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Comics A.M. | Iranian cartoonist released from prison

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(photo via The Foreign Desk)

Legal | Atena Farghadani was released from Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, yesterday, after serving a reduced 18-month sentence on charges stemming from a cartoon that depicted members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads. Farghadani had originally been sentenced to 12 years in prison, but on appeal she was acquitted of charges of counter-revolutionary activity and undermining national security, and several other sentences were reduced, waived, or converted to fines. Farghadani was tortured, put in solitary confinement, sexually harassed, and forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests while in prison. Nonetheless, she says she wants to continue to live and work as an artist in Iran. Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and in a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for more freedom of expression and an end to the jailing of critics of the government. [Cartoonist Rights Network International]

Awards | Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar with the 2016 Cartooning for Peace Award in Geneva yesterday. “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility,” the cartoonist said in a prepared statement. “It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.” Zunar faces nine charges of sedition, carrying a penalty of up to 43 years in prison, in his home country. [Malay Mail Online]

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This guy is writing a song for each of the 700-plus Pokémon

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Although Jacob Newman can’t catch all of the more than 700 species of Pokémon, he can write a song for each of them. Or so he plans to.

The 24-year-old folk punk artist, aka Jacob Norman Chainsaw-Arm, already has a good start, as he’s released a digital album called 100 Songs for 100 Pokémon, which contains tributes to the likes of Bulbasaur, Pumpkaboo, Charmander and Ivysaur (arranged according to Pokédex numbers, naturally). Just 600 more to go!

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Catch ‘em all with Yummy Mart’s ‘Pokémon’ lingerie collection

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With Pokémon’s 20th anniversary in full swing, Pikachu is popping up everywhere, even in lingerie sections.

Japanese underwear and lingerie label Yummy Mart has teamed with The Pokémon Company to launch its Pokémon Collection, which prominently features the iconic yellow pocket monster.

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Pokémon fans can catch these extra-large Pikachu cushions

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If you’d love to have that enormous sleeping Snorlax cushion but simply don’t have the room, you may want to choose one of these giant-size Pikachu pillows instead. However, you’ll have to move quickly.

Debuting April 5 from the Pokémon Company, these limited-edition cushions measure 28 inches by 16.5 inches, which is roughly twice the size of the beloved little pocket monster. Only 100 of the extra-large pillows will be produced (priced at about $70 a pair), hence the warning that you’ll have to move quickly.

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‘Pokémon Go’ unveils first screenshots and new details

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Just days after purported test footage of Pokémon Go surfaced online, The Pokémon Company has released the first screenshots from its augmented-reality, along with additional details about gameplay.

Announced in September, the smartphone game will allow Pokémon Trainers to track down and capture pocket monsters in a real-world setting. When paired with a Bluetooth-powered, Poké Ball-like device called Pokémon Go Plus, the app will notify players that there’s untamed Pokémon in the vicinity. Once you’ve spotted the pocket monster using the AR app, you’ll be able to throw a virtual Poké Ball to catch the creature. Players will also be able to engage other Pokémon Trainers in battle.

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This 32-foot Pokémon card mosaic sets a new world record

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In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, The Pokémon Company teamed with U.K. artist Quentin Devine to set a new world’s record for the largest trading card mosaic (yes, a giant trading card made from lots of little trading cards). Naturally, they accomplished their goal.

Unveiled Monday in Paris, the gargantuan Pikachu mosaic is comprised of 12,987 individual cards, and measures more than 32 feet tall and nearly 23 feet wide. “That’s taller than Primal Kyogre!” noted The Pokémon Company.

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Is this our first look at ‘Pokémon Go’?

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Six months after the tantalizing announcement of an augmented-reality game that would allow aspiring Pokémon Trainers to track down and capture pocket monsters in real life, we may have our first look at footage from Pokémon Go.

Following a talk given over the weekend at SXSW Gaming by John Hanke, CEO of Pokémon Go developer Niantic, a video (below) appeared online, depicting the capture of an Ivysaur.

