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Comics A.M. | Houston tourism group sues con over ‘Space City’ name

Space City Comic Con

Space City Comic Con

Legal | The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau has sued the organizers of Space City Comic Con, claiming trademark infringement over the event’s use of the term “Space City.” Many Houston businesses use the nickname, which dates back to the 1960s, but the bureau’s lawyer said the trademark only covers tourism- and convention-related events. The bureau owns a 50 percent share in Comicpalooza, which directly competes with Space City Comic Con, and has asked the court to not only stop the show from using the name “Space City” but also to turn over part of its profits and agree not to compete with the bureau. [Houston Chronicle]

Cartoons | Playboy was once one of the best markets for gag cartoons, but with the recent redesign, they were tossed out the window along with the nude centerfolds. Jules Feiffer, Doug Sneyd, Playboy editorial director Jason Buhrmester and others talk about the reasons for, and ramifications of, that decision, Playboy‘s history as a magazine showcasing great cartoons, and what the future may hold. [FastCoCreate]

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Wonder Woman leaps onto Ms. magazine’s 40th anniversary cover

From Michael Allred and Laura Allred's Ms. magazine cover

In 1972, Wonder Woman famously graced the cover of the premiere issue of Ms. under the words “Wonder Woman For President,” and now, four decades later, she returns in an illustration by Michael Allred and Laura Allred for the magazine’s 40th anniversary. The cover’s subject was teased last week on Twitter with three hints: “This woman was born during World War II,” “This woman has her own line of MAC cosmetics” and, just in case that wasn’t enough, “She has been featured on her own television series.”

This marks Wonder Woman’s fourth time on the cover of Ms. (you can see all of her appearances below). The magazine is even offering the Allreds’ illustration as a poster, if you subscribe.

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Zack Soto premieres Study Group Magazine

And while we’re on the subject of big BCGF news, how’s this: Cartoonist and editor Zack Soto has announced the launch of Study Group Magazine, with a first issue slated to debut at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on December 3rd. Spinning out of Soto’s long-running Studygroup12 anthology (the last issue of which debuted at last year’s BCGF) and co-edited by Soto and former Comics Journal editor Milo George, Study Group Magazine will include both comics and comics journalism. On the latter score, the first issue will feature an interview with Craig Thompson by George, an interview with cover artist Eleanor Davis by Soto, and a profile of Brecht Evens by Greice Schneider. As for the comics themselves, look for contributions from Soto, Michael DeForge, Jonny Negron, Trevor Alixopulos, David King, Aidan Koch, Daria Tressler, Chris Cilla, Malachi Ward, and Jennifer Parks. And be sure to visit Soto’s blog for some gorgeous purple-and-yellow two-tone preview art.

Ben Katchor resolves labor disputes the hard way

Last month, The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor used his strip in Metropolis magazine to envision a world where corporate CEOs were forced to work in their own stores — by which we mean all of them, every day. This month, though, the 1% is striking back. In a strip entitled “Johnny ‘The Pump’ Clematis,” Katchor chronicles a day in the life of the title character, a working stiff hired out by the heads of various multinationals to take out labor-union officials using the massive robotic boom of his cement truck. Hey, I’m sure those unions were a public health hazard, right?

Ben Katchor singlehandedly enacts major corporate reforms

Media reports on the Occupy Wall Street movement tend to express confusion about what the protestors want. This usually leads me to express confusion about whether the authors of said reports have access to Google. But regardless, perhaps OWS should consider implementing the modest proposal advanced by The Cardboard Valise cartoonist Ben Katchor in his latest strip for Metropolis magazine. In it, Katchor imagines a world in which CEOs are mandated by law to work in every store they own for fifteen minutes each, every day. Crunching the numbers and allowing for serious workaholism, that basically maxes major chains out at just under 70 branches, reasonably regionalized. But would it really improve worker conditions? Katchor’s example culminates in a “cleanup in aisle five”-type situation that raises serious questions about the policy’s efficacy in that regard, at least where janitors are concerned…

Nominees announced for 2011 British Fantasy Awards

CLiNT #6

The British Fantasy Society has announced the finalists for the 2011 British Fantasy Awards, which will be presented during FantasyCon 2011, held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 in Brighton, England.

