"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
A grand jury in Harris County, Texas, has indicted a former investigator for the district attorney’s office accused of stealing thousands of dollars in rare comics.
The Houston Chronicle reports Dustin Deutsch was indicted Tuesday on charges of felony theft by a public servant and tampering with evidence, stemming from an embezzlement case he and his former partner Lonnie Blevins were investigating in 2012 for the district attorney’s office.
Blevins was arrested in January 2013 following an FBI investigation into the theft of rare comics seized from the home and storage units of Anthony Chiofalo, a corporate attorney who embezzled $9.3 million from his employer, and then spent a sizable chunk of the money on high-priced collectibles, including a copy of Detective Comics #27 valued at $900,000.
Blevins pleaded guilty in May to taking more than $5,000 worth of those comics and selling them at a convention in Chicago. He’s awaiting sentencing.
Longtime arch-enemies, Batman and The Joker faced off once more on Wednesday, only this time about a plan to require Times Square’s costumed characters to be licensed.
Wearing makeup and a red suit embellished with black bats, the Clown Prince of Crime told New York City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that the bill amounts to “fascism.”
“I might look like a clown but I’m speaking from the heart,” the New York Daily News quote The Joker, aka Keith Albahae, as saying. “I do this from my heart and not for tips. OK, I do ask for tips. And many people are glad to give them, but this is about the First Amendment and this is about discrimination. This straight-up seems like fascism.”
As strange as Marvel’s recent teasers haven been, with offbeat remixes of events past, they’re nothing compared to the inter-company mashup captured Tuesday afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard.
CBS Los Angeles reports that the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long a hotbed for costumed mayhem, erupted about 5 p.m. as Batgirl struggled with Mr. Incredible in a brawl that drew in a colorful cast of characters. Reporter Suzanne Marques offers play-by-play of the video, shot by a production company that happened to be working nearby:
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
Crime | A man was spotted on security video last week at New York Comic Con stealing a one-of-a-kind, 20-inch Dunny figure hand-painted by by Jon-Paul Kaiser valued at $2,000, plus two other items, from the Clutter Magazine booth. [DNAinfo New York]
Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who uses the pen name “Biantai Lajiao” (Perverted Chili Pepper), has applied for a visa to remain in Japan, saying he’s afraid to return to China. Liming’s account on the Chinese social media site Weibo, where he published his cartoons, was shut down in August, and the People’s Daily newspaper has called him a traitor and accused him of being pro-Japan. Last year, he was arrested and held overnight on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance.” “China’s situation surrounding freedom of speech has worsened during these six months,” Wang said in an interview. “I have no idea where the borderline is (between what is permissible and what is not anymore).” [The Asahi Shimbun]
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
He may tired of Earth, these people and being caught in the tangle of their lives, but even Dr. Manhattan can’t resist the siren’s call of Wal-Mart and its low, low prices. Or at least its conveniently placed bicycles.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a 27-year-old Jacksonville, Florida, man was charged Tuesday with petit theft after he allegedly tried to walk off with a $130 bike from an Orlando-area Wal-Mart.
Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]
Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]
A 27-year-old Japanese man has been charged with copyright infringement after he allegedly uploaded the 37th volume of Kentaro Miura’s action-fantasy manga Berserk without permission.
According to Crunchyroll, Fukuoka Prefectural Police’s Anti-Cyber Crime Division and its East station arrested the unemployed Kaga City resident on Wednesday, saying he used the file-sharing software Share on April 28 to upload the manga. He’s also accused of illegally uploading music.
On the same day, Miyagi Prefectural Police’s Consumer and Environmental Protection Division and its Shiogama station arrested a 44-year-old office worker who’s accused of illegally uploading volumes of the manga OK-ON!, Tennen Joshi-kō Monogatari, Jo-Kura no Okite, Kanban Musume wa Sashiosae and Working!! on May 5.
Police confiscated his personal computer and other property; the man allegedly admitted to the crime.
Illegally uploading manga in Japan is punishable by as many as 10 years in jail or a fine of about $98,000.
