Legal | Artist Al Plastino has asked a New York judge to order Heritage Auctions to reveal the name of the consignor who put up for sale his original art for the 10-page story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.” Heritage says the sale has been canceled and the art returned to the consignor, who bought it at a Sotheby’s auction a decade ago. The JFK story was originally scheduled to run in a DC comic dated November 1963, but it was quickly pulled when Kennedy was assassinated. The story was published the following year at the request of the Johnson administration. The last panel of the comic stated the artwork was to be donated to the Kennedy Library, and Plastino believed that to be the case until this fall, when he discovered it was being put up for auction. [Reuters]
Crime | Tokyo police say they have security camera footage of a suspicious man in a mask and gloves near a convenience store where a small amount of nicotine was found in a Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snack. The snacks were recalled after 7-Eleven and other convenience store chains received threatening letters, part of a barrage of threat letters that have been sent out to venues associated with the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The amount of nicotine found in the Kuroko’s Basketball wafers was well under a lethal dose. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
We reported earlier this month on a truly weird case unfolding in Japan: Someone is sending threatening letters to venues connected to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball, including convention centers that host doujinshi (fan comic) events, bookstores that sell the manga, and Sophia University, where creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki attended school. Some bookstores have removed the manga, and convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, also pulled Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks after receiving letters saying they had been poisoned.
There were two developments in the case last week. The first was that a small amount of nicotine was found in one of the recalled snacks; the package appeared to be “suspiciously” sealed. However, investigators said the amount found was 1/100th of a lethal dose.
The other other was that Tokyo police announced they may have security camera footage of the suspect — and, in fact, they may have questioned him more than a year ago.
Conventions | WonderCon organizers have announced that next year’s show, set for April 18-20, will again be held in Anaheim, California. This will be the third year for the event at that location, after having been uprooted from its longtime home at San Francisco’s Moscone Center first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. [Los Angeles Times]
Publishing | Nick Barrucci, CEO and publisher of Dynamite Entertainment, looks back on 10 years in the business, and discusses some upcoming comics, including J. Michael Straczynski’s Twilight Zone and the new kids’ line Li’l Dynamites. [Previews World]
The National reports the 23-year-old Suparman was arrested in August after he was caught on security video sneaking into a store on two separate nights, stealing a total of $500. He ultimately admitted to those crimes and eight other charges, including stealing his brother’s ATM card and making withdrawals of $650, and using heroin.
Prosecutors moved to trial on just three charges, and on Monday Suparman was sentenced to 33 months in jail. According to Channel NewsAsia, it could’ve been a lot worse: Housebreaking charges alone could’ve earned him between two and 14 years.
In a true-crime story unfolding across Japan, stores are pulling products and venues are canceling events related to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball because of a series of threatening letters targeting locations linked to the manga’s creator, Tadatoshi Fujimaki, the manga, and doujinshi (fan comic) events related to it.
The first threat letters, at least one of which may have contained deadly poison, were sent more than a year ago, but the pace seems to be accelerating: The sender has hinted he or she may commit a crime on Nov. 4, and a new set of letters has emerged claiming the perpetrator is negotiating with the editors of Japanese Shonen Jump, which serializes the manga.
On Monday, the Japanese manga, video and game rental chain Tsutuya confirmed it has removed all copies Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The Yurindo and Reliable bookstore chains are also removing the books. However, a number of bookstores, including Kinokuniya, Sanseido, Junkudo and Miyawaki, say they will continue to carry the manga despite receiving threatening letters demanding its removal.
In addition, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain is removing Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks from 1,500 locations after receiving a letter that said, “I left food products laced with poison in 7-Eleven.” The letter included a photograph of the snacks. Another convenience chain has stopped carrying a line of Kuroko’s Basketball tie-ins, including character dolls and plush toys.
Digital comics | Viz Media announced Wednesday it has brought its entire library to iBooks. Viz manga are already available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and its own app, so this pretty much completes the set. [ICv2]
Crime | Manga creator Takaaki Kubo was arrested Tuesday on charges of threatening a city councilor in the town of Amagasaki. Kubo, whose series Bakune Young was published in North America in the early 2000s by Viz Media, was arrested after police traced a threatening e-mail message to his home computer. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman has been the subject of four retrospectives so far this year, the latest at the Jewish Museum in New York. Charles McGrath talks to him about what he calls “The Great Retrospection,” as well as his tobacco addiction and, oh yeah, comics. [The New York Times]
Crime | Three armed men invaded the home of comics collector Antonio Jose da Silva in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and held him and two employees at gunpoint while they stole more than 7,000 comics from his collection of about 200,000. The robbers seemed to know exactly what they were looking for, as they went straight for the most valuable books. Their haul included more than 200 first editions of O Lobinho and O Gibi, which reprinted translations of American comics in the 1930s and 1940s. The value of the thieves haul is estimated at $150,000, and the loss will be borne by da Silva, who was unable to get insurance for his collection. [The Comics Reporter]
Comics | Dana Jennings looks at the renewed interest in EC Comics, once reviled in the popular press as mind-destroying trash that would lead youths astray, now revered by the comics cognoscenti as subversive graphic literature. Locke & Key writer Joe Hill and EC Archives editor Russ Cochran weigh in, as does Fantagraphics President Gary Groth, editor of that company’s EC Library, who says, “They were arguably the best commercial comics company in the history of the medium, and their list of artists and writers between 1950 and 1955 represents a Who’s Who of the most accomplished craftsmen working in comics at that time.” [The New York Times]
Dragon’s Lair Comics & Games in Omaha, Nebraska, was robbed at knife point Monday morning by a man wearing a Darth Vader sweatshirt who demanded not cash, not rare comic books but Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. He made off with a box of the cards worth $150, and nothing else.
