"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has withdrawn the appeal of his conviction last month on charges of sending more than 400 threatening letters to venues in Japana connected with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The 37-year-old former temporary worker admitted to all charges during his first day in court, but mpoved to have his conviction overturned after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Watanabe, who said he doesn’t feel guilty for what he did and won’t apologize, acknowledged that he sent the letters out of jealousy of the success of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki. [Anime News Network]
Manga | The most promising new market for manga right now? India, where the comics market in general is exploding. Kevin Hamric of Viz Media says manga is already well known there and fans can’t get enough, while Lance Fensterman of ReedPOP, the company behind New York Comic Con, talks about the planned collaboration with Comic Con India. The one obstacle: the same one that afflicted the American manga market, Japanese publishers’ reluctance to license their properties. [The Japan Times]
Legal | A conference has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in San Diego to discuss a possible settlement in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the latter’s use of “Comic Con.” Comic-Con International filed lawsuit last month, claiming Salt Lake organizers are attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term. Salt Lake Comic Con formally responded on Monday, denying those accusations and asking a federal court to find Comic-Con International’s trademarks invalid. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Banned Books Week | Reporter Sydney Gillette gets the local angle on Banned Books Week, talking with a local comics retailer and a librarian. While Missoula, Montana, has very few book challenges, the most recent one at the public library involved a graphic novel, The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. Neither the public libraries nor the schools in the area have ever removed a book in response to a challenge. [Montana Kaimin]
Long Beach Comic Con organizers have announced the Dwayne McDuffie Award, named in honor of the influential comics and animation writer who passed away in 2011. Details will be revealed Sept. 27 at the convention.
“Dwayne’s influence on comics is incredible, and we look forward to helping preserve his legacy through this award,” convention co-founder Martha Donato said in a statement.
Donato will be joined for the official announcement by fellow co-founder Phil Lawrence, and Neo Edmund, Joan Hilty, Joseph Illidge, Heidi MacDonald, Glen Murakami, Eugene Son, William J. Watkins, Len Wein, Charlotte Fullerton McDuffie and Matt Wayne.
Co-founder of the pioneering Milestone Media, McDuffie’s comics work ranged from Marvel’s Damage Control and Fantastic Four to Milestone’s Static and Icon to DC’s Justice League of America and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight.
His animation credits include Static Shock, Justice League, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, All-Star Superman and Justice League: Doom.
Conventions | Creators like Neal Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Amanda Conner and Scott Lobdell will headline the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, held Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center. “I think most of our artists are thrilled to come back each year,” said Phil Lawrence, principal sales director for the event. “This is the earliest we sold out our Artists Alley and we have almost 190 tables. By focusing on the artists and giving them their due, they seem to keep coming back and signing up earlier — and they promote the show, which helps us out, too.” [Gazettes.com]
Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has named Alex Cox as its deputy director, responsible for oversight of the organization’s home office and fundraising program. Cox, who came to the CBLDF in 2010, previously served as development manager. [CBLDF]
Publishing | Marvel Talent Coordinator Bon Alimagno is leaving the publisher for a position at San Francisco-based software company The Apollo Group. Previously editor of Harris Comics, Alimagno handled freelance scheduling at Marvel, working with David Bogart, the publisher’s senior vice president of business affairs and talent management. [The Beat]
Graphic novels | The Texas Library Association posts its 2012 Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List of recommendations for tweens and teens. [Texas Library Association]
