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Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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Animator creates awesome custom ‘Dragon Ball’ short for son

dragon-ball-custom

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has been delighting fans worldwide, first as a manga and then as an anime, for three decades. Clearly there’s something magical about the adventures of Goku that transcends national boundaries and generations — and Robson Menezes dos Santos tapped into that for his son’s birthday present.

The Brazilian animator spent five and a half months to create a short that recasts himself and his young son Rasdael as Toriyama’s heroes. He even went so far as to enlist the talents of Wendel Bezerra and Tania Gaidarji, voice actors who worked on the official Brazilian dubs.

“This is my greatest gift to my son,” Robson writes in the video below, “a fan animation in the style of the anime we enjoy most together …”

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Comics A.M. | MegaCon expected to attract 70,000 this weekend

MegaCon

MegaCon

Conventions | Organizers anticipate as many as 70,000 people will attend MegaCon, held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, up from about 60,000 last year; that could translate to $23 million impact on the local economy, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Guests include Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Stan Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. However, the names drawing the most attention may be The Walking Dead stars David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Steve Yeun. “We are the first convention in the U.S. to have both David Morrissey and Danai Gurira at the same time,” Jason Smith, MegaCon’s director of operations, told Florida Today. “The show is definitely a fan favorite of our attendees.” [MegaCon]

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Is the world ready for … a comics truck?

Penguin Book Truck

Penguin Book Truck

The story of Chris Romberger’s comics vending machine reminded me of an idea I had kicking around my head a couple of weeks ago: Here in Los Angeles, there has been something of a food-truck revolution going on for the past several years. And then I saw that last summer, Penguin Books launched a book truck. As Book Riot pointed out, bookmobiles and other ways to bring books to the people are nothing new, so I thought, why not comics?

A comics truck would be a fun way to spread the love of comic books, graphic novels, manga and all things sequentially artistic. It would probably never really be a replacement for a comics store, due to space limitations, but it could be effective as an outreach tool to drive buyers back to shops — plus be a dynamic retail outlet that can carry specific titles for the readers it will reach.

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Batman is ‘The World’s Greatest True Detective’ in new mashup

true-detective-batman

Since its January premiere, HBO’s much-discussed crime drama True Detective has been crying out for a mashup with Batman, and Josh Newman is here to answer the call.

Offering up potential opening credits for the second season of the anthology series, Newman shifts the setting from Louisiana to Gotham City for The World’s Greatest True Detective. Sticking with the Handsome Family’s “Far From Any Road,” he combines images from comics, movies and video games to introduce a cast that includes Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, James Gordon, Barbara Gordon and, naturally, Errol Childress the Joker.

Newman injects a bit of commentary as well with the “created by” credit at the end.

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Teen with Down syndrome launches comics vending machine

romberger

Here’s an inspirational story to help start off your day: CBS 3 Philadelphia spotlights Chris Romberger, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome and autism who’s not only doing well at his job at Villanova University’s student cafeteria, he’s even started his own business — with a custom-made comic book vending machine.

When Romberger, a Spider-Man fan, was taken to a comic store by job coach Chris Haas, he instantly loved it. However, couldn’t afford to open one of his own, so he and Haas came up with an alternative: a vending machine that operates under the banner of Comic Man Comics and Books.

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A look at the cosplayers of London Super Comic Convention

Mary Turner of Getty Images and Carl Court of Agence France Presse captured some terrific images of cosplayers at London Super Comic Convention, which drew thousands of fans Saturday and Sunday to the Excel Centre. My favorite may be the troupe of dancing Predators, above, but there are plenty of other good ones below, from Iron Man posing with a pint-sized Captain America to Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy cosplayers Kia Sunda and Maria Grozova making sure their costumes and makeup are just right.

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Oni Press targets bad behavior with convention penalty cards

PenaltyCards-cropped

With convention season getting into full swing — major events Emerald City Comic Con, WonderCon Anaheim and C2E2 arrive in rapid succession over the coming weeks — Oni Press has stepped up to provide what no con-goer will want to be without: convention penalty cards!

“Comic conventions should be bastions of unfettered fun, enthusiasm, and safety,” explains a post on the Oni Tumblr, but lately it seems like nary a con can go by without some complaint of uncouth or downright inappropriate behavior on the part of some attendees. While these cards are by no means a solution to a systemic problem, we hope they might prove useful should one find themselves in the damnable position of encountering said behavior.”

