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Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Hi Score Girl’ to return following copyright dispute

hi score girl-manga

Manga | Rensuke Oshikiri’s romantic comedy manga Hi Score Girl will resume serialization in Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan magazine, after a lengthy hiatus due to copyright issues. The manga was suspended in 2014 after the game company SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, claiming the manga used characters from SNK’s games without permission. Copyright violations are taken seriously in Japan: Police raided Square Enix’s offices, and the publisher not only stopped selling the series but issued a recall. Although Square Enix filed a counterclaim, Tokyo police initiated charges against 16 people, including Oshikiri and Square Enix staffers. The parties agreed on a settlement in August 2015. In addition to resuming serialization of the series, Square Enix will publish the sixth volume and new editions of the first five. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M.| Emerald City Comicon sued for not paying volunteers

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Legal | A former Emerald City Comicon volunteer has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing convention organizers of using volunteers as unpaid employees in 2014 and 2015. While it’s true that the volunteers signed on willingly — in fact, it’s rather competitive — the lawsuit argues they do work that’s essential to the convention and therefore ECCC is violating state labor laws by not paying them. “In Washington, the base is that if you are an employer, you have to pay the minimum wage,” says Hardeep Singh Rekhi, the plaintiff’s attorney. “We don’t believe that someone should be able to profit off unpaid labor, even if it’s something people love to do.” The plaintiffs estimate that there are 250 people in the affected class, i.e., people who performed the functions of employees but were not paid. Had ECCC been a nonprofit, it might have been exempt, but it was not. This year, the convention was run by ReedPOP, which did pay the staff. [Seattlish]

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Comics A.M. | Brothers charged in theft of grandparents’ comic collection

Via WEAR TV

Via WEAR TV

Crime | Two brothers in Florida have been arrested in the theft of about $30,000 worth of comic books from their grandparents. Nicholas and Robert Mason of Milton, Florida, were charged Thursday with grand theft and 16 counts of dealing in stolen property after police say they sold the comics in repeated trips to local shops, telling retailers the collection had been left to them by their late grandparents, who owned a comic store themselves. However, only part of that was true: Their grandparents did own a comic store, but they’re very much alive, and have been banking on the collection for their retirement. [WEAR TV]

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Comics A.M. | Wait, comics depicting crime are illegal in Canada?

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Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]

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

supermanny1

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. | Woman charged in theft of Terry Brooks’ vintage comics

terry brooks2

Legal | Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara fantasy novels, has been revealed as the owner of a valuable comics collection stolen between 2010 and 2012. The vintage comics, valued at between $100,000 and $500,000, were in the possession of the Sterling, Illinois, law firm Miller & Lancaster, where Brooks was an attorney before becoming a full-time author. Trisha J. Clemens, a former employee of the firm, has been charged with theft in the case. She also faces an earlier charge of theft of between $100,000 and $500,000 from the law firm. One of her bond conditions is that she can neither possess nor sell comics. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 2. [SaukValley.com]

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Comics A.M. | New ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ manga to launch in June

cardcaptor sakura

Manga | The shoujo manga magazine Nakayoshi will announce this week that the manga collaborative CLAMP will produce a sequel to their classic series Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s been 20 years since CLAMP launched the original series, which was one of the first shoujo manga to become popular in North America. The sequel will follow the title character, Sakura, in her first year of junior high school. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World CEO resigns after $4.3 million loss

wizard world logo

Business | John Macaluso resigned last week as chief executive officer and president of Wizard World after four years in the position. His resignation, revealed Monday in filings with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, came on the same day the company reported $4.3 million in losses in 2015, due largely to a drop in per-show revenues and a money-losing investment in the startup ConTV. Board chairman John D. Maatta will succeed Macaluso as CEO and president. [Street Insider]

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Comics A.M. | Accused Salt Lake Comic Con impostor gets new lawyer

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

The crowd at Salt Lake Comic Con 2015

Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]

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Comics A.M. | Ringleader gets 20 years in death of comic collector

"The Human Torch" #23 was among the comics in Marciniak's collection

“The Human Torch” #23 was among the comics in Marciniak’s collection

Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]

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Comics A.M. | Viz licenses ‘Naruto’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ novels

tokyo ghoul-novel

Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | NYC cracks down on costumed characters

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Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty allegedly brawled over a tip in 2015 (file photo)

Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]

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Comics A.M. | Fan selling comics collection to pay for child’s college

collection-social

Fandom | Al Sanders started collecting comics when he was in grade school, at one point selling plasma to support his hobby. . Over the years he amassed a collection of 5,000 comics, all from 1990 or earlier, including such popular titles as Batman and X-Men. But all good things must come to an end, and with his daughter Rose heading to college next year, Sanders has decided it’s time to sell his collection. He’s heading this weekend to Emerald City Comicon, where he hopes to turn the comics into cold cash. He’s not being totally mercenary about this, however: “I just hope someone can enjoy them, as much as me.” The report indicates Sanders believes his collection is in mint condition; he may discover otherwise once he talks to dealers at the convention. [12 News]

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Comics A.M. | Trial delayed in alleged Pokemon gun plot

pokemon world championships

Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]

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