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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]
Crime | Two cosplayers on their way to G-Anime were arrested Friday in Gatineau, Quebec, and their fake weapons were confiscated. The two men, who were wearing camouflage and carrying what appeared to be guns, were spotted in a parking lot near a number of government buildings (the Canadian Parliament was attacked by a lone gunman in October). Someone called the police, and they dispatched about a dozen officers who cordoned off the area and searched for the men. The cosplayers, who were both 18, were taken into custody and fined $270 for violating a municipal bylaw that prohibits carrying certain weapons in public or in a vehicle, although the law seems to be aimed at knives, bows and arrows, and swords, not guns. Their car was impounded, and their weapons are being held as evidence. G-Anime organizers posted a notice Friday asking attendees wearing camouflage or carrying replica weapons to wait until they arrive a the convention to change into costumes. [Ottawa Sun]
Passings | Acclaimed sci-fi novelist and manga writer Kazumasa Hirai passed away Jan. 17 at age 76. Hirai was the co-creator of several manga that spawned anime, prose and television franchises, including Genma Taisen and the classic cyborg superhero story 8 Man. He also collaborated with Ryoichi Ikegami on the Spider-Man manga, serialized from 1970 to 1971 in Monthly Shonen Jump, succeeding Kōsei Ono as writer. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The Bombay High Court heard arguments Monday on a public interest litigation petition challenging India’s sedition act. The petition stems from the 2012 arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition charges, which were dropped after national and international protests. “It [sedition charge] can be misused any time,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah. But Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, arguing for the state, said they only acted on the Trivedi case after receiving a dozen complaints: “The cartoonist [Aseem Trivedi] ran perilously close to borderline. He is not absolutely innocent. It is not the case that the state vindictively slapped charges on him.” The court did not immediately hand down a decision but has reserved judgment. [The Hindu]
St. Louis comic store Star Clipper is closing its doors after 27 years.
Owners Ben and A.J. Trujillo, who bought the shop in 2001, delivered the news to customers in a message sent this morning.
“The personal and professional experience of managing Star Clipper has been the most important of our lives,” the wrote. “We were lucky to inherit the legacy from wise people ahead of their time, grow with the medium, and love the job. But the time has come to bring Star Clipper to a natural conclusion.”
In an interview with St. Louis Magazine, Ben Trujillo pointed to a number of factors in the store’s closing.
Manga | Manga accounted for almost 80 percent of Japan’s digital book market in the 2013 fiscal year, according to a report released by the Yano Research Institute. The marketing research company predicts the country’s larger digital market, which is worth about $710 million, will see a 23.5 percent growth in the 2014 fiscal year. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Tom Devlin, creative director of Drawn and Quarterly, talks about the unlikely success of Tove Jansson’s Moomin comics. [Montreal Gazette]
Comics | Noah Berlatsky writes about Wonder Woman the character and Wonder Woman the comic. [The Atlantic]
Legal | There’s one fewer party in the lawsuit over the use of the term “comic con”: Newspaper Agency Corp., which produces materials for Salt Lake Comic Con, has settled with the organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic-Con sued both in August, claiming trademark infringement. Update: A Comic-Con International spokesman clarified that the settlement with the Newspaper Agency Corp. — a printing, advertising and delivery company owned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News under a joint operating agreement — is already in effect, with the company agreeing to a court order that prevents it from using the mark “Comic-Con,” “Comic Con” or its variants in the materials it produces. The lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con organizers continues. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Crime | Someone tossed a homemade fire bomb into the offices of the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. Firefighters put out the fire quickly, and no one was in the offices at the time. The paper published three of the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons from Charlie Hebdo on Thursday with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” [The Telegraph]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Kupperman relates his frustrating, and short-lived, experience as a cartoonist for The New York Times. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
More than $500,000 in comic books and merchandise were destroyed in a fire that broke out early Wednesday in a Huntington Station, New York, comics store and then spread to other shops in the Long Island strip mall.
Mike Bradley, who’s owned Collectors Kingdom in the West Hills Shopping Center since 1990, said he lost everything — from Golden Age comics valued at $500 to $1,000 each to statues and toys — in the blaze, as he had no insurance.
“Things got tight, and when things get tight you look for stupid avenues to cut,” he told Newsday. “And unfortunately that was one of the things I cut.”
