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Comics A.M. | Ringleader gets 20 years in death of comic collector

"The Human Torch" #23 was among the comics in Marciniak's collection

“The Human Torch” #23 was among the comics in Marciniak’s collection

Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World suffers $4.3 million loss in 2015

wizard world logo

Conventions | After bringing in a profit of almost $1 million in 2014, Wizard World took a hard swing in the other direction last year with a loss of $4.3 million, with about half the shortfall coming in the fourth quarter. At least part of the reason seems to be simple math: Per-show revenues were down, costs were up. In addition, Wizard’s share in ConTV was a money-loser, to the tune of $1.3 million; Wizard has reduced its stake in the joint venture with Cinedigm. On the upside, its subscription box service has done well, netting $48,000. It’s possible that the North American convention market is being saturated, and Wizard is responding by cutting back from 25 shows in 2015 to 19 this year. [ICv2]

Comics | Writer Kurtis Wiebe announced that, “after long consideration,” he’s placing his acclaimed Image Comics fantasy series Rat Queens on hiatus. [Twitter]

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Comics A.M. | Trial delayed in alleged Pokemon gun plot

pokemon world championships

Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Kodansha licenses ‘Attack on Titan: Lost Girls’

attack-lost-girls-social

Manga | Kodansha Comics has announced seven new titles for fall, including Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, a manga adaptation of the Attack on Titan spinoff novel that gives the backstory of the characters Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman; Cells at Work, a shonen manga in which the white blood cells and neurons battle disease; and The Prince in His Dark Days, a gender-switching version of The Prince and the Pauper in which a poor girl takes the place of a rich boy. [Kodansha Comics]

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Comics A.M. | French publishers call for changes to Angouleme

Angoulême International Comics Festival

Angoulême International Comics Festival

Festivals | More than 40 French publishers, including all the major publishers of graphic novels, have signed on to a press release saying they won’t participate in next year’s Angouleme International Comics Festival without significant, fundamental changes in the way it’s run. The signatories include almost every publisher that was at this year’s festival. Guy Delcourt, head of Delcourt publishing and the president of the BD commission of the national publishers’ association, said there have been problems with the festival for a long time, and attendance has been dropping, but after this year’s omission of any female nominees for the Grand Prix and the unfunny fake awards ceremony, he is fed up with the whole thing. Delcourt stopped short of calling for executive director Franck Bondoux to resign, saying the problem is not with one individual but with the entire structure of the festival, which is overly complex and opaque. The publishers have asked the Minister of Culture to name a mediator to work with them to solve the problema and give the festival, in Delcourt’s words, “the governance it deserves.” [ActuaBD]

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Comics A.M. | Comics, diversity and the ‘Asian superhero’

Silk #1

Silk #1

Comics | Keith Chow, editor of The Nerds of Color, responds to the New York Times opinion column that questioned the very concept of an Asian superhero, pointing out that there have actually been a number of successful Asian superheroes, several of whom debuted this year; that contrary to what the writer Umapagan Ampikaipakan says, there are a lot of superheroes in manga; and that the story of Superman, the original superhero, was essentially an immigrant story. “Coincidentally, Ampikaipakan derisively refers to Kamala Khan’s storyline in ‘Ms. Marvel’ as ‘merely another retelling of the classic American immigrant experience,’ and therefore not worthy of the universality of the superhero archetype,” Chow writes. “I guess immigrant experiences only matter so long as the immigrant isn’t brown.” [NBC News]

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Comics A.M. | Charting the growth of the graphic novel market

"Drama," by Raina Telgemeier

“Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier

Publishing | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald assemble a roundtable of comics insiders to for a detailed discussion of how the graphic novel market has evolved over the past 10 years, how their own business models have evolved, and what challenges they expect the future to bring. “Graphic novels are now firmly established in the book market worldwide in every genre: superhero, creator-owned, kids, middle-grade, young adult, webcomic, media tie-ins … etc,” says Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales & marketing for Diamond Book Distributors. “While the overall book business is flat, most retailers are reporting comics/graphic novels and related merchandise as one of the few segments growing.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Store employee foils theft of $114 in comics

JHU Comic Books employee Dani Ward (via JHU Comic Books)

JHU Comic Books employee Dani Ward (via JHU Comic Books)

