Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Publishing | Ron Richards, who joined Image Comics in January 2013 as its director of business development, has announced his departure from the publisher. “I am immensely proud of the work that I was able to be a part of,” he wrote. “Re-defining how a comic company makes announcements and interacts with their fans with Image Expo, and helping usher in new and exciting comics like Black Science, Wytches, Southern Bastards, Deadly Class, The Wicked + The Divine (among so many more) has been an honor and a privilege. It’s been a delight to work alongside some of the most talented comics creators in the business — and I leave with respect for all of them.” A co-founder of iFanboy and a veteran of Graphicly, Richards said he doesn’t have any immediate work plans. His departure from Images follows that of Jennifer de Guzman last week. [Medium]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller reflects on the news that the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars will sell 1 million copies, and notes the last comic to do so was a Pokemon title in 1999. The last direct market comic to reach that mark was Batman #500 in 1993. Miller also delves deeper into history, pointing out that Marvel’s original Star Wars #1, released in 1977, also sold more than 1 million copies, making it the first comic to reach that height since Dell’s Uncle Scrooge in 1960. [Comichron]
Passings | Maurice Tanti Burlo, editorial cartoonist for the Times of Malta, has died at the age of 78. Burlo, who used the pen name Nalizpelra, was working for Telemalta in 1977 when Prime Minister Dom Mintoff suspended a number of Telemalta staff, including Burlo, for supporting doctors, nurses, and bankers who went on strike. Burlo started cartooning to “get back at Mintoff,” and just kept on doing it; he published three books of his work and won the BPC Award in 1998 an 2002. [Times of Malta]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has withdrawn the appeal of his conviction last month on charges of sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues in Japana connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 37-year-old former temporary worker admitted to all charges during his first day in court, but mpoved to have his conviction overturned after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Watanabe, who said he doesn’t feel guilty for what he did and won’t apologize, acknowledged that he sent the letters out of jealousy of the success of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. [Anime News Network]
Manga | The most promising new market for manga right now? India, where the comics market in general is exploding. Kevin Hamric of Viz Media says manga is already well known there and fans can’t get enough, while Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP, the company behind New York Comic Con, talks about the planned collaboration with Comic Con India. The one obstacle: the same one that afflicted the American manga market, Japanese publishers’ reluctance to license their properties. [The Japan Times]
Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
Legal | The San Diego Police Department is asking anyone with video of the July 26 car accident during the annual SDCC ZombieWalk: San Diego to come forward. Police already have several videos of the incident, in which a driver plowed into the crowd, injuring at least three people, but they are hoping to get additional information. [Fox 5 News]
Legal | A Tokyo District Court judge sentenced Hirofumi Watanabe to four years and six months in prison for sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 35-year-old man admitted during his first day in court that he had sent the threatening letters, but he also refused to apologize or pay restitution and says he does not feel guilty. [Anime News Network]
Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe admitted Thursday in Tokyo District Court to sending hundreds of threatening letters to bookstores, convenience stores and convention centers associated with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The motive, the 35-year-old man said, was jealousy of Fujimaki’s success; Watanabe reasoned that, “If I somehow managed to harass and depress him, I could drag him into my suicide journey.” Watanabe added that he had been abused by his parents and bullied as a child, and had “homosexual tendencies.” He attempted suicide before he sent the threat letters and would do so again after he was freed, he told the court: “That way, society can rest assured that I won’t do anything stupid again.” [Anime News Network]
Legal | Attorney Marc H. Greenberg revisits the lawsuit brought by musicians Johnny and Edgar Winter against DC Comics over a 1995 storyline in Jonah Hex that portrayed two evil brothers, Johnny and Edgar Autumn. [Print]
Creators | Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki remained silent over the past year while hundreds of threatening letters were sent out to retail stores that sold the manga and anime, venues that hosted doujinshi (fan comics) events connected with it, and even his alma mater, but now that police have arrested a suspect in the case, he has made an official statement. Fujimaki expressed relief that the suspect had been caught, thanked the police who were involved in the investigation, and promised that more chapters of Kuroko’s Basketball are on the way. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con producer Dan Farr is voicing his support for the construction of a “mega hotel” near the Salt Palace convention center. The Utah state Legislature ended its legislative session without passing a $100 million bill to fund such a hotel, but backers hope to see it revived in the next session. Ticket sales for the 2013 convention topped 50,000, and Farr told the local news station, “A convention center hotel would be a big help for us.” [Fox News 13]
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.
Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]
Tokyo police have arrested a man they suspect sent more than 400 threatening letters to publishers, retailers, convention centers, convenience stores and other venues connected with Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s manga Kuroko’s Basketball.
The suspect, 36-year-old Hirofumi Watanabe, was arrested in Shibuya as he was allegedly mailing a batch of letters;. Police say he was spotted on security cameras near several locations connected to his threats; it was reported earlier that they may actually have questioned him on one occasion and then let him go. Watanabe is officially being charged with “obstruction of business,” and according to police, he admitted to the crime, saying, “I’m sorry. I’ve lost.”
JC McInwell translates a Japanese news report that indicates Watanabe didn’t know Fujimaki personally but was jealous of his success as a creator.
Legal | Artist Al Plastino has asked a New York judge to order Heritage Auctions to reveal the name of the consignor who put up for sale his original art for the 10-page story “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy.” Heritage says the sale has been canceled and the art returned to the consignor, who bought it at a Sotheby’s auction a decade ago. The JFK story was originally scheduled to run in a DC comic dated November 1963, but it was quickly pulled when Kennedy was assassinated. The story was published the following year at the request of the Johnson administration. The last panel of the comic stated the artwork was to be donated to the Kennedy Library, and Plastino believed that to be the case until this fall, when he discovered it was being put up for auction. [Reuters]
Crime | Tokyo police say they have security camera footage of a suspicious man in a mask and gloves near a convenience store where a small amount of nicotine was found in a Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snack. The snacks were recalled after 7-Eleven and other convenience store chains received threatening letters, part of a barrage of threat letters that have been sent out to venues associated with the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The amount of nicotine found in the Kuroko’s Basketball wafers was well under a lethal dose. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
In a true-crime story unfolding across Japan, stores are pulling products and venues are canceling events related to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball because of a series of threatening letters targeting locations linked to the manga’s creator, Tadatoshi Fujimaki, the manga, and doujinshi (fan comic) events related to it.
The first threat letters, at least one of which may have contained deadly poison, were sent more than a year ago, but the pace seems to be accelerating: The sender has hinted he or she may commit a crime on Nov. 4, and a new set of letters has emerged claiming the perpetrator is negotiating with the editors of Japanese Shonen Jump, which serializes the manga.
On Monday, the Japanese manga, video and game rental chain Tsutuya confirmed it has removed all copies Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The Yurindo and Reliable bookstore chains are also removing the books. However, a number of bookstores, including Kinokuniya, Sanseido, Junkudo and Miyawaki, say they will continue to carry the manga despite receiving threatening letters demanding its removal.
In addition, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain is removing Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks from 1,500 locations after receiving a letter that said, “I left food products laced with poison in 7-Eleven.” The letter included a photograph of the snacks. Another convenience chain has stopped carrying a line of Kuroko’s Basketball tie-ins, including character dolls and plush toys.