Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who awaits a second corruption trial, has been announced as a last-minute guest at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont, Illinois. He’ll appear Saturday to pose for photos and sign autographs, which sell for a whopping $80 and $50 each, respectively.
Just three days ago a federal jury found Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI, but deadlocked on 23 other counts, ranging from racketeering to attempted extortion and bribery, tied to accusations that he attempted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. A hearing will be held on Aug. 26 to discuss a new trial date.
Although Blagojevich, who served as governor from 2003 until his removal from office last year, came to national attention because of the corruption scandal, he has remained in the spotlight through his brief stint on the reality series The Celebrity Apprentice and through numerous television appearances.
“Wizard World Chicago Comic Con is all about pop culture, and Rod Blagojevich is as relevant to today’s news as it gets,” Wizard Entertainment CEO Gareb Shamus said in a statement. “We think the court of public opinion will show him to be a popular figure at the show.”
A 13-year-old boy in Cambridge, England, has transformed two vacuum cleaners into a device that enables him to climb walls like Spider-Man — okay, almost like Spider-Man — earning him the admiration of classmates and the scorn of J. Jonah Jameson.
Hibiki Kono, a Spider-Man fan, spent five months designing and assembling the gadget, made from two dirt-cheap vacuum cleaners (about $22.40 each) and square wooden pads.
“My mum thinks it’s brilliant,” he said, “but she won’t let me us it in my bedroom as she is worried I may pull down the ceiling.”
Crime | Florida authorities are trying to determine whether human remains discovered Wednesday in Pasco County are those of Stephen Perry, the 56-year-old ThunderCats writer who’s been missing for more than three weeks and presumed murdered. Zephyrhills police are still awaiting the results of DNA testing on the severed arm found in a trash bin on May 16 near Perry’s abandoned van.
Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who’s been covering the Perry case from the beginning, notes police revealed the latest discovery on the same day that Warner Bros. Animation announced it is producing a new version of ThunderCats. [The Tampa Tribune]
The California Association of Museums has launched a campaign to have a Snoopy drawing by Charles Schulz appear on a special California license plate. Proceeds from sales of the plates would establish a sustainable grant program to support state museums.
But for that to happen, at least 7,500 California drivers have to register interest in a Snoopy plate. Once there are enough interested Peanuts fans, the state will begin collecting a $50 fee from those who want the plate (more if you want it personalized). Curiously, The Snoopy Plate website doesn’t seem to list a deadline for registration.
The Snoopy plate is being made possible by Jean Schulz, the Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and United Media Licensing, who are granting royalty-free rights to the California Association of Museums.
In a sign of escalation in a brewing war with the High Evolutionary, the Arizona state Senate has passed legislation targeting human-animal hybrids.
Politico reports the bill would prohibit anyone in the state from “creating or attempting to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm.”
It also would outlaw attempting to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb, and vice versa, as well as transporting or receiving “for any purpose a human-animal hybrid.” The latter provision presumably aims to prevent Bova from immigrating to Yuma.
Louisiana passed a similar law in 2009. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has not voiced her opinion about the bill, which also passed a state House committee.
Neither the Transian embassy nor a spokes-animal for Herbert Edgar Wyndham responded to requests for comment.
Writer Neil Gaiman and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson may not have made the final cut, but Penny Arcade creators Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins earned a spot on “The 2010 Time 100,” the news magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people.
Just how influential is the duo? The 12-year-old webcomic draws some 3.5 million readers, and has led to the establishment of Child’s Play, a charity that provides video games to sick kids in hospitals, and the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), a gaming convention that last year drew 60,000 attendees to Seattle. An East Coast convention, PAX East, debuted last month in Boston.
“Krahulik and Holkins have become the tastemakers, and conscience, of an industry the size of Hollywood,” Lev Grossman writes in his brief profile. “But for all their success, they are almost compulsively self-deprecating, and they give all the credit to their fans. You can’t put a label on them. Labels smack of hype, and Penny Arcade doesn’t do hype.”
Whether or not Kick-Ass tops the weekend box office — it probably will — its marketing campaign has ensured the movie’s infiltration of popular culture. Nikki Finke points out that this morning’s Boston Herald features this political cartoon by Jerry Holbert.
Legal | In what some have already dubbed “the next Christopher Handley case,” Wikipedia co-founder Lawrence Sanger has reported Wikimedia Commons to the FBI for “knowingly distributing child pornography” in violation of Section 1466A of the U.S. PROTECT Act. Sanger, who left Wikipedia in 2002 and four years later launched the rival Citizendium, specifically points to entries on pedophilia and lolicon.
