"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar was arrested last night on sedition charges stemming from a tweet criticizing the court that upheld the sodomy conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. On Tuesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar posted a screencap of the offending tweet, which said, “Followers (Barua-barua) in black robes were proud in delivering judgement. Reward by Mr Politician must be lavish,” reflecting the popular opinion that the conviction was a political ploy by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak to silence Anwar. Zunar then tweeted a cartoon of Najib as the judge handing down the verdict. Although his lawyer said Zunar offered to come in to answer questions, he was brought to the Dang Wangi police station, where he can be detained until Saturday — or longer, if police renew the remand order. [The Rakyat Post]
Publishing | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater responds to Singapore’s ban of the third volume of Life With Archie, which features the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker: “Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Business | Devin Leonard looks at the possible effects of a Fox/Time-Warner merger on superhero movies; Time-Warner owns DC Entertainment, and Fox has the movie rights to some Marvel characters. The New York Times offers a broader overview. [Business Week]
“Life With Archie presents a possible future for the character, and this issue is a fitting end to that story. Archie dies as he lived – a hero, representing the best in all of us. The fact that he’s saving Kevin, the most important new character in Archie lore since Archie, Betty & Veronica, Jughead and Reggie – is a metaphor for the rebirth this company has experienced over the last five years. This is truly a new Archie Comics: unafraid, daring, progressive and on the cusp of greatness.”
— Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, in a statement about Life With Archie #36, in which Archie Andrews sacrifices himself to save Kevin Keller, the openly gay military veteran newly elected to the U.S. Senate on a gun-control platform
Graphic novels | BookScan’s list of the bestselling graphic novels in bookstores in March divides neatly into eight Image Comics titles (six volumes of The Walking Dead and two of Saga), eight volumes of manga (four Attack on Titan, four Viz Media titles) and four volumes of media tie-ins. For the second month in a row, not a single DC Comics or Marvel title cracked the Top 20, although an older DK Publishing character guide to the Avengers (not actually a graphic novel) came in at No. 11. The top-selling title was the 20th volume of The Walking Dead, and the No. 2 was the third volume of Saga. It’s also interesting to note that the first three volumes of Attack on Titan charted higher than the most recent release, which suggests new readers are still coming into the franchise in substantial numbers — and sticking with it. [ICv2]
Conventions | Organizers anticipate as many as 70,000 people will attend MegaCon, held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, up from about 60,000 last year; that could translate to $23 million impact on the local economy, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Guests include Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Stan Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. However, the names drawing the most attention may be The Walking Dead stars David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Steve Yeun. “We are the first convention in the U.S. to have both David Morrissey and Danai Gurira at the same time,” Jason Smith, MegaCon’s director of operations, told Florida Today. “The show is definitely a fan favorite of our attendees.” [MegaCon]
Conventions | Although convention organizers rolled out an altered name — WonderCon Anaheim — and logo when they confirmed two weeks ago that the event will return to Anaheim, California, again next year, they insist they haven’t close the door on San Francisco. “We still want to get back to the Bay Area. […] We are in touch with [the Moscone Center organizers] fairly regularly and we have an open dialogue,” says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations. “They haven’t given up on us, either.” The convention was uprooted from the Moscone Center in 2012 first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. WonderCon Anaheim will be held April 18-20. [Publishers Weekly]
Digital comics | I spoke with Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and iVerse Media CEO Michael Murphey about the new “all-you-can-eat” digital service, Archie Unlimited. [Good E-Reader]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
“I think it’s going to explode. I think it’s going to be huge, and it’s going to turn a whole new generation of young kids onto Archie. And that’s going to help us in so many areas. It’ll help on the publishing side, on the digital side and with our general awareness for the overall licensing program. This animation to me is probably — well, we’ve done a lot of important things in the past few years, so I don’t want to say it’s the singular most important thing we’ve done. I don’t know if there’s any one thing you can label like that, but this is extremely important to our company, and we’re going to work very hard to make sure that this show is everything we all want it and expect it to be.”
— Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, talking to Comic Book Resources about It’s Archie, a new animated series set to debut on The Hub in 2014
Nancy Silberkleit, the colorful co-CEO of Archie Comics, has entered the race for mayor of Rye, New York, a city of about 16,000 in Westchester County. News of her candidacy follows a report that she has filed a sexual-harassment against her longtime friend Sam Levitin, who served as her liaison following her bizarre yearlong legal feud with the publisher and Co-CEO Jon Goldwater.
A 22-year resident of Rye, Silberkleit is running as an independent against city councilmen Joe Sack and Peter Jovanovich after securing 1,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot for the November election; just 377 were required.
Silberkleit, who has no political experience, was an art teacher in New Jersey before the death in 2008 of her husband Michael Silberkleit, son of Archie co-founder Louis Silberkleit. She and Goldwater were the subjects of flattering media profiles when they assumed the roles of co-CEOs in 2009 (Goldwater’s half-brother Richard Goldwater had passed away in 2007), but it was what happened afterward that drew the most attention.
Publishing | Douglas Wolk uses a classic comics trope — who would win in a fight between Marvel and DC Comics, or rather, Batman and Iron Man? — to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the two companies and how their business models have evolved. [Slate]
Comics | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and writer and artist Dan Parent talk about the latest story arc, which takes the Riverdale gang to India for an encounter with Bollywood. [The Times of India]
Manga | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke about manga and the importance of freedom of expression at the most recent Comiket, the world’s largest comics event, in Tokyo. [CBLDF]
Here’s one of the greatest things about being a comics journalist: Every month, I get a box delivered to my home that contains the entire Archie Comics output for that month. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I usually look at the comics one at a time, but this month, I thought it would be interesting to view the group as a whole, and see what it tells us about Archie and its product mix. (I should say right off the bat that this box doesn’t include graphic novels, which means there is no copy of the truly excellent Jinx 2: Little Miss Steps. If you don’t mind Jinx spoilers, go ahead and read my interview with writer J. Torres to find out what that is about.)
This month’s box contains 10 single-issue comics, six digests and two magazines. That looks like a lot, but it really isn’t because every comic and magazine this month has a variant cover. So in terms of what’s inside, that’s five singles, six digests (no variants there!) and one magazine, Life With Archie. All these have June cover dates, which means they came out in May.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the box.
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
MAC Cosmetics has unveiled its full lineup of products for its much-anticipated Archie’s Girl collection, which Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater characterizes as “truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.”
Announced in July during Comic-Con International, Archie’s Girls is of course divided into two lines, one for Betty and one for Veronica. And while the products don’t bear as colorful of names as MAC’s earlier Wonder Woman collection — Athena’s Kiss lip gloss! Obey Me nail polish! — they’re still pretty memorable. For those in the Betty camp, there’s Girl Next Door lipstick, Kiss and Don’t Tell lip gloss, and Caramel Sundae eye shadow. For the Veronicas out there, MAC offers items like Daddy’s Little Girl and Boyfriend Stealer lipstick, and Spoiled Rich eyeshadow.