Kids Read Comics!
Retailing | As the bankrupt Borders Group weighs competing bids, Barnes & Noble — the largest book chain in the United States — reports a loss of $74 million for the fiscal year, in part because of heavy investment in its digital initiatives. However, the company saw a 50-percent sales increase at BN.com, fueled by Nook devices and digital content sold through the Nook Bookstore. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Lew Sayre Schwartz, one of Bob Kane’s ghost artists on Batman and Detective Comics, passed away June 7 as the result of an injury suffered in a fall. He was 84. Schwartz drew as many as 120 Batman stories between 1948 and 1953, all signed “Bob Kane,” before leaving comics after a junket entertaining troops in Korea. Eddie Campbell quotes Schwartz as saying, “’When I got back, I couldn’t stand drawing another page’ of Batman.” He went on to work in television advertising, co-founding the commercial production company Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz. [Mark Evanier, ComicMix]
Conventions | Scott Lewis looks at the plan by Mayor Jerry Sanders to pay for the $500-million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center: the Convention Center Assessment District, an entity that will add an additional 3 percent tax on room bills for hotels downtown, 2 percent on those out to Mission Valley, and 1 percent on those farther away. [Voice of San Diego]
If you’re lucky enough to be near Chelsea, Michigan, this weekend, you definitely should check out Kids Read Comics. It’s not so much a convention as a takeover of the whole downtown: The show is centered in the Chelsea Public Library, but 16 nearby shops and restaurants will also be hosting exhibits and activities, including storytelling and costume workshops, lunch with the artists, and a scavenger hunt for kids and teens, and professional development workshops for the grownups.
The organizers have assembled a stellar guest list that includes Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telegmeier (Smile), Rob Worley (Scratch 9), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), John Ostrander (writer of the Star Wars comics and creator of DC’s Oracle), and Barbara Slate (You Can Do a Graphic Novel). And the show itself has an impressive pedigree: The organizers are Dan Mishkin, one of the creators of Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld; Jerzy Drozd, a creator, educator, and founder of the great kids’ comics site Sugary Serials; Dan Merritt, owner of Green Brain Comics; and librarian Edith Burney. With a series of activies spread out in time and space, this sounds like a refreshing alternative to being stuffed into an airless convention center for ten hours at a time.
Publishing | May marked the worst month of the year for the direct market since January as sales of comic books and graphic novels fell 11.21 percent versus May 2010. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller chalks up the decline to a combination of retailers ordering more Free Comic Book Day titles than “for-profit” books and publishers’ summer events heating up a little later this year. Marvel led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of top comics for the month with Fear Itself #2, followed by the first issue of DC’s Flashpoint. Avatar topped the graphic novel chart with Crossed 3D, Vol. 1. [The Comichron]
Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined a coalition that includes booksellers, media companies and the ACLU of Utah in seeking to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah statute that would regulate Internet speech that some consider “harmful to minors,” including works of art, graphic novels, information about sexual health and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The law has not gone into effect because Utah consented to a temporary injunction until the case can be decided. [press release]
I’m really getting addicted to Roger Langridge’s journal-style writeups of the cons he goes to. His latest one is of Kids Read Comics, which took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last weekend, but to get the full effect, you should also read his account of the trip from North Carolina to Ann Arbor via Greyhound bus, which is sort of a worst-case scenario.
Those who couldn’t be there can experience the con vicariously through podcasts; the KRC folks recorded their panel on Comics Programming in Libraries, and TGT Webcomics podcaster Kurt Sasso has video interviews up with a number of guests, including Sara Turner (The Ghosts of Pineville) and Krishna Sadasivam (PC Weenies). Sadavisam checks in as well with his own con report, and Ryan Estrada wraps it up with a truly awesome story about a kid cartoonist. There’s more at the official Kids Read Comics website and Twitter feed.
Passings | Kaylee Byram reports that Richard “Rik” Levins, an artist best known for his work in the early 1990s with Mark Gruenwald on Marvel’s Captain America, passed away on June 12 at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. He was 59. Levins also penciled covers and interiors for Acclaim’s X-O Manowar and The H.A.R.D. Corps, AC Comics’ Dragonfly and FemForce, and Marvel’s The Avengers. In more recent years he worked as a game developer and modeler. [ComicMix, via Journalista]
Passings | The editors of Monthly Shonen Magazine announced that Tadashi Kawashima, writer of Alive: The Final Evolution, passed away on June 15 from liver cancer. He was 42. The science fiction/supernatural series, which concluded in January in Japan, is licensed in North America by Del Rey Manga. [Anime News Network]
Legal | In response to a complaint filed by Marvel, federal police in Mexico City have seized from vendors more than 100 illegally produced piñatas, many of which featured Spider-Man — aka Hombre Araña — Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. [The New York Times]
The free event, which features two days of panels and workshops, boasts an impressive guest list that includes Katie Cook, Roger Langridge, Dwayne McDuffie, William Messner-Loebs, Dan Miskin, Jim Ottaviani, David Petersen, Dave Roman, Paul Storrie, Marc Sumerak, Raina Telgemeier, Rob M. Worley and Thom Zahler.