Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Retailing | After opening its first physical store in November in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon is reportedly planning hundreds more. The news came from Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of real-estate investment company General Growth Properties, who revealed Tuesday in an earnings call that, “You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400.” An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The retailer’s Seattle store, called simply Amazon Books, stocks between 5,000 and 6,000 titles. [The Wall Street Journal]
Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team that drew the Legend of Zelda manga, has announced a new project: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, based on the 2006 game of the same name. The manga will be published on Shogakukan’s MangaOne app, which is not the same as the Manga One app available in English. Viz Media published Akira Himekawa’s previous Zelda manga, which ran from 1998 to 2008. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Iranian political cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi have been acquitted on charges of “non-adultery illegitimate relations.” The charges were brought after the two shook hands during one of Moghimi’s visits to Farghadani in prison, where she’s serving a 13-year sentence for drawing a cartoon critical of the Iranian parliament. The “illegitimate relations” charges carried a maximum penalty of 99 lashes, and in the course of the investigation, Farghadani was subjected to involuntary pregnancy and virginity tests. She’s not out of the woods yet, however: The prosecutor could appeal the acquittal. [CBLDF]
A manufacturer of unlicensed Batmobile replicas has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether Batman’s signature vehicle is indeed protected by copyright.
Towle, who produced replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles that sold for as much as $90,000 each, was sued in 2011 by DC, which claimed copyright and trademark infringement, trademark counterfeiting and unfair competition. Towle had argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” (for example, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions); in short, that the Batmobile’s design is merely functional.
A Massachusetts cartoonist has been charged with fraud and perjury stemming from his failed 2011 copyright-infringement lawsuit against DreamWorks Animation involving the 2008 blockbuster Kung Fu Panda.
According to an indictment unsealed just before Christmas by the U.S. District Attorney in Boston, artist Jayme Gordon claimed the studio had stolen the characters and story for the 2008 blockbuster, and filed a lawsuit “as part of a fraud scheme designed to obtain a multi-million-dollar settlement” from the company.
Legal | Matthew Pocci Jr., the driver who injured a woman last year during the annual San Diego ZombieWalk held in conjunction with Comic-Con International, has been sentenced to 60 days of house arrest, with electronic monitoring, and three years’ probation. His license has also been suspended for a year. Pocci had stopped to let the ZombieWalk procession go by, but then drove through onlookers, hitting several people and injuring one. He was convicted last month of felony reckless driving resulting in great bodily injury. At the sentencing hearing Pocci, who is deaf, apologized to the victim in sign language. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Crime | Police in Amarillo, Texas, are searching for a man who robbed the Big Apple Comics at gunpoint on Tuesday. An employee was locking up the store at about 7:10 p.m. when a man approached him and told him to unlock the doors. The employee resisted, and the robber reportedly drew a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The employee handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. [Amarillo Globe-News]
Passings | Zack Davisson, who translated Shigeru Mizuki’s works into English for Drawn and Quarterly, pens the definitive obituary of the late manga master, writing not only about his impact on Japanese culture but also his criticism of Japan’s actions in World War II and its treatment of disabled veterans, which led writer Jake Adelstein to call him “the Voice of Japan’s Conscience.” [The Comics Journal]
With a doctor’s freedom at stake, a Turkish court as asked a committee of experts to take up the question of whether Gollum from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is good or evil.
Bilgin Ciftci faces up to two years in prison on charges that he insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by comparing the politician to Gollum in a series of photos posted on Twitter.
Legal | Two Iowa men suspected of plotting an armed attack in August against the Pokemon World Championships will stand trial on May 9 in Boston. A pretrial hearing is set for Dec. 30. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been held since their Aug. 22 arrest 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 to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. [Ames Tribune]
A Utah man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he posed as a federal agent to try to secure VIP passes to Salt Lake Comic Con.
Twenty-nine-year-old Jonathon M. Wall of Layton, Utah, was indicted in October on charges of impersonating a federal officer and making a false statement to a federal agent. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison on the first count and up to five years on the second. Each count also carries a potential fine of $250,000.
Auctions | Rob Salkowitz looks at the recent sale at auction of Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 for an impressive, although not record-setting, $442,150. He notes that the significance of the issue, and the endorsement of the sale by Adams, likely had an effect on the price. In 1970, most publishers didn’t routinely return original art to artist, and Adams has been critical of the sale of artwork that was simply taken, and sometimes given away, by staffers or editors. In this case, however, he announced through the auction house that “since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family, I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.” A portion of the proceeds was also donated to The Hero Initiative. [ICv2]
Comic strips | The soap opera comic strip Apartment 3-G ended its 54-year run Sunday with little fanfare, leaving it up to a handful of bloggers, including Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter and Josh Fruhlinger of The Comics Curmudgeon, to give the longtime funny-page staple a proper sendoff. “It definitely has an unaffected, what-we-call-Lynchian quality where what you’re seeing and what you’re ‘hearing’ as dialogue don’t match,” Spurgeon writes. “The limited sets and slightly faded color choices make it a bit nightmarish, almost like the world is collapsing comic book ‘crisis’ style around these increasingly feckless characters. It’s hard to believe there are more than a dozen “places” in the world these characters exist. [The A.V. Club]
Manga publisher Viz Media has issued a statement reaffirming its stance on digital piracy following the arrests in Japan of four men accused of illegally uploading a chapter of One Piece to a scanlation website.
Police in Japan say a delivery company employee stole a copy of Weekly Shonen Jump while it was en route from the printer to the retailer and sold the magazine to three other men, who then uploaded the comic to an English-language pirate site. Here’s Viz’s statement:
Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari was arrested Monday in the Teheran newspaper office where he works, a day after posting a cartoon on Instagram showing a weeping face with the Eiffel tower for a nose. According to Heidari’s co-workers, “a young man came with a warrant. He showed Hadi the warrant and they took him quietly.” They speculated that he was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization.