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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ threat suspect admits to charges

Kuroko’s Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe admitted Thursday in Tokyo District Court to sending hundreds of threatening letters to bookstores, convenience stores and convention centers associated with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The motive, the 35-year-old man said, was jealousy of Fujimaki’s success; Watanabe reasoned that, “If I somehow managed to harass and depress him, I could drag him into my suicide journey.” Watanabe added that he had been abused by his parents and bullied as a child, and had “homosexual tendencies.” He attempted suicide before he sent the threat letters and would do so again after he was freed, he told the court: “That way, society can rest assured that I won’t do anything stupid again.” [Anime News Network]

Legal | Attorney Marc H. Greenberg revisits the lawsuit brought by musicians Johnny and Edgar Winter against DC Comics over a 1995 storyline in Jonah Hex that portrayed two evil brothers, Johnny and Edgar Autumn. [Print]

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Conversing on Comics with Justin Gray

COC Justin Gray

Unpredictability. For some people that’s a negative trait, but in comics it can be advantageous.

Justin Gray is unpredictable, in a good way. While some writers fall into the trap of working within one genre or one flavor of story, Gray has quietly created one of the most diverse bibliographies in comics with his frequent collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti. He’s done superheroes for DC Comics and Marvel, including a celebrated run on Power Girl. He’s written a variety of creator-owned work, from the early 21 Down and The Resistance at DC/Wildstorm to more biting, adult fare like Random Acts of Violence and the recently released Sex & Violence. He’s also become an in-demand writer of comic-centric video games, working on DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat vs. The DC Universe and others.

Oh, yeah, and he and Palmiotti helped to prevent Jonah Hex from becoming a footnote in comics history.

While other writers like Grant Morrison and Brian Michael Bendis might soak up most of the spotlight, Gray is quietly able to jump from one project, genre or medium to the next.

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A little about each of the stories in DC’s Young Romance special

Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.

This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.

An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.

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NYCC | A roundup of news from Saturday

The Last of Us

While I was enjoying my time at APE up in San Francisco, the New York Comic Con was raging on with announcements and such. Before I get into a rundown of the comic-related news coming out of the East Coast today, let’s jump back to yesterday real quick so I can update one of the items from my Friday round-up. I mentioned that Dark Horse would publish a comic based on the upcoming video game The Last of Us, but I didn’t know at the time the most important part — the always awesome Faith Erin Hicks is co-writing AND drawing the comic. That’s a “Stop the presses” moment if I’ve ever seen one.

Ok, now on to Saturday …

• Apparently space is the place at NYCC … following DC’s announcement of Threshold yesterday, Marvel officially announced the return of two of their cosmic titles — Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. Guardians, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve McNiven, comes out in February and apparently will feature Iron Man, or at least someone in his armor. Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness are the creative team for Nova, which features Sam Alexander, the Nova from Avengers vs. X-Men.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Relaunch roundup, Part 1

After a year, I still don't quite get the knee-braces

Because it’s the first week of the New 52 Year Two, the time has come to review where I stand at the end of Year One. It also happens to be the week I’m away on a bidness trip, unable to react to whatever dern-fool thing DC did on Wednesday.

That would probably take a back seat anyway, because I’m a little curious myself to look back at these books. In terms of reading habits, it’s been a rather funky year. Some weeks I wouldn’t have time to read everything I bought, and sometimes that meant books just dropped off my radar. I caught up with a few of these, but a few I just didn’t miss — which, of course, is never a good thing.

You’ll remember that last year I bought all 52 first issues, and talked about each as September proceeded.  Of those which remain, I am reading 27: Action Comics, All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Firestorm, Flash, Frankenstein, Green Lantern, GL Corps, I, Vampire, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman.

Additionally, I was reading six titles that have since been canceled: Blackhawks, JLI, Men of War, OMAC, Resurrection Man and Static Shock. For a while I also read Grifter, Red Lanterns, and Superboy. Filling in some of those holes are second-wave titles Batman Incorporated, Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest and Dial H.

To keep your eyes as glaze-free as possible, this will be a two-part survey. Today we’ll look at the Superman and Batman families, the “historical” titles, the main-line Justice League books, and a few others.

Onward!

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What Are You Reading? with Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest this week is Spanish artist Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, who drew the comic Elle for Soleil. He’s also working on a story for the upcoming Skullkickers #18 with J. Torres.

To see what Alberto and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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What Are You Reading? with Ryan Ferrier

Hell Yeah #3

Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Ryan Ferrier, who I spoke to a couple of weeks ago about his comic Tiger Lawyer and recently kicked off an Indie GoGo project to fund the second issue.

To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Jonah Hex co-creator Tony DeZuniga passes away at age 79

Legendary comic artist Tony DeZuniga, co-creator of Jonah Hex and Black Orchid, passed away early Wednesday at Las Piñas Doctors Hospital in the Philippines after suffering from a stroke, heart failure and brain damage, GMA News reports. The 79-year-old artist was surrounded by wife Tina, his daughter Sheryl and his sisters-in-law.

“Tony is very smart, clever, and funny,” Tina DeZuniga told the website. “He is my knight in shining armor.”

DeZuniga was admitted to the intensive care unit in mid-April following a stroke, leading friends and fans to rally to help cover his medical expenses. On Free Comic Book Day, Filipino artists came together to sell sketches and T-shirts to raise money for the fund.

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Grumpy Old Fan | We are family: DC solicits for February 2012

Because a Crisis On Infinite Earths homage would have been too predictable

At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.

But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!

TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND

The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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What Are You Reading? with Nate Powell

Big Questions

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.

