"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" Trailer Officially Released
Conventions | The third Taipei International Comics and Animation Festival kicked off today in Taiwan, where organizers expect as many as 400,000 attendees over the next five days. Forty-seven artists, authors, actors and producers from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea are participating in the event, which last year attracted 409,000 fans and generated about $5.9 million in sales. [Want China Times]
Police and prosecutors near Pittsburgh are expected to decide today whether to press charges against a fifth-grader after he allegedly posted a Death Note-inspired note in his elementary school containing the names of five or six students. The boy has been suspended.
“After conducting the investigation, we found it is based on the anime Death Note,” Burrell School District superintendent Shannon Wagner said in a statement to WPXI News.
In Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s hit manga turned anime and live-action movie franchise, a high school student sets out to rid the world of evil using a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it.
Creators | “This is really a government of the cartoon, for the cartoon and by the cartoon,” Malaysian cartoonist Zunar said in an interview following the police raid on his Kuala Lumpur office. Zunar was in London at the time of the raid but expects to be summoned to the police station on his return to face charges under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code. “Why are the police involved in this?” he said. “If it is true I have defamed certain people, why not filed a civil suit? The government condemned Charlie Hebdo’s attacker but now they are ‘attacking’ me.” He also sent out some photos of the raid. [Malaysian Digest]
Freedom of Speech | Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch Asia, called the raid Zunar’s office “shocking and outrageous” and demanded the government to return the confiscated books and drop all charges against him. [The Malaysian Insider]
Danish officials have dashed the hopes of a Copenhagen toy store owner who wanted to call himself Superhero. However, like a true superhero, he isn’t giving up without a fight.
BBC News reports that 26-year-old Benjamin Preisler Herbst hoped to tack “Superhero” onto the beginning of his name, as so much of his life revolves around comic book characters. But after a four-month review, authorities rejected his request, writing, “The word superhero is a term for a fictional/non-existent figure. We don’t believe that Superhero lives up to the criteria for being approved as a boy’s name.”
Legal | Kuala Lumpur police raided the office of the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar and seized 149 copies of his books Conspiracy to Imprison Anwar and Pirates of the Carry BN. They were looking for the cartoonist himself, but he was in the United Kingdom, speaking at Oxford and Cambridge universities and giving a talk in London titled “To Fight Through Cartoons.” In a press release, Zunar said the raid occurred under the Printing Presses Act, Sedition Act and Penal Code, and that he would be called to the police station on his return to the country; he was arrested under that act in 2010. He also tweeted, “If the cartoons are defamatory, those who feel aggrieved should file a civil suit. No problem. I oppose the use of criminal laws like the Sedition Act” [The Malaysian Insider]
Political cartoons | Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Zineb El-Rhazoui, on a fundraising tour in Canada, said the terrorists who attacked the magazine’s offices and killed 12 people were the ones who made a mockery of religion, not the cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. “This is the most ugly caricature, that this is the most ugly picture of their religion,” she said. “It is not the pictures made by Charlie Hebdo.” [CTV News]
Passings | Acclaimed sci-fi novelist and manga writer Kazumasa Hirai passed away Jan. 17 at age 76. Hirai was the co-creator of several manga that spawned anime, prose and television franchises, including Genma Taisen and the classic cyborg superhero story 8 Man. He also collaborated with Ryoichi Ikegami on the Spider-Man manga, serialized from 1970 to 1971 in Monthly Shonen Jump, succeeding Kōsei Ono as writer. [Anime News Network]
Legal | The Bombay High Court heard arguments Monday on a public interest litigation petition challenging India’s sedition act. The petition stems from the 2012 arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on sedition charges, which were dropped after national and international protests. “It [sedition charge] can be misused any time,” said Chief Justice Mohit Shah. But Advocate-General Sunil Manohar, arguing for the state, said they only acted on the Trivedi case after receiving a dozen complaints: “The cartoonist [Aseem Trivedi] ran perilously close to borderline. He is not absolutely innocent. It is not the case that the state vindictively slapped charges on him.” The court did not immediately hand down a decision but has reserved judgment. [The Hindu]
Crime | Sigolène Vinson, a writer for Charlie Hebdo, gives her account of the Jan. 7 shootings that killed 12 at the French satire magazine’s headquarters. Vinson was in the kitchen and heard brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi shoot her coworkers; she hid in a colleague’s office but came face to face with Saïd Kouachi, who told her “Don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You’re a woman, we don’t kill women. But think about what you do, what you do is bad. I’m sparing you and because I’ve spared you, you will read the Qur’an.” (However, Chérif killed writer Elsa Cayat, the only female victim of the attack.) [The Guardian]
Awards | This year’s grand prix de la ville d’Angoulême, the lifetime achievement award given every year at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, won’t be given to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, despite a petition started by jury president Gwen de Bonneval that garnered 1,200 signatures plus significant support on Twitter and Facebook. Two Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, Wolinski, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack, and Willem, who wasn’t in the office that day, have been awarded the grand prix in previous years. The festival has announced a special Charlie Hebdo award that will go to a cartoonist whose work embodies resistance to oppression and censorship, and organizers will also publish a special album of cartoons drawn in response to the attacks. [France Inter]
Legal | There’s one fewer party in the lawsuit over the use of the term “comic con”: Newspaper Agency Corp., which produces materials for Salt Lake Comic Con, has settled with the organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego. Comic-Con sued both in August, claiming trademark infringement. Update: A Comic-Con International spokesman clarified that the settlement with the Newspaper Agency Corp. — a printing, advertising and delivery company owned by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News under a joint operating agreement — is already in effect, with the company agreeing to a court order that prevents it from using the mark “Comic-Con,” “Comic Con” or its variants in the materials it produces. The lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con organizers continues. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Crime | Someone tossed a homemade fire bomb into the offices of the German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost at about 2 a.m. on Sunday. Firefighters put out the fire quickly, and no one was in the offices at the time. The paper published three of the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons from Charlie Hebdo on Thursday with the headline “This much freedom must be possible!” [The Telegraph]
Editorial cartoons | Michael Kupperman relates his frustrating, and short-lived, experience as a cartoonist for The New York Times. [The Hooded Utilitarian]
Placing what very well could be the final lump of coal in Stan Lee Media’s stocking, another federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the failed dot-com can’t claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by its namesake.
