crime Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
An unfired bullet discovered last year in the Clinton Township, Michigan, building that once housed Comics World will be tested to see whether it’s connected to the 1990 murder of co-owner Barbara George.
Her husband Michael George was twice tried and twice convicted — first in 2008 and then in 2011 — in the fatal shooting, which prosecutors claim he staged to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George, now 53, is serving life in prison without parole.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the bullet was found in February 2013 by an employee of the company that manages a building while he was cleaning the backroom where Barbara George was shot nearly 23 years earlier. It was turned over to township police, leading defense attorney Joseph Kosmala to file a motion in January for the bullet to be tested for ballistics, fingerprints and DNA (there was a filing delay because of a miscommunication between Kosmala and Michael George’s appellate attorney). Macomb County Circuit Judge Mary Chrzanowski granted that motion last week.
Police in South Bend, Indiana, are investigating the possible embezzlement of funds that led to the abrupt cancellation of the River-Con comics and gaming convention.
A brief message posted Feb. 21 on the event’s Facebook page announcing the cancellation and assuring vendors and Kickstarter supporters they “will be fully reimbursed” doesn’t hint at the circumstances surrounding the move. For those, you have to turn to a local news report and the Facebook page of the South Bend Gaming Association, a group formed last year to organize the planned April 19 show.
According to WSBT TV, police were contacted shortly after the SBGA reportedly received a message from its former president on Feb. 12 admitting to embezzling $1,300. According to the group’s Facebook page, the former president — identified in a subsequent post as Erica Warren — resigned her position, “offered to replace this missing money and expressed hope that River-Con will continue to take place as planned.” SBGA members instead decided unanimously to turn the matter over to police.
Attempts this morning by ROBOT 6 to contact Warren by phone, email and Facebook were unsuccessful. However, on the convention’s Kickstarter page, an SBGA member posted what’s purported to be the message sent by Warren. In it, she explains the money was used for medical bills — “It’s not a valid reason,” she acknowledged — and stated she can borrow against her 401k plan to repay the funds.
Comics | Parents at a Woodland Hills, California, elementary school are outraged that a comic handed out to their children turned out to include graphic images of cows being mistreated in factory farms. A calf had been brought to the school for a unit on dairy farming, and when children were given a copy of what looked like a kid-friendly comic titled A Cow’s Life, they didn’t anticipate what they found inside: Images of cows being mutilated, electrocuted and dehorned. PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman apologized, saying the comics were intended for adults (it’s not clear how or why they were distributed to the children, though the copy provided to the local media is labeled on its covers as “PETAkids Comics”), and offered to provide non-dairy ice cream sandwiches to students and staff.
UPDATE: PETA has clarified to ROBOT 6 that the comic itself is a kid-friendly publication. However, it contained an inserted pamphlet intended for parents which featured graphic photographs of “pictures of baby cows being electrocuted, factory farms with machetes.” PETA maintains that the pamphlet was not intended to be included inside the comic, and “intended for the in-depth leaflets to go to the students’ parents so that they could be fully informed about how the dairy industry hurts animals (and how dairy products can make kids and adults sick).” [CBS News]
Comics | Once the paperwork is complete, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library will officially own the original artwork for the 1964 DC Comics story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy,” fulfilling one of artist Al Plastino’s final wishes. Plastino, who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been donated to the library five decades earlier, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The auction was put on hold until questions of ownership could be resolved, and Plastino spent the final weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, even petitioning a judge to force the auction house to reveal the name of the seller. DC Entertainment intervened in December to acquire the pages and give them to the library. “We are thrilled to receive this historic artwork and look forward to sharing it with the public when the legal transfer is completed,” library director Tom Putnam said in a statement. [Newsday]
The replica of the Flintstones’ car stolen last month from in front of World’s Best Comics and Toys has been recovered by police and returned to the Sacramento, California, store.
According to the Merced Sun-Star, surveillance video from a nearby bowling alley captured footage of three high school-age suspects loading the 200-pound vehicle — it’s actually a wooden raft with two metal 55-gallon drums instead of wheels — into the back of a truck. That enabled Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies to track the Flintmobile to a ranch in El Dorado County.
