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Comics A.M. | Palestinian cartoonist to be released today

Mohammed Saba'aneh

Mohammed Saba’aneh

Legal | Palestinian cartoonist Mohammed Saba’aneh, who was arrested in March by Israeli authorities and held for what many feared would be an indefinite period, is expected to be released today. [Palestine News Network]

Graphic novels | Aligning itself with the latest trend in education, Diamond Book Distributors has released a list of 98 graphic novels that can fit in with a Common Core curriculum. [Diamond Book Distributors]

Awards | The shortlist has been announced for the Scottish Comic Book Alliance Awards. [Forbidden Planet]

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A conversation with Ryan Claytor about ‘Autobiographical Conversations’

acatod56duo-420x450Although I initially didn’t plan it this way, it’s appropriate that I’m running this interview with And The One Day creator Ryan Claytor on Father’s Day, as earlier this month Ryan and his wife Candace welcomed their first son, Owen Marshall Robert Claytor, into the world. Congratulations to the Claytor’s on their new addition!

No doubt Owen will one day be able to read about his birth from his father’s perspective, as Ryan has been chronicling parts of his life in a series of minicomics titled And The One Day. After almost a decade of self-publishing his comics, Ryan has turned to IndieGoGo to fund a collection of Autobiographical Conversations, the most recent story arc from And Then One Day. Autobiographical Conversations centers on a discussion between Professor Harry Polkinhorn, who teaches classes on the personal essay, and Ryan when he was a graduate student studying Comics and Fine Art. Their conversation is about autobiography, comics and the intersection of the two. His campaign ends on June 19, and he just announced a new stretch goal.

You can read more about the project on its IndieGoGo page, on Ryan’s personal site or in my own conversation with Ryan about the project below.

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Library falls short of fundraising goal, but still gets its Hulk statue

hulk statue2A library in suburban Chicago fell well short of its $30,000 fundraising goal to purchase graphic novels, a comics-creating station and a 9-foot-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk, but thanks to the generosity of a California businessman, it’s still getting a life-sized Green Goliath to call its own.

The trustees of the Northlake Public Library launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 26 in hopes of expanding its collection of about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, adding computer software and hardware, and buying a Hulk statue that might help attract visitors. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy,” the campaign description reads. “The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”

But with mere days to go, the Indiegogo drive has raised just $3,710; the statue alone costs in the neighborhood of $8,000.

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Nightwing fan series ‘Grayson: Earth One’ premieres


Writer/director Hisonni Johnson has debuted the first episode of Grayson: Earth One, a fan-produced web series that re-imagines the origin of Dick Grayson/Nightwing in a familiar setting, with familiar characters, but without the DC Universe continuity.

“The twist being that Richard Grayson has never had the good fortune of being adopted as a child by Bruce Wayne, thus never becoming the boy wonder,” Johnson writes. “Instead, we have a Richard Grayson that had to fend for himself on the unforgiving streets of Gotham and, even worse, the streets of Bludhaven. A character that has to overcome years of dog eat dog mentality to become a selfless and kind individual. To ultimately fulfill his destiny and become a HERO.”

Judging from this video, it’s Arrow meets Catwalk, with occasional Dark Knight cameos. And, really, the acting and production standards aren’t that far removed from a typical CW series.

In conjunction with the premiere, Johnson has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to produce five more episodes — a full season.

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Comics A.M. | Singapore cartoonist arrested; crowdfunding scam

Leslie Chew cartoon

Leslie Chew cartoon

Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]

Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]

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Donate to DC’s anti-hunger campaign, ‘get epic Batman stuff’

dc-hunger crisis

As part of its “We Can Be Heroes” campaign to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa, DC Entertainment has kicked off an effort on Indiegogo to raise $50,000 in donations in exchange for “epic Batman stuff.”

Perks range from five Batman comic digital downloads (for a $10 contribution) to an exclusive Batman: Earth One lithograph by Gary Frank ($50) to a copy of the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game signed by creator Ed Boon ($250) to a cameo in the second volume of Batman: Earth One ($5,000). The copies of Batman and Robin #18 signed by Peter J. Tomasi have already signed out. There are even more rewards on the Indiegogo page.

The Batman-themed fundraising effort ends May 17.

