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On Kevin Keller Day, Archie releases ‘It Gets Better’ video

kevin keller-it gets betterDeclaring today Kevin Keller Day, Archie Comics has released its own video for the It Gets Better Project featuring cartoonist Dan Parent discussing the creation of the publisher’s first gay character.

“When we introduced Kevin in Veronica #202, it was the first Archie comic to sell out in 70 years,” says Parent, who won this year’s GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comic book. “That’s a good sign, it’s a sign the character is going to stick around, or is starting out very well. We didn’t want it to just be, ‘This is the gay issue of Veronica,’ and then just drop it and never come back to it. We were introducing a character that we really wanted to have some legs. So we worked very, very hard on the issue, probably harder than any story that I’ve worked on, and the readers responded really favorably.”

Archie has also teamed with the It Gets Better Project for promotions across the organization’s social-media platforms. Plus, there’s a sale on Kevin Keller comics.

The character will experience his first kiss next month in Kevin Keller #10 in a story said to be inspired by the American Family Association’s 2012 protest of the Life With Archie issue depicting the wedding of Kevin’s adult counterpart. The group demanded that Toys R Us remove the magazine; the issue ended up selling out.

Founded in 2010 by writer Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller, the It Gets Better Project is dedicated to communicating “to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”

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SDCC ’13 | Thursday programming schedule released

comic-conWhile many of us were enjoying our holiday, Comic-Con International organizers were busy releasing the programming schedule for Thursday, July 18, the first full day of the San Diego convention. The rundown for Friday, July 19 should come along early this afternoon.

As we’ve come to expect, Thursday’s lineup is a healthy mix of comics, television, toys, fantasy and film (although light on the latter, which take center stage on Friday and Saturday). The comics programming includes panels from Avatar Press, Bongo Comics (it’s the publisher’s 20th anniversary), BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Entertainment, Kodansha Comics, Marvel, Monkeybrain Comics (it’s that publisher’s first anniversary), TwoMorrows, Vertigo, Viz Media and Warp Comics.

However, that’s only for starters, as there are spotlights on Chris Samnee, Jeff Smith, J.H. Williams III, Dan Parent and Gary Frank, The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary panel, and discussions about digital comics, gender in comics, LGBT webcomics and much, much more.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule:

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Comics A.M. | 6,000 fans turned away from Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con

Denver Comic Con

Conventions | Attendance at Denver Comic Con topped 48,000, well over last year’s total of 27,700. Crowds were so heavy on opening day that the fire marshal and convention staff turned away 6,000 people. Guests included Star Trek‘s William Shatner (who was filling in for a double-booked Stan Lee) and George Takei, who stayed late on Friday so every fan could get an autograph. [The Denver Post]

Creators | Gilbert Hernandez talks about Marble Season, which is quite a departure from his previous graphic novels: “I’d been doing too many zombies and too much horror and crime, and I wanted to back off and do something pleasant. But I thought, can I do a pleasant story? And the only pleasant story I have is good memories from childhood. I wanted to connect to readers in a more genial way.” [The Telegraph]

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Comics A.M. | Inkwell voting opens; comics’ ‘gay agenda’?

Inkwell Awards

Inkwell Awards

Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]

Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]

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Dallas retailer won’t carry Orson Scott Card’s Superman comic

Adventures of Superman #1

As the calls grow for DC Comics to drop Ender’s Game author and outspoken gay-rights opponent Orson Scott Card from its digital-first Adventures of Superman, the first retailer has stepped forward to say he won’t order the print edition of the new anthology.

“Zeus Comics will not be carrying the print edition of writer Orson Scott Card’s Superman,” Richard Neal, owner of the Dallas store, wrote this afternoon on his Facebook page. “Card sits on the board of the National Organization of Marriage which fights against marriage equality. His essays advocate the destruction of my relationship, that I am born of rape or abuse and that I am equated with pedophilia. These themes appear in his fiction as well. It is shocking DC Comics would hire him to write Superman, a character whose ideals represent all of us.”

He continued, “If you replaced the word ‘homosexuals’ in his essays with the words ‘women’ or ‘Jews,’ he would not be hired. But I’m not sure why its still okay to ‘have an opinion’ about gays? This is about equality.”

Zeus Comics was the recipient of the 2006 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, presented to a store “that has done an outstanding job of supporting the comic art medium both in the community and within the industry at large.”

Adventures of Superman debuts online April 29 and in print May 29.

DC Comics targeted for hiring anti-gay author to write Superman story

From the cover of “Adventures of Superman” #1, by Chris Samnee

Just days after announcing its latest digital-first anthology Adventures of Superman, DC Comics faces a growing wave of criticism for hiring Ender’s Game author, and vocal gay-rights opponent, Orson Scott Card to write the first chapter.

An online petition calling on the publisher to drop the “virulently anti-gay writer” has already drawn more than 4,800 signers. And while comic book fans and petitions seem to go hand in hand — it was just last month Marvel was being called upon to cancel Avengers Arena –  this effort is being spearheaded by All Out, an initiative of the Purpose Foundation advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. The drive has already attracted the attention of mainstream media outlets like The Guardian and The Huffington Post.

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Catwoman, Tintin and more show love for Angoulême gay-rights march

Angoulême is synonymous with comics, so it’s probably to be expected that when marriage-equality supporters marched in the French city last weekend they enlisted some familiar faces for the cause.

