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Wizard World & Cinedigm team for digital comic con channel

wizard worldWizard World has partnered with online content distributor Cinedigm to launch a digital channel targeting fans of comics/pop culture conventions.

As described, the channel will offer sci-fi, fantasy, horror, gaming and animation content using a business model that blends advertising  support and premium subscriptions. The latter will provide exclusive access to “exclusive access to the events, panels, talent, and fans that make the Comic Con experience so exciting.”

“This is an exciting day for the fans of pop-culture around the country,” Wiazrd World CEO John Macaluso said in a statement. “To have 24/7 access to all the content that Cinedigm and Wizard World provide collectively provide, at the touch of a button, provides tremendous value for our fans.”

Wizard World, which is scheduled to host 16 conventions nationwide this year, is compiling panel coverage that will premiere on the as-yet-unnamed channel.


Comics A.M. | French manga market shows signs of weakening

Naruto, Vol. 60

Naruto, Vol. 60

Manga | While at the Angouleme International Comics Festival, I had a chance to study the French manga market and talk to some of the publishers. Manga represents more than one-third of the French comics market (last year, there were more new manga releases than BDs), and sales and production dipped for the first time last year. [Publishers Weekly]

Comics | Gary Cox rounds up reactions from refugees to the Australian government’s online comic that warns them not to try to enter the country without a visa. “The people who are coming here are not economic migrants, they’re coming to have a safer, peaceful life here,” says Ibrar Hassani. And an advocate for refugees pointed out that the images of refugees suffering in detention centers were evidence that the government is deliberately mistreating them. [SBS]

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The perfect comic book store

On top of everything else, a giant lizard might crush your store

On top of everything else, a giant lizard might crush your store

For years I’ve imagined running my own comic book store. I’ve dreamed of it, even planned; sometimes I scope out locations while driving around town. I’m sure lots of fans have similar fantasies, but unlike everyone else, I would run the best comic shop ever. Not only would it be the best, it would be the most unique shopping experience. It would be perfect.

Of course, reality would be significantly different, and probably far less impressive. I mean, I’m fairly confident  I could make a better store than the guy from The Simpsons. But how would I really make it stand out? When I sit down and think about it, I don’t understand how anyone would think it’s a good idea to open up a store.

Here in Los Angeles, like in a lot of major cities, we’re pretty spoiled. There’s no shortage of truly exceptional stores, whether you’re in the Valley, in Hollywood or on the Westside. And if you want that old, crummy comic dungeon of yore, there are a few of those as well. The Westside might not be quite as saturated, but L.A. is generally well-covered, which means there might not be room for a new store. Invariably, I would be stepping on someone’s territory. A store here would either create bad blood with the nearest specialty shops and their patrons, or it would really have to go in a different direction and appeal to a neglected or untapped demographic. That’s certainly possible. On the other hand, L.A .rent is notoriously high.

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Evans, Hasen and Moldoff named to Eisner Hall of Fame

hall of fame

The Eisner Awards judges have selected trailblazing publisher Orrin C. Evans and Golden Age artists Irwin Hasen and Sheldon Moldoff for automatic induction this summer into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame.

Evans, who passed away in 1971, edited and published the first all-black comic book, 1947′s All-Negro Comics. Hasen, who created the comic strip Dondi with Gus Edson, drew the Golden Age adventures of such heroes as Green Lantern, Wildcat, the Flash and the Justice Society. One of Bob Kane’s primary ghost artists, the late Moldoff co-created such Batman characters as Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Bat-Mite and the original Batwoman and Bat-Girl.

The judges also chose 14 nominees from which voters may select four to be inducted into the 2014 Hall of Fame:

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With addition of ‘Doctor Who,’ Titan could gain significant ground

DrWhoPOT12658

This time last year, longtime U.K. book and magazine publisher Titan announced it was delving into comics with a new imprint titled, aptly enough, Titan Comics. And in the 12 months since, the company has published a number of creator-owned titles as well as new editions of formerly out-of-print stories such as Jack Katz’s The First Kingdom. But 2014 looks to see the company grow by leaps and bounds, as it recently announced the acquisition of the comics license for Doctor Who, previously held by IDW Publishing.

