BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]
Fandom | Al Sanders started collecting comics when he was in grade school, at one point selling plasma to support his hobby. . Over the years he amassed a collection of 5,000 comics, all from 1990 or earlier, including such popular titles as Batman and X-Men. But all good things must come to an end, and with his daughter Rose heading to college next year, Sanders has decided it’s time to sell his collection. He’s heading this weekend to Emerald City Comicon, where he hopes to turn the comics into cold cash. He’s not being totally mercenary about this, however: “I just hope someone can enjoy them, as much as me.” The report indicates Sanders believes his collection is in mint condition; he may discover otherwise once he talks to dealers at the convention. [12 News]
Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]
Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]
Creators | Legendary MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee now holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career of a comics artist, at more than 73 years. Jaffee was presented with the certificate, and a proclamation from the New York City Mayor’s Office declaring March 30 as “Al Jaffee Day” in a gathering on Wednesday to celebrate his 95th birthday. [DC Entertainment]
Legal | New York City Council is once again considering legislation that would restrict Times Square’s infamous costumed characters to specific zones. The council’s transportation committee will take up the bill this morning, just days after after a man in a Spider-Man costume was charged with assault following an alleged fight with a tourist over a tip. “Come to New York, duke it out with a superhero!” said Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Is that really what we want to be known for?” [Fox 5]
Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]
Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]
In what’s become a somewhat-regular occurrence once again, a student has been suspended from an Ohio middle school after a teacher found a Death Note-inspired notebook.
The Newark Advocate reports police responded March 14 to Lakewood Middle School in Hebron, Ohio, following the discovery of a booklet labeled “Death List” that contained the names of several students. Once the student who made the notebook was identified, she allegedly told officials the notebook was based on the anime series Death Note.
Made of polished aluminum, each piece in the “Manga Chair” collection showcases an element from manga, from speed lines to word balloons to a swirl, suggesting dizziness.
Legal | Political cartoonist Ted Rall has sued the Los Angeles Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him and unfairly fired him from his position as a freelance cartoonist. In May 2015, Rall wrote a blog post for new newspaper’s website about being mistreated, handcuffed and “roughed up” by Los Angeles police when he was stopped in 2001 for jaywalking. Two months later, the L.A. Times published a column that cast doubt on Rall’s account, and announced it would no longer carry his work. Rall protested and later claimed that an audiotape of the incident supported his side of the story, although the paper found otherwise. In the lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rall claims the Times defamed him by questioning his veracity. The paper’s response: “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims.” [Los Angeles Times]
Passings | Irving Fine, cousin of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and founder of the Siegel and Shuster Society, passed away March 11 at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 87. Fine, whose late brother introduced Siegel to Joe Shuster in the 1930s, made preserving and promoting Superman’s ties to Cleveland a priority: During his tenure as co-chairman of the Siegel and Shuster Society, Ohio introduced a Superman-themed license plate, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport installed a Superman Welcome Center, and Siegel’s childhood home was restored. Michael Sangiacomo notes that Fine also played a key role in the plans for a monument to Superman and his creators, set to be unveiled in 2018 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Crime | Police in Little Rock, Arkansas, have arrested a man suspected in the attempted robbery of The Comic Book Shop on Monday. Robert Leonard, 24, has been charged with aggravated robbery after he allegedly told a store clerk, “I hate to do this, but I have a gun, and I want a box of Magic cards for my son’s birthday.” However, he left the shop without the cards. [Little Rock Police Facebook]
Manga | Manga sales in the United States are on the upswing, and Justin Sevakis has some reasons why: a few blockbuster series that are “gateway drugs” (Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul and One-Punch Man); more focus on niche cultures in the mainstream, which means bookstores, for instance, are carrying more manga and graphic novels; and the practice of simulcasting anime in the United states and Japan, which builds interest in the associated manga. [Anime News Network]
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]
Conventions | While the San Diego Chargers support the construction of a multi-use stadium that’s not connected to the San Diego Convention Center, Comic-Con International still favors a contiguous expansion. “If a convention center is built across the street or blocks away from the current location, any convention considering an event in San Diego would be forced to determine who gets to stay at the main facility and who is relegated to the ‘other’ venue,” Comic-Con’s David Glanzer writes in a column reiterating the organization’s stance. “Comic-Con experienced a similar scenario some years ago when we attempted to create more exhibit space by moving some exhibitors upstairs to the Sails Pavilion. Even though all exhibitors were in the same building, the fact that some were only one floor removed from others caused a great deal of consternation as they objected to not being on what they considered to be the main exhibit floor.” [San Diego Union-Tribune]