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Comics A.M. | How to enjoy Comic-Con without a badge

comic-con logo

Conventions | There’s still plenty to do in San Diego this week, even if you don’t have a Comic-Con badge. A local news station runs down the options, from events that anyone can enjoy with minimal effort to the hard-core nerd stuff. [KPBS]

Political cartoons | The cartoonist Faro, who’s from Nice, pens an anguished explanation of why he will not do cartoon memes about tragedies any more: “At a certain point, one must know when to stop, and I am not convinced that my fellow citizens — yes I am both a press cartoonist and from Nice — have the heart to appreciate these digital or paper mournings one more time. And I am not speaking of those who take a risk in trying to find humor in a similar situation. I have a hard time understanding the practice of producing the official logo of carnage and then seeking to pass it on in posterity while these innocents pass over to the other side.” [The Huffington Post]

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Comics A.M. | San Diego police prepare for ‘safe and successful’ Comic-Con

san diego convention center

Conventions | In the wake of mass shootings in San Bernardino, Orlando and Dallas, and the attack last week in Nice, France, one newspaper looks at the security surrounding Comic-Con International, which kicks off Wednesday in San Diego. Although few details are revealed, a San Diego Police Department official says there will be “numerous” uniformed officers on foot, on bike, in patrol cars and in helicopters, as well as a “large” contingent of undercover cops “to make it was a safe and successful event.” The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System got more specific, noting that nearly 200 armed transit officers and TSA-trained K9 units will be deployed along transit route and platforms. [The Press-Enterprise]

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales surpass $1 billion, ‘Smurfs’ colorist passes away at 86

smurfette

Passings | Nine Culliford, the woman who made the Smurfs blue, died on July 5 at the age of 86. Nine met Pierre Culliford, the artist who would later take the pen name Peyo, in 1946, the same year his first cartoon was published. Nine was the colorist for the Smurfs from their first appearance in “Johan et Pirlouit” (English title: “Johan and Peewit”) in 1958 until her husband’s death in 1992, and she continued to be active on Smurf projects after her son Thierry and her daughter Véronique took over. It was Nine who came up with the idea of coloring the Smurfs blue, as she felt the color would stand out agains the green, wooded backgrounds of the comic. [The Blue Print]

Comics | Sales of comics and graphic novels have crashed through the $1 billion threshold, according to calculations by Milton Griepp of ICv2 and John Jackson Miller of Comichron. That includes $350 million in sales through retail book channels, $90 million in digital, and $20 million in newsstand sales, with the rest coming through the direct market. Griepp and Miller estimate that graphic novels account for $535 million in sales and serial comics for $405 million. Griepp attributed the growth in sales to increased attention to comics properties from the media and an expanding audience, as more women and children come to the medium. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Digital comics sales dropped in 2015 for the first time

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Digital Comics | Digital comics sales dropped 10% in 2015, according to calculations by the geek-industry retail site ICv2. This is the first decline since the category started to take off in 2010. “Industry participants” offered a number of possible explanations for this, including the leveling-off of new tablet and e-reader purchases and competition from Humble Bundle and other bundle services. Conspicuously not mentioned is comiXology’s decision, in spring of 2014, to eliminate in-app purchases on iOS devices, removing the most convenient way to buy comics from the most popular platform. The article does mention that sales through the Google Play store and direct digital sales from publishers of DRM-free comics had increased, although they are still a small segment of the industry. Also, e-book sales in general are down. Despite all this, ICv2 calculates that digital sales totaled $90 million last year, which is still pretty good considering that the market was just $1 million in 2009. [ICv2]

Conventions | New York Comic Con will extend the party with a series of events tagged “NYCC Presents,” running from October 3-9 (the con itself is October 6-9). The events include a “We the Heroes” Ball, Doctor Who costume and trivia contest, a live episode of “Game Grumps,” and “Shipwreck Presents: A Literary Erotic Fanfic Competition based on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.” All events require separate tickets—your NYCC badge won’t get you in. [New York Comic Con]

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Comics A.M. | Sacramento store pushes to rebuild after fire

Courtesy of Big Brother Comics

Courtesy of Big Brother Comics

Retailing | The Sacramento, California, comic shop Big Brother Comics was severely damaged last weekend by a fire. Owner Kenny Russell, whose apartment adjoins the store, heard a loud noise on Sunday morning and opened his back door to see his store in flames. “It was all on fire, like movie-style fire,” he said. Although firefighters responded quickly, and his apartment was protected by fire doors, his store is “toast” and much of his merchandise suffered smoke damage. A GoFundMe campaign to help Russell rebuild has already brought in more than $12,000. [KCRA]

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Comics A.M. | New death threats at “Charlie Hebdo”

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo

Crime | French police are investigating two new death threats to the staff of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo.” The first threat was posted on the magazine’s Facebook page and then removed; the second was sent to the editor a few days later. “The messages raise the idea of killing several members of the editorial, again,” an anonymous source told the French newspaper Le Parisien. Security is tight at the “Charlie Hebdo” editorial office, which was moved to a secret location after 12 people were killed in an attack in January 2015. [The Local]