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‘Gravity Falls’ creator turns presidential candidates into Pokemon

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Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch tried to draw Pokémon while listening to U.S. election news, and we’re all the better for it, because the result is this wonderful series that fuses presidential candidates with the little pocket monsters.

His “Presidential Pokémon” delivers Bernie Sanders as Charmander, Trump as Muck, Hillary Clinton as Butterfree, Marco Rubio as Diglett and Carson as Snorlax. Gravity Falls animator and storyboard artist Dana Terrace also stepped in with “HypnoCruz” (“Type: Creepy ATTACKS: Makes women sterile just by looking at them SECRET: Is the Zodiac Killer”).

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Mega Man, BB-8 and Mario catch light as stained glass art

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Who knew stained glass could look this awesome? The Stained Glass Geek takes the unlikely medium of stained glass, which originated in British churches and monasteries in the 7th century (thanks, Wikipedia!), and uses it to produce eye-catching artwork of many modern day pop culture icons.

Everything from Batman and Mario to Star Wars and Pokemon have all been rendered in the centuries-old method. The Stained Glass Geek even has a Patreon set up, with the mission to render 721 Pokemon in stained glass. You can check out more of the SGG’s work below and on Facebook.

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Giant cuddly Pikachu march into New York for Pokemon Day

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Those who simply laughed off the “Outbreak of Pikachus” last year in Yokohama, Japan, were faced with a stark reality Saturday as a small army of the cuddly pocket monsters marched into New York City. Disarmed by the cuteness of the giant marching Pikachu, residents were helpless to stop their fuzzy advance.

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Enormous sleeping Snorlax is the cushion Pokemon fans dream of

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On the eve of Pokémon Day, marking the 20th anniversary of the first Pokémon video game, Premium Bandai has unveiled merchandise that’s sure to rocket to the top of any would-be Trainer’s wish list: a nearly 5-foot-tall sleeping Snorlax cushion.

Yes, that’s taller than most children, and more than a few adults.

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‘The Pugémon Project’ reimagines Pokémon as adorable pugs

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Bringing together his love of dogs and his love of Pokémon, illustrator Sean Dowling has launched “The Pugémon Project,” which reimagines the little pocket monsters as — you guessed it — pugs. Specifically, the first generation of Pokémon.

“Really, they are just dogs with cool magical powers and maybe wings … or like … is an insect,” Dowling explains on his Kickstarter page. “But deep down, they are all dogs.”

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‘Famous Detective Pikachu’ is basically ‘Sherlock’ meets ‘Pokémon’

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As fun and inspirational as Pokémon‘s Super Bowl spot is, it’s nothing compared to the sheer awesomeness of this trailer for Nintendo’s Famous Detective Pikachu: The Birth of a New Partnership.

You see, it depicts a Pikachu donning Sherlock Holmes’ signature deerstalker and teaming with a young boy to solve crimes. What’s more, this fuzzy little pocket monster talks in full sentences.

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‘Pokémon’s’ Super Bowl spot tells fans to ‘train on’

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Ahead of the big game on Feb. 7, the Pokémon Company has unveiled the extended version of its first-ever Super Bowl spot.

The commercial, which celebrates the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, shows young trainers from across the globe (each of whom vows, “I can do that”), before settling on two players facing off in an arena with CG pocket creatures. It ends with what the company characterizes as a call to action: “Train on.”

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This ‘Pokémon’ theme jazz cover is smooth, smoky and stuck in your head

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The Pokémon theme is so memorable, and so catchy, that its mere mention can trigger spontaneous, heartfelt outbursts of “I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.” (You’re humming it now, aren’t you?) But no matter how many times you’ve watched the opening of the animated series, and belted out the song along with it, you’re probably never heard it performed quite like this.

Singer Sara Niemietz slows things down with this terrific jazz rendition of the Pokémon theme, backed by Scott Bradlee & Friends, injecting some sophistication into a cartoon about kids training pocket monsters to battle each other.

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