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Comics A.M. | DC, Marvel shut out of February bookstore chart

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

Graphic novels | Marvel and DC Comics may dominate the direct market but the bookstore channel is another story: As ICv2 points out, neither publisher landed a title on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the 20 top-selling graphic novels in February. Instead, here’s what it looked like: six volumes of The Walking Dead, six volumes of Attack on Titan, two volumes of Saga, and single volumes of some well-established titles Locke & Key, Bleach, Naruto, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That makes Image Comics the winner of the month, followed by Kodansha Comics, and the list is heavy on books with tween and teen appeal. [ICv2]

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Comic-Con badges go on sale Saturday

comic-con

The general public finally gets its shot at badges for Comic-Con International on Saturday morning.

Organizers have announced open online registration will begin shortly after 9 a.m. PT; the EPIC Registration landing page will open two hours earlier to allow hopefuls to enter their personal registration code and authorize their device to enter the waiting room. (The personal registration code and a link to the landing page will be sent by email to those with Member IDs at least 24 hours before badges go on sale.)

Confused by mention of the “personal registration code”? It’s been implemented to prevent ineligible members from entering the EPIC Registration waiting room and further bog down the process. Details can be found here.

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Rethinking covers: the variants and the gimmicks

Wonder Woman #31 variant cover by Mike Allred

Wonder Woman #31 variant cover by Mike Allred

Remember when comic books had only one cover each, and they didn’t glow in the dark or feature moving images? When the cover was just a good-looking illustration that made you curious about the story inside? And it was by the artist who actually drew that story?

Yeah, me neither.

Like it or not, we live in the age of specialized covers, whether in the form of variants or, for lack of a better (and less-derisive) term, gimmicks. I’ve mostly made peace with that, but the near-simultaneous announcements of Valiant bringing back chromium covers and DC doing a second round of lenticular covers recently stirred it all up again.

I know I’m being kind of silly about it. I mean, who cares? If people want them, they should have them. Obviously they help to increase sales, otherwise publishers wouldn’t go through the trouble. But is there more to it?

The thing is that variant covers have never been more prevalent. People used to make fun of publishers like Avatar Press, which would flood each release with boatloads of different covers for the same story. It turns out the company was ahead of its time. That’s not always a good thing, of course. Variant covers can cause confusion with new or more casual readers who may not remember the issue number they last bought but can recall what was on the cover.

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In this Toronto comic store, even the coffee cups wear masks

silver snail-drink sleeves

Toronto’s Silver Snail is celebrating its partnership with The Black Canary Espresso Bar (located inside the comic store) by giving away limited-edition “cup masks” to the first 200 people who stop by today for a comic book and coffee.

As you can see from the photo above, the cup sleeves feature close-ups of such characters as Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. And they’re not all Marvel characters, either: You can get a look at Catwoman and Harley Quinn below.

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March brings more MODOK than the law allows

MODOK_yourMarch2014!_CON_2

March brings not only strong winds and NCAA brackets, but also March MODOK Madness, the annual celebration of all things MODOK.

For the past several years, the March MODOK Madness blog has celebrated the big-headed villain by enlisting various artists to draw his MODOK-ness in all his glory. Marc has hardly started and already they have three posts up, including a frozen MODOK (why isn’t MODOK on an ice cream bar?), a team-up with Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Mark Monlux’s awesome Easter MODOK (seen below).

Be sure to check in with them all month for more MODOK artwork.

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Comics A.M. | Pioneering comics journalist Bhob Stewart dies

Bhob Stewart

Bhob Stewart

Passings | Comics journalist and commentator Bhob Stewart died Monday at the age of 76. Stewart kicked off his career in 1953, at the age of 16, by publishing an EC fanzine; the following year, as Carol Tilley documented in a recent talk, he sent a copy to anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham, along with some tart commentary. Stewart went on to become an influential voice in the conversation about comics; he wrote several books, taught classes at the School for Visual Arts, and curated the first exhibit of comics art in a major American museum. Heidi MacDonald credits him with inventing both Wacky Packages and the term “underground comics.” [The Beat]

Editorial cartoons | German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr has apologized for a cartoon depicting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with a hooked nose, an image that critics said was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The cartoon appeared in the early editions of the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, but Zuckerberg’s face was replaced by an empty hole in later editions. “I’m very sorry about this misunderstanding and any readers’ feelings I may have hurt,” Mohr said. “Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies that are totally alien to me” [ABC News]

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Dark Knight returns in animated Batman vs. Terminator fan short

batman-v-terminator

Batman has taken on Predator and, with assistance from Superman, both Aliens and Predator. Yet somehow he’s never faced the Terminator — until now, that is.

In this tense short conceived by Tony Guerrero and animated by Mitchell Hammond, we’re reintroduced to Bruce Wayne, 30 years after Skynet’s nuclear blasts, as he tries to make his way across the wasteland of the United States “to join forces with the man determined to neutralize the electronic menace — John Conner.”

Batman Vs. The Terminator feels very much like The Dark Knight Returns meets Akira meets Heavy Metal. And at a little less than five minutes long, it’s far too short.

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