Legal | The Arizona legislature passed a sweeping bill last week that would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to “annoy,” “offend,” “harass” or “terrify.” While the law was intended to update the state’s telephone harassment laws to encompass the Internet, it’s not limited to one-to-one communications and thus, as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes, could criminalize “all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” Media Coalition, a trade association that includes the CBLDF among its members, has sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer urging her to veto the bill. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Media Coalition]
Passings | Rex Babin, editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has died of cancer. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Conventions | The hotel reservation system for Comic-Con International in San Diego will open Thursday at 9 a.m. PT, as the yearly mad dash for discounted hotel rates begins. CCI has posted a list of hotels, and if you’re willing to stay in Mission Valley, you can book a room early. The process will be the same as last year — select up to 20 hotels where you’d be willing to stay, and you’ll get a confirmation email no later than April 1. You can leave your April Fool’s jokes in the comments below. Also of note this year, shuttles to and from hotels will run 24 hours a day during the show, beginning at 5 a.m. Thursday. [CCI]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Cavna rounds up nine editorial cartoons commenting on the killing of Florida teenager Tryavon Martin. [The Washington Post]
Gene Phillips’ Femmes Formidables blog began in 2010 (under another name) as a method of documenting the counter-argument to an assertion that in certain areas of pop culture, “women can never have their own agency.” To disprove that notion, Phillips started cataloging powerful, female characters from fiction. After doing that for a while, he switched things up by highlighting 50 comic book fights in which women got the better of men and then let the blog alone for all of last year.
Last month, though, Phillips relaunched the blog with a focus on the historical “study of the image of the powerful female in popular (and maybe other) cultures.” After a brief history covering 1886-1928, Phillips begins his historical overview in 1929 with Wilma Deering’s first appearance in comics. As of this writing, he’s up to 1941 and the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
Whatever Phillips’ motivation for starting the blog, it’s an excellent starting point for anyone looking to dig deeper into the study of powerful women in fiction.
Legal | A judge denied a motion for acquittal and a new trial in the case of Michael George, the former comic book store owner and convention organizer convicted of killing his wife in 1990, dismissing the defense’s argument that there was insufficient evidence for conviction. George is serving a life sentence. [Detroit Free Press]
Publishing | DC Comics announced last night it will shut down its message board in early March as part of an overhaul of the publisher’s website that will include Facebook-hosted commenting and integrated Twitter feeds. [The Source]
Creators | About 15 people threw eggs at Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks as he spoke on freedom of speech at the University of Karlstad. Vilks has raised the ire of some Muslims with his cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Vilks told the audience, “Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run. I don’t think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough.” None of the eggs hit the cartoonist, and the protestors were removed from the room. [UPI.com]
I understand the importance of complaining about things that need changing — it’s the stick that gets the donkey pulling the cart in the right direction. I don’t think it’s completely effective on its own, though. In the conversation about women in superhero comics, the carrot is under-utilized, so I appreciate a blog like This Is What Women in Superhero Comics Should Be (aka This!) that points out specific examples of women used well in superhero comics. The cart needs to get moving, but it also needs a direction, and This! offers one.
The blog’s only three days old and has already captured more than 30 great moments for women, from Wonder Woman and Catwoman to Jessica Jones and Jennie Sparks. It’s pretty DC-heavy so far, but it’s taking submissions for moments from all superhero publishers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this morning postponed a vote on the PROTECT IP Act, a controversial anti-piracy bill that, along with the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act, drew widespread online protest just two days earlier.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, quickly responded to the announcement by shelving SOPA “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
The delays appear to be indefinite, with Reid suggesting that PIPA sponsor Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) redraft the proposed legislation, saying in a statement, “There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved.”
“I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet,” Reid (D-Nevada) continued. “We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.”