Legal | A 54-year-old man was sentenced this week in a Quebec court to 60 days in jail for watching pornographic anime featuring characters that appeared to be minors, a violation of Canadian law. A former private security guard, Regis Tremblay admitted he watched the cartoons several times in January 2012 out of “curiosity” while working at Canadian Force Base Valcartier, north of Quebec City. Investigators say they discovered 210 “hentai” files from a hard drive, and 501 “incriminating” web addresses from Tremblay’s browser history. Following his jail sentence, Tremblay will have to register as a sex offender. [Canoe]
Conventions | Richard Bruton notes that the Dublin International Comic Expo (DICE) has taken the unusual step of posting a link to its harassment policy at the top of its home page. “Having a quick look around it’s the only comic event/festival/expo/con site to feature it so prominently,” he writes. “Some make mention of their policies in FAQ or About sections, but as far as I know DICE is the first to do so this way.” He does take issue with one vaguely worded item in the policy, though: “In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material.” [Forbidden Planet]
A 14-year-old Florida girl reportedly told police she was inspired by Atsushi Ōkubo’s manga Soul Eater and the Internet legend Slender Man to set her house on fire while her mother and brother slept. Both escaped unharmed.
WTSP Channel 10 reports that when firefighters arrived early Thursday to the burning house in Port Richey, they found the woman and 9-year-old, but the teenager was unaccounted for. As rescue workers searched for the girl, her mother allegedly began receiving text messages from her that read, “Mom Im so sorry I dont know why I did it” and “Did any of u get hurt.”
Police soon apprehended the teen, who allegedly said she had a fight with her mother the night before, and was influenced by reading Soul Eater, a supernatural action-adventure that centers on a young death god in training who, along with her classmates, must collect the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch.
“There’s a part in this book where two characters get in a fight with each other,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco explained during a press conference. “All of a sudden that clicked something in her mind, and she decided she was going to kill her family.
Retailing | Books-A-Million had a good second quarter, and CEO Terry Finley gives at least part of the credit to graphic novels: “We also saw strong growth in the graphic novel category, with continued success with titles related to AMC’s The Walking Dead series and a renewed interest in several manga series [that] drove sales increases.” And to boost that, the retail chain, which operates more than 250 stores nationwide, is planning Marvel promotions throughout September. [ICv2]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr is trying to measure how much money attendees are spending. In terms of hotel beds, at least, the convention seems to be dwarfed by trade shows, but with people coming to Salt Lake City from 48 states for the recent spinoff event FanXperience, that may be changing. Still, even in San Diego, attendees spend only about $600 per person; if Salt Lake attendees are similarly thrifty, the convention may not be a significant player in the Salt Lake City convention scene. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
According to the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, a man called police to report his $140,000 comic-book collection was stolen from his apartment Thursday after he split with his girlfriend.
He apparently was told to leave the apartment while she moved out, and when he returned there was some kind of physical altercation with her family — the specifics of which weren’t revealed. Afterward, he discovered his box of comics, including X-Men #1, was gone.
That, of course, raises a few questions: Was that 1963’s The X-Men #1, or 1991’s X-Men #1 (I’m guessing the former)? Was it a long box, which holds about 250 to 300 comics, or something larger? What other presumably Silver Age or even Golden Age comics were among that little treasure trove? And why, for the love of Galactus, would you leave something so valuable in your apartment while your ex, or your ex’s family, moves out items in the aftermath of a clearly unpleasant breakup?
Police haven’t charged any suspects.
A Rochester, New York, businessman will stand trial for murder in December in the 2010 death of an elderly comic book collector.
According to the Batavia, New York, Daily News, the trial of Rico J. Vendetti is scheduled for Dec. 5 in U.S. District Court in Buffalo. Dates still haven’t been set for his four co-defendants.
Vendetti is accused of hiring seven people to steal the valuable comics collection of 77-year-old Homer Marciniak of Medina, New York. According to police and prosecutors, when Marciniak awoke during the July 5, 2010, burglary, he was beaten and knocked to the floor. They burglars fled with the comics, safes, cash, coins and guns.
Although Marciniak suffered only cuts and bruises from the attack, and was able to give a statement to police, he died hours later from a heart attack.
Vendetti, who owned a collectibles store, was arrested along with seven others within a few months. The U.S. Attorney stepped in to file murder charges against Vendetti and four of his co-defendants, arguing that the burglary led to Marciniak’s death.
He’s also accused of racketeering and witness tampering.
In 2011, we reported on an epic act of vandalism: A graffiti artist in Sofia, Bulgaria, transformed a monument dedicated to the the Soviet Union’s 1944 “liberation” of the country into a superhero tableau. The eclectic group includes Superman, Captain America, the Joker and Ronald McDonald, who I guess is kind of a superhero if you’re hungry.
This week, the Russian government gave us an excuse to revisit the story by complaining to the Bulgarian government that it wasn’t trying hard enough to stop repeated vandalism of the statue and bring the culprits to justice.