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Morbius: The Living Vampire inducts Keatinge and Elson into the ‘Vampire Comic Club’

Morbius the Living Vampire

Spinning out of his recent appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, Morbius the Living Vampire will once again sink his teeth into an ongoing series. Starting in January, the character who first antagonized Spider-man in Amazing Spider-Man #101 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane will appear in a new comic by Hell Yeah writer Joe Keatinge and Journey into Mystery artist Richard Elson.

The new series starts in January and was announced at the Amazing Spider-Man panel today during Fan Expo Canada.

“What Dan Slott and company has been doing with Morbius lately has injected a new life into the character and I was already adoring it,” Keatinge told Newsarama. “Dan really, really gets what motivates a character in the Marvel Universe, especially in the Spider-Man corner. In said corner, they’re largely all tragic characters trying to do better. In the case of Peter Parker, the result is usually for the greater good. In Morbius’ case, everything just keeps going to Hell. As a writer, there’s a lot to work with.”

Although he started as a villain, Morbius was always more of a flawed character who got a raw deal vs. being an actual bad guy. A biochemest with a rare blood disease, Morbius ended up giving himself vampire-like powers and bloodthirstiness when he tried to cure himself. When he wasn’t fighting Spider-Man, you could find him teaming up with the Legion of Monsters or even starring in his own series as a part of the 1990s “Rise of the Midnight Sons” crossover event.

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Chain Reactions | The Amazing Spider-Man #692

The Amazing Spider-Man #692

Marvel celebrated Spider-Man’s 50th birthday with an extra-sized issue that week that included not only the debut of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new sidekick, in a story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, but also new stories by Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Did Spidey celebrate his big day in style or was the party a bust? Here are a few reviews from around the web:

Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Marvel’s gift to Spider-fans includes signing Spider-Man up for the ‘Sidekick Club.’ That comes in the form of Alpha, an until-this-issue normal high-schooler, not unlike Peter Parker back in the days of yore. Alpha’s civilian identity of Andy Maguire is an ordinary C student content with just existing. He’s not a loser, but he sure isn’t a winner. In short, he’s young Peter Parker without any motivation or interest.” (4/5 stars)

Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “It’s a fun inversion, having Peter himself hosting a group of Midtown High School kids to show off his new ‘Parker Particles,’ and of course it goes awry – although this time, it’s thanks to a bit of skullduggery from a jealous aspiring Horizon Labs scientist named Tiberius. This little sabotage actually brings to mind the origin of Spider-Man 2099, when Miguel O’Hara was cursed with spider-powers he didn’t want after a spiteful co-worker tried to kill him with his own device. That probably wasn’t intentional at all, but I saw it, so I’m calling it cool. Anyway, the resulting disaster gives Maguire a crazy level of super power not unlike Ultra Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes in that he’s got all the generic superhero basics but can only use them one at a time.”

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Comics A.M. | Sergio Toppi dies; what makes Spider-Man special

Sergio Toppi self-portrait

Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]

Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]

Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Cul de Sac inker celebrates Richard Thompson

Cul de Sac

Creators | Cartoonist Stacy Curtis talks about inking Cul de Sac for creator Richard Thompson, who announced last week he’s ending the celebrated comic strip because Parkinson’s disease has left him unable to maintain the schedule: “I never felt inking Cul de Sac for Richard worked. It was like going into a theater to see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up and watching Steve Martin deliver his lines. And that’s what it felt like. Every time I sat down at my drawing table to ink Cul de Sac, I could hear a narrator’s voice say, ‘For tonight’s performance, the part of Richard Thompson will be played by his understudy, Stacy Curtis.’” The final strip will appear Sept. 23. [Stacy Curtis]

Graphic novels | Andrews McMeel Publishing, which has focused on comic strips and comic strip compilations up to now, has announced its first original graphic novel series: The Chronicles of Desmond, by Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio and Heart of the City. The books will be published in October 2013 under Andrews McMeel’s new AMP! imprint and will be aimed at middle-grade readers. [Publishers Weekly]

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DC Comics announces new lineup for Legends of the Dark Knight

From "A Game to Die For," by TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten

DC Comics has revealed a new creator lineup for its digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight that includes Jeff Parker, Michael Avon Oeming, Phil Hester, Gabriel Hardman and Joshua Hale Fialkov.

Launched in June as part of an expansion of the publisher’s digital-first slate, the out-of-continuity series features standalone stories by different creative teams chronicling some of Batman’s cases. New chapters appear each Thursday.

Here’s the fall schedule:

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C2E2 | DC Comics to add more digital-first content

Ame-Comi Girls, by Amanda Conner

Following the release of the digital Smallville: Season 11 series today, USA Today reports that DC Comics has added two more titles to its upcoming slate of digital-first releases.