Owner Bob Gellner told WOWT News that the suspect asked the store clerk to show him specific cards, and then “he drew a knife, took the cards and ran.”
“I’ve had this business here for 35 years and this is the first time we’ve been robbed,” he continued. “We’ve been burglarized. We called the police and they caught them, but this is the first time we’ve been robbed.”
As of Monday night, no suspect had been found. No one was injured in the robbery, but as you can see in the video below, some the shop’s neighbors are plenty annoyed.
According to the Waterville, Maine, Morning Sentinel, police arrested the Clown Prince of Crime early Sunday morning after he allegedly lost control of his 2002 Buick Regal and drove off the road, striking multiple trees and a rock.
Sixty-four-year-old Dennis Lalime of Pittsfield, Maine, who told police he was returning from a Halloween party, was subsequently charged with operating under the influence. Although the Pittsfield Police Department uncovered The Joker’s true identity, as you can see from his booking photo, the Somerset County Jail permitted him the
indignity dignity of retaining most of his makeup.
Commissioner James Gordon had no comment on the arrest. Repeated calls to Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel went unanswered.
Conventions | Declaring this weekend’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, England, a success, organizers have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Oct. 17-19. “Our first year has been everything we could have wished for,” said festival director Julie Tait. “There was a huge buzz right through Kendal – from The Brewery Arts Centre right to The Box on Wildman Street, as well as at the shopping centre and the library. The town has really got involved and there has been art work on every street. It feels like the weekend has involved everyone – from adults following their passion for Viz humour to kids learning how Peppa Pig was created.” This year’s festival featured guests ranging from Charlie Adlard and Ed Brubaker to David Lloyd and Trina Robbins. [Cumbria Live]
Costumed superheroes have developed a bit of a bad reputation over the past several months, and not without cause: There was the Spider-Man robbery on Hollywood Boulevard, the She-Hulk assault in York, England, the brawl between Spider-Man and two Captain Americas on Hollywood Boulevard, the Iron Man bank robbery in Florida, and, just this morning, the Spider-Man store robbery in Pittsburgh.
OK, so it’s primarily Spider-Man causing the problems. But can we blame the wall-crawler for the horrible violence plaguing an entire country? Let’s ask Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose nation saw 16,000 murders in 2012, and another 3,400 in the first quarter of this year.
In a new interview with the Bolivian newspaper La Opinión, Maduro said there’s a correlation between youth violence and the idolization of superheroes — it contributes to a “factory of anti-values,” apparently — a connection he made while he and his wife were watching Spider-Man 3.
Spider-Man has defeated foes ranging from the Green Goblin and Electro to Venom and the Rhino, but he’s no match for a convenience-store clerk with a Taser.
According to a Pittsburgh police report, a man wearing a Spider-Man costume entered the Atwood Xpress at 1:10 this morning and loudly asked the clerk, “How much money you got?” When the employee realized he was being robbed, he pulled out an “arcing Taser” and attempted to use on the wall-crawler, who then fled down the street quicker than Speed Demon.
Typically when we report about the costumed characters on Hollywood Boulevard or in New York City’s Times Square, it’s because of their alleged misbehavior: assault, theft, all-out civil war. But this time the superheroes are actually, well, the heroes.
Los Angeles’ KABC reports that on Friday, well-known character impersonators Jennifer Wenger and Christopher Dennis (aka Wonder Woman and Superman) were taping a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live when Wenger was attacked by a cowboy boot-wearing transient who’s apparently infamous for bad behavior.
“She got in my face and she flipped my lip, and then punched me in the face,” Wenger told KABC. And that’s when the Man of Steel stepped in. “I’m then reflecting all of her boot throws,” Dennis explained. “She actually hits Wonder Woman again with a boot. I reflected it and it just kind of ricocheted off my arm and hit her in the face.”
Thirteen years after his original arrest on child-molestation charges, DragonCon co-found Ed Kramer is at last heading to trial. Or, at least he has a trial date.
The Gwinnett (Georgia) Daily Post reports that following a two-and-a-half-hour hearing on Monday, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers added the Kramer case to the judicial calendar for the weeks of Dec. 2 and 9 — and according to Kramer’s attorney McNeill Stokes, his client “wants to go to trial.”
Kramer was originally arrested on charges of molesting three teenage boys between 1996 and 2000, but the trial has been repeatedly delayed since his 2003 indictment through legal maneuverings and claims of declining health, which at one point apparently required the attention of 16 physicians. He was first released on bond in November 2000, less than three months after his arrest, but he was back in jail within days when a neighbor reported seeing a teenage boy enter his home.
Following claims of a January 2001 assault by a deputy, Kramer was placed on house arrest, an order later modified to permit travel between Georgia and New Jersey or New York to receive medical treatments and visit his ailing mother. Under the conditions of the bond, he was to report his weekly location and not have any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. However, in September 2011, he was arrested in Connecticut after he allegedly was found alone in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy. He was extradited back to Georgia in January 2013 to face six counts of child molestation.