In his statement, Smith added: “I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, has begun digging into his archives for The Marvel Age of Comics, his new Tumblr blog devoted to “rarities and original art from the formative days of Marvel.” It launched just yesterday, and there’s already some terrific images, including a page of original art from 1941′s Captain America Comics #6, John Byrne’s character sheet for Kitty Pryde and, above, Jim Steranko’s Christmas card from when he was working on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Retailing | In the wake of the August closing of the Atomic Comics chain, Mesa, Arizona-area retailers are searching for ways to diversify in an attempt to keep their own stores afloat. Mike Banks, owner of Samurai Comics, has even opened a new location next to Atomic’s former flagship store to serve customers who suddenly found themselves without a comics shop. [East Valley Tribune]
Creators | Mike Mignola talks about his plans for next year’s Hellboy in Hell: “It’s a personal story about him, but with huge ramifications for the structure of Hell. I’m trying to get Hellboy free of the giant, Beast-of-the-Apocalypse storyline. That story has to get bigger before it can be put away. This first arc is the culmination of all the prophecy crap I’ve been trotting out throughout the years. We put a lot of things to bed.” Mignola also discusses his plans for B.P.R.D. and why he can’t watch the pilot of The Amazing Screw-On Head. [io9]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon continues his holiday interview series with a lengthy chat with Jeff Parker that spans his early comics-reading experiences, the influence of his artistic background on his writing, and his career at Marvel. [The Comics Reporter]
Gareb Shamus, divisive founder of the once-influential Wizard magazine, has resigned as president and chief executive officer of Wizard World Inc.
The publicly traded company announced the move in documents filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “The resignation is not the result of any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices,” Shamus wrote in his two-sentence letter of resignation.
Michael Mathews, the former CEO of interclick inc. who joined Wizard World in March as chairman, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company until Shamus’ replacement can be found.
Shamus founded Wizard: The Guide to Comics in 1991, overseeing the rise of a magazine whose prosperity was inextricably tied to the speculator boom it helped fuel with its price guides, creator hot lists and enthusiastic coverage of new publishers like Image Comics and Valiant. By 1997, Wizard Entertainment had added Inquest Gamer and ToyFare magazines and extended its reach with the purchase of Chicago Comicon, later rebranded Wizard World Chicago, setting the company on its long, and occasionally rough, path to becoming a major organizer of regional conventions (earlier this year Wizard World briefly trumpeted 12 cities before slashing that number to eight).
However, the following decade wasn’t as kind to Wizard or the comics industry, with the magazine seeing its circulation dwindle to about 17,000 copies by December 2010. A month later, Shamus abruptly announced the closing of Wizard and ToyFare, the company’s last remaining magazines, and the subsequent launch of an online magazine, a move he later characterized as “the smartest business decision I’ve made in years.”
But about two weeks ago, the digital magazine that Shamus had boasted reached “millions of people” apparently disappeared from the Internet, just about the time that its founder launched a blog on the Wizard World site. Now that, too, is gone. His new Twitter account remains — although he hasn’t written an update since Nov. 28.
Wizard World hopes to have Shamus’ successor in place by Jan. 15.
Frank Miller, whose tirade against the Occupy movement was met with a largely negative, and frequently heated, response, has found an unlikely defender: left-leaning writer Mark Millar.
In a post on his Millarworld forum, the writer of Kick-Ass and The Ultimates says, “It’s strange to watch your favourite writer getting strips torn off him for a couple of days.”
“Politically, I disagree with his analysis, but that’s besides the point,” Millar continues. “I wasn’t shocked by his comments because they’re no different from a lot of commentators I’ve seen discussing the subject. What shocked me was the vitriol against him, the big bucket of shit poured over the head by even fellow comic-book creators for saying what was on his mind.”
As one commenter points out, it probably shouldn’t be shocking that Miller’s no-holds-barred screed, which characterizes Occupy protesters as “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists” who “can do nothing but harm America,” was answered with a degree of vitriol. Or, in the commenter’s words, “if you throw the first bucket of shit [...] then you should be prepared for some splashback.” Perhaps if Miller’s commentary had been more reasoned and less inflammatory — “decorous,” as Miller himself would say — the reaction might’ve reflected that.
J. Scott Campbell’s never been the most realistic of comic artists, and that’s part of his charm. But the notorious pranksters at 4chan have taken issue with the way he posed Mary Jane Watson on the cover to Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man #601. You’ll need to click after the break to see 4chan members acting out the contortions.
This brings up a broader point about cartooning: Since their inception, comics have largely strayed away from realistic depictions of characters, be they humans, anthropomorphic animals or anything else. While Campbell’s poses might not be anatomically realistic, part of his style/aesthetic/appeal lies in that bending of reality. Having real people act out some of the exaggerated poses of Campbell, Rob Liefeld or Jack Kirby would show how unrealistic they are … but then again, that stylistic exageration is what makes illustration different from photography and part of the appeal.
That out of the way, seeing people act out Campbell’s poses below is engrossing.
