graphic novels between 1929 and 1937, all based on woodcuts. Ward’s daughters donated a collection of his original art to Penn State, which sponsors the award. [Penn State News]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World suffers $4.3 million loss in 2015

wizard world logo

Conventions | After bringing in a profit of almost $1 million in 2014, Wizard World took a hard swing in the other direction last year with a loss of $4.3 million, with about half the shortfall coming in the fourth quarter. At least part of the reason seems to be simple math: Per-show revenues were down, costs were up. In addition, Wizard’s share in ConTV was a money-loser, to the tune of $1.3 million; Wizard has reduced its stake in the joint venture with Cinedigm. On the upside, its subscription box service has done well, netting $48,000. It’s possible that the North American convention market is being saturated, and Wizard is responding by cutting back from 25 shows in 2015 to 19 this year. [ICv2]

Comics | Writer Kurtis Wiebe announced that, “after long consideration,” he’s placing his acclaimed Image Comics fantasy series Rat Queens on hiatus. [Twitter]

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Comics A.M. | Rare original ‘Tintin’ art goes up for auction

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Auctions | Hold on to your wallet, there’s another comics auction in the offing. This one, at the French auction house Artcurial, will feature a number of pieces by Tintin creator Hergé, including the final spread from King Ottokar’s Sceptre, a sketch for The Castafiore Emerald, and a full page from Quick et Flupke, one of his less famous comics. [Business Insider]

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Comics A.M. | Viz licenses ‘Naruto’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ novels

tokyo ghoul-novel

Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Ta-Nehisi Coates wins PEN Literary Award

Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Awards | Ta-Nehisi Coates, the writer of Marvel’s Black Panther, has won a 2016 PEN Literary Award recognizing the art of the essay for his acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me. The author and journalist has already received a National Book Award and a MacArthur “genius grant,” as well as a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. The PEN award comes with a $10,000 prize. [PEN]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Arab of the Future’ wins LA Times Book Prize

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Awards | Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir Arab of the Future has won this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the graphic novel category. The first volume of a planned trilogy, Arab of the Future also won top honors at the Angouleme International Comics Festival two years ago. [Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Kadokawa buys 51% stake in Yen Press

Kadokawa

Kadokawa

Publishing | Japanese publisher Kadokawa is buying a 51 percent stake in the American manga publisher Yen Press, which will become a joint venture between Kadokawa and Hachette Book Group. Founded in 2006 as a manga and graphic novel imprint of Hachette, Yen Press publishes Black Butler, Alice in the Country of Hearts, and the Twilight graphic novels, and it will release a new edition of Fruits Basket beginning this summer. In recent years it has expanded its line to include light novels (prose novels aimed at young adults), and that seems to be what Kadokawa, a major publisher of light novels, is interested in. With this deal, the top three manga publishers in the United States are wholly or partially in Japanese hands: Viz Media is co-owned by Shueisha and Shogakukan, and Kodansha Comics is a subsidiary of Kodansha. Vertical Inc., a smaller publisher, is partially owned by Kodansha and Dai Nippon Printing. [Yen Press]

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Comics A.M. | NYC cracks down on costumed characters

minnie-times square

Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty allegedly brawled over a tip in 2015 (file photo)

Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Fan selling comics collection to pay for child’s college

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Fandom | Al Sanders started collecting comics when he was in grade school, at one point selling plasma to support his hobby. . Over the years he amassed a collection of 5,000 comics, all from 1990 or earlier, including such popular titles as Batman and X-Men. But all good things must come to an end, and with his daughter Rose heading to college next year, Sanders has decided it’s time to sell his collection. He’s heading this weekend to Emerald City Comicon, where he hopes to turn the comics into cold cash. He’s not being totally mercenary about this, however: “I just hope someone can enjoy them, as much as me.” The report indicates Sanders believes his collection is in mint condition; he may discover otherwise once he talks to dealers at the convention. [12 News]

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Comics A.M. | Trial delayed in alleged Pokemon gun plot

pokemon world championships

Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Tracing Batman and Robin’s history of gay subtext

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Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]

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Comics A.M. | Al Jaffee sets new Guinness World Record

jaffee-guinness

Creators | Legendary MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career of a comics artist, at more than 73 years. Jaffee was presented with the certificate, and a proclamation from the New York City Mayor’s Office declaring March 30 as “Al Jaffee Day” in a gathering on Wednesday to celebrate his 95th birthday. [DC Entertainment]

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