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Conventions | With the long-planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center stalled indefinitely, the Los Angeles Times offers an overview of efforts to keep Comic-Con International in the city past 2016, and what suitors like Los Angeles and Anaheim, California, have to offer. “The proposals we’ve received are pretty amazing,” says Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer. “It’s not an easy decision.” However, the San Diego Tourism Authority remains confident that convention organizers will sign a deal — possibly with a month — to remain in the city through 2018, based on an agreement for nearby hotels to offer their meeting space for Comic-Con programming. (The Tourism Authority has already asked hotels in the Comic-Con room block to freeze their rates at 2015 levels for the next two years.) [Los Angeles Times]
It’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.
The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.
In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.
Here’s the full list of winners:
Creators | A U.K. researcher argues that Marie Duval was the real creative force behind the wildly popular 19th-century British comic Ally Sloper, which is largely credited to her husband Charles Ross. Duval, the pen name of French cartoonist Emilie de Tessier, drew the character at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and ’70s, but historian David Kunzle now questions what role Ross actually played in his creation. [The Guardian]
Commentary | Chase Magnett pushes back on Chris Suellentrop’s statement, made in a column about GamerGate, that comics are “a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (Maus, or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.” [Comicbook.com]
Comics | Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles explains why he and his partner Stephen Fishler were willing to pay a record $3.2 million last month for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1: “We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go.” Zurzolo also talks about how he built up his business, starting out selling comics at conventions at the age of 15. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | More trouble for Square Enix over the gamer manga Hi Score Girl: Publication was suspended last month following allegations the series, which runs in the Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan, had used characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore without permission. Now it turns out Square Enix asked permission from Sega to use characters from its Virtua Fighter game, but then went ahead and published the story before permission was granted. Sega executives “strongly objected” but took no further action and did grant the permission, reasoning it would be good publicity for the game. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Japanese publisher Square Enix is voluntarily recalling all volumes Hi Score Girl and has suspended its digital distribution and sales following allegations the manga contains more than 100 unauthorized uses of characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore. However, the series will still continue to run in the monthly Big Gangan magazine, and a Square Enix spokesperson said the publisher isn’t admitting to the allegations. The publisher sent mixed signals on whether the anime adaptation in development will continue as planned. The manga also contains characters from games produced by CAPCOM, Sega and Bandai Namco, all of whom confirmed to IT Media that they had granted permission. [Anime News Network]
The Osaka police on Tuesday searched the Tokyo offices of game and manga publisher Square Enix as part of an investigation of alleged copyright violations.
The video game company SNK claims the manga Hi Score Girl, by Rensuke Oshihiri, contains more than 100 unauthorized uses of characters from its games, which include King of Fighters and Samurai Spirits. In addition to investigating materials confiscated from Square Enix headquarters and other offices, the police plan to question both Oshihiri and the editor of the series.
Serialized in Big Gangan magazine since 2010, Hi Score Girl is a romantic comedy involving two avid gamers, set during the 1990s 2D gaming boom. The collected editions list the owners of properties referenced in the story, including SNK, with a copyright mark, suggesting permission was given, but when SNK was contacted by a production company that planned to produce an anime adaptation, they determined the use was unauthorized.
SNK sent out a press release early today saying it had asked Square Enix to stop selling the manga but did not receive a “sincere response,” so the company filed criminal charges. The case is being investigated by the Osaka Police’s Consumer and Economic Crime Division.
