First Look at DC Rebirth Designs For Bizarro, Red Robin, Batman Beyond & More
Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]
Awards | Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, won the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, presented over the weekend at Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, California. The other nominees were Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven, by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri; Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin; Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos; and Zana, by Jean Barker and Joey Granger. The Beat has Wilson’s acceptance video. [Long Beach Comic Expo]
Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]
Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]
These days, it’s not uncommon for a celebrity on the PR circuit to drop some hidden comic book connection — usually a piece of childhood fandom meant to earn fanboy cred — but Key & Peele star Keagan Michael Key recently announced a different kind of connection: a familial one.
Appearing on the podcast You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes, the comedian, whose award-winning Comedy Central show just ended its run, revealed that he shares a father with the late legendary comic writer Dwayne McDuffie. Though Key has spoken often in interviews about his family background, it appears the Detroit native has just recently learned about his connection to the Static Shock co-creator, who died in 2011.
The shortlist has been announced for the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kids’ Comics, named in honor of the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011. The first Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity was bestowed in March.
The 10 finalists for the kids’ comics award were selected by three judges: Kids Read Comics co-founders Edith Donnell and Dan Merritt, and ROBOT 6 contributor Brigid Alverson, who also edits the School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog.The winner of the inaugural award will be announced at the Kids Read Comics festival, held June 20-21 at the Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan. The finalists are:
The finalists have been announced for the inaugural Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity, named in honor of the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011. The winner will be announced Feb. 28 at Long Beach Comic Expo.
“I am so proud that my husband’s personal mission to include a more diverse array of voices — both in content and creators — is able to continue now through this award in his name, by encouraging others who share his vision of comics, characters and the industry itself better mirroring society,” Charlotte McDuffie said in a statement.
The finalists are:
Long Beach Comic Con organizers have announced the Dwayne McDuffie Award, named in honor of the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011. Details will be revealed Sept. 27 at the convention.
“Dwayne’s influence on comics is incredible, and we look forward to helping preserve his legacy through this award,” convention co-founder Martha Donato said in a statement.
Donato will be joined for the official announcement by fellow co-founder Phil Lawrence, and Neo Edmund, Joan Hilty, Joseph Illidge, Heidi MacDonald, Glen Murakami, Eugene Son, William J. Watkins, Len Wein, Charlotte Fullerton McDuffie and Matt Wayne.
Co-founder of the pioneering Milestone Media, McDuffie’s comics work ranged from Marvel’s Damage Control and Fantastic Four to Milestone’s Static and Icon to DC’s Justice League of America and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight.
His animation credits include Static Shock, Justice League, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, All-Star Superman and Justice League: Doom.
[Editor’s note: Each 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.]
In some ways, this is the best of times and the worst of times for those who are interested in bringing comics to a broader audience. As the hubbub died down over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover, another story went viral, about a comic shop where an employee allegedly made a crude joke about a “rape room” and then fired a trainee who complained about it. While debate continues to rage over what exactly happened there (the store owner denies it), Bloomberg did a big story on how the number of women comics readers is growing and becoming an ever more important sector of the industry.
With this in mind, I want to call out three things that happened this week.
The first is Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the National Book Festival. First of all, it’s impressive that a comics creator is given such a prominent platform at an event that isn’t actually focused on comics. What Yang had to say was even more impressive. He spoke about the African-American creator Dwayne McDuffie, whose love of comics first caught fire when he encountered the Black Panther, a black character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Black Panther wasn’t perfect, but, Yang said,
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
“We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree. But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say. This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same. […] We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s OK to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s OK if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human. Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.”
– Gene Luen Yang, in his speech about diversity, delivered over the weekend at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
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]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This time around Carla lovingly tackles the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, with a shout-out to Rocket Raccoon co-creator Bill Mantlo, while Tim remembers Dwayne McDuffie, who would have celebrated a birthday last week. Plus there’s frozen bromance, rockin’ gods, Daredevil #36 and more. So let’s get to it …
Writer/artist Jimmie Robinson has been creating and publishing his stories through Image Comics for almost 20 years. Let that just soak in for a moment. Wednesday marks the resumption of Five Weapons, his now-ongoing series set in a high school for assassins, which launched as a five-issue miniseries, but it performed so well that Jim Valentino’s Image imprint Shadowline offered to make it a monthly.
In addition to discussing the transition from miniseries to ongoing with this week’s Issue 6, Robinson agreed to discuss the recent Image Expo and his larger industry realization that the loss of Dwayne McDuffie left a hole that has yet to be filled. He also addresses his intentions to return to the Bomb Queen universe as well as whether he would ever write for Marvel (in particular Rocket Racer) or DC (think Chase).
As part of the Five Weapons coverage, Robinson shared several upcoming covers, plus one in-process page from Five Weapons #7. Be sure to answer the question that Robinson poses at the end of this interview in the comments section.
To mark what would have been the 50th birthday of Dwayne McDuffie, who passed away a year ago Tuesday, actor-director Stefan Dezil is circulating the trailer for Static Shock: Blackout, a 12-minute short based on the late writer’s best-known creation. Shot on RED for $5,000, the short centers on Daisy Watkins, a New York City reporter who travels to Dakota City to discover the identity of the teenage vigilante.
Static Shock: Blackout, which stars Dezil as Virgil Hawkins and Nadine Malouf as Daisy Watkins, will debut online in mid-March.
Creators | Eugene Son, a friend of late comics creator Dwayne McDuffie, announced plans to transform the writer’s website from “one that promoted his work to one that reflects his immense legacy.” The site’s blog will remain active, with plans to post old columns and scripts written by McDuffie, as well as tributes and stories from McDuffie’s friends. Earlier this week Son posted a 2002 essay he said was one of McDuffie’s most-read works, “Six Degrees of St. Elsewhere (aka The Grand Unification Theory).” [DwayneMcDuffie.com]
Publishing | Wizard has hired Kevin Kelly as managing editor of its “website, social media and digital content endeavors.” Kelly has previously worked for several entertainment websites, including io9, Moviefone, Cinematical and Joystiq, and was most recently senior features editor for G4tv.com. [press release]
Manga | Playback hosts a “Manga Moveable Feast” on Ken Akamatsu’s Love Hina, which returns to print from Kodansha Comics next week. [Playback:stl]
Publishing | DC Comics associate editor Janelle Asselin has left the company, reportedly for a job with Disney. She clarifies on Twitter that, contrary to a report, she wasn’t escorted from the building on Tuesday but, rather, left “at my leisure.” Asselin had been with DC since 2008, working primarily on Batman books like Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Red Robin, Birds of Prey and the relaunched Batman, Batwoman, Detective Comics and Savage Hawkman. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Longtime editor Betsy Mitchell is taking early retirement from her post as editor-in-chief of Del Rey, where she helped create Del Rey Manga. Tricia Pasternak, a former Del Rey Manga editor herself, has been promoted to editorial director. Del Rey was established as a science fiction prose imprint; the manga line was created in 2004 and was mostly shut down in 2010, when Kodansha began publishing its manga directly in the U.S. However, Del Rey still publishes a handful of manga and graphic novels, including xxxHolic, King of RPGs, and Deltora Quest. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | In a twist that sounds like something out of a comic (or even an ad from an old comic), a witness in the Michael George trial testified he saw someone wearing an obviously fake beard outside George’s Clinton Township, Michigan, comics shop a few minutes before George’s first wife Barbara was murdered inside the store in 1990. [The Tribune Democrat]