Auctions | The Leicestershire (England) Police are auctioning about 1,200 comics — most of them are post-2000 DC Comics titles, described as in mint condition — seized as criminal assets in Dorset (the police force doesn’t have its own eBay account). “Some are signed by the artists and they are mainly Superman and Spider Man, that sort of thing,” said Dave Hargrave, proceeds of crime asset realization manager. “[...] The person who had the comics was obviously a collector.” About 400 comics have been sold, bringing in £600 (about $985 U.S.). [Leicester Mercury]
Publishing | Avatar Press has returned to Diamond Book Distributors as its distributor to bookstores, the mass market, library services, and other markets. Avatar left DBD in 2011 to sign on with BOOM! Studios to distribute its books through Simon & Schuster in the United States and HarperCollins in Canada. [ICv2]
Crime | A man in Augusta, Georgia, told police someone stole his collection of nearly 30,000 comics from a storage building at his friend’s home sometime between Nov. 13 and Dec. 30. Although the 85 boxes allegedly included signed issues, police valued the comics at just $1 each. [The Augusta Chronicle]
Publishing | ICv2 concludes its three-part interview with Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley with questions about variant covers, Marvel NOW!, and staying in New York City. [ICv2]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald profiles new graphic novel publisher Magnetic Press, which is spearheaded by former Archaia and BOOM! Studios executives Mike Kennedy and Wes Harris. Magnetic will launch in April with a varied line that will focus strongly, but not exclusively, on translations of French comics. [Publishers Weekly]
Here’s a pointer for job seekers, courtesy of Brisbane, Australia, retailer Comics Etc.: “Do not attempt to steal from a place where you have given your resume as it may include your name and personal details for the police.”
That’s unnecessary advice for most of us, but The Courier-Mail reports it came a too late for a 19-year-old who twice dropped off his resume to the store before, on Tuesday, allegedly swapping price tags in an attempt to get an $8 comic for 50 cents.
“And he did it right in front of me too — he turned his back a little bit, yeah, clear as day,” Comics Etc. manager James Jagic tells the newspaper. “When he came to the counter I said to him, ‘No you’re not buying that. I saw what you did.’”
When the man was informed he wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything from the store that day, and would be banned if he were caught again, Jagic says the situation got a little heated — with the manager raising his voice and cursing. That apparently didn’t sit well with the young man’s father, who called to complain about the treatment of his son.
“He had the audacity to tell me he was going to come into the store to talk to me about my behavior,” Jagic says. “It was unbelievable.”
Graphic novels | Image Comics had a strong December in bookstores, snagging nine slots on BookScan’s Top 20 chart: Eight volumes of The Walking Dead (including the very first one, at No. 4), plus the first Saga collection, which was originally released in October 2012. The first two volumes of Attack on Titan, which are more than a year old, were also on the chart. [ICv2]
Legal | Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for her role in a failed conspiracy to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who drew images of the Prophet Mohammed that offended many Muslims. [The New York Times]
Crime | Federal prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison term for Colleen LaRose, who was convicted, along with two other people, in a foiled 2009 plot to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who drew a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed. LaRose, who goes by the online name “Jihad Jane,” could face a life sentence, but as she assisted U.S. authorities with several terrorism investigations, they are merely asking that she spend “decades” behind bars. LaRose’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday; her co-conspirator, Mohammad Hasan Khalid, will be sentenced on Tuesday. [The Guardian]
Creators | Neil Gaiman, who maintains a highly visible presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr — he has 1.8 million followers on Twitter alone — is taking a six-month “sabbatical” from social media to focus on his writing. “I feel that I’m getting too dependent on phones, on Twitter,” said Gaiman, who began blogging in 2001. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. That instant ability to find things out, to share. I want to see what happens when I take some time off.” [The Guardian]
Creators | Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki remained silent over the past year while hundreds of threatening letters were sent out to retail stores that sold the manga and anime, venues that hosted doujinshi (fan comics) events connected with it, and even his alma mater, but now that police have arrested a suspect in the case, he has made an official statement. Fujimaki expressed relief that the suspect had been caught, thanked the police who were involved in the investigation, and promised that more chapters of Kuroko’s Basketball are on the way. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con producer Dan Farr is voicing his support for the construction of a “mega hotel” near the Salt Palace convention center. The Utah state Legislature ended its legislative session without passing a $100 million bill to fund such a hotel, but backers hope to see it revived in the next session. Ticket sales for the 2013 convention topped 50,000, and Farr told the local news station, “A convention center hotel would be a big help for us.” [Fox News 13]
He tells Fox 40 the Flintmobile — a gift from a customer, who made it for a water parade — had been on display outside his Watt Avenue shop for just two weeks before it went missing over the weekend. Stealing the vehicle wouldn’t have been an easy task, either: It’s actually a 200-pound wooden raft with two metal 55-gallon drums instead of wheels; it’s meant to float, not roll.
“The perpetrators did not just get in and pedal away,” Downey says. “It is pretty terrible. How can you steal a Flintstones car?”
Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.
Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]
Tokyo police have arrested a man they suspect sent more than 400 threatening letters to publishers, retailers, convention centers, convenience stores and other venues connected with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball.
The suspect, 36-year-old Hirofumi Watanabe, was arrested in Shibuya as he was allegedly mailing a batch of letters;. Police say he was spotted on security cameras near several locations connected to his threats; it was reported earlier that they may actually have questioned him on one occasion and then let him go. Watanabe is officially being charged with “obstruction of business,” and according to police, he admitted to the crime, saying, “I’m sorry. I’ve lost.”
JC McInwell translates a Japanese news report that indicates Watanabe didn’t know Fujimaki personally but was jealous of his success as a creator.
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]