Darwyn Cooke is coming to Long Beach Comic Con this weekend to premiere Parker: The Martini Edition, a deluxe, slipcased set of his two graphic novels Parker: The Hunter and Parker: The Outfit. Both are based on the novels of Richard Stark (actually Donald Westlake, writing under a pseudonym), and are drawn in a style reminiscent of the period in which they’re set, the early 1960s (when the 5’0s were just fading a bit and the Swinging Sixties had not yet begun), and Cooke won a fistful of Harvey and Eisner awards this year for Parker: The Outfit. He talked to me about The Martini Edition earlier this year at Boston Comic Con:
Legal | The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The statute, which was struck down in February 2009 by a federal appeals court, is opposed by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, among other organizations. [CNET]
Awards | The Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards will move next year from Toronto Comicon to the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. The seventh annual awards will be presented on June 18, 2011. [Joe Shuster Awards]
Conventions | Exhibitor tables have gone on sale for MoCCA Festival 2011, set for April 9-10 at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. [MoCCA Festival]
Conventions | The student newspaper at California State University Long Beach reports on last weekend’s Long Beach Comic Con. [Daily 49er]
Retailing | Peter Hartlaub profiles James Sime, owner of Isotope comic book lounge in San Francisco: “Nobody made a comic store for women. They just didn’t exist. I think women love comics just as much as men do, maybe even more. And there’s so many great comics out there for everybody that I had to try. Isn’t San Francisco the city that’s all about just trying new things?” [San Francisco Chronicle]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller delves into September’s grim direct-market sales figures and discovers a (relative) bright spot: Sales of lower-tier titles — those that don’t crack Diamond’s Top 300 — appear to be increasing, to record levels. “How do we know?” Miller writes. “Believe it or not, a record for high sales was actually set in September. The 300th place comic book, Boom’s Farscape #11, sold more copies to retailers in September than in any month since November 1996: 4,702 copies. That’s a record for the period following Marvel’s return to Diamond. This bellwether tells us about the shape of the market, and how prolific the major and middle-tier publishers are; when many of their titles are being released and reordered, higher-volume titles tend to push farther into the list.”
However, the higher you go on the list, the worse things look: “The average comic book in the Top 25 is selling more poorly in 2010 than in 2003. At the very top of the chart, 2010’s average top-sellers are about 25% off what the best-sellers of 2003 were doing.” [The Comichron]
Passings | Veteran inker Mike Esposito, who teamed with childhood friend and frequent collaborator Ross Andru on such DC Comics titles as Action Comics, Wonder Woman and Metal Men, passed away Sunday at age 83. To conceal his Marvel work from DC, Esposito used the pseudonym Mickey Demeo, inking John Romita Sr. on The Amazing Spider-Man and Jack Kirby on The Hulk. Andru later joined him at Marvel on Spider-Man. [Mark Evanier]
Publishing | Kuwaiti entrepreneur Naif al-Mutawa, whose Muslim-superhero comic The 99 recently met with absurd, manufactured controversy, is profiled just as DC Comics prepares to debut a crossover with the Justice League: “It seems likely that a media firestorm is brewing. On forums last week, DC comics faced accusations of ‘Muslim pandering’ and ‘treachery,’ but that’s the salient feature of The 99, not just that they’re superheroes from four continents fighting crime wherever they find it, but that they – and Mutawa – have to fight enemies and overcome resistance from both the east and the west. ‘One of the tough things is that people always think I’m working for someone else. In America, it’s like, “Sure, they’re private investors.” Back home, they think I’m working for the Americans and here they think I’m working for some sort of Islamic agenda’.” [The Observer]
If you’re attending Long Beach Comic Con next weekend, here’s a fine way to support a good cause while getting to hang out with some industry notables: Tickets are available on eBay for a meet and greet with writer Jimmy Palmiotti, artists Tim Bradstreet, Amanda Connor and Dave Johnson, and actor Thomas Jane from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at Gladstone’s Restaurant.
Your $65 benefits The Hero Initiative, and gains you access to the private party — only 20 people can attend — with the five, who will be available for conversation and autographs (tickets include appetizers and two drinks). Sales close on Friday. Ticket buyers should bring a photo ID to the Hero Initiative booth at Long Beach Comic Con at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29, where they will be escorted to Gladstone’s.
