"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
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]
Retailing | After opening its first physical store in November in Seattle, online retail giant Amazon is reportedly planning hundreds more. The news came from Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of real-estate investment company General Growth Properties, who revealed Tuesday in an earnings call that, “You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400.” An Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The retailer’s Seattle store, called simply Amazon Books, stocks between 5,000 and 6,000 titles. [The Wall Street Journal]
Passings | Clint Thomas, the owner of Clint’s Comics in Monroe, Louisiana, was found dead Saturday at his home. He was 50 years old. In addition for running his store for nearly two decades, Thomas was known as a perennial political candidate, having run for mayor five times. He was challenging Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell in the current election, saying, if elected, he would look for “damsels in distress.” Thomas reportedly viewed himself as Batman, attempting to save the city from the “supervillains” who had taken over the government; as a candidate, he made no promises and accepted no donations, because he believed money corrupts politicians. [The News-Star, NBC 10]
Digital comics | Japanese publisher Kodansha has launched a free Magazine Pocket manga app for iOS and Android devices, which in addition to titles already serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine features two exclusive spinoffs: Fairy Tail Spinoff: Twin Dragons of Sabertooth, springing out of Fairy Tail, and Brass of Diamond! Seidō High School Wind Instrument Club, based on Ace of Diamond. The app boasts more than 30 titles, with some chapters offered for free and others requiring a fee. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | “In Hungary there is little or nil culture for comics,” says Arpád Barabás, owner of the Budapest comic shop Trillian. “The main reason is that between 1946 and 1989 there was nothing except for the Boy Scout propaganda publications in this genre, all other things having been prohibited.” Barabás, who goes by the nickname Grif, is working hard to fill that vacuum, mostly with imported comics, but because of the cost, very few have been translated into Hungarian. [The Budapest Times]
Manga | Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto has collaborated with Kenji Taira, author of the Naruto spinoff Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, on a one-shot comic that will appear in the Japanese edition Shonen Jump (and most likely in the North American version as well). The story ties in to the upcoming Boruto: The Naruto Movie, which opens on Aug. 4 in Japan before receiving limited U.S. release in October. The issue also includes a variant cover for the collected edition of the Naruto sequel Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Ethan Gilman looks forward to Boston Comic Con, which kicks off today and will feature appearances by Stan Lee, Jason Latour, and some movie and TV people as well. Boston Comic Con drew 900 attendees for its inaugural show, in 2007, and organizers expect 50,000 this year. [Boston Globe]
Manga | Nearly two decades into his blockbuster fantasy adventure, it appears creator Eiichiro Oda still has a long way to go before he completes the epic One Piece. Just ahead of the manga’s 18th birthday on Sunday, its current editor Taku Sugita revealed on a Tokyo radio show that somewhere around the 60th volume Oda estimated the story had reached the halfway point. With the release of Vol. 78 earlier this month, Sugita guesses One Piece is “maybe” 70-percent complete. “I don’t think it’s at 80 percent yet,” he said. “Something like that.” [Rocket News24]
Legal | Mohammed Moghini, the attorney for jailed Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, has been arrested for shaking his client’s hand. (According to this Pakistani source, the official charge is “fornication.”) Held at Rajai Shahr Prison, his bail has been set at about $7,000. This presents a potential problem for Farghadani, who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for drawing a cartoon “insulting” the country’s Parliament and leader, as she has only a limited time to appeal that sentence, and now her attorney is behind bars. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | Osamu Tezuka, the “godfather of manga,” has been dead for 25 years, but his influence lives on, not just in manga and anime but in his old neighborhood, where a restaurant features his favorite dish and merchants have their own local currency, Astro Money. There’s even a group of inventors who were inspired by Astro Boy to design a “power-assisted hand.” [The Yomiuri Shimbun]
Creators | Ivan Brunetti tried to draw Nancy and failed, but he learned how to be a cartoonist in the process: “Nancy is a harsh taskmaster; resuscitating it was a grueling task, but the challenge was invigorating and edifying. By drawing Nancy, I realized that every character (even the environment) in a strip is the cartoonist and is invested and imbued with the cartoonist’s life force. This is perhaps why continuing a strip after a creator’s death is so misguided, and it also explains the precious few exceptions that prove the rule: those cartoonists made the preexisting characters truly their own, commandeering their ink-on-paper souls.” [BoingBoing]
Conventions | WonderCon Anaheim has announced the first round of guests for its April 3-5 show: Neal Adams, Becky Cloonan, Aaron Kuder, Kevin Maguire and Dustin Nguyen. [Toucan Blog]
Publishing | Magnetic Press is looking for a marketing assistant. [Magnetic Press]
Retailers | The Laughing Ogre chain has announced its Lansdowne, Virginia, location (Phoenix Comics & Toys) has lost its lease and will close Dec. 18. That store is managed by chain co-owner Gary Dills, the former ComicsPRO treasurer named as the subject of an investigation into a possible misuse of organization funds. The chain has two other locations, in Fairfax, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio. [Laughing Ogre, via Bleeding Cool]
Jonathan Baylis recently published the seventh issue of his annual minicomic So Buttons, a collection of short, autobiographical stories, written by Baylis and illustrated by a variety of artists. They range from lighthearted anecdotes about his years in the comics and entertainment business (he started an internship at Marvel the day Jack Kirby died, and later worked for Valiant and Topps) to heartfelt stories about discovering beauty, confronting death and fighting his inner demons.
