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It’s not an off-brand Groot, it’s a ‘Cuddly Plush Alien Tree’

cuddly-tree-alien-cropped

There are a lot of products offered on Etsy that likely would be frowned upon by most film studios, television networks and publishers — posters, jewelry, clothing, toys, etc., featuring properties protected by trademark and copyright. However, there’s something wonderfully charming about Handmade Stuffs‘ off-brand plushes based on well-known fictional characters.

Sure, the stuffed creations are plenty cute in and of themselves, but the imaginative (and hopefully non-infringing!) names are what really sell them. Take, for instance, “Cuddly Plush Alien Tree” (“This adorable botanical extraterrestrial is ready to guard the galaxy with you!”), or the sold-out “Cuddly Plush Furious Director” (“He may only have one eye, but he’ll always be on the lookout for bad guys!”)

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Winners announced for 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards

rat queens1The winners of the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto. Named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world.

In addition to the traditional awards, this year’s event included the introduction of the T.M. Maple Award, which honors “someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community.” The first recipients were the late Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple, who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994, and the late Debra Jane Shelly, longtime volunteer at Toronto conventions and comics events.

The winners are listed in bold below. The Beat has photos and audio from the ceremony, held at Back Space Toronto.

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Edmonton politician endorses life-size Wolverine statue

wolverine-marvelA burgeoning campaign to honor Wolverine with a life-size statue in Edmonton, Alberta, has received the endorsement of at least one city official.

“The first reaction is, this is kind of funny,” City Councillor Andrew Knack, who says he’s a fan of the Marvel character, told CTV News. “But then you realize they’re taking this very seriously. I think it’s a great idea, assuming we go about it the right approach, can’t be taxpayer dollars to fund a statue of Wolverine.”

Edmonton residents Jesse Seitz and Christopher Olivier launched the petition last week on Change.org, lobbying Mayor Don Iveson to pay tribute to one of Alberta’s native sons with a statue in City Hall, Churchill Square or the grounds of the Legislative Assembly. Although the character was long ago established as a Canadian, the Origin miniseries pinpointed his birthplace as Alberta.

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‘Spawn’ fan film may make you forget that other Spawn movie

spawn-fan-film

Todd McFarlane has long talked about “complete reboot” of the 1997 film Spawn, envisioning a low-budget supernatural thriller that has more in common with The Conjuring than with current superhero blockbusters. For inspiration, he may need look no further that director Michael Paris’ fan short Spawn: The Recall.

The bulk of the nearly eight-minute film was shot in a day and two nights in a supermarket after business hours, using a limited cast and crew (post-production took two years, with the visual effects rendered on a single computer).

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Petition calls for life-size statue of Wolverine in Edmonton

death of wolverineOnline petitions are typically met with an eye roll, but it’s difficult not to like this one: Two residents of Edmonton, Alberta, want the city to erect a life-size statue in honor of one of the provinces native sons … James “Logan” Howlett. Yes, Wolverine.

“Not many popular or exciting fictional characters are born Canadian, but superhero and adventurer Wolverine isn’t just Canadian, he’s an Albertan too,” Jesse Seitz writes on Change.org. “I think it would make a lot of people really proud to live in Edmonton and raise morale to erect a life size statue of this character in City Hall, or even perhaps Churchill Square or the Alberta Legislature Grounds.”

His friend Christopher Olivier adds, “Wolverine has been a staple of Marvel Comics for the last 40 years, the X-Men film franchise for 15 and is now considered as popular as The Avengers and Spider-Man. We believe a statue of the X-Man will only draw more people to the city if not just to see it and would make fans of the character beam with pride.”

If Metropolis, Illinois, can have a 15-foot-tall statue of Superman, then why shouldn’t Edmonton have (a decidedly shorter) one of Wolverine? And what better way to memorialize the character’s impending death?

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There’s a new world record for largest gathering of Batmen

Photo courtesy of Nexen

Photo courtesy of Nexen

While the rest of us were busy Thursday with humdrum activities like work, classes and household chores, 542 employees of Nexen Energy were being awesome by gathering outside the company’s Calgary headquarters to set a Guinness World Record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Batman.

The previous record was a paltry 250. It marks the second time Nexen employees have set a world record: In 2011, 437 of them came together to establish the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Superman.

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‘Dredd: The Musical’ makes a rousing case for ‘Dredd’ sequel

dredd-urban

Despite the continued optimism of star Karl Urban, a sequel to the 2012 film Dredd would seem like a longshot. Still, in the past couple of years plenty of fans have been a case for a return to Mega-City One, box-office receipts be damned.

However, none of those arguments has been as convincing — or as moving — as “Dredd: The Musical,” the latest video from Legolambs. With its refrain of “It’s time to make Dredd II,” the rousing anthem is performed by Urban and Sylvester Stallone (or close enough), who belt out lyrics like, “We’re well behind the schedule, we should be on Part 3. There are follow-ups for Iron Man and Thor, so why not me?”

