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Comics A.M. | NYC cracks down on costumed characters

minnie-times square

Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty allegedly brawled over a tip in 2015 (file photo)

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]

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Julia Wertz goes time traveling in New York

Bottle Beach

Julia Wertz, creator of the wry graphic memoirs The Fart Party, Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait, has turned her hand to a different sort of subject matter: little-known aspects of the history of New York City.

The comics run in The New Yorker under the title “N.Y.C. Mystery History Hour,” and the subjects so far include Fiorello LaGuardia’s ban on pinball machines, the story of Bottle Beach in Dead Horse Bay, the fate of the uniquely designed lampposts made for the 1964-45 World’s Fair and, most recently, the Hess Spite Triangle. She has also done a fascinating then-and-now piece on the theaters of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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Comics A.M. | Jeff Robinov to exit Warner Bros. amid shakeup

Jeff Robinov

Jeff Robinov

Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Latest One Piece sells 3 million copies in two months

One Piece, Vol. 65

Publishing | The 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece has sold more than 3 million copies in Japan in less than two months, beating the two previous volumes to that goal. No other manga has sold that many copies so quickly since the market research firm Oricon began releasing sales figures in April 2008. [Anime News Network]

Comic strips | After 33 years on the comics page, Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia is hanging up her cigarette and typewriter and calling it a day. Hollander is upfront about the reason: “After the Chicago Tribune dropped Sylvia, my income was cut by half and Sylvia disappeared from my hometown. I felt the loss.” She will continue to post vintage Sylvia strips on her blog. [Bad Girl Chats]

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Comics A.M. | SPX attendance up; more on Justice League #1 sales


Conventions | Executive director Warren Bernard said attendance at this year’s Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, was up 10 to 15 percent, with exhibitors reporting strong sales and many sell-outs. “A great line-up of new material was partially responsible, but the region itself is also a factor — the economy around metro DC has remained relatively stable even in the recession, and a lot of people with good jobs seem to save up their money for the whole year just to spend at SPX,” reported Publishers Weekly’s Heidi MacDonald and Calvin Reid. Because of the growth, next year the show will move to a bigger room with about 50 percent more space. Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware scheduled to attend. [Publishers Weekly]

Organizations | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, meanwhile, reports that it raised $12,500 at SPX, thanks to efforts like the Jeff Alexander Memorial Benefit auction and fundraising activities involving Craig Thompson, Roz Chast and Sara Varon. [press release]

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Retailers prepare for Hurricane Irene

As any news channel or today’s The System will tell you, the East Coast is preparing for Hurricane Irene. Meteorologists expect Irene to make landfall Saturday morning in eastern North Carolina, and it is expected to track north and head for New York City, where at least two comics retailers are preparing for it.

Midtown Comics sent out an email update today noting they will be closed Saturday and Sunday:

In a plot that would make Lex Luthor very jealous, Hurricane Irene threatens to blow down the Big Apple, along with the rest of the East Coast, starting Saturday afternoon, through all day Sunday. We’ve read enough Batman comics to know that we’ve got to be prepared for every contingency, and we want to make sure that all of our friends are taken care of BEFORE and AFTER Irene unleashes her ferocious fury. This, then, is the Midtown Meteorology Mass Effect plan:

In-store plan:
Midtown Comics will be CLOSED Saturday and Sunday, and, comic store heroes that we are, we’ll all be cowering in our homes, tying down valuables including kids and dogs. It’s not a complex plan, but it’s the safest since all mass transit in NYC will be closed as of noon on Saturday. We’re open until 9:00PM tonight, leaving plenty of time to satisfy a last-minute comic craving! For further updates, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Online plan:
All Wednesday new release orders will be shipped on Thursday and Friday. Everything else will be humming along as usual, Irene willing.

Considering New York is shutting down its entire mass transit system, it makes sense that many businesses will close.

Jim Hanley’s Universe, meanwhile, is helping New York comic fans prepare for a weekend in doors by holding a sale tonight. It’s going on right now and requires a secret word. They plan to be open at least until 4 p.m. on Saturday, and will be closed Sunday.

And Bergen Street Comics, located in Brooklyn, says they will likely be open from about noon to 3 p.m., although they might close early on Saturday. They say they’ll be closed on Sunday, unless the storm passes them by.

No matter where you are on the East Coast, stay safe and best of luck during the storm.

Guest shot | Hitting MoCCA? Your guide to NYC by Alex Dueben

Editor’s Note: Alex Dueben, who writes articles for Comic Book Resources, The Comics Journal and Suicide Girls, shared with us the following guide to other things you can do in New York City while you’re in town for the MoCCA Festival.

by Alex Dueben


New York is the city that never sleeps and while you visit the city for this weekend’s MoCCA Festival, neither should you! Just kidding. There is a lot to do in the city that is comics-related not going on at the festival and you should make time to check out while you’re there. Time is short, and most of your cash will be going to buy comics, but here are a few suggestions of things to do while you’re in the city when you’re not at the festival or at the MoCCA Official Afterparty.


Diary of a Teenage Girl.” We’ll start with this show since it is based on a graphic novel (and not a just “a” graphic novel but a GREAT graphic novel) and the lobby of the show features artwork by Phoebe Gloeckner. Sean Collins reviewed the show when it first opened and fittingly MoCCA weekend will be its final weekend. Great reviews all around (even the New York Times loved it). Star and writer Marielle Heller spent a lot of time and energy getting it off the ground and it was definitely worth it. Go out and show some solidarity for indie comics. A must see event!

Samuel and Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War” at the Brick Theater. The play has it all: Love. Friendship. Robot wars. With a title like that, does it really require much in the way of a description?

The Addams Family.” Charles Addams’ family brought to life by two of Broadway’s greatest stars, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth and music from Andrew Lippa. Reviews have been mixed but it’s hard to gather more talent together than this show has. Deserves props just for trying to go back to Charles Addams’ original cartoons for inspirations and not television or movies. Here’s hoping they capture some of Addam’s magic.

Stuffed and Unstrung.” I’m not even going to try to sell you on this NYC version of the Henson company’s acclaimed “Puppet Up” shows in Los Angeles. If puppets plus improv doesn’t make you want to see this show, I don’t know what will.

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