"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Retailing | The driver killed early Sunday when her car crashed into the Mile High Comics store in Denver, Colorado, has been identified as 17-year-old Karen Lopez. There were no passengers in the car, and no one was in the store at the time. Mile High Comics will hold an auction to benefit Lopez’s family; in an earlier news report, owner Chuck Rozanski described what happened and said, “When someone suffers a violent death like this within your space, I mean this is my building, I love this building and I love being here every day and now to know someone died here it’s going to alter my perception forever.” [KDVR]
Retrofit Comics is extending its early bird sale, allowing readers to subscribe to a full year of their comics for just $65, shipping included.
That includes original single-issue comics by Kate Leth, Olivier Schrauwen and Matt Madden, as well as some up-and-coming creators you probably haven’t heard of … yet. But wait! There’s more! They also throw in a free digital version of each comic (in PDF format) and two free gifts and you can have one of their 2014 comics sent to a friend! If that’s all too much, there’s also a digital-only option for $35.
Retrofit, which publishes single-issue alt-comics, was launched in 2011 by creator Box Brown with initial funding from a Kickstarter campaign. The idea is to allow creators to publish single-issue comics, which Brown sees as an important part of the creative process:
Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]
Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]
Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]
Creators | In an article translated from an Arabic newspaper, The 99 creator Naif Al-Mutawa discusses what life has been like since a fatwa was issued earlier this year in Saudi Arabia against the animated adaptation of his comic: “You can imagine the call I had with my parents and my children when the front page of Kuwait’s leading daily newspaper quoted various death threats. ‘Look on the bright side,’ I told my parents, ‘This shows the impact of The 99.'” He ends on a chilling note: “Why would anyone invest in media content if the producers can be sent off to the public prosecutor’s office and potentially serve jail time? Isn’t it just easier to keep dubbing Turkish, Mexican and American dramas? And if we keep doing that, aren’t we diluting our culture?” [The Beat]
Censorship | The Hartford Courant published two of the most influential editorials of the great comics scare of the 1950s — one was reprinted by Readers’ Digest — so it’s appropriate that David Hajdu, author of The Ten Cent Plague, will visit the city next week during Banned Books Week. This article includes an interview with Hajdu and an excerpt from a 2008 interview with former managing editor Irving Kravsow, who wrote one of the scare pieces. [The Hartford Courant]
Archaia is launching a new Fraggle Rock miniseries, based on the 1980s Jim Henson television show of the same name. This is Archaia’s third Fraggle Rock title, following a two-volume anthology of short stories in 2010 and a collection of issues from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint in 2011.
Debuting Oct. 8, Fraggle Rock: Journey to the Everspring is a four-issue limited series with a single story arc, written by Kate Leth, who has worked on BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors comics, and Jake Myler, who was involved in the earlier Fraggle Rock comics.
In this series, the Fraggles’ water supply mysteriously runs dry, and a group sets out on a quest to find the Everspring, their water source, which no Fraggle has ever seen before. If previous comics are any guide, there will be strong personalities and plenty of silliness along the way.
This is just the latest in a long line of Henson-themed comics from Archaia, which has also published anthologies based on The Storyteller, graphic novels and novelizations of the movie The Dark Crystal, and an adaptation of Henson’s unproduced screenplay A Tale of Sand.
No sooner did the “Which Lumberjane Are You?” quiz debut, complete with a question about which scout badge you’d earn first, than BOOM! Studios announced it will debut an exclusive set of those patches at Comic-Con International.
Designed by Kate Leth (Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time: Seeing Red), the iron-on patches are based on those featured so prominently in the BOOM! Box imprint’s breakout series.
Created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson, written by Ellis and Stevenson, and illustrated by Brooke Allen, Lumberjanes centers on five teen girls — Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley — who head off to summer camp, only to be faced with monsters in the woods and a mystery that puts the whole world at risk. The comic, which premiered in April, was upgraded from a miniseries to an ongoing in May.
The Lumberjanes Scout Patches Set, available for $20 at the BOOM! Studios booth (#2229), features:
Retailing | Amazon’s war with Hachette has taken an odd turn: The retail giant has restored discounts and preorders for Marvel (which uses Hachette as its distributor), and the shipping delays are gone, but it seems to have doubled down on Hachette imprint Yen Press. [ICv2]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on Diamond Comic Distributors’ year-to-date sales figures, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag, with sales of monthly comics down but graphic novels and merchandise up, for a slight uptick in overall sales. Another interesting statistic: The number of individual Diamond accounts (which is generally regarded as a measure of the number of comics shops) is up 1.3 percent for 2014 so far; last year’s increase was 3 percent over the entire year. She also reports on the numbers for this year’s Free Comic Book Day; retailers ordered 4.65 million comics, and most were happy with the way the day went. [Publishers Weekly]
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kadokawa plans on March 22 to launch ComicWalker, a digital comics service that will carry manga in three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese. The stories will include some well-known classics (Sgt. Frog, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam: The Origin) as well as new manga, and apparently they will be free. The launch will include 150 titles, 40 of which will be translated, so it sounds like not everything will be available in English right away. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Lewis Trondheim, a former winner of the Grand Prix d’Angoulême and therefore a member of the academy that chooses each year’s winners, provides an insider’s view of the voting and the causes and effects of the changes that have been made over the past two years: “In its forty-three years, the festival has had, I believe, three Americans, one Argentine, one Swiss, three Belgians, and over thirty Frenchmen. This doesn’t seem to correspond with the reality of the comics world to me.” [The Comics Journal]
Passings | Comics journalist and commentator Bhob Stewart died Monday at the age of 76. Stewart kicked off his career in 1953, at the age of 16, by publishing an EC fanzine; the following year, as Carol Tilley documented in a recent talk, he sent a copy to anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham, along with some tart commentary. Stewart went on to become an influential voice in the conversation about comics; he wrote several books, taught classes at the School for Visual Arts, and curated the first exhibit of comics art in a major American museum. Heidi MacDonald credits him with inventing both Wacky Packages and the term “underground comics.” [The Beat]
Editorial cartoons | German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr has apologized for a cartoon depicting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with a hooked nose, an image that critics said was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The cartoon appeared in the early editions of the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, but Zuckerberg’s face was replaced by an empty hole in later editions. “I’m very sorry about this misunderstanding and any readers’ feelings I may have hurt,” Mohr said. “Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies that are totally alien to me” [ABC News]
Business | Bitstrips co-founder and CEO Jacob “Ba” Blackstock, whose DIY avatar and comic strip app exploded in 2013, reflects on the lessons of the year, and sketches out the Toronto company’s goals for 2014. Unsurprisingly, those include finding more uses for its comics and, y’know, making money (earlier this month, Bitstrips confirmed a $3 million injection of venture capital, which will go toward more engineers, artists and designers). [Entrepreneur]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon interviews Nate Powell about his work on March, the graphic novel memoir of Rep. John Lewis’ experiences in the civil rights movement, and one of the most acclaimed books of the year. [The Comics Reporter]