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Jim Rugg and a Bic pen — a solo exhibit in L.A.’s iam8bit gallery

After winning over the comics faithful with Street Angel and Afrodisiac, Jim Rugg has become a pencil-carrying force in independent comics. He was enlisted by major publishers to draw books like DC’s PLAIN Janes and Dark Horse’s The Guild series, and even partnered with rock stars such as in the book One Model Nation. Next month he’s poppping up as a guest artist on DC/Vertigo’s iZombie #24, but before that he’s doing something even more special: a solo exhibition of ball-point pen drawings on notebook paper.

Titled Notebook Nerd – Jim Rugg, this exhibit at the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles will show a side of his art comics fan haven’t seen much of — the complex linework possible with a simple ballpoint pen. Dubbed by the gallery as a “Swiss Army Knife of artists,” Rugg is seemingly pulling back to an earlier era — one of calculator wristwatches, pocket protectors and Trapper Keepers.

The exhibit will open on Friday, May 25 at iam8bit’s gallery on Sunset Boulevard, and continue through June 24.

Comics A.M. | Chris Roberson speaks on his split with DC Comics

Chris Roberson

Creators | iZombie writer Chris Roberson discusses his recent public announcement that he would no longer accept work from DC Comics and his subsequent dismissal from his last writing job for the publisher. “Well, this has been building over the last few months, and mostly had to do with what I saw DC and Time Warner doing in regards to creator relations. I think the first thing — you have to understand that when I first started working for DC in 2008, the Siegels had just recaptured half of the copyright for Action Comics #1 and I felt very good about that. That seemed like a very positive step. And then over the course of the last few months there has been the counter-suit against the Siegels’ lawyer, Marc Toberoff, and I was less sanguine about that, and starting to get a little itchy about it, and then there were just a few general things about the way that it seemed that DC regards creators now that are working for them — and I can talk about that more in detail — but the real kind of proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the announcement at the beginning of February of Before Watchmen, which I just thought was unconscionable. And so I had already signed a contract by that point to do six more issues of iZombie, of which three of them had been turned in, and so I just made the decision to go ahead and turn in the remaining three, not wanting to jeopardize the livelihood of my collaborators Mike and Laura Allred. But once I turned in the last one, even though I had other work lined up, I would have to at least — if only for my own peace of mind — let people know that I wasn’t happy with it.” [The Comics Journal]

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The Kubert School holding an open house April 21

Lauded as premiere school for aspiring comic artists for decades, the Kubert School has mentored dozens of today’s top comic creators and now it’s opening its doors for the next generation. On April 21, the Kubert School is hosting an open house at its Dover, New Jersey location from 1 to 4 p.m. Among the promised features are guided tours of the school and facility, demonstrations by its teachers, and one-on-one time with founder Joe Kubert and his two sons Andy and Adam Kubert. If that wasn’t enough, there’s refreshments, raffles and giveaways.

For decades, the Kubert School has taught legions of comic creators, and even comic fans might remember the school’s fun advertisements in the backs of comics over the years. In addition to offering full college-like daily courses, the school also does correspondence courses and weekend sessions for those who can’t attend full time.

This open house is an ideal opportunity for any would-be comics creator, or even just an overzealous comics fan like myself, to get an inside look at what it takes to make comics. I hear they’ll even admit robots!

Atlanta photographer reimagines DC heroes and villains in new exhibit

Golden Age Flash, by Philip Bonneau

The GA Voice profiles Atlanta artist Philip Bonneau, whose comic book-themed photography exhibit “Heroes + Villains #2″ opens April 7 at MISTER, the gay and bisexual men’s community center in Atlanta. While last year’s edition focused on Marvel characters, the new installment spotlights such DC Comics figures as Batman, Robin, Superman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, The Sandman, Lex Luthor, Catwoman and Alfred Pennyworth (with pulp heroes like Zorro and The Shadow thrown in).

“With comic books and superheroes, they all have secret identities, and there are so many gay connotations,” Bonneau tells the newspaper. “We can all understand trying to fit in.”

Check out some of the images from “Heroes + Villains #2″ below, or visit Bonneau’s Flickr account to see more of his work.

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Jim Rugg art show kicks off March 29 in Pittsburgh

This #*?! Isn't Very Funny

Afrodisiac and Street Angel‘s Jim Rugg is the subject of an upcoming art exhibit, This #*?! Isn’t Very Funny at the ToonSeum in Pittsburgh March 29-May 6.

This #*?! Isn’t Very Funny features Rugg’s work on Street Angel and Afrodisiac, as well new and seldom seen pieces. You can find the press release and some additional Rugg art after the jump.

