GIANT-SIZE X-POSITION: Duggan Goes Rogue in "Uncanny Avengers" & "Deadpool"
Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, describes the company’s announced cutback in the number of titles as a contrarian move: “All of the major mainstream comic publishers are pushing out more titles. Since February’s ComicsPro meeting, it’s something we’ve consistently heard from the front lines of the industry. So we decided to swim upstream a bit by trimming back our line and really focus, doubling down on our marketing and our positioning for each title, believing that a sniper-like approach would yield better profitability.” [ICv2]
Police and school officials in Nashua, New Hampshire, held a public forum Wednesday night to soothe concerns about a Death Note-inspired notebook discovered last week at a local high school.
The list, found Oct. 9 at Nashua High School North, reportedly contained the names of 17 students, along with a description of how and when they would die. In Death Note, 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.
Passings | Underground comics writer Dennis Eichhorn passed away on Oct. 8 at age 70. He’s best known for his autobiographical comic series Real Stuff, which often involved tales of alcohol, sex and drugs. Published from 1990 to 1995 by Fantagraphics, the multiple Eisner-nominated Real Stuff was illustrated by the likes of Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Joe Sacco, Roberta Gregory and Ed Brubaker. [The Stranger]
Legal | Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, already serving a 12-year sentence for a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads, and under investigation for shaking hands with her male lawyer, had to endure yet another indignity in August: She was forced to undergo a “forced virginity and pregnancy test” as part of the investigation of the latter charge. “In doing so, the Iranian judicial authorities have truly reached an outrageous low, seeking to exploit the stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence in order to intimidate, punish or harass her,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, which is calling for her release. [Amnesty International]
The discovery of a Death Note-inspired notebook at a New Hampshire high school has left parents rattled.
According to NH1, administrators at Nashua High School North met Tuesday with the parents of 17 students who were listed in the book, along with a description of how and when they would die.
“This book was found by a student with the ways, times and dates 17 students were going to die,” one unnamed parent said. “My daughter in particular was pretty horrific, disturbing and explicit.” School officials maintain that no one was ever in any danger.
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]