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Comics A.M. | Atomic Comics inventory heads to auction

Atomic Comics inventory

Retailing | The inventory Arizona retail chain Atomic Comics, which abruptly closed its four locations in late August amid the bankruptcy of owner Michael Malve, will be sold at auction Jan. 3 Jan. 10 in Phoenix, both live and online. Known nationally for its in-store signings, innovative marketing and sheer size, the 23-year-old chain gained international exposure last year when its name and logo were featured prominently in Kick-Ass, the film adaptation of the comic by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Photos of the inventory to be liquidated can be found on the website of the auction company. Update: The date of the auction has changed to Jan. 10. [Sierra Auction Management]

Publishing | Tom Spurgeon continues his yearly holiday interview series by talking to Tom Neely, Emily Nilsson and Virginia Paine about the future of Sparkplug Comic Books. [The Comics Reporter]

Publishing | Tim Stroup, co-founder of the Grand Comics Database, recently dug up some old comics sales figures from the 1940s; John Jackson Miller analyzes them and reaches an interesting conclusion: “comics may be reaching far fewer eyeballs, but it’s a more profitable business to be in today.” [The Comichron]

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Comics A.M. | Archie hits Nook Tablet; Stan Lee gets Vanguard Award

Archie Comics

Digital | Archie Comics announced that its comics will be available on the recently announced Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. [Archie Comics]

Awards | Stan Lee will receive the Producers Guild of America’s 2012 Vanguard Award recognizing achievement in new media and technology. “Stan Lee’s creative vision and imagination has produced some of the most beloved and visually stunning characters and adventures in history,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim said in a joint statement. “He not only has created content that will forever be in our culture but continues to make strides in the digital and new media realms, keeping the comic book industry fresh and exciting. Stan’s accomplishments truly encompass the spirit of the Vanguard Award and we are proud to honor him.” George Lucas and John Lasseter are among the award’s previous recipients. [press release]

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Mickey Mouse in Egypt

Cover of an Egyptian Mickey Mouse comic

All eyes are on Egypt right now, but the question that’s being hotly debated at The Hooded Utilitarian is how the localization of Mickey Mouse comics for Egyptian readers expresses the imperialism of the Walt Disney corporation. This being The Hooded Utilitarian, the answer is long, a bit rambling, and filled with interesting images.

The comics examined by writer Nadim Damluji were created between 1959 and 2003, so this is not about the current revolution but rather about how cultures permeate one another. The Mickey Mouse comics in the article have locally created covers that touch on a number of aspects in Egyptian culture, and that art alone makes the article worth reading. The covers and other local content just form the wrapper for translated comics by Western creators, however, and there’s the rub. Damluji points to a Carl Barks comic in which Uncle Scrooge discovers a pyramid and, convinced it will be full of gold, hires generic local Arabs to excavate it. The story does raise issues of ownership and primacy (Why does Uncle Scrooge think he can keep the gold? Why couldn’t the Arabs find the pyramid?), and it seems rather clueless of the Disney folks to print it in an Egyptian comic—had they run out of more generic storylines? On the other hand, the most interesting thing to me was those Egyptian covers. While Damluji seems to be presenting the comics as a wolf in sheep’s clothing—here’s something familiar, kids, but what’s inside is going to make you feel bad!—I see it the other way, as Mickey adapting to local mores by adding content the local audience finds attractive, much as manga publishers put new covers on Japanese content and serve it up more or less unchanged. My guess is that this is more about keeping costs down than the heavy hand of imperialism. And surely Egyptian kids, especially in this day and age, are savvy enough to know that Mickey is an import, even if he does celebrate Mawlad.

The other thing that seems to go uncommented upon is that these are comics. Uncle Scrooge finds the pyramid by sitting on its pointy top. It’s a gag! Huey, Duey, and Louie acting more mature than Donald? That’s funny! A dog biting a man isn’t funny, but a man biting a dog is. Finally, it’s also true that the stories are old and represent cultural values that are passe and have been for a long time. A 50-year-old Disney story may say something about attitudes in the 1950s, but it’s more an artifact than a measure of current opinion.

Seriousness aside, it’s a fascinating post just because of the cultural information. And for more, check out Damluji’s blog, in which he follows in the footsteps of another cultural icon from an imperialist country, Tintin.

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