LOOK: Frank Miller's "Dark Knight III" Wraparound Variant Revealed
Passings | Clint Thomas, the owner of Clint’s Comics in Monroe, Louisiana, was found dead Saturday at his home. He was 50 years old. In addition for running his store for nearly two decades, Thomas was known as a perennial political candidate, having run for mayor five times. He was challenging Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell in the current election, saying, if elected, he would look for “damsels in distress.” Thomas reportedly viewed himself as Batman, attempting to save the city from the “supervillains” who had taken over the government; as a candidate, he made no promises and accepted no donations, because he believed money corrupts politicians. [The News-Star, NBC 10]
Graphic novels | This week is Banned Books Week, when the American Library Association releases its list of the 10 most challenged books of the previous year. This year’s list includes three graphic novels: Persepolis, Saga and Drama. Michael Cavna discusses graphic novel with Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who points out that Drama, which was challenged for being “sexually explicit,” is just the opposite: “In the incidents I’ve personally been involved in, and many others, the book’s light touch is precisely what infuriates those who want to take it off the shelves — there’s a sense that’s been communicated to me and others that kids shouldn’t be reading that being gay is a normal part of the human experience.” [Comic Riffs]
Retailing | Heidi MacDonald reports on last week’s Diamond Retailer Summit, where the news was mixed: Comics sales are up this year, but the increase is smaller than in 2013, triggering fears that the market is cooling down. Some publishers are retrenching, with Image announcing it will no longer release variant covers, Marvel simplifying its ordering requirements for variants, and BOOM! Studios cutting the number of titles it will release next year by 15 percent. [Publishers Weekly]
Legal | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar announced Monday that another of his books is drawing government scrutiny, as police are questioning the sales assistant who handles online sales of his book Sapuman – Man of Steal. “My sales assistant did nothing illegal as the ‘Sapuman – Man of Steal’ is not officially banned by the government” Zunar said. “On the contrary, the police should investigate who took RM2.6 billion of public funds instead of clamping down on book sellers who sell books legally.” The cartoonist is currently facing nine charges of sedition stemming from one of his Tweets, and his books have been banned and his assistants harassed in the past. [The Malaysian Insider]
Conventions | Organizers of Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con are reportedly attempting to reach a settlement in their trademark dispute over the term “Comic Con.” Weeks after issuing a cease-and-desist letter in July 2014, Comic-Con International sued the Utah event, insisting organizers were attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term “Comic Con.” The producers of Salt Lake Comic Con have called the lawsuit “frivolous,” arguing that Comic-Con International’s trademarks are invalid. After being granted the trademark in July for “Salt Lake Comic Con,” organizers claimed victory in the feud, but Comic-Con International maintained nothing had been resolved. Now Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg says lawyers updated a federal judge about that case on Tuesday, and that both sides are still working to come to an agreement. A hearing scheduled for next month. [Fox13]
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]
Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm have joined with Sanrio to stop a company from selling unlicensed cake frosting featuring their incredibly lucrative properties.
As first reported by THR, Esq., the entertainment giants filed a trademark- and copyright-infringement lawsuit against George and Danielle Wilson, whose Wilson Cake Imaging offers printed, edible frosting sheets and cake toppers depicting a wide range of characters and performers.
The Pokémon Company International filed a lawsuit last week that shut down an unsanctioned Pokémon-themed party tied to PAX Prime in Seattle.
The company, which manages the multibillion-dollar Pokémon property outside Asia, on Wednesday sued the organizers of the for-profit “5th Annual Unofficial Pokemon PAX Kickoff Party,” accusing them of copyright infringement, specifically citing the use of Pikachu and Snivy in promotional images. Ramar Larkin Jones, Zach Shore and Ruckus Productions are named as defendants in the complaint.
Although New York City had hoped to enlist Disney and Marvel in a crackdown on troublesome costumed characters in Times Square, the police commissioner insists the entertainment giants “want no part of it.”