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Conventions | Vendors who paid the $60 deposit to exhibit at Cherry City Comic Con are clamoring for a refund after word circulated that the Salem, Oregon, convention won’t happen this spring as planned. (There appears to have been some discussion about the con being canceled on Facebook, but the convention’s Facebook page now states, “A marketing solutions company is helping us start the new year right and get us back on track to make this a successful show everyone can love.” No other posts appear on the page.) This isn’t the first round of controversy for the con: Last May, organizer Mike Martin called an exhibitor “batshit insane” on Facebook when she asked for a refund and expressed concern that the con would not be a “safe place for female cosplayers.” Martin is also the organizer of a craft fair that was canceled; some exhibitors for that event were denied refunds because of “a locked PayPal account.” [KOIN]
Auctions | An original 1939 drawing of Tintin created by Herge for the cover of the weekly magazine Le Petit Vingtième sold Sunday for $673,468 at an auction of French and Belgian comics art held simultaneously in Paris and Brussels. The auction featured 101 works, of which 86 were purchased for a total of $2.4 million. [Agence France-Presse]
Auctions | A copy of The Hulk #181, featuring the first appearance of Wolverine, fetched $8,000 at an auction held Saturday at Back to the Past comics store in Redford, Michigan. [My Fox Detroit]
Retailing | System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan, who shuttered his online store Torpedo Comics in 2010 after about three years in business, is looking to open a brick-and-mortar shop. A brief story notes that while Las Vegas store Comic Oasis, owner Derrick Taylor is partnering with Dolmayan to open Torpedo Comics in January at 8775 Lindell Road, Building H, Suite 150. [Vegas Inc.]
Passings | Bermuda-based cartoonist Peter Woolcock died Wednesday after being struck by a car as he was walking to the office of The Royal Gazette to deliver his weekly cartoon. He was 88. Born and raised on a farm in Argentina, Woolcock served on a British tank crew in World War II (during which time he also kept a sketchbook) and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for almost 60 years, first for children’s magazines in the United Kingdom and then, after moving in 1981 to Bermuda, as an editorial cartoonist. Both his editors and the politicians he depicted have kind things to say in this lengthy obituary, which notes that his final cartoon was about San Diego losing the bid to host the America’s Cup. [The Royal Gazette]
Creators | Candorville cartoonist Darrin Bell talks about the political cartoons he drew in response to the non-indictments of the police officers in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as his own experiences as a black man who got “the talk” when he was 6 or 7 years old and will some day have to give it to his own son. [Comic Riffs]
Diamond Comic Distributors has officially announced the date for Free Comic Book Day: May 2, 2015, the event’s traditional spot on the first Saturday in May, which coincides with the opening weekend of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Last year’s Free Comic Book Day saw a record-breaking turnout, with a reported 4.7 million comic books handed out to more than 1 million customers who showed up at the 2,100 participating locations across North America and around the globe. Diamond anticipates that next year’s celebration — the 14th — will be even bigger.
Manga | There are 200 million volumes of Naruto in print worldwide as of September, according to a press release from Japan’s Fuji TV, which on Dec. 13 will feature an interview with creator Masashi Kishimoto. The two-part conclusion of the hit manga will appear today in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine; the 71st volume of the series was published last week in Japan. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Manga publisher Vertical Inc. announced this weekend that it has acquired the digital rights to all the manga it has published by Osamu Tezuka, including Buddha and Black Jack. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Michael Cavna talks with Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson about his just-released poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival and his other recent public projects. [Comic Riffs]
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]
Manga | Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto comes to an end in next week’s issue of Shonen Jump, but it’s not going away. Already side projects are popping up, including a miniseries that will launch in the spring, marking the 15th anniversary of the manga, and a series of novels about the different characters in the franchise. It all seems to be part of something bigger, the “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” (Naruto‘s New Era Opening Project), and the official Naruto website has a countdown to an announcement on Monday. [Anime News Network]
Digital comics | Tom Spurgeon talks to comiXology’s Chip Mosher about the comiXology Submit program, which is tailored for small publishers and self-published work. To prepare for the interview, Spurgeon gathered questions from creators at the Small Press Expo (which comiXology co-sponsored), and he talks to Mosher about the nuts and bolts of the Submit program, including payments, processing and the willingness to handle unusual formats. “We’ve had people sell thousands of copies and we’ve had people sell one or two copies,” Mosher says. “People have told me they’ve paid their rent with money from Submit. Or they were able to work on more comics with the money they made from Submit. It’s great to offer our customers such diverse comics from the program and at the same time be able to support the creation of more diverse work.” [The Comics Reporter]