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Comics A.M. | Warner Bros. plans buyouts, possible layoffs

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]

Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]

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‘MAD’ takes aim at police militarization with Rockwell homage

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MAD may be well past its 1960s heyday, but every once in a while the magazine shows that it’s still capable of surprising us with political satire and social commentary.

The most recent reminder is MAD‘s timely take of Norman Rockwell’s famous 1958 painting “The Runaway,” which memorably depicts a kindly state trooper talking to a little boy at a diner counter. In the magazine’s update, influenced by events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent debate about the militarization of local police forces, the officer isn’t the reassuring presence he might have once been.

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There’s still time to mark Batman Day with Bat Cave postmark

bat caveWith all of the events and announcements tied to Batman Day, the July 23 celebration of the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary, it’s certainly understandable if some slipped through the cracks. Take, for instance, the pictorial postmark (below) offered by the post office in tiny Bat Cave, North Carolina.

To Batman fans disappointed they missed out on the opportunity, Linns.com has some good news: The postmark received a 30-day extension, meaning there’s still time to add one to your collection. Requests should be sent to BAT CAVE Station, Box 9998, Bat Cave, NC 28710-9998, July 23. Linns even provides instructions on how to ensure you get the cancellation.

Named after a nearby cave on Bluerock Mountain inhabited by several species of bats, Bat Cave is no stranger to Bat-promotion, as this 1989 newspaper article documents efforts by local businesses to capitalize on the release of Tim Burton’s Batman.

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SDCC | This GIF of DC Comics crew is mesmerizing

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Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but I can’t stop watching this GIF of Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, John Romita Jr. and Scott Snyder from the Entertainment Weekly Social Media booth at Comic-Con International. It may be my favorite thing today, at least until I find the next thing …

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Red Hood joins ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ as GameStop exclusive

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After a little social-media teasing, GameStop has announced the Red Hood Story Pack DLC will be available exclusively to customers who preorder Batman: Arkham Knight from the retailer.

Developed by Rocksteady for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment, Batman: Arkham Knight is billed as the explosive finale to the hit action-adventure video game series that launched in 2009 with Batman: Arkham Asylum. (For a complete rundown, read CBR’s coverage of the closed-door demo at E3 2014.)

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Quote of the Day | ‘We identified this need’

gotham academy1“Certainly when you relaunch a whole universe, something like the New 52, you’re gonna essentially create a bible that kind of guides and dictates the evolution and growth of the universe. We’re in year three of that, and certainly every story that’s created is done through the collaboration of an editor with the writer and the artist and the rest of the creative team. So I certainly think  Mark Doyle coming on and becoming the Batman Group editor was a big part of that. I think it’s also a recognition that our audience has evolved and we wanna make sure that we tell the stories that the audiences are craving. So we identified this need. We’re coming out with these different kinds of storylines, and, frankly, it’s exciting because we have a lot of Batman books, and I think it’s a disservice to the fans and to the character to have everything feel of the same tonality. I’m a big fan of Becky Cloonan, so I’m really looking forward to her work on Gotham Academy. I think it’s healthy for the business, and it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.”

— DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, talking with Entertainment Weekly about the decision to take “the Batman world” in a different direction with the newly announced Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. (He also mentions Batgirl among the developments he’s looking forward to in the back half of Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration.)

SDCC | Jim Lee to give away 50 sketches

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DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee has been known to hold scavenger hunts at Comic-Con International and C2E2, dropping visual clues on Twitter to direct his fans to hidden character sketches. For this Comic-Con, however, he’ll celebrate his fast-approaching 50th birthday (it’s on Aug. 11) by giving away 50 previously drawn sketches at his spotlight panel on Sunday.

“I can do a sketch, it’s like a very complicated signature — so I think the quickest sketch I can do is like a minute and a half,” Lee tells DC All Access. “So I’d have to do it, literally, in two days.”

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Warner Bros. debuts ‘Teen Titans Go!’ oversized Comic-Con Bag [Updated]

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The massive Comic-Con International bags are back, and Warner Bros. has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive first look at the Teen Titans Go! bag fans can get at this year’s show in San Diego. The bag features Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven in their chibi-style animated incarnations.