Crime | An alert employee of JHU Comic Books in Staten Island helped foil a would-be shoplifter who was trying to make off with $114 worth of comics in his pants. According to police, Dani Ward noticed that Nicholas Perciballi, 22, was acting nervous, and she suspected he might be up to something, so she kept her eye on him as he shopped. Sure enough, as he was leaving the store, he allegedly dropped some comics from underneath his shirt. Ward reportedly called out and ran after Perciballi, then called the cops, who picked him up about 20 minutes later. When he was searched, police say they found four packets of heroin and a number of comics hidden in his clothes. Perciballi has been arrested three times in recent months on drug charges, and he allegedly told police, “I’m selling to support my habit and to cover my court fees from my last case.” [New York Daily News]

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Comics A.M. | Bidding farewell to the long-running ‘Apartment 3-G’

apartment3g

Comic strips | The soap opera comic strip Apartment 3-G ended its 54-year run Sunday with little fanfare, leaving it up to a handful of bloggers, including Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter and Josh Fruhlinger of The Comics Curmudgeon, to give the longtime funny-page staple a proper sendoff. “It definitely has an unaffected, what-we-call-Lynchian quality where what you’re seeing and what you’re ‘hearing’ as dialogue don’t match,” Spurgeon writes. “The limited sets and slightly faded color choices make it a bit nightmarish, almost like the world is collapsing comic book ‘crisis’ style around these increasingly feckless characters. It’s hard to believe there are more than a dozen “places” in the world these characters exist. [The A.V. Club]

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Comics A.M. | ‘The Walking Dead’ leads October bookstore sales

The Walking Dead Compendium Three

The Walking Dead Compendium Three

Graphic novels | The best word to describe October’s BookScan Top 20 is “diverse.” No one publisher or genre dominated the list, which tracks graphic novel sales in bookstores. The list boasts four entries from perennial bestseller The Walking Dead, including the first and third volume of the massive Walking Dead Compendium; five volumes of manga, including the final volume of Naruto and the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul; two Star Wars collections; two kid-friendly titles, the first volume of Avatar: The Last Airbender: Smoke and Shadow and the second volume of Lumberjanes; two Batman books; and Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying. If any one publisher dominated, it was Image Comics, with six books on the list, including the four Walking Dead titles, the fifth volume of Saga, and the first volume of Bitch Planet. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | George Lucas’ museum acquires Robert Crumb art

From "The Book of Genesis," by Robert Crumb

From “The Book of Genesis,” by Robert Crumb

Museums | The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by George Lucas and slated to open in 2018 in Chicago, has acquired the original art from Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis. [The Art Paper]

Editorial cartoons | R.C. Harvey writes the definitive piece on the Ted Rall case, rounding up pretty much everything that’s been written in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to cut ties with the cartoonist. In addition to presenting the evidence and all points of view, Harvey sheds a harsh light on the paper’s public statements about Rall and the relationship between the newspaper and the Los Angeles police union. [The Comics Journal]

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Comics A.M. | Vertigo tests the waters with Wattpad

Survivors' Club #1

Survivors’ Club #1

Publishing | DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint is the first comics company to use the Wattpad “social reading app,” where writers and publishers can share their work with potential readers around the world. Survivors’ Club writers Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen are starting things off with a list of their favorite horror movies, and Gail Simone and Holly Black are expected to check in as well. [TechCrunch]

Conventions | Journalist Tom Spurgeon and Bone creator Jeff Smith, co-organizers of Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, discuss their concept for a truly comics-focused festival. “We’re almost at the point where we’re treating comics as a weigh station before you make your money or impact,” Spurgeon says. “Comics are solely what we do and it’s solely where our efforts go. We want this to be important. We want to celebrate older cartoonists who may have fallen out favor. We want to celebrate the anniversaries of great comics. It’s solely comics-focused.” [Paste]

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Comics A.M. | Was Snoopy behind the slow death of ‘Peanuts’?

Snoopy

Snoopy

Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonists call for review of tape in Ted Rall firing

Ted Rall

Ted Rall

Political cartoons | The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists is calling for an independent review of the audio tape provided by the LAPD to the Los Angeles Times to refute Ted Rall’s claim he was treated roughly by an officer when he was stopped for jaywalking. “Determining the truth in this matter is important to Mr. Rall’s personal and professional reputation, and to the rights of journalists to freely express themselves,” the statement said, adding that the newspaper “should have demanded a higher standard of proof in this matter.”

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Ted Rall cries foul over his firing by LA Times

Ted Rall Crosswalk Cartoon

The Los Angeles Times has fired political cartoonist Ted Rall, who worked on a freelance basis, after finding “inconsistencies” in a post he wrote in May for the newspaper’s OpinionLA blog about being stopped by police in 2001 for jaywalking. However, Rall insists his story is true, and accuses the Los Angeles Police Department of pressuring the paper to ax him.

Rall, who has drawn many cartoons critical of the LAPD, described the incident in the original blog post:

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