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True Patriot creators pitching in for Hurricane Sandy relief

The Canadian cartoonists who just completed a successful Indiegogo campaign to publish their homegrown superhero anthology True Patriot are back, but this time they aren’t in it for themselves: They’ve just launched a second Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the Red Cross.

As the text on the Indiegogo page explains:

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Comics A.M. | New York mother upset by Chick tract on doorstep

Happy Hour

Comics | After all of these years, the evangelical comics of 88-year-old cartoonist and publisher Jack Chick still stir controversy. The latest is in Buffalo, New York, where a mother is upset that a local church left on her doorstep a Chick tract that was read by her 7-year-old daughter. “It seems like a Lifetime movie or something that was put into a kid’s comic book and expose my 7-year-old to this horrible of an idea of a family life,” Brandi Gillette says. Titled “Happy Hour,” the 2002 comic depicts an alcoholic, abusive father whose wife dies following a beating (while he’s bellied up to the bar). When his two children start to go hungry because he’s spending the family’s money on alcohol, the girl smashes his liquor bottles and, after threatening to cut him with the jagged glass, convinces him to go to church, where he devotes his life to Christ. Chick Publications, which publishes the tract, says “Happy Hour” is intended for adults, not children. [WIVB]

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Kickstart My Art | Elysium Online

How would you feel if there was a way for you to reconnect with your departed loved ones? I’m not talking Ouija boards, seances or spirit mediums; I’m talking connecting with them as you would with people around the world online. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you think those loved ones would feel? That’s the question in the upcoming graphic novel Elysium Online, and it’s up to you to get it off the ground so you can find out the real story.

Described by creator Ilias Kyriazis as a graphic novel about what happens when a “revolutionary social network that lets you interact with your dead loved ones” goes wrong, Elysium Online is a hauntingly promising idea for a comic that looks beautiful, touching and just a wee bit creepy all at once. Elysium is the name of that social network, and when it’s launched in October 2021, people worldwide flock to it hoping to reconnect with their loved ones long thought dead. What they don’t know is that there loved ones are indeed waiting for them in Elysium, but they hate the living and are plotting to wipe them out of existence.

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Comics A.M. | Council OKs San Diego Convention Center expansion

Comic-Con International

Conventions | San Diego City Council has given final approval to the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as necessary to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. The project still faces a legal challenge to a financing scheme involving a hotel-room surtax, as well as state regulatory approval, leading the city attorney to caution that the targeted 2017 completion date is just “a goal.” Whether Comic-Con organizers can be convinced to sign another three-year extension to their contract remains a big question. [NBC San Diego]

Conventions | Most of Heidi MacDonald’s article about New York Comic Con is behind a paywall at Publishers Weekly, but she pulls out some stats at The Beat: Ticket sales are up 190 percent over this time last year. As the capacity of the Javits Center is somewhere south of 110,000 people, this means the ReedPOP folks won’t sell any more tickets than last year, but they are selling out faster. Three-day and four-day passes are already gone, only Friday tickets remain, and ReedPOP vice president Lance Fensterman expects everything to be sold out by the time the show begins. [The Beat]

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Salgood Sam wants his Dream Life to come true

Cartoonist Salgood Sam (aka Max Douglas) is only 30 pages away from completing his first graphic novel, Dream Life: A Late Coming of Age. After health problems delayed his progress through over 115 pages, he’s turning to the support of fans to help fund a three-month marathon to complete Book One in time for next May’s Toronto Comics Art Festival

His IndieGoGo drive went up over the weekend and already he’s passed 33 percent of the way to his goal of $3,800. That total will allow him to dedicate the rest of the year to finishing Dream Life and producing 100 black & white preview copies for TCAF.

The first act of Dream Life was released as a webcomic in 2010, earning him a Joe Shuster Award nomination. Act Two and much of Act Three followed last year and this year, making it his longest solo project to date. As he explains it, “This story is a labour of love. A work of fiction with fantastic and adventure elements. It borrows from my own life — as close to autobiography as I’ve dared in many ways.”

Salgood Sam might best be known to modern readers for illustrating Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer’s vampire pirates miniseries Sea of Red from Image Comics, but he’s been illustrating for a variety of publishers, from Marvel to IDW Publishing to Top Shelf, as well as putting out his own material for 20 years.

