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Comics A.M. | Singapore cartoonist arrested; crowdfunding scam

Leslie Chew cartoon

Leslie Chew cartoon

Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]

Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]

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Chernin Group partners with Liquid Comics on Graphic India

Ramayan 3392AD

CA Media, the Asian investment arm of The Chernin Group, has acquired what it’s calling “a large minority stake” in Graphic India, a new subsidiary of Liquid Comics.

Launched in 2011 by Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra and Suresh Seetharaman, Graphic India is a comic book and animation company focused on creating mythological and superhero characters and stories for the Indian youth market, published across mobile and online platforms. The Chernin Group was founded in 2009 by former television and film executive Peter Chernin, who was previously president and CEO of News Corp. The investment makes CA Media and Liquid joint owners, with the latter contributing its catalog of comics.

Graphic India, which partnered with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment to create the superhero Chakra–The Invincible, plans to release new digital content centered on properties previously published by Liquid Comics. They include: Devi, developed by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur; The Sadhu, created by Gotham Chopra; and Ramayan 3392AD, developed by Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur.

“India is home to some of the most creative minds in the world, and we believe that the next Batman, Harry Potter, Pokemon or The Avengers, can come from this country,” Devarajan said in a statement. “At Graphic India, we intend to find, nurture and promote a new generation of creators to transform the world with their stories. The team at The Chernin Group and CA Media bring an unparalleled level of experience in entertainment and we could not imagine a better partner to work with to launch this mission.”

Dinosaurs vs. Aliens motion comic launches

The motion-comic adaptation of Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, the sci-fi graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Mukesh Singh, launched this morning on the video portal Yahoo! Screen. Announced last month, the partnership between Yahoo! and Liquid Comics will also bring Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper to computer screens.

Published in June through Dynamite Entertainment, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens tells the story of an alien invasion of prehistoric Earth, whose only saviors are dinosaurs more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined.

“Like Snakes on a Plane,the project title leaves no doubt as to what to expect from the movie,” Morrison told Comic Book Resources earlier this year, “so the trick was to deliver on the basics but also create an engrossing, epic story with a cast of diverse and memorable characters, both reptile and extra-terrestrial. We’ve talked about a different name for the movie when it comes out, but no matter what, I’m hoping Dinosaurs vs. Aliens will be part of the title somewhere.”

Watch the first episode of the motion comic below.

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Liquid Comics teams with Yahoo for motion comics

Liquid Comics, the successor to Virgin Comics, has partnered with Yahoo to bring motion comics to the video portal Yahoo! Screen. The first two titles, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens and Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper, will debut this summer.

Liquid emerged in September 2008 following a restructuring and management buyout of Virgin Comics, the joint venture formed two years earlier by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the India-based comics publisher Gotham Entertainment.

Written by Grant Morrison and painted by Mukesh Singh, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens was published in May through Dynamite Entertainment, and is being developed as a film by Sonnenfeld (Men in Black). Gamekeeper, by Ritchie, Andy Diggle and Singh, debuted in 2007 under Virgin’s Director’s Cut imprint; it, too, is destined for the big screen.

In Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, aliens invade prehistoric Earth, whose only saviors are dinosaurs more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined. Gamekeeper is an espionage tale centering on a reclusive groundsman who lives a quiet existence until mercenaries appear to disrupt his world.

“We are thrilled to work with Yahoo! to bring the full graphic novel experience to their audience through Liquid’s motion comic versions,” Liquid Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan said in a statement. “Yahoo’s impressive global reach will greatly enhance Liquid’s goal of pushing the boundaries of comic books through digital platforms and technology and enabling our creative partners to share their stories with audiences worldwide.”

See Elvis at the Pearly Gates — at rest or in motion

As I mentioned in my roundup of Free Comic Book Day comics, the Graphic Elvis preview from Liquid Comics was one of the more striking selections of the day, in particular because of Stan Lee’s Elvis tribute comic, illustrated by Jeevan J. Kang, which shows The King reaching the Pearly Gates. It’s a slimmed-down, pre-Vegas version of Elvis, who humbly falls into line with everyone else, amazing them with his lack of pushiness. “I wouldn’t expect him to be treated just like us,” says one man, who obviously hasn’t read his Gospels. And Elvis is almost turned away, but — no, I won’t spoil it, because now you can read the whole Graphic Elvis FCBD comic on Issu.

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Free Comic Book Day: What to look out for

Today is Free Comic Book Day, and here’s a rundown of some of the comics that caught my interest. If you want to check ‘em out before you go, CBR has previews of many of the FCBD titles. (My FCBD comics came from my favorite Boston comics shop, Comicopia.)

