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Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | “Legend of Zelda” creators hint at English-language manga license

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Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team behind the Legend of Zelda manga, hinted on their Facebook page last week that Viz would license the English-language version of their new series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Viz refused to confirm the license, but given that they published the earlier Legend of Zelda manga (which they are planning to reissue as two-in-one omnibus editions), and the Japanese publisher of the series, Shogakukan, is one of Viz’s parent companies, it would be odd if they didn’t get the license. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Hi Score Girl’ to return following copyright dispute

hi score girl-manga

Manga | Rensuke Oshikiri’s romantic comedy manga Hi Score Girl will resume serialization in Square Enix’s Monthly Big Gangan magazine, after a lengthy hiatus due to copyright issues. The manga was suspended in 2014 after the game company SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, claiming the manga used characters from SNK’s games without permission. Copyright violations are taken seriously in Japan: Police raided Square Enix’s offices, and the publisher not only stopped selling the series but issued a recall. Although Square Enix filed a counterclaim, Tokyo police initiated charges against 16 people, including Oshikiri and Square Enix staffers. The parties agreed on a settlement in August 2015. In addition to resuming serialization of the series, Square Enix will publish the sixth volume and new editions of the first five. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

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Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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Comics A.M. | Tokyopop returns with first books in five years

tokyopop-alice

Manga | Pioneering U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop is back with its first new books in five years, and all three are tie-ins with other media. Alice in Wonderland: Special Collector’s Manga is a hardcover collection of Jun Abe’s manga adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, which will be released just before the premiere of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Similarly, Finding Nemo: Special Collector’s Manga, Ryuichi Hoshino’s adaptation of the Pixar blockbuster, will be released a week before the sequel Finding Dory. The third property is the five-volume series Kilala Princess, a shoujo manga series featuring Disney princesses. Tokyopop published the first two volumes of Kilala Princess during its earlier incarnation. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Farm News fires cartoonist Rick Friday amidst comic strip controversy

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

Political Cartoons | Farm News has ended Rick Friday’s gig as its editorial cartoonist, and Friday says he was fired because an advertiser complained about one of his cartoons. In the cartoon, a farmer comments that “In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.” The publisher and editor of Farm News declined to comment on why they let Friday go, and spokespeople from DuPont and Monsanto said they were not aware of the cartoon. But on his Facebook page, Friday wrote, “Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of It’s Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.” [Des Moines Register]

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Comics A.M. | Mom fights to sell ‘Supermanny’ comic to benefit son

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Legal | An Illinois mother says a trademark dispute is hampering her attempt to raise money for her 3-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Holly Bueno says while sitting in the hospital with her son Manny, she began writing a book called The Adventures of Supermanny. “My driving force was I wanted to give myself a voice and my son a voice, and I want there to be a story out there where the main character is in a wheelchair, there aren’t too many of those,” she says. Bueno had hoped to sell the book to raise money for a wheelchair ramp, but when she filed a trademark application last year for “Supermanny,” she drew the attention of DC Comics, which said it was too close to Superman. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filings show Bueno abandoned the mark in February.) Regardless of what happens with the trademark issue, there is also another fund-raiser for Manny — a superhero-themed 5k race. [ABC7 Chicago]

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Comics A.M. | Hundreds turn out for fan’s cosplay funeral

cosplay funeral

Fandom | When comics fan and cosplayer Erin Roberts learned she was dying from a brain tumor, at age 25, she asked that her life be celebrated with a cosplay funeral. Friends and family raised more than £3,500 to pay the expenses, including a horse and cart to bring her coffin to the church. More than 200 cosplayers attended the funeral. Her friends are also organizing a charity event to benefit the hospice where Roberts spent the last few weeks of her life. [Liverpool Echo]

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Comics A.M. | Rare original ‘Tintin’ art goes up for auction

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Auctions | Hold on to your wallet, there’s another comics auction in the offing. This one, at the French auction house Artcurial, will feature a number of pieces by Tintin creator Hergé, including the final spread from King Ottokar’s Sceptre, a sketch for The Castafiore Emerald, and a full page from Quick et Flupke, one of his less famous comics. [Business Insider]

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Comics A.M. | Viz licenses ‘Naruto’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ novels

tokyo ghoul-novel

Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Arab of the Future’ wins LA Times Book Prize

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Awards | Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir Arab of the Future has won this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the graphic novel category. The first volume of a planned trilogy, Arab of the Future also won top honors at the Angouleme International Comics Festival two years ago. [Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Kadokawa buys 51% stake in Yen Press

Kadokawa

Kadokawa

Publishing | Japanese publisher Kadokawa is buying a 51 percent stake in the American manga publisher Yen Press, which will become a joint venture between Kadokawa and Hachette Book Group. Founded in 2006 as a manga and graphic novel imprint of Hachette, Yen Press publishes Black Butler, Alice in the Country of Hearts, and the Twilight graphic novels, and it will release a new edition of Fruits Basket beginning this summer. In recent years it has expanded its line to include light novels (prose novels aimed at young adults), and that seems to be what Kadokawa, a major publisher of light novels, is interested in. With this deal, the top three manga publishers in the United States are wholly or partially in Japanese hands: Viz Media is co-owned by Shueisha and Shogakukan, and Kodansha Comics is a subsidiary of Kodansha. Vertical Inc., a smaller publisher, is partially owned by Kodansha and Dai Nippon Printing. [Yen Press]

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Comics A.M. | Trial delayed in alleged Pokemon gun plot

pokemon world championships

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]

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Comics A.M. | New York City considers restricting costumed characters

times scare

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]

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Comics A.M. | Longtime artist Ken Barr passes away

"The Rampaging Hulk" #1, by Ken Barr

“The Rampaging Hulk” #1, by Ken Barr

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]

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