Legal | In a decision that will undoubtedly usher in more Holmes and Watson novels, comic books, movies and television, a federal judge has issued a declarative judgment that the elements included in the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle before Jan. 1, 1923 are in the public domain in the United States. That means creators are free to use the characters and elements from those stories (but not from the 10 published after 1923) without paying a licensing fee to the protective Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Ltd.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed early this year by Leslie Klinger, who served as an adviser on director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes films and with Laurie R. King edited In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of new stories written by different authors. Although Klinger and King had paid a $5,000 licensing fee for a previous Holmes-inspired collection, their publisher received a letter from the Conan Doyle estate demanding another fee; in response, Klinger sued. [The New York Times]
Stage | Dancer Daniel Curry, who was seriously injured during an Aug. 15 performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, made his first appearance since the accident at a benefit concert held Monday that raised $10,000 for his medical bills. Curry was injured when his leg was pinned by an automated trap door — he blames malfunctioning equipment, producers say it was human error — resulting in fractured legs and a fractured foot; he has undergone surgeries and unspecified amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Actors’ Equity have launched investigations into the accident, and Curry’s lawyers are exploring a possible lawsuit against the $75 million show and the equipment suppliers.
During previews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — before the March 2011 firing of director Julie Taymor and the sweeping overhaul that followed — no fewer than five performers were injured, the most serious previously being aerialist Christopher Tierney, who fell about 30 feet in December 2010, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He returned to rehearsals four months later. There have been no major accidents since the show opened in June 2011. [The New York Times]
Passings | Roy Peterson, editorial cartoonist for the Vancouver Sun, died Sunday at the age of 77. During his 40-year career, Peterson won more National Newspaper Awards than any other Canadian creator, but he was remembered by his peers chiefly for his sense of humor and his mentoring of younger artists. [Vancouver Sun]
Publishing | CNN contributor Bob Greene profiles Victor Gorelick, the editor-in-chief and co-president of Archie Comics who began working for the publisher at age 17, in 1958. [CNN.com]
Creators | Craig Thompson talks about the short story he wrote and drew for First Second’s Fairy Tale Comics anthology, and he reveals an interesting fact: “For six years or so, my entire income was based on drawing kids’ comics for [Nickelodeon] magazine. Later on my career shifted to drawing ‘serious’ graphic novels aimed at adult readers, but I’ve always wanted to revisit my more fun and cartoony style.” Former Nickelodeon editor Chris Duffy is the editor of Fairy Tale Comics. [Hero Complex]
Conventions | Kandrix Foong, founder of Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, cautions latecomers that all 56,000 tickets for this weekend’s event are sold out. “We tell everybody now: ‘There are no on-site ticket sales,’” he said. “So they say: ‘OK, I’ll just try my luck when I get there.’ ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand. There are no on-site ticket sales. The end. If you show up you will be turned away. Sorry, but that’s the way it’s going to be.’” [Calgary Herald]
Conventions | Wizard World has released its annual report for 2012, and while its convention business was way up, from $3.8 million to $6.7 million, the company still finished the year with a net loss of $1 million. [The Beat]
Going to PAX East in Boston over the weekend was like going to a comic convention on another planet.
The gestalt was the same — the exhibit floor, the booths, the cosplayers, the panels — but everything was a little off. The crowd was bigger and younger. Huge screens advertised properties I knew by name only. A lot of the attendees were glued to consoles or computer screens, playing games; one side of the convention center was split into a massive tabletop gaming area and an even bigger PC gaming section. The part that really came closest to a comic con was the indie area on the exhibit floor, where developers were hand-selling their games the way indie creators promote their graphic novels.