Hands down, the one comic everybody wants is Archaia’s hardback anthology, which includes brand-new stories from six of their titles: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth, Return of the Dapper Men, Rust, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Cow Boy. The stories stand on their own but also tie in to the books in clever ways; the Mouse Guard story is a puppet show, and the Rust story features a boy writing a letter to his father (as his older brother does in the book). This book is a keeper; it even has a nameplate inside the front cover. Here’s a list of where Archaia creators will be doing book signings this FCBD.

BOOM! Studios has a nice flipbook with several Adventure Time comics on one side and Peanuts on the other. The Peanuts comics are mildly funny, but the Adventure Time side is edgier and features extra stories by Lucy Knisley and Michael DeForge. The stories are colorful and lively, and DeForge’s contribution, about a bacon ecosystem that supports tiny breakfast organisms, is downright surreal.

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Liquid Comics launches Graphic India

Liquid Comics (formerly Virgin Comics) launched a new digital comics initiative last week called Graphic India. (Note: The site doesn’t work properly in Safari.)

Graphic India intends to be India’s premiere graphic novel platform and community, leveraging Liquid’s large library of high quality content created by Indian creators, while also aggressively commissioning and showcasing numerous original stories by India’s greatest new visionaries.

It’s a smart move, as India has a burgeoning comics market; Archie Comics recently set up an office there. The Graphic India website features an array of online comics, interviews, and feature articles, as well as a graphic novel competition designed to flush out new talent and, the Indian media site MediaNama speculates, rounding up a whole lot of intellectual property that can be leveraged in different directions:

According to a report from Livemint, all the writers of 20 specially commissioned graphic novels will be given contracts but the copyright for these novels will remain with Liquid Comics. We hence assume that the company will probably use the digital rights of these graphic novels to create additional revenue channels like digital movie rights, mobile rights and so on.

Indian creators who are contemplating signing those contracts would be well advised to Google “Tokyopop global manga” before continuing. Still, with titles like Mumbai Macguffin and Ramayan 3392AD, this site looks like it has some promise.

SDCC ’11 | Elvis Presley: Superhero, or just a fan?

Paul Pope draws Elvis

Elvis Presley was more than just The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, he was also a comics fan, and there is photographic evidence to prove it: Craig Yoe’s Archie: A Celebration of America’s Favorite Teenager opens up to a photo of Presley reading a comic book while on tour in 1956. He told a roomful of Jaycees (hardly what you’d think of as a comics-friendly audience) that “When I was a child, I was a dreamer. I read comic books and I was the hero of the comic book.” He had a stack of Captain Marvel Jr. comics in his attic. And, come to think of it, that whole thing with the jumpsuits and the capes and the lightning-bolt logo… was Elvis cosplaying?

Maybe so, according to a new book, Graphic Elvis, which celebrates The King’s love of comics and gives the editors an excuse to commission some totally boss Elvis fanart from the likes of Paul Pope and Greg Horn.

The book will be published by Liquid Comics (the successor company to Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra’s Virgin Comics), with a special limited edition due out in time for the holidays, a mass-market edition to be released in April 2012, and an iPad edition sometime after that.

Guggenheim’s Nowhere Man back on track for November

Nowhere Man

Marc Guggenheim’s name may not have been listed in DC’s September solicitations, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t keeping busy in the comics world. reports today that Liquid Comics will publish Nowhere Man, written by the Green Lantern movie scribe, this fall.

Announced in 2008, Nowhere Man is ““Sci Fi odyssey set in a groundbreaking vision of the future in which mankind has traded privacy for safety,” according to the description released by its original publisher, Virgin Comics, back then (Liquid Comics was formed in the wake of Virgin Comics’ demise). adds, “The story takes place 500 years in the future, where an oppressive government monitors the population, down to its thoughts. Everyone on Earth has been infected with a nano-tech virus that makes computerized thought analysis possible. A group of rebels combat this by generating a genetically altered child born immune to the virus. He grows up to become the Nowhere Man, mankind’s best chance to topple the invasive regime.”

Initially actor Hugh Jackman was involved with the comic, but Deadline makes no mention of him in the announcement. The comic comes out in November.

SDCC ’10 | Wes Craven to create miniseries for Liquid Comics

wes craven

Wes Craven

Legendary horror director Wes Craven and producer Arnold Rifkin have formed a partnership with Liquid Comics for the filmmaker to create a four-issue miniseries set to debut early next year. The plan is, of course, for the project to move beyond comics to mobile and gaming devices and film.