Joining Smallville, Justice League Beyond, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman: Arkham Unhinged will be Ame-Comi Girls, based on the DC Collectibles line of Japanese manga-style statues, and an out-of-continuity Batman series.

Brian Truitt nails the lede here, saying “DC Comics aims to make every day a new comics day.” Ame-Comi Girls, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, will come out on Mondays, while Batman–which will feature tales of the Dark Knight by Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, B. Clay Moore, Nicola Scott, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, among others–will come out on Thursdays. So the weekly line-up of digital-first series from DC looks like this:

Monday: Ame-Comi Girls
Tuesday: Batman: Arkham Unhinged
Wednesday: The Beyond comics
Thursday: Batman
Friday: Smallville: Season 11

“Our goal has always been from the very beginning to have something for everyone. The opportunities that digital opens up, it really allows us to go for as wide an audience as possible,” Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president for digital, told USA Today. “The Lindelof thing will really appeal to tons of fans who don’t read regular comics, obviously. Hopefully when they come, they’ll see what an amazing medium this is and stay.”

Update: Via press release, DC has announced more details on the Ame-Comi Girls series. “AME-COMI GIRLS, launching in May, is based on the best-selling product line from DC Collectibles that brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics’ female heroines and their foes. In the new series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Braniac, who is aided by a group of ‘bad girl’ super villains. Initially, there will be five individual character arcs with multiple chapters, leading up to united, Ame-Comi girl series. All stories are written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with Wonder Woman art by Amanda Conner and Tony Akins, Batgirl art by Sanford Greene, Duela Dent art by Ted Naifeh, Power Girl art by Mike Bowden and Supergirl art by Santi Casas.”

They also announced the creative pairings for the Batman digital comics: “BATMAN digital, launching in June, will take place outside of DC Comics – The New 52 continuity and feature a series of stand-alone stories by various creators that chronicle different cases handled by The Dark Knight. Confirmed creative teams include Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire; Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones; Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott; Ales Kot and Ryan Sook; B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith; Steve Niles and Trevor Hairsine; Joe Harris and Jason Masters; TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten; Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman; Joshua Hale Fialkov and Phil Hester; David Tischman and Chris Sprouse; and many more!”

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Comics A.M. | San Diego Convention Center plan advances

San Diego Convention Center

Conventions | San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the basic funding plan for the proposed $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, home to Comic-Con International. At the center of the financing scheme is an assessment district that adds between between 1 cents and 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels with more than 30 rooms. Those hotels closest to the convention center would be assessed an extra 3 cents per dollar, and those farthest away could be charged an extra penny per dollar.

The expansion plan has a ticking clock, as Comic-Con has signed a deal to remain in San Diego through 2015, but larger venues in Las Vegas and Anaheim have been lobbying organizers to look elsewhere. [NBC San Diego]

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales climb 19 percent; IDW promotes Goldstein

Justice League #3

Sales | The comic book market was up more than 19 percent in November when compared with the same period last year, with comics up 23 percent and graphic novels up 12 percent. So far this year the comics and graphics novel market is up 1.87 percent versus the first 11 months of 2010. If December cooperates, this could be the first up year for the market since 2008.

DC Comics was once again the top company in terms of market share. The company took six of the top 10 spots on Diamond’s Top 100 Comics list, with Justice League #3, Batman #3, Action Comics #3, Green Lantern #3 and Marvel’s Point One #1 making up the top five comics of the month. Batman: Noel took the No. 1 spot on the Top 100 Graphic Novels list. [The Comichron]

Publishing | IDW Publishing has promoted Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein to president, with a focus on new markets and acquisitions. He joined the company in 2008 from Upper Deck. [ICv2.com]

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Previews: What looks good for January

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Mouse Guard is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Amulet

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes - With the Flight anthologies done, the all-ages version, Flight Explorer has morphed into this. I expect it to be as lovely as its predecessors and especially like the Mystery Box theme.

Archie

Jinx – J Torres and Rick Burchett’s graphic novel aimed at tween girls.

Kevin Keller, Volume 1 and Kevin Keller #1 – Archie collects the first appearances and mini-series of their major, gay character and also launches his ongoing series.

Ardden

Flash Gordon: Vengeance of Ming – The third volume in Ardden’s Flash Gordon series.

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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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Andrea Sorrentino unveils more art from I, Vampire

I confess that I rolled my eyes at I, Vampire when DC Comics announced it would resurrect the old House of Mystery back-up serial as part of its line-wide relaunch. That’s not a slight against creators Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino, mind you. It’s just that, even given the popularity of the undead in fiction, a vampire comic set within the DC Universe — one whose skin-revealing debut cover looked like a throwback to the ’90s — seemed destined to lurk at the fringes of the New 52, pining for an audience until it faded away.

