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Comics A.M. | Driver in ZombieWalk crash will face charges

ZombieWalk crash

ZombieWalk crash

Legal | Matthew O. Pocci Jr., who in July drove into the crowd of ZombieWalk: San Diego, held annually during Comic-Con International, will be charged with felony reckless driving resulting in serious injuries. Pocci, who is deaf, was in the car with his children, waiting for the Zombie Walk to pass, but he started moving forward before the crowd had cleared the area. According to Pocci, the walkers attacked the car and he feared for his safety. He accelerated and the car struck a 64-year-old woman; two other people were injured as well. Pocci will be arraigned on March 9. [NBC 7 San Diego]

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Comics A.M. | Six GNs up for Children’s Choice Book Awards

Sisters

Sisters

Awards | Six graphic novels are finalists for the eighth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza, Happy Birthday Babymouse, Sisters, The Dumbest Idea Ever, The Return of Zita the Spacegirl and El Deafo. This is the largest number of graphic novels to make the cut; the previous high was three. Children and teens can vote for the winners, which will be announced during Children’s Book Week, which starts this year with Free Comic Book Day. [Children’s Book Council, via ICv2]

Retailing | When water got into the stock room of Blockbuster Comics in Brandon, Florida, it destroyed a number of valuable comics, including a 1956-vintage Superman comic and a copy of Crisis on Infinite Earths signed by the late Dick Giordano. Rather than just toss them, however, owner William Insignares is using them to redecorate his store, starting by decoupaging some of them to his front door using a Mod Podge-like substance. [Bradenton Herald]

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Influential 2000 AD artist Brett Ewins passes away

Brett Ewins (left), Jamie Hewlett and Steve Dillon in the "Deadline" offices

Brett Ewins (left), Jamie Hewlett and Steve Dillon in the “Deadline” offices

Brett Ewins, the influential British artist perhaps best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper, has passed away at age 59.

An early collaborator of Peter Milligan, whom he met at Goldsmiths College, and Brendan McCarthy, Ewins began providing covers for 2000 AD before soon reteaming with McCarthy on Future Shocks and Judge Dredd. His other 2000 AD work included ABC Warriors, Bad Company, Judge Anderson and the aforementioned Rogue Trooper.

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar charged with sedition

Zunar

Zunar

Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]

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Comics A.M. | Heavy Metal to base its comics line in Portland

Hoax Hunters

Hoax Hunters

Publishing | Portland, Oregon, will be the home base for Heavy Metal’s new line of comics, which was announced in October, following the company’s sale to David Boxenbaum and Jeff Krelitz. “I think it’s being closer to the talent,” Krelitz said. “If you wanted to be a painter in the early 20th century, you went to Paris. The comics line launches in March with the second season of Michael Moreci and Steve Seely’s Hoax Hunters. The company plans to be publishing eight original series by the end of this year and another 12 next year, building up to 50 in five years. “We’re positioning to be a premier publisher,” Krelitz said. [The Oregonian]

Passings | Editorial cartoonist R.K. Laxman, who maintained a running commentary on Indian politics for almost 60 years, has died at age 93. The younger brother of novelist R. K. Narayan, Laxman got his start illustrating his brother’s work as well as doing drawings for local newspapers. He became an editorial cartoonist for the Times of India around 1947, about the time India became an independent country, and stayed there until 2010. Laxman’s most famous creation was the Common Man, a character that stood in for the average Indian. As the official obituary in the Times of India said, “His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy. But despite the sobering reality of this, there was never any rancour in Laxman’s cartoons. His humour was always delightful, and no one could hold a candle to his brushstrokes.” [Times of India]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World won’t return to San Antonio in 2015

