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Comics A.M. | Kodansha licenses ‘Attack on Titan: Lost Girls’

attack-lost-girls-social

Manga | Kodansha Comics has announced seven new titles for fall, including Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, a manga adaptation of the Attack on Titan spinoff novel that gives the backstory of the characters Annie Leonhart and Mikasa Ackerman; Cells at Work, a shonen manga in which the white blood cells and neurons battle disease; and The Prince in His Dark Days, a gender-switching version of The Prince and the Pauper in which a poor girl takes the place of a rich boy. [Kodansha Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Japan plans to build national manga museum

Cool Japan

Cool Japan

Manga | As part of its Cool Japan initiative, the Japanese government plans to build the “Manga National Center” — a museum dedicated to manga, anime and video games — in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Expected to cost about $90 million, the project will be funded through a mixture of public and private-sector money. [Chicago Tribune]

Passings | Augie Scotto, an artist whose work appeared in Will Eisner’s PS magazine, passed away March 15 at age 88. He began his career in 1949, drawing largely crime and Western stories for such early publishers as Eastern Color, Atlas and Charlton. Scotto seems to have left comics for a while around 1953, but returned in 1968 as the penciler for Tower Comics’ Dynamo and as an inker for DC Comics until around 1978. [Timely-Atlas-Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Charting the growth of Chicago’s C2E2

Cosplay at C2E2 2015

Cosplay at C2E2 2015

Conventions | Ahead of this weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, the Chicago Tribune looks at the growth, and the economics, of the convention, which last year drew a reported 71,000 attendees — about 40 percent of which come from outside Illinois. [Chicago Tribune]

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Comics A.M. | Irving Fine, founder of Siegel and Shuster Society, dies

Jerry Siegel's childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

Jerry Siegel’s childhood home (courtesy of the Siegel and Shuster Society)

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]

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Comics A.M. | Suspect arrested in attempted ‘Magic’ card robbery

From store surveillance video

From store surveillance video

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]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Ms. Marvel’ wins Dwayne McDuffie diversity award

ms marvel

Awards | Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, won the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics, presented over the weekend at Long Beach Expo in Long Beach, California. The other nominees were Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven, by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri;  Fresh Romance, edited by Janelle Asselin; Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos; and Zana, by Jean Barker and Joey Granger. The Beat has Wilson’s acceptance video. [Long Beach Comic Expo]

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Comics A.M. | What sets ‘Fairy Tail’ apart from other shonen manga?

Fairy Tail

Fairy Tail

Creators | Fairy Tail creator Hiro Mashima explains what sets his series apart from other shonen manga: “It actually goes back to the series I worked on before, Rave Master. In one episode, there was a scene where a group of guys are hanging out at a bar. That was fun to draw. So I wanted to draw a manga with the feel of guys hanging out at a bar. I thought it’d be interesting to enter a world where characters have established relationships, like friendship. Usually a shonen manga starts with just a main character, who then slowly accumulates his or her allies as the story progresses. But in the world of Fairy Tail, everybody pretty much knows each other at the beginning. [Kodansha Comics]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Naruto,’ ‘One-Punch Man’ top book store sales

Naruto Seventh Hokage

Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]

Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]

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Comics A.M. | Longtime ‘Mark Trail’ artist Jack Elrod passes away

"Mark Trail," by Jack Elrod

“Mark Trail,” by Jack Elrod

Passings | Longtime Mark Trail artist Jack Elrod Jr. died Wednesday at age 91. Mark Trail was created in 1946 by Ed Dodd, who brought on Elrod four years later as a background artist. When Dodd retired in 1978, Elrod took over the comic strip, and earned many awards from environmental organizations. He also made a significant change due to reader feedback, removing the title character’s pipe after a 6-year-old fan wrote to him saying, “It is bad for his health, pollutes the air, and it is dangerous to the birds.” Elrod retired in 2014, handing over Mark Trail to current artist and writer James Allen. [Gainesville Times]

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Comics A.M. | Viz Media expands Walmart deal, makes Best Buy debut

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

Publishing | Viz Media has struck separate agreements that will expand the number of manga titles it sells at Walmart and bring its books to Best Buy for the first time. Under the Walmart deal, bestsellers Tokyo Ghoul, Pokeman, One Punch Man and the new Naruto one-shots will be available in more than 2,000 of the retailer’s locations across the United States. Under the Best Buy agreement, two Naruto titles and Assassination Classroom will be packaged with their respective anime and featured in floor displays at 687 locations. [Publishers Weekly]

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Jewel Kats, the inspiration for Archie’s Harper Lodge, passes away

archie-harper

Children’s author Jewel Kats, the inspiration for Archie Comics character Harper Lodge, passed away Jan. 7.