But the more I see about I, Vampire, the more hopeful I get, and the higher it climbs on the list of relaunch books I’m most looking forward to. First there was the Comic Book Resources interview with Fialkov. Then there was the gorgeous interior art unveiled at Comic-Con International. And now, to seal the deal, Sorrentino has revealed on his blog inked pages from issues 2 and 3.

Check out the three pages below, and visit Sorrentino’s blog to view more of his work. I, Vampire #1 debuts Sept. 28.

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Comics A.M. | Keatinge, Cho sign with Delcourt; comiXology rolls out affiliate program

Brutal

Publishing| Joe Keatinge and Frank Cho have signed a three-book deal with Delcourt, a comics publisher in France. The first book of theirs Delcourt will publish will be the first volume of Brutal, which will debut at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angouleme 2013. Delcourt publishes many American comics in France, including Walking Dead, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Invincible, Rocketeer, Hellboy, The Goon, Haunt and many more, as well as many manga titles.

“On a personal level, French comics have had a huge influence on me. Working within that industry is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I wanted a career in comics at all. Being an author with a book debuting at Angouleme is a goal I thought was many a year away, so this has taken things to a whole new level much sooner than anticipated. While I do plan on going back in 2012, this still gives me a year to work on my awful command of the language before I have to do a signing. Being in the good hands of Delcourt makes me think it’s a good start,” Keatinge said. [Joe Keatinge]

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DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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DC D-Day Plus 7: What we know (and don’t) about the DC relaunch right now

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

1. For Batman and Green Lantern, if it ain’t broke, DC’s not fixing it. In 2010, you had to go all the way down to the Direct Markets #109 bestelling title, the debut of J. Michael Straczynski’s abortive tenure on Superman, before hitting a DC book that wasn’t part of the Batman line, the Green Lantern line, or the Green Lantern-spawned Blackest Night and Brightest Day events. DC has rewarded the creators behind these franchises’ success by keeping them more or less in place, albeit with some title-swapping and artist-shuffling. Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, and Peter J. Tomasi are still writing the three main Green Lantern series (along with the previously announced Peter Milligan on Red Lantern), while Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, David Finch, and Tomasi are still handling the books with “Batman” in the title (with long-time Gotham Citizens like J.H Williams III, Gail Simone, and Judd Winick filling out the line).

2. DC’s rolling the dice big-time on an I Can’t Believe It’s Not Vertigo-verse. Today’s big announcement of new “dark” titles features such Vertigo characters as Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, as written by such Vertigo creators Peter Milligan (Hellblazer), Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth), and Scott Snyder (American Vampire). That’s quite a vote of confidence in Vertigo’s taste in creators, characters, and tone, especially given that many industry observers saw the line as an afterthought for the new regime. Of course, how this will impact Vertigo itself has yet to be seen. It’s also worth considering that Vertigo’s biggest and most durable hits over the past decade or so have tended to be creator-owned titles existing in their own worlds and straying pretty far from the imprint’s horror-magic roots, so launching eight shared-universe horror-magic books — over one-sixth of the new DC Universe line — is a gamble in and of itself.

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Comics A.M. | Hereville up for Nebula; remembering Dwayne McDuffie

Hereville

Awards | Barry Deutsch’s Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword has been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as part of the prestigious Nebula Awards. “When the nice lady from the Nebula committee called me, she said this is ‘essentially the Nebula Award for young adult books’,” Deutsch writes. Although graphic novels are specifically mentioned in the Andre Norton Award guidelines, this appears to be the first time one has been nominated. The award was established in 2005 in honor of prolific science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who passed away that year. The winners will be announced May 21 in Washington, D.C., during the Nebula Awards banquet. [SFFWA]

Passings | We’ll collect reactions later today to the sudden death of respected comics and animation writer Dwayne McDuffieComic Book Resources has remembrances from more than a dozen industry figures — but I wanted to go ahead and point to a handful of links: The Associated press obituary; a few words from Christopher Irving, accompanied by a beautiful portrait of McDuffie photographed by Seth Kushner on Feb. 13; the origin of Static; and a look at Spider-Man anti-drug PSA comics written by McDuffie. There’s also McDuffie’s message board, where he interacted candidly with fans on a regular basis. Two threads are devoted to the news of his death and memories of the creator they often referred to as “the Maestro.” The site’s administrator has posted a message last night on the main page: “Dwayne’s family and friends would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of condolences. They are much appreciated in this difficult time.” [Dwayne McDuffie]

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