During IDW’s seven-year run publishing Doctor Who comics, it produced an ongoing series and a number of miniseries and one-shots to some success, so it’s conceivable that Titan Comics could do much the same. If so, it could help expand Titan from a boutique publisher to a sizable presence in the marketplace.

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Comics A.M. | New DreamWorks imprint won’t affect licenses

DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation

Publishing | DreamWorks Animation’s announcement on Monday that it is launching its own book-publishing unit doesn’t mean the end of the road for its comics licensees, at least not yet: ICv2 talked to representatives from IDW Publishing, which publishes the Rocky & Bullwinkle comics, and Ape Entertainment, which has had a number of DreamWorks licenses, and both say that this won’t affect their comics. [ICv2]

Auctions | A collection of comics that included the first issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and the British satirical comic Viz, as well as long runs of several Marvel series, brought in almost £25,000 (about $41,300 U.S.) at an auction in Newcastle, England. The majority of the comics were from a single collector whose wife decided to put them up for sale after he died. For those who are curious about the details, Duncan Leatherdale of The Northern Echo liveblogged the auction. [BBC News]

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Quote of the Day | ‘Oh, always press’

prodigal“Oh, always press. Just understand the difference between useless whining and actual pressing. What corporations understand is money. They don’t give a toss about blog posts or combative questioners at conventions. Clearly.

You vote and make change by the strategic application or withdrawal of money. Buy the products you want and withhold money from those companies that don’t produce said product. And say why you’ve done so in both cases.

But this isn’t politics. It’s business. At least, we’re all pretending it’s only business.”

– actor, screenwriter, novelist and comics writer Geoffrey Thorne, when asked whether consumers should give up hope that Marvel and DC will hire “a respectable amount” of writers of color


Comics A.M. | ReedPOP partners with Australia’s Oz Comic-Con

ReedPOP

ReedPOP

Conventions | As comics conventions continue to become an international phenomenon, ReedPOP bags a big one: The company behind New York Comic Con, C2E2, Star Wars Celebration and Penny Arcade Expo has announced a partnership with Oz Comic-Con, which runs several conventions in different locations in Australia. [press release]

Passings | Paul Burgarino reports on Sunday’s memorial service for Wee Pals cartoonist Morrie Turner, who died last month at the age of 90. Wee Pals was the first comic strip by a black creator to get a national syndication deal, and speakers remembered him as both a pioneer and an inspiration. “Through your unique artistry and personal kindness, you’ve helped show the world what we can be, should be and must be,” said David Shaffer, the son of one of Turner’s close friends. [Contra Costa Times]

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Five ways to celebrate Bill Finger’s birthday

Bill Finger

Bill Finger

In recent years, it’s become fashionable to refer to Bill Finger as the “secret” co-creator of Batman. And while that’s an attention-grabber for the uninformed, it’s more accurate to say the writer, who died in 1974, is the uncredited, unrecognized and unsung creative force in the creation of DC Comics’ Dark Knight Detective.

Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of Finger’s birth. It’s an occasion many in the comics community have been promoting as an opportunity to correct the record in some small way, such as with biographer Marc Tyler Nobleman’s quest to get a Google Doodle in his honor.

But for the average comic fan, there are also plenty of ways to celebrate the legacy of Bill Finger and his unquestionable contribution to one of comics’ most enduring character. Here is just a handful of suggestions:

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Sequart seeks to fund documentary about women in comics

she makes comics

Sequart, the folks behind Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a film celebrating female comics creators and fans.