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Batman Live arrives in the United States in September

Batman Live

Batman fans on this side of the pond who have been eagerly awaiting word on when the Batman Live tour would hit the United States need wait no longer–according to the tour’s website, the multimillion-dollar production arrives in Anaheim Sept. 5-9, followed by stops in Los Angeles, Minnesota, Las Vegas and more.

Adapted from the DC Comics characters and stories, Batman Live focuses on Robin’s quest for justice, which leads him to follow in the footsteps of his hero – the mysterious vigilante known as Batman – much to the dismay of his protective guardian, billionaire Bruce Wayne, whom the audience knows is secretly Batman. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson must learn to overcome their own fears and forge their own family – with the help of Police Commissioner James Gordon and Bruce’s trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth – if they’re going to survive the combined forces of Batman’s larger-than-life rogues’ gallery, some of the most famous and beloved villains of the 20th century.

With a 42-member cast, Batman Live also features Alfred, Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and The Penguin. The action takes place in several settings from the famed stories, including Gotham City, Wayne Manor, the Batcave, and Arkham Asylum.

Here are the North American dates they’ve announced so far:

Anaheim, CA — Sept. 5-9
St. Paul, MN — Sept. 13-16
San Jose, CA — Sept. 20-23
Los Angeles, CA — Sept. 27-30
Las Vegas, NV — Oct. 3-7
Oklahoma City, OK — Oct. 10-14
Rio Rancho, NM — Oct. 17-21
Colorado Springs, CO — Oct. 23-24
Loveland, CO — Oct. 26-28

ComicsPro: Daredevil: Born Again Artists Edition, lots on digital, more

Daredevil: Born Again

ComicsPRO, the trade organization for direct market comic book retailers, held its annual meeting last week, welcoming retailers from all over for presentations and discussions with various comic companies and other industry reps.

“Advocacy is a vital and important cog in the ComicsPRO machine. Too often, the retail segment is absent when industry plans are formulated and partnerships are forged,” says Joe Field ComicsPRO president, on the group’s website. “As ComicsPRO grows, our goal is to give retailers an equal voice with our other industry partners, so we can take an active role in the decisions that affect all of us.”

Although the meetings are typically closed to the press, some information from the three days in Dallas has come out:

  • Retailer Matt Price, who blogs at Nerdage, shared several tidbits this weekend from the show. Of note is the list of projects that publishers discussed at the show, which include Avengers vs. X-Men, Before Watchmen, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and an announcement from IDW that they’re planning an Artists Edition of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again storyline.
  • Mike Richardson, Dark Horse president and publisher, gave a keynote at the event on digital comics, on how “changes have been a constant and necessary partner” for the comics industry.
  • Speaking of which, iVerse Media and Diamond Comic Distributors announced a new Digital Comic Reader App at the meeting. “By adding the Digital Reader App into the Diamond Digital program, we’re completely removing our own digital store. This is a much cleaner solution for retailers and will give them the same kind of tools companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are using to sell digital on these devices,” said iVerse CEO Michael Murphey.
  • Image Comics sponsored a lunch where Publisher Eric Stephenson spoke on independence and creativity. You can read his entire speech over at iFanboy.
  • Thomas Gaul of Corner Store Comics and Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim, Calif. was elected to the ComicsPRO board, replacing founding member Brian Hibbs.
  • And speaking of Brian, he posted some of his notes on DC Comics from the meeting, including some digital information and the fact that they plan to release the full results from the Nielsen survey to retailers.
  • Bob Wayne, DC Entertainment’s senior vice president of sales, was honored with the ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award.

Michigan State University forum to feature Jessica Abel

If you happen to be in the vicinity of East Lansing, Michigan, the week after next, it would be worth your while to check out the 2012 Michigan State University Comics Forum. Panel coordinator Ben Chabala (himself the creator of The Art of War) sent along some info, including the news that Jessica Abel (Life Sucks, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures) will deliver the keynote address on Friday, Feb. 3. Abel will also be gracing Artists Alley on Saturday, along with Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Ryan Claytor, Jay Jacot (creator of this year’s poster), Ryan Stegman and a host of budding and experienced comics creators. Forums and panel discussions will also take place on Saturday.

Comics A.M. | Persepolis trial resumes amid uproar in Tunisia

Persepolis

Legal | The trial resumed today, if only briefly, in Tunis for the president of a Tunisian television network accused of “insulting sacred values” when he aired the adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Tensions were so high in the courtroom that proceedings were postponed until April. The Oct. 7 broadcast resulted in an attempted arson attack on the network’s offices and the arrest of some 50 protesters. Nessma TV President Nebil Karoui, who apologized in October, is charged with “insulting sacred values, offending decent morals and causing public unrest” because of the outrage triggered by a scene in Persepolis showing God, which is prohibited by Islam. [AFP]

Organizations | Stumptown Comics, the organization that puts on the Stumptown Comics Fest every year in Portland, Oregon, has added three new members to its board: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Charles Brownstein, Boilerplate co-author Anina Bennett and editor Shawna Gore. [Stumptown Comics]

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Joann Sfar Draws From Memory gets world premiere Jan. 25

Joann Sfar Draws From Memory, director Sam Ball’s documentary portrait of the French comics artist and filmmaker (Dungeon, The Rabbi’s Cat, Little Vampire) will receive its world-premiere screening at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York City.

