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‘Dragon Ball’ heats up festival with enormous snow sculpture

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The anime series Dragon Ball Super takes center stage Friday with this gigantic snow sculpture at the 67th Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Japan.

Drawing more than 2 million visitors each year, the event sees the city transformed into a winter wonderland with hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures created at three sites.

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Comics A.M. | Angouleme Grand Prix goes to Hermann

"Jeremiah" art by Hermann

“Jeremiah” art by Hermann

Awards | Jeremiah creator Hermann has been selected as the winner of the Angouleme International Comics Festival Grand Prix. The Belgian artist, who was a finalist last year, will serve as president of the 2017 festival. The prestigious award was mired in controversy this year when the longlist of nominees featured the names of 30 male creators but no women. Hermann is well known in the French-language comics world; some of his work has been published in English by Dark Horse. [Le Monde, YouTube]

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Comics A.M. | The changing industry and its changing audience

The Mighty Thor #2

The Mighty Thor #2

Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “
The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Driver sentenced in 2014 ZombieWalk crash

From the 2014 ZombieWalk crash

From the 2014 ZombieWalk crash

Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., the driver who injured a woman last year during the annual San Diego ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International, has been sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, with electronic monitoring, and three years’ probation. His license has also been suspended for a year. Pocci had stopped to let the ZombieWalk procession go by, but then drove through onlookers, hitting several people and injuring one. He was convicted last month of felony reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. At the sentencing hearing Pocci, who is deaf, apologized to the victim in sign language. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Three arrested for illegally uploading ‘One Piece’

One Piece

One Piece

Legal | Japanese police have arrested three men on copyright violation charges, alleging they scanned and uploaded a chapter of One Piece from Weekly Shonen Jump to mangapanda, an English-language scanlation site. Police also arrested an employee of a delivery company who allegedly got his hands on a copy of the magazine at some point on its way from the printer to the newsstands and handed it over to the scanners. All four men are denying any wrongdoing. The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, which first reported the news, said this is the first time action has been taken regarding a foreign-language website. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Sandman: Overture’ is Amazon’s best comic of 2015

The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition

The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition

Best of the year | Amazon lists its Top 20 graphic novels of 2015 in order of sales, but the editors chose The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III as the best graphic novel of the year. Other notable titles include Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine DeLandro’s Bitch Planet, Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches, Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona, and Kate Beaton’s Step Aside, Pops. Amazon also included Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, and Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant in its lists of the best children’s books of the year. [Amazon]

Comics | Wayne Bell says his new comic book ISIS: A Culture of Evil, is a valuable tool to tell stories of atrocities the media won’t cover: “It’s factual, it’s accurate, it’s the real deal, and unlike a TV program it absolutely goes to the bone quick.” Some veterans who were shown the book weren’t so sure, though, especially as it looks like a coloring book; they felt the medium wasn’t appropriate for the message. [CBS St. Louis]

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Comics A.M. | Cosplayers run afoul of UK gun laws at MCM Comic Con

MCM Comic Con

MCM Comic Con

Conventions | A number of cosplayers at London’s MCM Comic Con reportedly had to hand over their fake guns due to the United Kingdom’s strict laws, which ban private ownership of both real handguns and realistic fakes. Anyone toting a BB gun or a black plastic pistol without a bright red or orange cap on the end had to turn it over at the door, although many owners got them back. Other types of weapons are banned as well, although replicas are allowed, and attendees could buy real swords and knives at the show and have them delivered to their homes. [NBC News]

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Comics A.M. | BOOM! Studios explains production cutbacks

Filip Sablik

Filip Sablik

Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]

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‘My Little Pony’ Themed Café Opens in Japan

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As a culture, the Japanese love to celebrate pop culture in some pretty unique ways. Now, one restauranteur in the Tokyo, Japan’s Harajuku neighborhood (home to the famed Harajuku clothing style) has created a way for fans of “My Little Pony” to share in their equestrian obsession over a cup of coffee or some marshmallow and banana chocolate chip pancakes by opening the world’s first “My Little Pony” theme café (via MentalFloss).

This nostalgic eatery isn’t just  decorated in bright colors and pictures of Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle, though. Everything at the café has some sign of “My Little Pony”, from the “I Want  a Pony” message burnt into the toast to the little card stuck in the pork and orange cheese pancake. Even the latte features a pony design sprinkled right on top. And what would a theme shop be without souvenirs? Collectors can pick up limited edition merchandise like keychains, tote bags, and notebooks all decorated with your favorite ponies. What’s more, there’s an actual, real live pony waiting outside to greet new customers.