Conventions | Rob Salkowitz interviews Comic-Con International chief communication and strategy officer David Glanzer, who has been going to Comic-Con since 1978 and working for them since 1994. Glanzer discusses attendance, the possible saturation of the pop-culture convention market, and what might cause the con to leave San Diego, however reluctantly. And he emphasizes the importance of comics to Comic-Con: “We have a great and unique demographic and are pinged constantly by organizations who want to target that demographic for marketing purposes. But while it may be true that they are a key demo for marketing, we don’t want a participating company to exhibit or present a panel for that reason alone. They should have an organic relationship to comics and popular art. It’s a difficult area to maintain, but it’s one we pride ourselves on at least trying to remain true to our mission.” [Forbes]

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Comics A.M. | Russ Manning Award nominees announced

"Shutter" #20, by Leila del Duca

“Shutter” #20, by Leila del Duca

Awards | The nominees have been announced for the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Daniel Bayliss, artist of Kennel Block Blues and Translucid (BOOM! Studios); Leila del Duca, artist of Shutter (Image Comics); Dan Mora, artist of Klaus and Hexed! (BOOM! Studios); Marguerite Sauvage, artist of DC Comics Bombshells (DC Comics), Scarlet Witch (Marvel) and Faith (Valiant); and Tillie Walden, writer/artist of I Love This Part and The End of Summer (Avery Hill). The winner will be announced in July at Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Comic-Con International]

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Comics A.M. | San Diego could get a Comic-Con museum

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Conventions | Organizers of the San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum announced this week they’ve been in talks with Comic-Con International about establishing a comics-focused museum in the city’s Balboa Park. The report notes that “details remain sketchy,” even though discussions have been under way for the past year. “There’s no hurry to move it along,” said Hall of Champions board member Dan Shea. As the report notes, this isn’t the first time a Comic-Con museum has been discussed: Stalled expansion plans for the current San Diego Convention Center called for a museum celebrating the event. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novelist charged in torture killing of girlfriend

Blake Leibel (via KTLA TV)

Blake Leibel (via KTLA TV)

Crime | Screenwriter and graphic novelist Blake Leibel has been arrested on charges of torturing and murdering his girlfriend Iana Kasian, who recently gave birth to their child. Leibel, the 35-year-old son of a wealthy Toronto family, is the co-creator of the graphic novel Syndrome, published in 2010 by Archaia, which he described at the time as “a lengthy graphic novel that grappled with the questions surrounding what provokes a person to commit evil acts.” The press was quick to pick up on several aspects of the murder that mirrored the graphic novel: among them, that he allegedly drained Kasian’s blood, as a character does to several victims in Syndrome. Leibel has pleaded not guilty to the charges. [The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

mike mignola2

Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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Comics A.M. | Ringleader gets 20 years in death of comic collector

"The Human Torch" #23 was among the comics in Marciniak's collection

“The Human Torch” #23 was among the comics in Marciniak’s collection

Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]

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Comics A.M. | NYC cracks down on costumed characters

minnie-times square

Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty allegedly brawled over a tip in 2015 (file photo)

Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Batman vs. Superman’ tops March bookstore sales

batman vs superman2

Graphic novels | With audiences flocking to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s little surprise that the bestselling graphic novel in bookstores in March was Batman vs. Superman: The Greatest Battles, a compilation of previously published stories about the pair’s earlier tiffs. Also not surprising: All five volumes of Tokyo Ghoul are on the chart. That manga series seems to be the new Attack on Titan, with more readers coming in every month. The rest of the chart is a very mixed bag, with two Deadpool titles, a new Plants vs. Zombies graphic novel, and Daniel Clowes’ Patience among the month’s big sellers. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ bites into bookstore sales chart

"Tokyo Ghoul," Vol. 5

“Tokyo Ghoul,” Vol. 5

Graphic novels | The latest volume of Tokyo Ghoul topped the February BookScan chart of the bestselling graphic novels in the bookstore channel, and four volumes of that series made the top 20. The third volume of The Walking Dead Compendium took the second slot. Overall, the list is an interesting mix: It’s half manga, a couple of Marvel and DC Comcis titles, Dark Horse’s Plants vs. Zombies (an all-ages graphic novel based on a video game), and Philippa Rice’s Soppy: A Love Story, a print version of her webcomic about her life with her boyfriend. [ICv2]

Legal | Former Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Maurice Sinet has sued philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy for calling him an anti-Semite. Levy wrote in an article in Le Point magazine that Sinet, who goes by the pen name Sine, was “a former employee of Charlie Hebdo who was kicked out for his anti-Semitism and racism.” Sine wrote an article in 2008 claiming that Jean Sarkozy, the son of the former French president, had dodged the consequences of a car accident by saying he was planning to convert to Judaism and marry a Jewish woman. The story was intended to be satirical, but it caused a controversy and he was ultimately fired from the magazine. [Times of Israel]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Bad Batman’ arrested in string of armed robberies

robbery-batman

Crime | Deputies in Orange County, Florida, have arrested a man suspected of committing eight armed robberies — two of which while dressed as Batman. Investigators say 26-year-old Juan Carlos Nieves Morales — dubbed the “Bad Batman” — kicked off the string of crimes on Jan. 22, targeting Dollar Stores, food stores and even a paint shop. He allegedly entered the businesses armed with a black or silver handgun, and demand cash, and sometimes even property, from the employees. [CBS12, WDBO]

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