Our special guest this week is musician and comic creator Nate Powell, who you might know from his most recent graphic novel, Any Empire, or the Ignatz and Eisner Award-winning Swallow Me Whole. When he’s not creating comics, he’s hanging out at the United Nations with the likes of R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin and other teen-fiction writers in support of What You Wish For, a collection of young adult stories and poems. Proceeds from the book will be used to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.

To see what Nate and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Comics A.M. | Tom Ziuko health update; women and comics

Tom Ziuko

Creators | The Hero Initiative offers an update from colorist Tom Ziuko, who was hospitalized earlier this year for acute kidney failure and other health conditions, and then returned to the hospital for emergency surgery about a month ago. “I can’t impress upon you enough how frightening it is to actually come up against a life-threatening medical situation (not to mention two times in less than a year), and not have the financial means to survive if you’re suddenly not able to earn a living. Like so many other freelancers out there, I live paycheck to paycheck, unable to afford health insurance. Without an organization like the Hero Initiative to lend me support in this time of dire need, I truly don’t know where I would be today,” Ziuko said. [The Hero Initiative]

Publishing | CNN asks the question “Are women and comics risky business?” as Christian Sager talks to former DC editor Janelle Asselin, blogger Jill Pantozzi, Womanthology organizer Renae De Liz and others about the number of women who work in comics, the portrayal of female characters and why comic companies don’t actively market books to women. “Think about it from the publisher’s point of view,” Asselin said. “Say you sell 90 percent of your comics to men between 18 and 35, and 10 percent of your comics to women in the same age group. Are you going to a) try to grow that 90 percent of your audience because you feel you already have the hook they want and you just need to get word out about it, or b) are you going to try to figure out what women want in their comics and do that to grow your line?” [CNN]

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52 Week 4: Across the finish line

Aquaman #1 -- overcompensating, perhaps?

So here we are, the last week of the New 52 rollout, and I must say it’s been a fascinating — sometimes exhausting — ride. It’ll be good to get back to more normal posting next week, but I have enjoyed these marathon stream-of-consciousness reviews. Although DC has said over and over that these books are all part of the same revised universe, there are so many different styles and approaches on display (The early ‘90s! The mid- to late ‘90s!) that the line seems a lot more heterogeneous than it did five weeks ago.

Moreover, the realization that these books are the new status quo is only now starting to sink in. Overall it’s a good feeling, but bittersweet too. After all, I had 25 years to get used to the last line-wide revampings.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, as always.

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Food or Comics? | Brilliant, holy, super habibi

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Brilliant

Graeme McMillan

It is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).

If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.

Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.

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Food or Comics? | Vengeance, Flight, crossovers and more

Vengeance #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, my first pick off the shelf would be Vengeance #1 (Marvel, $3.99); I love Joe Casey, and especially when he’s given a long leash and room to play in a big universe. Seeing Nick Dragotta drawing this is an added bonus. Next up would be comics’ dueling summer blockbusters, Flashpoint #3 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #4 (Marvel, $3.99). After that, I’d get the excellent Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance #2 (DC, $2.99); when Azzarello is on the ball he’s great to read, and this seems to be that.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jimmy Palmiotti

Trailblazer

Anytime I get to talk to Jimmy Palmiotti, we never lack for projects to discuss. I can’t prove it, but I am willing to bet Palmiotti came up with at least two new story ideas while in the midst of this email interview. This Wednesday, July 6, marks the release of Trailblazer, a 48-page full-color western science fiction comic book ($5.99 [Image]) that he co-wrote with Justin Gray and art by Jim Daly. As detailed in this recent CBR release coverage, Trailblazer is “about a hired killer who turns in evidence against an employer for the murder of the woman who raised him. The government must then shield their star informant by enacting Operation Trailblazer, a witness protection program that uses not only location but time travel as well in order to keep their charges safe. As the assassin adjusts to his new life in the old west, he soon finds that no matter when or where he is the future is dead set in coming back to haunt him.” If you buy the book via Comixology, the original script is included as a bonus.

Before discussing this new Image release, we talked a bit about the impressive Jonah Hex 70-issue run (please note, for more scoop on Palmiotti and Gray’s plans for the new All-Star Western series be sure to read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s recent interview with the creators)–not to jump the gun though, as issue 69 goes on sale this Wednesday (with art by Jeff Lemire). Also our discussion delves into the Palmiotti/Gray team reuniting with artist Joseph Michael Linsner on the Claws II (a sequel to Marvel’s Black Cat/Wolverine 2006 team-up) miniseries, which amazingly enough also goes on sale this Wednesday (check out the CBR preview of the first issue). Go into a comic book store this Wednesday, and bottom line, you will have your pick of Palmiotti product to buy. Palmiotti’s passion for comics and his equal commitment to meeting deadlines are two things I’ve always admired about him and that shine through in this interview. As you’ll read at the end of the interview, Palmiotti is curious to know what characters fans would like to see him work on, so please be sure to let him know in the comments section.

Tim O’Shea: You and Jonah Hex have a heck of a future together (with All-Star Western), no doubt. But I really want to talk about how amazing it was that you and Justin successfully told Jonah Hex for 70 issues. How proud are you of that accomplishment?

Jimmy Palmiotti: Very proud…and proud of the excellent work of so many amazing artists along the way. Justin and I would celebrate each and every year we were on Jonah , thinking at any minute it could be the last, but the great crew at D.C. comics always believed in us and believed in our choices and seventy issues is a huge milestone. They believed in us so much that with the new 52 books, they let us continue too do what we do best. In our minds, issue one of All Star Western is another chapter in the characters life and we haven’t missed a beat. The good news is that we are going to have a lot of fun with the other western characters in the D.C. universe.

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