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Comics A.M. | Longtime artist Ken Barr passes away

"The Rampaging Hulk" #1, by Ken Barr

“The Rampaging Hulk” #1, by Ken Barr

Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]

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Comics A.M. | Collection of rare DC comics goes on display

action1-social

Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]

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Ohio middle-school student suspended over ‘Death Note’ booklet

death note

In what’s become a somewhat-regular occurrence once again, a student has been suspended from an Ohio middle school after a teacher found a Death Note-inspired notebook.

The Newark Advocate reports police responded March 14 to Lakewood Middle School in Hebron, Ohio, following the discovery of a booklet labeled “Death List” that contained the names of several students. Once the student who made the notebook was identified, she allegedly told officials the notebook was based on the anime series Death Note.

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Comics A.M. | Cartoonist Ted Rall sues Los Angeles Times

Ted Rall's crosswalk cartoon for the Los Angeles Times

Ted Rall’s crosswalk cartoon for the Los Angeles Times

Legal | Political cartoonist Ted Rall has sued the Los Angeles Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him and unfairly fired him from his position as a freelance cartoonist. In May 2015, Rall wrote a blog post for new newspaper’s website about being mistreated, handcuffed and “roughed up” by Los Angeles police when he was stopped in 2001 for jaywalking. Two months later, the L.A. Times published a column that cast doubt on Rall’s account, and announced it would no longer carry his work. Rall protested and later claimed that an audiotape of the incident supported his side of the story, although the paper found otherwise. In the lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rall claims the Times defamed him by questioning his veracity. The paper’s response: “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims.” [Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Irving Fine, founder of Siegel and Shuster Society, dies

Jerry Siegel's childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

Jerry Siegel’s childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

Passings | Irving Fine, cousin of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and founder of the Siegel and Shuster Society, passed away March 11 at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 87. Fine, whose late brother introduced Siegel to Joe Shuster in the 1930s, made preserving and promoting Superman’s ties to Cleveland a priority: During his tenure as co-chairman of the Siegel and Shuster Society, Ohio introduced a Superman-themed license plate, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport installed a Superman Welcome Center, and Siegel’s childhood home was restored. Michael Sangiacomo notes that Fine also played a key role in the plans for a monument to Superman and his creators, set to be unveiled in 2018 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

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Comics A.M. | Man demands ‘Magic’ cards in attempted robbery

magic-surveillance-social

Crime | A sheepish would-be robber walked away empty-handed Monday afternoon after attempting to hold up a Little Rock, Arkansas, comic store for Magic: The Gathering Cards. “I hate to do this, but I have a gun, and I want a box of Magic cards for my son’s birthday,” the man allegedly told a clerk at The Comic Book Shop. However, when the employee offered him a pack of the cards, he reportedly declined and left, saying, “Don’t call police.” The suspect remains at large, although police have distributed an image of him taken from a security camera. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]

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Supreme Court won’t hear Batmobile copyright dispute

#1 Batmobile, Superheroes, gadgets, Cable Cutter, Bat-Ray Projec

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to review a ruling that the Batmobile isn’t merely an automobile, but rather distinctive enough to warrant copyright protection.

Mark Towle, who previously created unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, petitioned the high court in January to consider his five-year-old dispute with DC Comics. The company had sued Towle in 2011, claiming his Gotham Garage violated its trademarks and copyrights by manufacturing the replicas, which he sold for about $90,000 each.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Comic Con’ trademark feud nears an end

comic con banner

Legal | It looks as if the end is in sight in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con.” The organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego claim legal ownership of the term “Comic Con” and sued the producers of the Salt Lake City even in 2014 for trademark infringement. Although settlement talks have broken down before, attorneys for both sides say they’ve resolved many of their disagreements, and have asked a federal judge to give them until March 1 to work out the finer points of a deal. [The Associated Press]

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Comics A.M. | A look at Stan Lee’s complicated legacy

stan lee

Creators | Writing for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Abraham Reisman takes a warts-and-all look at the career and legacy of Stan Lee in a lengthy article article alternately titled “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” and “Why is Stan Lee’s Legacy in Question?” Peppered with quotes from the likes of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Mark Evanier, Colleen Doran, Paul Levitz and Mark Waid, it’s a deep dive into Lee’s history, touching upon everything from his disputes with one-time collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto to his more recent output to the state of his company POW! Entertainment, which by most indications is struggling. [Vulture]

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Appeals court upholds Warner Bros.’ Superman rights

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A federal appeals court has again sided with DC Comics and Warner Bros. in the long-running feud over the rights to the Man of Steel.

As first reported by THR, Esq., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a 2013 ruling that the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel relinquished their claim to the character in a 2001 settlement with DC, and therefore are not able to terminate the copyright.

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Judge shuts down lawsuit over ‘Iron Man’ armor design

ironman-social

A judge has ruled that a lawsuit over the design for the “Iron Man” armor — which prosecutors Ben Lai and Ray Lai say is based on designs from their independent comic, “Radix” — has no place in the Massachusetts courts.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney and Marvel are protected from the lawsuit because state-level judge Denise Casper has decided the matter doesn’t belong in the Massachusetts courts. Casper said, “…the claims lack relatedness to his state with no specific allegations tying transactions, creations or marketing to Massachusetts.”

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Comics A.M. | Amazon may open more than 300 physical stores

amazon books-seattle

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]

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Comics A.M. | Akira Himekawa to release ‘Zelda’ manga ‘Twilight Princess’

The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda

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]

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Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist acquitted on ‘illegitimate relations’ charges

Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani

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]

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Supreme Court asked to consider Batmobile copyright case

#1 Batmobile, Superheroes, gadgets, Cable Cutter, Bat-Ray Projec

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.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark Towle of Gotham Garage filed a writ of certiorari today asking the justices to review his nearly five-year-old dispute with DC Comics.

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.

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