Manga collector Christopher Handley was sentenced in February under the same federal statute for possessing “obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children and mailing obscene material.” [The Register, Icarus Publishing, Geekosystem]
Business | This profile of Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger suggests there’s already friction between Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter and Disney’s consumer productions division: “Hollywood, familiar with Mr. Perlmutter’s penchant for ruling his roost, has started to whisper: Will he turn into Mr. Iger’s version of Harvey Weinstein, the hard-charging Miramax co-founder who caused Mr. Eisner so many headaches after Disney acquired the little studio?” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although WonderCon organizers are still tabulating attendance from last weekend’s convention, they say that “by all accounts the numbers for 2010 met or exceeded those for 2009.” Last year’s event drew about 34,000, a significant increase from the 20,000 that attended in 2008. They also set the dates for the 2011 convention: April 1-3, which undoubtedly means we’ll have to endure numerous April Fool’s announcements of titles and creative teams. [press release]
Creators | In an oddly worded post, Clifford Meth reports that 83-year-old comic artist Gene Colan was injured last week, and his being cared for by his children: “In addition, it appears that some of Gene’s artwork has disappeared, including pages from Nathanial Dusk and a Star Wars-related piece. The police are involved in the matter.” [Clifford Meth]
As Brigid pointed out on Monday, Penny Arcade creators Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik are among the finalists on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world (they’ve slipped two spots to No. 11 since yesterday). However, they’re not the only comics-industry figures in the poll: Just six spots behind the duo is writer Neil Gaiman, followed way down the list is DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson (No. 156, as of this post).
It’s an online poll, so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the creators of a popular webcomic and a comics writer-turned-bestselling author, both with a substantial web presence, rank high on the list, rubbing virtual elbows with the likes of actors Neil Patrick Harris and Robert Pattinson, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. They all have dedicated, and plugged-in, fan bases, after all (though none can touch Lady Gaga, who sits comfortably at No. 1).
But the inclusion of Nelson, who now hovers toward the bottom of the list just behind legendary singer-songwriter Patti Smith, is (pleasantly) unexpected.
“As comic books have rapidly emerged as the most bankable mainstream movie properties,” Time‘s description for Nelson reads, “a vast gulf has grown between the big-screen Marvel universe (Iron Man, Hulk) and that of DC Comics. Besides Christopher Nolan’s Batman chapters, DC has faced a drought at the multiplex. Nelson is charged with altering that course. As the head of the newly-created DC Entertainment, she’s been handed a sprawling comic book universe and tasked with adapting it for the mainstream. Millions of fans — and plenty of movie studio execs — are hoping she’s up to the task.”
To the best of my knowledge, there’s no Diane Nelson Fan Site, so it’s unlikely she’ll rocket into the upper echelons currently inhabited by Beyonce, Apolo Ohno, Stephen Colbert and President Obama. We’ll know for sure on April 29. Until then, the voting is open.
Hey You Guys! is a charity movie screening and silent art auction benefiting DonorsChoose.org, a website that allows teachers to post donation requests for school projects. They’ve posted several pieces of art that they plan to start auctioning off online on Monday; go check them out and see if there’s something you like.
Posterchild at Blade Diary has photos of a conveniently labeled superhero changing station in New York … (Thanks David!)
While The L.A. Times’ Mel Melcon snaps some shots of Spider-Man’s big arrest in Hollywood … J. Jonah must be really proud right now.
Google today celebrates the 50th anniversary of Asterix with a nice spotlight — otherwise known as a Google Doodle, I guess — on its homepage in a reported 40 countries.
René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s diminutive warrior, who debuted in the French magazine Pilote on this day in 1959, has appeared in 34 volumes that have sold more than 352 million copies worldwide.
Retailing | The American Booksellers Association has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the online price war being waged by Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target. The trade group says that by selling advance-order hardcovers at deep discounts the three retail giants are engaging in “illegal predatory pricing” and making it impossible for smaller stores to compete.
Ron Catapano of Ron’s Comic World in Mount Holly, New Jersey, asserts that direct-market retailers face a similar scenario: “I hope the comic publishers are paying attention. When the Watchmen movie came out and Amazon was selling the Watchmen trade paperback for less than I could get the book from Diamond Comic Distributors (including shipping cost), I complained and nobody cared. For most discounters, these books are not a significant part of their business, they are just something to make a few extra dollars on.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Japanese publishing giant Shogakukan plans to close three of its magazines, including the shojo manga monthly ChuChu. The magazine debuted in December 2005 with a print run of 180,000, but more recently sales have hovered around 50,000 copies. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | The New Jersey State Library has awarded $3,000 grants to 14 libraries to help them establish and expand graphic-novel collections. The State Library also conducted workshops about developing collections, and furnished librarians with “a core graphic novel bibliography” to help them with their purchases. [NJ.com]
On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert spied a spider crawling on the face of Pope Benedict XVI and posed a hypothetical scenario that would make Stan Lee proud: “… Given all the toxic waste and loose nuclear radiation all over Eastern Europe, if that spider bit the pope we might soon have … Spider-Pope!”
“He could shoot holy water from his wrists,” Colbert continued. “Trap atheists in his web, and every time someone used birth control his popey-sense would tingle!”