“RIP Jewel Kats,” tweeted Archie Comics cartoonist Dan Parent. “You’ve inspired so many! You won’t be forgotten!”

Kats, who was injured in a car accident at age 9, leading her to use a crutch or a wheelchair (hot pink), wrote the “Fairy Ability Tales” books, which cast characters with chronic illnesses or disabilities in the primary roles. It was while promoting her graphic novel DitzAbled Princess at Fan Expo 2013 that she encountered Parent, which led to the creation of Veronica’s cousin Harper.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Attack on Titan’ Vol. 18 tops Japan’s weekly chart

Attack on Titan, Vol. 18

Attack on Titan, Vol. 18

Publishing | The 18th volume of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan sold 969,743 copies in its first week of release in Japan, claiming the top spot on the weekly manga sales chart. According to market research firm Oricon, thats an increase of nearly 200,000 copies from the debut of Vol. 17 in August. Attack on Titan has sold about 8.8 million copies this year, a drop of almost 50 percent from 2013. [Crunchyroll]

Passings | Cartoonist and editor Jacques Hurtubise, who went by the pen name Zyx, has died at age 65. Hurtubise attended college in Montreal during a time of separatist turmoil, and in 1971 recceived a government grant to publish L’Hydrocéphale illustré, an anthology of work by emerging Quebecois cartoonists. The magazine folded a year later, but Hurtubise continued to be an active promoter of local comics in various forms, and in 1979, he teamed up with two other editors to start the children’s humor magazine Croc, which carried a large selection of comics. The magazine, which ran until 1995, provided paying work to many eminent Canadian cartoonists in their early years. After Croc folded, Hurtubise left the comics industry for a career in technology, but he was inducted in 2007 into the Shuster Awards Hall of Fame. [Sequential]

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Comics A.M. | ‘One Piece’ is the king of manga sales, again

one piece-v76

Manga | Continuing its seven-year streak, Eiichiro Oda’s pirate adventure One Piece was the bestselling manga in Japan in 2015, according to the market research firm Oricon. The series sold 14.1 million copies between Dec. 1, 2014, and Nov. 30, 2015, an increase of 18 percent from the previous year. It’s followed by The Seven Deadly Sins with 10.3 million, Attack on Titan with 8.8 million, Assassination Classroom with 8.6 million and Kingdom with 8.5 million. You can see the full Top 10, as well as breakdowns by volume, at Crunchyroll. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | The rise of the custom retailer variant cover

John Romita Jr.'s exclusive "Dark Knight III" #1 variant for Ssalefish Comics

John Romita Jr.’s exclusive “Dark Knight III” #1 variant for Ssalefish Comics

Retailing  | The Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal looks at the increasing popularity of custom retailer variant covers, focusing on local stores Acme Comics and Ssalefish Comics, which last week debuted an exclusive red-foil variant for Wrath of the Eternal Warrior and this week will release a cover by John Romita Jr. for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1. The latter costs Ssalefish $18,800, which covered printing of color and black-and-white covers and Romita’s commission. “Even if we don’t make money back on the books, it’s still nice advertising,” said Bret Parks, owner of Ssalefish. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes our customers realize they’re getting something special, because although you might see a big stack of these ‘Eternal Warrior’ variants in our store, we’re the only store in the world that has them.” [The Winston-Salem Journal]

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Comics A.M. | Michael Gross, designer of ‘Ghostbusters’ logo, passes away

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

Passings | Michael C. Gross, the artist, designer and film producer best remembered for creating the iconic Ghostbusters logo, passed away Monday following a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. Hired in 1970 as the art director of The National Lampoon, Gross is credited with pioneering the magazine’s approach to comics and illustration; he’s also famed for his notorious cover bearing the headline, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.” Gross was encouraged by his friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd to move in the early 1980s from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced such films as Heavy Metal, Twins and both Ghostbusters films, and worked on the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. [The Associated Press]

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