Wizard World San Antonio

Wizard World San Antonio

Conventions | It looks as if Wizard World’s convention won’t be returning to San Antonio, Texas, in 2015. A Wizard World spokesman said the company couldn’t come up with a date that fit the schedule of the city’s Henry B. Gomez Convention Center, adding, “We hope to revisit the possibility for 2016.” However, reporter Rene Guzman notes that San Antonio’s Alamo City Comic Con was a much bigger deal this year, in terms of the exhibit floor (it took up three exhibit halls of the convention center, compared to Wizards’ one) and probably attendance as well: Wizard World said its inaugural event in August drew “thousands,” and Alamo City had 73,000 attendees, almost twice as many as last year. There will be a Wizard World Austin conventionn in 2015, so anyone wanting a taste of that Wizard magic can find it a short road trip away. [San Antonio Express News]

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Comics A.M. | Charges filed against ‘Hi Score Girl’ creator, others

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Legal | The saga of Hi Score Girl continues this week, with the Osaka Prefectural Police charging creator Rensuke Oshihiri and 15 employees of publisher Square Enix with copyright infringement. Game publisher SNK Playmore originally filed criminal charges against Square Enix over the summer, claiming that Hi Score Girl, a comedy about gamers, used its characters without permission. Square Enix has recalled the published volumes of the series and halted serialization in its Monthly Big Gangan magazine. [Anime News Network]

Passings | Political cartoonist and collector Art Wood, a founding member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, died Nov. 4 at age 87. He donated more than 40,000 pieces of original cartoon art to the Library of Congress for its bicentennial, and the library published a book, Cartoon America, based on the collection. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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Comics A.M. | San Diego enlists hotels to help keep CCI in city

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | The San Diego Tourism Authority is asking hotels in the Comic-Con International room block to freeze their rates at the 2016 level for the following two years, as part of its bid to keep the convention in the city. Already, 30 of the 50 participating hotels have agreed to do so. Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will attend the next Comic-Con board meeting to make an appeal to organizers to remain in the city; Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi said Anaheim has made a bid for Comic-Con, but the city’s convention bureau wouldn’t comment.

A plan to expand the San Diego Convention Center collapsed after the hotel-tax funding scheme was ruled unconstitutional, but Anaheim is preparing to break ground on its own 200,000-square-foot expansion. However, Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said, “Some people had mistakenly implied that an expanded convention center would be the thing that solidified our decision to stay or go, but there are a number of factors to be addressed: hotel room rates, available space within hotels and outside the center, things that could mitigate the issue of having outgrown the convention center. An expansion would be great for the city and us, but if it doesn’t happen we’ve been able to make do without it, and if we can mitigate the concerns we do have we’ll be able to stay here.” [U-T San Diego]

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Comics A.M. | Sci-fi scholar George Slusser passes away

George Slusser

George Slusser

Passings | Dr. George Slusser, co-founder of the University of California, Riversides’ renowned Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, passed away Tuesday at age 75. Curator emeritus and professor emeritus of comparative literature, Slusser expanded the Eaton holdings from 7,500 items to more than 300,000, making it the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction and fantasy literature in the world. It encompasses novels, journals, manuscripts, comics and manga, fanzines and anime, and includes first editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Action Comics #1 and The Fantastic Four #1. “Over three decades, George Slusser built the Eaton Collection up from a small core of titles into the world-class archive that it is today,” Rob Latham, co-director of UC Riverside’s Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies program, said in a statement. “The field of science fiction scholarship owes him an incalculable debt.” [UC Riverside]

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Comics A.M. | Longtime retailer Steve Koch passes away

Steve Koch

Steve Koch

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]

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Stan Goldberg ‘had a joy for comics and cartooning that was infectious’

archie-goldbergAs Comic Book Resources reported Monday, longtime Marvel colorist and Archie Comics artist Stan Goldberg passed away Sunday at age 82 following a recent stroke. The obituary recounts much of his lengthy and prolific career — it spanned six decades, from the Golden Age of comics to the birth of the Marvel Age to the wedding of Archie Andrews — so we won’t recount the details here.

