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Marguerite Dabaie visits the Silk Road with ‘A Voyage to Panjikant’

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Marguerite Dabaie’s A Voyage to Panjikant is a fascinating look at a long-lost culture.

It’s set in the 7th century, along the Silk Road of Central Asia, a major highway for traders and therefore a place where many cultures met and mingled. Dabaie chose the Sogdians, who were sort of the middlemen of all this, as the culture in which to set her story.

The Sogdians were real, but their culture is long gone, so she had to do extensive research — and use a bit of imagination — to reconstruct their lives. Her Kickstarter campaign has already reached its goal, but she has some exclusives and stretch goals for backers.

We spoke with Dabaie briefly about A Voyage to Panjikant and crowdfunding.

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Comics A.M. | Tokyopop returns with first books in five years

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Manga | Pioneering U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop is back with its first new books in five years, and all three are tie-ins with other media. Alice in Wonderland: Special Collector’s Manga is a hardcover collection of Jun Abe’s manga adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, which will be released just before the premiere of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Similarly, Finding Nemo: Special Collector’s Manga, Ryuichi Hoshino’s adaptation of the Pixar blockbuster, will be released a week before the sequel Finding Dory. The third property is the five-volume series Kilala Princess, a shoujo manga series featuring Disney princesses. Tokyopop published the first two volumes of Kilala Princess during its earlier incarnation. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Mom fights to sell ‘Supermanny’ comic to benefit son

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Legal | An Illinois mother says a trademark dispute is hampering her attempt to raise money for her 3-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Holly Bueno says while sitting in the hospital with her son Manny, she began writing a book called The Adventures of Supermanny. “My driving force was I wanted to give myself a voice and my son a voice, and I want there to be a story out there where the main character is in a wheelchair, there aren’t too many of those,” she says. Bueno had hoped to sell the book to raise money for a wheelchair ramp, but when she filed a trademark application last year for “Supermanny,” she drew the attention of DC Comics, which said it was too close to Superman. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filings show Bueno abandoned the mark in February.) Regardless of what happens with the trademark issue, there is also another fund-raiser for Manny — a superhero-themed 5k race. [ABC7 Chicago]

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Comics A.M. | Man demands ‘Magic’ cards in attempted robbery

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Crime | A sheepish would-be robber walked away empty-handed Monday afternoon after attempting to hold up a Little Rock, Arkansas, comic store for Magic: The Gathering Cards. “I hate to do this, but I have a gun, and I want a box of Magic cards for my son’s birthday,” the man allegedly told a clerk at The Comic Book Shop. However, when the employee offered him a pack of the cards, he reportedly declined and left, saying, “Don’t call police.” The suspect remains at large, although police have distributed an image of him taken from a security camera. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]

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IDW’s ‘Ninja Turtles’ board game raises shell on Kickstarter

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IDW Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shadows of the Past, a miniatures-based board game in which players fight to save — or conquer — New York City.

The crowdfunding effort has already generated more than $167,000 of its initial $250,000 goal.

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Fan-made Red Hood web series takes aim at Kickstarter campaign

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After experimenting for the past two and a half years with trailers and test footage, filmmakers Luke Watson and David Sartin have decided to “get serious” about their Red Hood Retcon web series. To that end, they’ve launched a $20,000 Kickstarter campaign to transform the fan project into “a legitimate web series.”

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Comics A.M. | New Kickstarter study reveals failure rates

Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Crowdfunding | A new report released by Kickstarter shows that about 9 percent of the projects on the crowdfunding platform failed to deliver the promised rewards. While that is fairly consistent across all categories, comics do appear to do a bit better than most. Another interesting tidbit: Projects that raise less than $1,000 are the most likely to fail. [Kickstarter]

Creators | Writer Kyle Higgins talks about his new Power Rangers comic, Green Ranger: Year One, which focuses on the Ranger who was originally a villain before reforming and joining the team: “Basically, in going the modernization route I decided that I didn’t really want to jump in and tell new origins of the Power Rangers or anything like that. So looking at the introduction of the Green Ranger to the team, of him joining the team, was the window that I took for the story in order to get us into the world.” [Hero Complex]

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With these glowing foam lightsabers, you won’t risk losing a hand

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The decades-old dream of Star Wars fans of all ages is about to be realized with the creation of a glowing toy lightsaber that won’t raise welts on your opponent or, y’know, put an eye out.