The film follows Sfar to his favorite neighborhood spots and muses about his artistic process and the influence of his Algerian and Eastern European heritage. Tickets are still available for the screening, which also includes the U.S. premiere of The Silent Historian and a Q&A with Ball and executive producer Valerie Joseph.

Kevin Eastman auctions off his studio to benefit the Hero Initiative

If buying an entire comic shop on eBay is out of your price range, this might be more your speed: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman is auctioning off his art studio, with some of the proceeds going to benefit the Hero Initiative.

Technically it’s not his whole studio, as that’s attached to his house, but it is all of the contents contained therein. That includes his drawing table and chair, 600 DVDs, original art, action figures, rare T-shirts and a whole bunch more. Check out the video up top to see him give a tour of the studio. Eastman will also make an appearance at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles on Jan. 4 to count down the end of the auction.

Right now the bidding is at just over $4,000, with eight days still to go.

Celebrities to read Jim Krueger’s Frankincense Monster for charity

Actors Ernie Hudson, Barry Bostwick, Eddy Jemison and others will read from The Frankincense Monster and Other Haunted Christmas Stories, a children’s book by Justice and Earth X writer Jim Krueger, on Sunday as part of benefit for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Holidays From the Heart program.

Organized by Krueger and producer John Bucher, “Oh Haunted Night” is the first of what they hope will be an annual Hollywood event “that provides the power of story in the midst of a magical season while bringing hope and joy to children who are in need.”

The 8 p.m. performance, held at the Acme Comedy Theater in Los Angeles, will be paired with a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased through the Acme website or at the door.

Graham Annable tackles the Muppets for Jim Henson tribute

Gallery Nucleus showcases Graham Annable’s lovely and melancholy watercolor contributions to “The Lovers, the Dreamers and Me,” an upcoming tribute art exhibition to the late visionary Jim Henson.

“Clearly Kermit, Ms. Piggy, and Gonzo don’t know what to make of their beginnings,” the post on the gallery’s blog states, “but what we can decipher from this is Graham’s bold wit for introducing us to an unusual scenario we never expected the Muppets would run into.”

The exhibition opens Dec. 10 with a reception at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California, and continues through Jan. 2.

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Comics A.M. | ComiXology top iPad app for past six Wednesdays

Comics by comiXology

Digital | Comics by ComiXology has topped Apple’s charts as the top-grossing iPad application for the last six Wednesdays. ComiXology cited the launch of DC’s New 52 initiative, as well as many other comic companies moving to a same-day digital release schedule, as reasons for its success. “When have comic books, not comic book movies, not comic book merchandise, but the actual comic books been #1 in anything, much less high tech?” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “Being the number one grossing iPad application six Wednesdays in a row isn’t just a huge milestone for comiXology, but a huge milestone for comics as a medium … and we could not be prouder.” [press release]

Creators | An auction for the naming rights to a character in Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service raised $5,100 for St. Bartholomew’s Primary School, where Millar attended. The money will be used to pay for field trips for the school’s students. “I’m a former pupil at St. Bartholomew’s and have so many great memories of the place,” Millar said. “I know there’s not a lot of money in local government at the moment and I was sad to hear that the annual school trip for the children had been cancelled. By establishing this fund, I hope to have a pot the head-teacher can dip into every Christmas and take the entire school to a pantomime every year.” [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser]

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This weekend, it’s Women of Wonder Day

Women of Wonder Day

Returning this year “with a new name and an expanded mission,” the event formerly known as Wonder Woman Day is now Women of Wonder Day. This year the event will expand to a third location on Oct. 30 as a part of its mission to raise money for domestic violence programs.

The three events will occur at the following shops, where you can bid on art, meet creators and more:

  • Excalibur Books in Portland, Ore. with special guests Joelle Jones, Kelly Sue DeConnick and more.
  • Comic Fusion in Flemington, N.J. with Jamal Igle, J.K. Woodward and more.
  • Heroes and Fantasies in San Antonio, Texas with Benn Dunn and more.

In addition, there’s an online component, and you can bid on artwork and other items on eBay — including the chance to appear in a Brian Michael Bendis comic book.

You can find the complete press release after the jump.

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