Instead, we’ve rounded up statements about Goldberg, his impact and his influence, from Marvel, Archie Comics, the National Cartoonists Society and more:

“No less than Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko, Stan Goldberg was one of the pioneers of the Marvel Age of Comics. As Marvel’s one-man coloring department, it was Stan G who determined that Iron Man would be red and gold, that the Thing would be orange, and that Spider-Man would be red and blue-black. He was also a talented cartoonist specializing in teen humor strips such as Millie the Model and Kathy the Teen-Age Tornado, which led him to become one of the mainstays of the Archie Comics line for decades. Stan was a gregarious and upbeat individual who was always a pleasure to work with.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor and senior vice president of publishing, in a statement to ROBOT 6

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Comics A.M. | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein passes away

Mostafa Hussein

Mostafa Hussein

Passings | Egyptian cartoonist Mostafa Hussein died Saturday following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 79. Hussein had been a cartoonist for the state-owned Al Akbar newspaper since 1974, and was often accused of being sympathetic to those in power. His final cartoon, published in Al Akbar two days before he died, was inscribed “I ??don’t have time to finish this cartoon, forgive me. I will miss you.” [Ahram Online]

Awards | The Cartoonist Rights Network International (CRNI) has announced the winners of this year’s Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning, and for the first time in the history of the award they are women: Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen. Mishra faced death threats for her cartoons about a religious leader who raped a 16-year-old (and eventually went to prison); Shaheen also was threatened with violence after she drew a cartoon depicting the Al-Quds Brigades as a dog in a cartoon critiquing Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s relationship with the organization. [Comic Riffs]

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Reflecting on Robin Williams and the weird, underrated ‘Popeye’

MCDPOPE EC001The world was saddened to learn of Robin Williams’ passing on Monday, and the circumstances surrounding his death only made it more tragic. Most of us, however, prefer to remember the comedy legend through the times he made us smile.

Perhaps it was his goofy silliness as the alien Mork, or his stellar voice work in Aladdin, or the way he managed to fill out the form of an old lady in Mrs. Doubtfire. He had loads of dramatic roles as well, from The Fisher King to Dead Poets Society. Williams could make you empathize with the hurting soul underneath the clown, the man behind the facade.

For all his versatility — from playing a cartoon bat trying to save the rainforest to a frightening stalker working at a photo booth — it’s a shame Williams was never in a superhero movie, especially in an era when the likes of Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins have embraced such genre roles.

Oh, wait. Williams did play a superhero, of sorts: He was Popeye the Sailor Man.

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Remembering Robin Williams, comic book fan

robin-williams-comics

Reading and watching some of the countless tributes to Robin Williams, who passed away far too soon on Monday, I was reminded that, in addition to being a father, a husband, a comedian, an actor and a philanthropist, he was also a comics fan.

“I used to get excited emails from comics stores all over America when Robin Williams would drop in to buy Transmetropolitan issues,” Warren Ellis recalled Monday on Twitter.

A semi-regular customer at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, Williams discussed his love of comics in a video interview we spotlighted in 2010 on ROBOT 6. In the clip, he fondly relates his latest reads: Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ, and Taiyō Matsumoto’s Tekkonkinkreet. Watch the brief interview below.

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Comics A.M. | Disney layoffs hit DisneyToon Studios

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Business | Marvel parent company Disney has reportedly laid off as many as 17 of the 60 full-time employees at DisneyToon Studio, the Glendale, California-based division that produces animated direct-to-video sequels and prequels, such as The Lion King 1 1/2 and Mulan II, the Disney Fairies releases and the occasional feature film, most recently Planes: Fire & Rescue. While Disney has been cutting positions throughout the company for the past few years — dating back to 2011 with the elimination of 200 jobs in its interactive division and about a dozen at Marvel — Variety chalks up these layoffs to the declining home-video market. [Variety, Deadline]

Passings | Dan Lynch, former editorial cartoonist for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, died Sunday at age 67. Lynch also worked for the Kansas City Times, and his cartoons were syndicated nationally and appeared in Time and Newsweek. However, his career was cut short by a debilitating stroke in 2001. “Dan had (what I thought was) a fabulous drawing style,” said Julie Inskeep, publisher and president of The Journal Gazette. “And, in the 20-plus years he worked at the JG, he provided a vast array of cartoon topics – always welcome, though not always in agreement with our editorial board. But he got people to think and react in his special and powerful way.” [Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

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