“I’m thrilled to be working with Liquid Comics and Cheyenne Enterprises on the development of an original idea for both a comic book and for a subsequent film based on it,” Craven said in a statement. “It’s an idea I’ve been dying to get out there, and working in collaboration with Sharad Devarajan and Arnold Rifkin will be the ideal win/win way to do it.”

No collaborators have been announced, but the press release states the publisher is “engaged in dialogues with leading creators in the comic book industry.”

Craven, 70, is best known for such films as The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream series.

Read the press release after the break:

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

The W Files

The W Files

Digital comics | A free digital comic starring Wallace & Gromit, the popular animated UK duo, has been downloaded more than 500,000 times since Nov. 7, leading one eBook blogger to wonder whether The W Files is the “FIRST eBook best-seller.” (If it’s free, can it still be considered a bestseller?) Released by Titan Publishing, the free iPhone app marks the 20th anniversary of Wallace & Gromit. Subsequent issues cost 99 cents each. [GalleyCat]

Digital comics | Marvel is giving away 1,000 one-year subscriptions for its Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited online service to enlisted military personnel through Jan. 7. [Air Force Times]

Naruto, Vol. 1: The Boy Ninja

Naruto, Vol. 1: The Boy Ninja

Publishing | Reed Stevenson looks at the growth of manga in Europe, where the market is expanding at a pace of 10 percent to 15 percent each year: “Sales of printed manga books have fallen in Japan in recent years but grown elsewhere, particularly among European young people who are consuming such titles as Naruto, Fruits Basket and Death Note with the same appetite as an earlier generation showed for The Adventures of Tin Tin and The Adventures of Asterix. [Reuters]

Publishing | Retailer Christopher Butcher considers Dave Sim’s recent move to print on demand for back issues of Cerebus Archives. [Comics212]

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Liquid Comics partners with film company for graphic novel line

liquid comicsLiquid Comics, the company that replaced Virgin Comics, has partnered with L+E Productions on a line of graphic novels that can be developed for film and television.

Variety reports that Epic Cycle will debut with three titles: H2O, based on a novel by Grant Calof about a global drought that sparks a search for water within the Earth; A Thousand Arts, a Stuart Moore-written kung-fu adventure set in the Alaska wilderness; and Purgatory, Ron Marz’s graphic novel about a professor hired by the Catholic Church to prove the existence of an afterlife.

Liquid emerged in September 2008 following a restructuring and management buyout of Virgin Comics, the three-year-old company plagued by low sales. Liquid’s titles include John Woo’s 7 Brothers, Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper, Nicolas and Weston Cage’s Voodoo Child, and a slew of comics based on Indian mythology.

Founded in 2007 by Eric Eisner, son of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, L+E produced the high-school comedy Hamlet 2.

SDCC ’09 | Movie news and notes

First Family

First Family

• FremantleMedia Enterprise has signed a first-look deal with Liquid Comics — formerly Virgin Comics — designed to bring the publisher’s properties to other media.

The first two projects in the agreement are based on comics set to be released later this year: Animax, about a boy who can who can absorb the abilities and characteristics of any animals he touches, will be developed as an animated series. The second, First Family, will be turned into a drama about the teen children of a newly elected president who have to grapple with high school.

• Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard) will develop and direct the big-screen adaptation of Shrapnel for Radical Pictures.

The comic, from Radical’s publishing division, is set in a future where humans have colonized the solar system, leaving Venus as the last rebellious holdout. A self-exiled former Marine teaches the colonists how to fight back against the Solar Alliance.

• Comic artist Kaare Andrews will direct the action film The Hunted, based on his own screenplay. The movie centers on assassin who’s hired to kill a young girl but refuses to fulfill the contract.

• The oft-discussed sequel to 300 appears to be slowly making progress. The Hollywood Reporter’s Risky Business Blog has word that Frank Miller recently finished a draft of the graphic novel on which the movie will be based.

• Black Beauty, the gadget-filled car from The Green Hornet movie, was revealed during Preview Night by Seth Rogan, writing partner Evan Goldberg and director Michel Gondry.

• has a photo of the Comic-Con banner for Warner Bros.’ Jonah Hex movie.

• /Film rolls out a gallery of images from Preview Night, with a focus on movie and TV booths and props.

• Nikki Finke claims Comic-Con opened with “a whimper,” at least from a Hollywood perspective. Her correspondent in San Diego is unimpressed with the studio presence at the event.

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