Conventions | Stan Lee has canceled his appearance at Denver Comic Con, held May 31-June 2, citing a conflict with filming for a cameo in a Marvel movie. William Shatner has stepped in to take his place. Nonetheless, a reporter snagged a pre-convention interview with Lee, in which he talks about what makes a convention great and how comics help kids learn to read, and counters a common criticism: “Some people will say, ‘Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it’s showing you.’ The only answer I can give is, ‘You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn’t want to see it on the stage?’” [The Denver Post]
Charities | Matthew Price rounds up efforts by the comics community to help those in Oklahoma devastated by the tornadoes. [NewsOK.com]
Less than a year after a masked gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 others at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the management of a Missouri theater paid an actor — or, rather, actors — dressed in tactical gear and carrying fake guns to walk into the multiplex last weekend to promote the opening of Iron Man 3. Needless to say, it wasn’t well-received by everyone, including the police.
Columbia, Missouri’s ABC 17 News reports Jefferson City police responded to a series of 911 calls from moviegoers stating “that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters.” However, instead of confronting the active shooter that they expected, Capt. Doug Shoemaker said police arrived to find a publicity stunt orchestrated by the theater.
“Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen,” he told the news station. “There’s really no good that can come of this.”
Paraphrasing Lucy van Pelt, a California judge on Wednesday sentenced the original voice of Charlie Brown to a year in jail for threatening his ex-girlfriend and stalking her plastic surgeon, and then released to a residential drug-treatment facility.
Handing down an additional five-year probation and an order to pay $15,000 in restitution, Superior Court Judge Dwayne Moring cautioned former actor Peter Robbins, “If I can borrow a line from Peanuts, sir, I’m going to grant [you] probation. If you adhere to those terms, you won’t go to prison. So, don’t be a blockhead.”
If anyone happens to have the number for S.H.I.E.L.D., please pass it along to police in York, England. They need help tracking down, well … the She-Hulk.
The York Press reports a green woman with dyed-red hair is wanted in connection with an attack on a 17-year-old girl outside a McDonald’s in the early hours of April 26. “This appears to have been a wholly unprovoked assault,” a police officer tells the newspaper. “Thankfully the injuries were not too severe. However, the outcome could have been far more serious.”
Three men who concocted a Ponzi scheme while in prison are heading back behind bars for bilking investors out of $3.6 million in a fraudulent business that dealt with comic book and film rights.
CBS Chicago reports 62-year-old Daniel Parrilli, 48-year-old John Lauer and 57-year-old Christopher Anderson were sentenced last week in federal court after pleading guilty to the fraud charges brought against them in 2010. Anderson, the lead defendant, is set to serve 95 months in prison; Parrilli was sentenced to 70 months, while Lauer received a 31-month term.
According to Patch.com, upon on their release from a minimum-security prison in Oxford, Wisconsin, Andersen and Parrilli opened Sundown Entertainment, a business that purported to buy and sell film and comic book rights. Together, they raised more than $7 million from about 150 investors. Lauer later entered the picture to offer false assurances to victims, some of whom prosecutors say “depleted their 401K funds or their college savings, or took out loans against their homes in order to invest with the defendants.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Kohler said that while some comics and movies were actually produced, the con men weren’t able to repay the outlandishly high returns promised to investors — as much as 150 percent within days, in some instances — and the scheme began to collapse.
Parilli, who begins serving his sentence Aug. 1, was ordered to pay more than $3.6 million in restitution, while Lauer must pay $457,367 and surrender June 12. Anderson, who’s already serving his sentence, must pay $3.7 million.
Marvel’s Superior Spider-Man marketing plans have gone too far.
First there was the confrontation in Times Square between the wall-crawler and a woman who wouldn’t hand over a couple of bucks for a photo, and now he stands accused of stealing $6,000 in Hollywood. Sure, that’s a little outside of his usual stomping grounds, but times are tough.
NBC New York reports that Hollywood police are on the lookout for a ol’ web-head after he allegedly stole a paper bag filled with $6,000 in cash and credit card information from a Starlines Tour Bus who was leaving the company’s Hollywood Boulevard headquarters on Friday. Since then, police have been rounding up Spider-Man impersonators who were seen in the area of TLC Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) at the time of the crime.
