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Comics A.M. | Despite ban, ‘Death Note’ is still big in China

Light Yagami, from "Death Note"

Light Yagami, from “Death Note”

Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]

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Exclusive | The Fillbach Brothers put the pedal to the metal

Matt and Shawn Fillbach

At the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo this year, I had the opportunity to meet Shawn and Matt Fillbach, who are best known for their eight-year run illustrating the Star Wars: The Clone Wars graphic novels for Dark Horse. They have since struck out on their own and have spent the past year writing and illustrating an impressive stack of books. The Fillbach Brothers aren’t twins, but as you’ll see from the interview, they act like it; they work together so closely they can’t really say who does what, and as Matt puts it, “We think with one brain.”

In Chicago, the brothers showed me the art for the graphic novel they had just finished, Macabro Demondio, which stars their character Jim Kowalski, paranormal trucker (first seen in their 2009 graphic novel Roadkill). Jim is the guy who cleans up after the big paranormal events; he follows the Department of Paranormal Experts and picks up the chupacabras, the artifacts, the space aliens, and brings them back to headquarters (there’s also a squad of gnomes that performs the site cleanup). “We were more interested in telling the story of the guy who isn’t the hero,” Shawn told me. “It’s very much inspired by stuff like Big Trouble in Little China.”

Since then, the Fillbachs have kept busy. They have six graphic novels either finished or in progress; all are slated to be published by First Comics, and they are giving Robot 6 readers an exclusive sneak peek.

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First Comics returns?

Apparently so, according to the just-released Thursday panel schedule for Comic-Con International:

5:00-6:00 First Comics: The First of the Great Independents Is Back with a Fury!— Legendary ’80s independent publishing powerhouse First Comics is returning when the world needs it most, not unlike the promised return of King Arthur. And the assembled Round Table of extraordinary comics creators are here to tell you how they will once again be rocking your world with comics entertainment from the cutting edge. Panelists include Ken F. Levin (Wanted, The Boys, First Comics co-founder and director), Joe Staton and Nick Cuti (E-Man), Bill Willingham (Fables), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Brian Mullens (founder of DaQRi; QR director), Alex Wald (art director then and again), Susannah Carson (A Truth Universally Acknowledged; First Comics YA editor), and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey (The Tarquin Engine, The Last Sane Cowboy). Moderated by Larry Young (The Black Diamond; First Comics director of production). Room 23ABC

First Comics was an independent comics company that published titles like Dreadstar, E-Man, Jon Sable, Badger, Nexus, Grimjack , American Flagg! and other titles back in the 1980s. It’s an interesting mix of folks on the panel, including several names that were associated with First back in the 1980s.

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