This year’s Best Comic/Graphic Novel category includes a bit of an oddity, in that CLiNT, from Mark Millar and Titan Publishing, isn’t actually a comic or graphic novel but rather an entertainment magazine that serializes such works as Kick-Ass 2, Superior, The Pro and Turf.

The nominees for Best Comic/Graphic Novel are:

CLiNT, edited by Mark Millar (Titan)
Grandville Mon Amour, by Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
Neonomicon, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows (Avatar)
The Mountains of Madness, by Ian Culbard (Self Made Hero)
The Unwritten, Vols 1 & 2, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (Titan Books)

Members of the British Fantasy Society and attendees of FantasyCon 2010 and 2011 are eligible to vote.

“Geek culture” magazine sales dwindle to almost nothing

The folks at ICv2 pulled out their calculators this week and took a hard look at the “geek culture” (their term) segment of the magazine business. What they saw wasn’t pretty. In April 2000, the top selling magazine was Wizard, with a total of 71,310 copies sold in comics shops (all the numbers are from Diamond). In April 2010, they sold 9,316 copies; now they sell none, because the magazine has shifted online (where, Sean T. Collins observed, it’s not exactly tearing up the internet). The top-selling magazine in April 2011 was Doctor Who Insider #1, which moved a grand total of 3,537 copies—a drop of 95% from Wizard’s April 2000 number.

Of course, this isn’t surprising. Geek culture and a love of gadgets go hand in hand, and it’s natural that these magazines would lose readership to the internet. Print magazines have a significant turnaround time that keeps them from breaking news, but beyond that, the web has become the gathering spot for fans of individual properties. When you can connect with other fans of Torchwood, Sailor Moon, or RPGs via the internet, paper becomes superfluous. The irony is that the “geek” fan community is probably larger than ever; it’s magazines that have dwindled away to almost nothing.

What Are You Reading?

Four-Color Fear

Welcome to another spook-tacular edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is writer Sam Costello, who operates and writes horror comics for the site Split Lip. If you’re looking for some spooky stories to read tonight, it’s a good place to start.

To see what Sam and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below, if you dare

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Watch the teaser for Mark Millar’s CLiNT Magazine

Titan Magazines has released a teaser video for CLiNT Magazine, its new monthly venture with writer Mark Millar. Announced in May, the 100-page publication is set to debut in September in the United Kingdom with a mix of interviews, features about movies, television and video games, as well as four serialized comics. The premiere issue will include the debut of the Kick-Ass sequel, Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall.

Yen Plus magazine goes online


Yen Plus magazine launched two years ago at San Diego Comic-Con, and at this year’s SDCC, Yen Press relaunched it as a web-only publication.

Subscriptions to the magazine will be priced at $2.99 per month, compared to $8.99 per issue for the print version, and Yen is offering a free trial through September 6, so I thought I’d go in and kick the tires a bit. What I found was a mixed bag: The interface is clean and smooth, and I was delighted to find a short comic by the talented Madeleine Rosca (creator of Hollow Fields), but just as with the print version, I was left wondering who exactly they are editing this magazine for: The signup restricts it to readers over 17, but most of the series (Nightschool, Maximum Ride, and especially Rosca’s Haunted House Call) are more appealing to younger teens, while Jack Frost and Gossip Girl are clearly pitched at older readers—and may make the magazine off limits to younger teens, at least if their parents get a glimpse of the full content.

There are no Japanese manga in this issue, although the Yen folks promise that Yotsuba&! will join the lineup in future issues. One reason for this may be that the Japanese publisher Square Enix has set up its own online manga site (apparently in partnership with Yen Press) and their titles include Black Butler and Soul Eater, two former Yen Plus series. I hope Square Enix is giving Yen a good cut of the take from that website, because Black Butler is one of their most popular series.

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Danzig and Rollins and Lost, oh my!


A pair of off-the-beaten-path comics have surfaced over the past few days that are perfect for readers who like their comics with a pop-cultural flair. First up, there’s Henry & Glenn Forever, a collection of romantic one-panel gags starring those famous star-crossed lovers, Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. If you’ve ever wanted to know how the lead singers of Black Flag and the Misfits would maintain a relationship in the face of interference from their Satan-worshipping next-door neighbors Darryl Hall and John Oates, now’s your chance. Henry & Glenn Forever comes to us from Igloo Tornado, a collective consisting of The Blot‘s Tom Neely and his artistic compatriots Gin Stevens, Scott Nobles, and Levon Jihanian, and it’s available for $4 from Microcosm.