I first met Baylis (as he correctly remembers in this interview) last year a the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, although I was reading So Buttons before that. We have kept in touch since then, and it’s always a pleasure to run into him at a show. When he told me that So Buttons #7 was about to go live on comiXology, it seemed like an opportune moment for an interview about his work and his experiences as a minicomics creator. He not only answered my questions with gusto, he sent along a ton of art and a full-length So Buttons story about an encounter with John Romita Sr. (below).
Creators | Isabel Greenberg has announced she’s working on a “sort-of” sequel to The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, her British Comic Award-winning debut graphic novel. She also posted her new comic Dreadful Wind and Rain, which is being published as a limited edition by Gosh! Comics, and will be included in her follow-up to Early Earth. [Isabel Greenberg, via Digital Spy]
Manga | Yen Press associate editor and letterer Abigail Blackman talks about her job: “I see that the editor has a twofold obligation – to the original creator and to the reader. I think everyone in the process has to be most careful of not imposing his or her own sensibilities onto the material. I and Yen feel very strongly about preserving the meaning and intent of the original and making sure it translates clearly to the reader. It’s so easy for a rewriter to get carried away with his or her own voice, or for a letterer to get too cutesy with the fonts and placing emphasis.” [Organization Anti-Social Geniuses]
Legal | Disney on Tuesday asked a panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss a two-year-old lawsuit by Stan Lee Media claiming the copyright to such Marvel superheroes as Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men. A lawyer for Stan Lee Media, which no longer connected to its namesake, argued a federal judge in Colorado erred last year in dismissing the 2012 complaint, but Disney countered that the copyright claims have been addressed time and again by the courts. “This is their seventh bite of a rotten apple,” Disney attorney Jim Quinn said after the hearing. The three-judge panel hasn’t issued its decision. [The Associated Press]
Manga | The finale of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which will run in an upcoming issue of Shonen Jump (both the Japanese and the North American editions), will be two chapters long, with the second appearing in full color, the manga magazine announced. Naruto was at one time the bestselling graphic novel in the United States and is still one of the top selling manga in the country. [Anime News Network]
I spoke with the former Muppet Show cartoonist about his current projects — a return to BOOM! Studios with The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow and his creator-owned Abigail and the Snowman – what he likes about SPX, and what awesome comics he found at show. He came up with a doozie!
Brigid Alverson: Why are you here at SPX?
Roger Langridge: SPX is the first American convention I ever came to, in 2000.
What book were you debuting there?
I wasn’t! I was in the country with my wife, and we were visiting New York together, and we thought we would work in a trip to SPX while we were here. We came just to see it and to check it out and see what it was like. I was at that point working on Fred the Clown as a webcomic, and I showed it around to a few people, and it really fired me up to do self-publishing. The next year I was planning to debut Fred the Clown at SPX 2001, and of course that’s the one that was canceled because of 9/11. But that got me self-publishing, which is pretty much why I have a career today, I think.
Publishing | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater responds to Singapore’s ban of the third volume of Life With Archie, which features the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker: “Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Business | Devin Leonard looks at the possible effects of a Fox/Time-Warner merger on superhero movies; Time-Warner owns DC Entertainment, and Fox has the movie rights to some Marvel characters. The New York Times offers a broader overview. [Business Week]
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a federal judge last week sided with the toymaker in its 2013 lawsuit against writer Donald Glut, who claimed he created the characters in 1981, owns the copyrights and merely licenses them to Mattel (a license, he said, that would expire in 2016).
The company insisted Glut was commissioned to write “He-Man and the Power Sword,” “The Vengeance of Skeletor,” “Battle in the Clouds” and “King of Castle Grayskull” and to create backstories for He-Man and other characters under the direction of the toymaker. Mattel noted the writer acknowledged as recently as 2001 that the minicomics were work for hire for which he received neither credit nor royalties. Besides, the toymaker argued, if there were any confusion about the rights, Glut had a legal obligation to come forward years ago.
Glut’s attorneys countered that his delay wasn’t unreasonable, as he believed his claim fell within the termination period stipulated by U.S. copyright law. But Mattel insisted that because the minicomics were work for hire, Glut never owned the copyright to be able to license or terminate it.
Glut, who wrote the novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, also penned episodes of such animated series as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Transformers and Centurions, as well as issues of Marvel’s Captain America, Conan Saga, The Invaders. Kull the Destroyer and The Savage Sword of Conan.