Conventions | Stan Lee has canceled his appearance at Denver Comic Con, held May 31-June 2, citing a conflict with filming for a cameo in a Marvel movie. William Shatner has stepped in to take his place. Nonetheless, a reporter snagged a pre-convention interview with Lee, in which he talks about what makes a convention great and how comics help kids learn to read, and counters a common criticism: “Some people will say, ‘Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it’s showing you.’ The only answer I can give is, ‘You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn’t want to see it on the stage?’” [The Denver Post]
Charities | Matthew Price rounds up efforts by the comics community to help those in Oklahoma devastated by the tornadoes. [NewsOK.com]
Legal | Human Rights Watch reports on the lawsuit filed by Malaysian cartoonist Zunar after he was arrested and his books seized by authorities. The court ruled that while the arrest, on grounds of sedition and publishing without a license, was lawful, the government’s continued possession of his materials was not. Zunar was never formally charged — a judge threw the arrest out after authorities could not point to any actual seditious material in his book, Cartoon-O-Rama — and therefore, the court ruled, the government had no right to continue to hold the books and must return them and pay him damages to boot. [Human Rights Watch, via The Daily Cartoonist]
Legal | Rich Johnston reports that copies of Howard Chaykin’s super-erotic Black Kiss 2 have been held at the border by U.K. customs. Diamond Comic Distributors is in talks with customs officials and hopes to get the books into the country next week. [Bleeding Cool]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, Casanova: Avaritia #4 would be the first thing I’d pick up. I’ve been enjoying Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s return to their dimension-hopping super-spy immensely and am looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up.
If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then.
Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here: Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work; Bill the Boy Wonder, a new prose biography of Batman co-creator Bill Finger; and a Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus featuring Jack Kirby’s run. If I were in a charitable mood, however, I’d likely snap up Team Cul de Sac, the anthology/art book/tribute to Richard Thompson’s delightful comic strip featuring contributions from folks like Lynn Johnston, Mort Walker, Gary Trudeau and even Bill Watterson! Proceeds from the book go to help fight Parkinson’s disease, which Thompson unfortunately suffers from. It’s hard for me to think of a more worthy – or potentially enjoyable – book to spend your money on this week.
Creators | Robert Crumb has decided not to attend Graphic 2011, an arts festival scheduled for Aug. 20-21 at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Crumb told The Australian he withdrew from his headline appearance because of an article in the Australian newspaper The Telegraph that called him “a self-confessed sex pervert.”
“It’s a very, very disappointing situation,” Graphic co-curator Jordan Verzar wrote on the show’s Facebook page. “There were a legion of people eagerly anticipating his visit and the Graphic team and Sydney Opera House had been working for months to pull together the shows he was involved with and to supply an enjoyable first visit to Australia for him. I sincerely doubt that he will ever make it to Australia now. It’s a very sad day, but I’m still excited and looking forward to the rest of the great shows happening at Graphic next weekend.” [The Australian]
Retailers | Birmingham, England comics shop Nostalgia and Comics was damaged during the riots of the past few days; no one was injured, but the windows were broken. [The Forbidden Planet blog]
Retailing | A Sunday deadline passed without additional bidders for the bankrupt Borders Group, leaving a group of liquidators as the only suitor for the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States. However, The Wall Street Journal reports that the bookseller will likely entertain offers right up until Tuesday’s scheduled bankruptcy auction. The newspaper contends Borders was in negotiations late Sunday with Books-A-Million in hopes of striking a deal that would save what remains of the company, which once operated more than 1,000 locations. [The Wall Street Journal]
Conventions | Comic-Con International has released information on prices for the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. Adult four-day passes will no longer be discounted compared to the prices of single-day badges; an adult four-day pass without the option to attend Preview Night will cost $150, while buying individual adult tickets for each day would cost $143. Adult four-day tickets with Preview Night will cost $175. Per the CCI website, “We hope that this change will encourage people to purchase only the days they will actually be attending, leaving additional badges for others who want to attend Comic-Con.”
As we noted in January, Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease, and Chris Sparks, of Sparking Design, are putting together a book of Cul de Sac tributes by different artists to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Now you can follow along on the Team Cul de Sac blog, where as the artists make their contributions. The artwork will be compiled into a book, which will be sold to benefit the fund, and the original art will also be auctioned off for the cause.
And here’s an extra treat for Cul de Sac fans: Alex Dueben talked to Thompson about the strip last week for Comic Book Resources.