Publishing | Kodansha confirms what virtually everyone has known for quite a while now: that the publisher — Japan’s largest — is setting up shop in the United States, establishing an office in New York City. Kodansha USA Publishing will launch Kodansha Comics with Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Shirow Masamune’s Ghost in the Shell, two titles that had been licensed in North America by Dark Horse. The company will focus on translating its sizable backlist, but views original publishing as one of its “eventual ambitions.” David Welsh provides a little commentary. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | The local newspapers were all over the inaugural Long Beach Comic Con, held over the weekend in Long Beach, California. The Long Beach Post reported on the ribbon-cutting by Stan Lee — “Some Stan Lee Day,” he joked. “They’re still delivering mail, and the banks are still open.” — and some of the other convention highlights. The Contra Costa Times also has a wrap-up.
Events | A handful of news outlets have coverage of local 24-Hour Comics Day events: Columbia Missourian, KTUU (Alaska), Minneapolis Comic Books Examiner and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. [24-Hour Comics Day]
Okay, that’s grabbier than “Strangeways in Long Beach,” ya gotta admit. It’s even more accurate, since this week’s guest blogger, David Gallaher, will be there as well.
Where in Long Beach? Why, Long Beach Comic Con, of course.
It’s been a long time since the LA area had a bigger show to go to. The last show there was in 2008, and while it made for an interesting debut and and a great place to see friends over the weekend, it wasn’t a barn-burner of an event. I always felt that the shows put on in Long Beach far overshadowed the LA shows in terms of quality and location, and I’ve no doubt that this new show will live up to that. Apparently Stan Lee himself will be cutting the opening ribbon, which might be fun to see. I would love to have him sign my copy of ORIGINS OF MARVEL COMICS some day (indeed the book that made me a Marvel zombie so many years ago, also forming an impression of comics as books that I’ve yet to shake.)
I’ll be down at booth 63, Mr. Gallaher at booth 62 (I wonder if I can get him to swap booths with me — sentimental reasons). I’m sure he’ll have plenty of copies of HIGH MOON to sell, as I will have plenty of copies of MURDER MOON and the limited-edition red cover chapter #1 collection of THE THIRSTY. And don’t forget, those fabulous five minute stories will also be available for the asking.
See you there!
Retailing | Could Disney’s planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel signal the return comic books to the mass market? “I see the Marvel acquisition by Disney helping to expand the genre of comic books and remove it from the dusty basement of the world,” says direct-market retailer Creswell. “I do see Disney stepping in and offering retailers outside of the direct comic book market incentives for selling Marvel products,” Creswell said. [Reuters]
Publishing | Long-struggling e-book site Wowio reportedly has informed publishers that payments for the second quarter of 2008 will be made by Nov. 15. Wowio, which was purchased last year by Platinum Studios, was sold in July to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian. [Bleeding Cool]
Conventions | The inaugural Long Beach Comic Con kicks off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. Guests include Berkeley Breathed, Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet, J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, Dustin Nguyen, Darick Robertson and Mark Waid. The Long Beach Post and Gazettes Town-News have previews. [Long Beach Comic Con]
Events | 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Saturday at locations around the world. [24-Hour Comics Day]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald posts her Small Press Expo round-up/wrap-up/photo parade. [The Beat]
Creators | Using the copyright-reclamation bid by Jack Kirby’s children as a news hook, Geoff Boucher takes a look at the artist’s legacy, his creative partnership with Stan Lee, and his bitter feud with Marvel. “A lot more people know the name Stan Lee than the name Jack Kirby,” says daughter Lisa Kirby. “I’m not putting down Stan Lee’s talents but it’s difficult for us to see that he does dominate the credit. That doesn’t reflect the work or the reality. To see Jack Kirby in small letters and Stan Lee in big letters, that’s hard for us.” [Los Angeles Times]
Publishing | Jim Shelley considers what effect the recession may be having on the illegal downloading of comic books. He finds there are more downloads, but they’ve become more difficult to track. [Flashback Universe, via Kleefeld on Comics]