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Retailer at center of ‘Powerpuff Girls’ dust-up issues open letter

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Dennis L. Barger Jr., the retailer who last week publicly criticized the “sexualized” nature of Mimi Yoon’s Powerpuff Girls #6 variant, leading Cartoon Network to withdraw the cover, has released an open letter in which he calls upon the comics industry to police itself, and to keep film studios and television networks out of the decision-making process.

The remarks from Barger, co-owner of  Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, follow a sharp response by Yoon in which the artist criticized him, in part, because “he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse.”

In his open letter, in which he touches upon a dwindling readership and the need to reach a younger audience, Barger writes, “I will not discuss why this cover upset me and this is the last time I care to talk about it, aside from this. I did not feel that it was appropriate for the cover of a book aimed at young children, especially young girls, and many people agreed with me. A Hollywood corporate machine like Warner Bros and Cartoon Network would not have pulled it unless enough people saw that this was inappropriate in some way.”

Read Barger’s full letter below:

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Artist Mimi Yoon fires back in ‘Powerpuff Girls’ cover controversy

powerpuff girls6Artist Mimi Yoon has responded to the controversy surrounding her variant cover for IDW Publishing’s The Powerpuff Girls #6, which was withdrawn last week by Cartoon Network following complaints that the illustration “sexualized” the pre-teen animated characters.

The chain of events began early last week when retailer Dennis Barger Jr. singled out the cover (at right) on his own Facebook page, asking, “Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet?”

IDW Publishing’s Dirk Wood explained that the cover was “mandated” by Cartoon Network, which selected Yoon and approved the artwork. When contacted by ICv2.com, the network’s licensing division noted that the cover was intended as direct-market collectible item; however, “We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”

After making vague references to the dust-up on Thursday, Yoon took to her Facebook page Friday afternoon to address the matter directly:

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Cartoon Network pulls ‘sexualized’ ‘Powerpuff Girls’ variant

powerpuff girls6Cartoon Network has withdrawn a variant cover for IDW Publishing’s The Powerpuff Girls #6 following criticism that the art sexualizes the comic’s young protagonists.

ICv2.com reports that Dennis Barger Jr., owner Wonderworld Comics in Detroit, singled out the cover on Monday, writing on his Facebook page, “Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet???? is that what this shit has gotten to? DISGUSTED.”

The illustration, by Mimi Yoon, depicts Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup as teenagers dressed in short, skintight dresses and thigh-high stockings. When asked by a commenter why their outfits are shiny, Barger replied, “Because they are wearing latex bondage wear mini dresses, which on an adult would be fine but on the effigies of children is very wrong.”

Dirk Wood, IDW’s vice president of marketing, explained the cover was actually “mandated” by Cartoon Network, using an artist of its choosing. “I think they were thinking of it more along the lines of ‘female empowerment’ than the kind of thing you guys are talking about,” he wrote in the lengthy comments thread, “but certainly, we’re sensitive to the issues here.”

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Shalvey & Mooney chat about their careers & ‘Half Past Danger’

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Declan Shalvey’s friendship with Stephen Mooney stretches back nearly a decade, to before either Irish creator was well known in the United States. So when the Moon Knight artist pitched ROBOT 6 the idea of interviewing Half Past Danger creator Mooney about the hardcover collection, arriving Jan. 29 from IDW Publishing, we didn’t hesitate to say yes, thinking the conversation would offer terrific insight into their relationship, their careers, the Irish comics scene and, of course, Mooney’s Nazis vs. dinosaurs adventure.

As it turns out, we were right.

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IDW Publishing to launch ‘Angry Birds’ comics

angry birds comics

Angry Birds, Rovio Entertainment’s blockbuster mobile game turned multimedia sensation, will continue its global conquest of pop culture in June, when IDW Publishing launches a comics adaptation by such creators as Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.

“We’re very happy to be in business with Rovio on Angry Birds comics,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “Rovio has taken what was once a captivating game and built it into an interesting world filled with interesting and, uh, feathered characters who will make a perfect addition to our growing line of fun, all-ages comics.”