The New York Daily News reports that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton singled out the two companies for refusing to take action against the performers — long a thorn in the sides of local businesses and politicians — for unlicensed use of their trademarks.
Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]
Legal | Game company SNK Playmore has dropped its charges against manga publisher Square Enix and will allow the manga Hi Score Girl to use its characters without penalty. Last year, SNK filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, charging that the manga, a comedy about gamers, included more than 100 instances of unauthorized use of SNK Playmore’s characters. As a result, serialization of the manga was suspended while police pursued charges against 16 of the people involved in its publication. Today, Square Enix announced that the two companies have reached an agreement: SNK Playmore has dropped its claim, and the two companies will work together with regard to sharing their characters. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Anime and manga fans in Japan are raising concerns that a proposed provision in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would threaten the existence of doujinshi, fan-made comics that are often parodies of commercial manga. Many established manga creators cut their teeth on doujinshi (and some return to it even after their series hit the big time), and the biggest comics expo in the world, Comiket, is devoted to doujinshi. The works are self-published and made in small batches, sold to fellow enthusiasts at large and small conventions, and Japanese publishers generally ignore them. Under current Japanese law, only the rights holder can bring a copyright complaint, but the TPP would allow complaints from third parties, including the creator of a rival doujinshi. “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said Negima creator Ken Akamatsu, himself a former doujinshi-ka. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.” [The Japan News]
A tire shop in New Zealand is changing its logo to avoid a costly legal battle with DC Comics, which insists its superhero mascot too closely resembles the Man of Steel.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Marie and Gene Young, owners of Super Tyre Guy in the small town Paeroa, received a cease-and-desist letter two weeks ago demanding they immediately stop using the costumed character.
Appearing on signage, T-shirts and a car advertising the Youngs’ business, Super Tyre Guy is dressed in a blue costume with orange (or perhaps red) cape, shorts and boots, and sports a diamond-shaped chest emblem containing the letter “G.” (For “Guy,” maybe?) It’s difficult to argue that the character doesn’t look a lot like Superman.
Legal | DC Comics has filed a trademark lawsuit against clothing manufacturer Mad Engine, claiming one of its T-shirt designs infringes on the iconic Superman shield (it replaces the signature “S” with “Dad”). The shirt was sold through Target, which isn’t part of the suit. DC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mad Engine on June 1, but, the publisher claims, the clothing company didn’t respond until June 19 “in an effort to allow the Infringing T-Shirt to remain available for sale through Father’s Day.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Retailing | David Harper asked 25 comics retailers how they feel about their business (spoiler: mostly optimistic), what their customer base is like, how they determine which comics to order (some really interesting comments here), and their thoughts on the industry as a whole. With the caveat that it’s a small group, it’s fascinating stuff. [Sktchd]
Manga | Tokyopop announced Thursday at Anime Expo that it will return to publishing new manga from Japan, and it has also acquired some anime licenses. In addition, it is launching an app, PopComics, that will allow users to upload and share their own comics. Tokoyopop was the largest manga publisher in the United States at the height of the manga boom, but it closed down its publishing program in 2011. In the past few years it has been making a slow-motion comeback, selling some of its properties as e-books and print-on-demand books and publishing three new volumes of Hetalia: Axis Powers. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Inventor Stephen Kimble, who was dealt a final loss Monday by the Supreme Court in his years-long fight with Marvel over royalties for a Spider-Man toy, is of course disappointed by the 6-3 decision. However, he seems hopeful that there might be a legislative solution to the outdated patent law. “We can take this opinion, go to the legislators … and say, ‘Look, the court is saying that if this needs to be changed, you’re the guys to change it,’” he said. “And there is a huge body of evidence out there that this needs to be changed.” [Tucson Sentinel]
Manga | Kathryn Hemmann looks at the ways publishers courted female readers in the early days of manga, and how their strategies led to permanent changes in the comics landscape. [Contemporary Japanese Literature]