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England’s Wolverhampton Station becomes Wolverine Station (for today)

virgin trains-wolverine1

On a day rife with fake announcements and Photoshoppery, this April Fool’s Day prank is real (or, rather, “real”): Wolverhampton Station, in England’s West Midlands, has been renamed Wolverine Station, if only for today. It’s a stunt orchestrated by Virgin Trains and Fox to promote X-Men: Days of Future Past.

London24 explains that the station’s 65 signs underwent the change, which was even reflected in the departure board at London’s Euston Station. Other signs (below) warned travelers about the potential threat posed by mutants. (Local radio station BBC WM even got in on the action, tweeting its opposition with a poster that reads “Mutant And Proud.”)

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Comics A.M. | Scottish city may honor Beano characters

Bash Street Kids

Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]

Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. []

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Marketing comics to fans of comics adaptations

Advertising merging TV and comics

News bulletin: The Walking Dead is a friggin’ huge deal.

I’m not sure how to measure it, but at least culturally I think the zombie-survival tale by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard is on track to become the biggest deal to come from indie/creator-owned comics since Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, circa 1988. I think it surpassed Todd McFarlane’s Spawn during Season 1. Heck, it might even be giving some corporate-owned properties a run for their money.

Fortunately, we haven’t quite hit Christmas special saturation, but there are plenty of items in the AMC Walking Dead shop: action figures and figurines, board games, T-shirts, calendars, posters, costumes, busts, music from the show, a companion book, even dog tags.

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Warren Ellis wants your three-panel comic

PJ Holden's three-panel comic

Warren Ellis is calling for submissions for a feature on his blog called Three Panels Open. There are only two rules: 1) It has to be three, not-previously-published panels; and 2) it has to be legible at a width of 640 pixels. Panels can be side-by-side, like the PJ Holden example above, or stacked on top of each other.

It’s an ongoing feature, so there’s no deadline, but Ellis will only be running his favorites. He’ll also include links to other work by the contributors, so it’s a great opportunity for under-appreciated comics-makers to reach a wider audience. It’s also going to be fantastic for comics readers who enjoy short, outstanding work.

(via The Comics Reporter)

You, too, can smell like the Hulk with The Avengers-themed cologne

As the licensing machine revs up for the May 4 premiere of The Avengers, fragrance company JADS International — the company behind such brands as Sulu Pour Homme, Slave Leia Perfume and Shirtless Kirk Cologne — has rolled out scents inspired by Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury and even Loki. Sorry, Hawkeye, you’re out of luck.

The Avengers Cologne Set boasts “four unique fragrances”: PATRIOT, Mark VII, SMASH! and Worthy; you can probably piece together which name goes with which hero. Loki, meanwhile, gets Mischief Cologne (“Made to Rule”), and Fury has Initiative Cologne (“Activate the Initiative”).

Check out the details below, or on the JADS website.

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Your digital guinea pig: Trying out Marvel’s coupon offer

Marvel offered a $5 coupon, good on Marvel titles at a participating retailer, to anyone who bought a comic through the publisher’s digital app on Saturday, and in the interest of research, I gave it a try. It all worked pretty smoothly. I bought my comic, and yesterday I got an e-mail with a link and a download code. The only thing I didn’t like was that it locks you in to a particular retailer: After inputting my download code, I was prompted to enter my ZIP code. I was then presented with a list of the three nearest retailers (two were the same shop, though — bad coding, someone!). I don’t frequent those shops, and I would much rather have used the code in a Boston or Cambridge store, but I couldn’t see any way to go back and change the ZIP code (although John Jakala seems to have done it, so maybe that’s just me). Johanna Draper Carlson was rather dubious about this offer, especially the fact that there is no way to know the retailers in advance, and I have to say, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this promotion.

Aside from that, it was painless. There was one more click to download the PDF of the coupon, and I was good to go.

The offer came with some peculiar caveats. It was only good in the United States, and only for comics purchased through Marvel’s iOS apps — Android and Chrome users need not apply. I don’t really get the reasons for those restrictions, but perhaps there are some levers that have to be pulled behind the scenes that only work under those conditions.

What is Marvel up to here? The press release seems to go both ways, with one Marvel executive saying this is a great way to get people to sample the publisher’s digital wares, and another pointing to it as a way to benefit comics stores. The Marvel app requires a separate login and password from the standard comiXology app, even though they are built on the same platform, so maybe they are trying to get people to go through that extra step to join up with the branded app. Or maybe they are trying to get their digital-only customers to sample the joys of comics shops. Either way, they will be getting me into a shop I don’t usually visit, and I’ll come out ahead on the deal, so I guess it’s a win for all of us.