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Sci-fi meets ‘Seven Samurai’ in John Raffo’s ‘The 7th Sword’

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When you run out of bullets and bombs, a sword is a good thing to have at your side. Provided you take care of it, a blade can last you a lifetime — and make your lifetime longer, if you know how to wield it.

In April, Darby Pop (under the umbrella of IDW) will release The 7th Sword, a series that centers on the power of the sword even in futuristic times. Created by screenwriter John Raffo (The Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, The Relic), The 7th Sword takes his love for Akira Kurosawa’s feudal Japanese dramas and creates a new story, set in the future.

The 7th Sword uses the filmmaker’s work as launchpad to tell the story of a itinerant swordsman named Daniel Cray, who wanders from port to port, planet to planet, until he discovers a remote settlement named ZenZion in need of saving from criminal warlords using an army of robots and mercenaries in an effort to seize the enclave’s resources. Illustrated by frequent Top Cow artist Nelson Blake II, The 7th Sword mixes samurai drama with the dirty, lived-in worlds of a space frontier.

ROBOT 6 spoke with Raffo about this comics debut, the inspirations for the story, and of course, the series itself. Darby Pop has provided us with four exclusive pages from The 7th Sword #1.

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Christmas is over, but the comics deals continue

mm25-official-complete-works-2Although the United States has never really embraced the Boxing Day tradition, Americans do like a good sale. So it’s lucky for comics fans the world over that a handful of publishers are offering some post-Christmas deals.

• Dark Horse Digital continues its “2013 #1s Sale” through Dec. 29, with the debut issues of such titles as The Black Beetle: No Way Out, B.P.R.D.: Vampire, Itty Bitty Hellboy and Star Wars available for download for 99 cents.

• DC Entertainment is offering digital versions of its 25 essential graphic novelsAll-Star Superman, Batman: Year One and the first volumes of The Sandman, American Vampire and Y: The Last Man, among them — for $5.99 each through Jan. 2.

• At comiXology, you can find the digital collection of the entire Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for $44.99 (or half price on nearly all of the individual issues and volumes) through Dec. 29. Also: Marvel NOW! titles are available for 99 cents each through Jan. 2.

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Comics A.M. | Details emerge about ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threats suspect

Kuroko's Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.

Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Why ‘One Piece’ is world’s most popular manga

"One Piece" newspaper ad

“One Piece” newspaper ad

Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]

Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]

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Comics A.M. | Online effort raises $5,000 for struggling store

StillPoint Comics, Cards & Games

StillPoint Comics, Cards & Games

Retailing | Fans of the Fall River, Massachusetts, retailer StillPoint Comics, Cards & Games kicked in $5,000 in a GoFundMe campaign to keep the store in business. The shop, which opened in 1997, had to close for 10 days last month after its power was shut off. [The Herald News]

Publishing | Following confirmation last month of a Space Mountain graphic novel series, Heidi MacDonald talks with executives from Disney Publishing Worldwide about the expansion of the new Disney Comics imprint. [Publishers Weekly]

Events | Sean Kleefeld reports on Day 1 of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art in Columbus, Ohio. [Kleefeld on Comics]

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‘Locke & Key’s’ Gabriel Rodriguez offers a peek inside Keyhouse

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As a kid I became obsessed with the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and Who’s Who in the DC Universe, not so much because of the character entries (the former far more exhaustive than the latter) but because of the headquarters floor plans: Avengers Mansion, the Justice League Satellite, the Baxter Building, Challengers Mountain, Avengers Compound — heck, even the Serpent Society headquarters.

It didn’t matter whether I knew much of the characters (the Challengers of the Unknown) or didn’t care about them (the Serpent Society, really?), I’d pore over them by the hour. (I bought Mayfair’s New Teen Titans role-playing game just for the plans to Titans Tower; never did play it.)

What started me on that trip down memory lane are the incredible plans and cross-section drawings of Key House that Gabriel Rodriguez has been has been posting on Twitter the past few days. They’re destined to become end sheets for the Lock & Key: Alpha & Omega hardcover, but they could easily stand alone in their own book. They’re just that beautiful and meticulous (you can see more on Rodriguez’s Twttier under “#Keyhouse“).