Calimacil, a Canadian company that produces high-quality foam weapons for live-action role-playing, has developed a “high-tech foam LEDsaber” that produces not only light but also sound. As the video below demonstrates, the foam is “practically indestructible,” but also perfectly safe for when you want to do battle with a Sith Lord, or your neighbor.

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Comics A.M. | Reward offered for return of stolen vintage comics

Batman #33 is among the missing comics

Batman #33 is among the missing comics

Crime | A woman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the return of her brother’s collection of 280 vintage comics, including issues of Detective Comics, Batman, The Avengers and Captain America. Gail Munroe believes they were taken last month from her driveway as she was unloading her car; she briefly left the suitcase they were in unattended, but didn’t realize until days later that it was missing. She’s released a full list of the titles. [CBC News]

Conventions | Nick Vivarelli reports in from the Lucca (Italy) Comics and Games Festival, which with 254,000 attendees is the second-largest comic con in the world. [Variety]

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Comics A.M. | George Lucas’ museum acquires Robert Crumb art

From "The Book of Genesis," by Robert Crumb

From “The Book of Genesis,” by Robert Crumb

Museums | The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, founded by George Lucas and slated to open in 2018 in Chicago, has acquired the original art from Robert Crumb’s The Book of Genesis. [The Art Paper]

Editorial cartoons | R.C. Harvey writes the definitive piece on the Ted Rall case, rounding up pretty much everything that’s been written in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Times’ decision to cut ties with the cartoonist. In addition to presenting the evidence and all points of view, Harvey sheds a harsh light on the paper’s public statements about Rall and the relationship between the newspaper and the Los Angeles police union. [The Comics Journal]

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These are the ‘Star Wars’ helmet speakers you’re looking for

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If those furry little inhabitants of the Forest Moon of Endor could utilize Stormtrooper helmets as drums, it stands to reason we should be able to use them for something slightly more advanced. Like, say, Bluetooth speakers.

AC Worldwide is planning just that, with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for officially licensed Star Wars wireless speakers shaped like the heads/helmets of C-3PO and a Stormtrooper.

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Comics writer aims to document one month in Clown Motel

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Young Bart Simpsons may have trouble sleeping because he’s a afraid clowns will eat him but comic book writer Christopher Sebela has no such issues, and he’s aiming to not only prove it but go one step further and document his one-month stay in the infamous Clown Motel in Tonopah, Neveda, dubbed the “Scariest Motel in America.”

Sebela began a Kickstarter to help fund the experience, which he planned to document through photos and video and other services but mainly as a published e-book. However, Sebela quickly met the $4,500 goal, leading to some interesting stretch goals — including purchasing a clown suit he will wear in the room and maybe sleep in a few times, writing a short comic book about his stay and being joined by Terry Tyson who will conduct a seance at the motel. He surpassed all those goals already and his final $10,000 stretch goal is a documentary about the motel and Tonopah.

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Comics A.M. | Artist Jay Scott Pike passes away at 91

Dolphin on the cover of "Showcase" #79, by Jay Scott Pike

Dolphin on the cover of “Showcase” #79, by Jay Scott Pike

Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | Stolen Dennis the Menace statue found a decade later

Dennis the Menace statue

Dennis the Menace statue

Crime | A bronze statue of Dennis the Menace stolen nearly a decade ago from a playground in Monterey, California, was discovered in a scrapyard in Orlando, Florida. Commissioned by cartoonist Hank Ketcham and installed in 1988 at the Dennis the Menace Playground, the life-size statue is valued at between $25,000 and $30,000. The statue was about to be melted with other metal objects last month when the scrapyard owner’s daughter recognized the comic strip character. Monterey officials replaced the statue five months after it disappeared; they’ll move the replacement once the original is returned. [ABC 7 News]

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MegaBots needs help in its giant-robot battle against Japan

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You’ll recall that on June 30 — a date that undoubtedly will be celebrated by future generations as a national holiday — American company MegaBots boldly challenged Japan to a giant-robot battle. Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industry accepted, but promptly raised the stakes, demanding full-on hand-to-hand combat. Now MegaBots needs some help to make that happen.

The company, which specializes in creating giant piloted fighting robots, has launched a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign to pay for upgrades to its 12,000-pound, 15-foot MegaBot Mark II. Sure, it can already fire 3-pound paint cannonballs at speeds of 100 miles per hour, but it needs more. This is America, after all!

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