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Mark Millar to launch UK monthly magazine with Kick-Ass sequel

Mark Millar

Mark Millar

After just last month teasing “something pretty damn awesome coming up,” Mark Millar this morning announced CLiNT Magazine, a new monthly venture with Titan Magazines.

The debut issue, which goes on sale in September in the United Kingdom, will feature the launch of his sequel to Kick-Ass — Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall — as well as contributions by TV presenter/comics writer Jonathan Ross (Turf) and comedian Frankie Boyle. The 100-page magazine will include interviews and features about movies, television and games, as well as four serialized comics.

“This is The Eagle for the 21st Century,” Millar said in a statement. “I’ve worked on everything from Spider-Man comics to the Iron Man movie for Marvel in New York, but what really excites me is the gap I see in the UK market at the moment. There are absolutely no comic-books aimed at 16-30 year old guys and I think CLiNT has potential to make an enormous impact, bringing a new type of magazine to a new generation.”

On his message board, Millar underscored that CLiNT is “aimed almost entirely at the UK.”

“It’s obviously massively exciting and I’ve been secretly working on it for a little while with some people I’m very excited about,” he wrote. “Some huge names coming down the pipe-line and the cream of UK journalist talent like Steve O’Brien on for features and interviews. All in all, very cool and I’ll talk about this in a little more detail closer to the time. But this is one of the reasons I’ve been spending a lot of time in London lately. I want to make this big, a cultural phenomenon and a showcase in parts for the UK talent I don’t feel has a wide platform anymore here.”

See the full press release after the break:

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Publishers Weekly bought by former executive

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly has been purchased by one of its former publishers, continuing Reed Business Information’s sell-off of its trade publications.

The magazine, which covers the book industry, releases the PW Comics Week e-newsletter and, until recently, played host to The Beat. PW was bought by PWxyz, a company formed by George Slowik, who served as the magazine’s publisher in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to PW, the new owner will retain all employees and remain headquartered in New York City. Cevin Bryerman will continue as publisher, with Jim Milliot and Michael Coffey serving as co-editors.

Reed’s parent company, global-publishing giant Reed Elsevier, attempted to sell its entire magazine division in February 2008, but withdrew its plans when it couldn’t get its asking price. It tried again in July 2009 to unload the publications as a group, but eventually had to resort to selling them separately.

Just last month Reed sold Library Journal and School Library Journal to Ohio-based Media Source Inc. (the School Library Journal website plays host to the Good Comics for Kids blog). Reed still owns Variety, MarketCast, Tradeshow Week and numerous other trade magazines.

Reed Elsevier also owns Reed Exhibitions, which produces New York Comic Con, the New York Anime Expo, BookExpo America and the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

What are you reading?

Luna Park

Luna Park

Our guest this week is the esteemed critic Ng Suat Tong, who has written some quite memorable pieces for The Comics Journal, but lately can be found as a regular contributor to The Hooded Utilitarian blog.

To find out what Suat and the rest of us are reading, click on the link below. And don’t forget to let us know what you’re currently reading in the comments section.

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Reed Business sells Library Journal, School Library Journal

Library Journal

Library Journal

Ohio-based Media Source Inc. announced this morning it has purchased Library Journal and School Library Journal magazines, part of the Reed Business Information empire.

Media Source owns Junior Library Guild and The Horn Book Inc. The School Library Journal website plays host to the Good Comics for Kids blog.

Reed placed Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal and other publications on the block in July following an earlier unsuccessful attempt by parent company Reed Elsevier to sell its entire magazine-publishing division. The global publisher also owns Reed Exhibitions, which produces New York Comic Con, BookExpo America and Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

Shortly after news of the sale was released, Publishers Weekly announced Jim Milliott and Michael Coffey as co-editorial directors and Cevin Bryerman as the new publisher. Brian Kenney will continue to edit LJ and SLJ under the ownership. Ron Shank, Reed’s former group publisher, will serve as publisher of the two magazines.

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