You’ll have to wait a while to see them in print: The Lock & Key: Alpha & Omega hardcover arrives in February from IDW Publishing. In the meantime, I need to unearth those tattered copies of Who’s Who and OHOTMU

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Comics A.M. | Watterson & Thompson discuss their art exhibit

Bill Watterson's tribute to "Cul de Sac"

Bill Watterson’s tribute to “Cul de Sac”

Creators | Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson discuss their mutual admiration and their excitement about exhibiting their work together next spring at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at the Ohio State University. [Comic Riffs]

Legal | Chinese cartoonist Wang Luming, who uses the nom de plume “Rebel Pepper,” was arrested Wednesday, one day after he posted an online cartoon critical of police who were facing off with protestors rather than helping flood victims in the city of Yuyao. Residents have been critical of the government response to the flood, which put 70 percent of the city underwater, but a recently passed law suppressing online commentary has muted the criticism on social media. The Beijing Times (part of of the traditional media, which is heavily controlled by the Chinese government) claimed that Wang was arrested not because of the cartoon but because he spread a false rumor online (Reuters reports the police told his girlfriend it was because he forwarded a post about a woman and her child who starved to death in the floods). He was released Thursday and tweeted, “When I have time, I’ll tell you about the interesting night I spent at the police station.” [Foreign Policy]

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NYCC ’13 | Cooke to illustrate ‘Parker’ prose novels

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In what would seem like a natural outgrowth of their partnership with the Estate of Donald E. Westlake, IDW announced in New York this weekend that they plan to release deluxe hardcover versions of Westlake’s Parker novels, designed and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.

“The Parker novels written by Donald Westlake had a profound effect on me as a young man,” Cooke said in a press release. “To first be able to adapt them in graphic novel form, and now to illustrate his prose as well… for me, it just doesn’t get much better than this.”

Cooke, of course, has been producing the excellent and well-regarded Parker graphic novel adaptations for the last few years, with the next one, Slayground, set for release in December. The first illustrated novel, The Hunter, will arrive in 2014.

“This is the first time the full series will be published in hardcover,” Cooke said at IDW’s panel on Saturday. He added that he’s taking “a completely different approach” to the art style he used in the graphic novels, and that this represents a chance “to make sure these books are properly preserved.”

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NYCC ’13 | ‘Peanuts’ joins IDW’s Artist’s Edition line-up

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You can add Charles Schulz to the long list of artists who have been featured in IDW’s Artist’s Edition series. Along with the Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America editions, the Dave Gibbons Watchmen edition and Jack Kirby’s New Gods edition came the news that IDW will release a Peanuts Artist’s Edition.

“Having grown up with Charlie Brown, Linus and his blanket, Snoopy and the Red Baron…I could not be happier about bringing them into the IDW family,” said Ted Adams, CEO and Publisher of IDW Publishing, in a press release. “In the world of comic art, it does not get any bigger than Peanuts.”

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NYCC ’13 | IDW announces two Jim Steranko Artist’s Editions

steranko-furyToday at New York Comic Con, IDW Publishing announced two Artist’s Editions dedicated to Jim Steranko’s landmark work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America. The news accompanied the unveiling of plans for Jack Kirby’s New Gods: Artist’s Edition and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen: Artifact Edition.

Arriving in May, The Steranko Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Artist’s Edition will feature the artist’s initial 12 stories from Strange Tales #151-162. That will be followed at an as-yet-undetermined date by The Steranko Nick Fury and Captain America Artist’s Edition, collecting the remaining Fury stories from Strange Tales #163-168, plus issues 1, 3 and 5 from Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In addition, it will Steranko’s three issues of Captain America.Nearly all of the pages were shot from original art in Steranko’s personal collection.

“I probably have the distinction of making the least amount of work making the most amount of noise,” Steranko said during today’s IDW panel. “You’ve heard of the blues artist Robert Johnson? Twenty-nine recordings. That’s how many comics I did, 29 issues, and I sold my soul to Stan Lee. […] As an artist, I’m inclined to see all the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Thankfully, there are other people who see something else.”

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