Bruce Banner and Doctor Strange take an ‘Incredible Drive’

Toyota has teamed with Marvel for “The Incredible Drive,” a four-part stop-motion animated adventure promoting the car manufacturer’s Yaris model. Created by the crew behind “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!” — Ben Morse, Jesse Falcon, Alex Kropinak and others — the first short features a Yaris-driving Bruce Banner forced into therapy with Doctor Strange, who suggests all he needs for his anger-control issues is a road trip. With him.

Yes, the guy who transforms into a 7 1/2-foot-tall monster drives a subcompact car — but, hey, it’s no weirder than him rooming with the Red Hulk or seeking mental-health advice from a magic-wielding neurosurgeon (apparently Doc Samson isn’t covered by Banner’s HMO). Strange’s Monarch-esque voice is a little much, but it’s definitely worth sitting through for the Marvel Universe-themed destination billboards and the late addition to the unlikely road-trip crew.

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Robot 6 Q&A | Sam Humphries on the new Our Love Is Real pre-order app

Earlier this summer Sam Humphries and Steven Sanders teamed up on a self-published one-shot called Our Love Is Real. Available digitally and at a handful of shops, the book sold out of its print run in a day, with a second printing selling out within a week. And earlier this month we learned that the little science fiction comic that could was picked up by Image Comics, who will publish it in November.

But just because the book’s been picked up by a larger publisher doesn’t mean that Humphries is taking a break from getting it into people’s hands. I spoke with him about the comic’s success and a fancy new pre-order app he’s developed that’ll help connect fans with retailers who can sell them a copy.

JK: Congrats on the Image deal– how did you come to work with them?

Sam: Once Our Love Is Real came out, it made a lot of sense for both sides. They wanted to be a part of the book, and we reached a point where we couldn’t go much further via self-publishing.

JK: Working with Image obviously brings wider distribution through Diamond, with the potential to reach a lot more shops than you could on your own. What are you doing to make it easy for people to request the book from their retailer?

Sam: There’s is an experiment I’m pretty excited about — we’ve developed a pre-order app for Our Love Is Real, which can be found online at: Pre-order online, and pick up at a comic store near you.

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Today is Girl Genius Day

Add a new holiday to your calendar: Phil and Kaja Foglio, creators of the long-running webcomic Girl Genius, have dubbed Jan. 12 Girl Genius Day. “We’re hoping you’ll do something suitably mad and/or steampunkalicious for the occasion,” they write at their site. In particular, they are hoping you will buy a copy of Agatha H and the Airship City: A Girl Genius Novel, which is based on the comic and officially went on sale yesterday. The idea is to give the book a boost in the Amazon ranking, a la Machine of Death, and hopefully bring it to the attention of booksellers.

In fact, the Night Shade Books site already shows the print version as “sold out,” but that turns out to be a good thing, as Phil found out when he asked:

Everybody thinks this book is going to do well, so everybody “ordered heavy”, so they’ll have a lot of books ready to meet demand. Great. Now there’s performance anxiety. And the publisher is still sold out, but they fully expect that they will have to reprint. The question is when. Thus they are now waiting to see how quickly the shops and wholesalers “sell through’ on the books they have in stock.

There are also two e-book editions, and this is where it gets a bit sticky. The Kindle version is $7.99, but you can also buy a DRM-free e-book edition from Webscription for $6. Obviously these sales won’t count in the Amazon rankings, though, so fans might want to consider whether it’s worth spending an extra two bucks to help give the Foglios that boost. If it helps, today is Kaja’s birthday as well, and if you’re in Seattle, you can wish her well in person, as the Foglios will be doing a book signing at Ravenna Third Place Books.

Comics A.M. | DC to promote $2.99 comics, Eisner family pledges to museum

DC Comics

Publishing | DC Comics will roll out a marketing campaign next month in support of its new $2.99 price initiative. The campaign, apparently revealed in a communique to retailers, will include online banners, ads in January issues of Comics Buyer’s Guide, Comic Shop News and Wizard, in-book ads, and in-store posters, shelf talkers and cards. [Crimson Monkey]

Libraries | The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation has pledged $250,000 over five years to the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum facility, part of the Sullivant Hall renovation at The Ohio State University. [The Daily Cartoonist]

Broadway | The father of Christopher Tierney, the 31-year-old aerialist who fell a week ago during a performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, offers a full account of his son’s injuries: a hairline fracture in his skull, a broken scapula, a broken bone close to his elbow, four broken ribs, a bruised lung and three fractured vertebrae. Timothy Tierney said his son underwent back surgery on Wednesday, and took his first steps on Friday with the aid of a brace and walker. Doctors are “cautiously optimistic” that Christopher Tierney will eventually resume his performing career. [Arts Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Tintin hearing delayed, copyright ruling ignored


Legal | A Belgian court has postponed until next week a hearing in the months-long trial over whether to ban Tintin in the Congo because of its racist portrayals of native Africans. The legal battle was launched three years ago by Bienvenu Mbutu Mondondo, a Congolese man living in Belgium, who wants the book removed from the country’s bookstores, or at least sold with warning labels as it is in Britain. An anti-racism group joined Mondondo in seeking the ban. Wednesday’s scheduled hearing was postponed after one of the plaintiffs withdrew from the case; however, the article doesn’t say which one. [Expatica]