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SDCC | DC Collectibles brings ‘Arrow,’ Batman and more

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DC Collectibles has announced a lineup of Comic-Con International debuts that includes action figures based on The Flash and Arrow television series, Greg Capullo’s Batman run and Batman: The Animated Series, and Batman Black and White and Wonder Woman Art of War statues.

Those products and others will be available July 23-27 at the DC Collectibles booth (#1915). In addition, there’s a convention-exclusive Batman: Arkham City Harley Quinn statue that will be available in limited numbers at Diamond retailer booths for #124.95.

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Superman & Bizarro team up in new interactive storybook app

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LivoBooks has partnered with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products to launch Superman and Bizarro Save the Planet, an interactive storybook app that allows young readers — OK, probably a few older ones as well — to control the adventure.

Judging from the accompanying images and video, the app will likely hold some appeal for fans nostalgic for the classic Man of Steel, complete with red trunks. As the title suggests, the story brings together Superman and Bizarro (plus Krypto) for an unlikely team-up against a perhaps equally unlikely foe, one-time Justice League International villain Manga Khan. who’s … traveling the universe stealing famous artifacts.

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DC will allow Jeffrey Baldwin statue to bear Superman logo

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Reconsidering its decision, DC Entertainment will allow Superman’s iconic S emblem on a statue memorializing a 5-year-old Toronto boy who died in 2002 following years of abuse by his grandparents.

“We are honored by the relationship that our fans have with our characters, and fully understand the magnitude of their passion,” a company spokesperson said in a statement released this morning. “We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected. DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance. After verifying the support of appropriate family members, DC Entertainment will be allowing the Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial Statue to feature the Superman S Shield.”

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DC won’t allow Superman logo on dead child’s memorial

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What was likely viewed by DC Entertainment as a prudent — even standard — legal decision has snowballed into wincingly bad PR for the company, which now faces headlines like “Comic publisher blocks Superman logo on statue of murdered Toronto boy.”

The Canadian Press reports DC has denied permission for the trademarked “S” emblem to be engraved on a memorial statue for 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, who died in 2002 of starvation and septic shock after years of abuse by his grandparents.

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SDCC | ‘Batman,’ ‘Harley Quinn’ lead DC’s con-exclusive variants

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With the pace of announcements beginning to pick up as we inch closer Comic-Con International, DC Entertainment has unveiled its lineup of convention-exclusive variant covers: Batman #32, Superman #32, Grayson #1 and Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International: San Diego #1.

Those covers will be available for purchase at the Graphitti Designs booth (#2314). In addition, the Diamond Previews booth (#2401) will have a variant for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #47.

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The World’s Mightiest Mortal gets his own movie? Shazam!

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[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Tired of superhero movies yet? I’m not, since I found that I highly enjoyed X-Men: Days of the Future Past recently. However, announcements of new superhero movies have lost their luster a little, since you sorta expect that there’s going to be two competing Quicksilver movies any day now.

What did surprise me a little was DC’s rumored plans to develop their cinematic universe, and the one that got me most excited was Shazam! I mean… wow… Captain Marvel’s getting a movie? The entire idea of a kid who turns into a superhero with a magic word seems weird and alien in the current superhero movie universes we have these days, especially that somber one being helmed by Zack Snyder.

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Warner Bros. and Mattel extend deal for DC superhero toys

Mattel BM Basic FigureWarner Bros. Consumer Products has renewed its 15-year-old partnership with Mattel in a multi-year deal that expands the toymaker’s rights to include upcoming DC Comics-based films and television series.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mattel will be able to develop toy lines based on the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League movies as well as the TV adaptations Arrow, The Flash, Constantine, Gotham and iZombie.

Mattel, which on Wednesday unveiled its full slate of Comic-Con International exclusives, has DC products spread across its brands, from vintage-style Batman Classic TV Series action figures to Hot Wheels DC Universe cars to the Fisher-Price Imaginext Super Friends line. The company also rolled out merchandise based on Man of Steel and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, and the popular Arkham video games.

“Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have an unrivaled portfolio of characters and a strong slate of content across all platforms which is essential to driving our global consumer products business — a business anchored by our long-term partnership with Mattel,” Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, said in a statement. “With so much opportunity on the horizon, we know Mattel will bring the talents of its world-class organization to create and market product lines for fans of all ages.”

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