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Japanese officials seize fan’s anime figures over back taxes

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Consider this a cautionary tale for collectors: It’s called, “The Guy Who Lost His Precious Anime Figures Because He Didn’t Pay His Taxes.”

Rocket News24 reports that when officials from Sanyo-Onoda City in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture were dispatched to collect back taxes from a resident, they didn’t discover any cash or jewelry they could seize. They did, however, find the man’s collection of anime figures.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Saga,’ ‘Persepolis’ & ‘Drama’ among most challenged books

Saga Book One

Saga Book One

Graphic novels | This week is Banned Books Week, when the American Library Association releases its list of the 10 most challenged books of the previous year. This year’s list includes three graphic novels: Persepolis, Saga and Drama. Michael Cavna discusses graphic novel with Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who points out that Drama, which was challenged for being “sexually explicit,” is just the opposite: “In the incidents I’ve personally been involved in, and many others, the book’s light touch is precisely what infuriates those who want to take it off the shelves — there’s a sense that’s been communicated to me and others that kids shouldn’t be reading that being gay is a normal part of the human experience.” [Comic Riffs]

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Comics A.M. | Trade deal could pose threat to fan comics

Comiket 88

Comiket 88

Legal | Anime and manga fans in Japan are raising concerns that a proposed provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would threaten the existence of doujinshi, fan-made comics that are often parodies of commercial manga. Many established manga creators cut their teeth on doujinshi (and some return to it even after their series hit the big time), and the biggest comics expo in the world, Comiket, is devoted to doujinshi. The works are self-published and made in small batches, sold to fellow enthusiasts at large and small conventions, and Japanese publishers generally ignore them. Under current Japanese law, only the rights holder can bring a copyright complaint, but the TPP would allow complaints from third parties, including the creator of a rival doujinshi. “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said Negima creator Ken Akamatsu, himself a former doujinshi-ka. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.” [The Japan News]

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Comics A.M. | Russian translators call for ‘patriotic’ sound effects

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Comics | How do you say “Bam! Pow!” in Russian? A group of Russian translators is calling for comics translators to use words derived from the official languages of the Russian Federation rather than simply rendering the existing sound effects in the Russian alphabet. “In comic books you can often encounter words imitating sounds,” the translators said in a letter to the Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “How can one express the sound of a phone ringing, of a creaky door, or a soda can being popped open, or the crinkle of an ice cream wrapper, or the sound of a motorcyclist’s foot rubbing against the ground? Often translators simply transliterate the English words.” Instead, they recommend using indigenous substitutes such as “chorkh” (scratching) and “khurt-khurt” (swallowing), both derived from Lezgian, a language spoken in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. [The Moscow Times, The Calvert Journal]

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‘Star Wars’ lights up traditional Japanese festival

lanterns-sw4-social

After commandeering a centuries-old rice paddy in Japan, Star Wars went on to infiltrate the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, a traditional summer festival famed for its elaborate, illuminated papier-mache floats.

Held in Aomori, the parade typically features images of samurai warriors, birds and animals, but this year, with Japan in the grip of Star Wars fever, droids, Jedi and Sith Lords were added to the mix. Darth Vader, Stormtroopers and R2-D2 even marched (and rolled) in the procession, officially sanctioned by Disney and Lucsfilm.

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Comics A.M. | ‘The Killing Joke’ leads July bookstore sales

The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke

Graphic novels | BookScan’s Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores in July has a decidedly different makeup than usual, with the 1988 one-shot Batman: The Killing Joke topping the list, and seven other DC Comics titles making the cut as well (however, just one of those, Batgirl, Vol. 1, is a new release). Other entries include hardy perennials American Born Chinese and Fun Home make the chart, perhaps as summer reading, and as always, the first volume of Attack on Titan. [ICv2]

Conventions | Denver, already home to one of the larger comics and pop culture conventions, is getting its own independent comics festival, the Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo (DINK), which will launch in March. The show will be held in the Sherman Street Event Center, which organizer Charlie LaGreca describes as “like something out of a Wes Anderson movie,” and is looking for sponsors with ties to the community. “The pop-culture, big-box cons are amazing and incredible, and we have them in spades now. They provide such a huge array [of options],” said LaGreca, a Denver Comic Con co-founder who exited the organization last year in a highly publicized dispute. “What’s cool about this is we can bring the focus back to just art and comics and the cross-pollination of what it means for art. It’s really embracing all comics genres, not [just] focused on sci-fi and superheroes and stuff like that.” [Westword]

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