On her blog, local artist Algesiras posts a handful of photos of banners depicting several famous comic characters sharing a same-sex kiss. There’s Tintin and Captain Haddock, Catwoman and Poison Ivy, Asterix and Obelisk, Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, Blake and Mortimer, and Spirou and Fantasio, among others.

“Notice the rings on the hands of the characters,” Algesiras writes. “I think the best one is the one with the Smurfette, because it mocks the fact that the Smurfette is the only female in the Smurfs world. She’s not alone anymore.”

The 40th annual Angoulême International Comics Festival kicks off Jan. 31.

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Comics nominees announced for 24th GLAAD Media Awards

From "Earth 2" #2

The nominees have been announced for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 24th annual Media Awards, which honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

The nominees for outstanding comic book are:

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James Gunn apologizes for ‘poorly worded and offensive’ comments

James Gunn

Faced with growing criticism, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has apologized for insulting comments he made about women, gays and lesbians in a nearly two-year-old blog post, characterizing his remarks as “poorly worded and offensive to many.”

The statement, released last night by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and re-posted on Gunn’s Facebook page, followed outreach from the organization, condemnation by the Human Rights Campaign — “James Gunn’s blog post is offensive not just to LGBT people and women but rather to anyone with even the slightest sense of decency” — and online outrage, all stemming from a deleted February 2011 post on the filmmaker’s website.

Newly unearthed via Google Cache, the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll include commentary in which Gunn refers to Gambit as “this Cajun fruit,” calls teenage mother Stephanie Brown “easy,” admits wanting “to anally do” Kitty Pryde, and suggests Tony Stark could “turn” the lesbian Batwoman.

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Guardians of the Galaxy director under fire for superhero-sex article

James Gunn

Even as the casting search gears up for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a push has begun online to convince the studio to fire director James Gunn over objections to a nearly two-year-old blog post that many view as misogynistic and homophobic. (Note: This post contains graphic language.)

The Feb. 17, 2011 post containing the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll, complete with Gunn’s commentary, was deleted at some point from the filmmaker’s website but the cached version resurfaced earlier this week on Tumblr before receiving further exposure Wednesday on The Mary Sue. Why Gunn’s post was only recently unearthed is a bit of a mystery (he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy more than two months ago).

Gunn’s superhero sex poll includes male and female characters — 50 in all — ranging from Wonder Woman and Superman to Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. While The Mary Sue notes “there’s nothing wrong about running a poll for the most sex-able superhero on your site,” the complaints arise over some of the filmmaker’s accompanying commentary.

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Dragon*Con cosplayers recreate Astonishing X-Men wedding cover

When Marvel orchestrated the wedding of Northstar to his boyfriend Kyle Jindau in this summer’s Astonshing X-Men #51, it received considerable attention from the media for it forward-leaning acknowledgment of gay rights. And earlier this month at Dragon*Con, a longtime gay couple and an army of cosplayers recreated that special moment.

Professional costume maker Brian Parsley and his longtime boyfriend George Lewis recreated the moment (as Northstar and Kyle, respectively), in front of an enormous crowd of friends and fellow cosplayers. While it wasn’t an official marriage ceremony (as Georgia has a ban on same-sex marriage), the Florida-based couple said if Georgia allowed it they would have made the ceremony official. Here is a video from the event:

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Comics A.M. | Sergio Toppi dies; what makes Spider-Man special

Sergio Toppi self-portrait

Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]

Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]

Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Cul de Sac inker celebrates Richard Thompson

Cul de Sac

Creators | Cartoonist Stacy Curtis talks about inking Cul de Sac for creator Richard Thompson, who announced last week he’s ending the celebrated comic strip because Parkinson’s disease has left him unable to maintain the schedule: “I never felt inking Cul de Sac for Richard worked. It was like going into a theater to see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up and watching Steve Martin deliver his lines. And that’s what it felt like. Every time I sat down at my drawing table to ink Cul de Sac, I could hear a narrator’s voice say, ‘For tonight’s performance, the part of Richard Thompson will be played by his understudy, Stacy Curtis.’” The final strip will appear Sept. 23. [Stacy Curtis]

Graphic novels | Andrews McMeel Publishing, which has focused on comic strips and comic strip compilations up to now, has announced its first original graphic novel series: The Chronicles of Desmond, by Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio and Heart of the City. The books will be published in October 2013 under Andrews McMeel’s new AMP! imprint and will be aimed at middle-grade readers. [Publishers Weekly]

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Queer Press Grant now accepting submissions

Prism Comics, the nonprofit group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender creators and comics, has opened submissions for this year’s Queer Press Grant.

The grant is awarded to writers/artists or teams working on comic books, comic strips, webcomics or graphic novels with significant LGBT characters and themes. Creators don’t need to be LGBT to apply; entries are judged by the Prism board and past recipients based first on artistic merit, and then financial need, proposal presentation and the work’s contributions to the LGBT community.

“The Queer Press Grant is a significant resource to help promote LGBT themes in independent comics, and to support up-and-coming cartoonists bringing their projects into the world,” Justin Hall, Prism’s talent relations chair, said in a statement. “Every year, the QPG gives both financial support and extra publicity to a worthy recipient.”

Past winners include Robert Kirby, Eric Orner, Megan Gedris and Ed Luce.

Guidelines can be found on the Prism website. The deadline is Oct. 1, with the winner announced at the Oct. 13-14 Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco.

Comics A.M. | Vertical snags Gundam: The Origin, Wolfsmund

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]

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