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
Legal | Egyptian artist Magdy el Shafee, creator of the graphic novel Metro, was arrested by security forces in Cairo and is being held in Tora Prison. The arrests weren’t directly related to his graphic novel, which was banned by the regime of Hosni Mubarak; el Shafee went to Abdel Moneim Riyad Square to try to stop a showdown between protesters and the Muslim Brotherhood, and ended up being arrested in a sweep that rounded up 38 people. [Words Without Borders]
Legal | The local paper profiles Susan Alston, who has been active in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund since the 1990s and even ran it for a while from the garage of her Northampton, Massachusetts, home. [Masslive.com]
Peter Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown, could face up to three years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to threatening and stalking his ex-girlfriend as well as the plastic surgeon who gave her the breast enhancement he paid for. (Obligatory “Good grief!” goes here.)
The 56-year-old Robbins was arrested in January on an outstanding warrant while returning to California from Mexico, and arraigned on four felony counts of making a threat to cause bodily harm or great bodily injury and one count of stalking. According to City News Service (via The Associated Press), prosecutors say Robbins called his former girlfriend a dozen times a day and threatened to kill her and her son if she didn’t return his car and dog. He allegedly also threatened her plastic surgeon, demanding a refund for the breast enhancement.
It’s not easy to bear witness to the downward spiral of a childhood hero.
It wasn’t that long ago that Cookie Monster, whose last known address is somewhere on Sesame Street, was the prime suspect in the brazen theft of a 44-pound bronze cracker, and now he stands accused of pushing a 2-year-old boy.
NBC 4 New York reports that a Connecticut woman claims an aggressive man dressed as Cookie Monster in New York City’s Times Square picked up her son and encouraged her to snap a photo of the two of them. Afterward, he allegedly demanded $2 from the woman, who said that she would need to get cash from her husband.
Awards | A last-minute reminder: Today is the deadline for Eisner Awards submissions. [Eisner Awards]
Creators | Grant Morrison looks back on his run on Action Comics, which ends today with the release of Issue 18, and touches upon Multiversity and his long-discussed Wonder Woman project: “This is some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time, because it’s a completely different type of comic book. Usually I don’t do masses of research, but for Wonder Woman, I’ve actually been working my way through the entire history of feminism. I want this to be fucking serious, you know? I want this to be really, really good, to reflect not only what women think, but what men think of women. I’m trying to do something really different from what’s been done with the character before. That one’s been amazing fun, because it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.” [Entertainment Weekly]
FF artist Michael Allred and colorist Laura Allred returned this morning from a trip to Arizona to find their home near Eugene, Oregon, burglarized.
“Just home from Arizona to met by cops,” Michael Allred wrote this afternoon on Twitter. “Our house has been broken into. Trashed. Computers gone. Monitors. And won’t know what else [...] Appreciate all concerned. Teary eyes held high. Only tweeted this cuz won’t have access to emails for a while. Yay 21st Century!”
“Good will & happy thoughts are all we need,” he continued. “Main concern is getting next issues of FF in on time. Good timing with @Joe_Quinones guesting. It’s just stuff, right?”
The Allreds’ lakeside home was featured in 2007 as part of Comic Book Resources’ “Studio Tours” series.
No sooner did the Batman of Bradford, England, make international headlines for turning over a wanted man to police than he’s been unmasked by the media, thus ending the shortest-ever membership in the Club of Heroes.
As you might have suspected, West Yorkshire’s own Dark Knight isn’t Bruce Wayne, or even Cyril Sheldrake. Instead, he’s been identified as Stan Worby, a 39-year-old Chinese takeaway driver. And he wasn’t proving once again that criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot; rather, he was helping a friend pull off a joke.
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
Much like their Gotham City counterparts, police in West Yorkshire are left wondering about the identity and whereabouts of the Caped Crusader.
BBC News reports that a man dressed as the Dark Knight appeared at a police station in the early hours of Feb. 25 to hand over a 27-year-old wanted on charges handling stolen goods and fraud before fading back into the darkness. “Where he went, nobody knows,” correspondent Danny Savage says. “He disappeared into the night.”
While some have speculated that Batman might actually be a friend of the wanted man, police contend they have no clues to his identity.