It’s been a big week for the trading-card game Magic: The Gathering. Let’s recap:
On Monday, Gizmodo intern Alyssa Bereznak briefly took the crown as most despised person on Twitter when she revealed that she was matched up with Jon Finkel on a computer date and rejected him once she learned that he was a former M:TG world champion. This got Bereznak a ton of hate Tweets and Finkel a lot of sympathy on geek and mainstream blogs.
On Wednesday, Dark Horse released The Last Dragon, a truly gorgeous fairy tale-style fantasy illustrated by M:TG artist Rebecca Guay.
And Thursday, IDW Publishing announced it’s teaming up with Hasbro to launch a Magic: The Gathering comic book. It’s not the first M:TG comic (here’s a list), but it is the first in more than 10 years. The series launches with a four-issue miniseries about “a unique, new Planeswalker, a powerful mage with the ability to travel between worlds in the Magic Multiverse,” which of course allows for lots of flexibility when it comes to stories. Game designer Matt Forbeck is writing the comic, and Martín Cóccolo will handle the art. The comic will be available digitally as well as in print, and it will be collected into graphic novels. And naturally —y ou know they had to do this — it comes with “exclusive, playable, alternate-art cards for the MAGIC: THE GATHERING TCG,” in “select issues” of the comic.
Just … if you read it, be sure to mention that in your computer dating profile, or you might be accused of being a stealth geek. On the other hand, that apparently isn’t all bad.
Although we covered the launch of DC Fifty-TOO! just last week — it’s the Jon Morris-spearhead blog on which cartoonists offer their own ideas for DC relaunch titles — I already find myself revisiting it to spotlight a cover. Heck, I could close my eyes, point and land on a half-dozen pieces worth highlighting, but today I’ll focus on the contribution by Cow & Buffalo creator Mike Maihack, who floats an irresistible spin on DC’s classic World’s Finest formula starring Supergirl and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon):
Can the same blonde-haired, wonder teen from Metropolis who helped Barbara Gordon finally put an end to Killer Moth’s week-long crime spree also be the new popular transfer student at Gotham High? Good thing they have superheroics in common because Babs’ and Kara Zor-El’s student lives are about to clash.”
That’s a rough tagline for a book that shouldn’t come as any big surprise for those who have followed me online for longer than a week. I would take a more all-ages approach to the series, placing Babs and Kara in high school who, despite some social differences, eventually become best friends. That’s when I would introduce an idolizing fourteen-year-old Mary Marvel to annoy the heck out of them.
It’s the promise of Mary Marvel that really sells it, isn’t it?
Copyright | After running a feature about “New York Multimedia Pop Artist” Chad Love-Lieberman, nephew of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the website Campus Socialite retracted its story upon finding out that Love-Lieberman “is a fraud, taking other people’s art from the web, touting it as his own, and worst of all – selling it for profit.”
Ursula Vernon, creator of the webcomic Digger, noted that one of the pieces in the article was actually hers. “Mad props to the staff at the Campus Socialite, who got back to me in under ten minutes and promised to pull everything and edit the article — they were just as outraged as you’d expect them to me. I’ve actually granted them permission to use the art with appropriate credit if it’ll help illustrate the issue (pun intended),” she posted on her LiveJournal. The domain for Love-Lieberman’s site, art4love.com, isn’t working, but the site is still up. Artist Deirdre Reynolds has a list going on DeviantArt of all the pieces on art4love that artists have identified as their own. Gary Tyrell, meanwhile, has reached out to both Love-Lieberman and his uncle for comment. [Campus Socialite]
Digital | Comics Buyer’s Guide has gone digital; issues of the long-running industry publication are now available on iVerse’s Comics+ application. Johanna Draper Carlson notes that only two CBG-related publications are currently available — the July 2011 issue and 1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella. [press release, Comics Worth Reading]
A little more than a year ago, journalist and comics writer Marc Bernardin penned an editorial wondering why the Spider-Man in Sony’s movie-franchise reboot had to be played by a white actor, inspiring actor/comedian Donald Glover to spearhead an online campaign to secure an audition. The role eventually went to Andrew Garfield, of course, but Glover’s lobbying effort inadvertently ignited a disturbing Internet firestorm that Community creator Dan Harmon later characterized as a “curious eruption of a previously unknown demographic of racist comic-book readers.”
It wasn’t one of fandom’s shining moments. But fast forward 14 months, to the 49th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance — that’s right, Amazing Fantasy #15 hit newsstands this week in 1962 — and the introduction of the new Spider-Man of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Caution: Spoilers follow for those who haven’t seen the countless newspaper and website articles on the subject.