As ROBOT 6 readers are well aware, the litigious shareholders of Stan Lee Media have long insisted that between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Stan Lee’s $1 million-a-year lifetime contract, and November 1998, when he entered into a new agreement, the legendary writer signed over to Stan Lee Entertainment (later Stan Lee Media) his likeness and the rights to all of the characters he co-created.
A Texas company has sued Harris County and its district attorney’s office over high-priced comic books that were seized in an embezzlement case, only to be stolen by investigators.
As you may recall, attorney Anthony Chiofalo was charged in January 2013 with siphoning from employer Tadano America upwards of $9.3 million, much of which he spent on sports memorabilia and vintage comics, including a Detective Comics #27 worth about $900,000. His house and storage units were raided, and the collectibles seized as evidence — all standard procedure.
But then two investigators with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office allegedly hatched a scheme to steal some of those comics — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — and sell them at a Chicago convention. Lonnie Blevins, who left the DA’s office before his arrest in February 2013 on federal charges, pleaded guilty in May 2014 to stealing the vintage comics; his former partner Dustin Deutsch was indicted just last month. Not to be forgotten, Chiofalo was sentenced in May to 40 years in prison.
Now, Courthouse News Service reports, Tadano America is seeking damages for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent concealment, accusing the DA’s office of failing “to notice that their employees removed several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of highly collectible comic books” from storage units. The crane manufacturer obtained an $8.9 million judgment against Chiafalo in 2012, making those comics the company’s property.
Crime | Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested two men on Friday on charges of stealing $5,000 worth of comics from a local collector. After the robbery, the collector contacted local comic shops and asked them to keep an eye out for the stolen goods. Several retailers gave police information, including a license plate number, that led to the arrests of Gino Saenz and Jose Gonzalez on charges of theft. [San Antonio Express-News]
Digital comics | Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of DRM-free digital comics in 2014, the first year in which the company included e-books and comics in its bundles. Total e-book revenues were $4.75 million, of which $1.2 million went to charity (including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). That may sound like a lot of money, but as director of e-books Kelley Allen said, “The numbers generated by the book bundles look like a rounding error in comparison to video games,” because the audience for the latter is so vast. Humble Bundle’s e-books are DRM-free, which has been a stumbling block for traditional book publishers, but comics publishers are more flexible, Allen said. [Publishers Weekly]
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Marvel owes royalty payments to the creator of a Spider-Man toy after the patent for the Web Blaster expired.
As first reported by Courthouse News Service, Stephen Kimble patented the toy in 1990 and then approached Marvel to license the rights. Marvel passed, and when another company began manufacturing a similar toy — it shoots foam string, simulating Spider-Man’s web-shooters — Kimble sued, claiming patent infringement and breach of implied contract.
A grand jury in Harris County, Texas, has indicted a former investigator for the district attorney’s office accused of stealing thousands of dollars in rare comics.
The Houston Chronicle reports Dustin Deutsch was indicted Tuesday on charges of felony theft by a public servant and tampering with evidence, stemming from an embezzlement case he and his former partner Lonnie Blevins were investigating in 2012 for the district attorney’s office.
Blevins was arrested in January 2013 following an FBI investigation into the theft of rare comics seized from the home and storage units of Anthony Chiofalo, a corporate attorney who embezzled $9.3 million from his employer, and then spent a sizable chunk of the money on high-priced collectibles, including a copy of Detective Comics #27 valued at $900,000.
Blevins pleaded guilty in May to taking more than $5,000 worth of those comics and selling them at a convention in Chicago. He’s awaiting sentencing.
A Spanish soccer club has decided not to use an updated version of its traditional bat emblem, avoiding a possible legal fight with DC Comics.
News surfaced last week that the publisher had opposedd the trademark registration by La Liga club Valencia C.F., insisting the new variation of the team’s bat crest too closely resembles the familiar Batman emblem.
But now, The Guardian reports, Valencia says it no longer plans to use the new design after DC “presented its opposition to the request.” The club emphasized “there does not exist a lawsuit by DC Comics.”
Longtime arch-enemies, Batman and The Joker faced off once more on Wednesday, only this time about a plan to require Times Square’s costumed characters to be licensed.
Wearing makeup and a red suit embellished with black bats, the Clown Prince of Crime told New York City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that the bill amounts to “fascism.”
“I might look like a clown but I’m speaking from the heart,” the New York Daily News quote The Joker, aka Keith Albahae, as saying. “I do this from my heart and not for tips. OK, I do ask for tips. And many people are glad to give them, but this is about the First Amendment and this is about discrimination. This straight-up seems like fascism.”