Directed by Marisa Stotter, She Makes Comics “intends to emphasize the valuable contributions women have made since the Golden Age of comics,” combining an oral history told by many of the key figures with commentary from industry observers. Production began late last year — interviews have already been shot with the likes of Karen Berger, Joan Hilty, Chris Claremont and Joyce Farmer — but funding is still needed to cover additional travel and interviews, as well as more than 800 hours of editing.

To help reach its $41,500, the campaign is offering some unique incentives, ranging from original art from Jill Thompson and Colleen Doran (they’ll draw you into a page illustrating the history of women in comics) to a script review to a certificate for a custom corset. The campaign ends March 7.

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‘They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to’

captain marvel1

“While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie. If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.”

– Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, discussing comics’ shifting demographics

Robert Kirkman’s Skybound hires former video game CEO

SkyboundRobert Kirkman has hired a former video game executive as a managing director of his Skybound Entertainment imprint.

VentureBeat reports that Jon Goldman, previously chairman and CEO of Foundation 9 Entertainment, will focus on emerging and new business, overseeing “the strategic direction for the company and [operating] businesses around games and live events.”

“Our collective goal is to build major enterprises surrounding the remarkable worlds that Robert creates within his comics all while remaining true to fans,” Goldman is quoted as saying.

The news comes just a week after Skybound announced that its “Walking Dead Escape” obstacle course, already popular at Comic-Con International and New York Comic Con, will launch a cross-country tour in April. The bestselling Walking Dead comic series has, of course, already spawned a hit television drama (with a spinoff in development), video games and numerous collectibles.

Launched in 2010, Skybound is an Image Comics imprint that serves as home to Kirkman’s titles, like The Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves and the upcoming Outcast, as well as books from other creators — among them, Witch Doctor, Manifest Destiny and Dead Body Road.

Time Inc. confirms layoffs ahead of spinoff from Time Warner

time incTime Inc. confirmed this morning that long-expected layoffs, which widespread reports place at as high as 500 employees, will begin immediately as parent company Time Warner prepares to spin off its low-performing publishing division. Time Inc., which publishes more than 20 magazines, employees about 7,800 people worldwide.

DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, won’t be affected by either the layoffs or the spinoff.

The New York Post contends the newly acquired American Express Publishing (Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Departures), with about 400 employees, is expected to be hit hard by the cuts; its Executive Travel magazine could be shuttered immediately.

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Mail Order Comics files for bankruptcy, owing Diamond $325,000

mail order comicsFollowing reports late last month of fulfillment problems, Mail Order Comics has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking to liquidate the nearly decade-old business.

In documents filed last week in federal bankruptcy court in Omaha, Nebraska, the retailer lists $45,000 in assets and $919,000 in debt, of which $325,000 is owed to Diamond Comic Distributors.

Signs of trouble with Mail Order Comics became apparent last month when customers began complaining on the store’s now-deleted Facebook page about unfulfilled orders and website troubles. Discount Comic Book Service quickly stepped in to fulfill all orders.

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Quote of the Day | Tom Brevoort on character ‘oversaturation’

Art by Paolo Rivera

Art by Paolo Rivera

“If you’d asked me several years ago, I likely would have spoken about some tipping point where you have too much and everything crashed. Part of that is that I grew up in a world where there was one X-MEN book, one AVENGERS book and, well, three SPIDER-MAN books (counting MARVEL TEAM-UP.) But today, I think that, while there is a tipping point potentially somewhere out there on the horizon, it’s nowhere near as close as we sometimes like to think (or fear.) What matters is the quality of the work. How many BATMAN books are there at this point, every month? How many WOLVERINE books? And still, those characters are more likely to sell better than, I don’t know, THE FLASH or STORM. The audience likes what it likes, and so long as what you produce is good, they will always be content to have more. It’s when the quality goes down that you have a problem — but you have that problem with there being only one book as well.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a question on his Formspring about how to address character “oversaturation,” if it’s even an issue that exists


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