Legal | Cartoonist Rich Koslowski discovers that winning a copyright-infringement lawsuit against a company that used his artwork without permission didn’t end the matter. More than a year later, Ontario-based Geeks Galore Computer Center still hasn’t complied with the judge’s order, and continues to use Koslowski’s art in signage and advertising. [Eye on Comics]

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Ragtag group of webcomickers pwns Glenn Beck

Machine of Death is an anthology of speculative short stories about people who know how (but not when) they are going to die. The book is edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki, and somehow the three of them came up with a clever idea: They asked everyone who was planning to buy the book to do so on the day it was released, Oct. 26, so they could place high on the Amazon sales charts.

“When we picked a release date, we tried to aim for a day far from other major book releases,” the authors explain on their blog. In that, they failed spectacularly: A number of potential best-sellers came out that day, including Keith Richards’s autobiography, a new Barefoot Contessa cookbook, and Glenn Beck’s latest book, Broke.

Nonetheless, the power of the internet is such that Machine of Death took the No. 1 spot on Amazon for that day.

While Keith Richards and the Barefoot Contessa seem to have taken this news with equanimity, it sent Beck into a spluttering, incoherent rage, and he went into a long rant on the air about the culture of death and Bill Ayers envying Keith Richards for snorting his father’s ashes, and not knowing what Brown Sugar refers to, and the general disrespect of “the left” for daring to buy other books on the day his book came out. (There’s a transcript and a link to the audio here.)

And as any public figure with half a brain can tell you, the effect has been exactly the opposite of what Beck intended. Rather than apologizing and buying two copies of his book, people have been laughing and pointing and, in some cases, buying extra copies of Machine of Death just to spite Glenn Beck. (Hey, it’s only ten bucks on Amazon.)

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Marvel to lower prices in January on new titles [Updated]


It’s officially a trend: In the ICv2 Digital Comics Conference today, Marvel VP David Gabriel handed a couple of scoops to the crowd. Here’s the biggest: “Because of what digital comics are doing, we will be able to lower prices in January.”

He didn’t elaborate, but could that mean the hated $3.99 price point is a thing of the past?

Gabriel led up to this with some comments about how their digital comics are doing. “Just this week, we passed 2 million downloads,” he said. That doesn’t match the sales of a store like Midtown Comics, but the lines are drawing closer for some titles.

“Yesterday we released the Ultimate Thor book,” he said. “By tomorrow, we will have outsold what our top retailers have sold. There is an audience for that.” The digital sales have given the print edition a boost, he believes.

Update: Kiel Phegley has more information on the price change at Marvel over on the CBR home page. Gabriel confirmed that new books launching in January 2011 will not debut at $3.99. So it isn’t an across-the-board price reduction/page count reduction, like we saw from DC earlier today.

Fight the power: Get the women of DC their own logo

So, DC Comics has a new logo for its 75th anniversary, and it features Superman, Batman and … The Flash and Green Lantern. Not Wonder Woman, the traditional third member of the DC Trinity. Determined to reverse this injustice, the folks at the DC Women Kicking Ass blog are fighting back with a 21st-century weapon, the Internet petition. Sign — well, enter — your name here to ask DC to create a second logo featuring female characters.

Actually, if I were running this campaign, that’s the last thing I would want. I would ask them to redesign the original to include Wonder Woman, rather than giving the girls their own logo. But then, if I start thinking about it real hard I’ll start worrying about other causes like pay equity or health care and education for girls in developing countries, and I just get all distracted.

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

Kevin is out sick today, so I’m filling in on Comics A.M. … apologies for the lateness.

Viz Media

Viz Media

Publishers | Viz Senior Vice President and General Manager Alvin Lu discusses the state of the company after the layoffs that occurred in May, as well as the overall manga market. “We continue to get great support from our retail partners. They do see that these very popular series continue to do well. They are getting up there in the 40s and 50s of the volume count, and there is the challenge of bringing in newer readers, to catch them up. I was looking though a calendar from several years ago when we were looking at Bleach Vol. 5 or something. That is a conversation we’ve been having with the bookstores, and they’re being very responsive on how to work with us, to continue to drive the category. They’ve been very supportive of helping us launch new series as well. So it’s a balancing act of getting the space to launch new series while nurturing the more mature series that continue to enjoy a loyal readership.” [ICv2]

Events | Brian Heater from the Daily Cross Hatch and Sarah Morean from Blog Chicka Blog Blog have declared Aug. 28 “International Read Comics in Public” Day. They’ve started a blog that features, as you might guess, people reading comics in public. [Daily Cross Hatch]

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