Legal | Forbes profiles Michael Wolk, a lawyer who’s organized the financial backing for Stan Lee Media’s prolonged, and so far unsuccessful, multibillion-dollar lawsuits against Marvel and Disney over the rights to the characters co-created by Stan Lee. Wolk’s primary investor is Elliott Management, one the nation’s largest hedge funds. SLM, which is no longer affiliated with its co-founder and namesake, asserts Lee didn’t properly assign ownership of the works to Marvel, and that Disney didn’t file its Marvel agreement with the U.S. Copyright Office. “We are in the right here,” says Wolk, who’s not actually a Stan Lee Media shareholder. “No court has ever addressed or ever decided who is the owner of the characters — all of the prior litigation got dismissed for reasons that have nothing to do with who owns the characters.” [Forbes.com, via The Beat]
Publishing | Don MacPherson rails against the current numbering and renumbering practices by Marvel and DC Comics: “I realize other publishers have adopted irregular numbering schemes as well, but DC and Marvel are the ones driving things in that direction. Constant relaunches with new first issues, renumbering those relaunches to exploit a big-number milestone such as a 500th issue, half issues, zero issues, issues with decimal points, Greek letters … it’s exhausting and irritating, and I’m certain it’s frustrating for people preparing price guides and collection databases. Next I’m guessing there will be a series numbered in an alien math rooted in a fictional Kryptonian base-14 numerical system.” [Eye on Comics]
Digital comics | David Brothers articulates what the problem is with DRM: “What I realized is that DRM has a lot of benefits for the publisher, but next to none for the consumer. Blizzard can track exactly who plays Diablo III and when, which is valuable for gathering demographic data, off the top of my head. ComiXology can tell publishers exactly what contexts their comics will appear in and on what devices. DRM is about control, basically, rather than being a value-add. It’s a limiting service, rather than one focused on expansion, and the people most affected by it are consumers who actually want to consume this stuff.” And it does nothing to stop piracy, either. [4thletter!]
In 2005, when manga was the Next Big Thing, a lot of things got called manga that weren’t. But those days are long gone, so it was surprising when this popped up: The Official Firefall Manga, a comics tie-in to the online multiplayer FPS game. The comic looks decent enough, but why call it manga?
It doesn’t appear to be Japanese — the comic is by sci-fi novelist Orson Scott Card and his daughter Emily Janice Card and produced by the Canadian publisher Udon. No artist is credited, but this whole thing looks mighty North American to me.
Nor is the comic in “manga style” — OK, OK, we all know there is no single manga style, but non-Japanese comics that are labeled “manga” usually do hew to a certain set of conventions that includes big eyes, speed lines and sweatdrops. That’s not how this comic is drawn, and furthermore, it’s in color, which manga seldom is. Admittedly, there is one manga flourish in the page above: The three panels on the right that call out little details of the scene. But that isn’t uniquely Japanese; I have seen it in plenty of other comics.
So it’s hard to see what the marketing advantage was to calling this thing manga. The natural audience is people who play the game, or who play similar games, and for them, the draw is going to be the game tie-in, not the word “manga.” It’s a nice little comic but it probably won’t make much sense to anyone else. And anyone who finds it on a Google search for “manga” is going to be sorely disappointed. Just call it what it is — a comic.
One of the pleasanter surprises of C2E2 was meeting Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, the creator of one of my favorite webcomics, All Knowledge Is Strange. Goodbrey is a past winner of the Isotope Mini-Comic Award, and he was at C2E2 to promote First Comics’ print edition of his Necessary Monsters (co-created with Sean Azzopardi). But he had something else to show me: A Duck Has an Adventure, his Android game, which uses comics elements in a choose-your-own-adventure type of format.
The game unfolds as a series of panels, and occasionally the reader is given a choice–go to college? date the girl? It’s a bit like the Game of Life reduced to its iconic form (and with a significant infusion of wit–Goodbrey is a very funny guy, in that dry, British sort of way).
“I tried to simplify the language of comics so you consume each panel really quickly,” Goodbrey said, and indeed, he does strip the images down to their basic components. The story gets more complex as you go, though, and eventually [SPOILER!] the duck meets an alternate version of itself and the two have to decide whether to work together or fight. “The more you play, the more it becomes like a puzzle experience—you figure out how to get more parts of the story to unlock,” Goodbrey said.
Although Goodbrey allows the reader to collect achievements and hats, there isn’t a lot of shooting or other skill involved; A Duck Has an Adventure reminded me of a digital version of Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile. It’s a good example of one of the many new directions digital comics can go in, with a single story having multiple branches. While the duck will set you back 99 cents, Goodbrey has another comic with a similar structure, Jack’s Abstraction, that is available for free.