Early last year, he received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete Dream Life, but he was hit with a number of medical struggles that halted his progress. He discussed that difficult period and much more in July with our own Chris Arrant. At that point, he mentioned planning on pitching Dream Life to Image Comics and some other publishers to get it in print, but apparently they didn’t bite or he decided to stick with going it alone. In the meantime, he’s focused on freelance work to keep the lights on and bills paid, but now he’s ready to go full tilt to finish it up.

Here’s a trailer he produced, although some of the perks mentioned in it have changed so be sure to stop by the IndieGoGo page for full details if you’re interested in helping.

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Canadians grow their own superheroes for new anthology

J. Bone's take on Alpha Flight

J. Torres explains his newest project:

A number of my Canadian comic book pals and I grew up reading Alpha Flight, Captain Canuck, or Wolverine comics and we’ve always thought that there should be more Canadian superheroes out there. Over the years, we’d periodically get together and inevitably talk about the Canadian superheroes we’ve created (sometimes dating back to childhood) and always wanting to do “something” with them.

Well, we’re finally about to do something — something pretty big, and pretty cool. Kinda like Canada itself, eh?

That something is True Patriot, an anthology of short stories featuring homegrown Canadian superheroes, and Torres has announced a stellar roster that includes Scott Chantler (Two Generals), Ramon Perez (A Tale of Sand), Andy Belanger (Kill Shakespeare), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Adventures of Superhero Girl) and the team of Jack Briglio and Ron Salas. The anthology will be 100 pages, full color (or “colour,” as they say north of the border), and available in both hardcover and digital formats. Watch for the campaign to go live on IndieGoGo on Oct. 1, but in the meantime, check out Torres’ blog for some cool character designs.

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Comics A.M. | The Oatmeal creator raises $1M for Tesla museum

Nikola Tesla

Crowdfunding | Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, raised $1 million in just over a week on Indiegogo to help fund the restoration of Nikola Tesla‘s laboratory as a museum, surpassing the $850,000 goal. “THANK YOU SO GODDAMN MUCH,” Inman wrote on his blog. “WE ARE GOING TO BUILD A GODDAMN TESLA MUSEUM.” There are still 34 days left in the funding campaign. [The Associated Press, The Oatmeal]

Publishing | Warren Simons, executive editor of Valiant Entertainment, discusses gathering the talent for the Valiant relaunch, refining the characters for modern-day tastes, and keeping the books accessible to new readers. He also gives some hints about what to expect from Valiant’s upcoming series Shadowman. [Previews World]

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Indiegogo Spotlight | It’s sword vs. swordfish in Samurai Chef

Samurai Chef is an Indiegogo project that aims to create a comic based on a fake TV show.

That’s a little confusing, but bear with me. Mayamada is a T-shirt company started by a couple of self-described IT geeks. After some experiments that didn’t go too well, they decided their T-shirts would feature characters from anime-inspired shows on a fantasy television network. The key with something like this is coming up with a good hook for the shows, and once you have done that, you might as well do something more with it, right? That’s the sort of thinking that gave us Battlepug, after all — that Eisner award-winning webcomic started out as a T-shirt design as well.

Samurai Chef is a parody of Iron Chef featuring a monkey with a sword. Contestants vie to make dishes that will not so much taste delicious as withstand the destructive power of the host. And then an elite team of top chefs, who have been watching from a distance, come flying in on live TV to take over the competition with their own signature dishes — which come to life.

It’s a great concept for a comic, and the artwork by British artist Pinali sells it. That’s the upside of basing a comic on a T-shirt design — you start with good art. The creators have reached their funding goal, but the campaign goes on until August 29, so it’s worth stopping by and checking it out.

And maybe if the comic takes off, it will become a real animated cartoon some day.

Check out the preview page below.

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Free comic anthology Off Life launches Indiegogo campaign

Since Robot 6 first covered the launch of the new U.K, free street-press comics anthology Off Life, editor Daniel Humphry has received more than 60 submissions and dozens of messages of support from industry figures. Humphry hopes to now build on all that good will, announcing an Indiegogo campaign to secure the funding to cover the costs of the first issue’s print run. Humphry has such a missionary zeal for the medium, I must admit I’m curious as to what shape this anthology will ultimately take. No prizes for anyone answering “rectangular.”

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