If this doesn’t win over studio executives, then nothing will.

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Prosthetic Wolverine hand comes complete (snikt!) with claws

wolverine-prosthetic1

Here’s a terrific follow-up of sorts to the heartwarming story of Rayden Kahae, the 3-year-old boy who received a prosthetic “Iron Man” hand thanks to 3D-printing technology and the efforts of e-NABLE: There’s also a Wolverine hand — with claws, naturally.

The organization describes itself as “a network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the world a ‘Helping Hand,'” and one of those is Aaron Brown, who wanted to build a hand to take to a local children’s hospital and to the MakerFaire in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As he wanted to use bright colors, and the University of Michigan’s mascot is the Wolverine, there was only one imaginable option for the comics fan.

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It’s official: Bob Bretall has world’s largest comics collection

bob bretall-guinness

More than a year after the British media decreed Bob Bretall owns the world’s largest comic book collection, it’s now official: With 94,268 unique comics amassed over four decades — and still growing! — the 52-year-old Mission Viejo, California, man now holds the Guinness World Records.

Bretall’s treasure trove weighs an estimated 16,800 pounds, or the equivalent of 118 grown men. Y’know, if you were curious.

He began collecting at 8 years old with 1970’s Amazing Spider-Man #88, and never stopped. Bretall adds more than 140 each month, revealing on his Facebook page that since the official count on May 1, the tally has grown by at least 1,000.

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Japan’s Chibatman gets stamp of approval from local police

chibatman2

Just as the Dark Knight has a special relationship with Commissioner Gordon, his Japanese counterpart now has an arrangement with police in Chiba Prefecture.

Passing on a story from Yahoo! Japan News, Rocket News24 reports that Chibatman, who rose to international fame in recent weeks for cruising around in costume on a custom-made Chibatpod, was summoned to the police station where, even in his secret identity, he was instantly recognized by the receptionist.

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Comics A.M. | The changing demographics of comics industry

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]

Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]

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Japan’s ‘Chibatman’ revealed, but not unmasked

chibatman

Although the Batman of Japan’s Chiba Prefecture — or, as he prefers, “Chibatman” — drew international attention just last week, it turns out he’s been riding around east of Tokyo on his custom Batpod since 2011.

Reuters and BBC News caught up to the 41-year-old man, a welder by day whose identity remains secret. However, unlike the Dark Knight who patrols the streets of Gotham, Chibatman doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of evildoers. Instead, his mission is to bring smiles to those who see him.

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Comics fan claims $140,000 collection missing after ex moves out

xmen1Many of us have experienced a bad breakup, marked by accusations and recriminations, followed by the discovery of a missing book or DVD. But for many comics fans, this is a nightmare scenario.

According to the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, a man called police to report his $140,000 comic-book collection was stolen from his apartment Thursday after he split with his girlfriend.

He apparently was told to leave the apartment while she moved out, and when he returned there was some kind of physical altercation with her family — the specifics of which weren’t revealed. Afterward, he discovered his box of comics, including X-Men #1, was gone.

That, of course, raises a few questions: Was that 1963’s The X-Men #1, or 1991’s X-Men #1 (I’m guessing the former)? Was it a long box, which holds about 250 to 300 comics, or something larger? What other presumably Silver Age or even Golden Age comics were among that little treasure trove? And why, for the love of Galactus, would you leave something so valuable in your apartment while your ex, or your ex’s family, moves out items in the aftermath of a clearly unpleasant breakup?

Police haven’t charged any suspects.

No matter how much you love Batman, this fan has you beat

bat-fan-japan

It takes real dedication (and quite a few bucks) to assemble an unbroken run of Detective Comics, or to commit the dialogue of all of the Batman films — including the Schumacher ones! — to memory. However, this Batman super-fan in Japan may have you rethinking the depth of your devotion to the Dark Knight.

Yes, he’s in full costume, cruising down the highway in Chiba Prefecture on his own Batcycle. What did you do this weekend?

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Comics A.M. | At Dubai con, women artists outnumbered men

A cosplayer at the Middle East Film & Comic Con

A cosplayer at the Middle East Film & Comic Con

Conventions | Vocativ put together an interesting, if somewhat late, video report about the Middle East Film & Comic Con in Dubai, often viewed by Westerners as a conservative Muslim city. Yet the April convention, which drew about 35,000 attendees, featured both women in traditional hijabs and cosplayers in somewhat-revealing costumes. More interesting still, the number of women artists outnumbered the men. The piece also touches upon the reaction to the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim teenager from New Jersey. [Vocativ]

Creators | “Never having known how to work in this style, suddenly in my 80s, I discover I can”: Jules Feiffer talks about his latest graphic novel, Kill My Mother, a noir-ish tale that is a sharp departure from his earlier work. [Los Angeles Times]

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