Conventions | Declaring this weekend’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, England, a success, organizers have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Oct. 17-19. “Our first year has been everything we could have wished for,” said festival director Julie Tait. “There was a huge buzz right through Kendal – from The Brewery Arts Centre right to The Box on Wildman Street, as well as at the shopping centre and the library. The town has really got involved and there has been art work on every street. It feels like the weekend has involved everyone – from adults following their passion for Viz humour to kids learning how Peppa Pig was created.” This year’s festival featured guests ranging from Charlie Adlard and Ed Brubaker to David Lloyd and Trina Robbins. [Cumbria Live]
With all of the hustle and bustle and early announcements, it may be a little difficult to believe, but Preview Night is still a day away, and Comic-Con International doesn’t officially begin until Thursday. By that time, we should be fully exhausted.
But before we experience information overload, let’s take a look at some of the pre-convention information trickling in, ranging from trolley schedules to etiquette and survival guides to where to live it up while in San Diego:
• Entertainment Weekly highlights ‘five comics to watch” during Comic-Con: Marvel’s Inhuman and “Inhumanity,” Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s Wonder Woman: Earth One, DC’s “Villains Month,” the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, and Jeff Lemire’s Trillium.
• The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has increased trolley service on the Green Line, which provides direct transportation to the stations in front of the San Diego Convention Center. Service also will be expanded throughout Comic-Con; see a complete rundown on the MTS website.
Prism Comics, the nonprofit group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender creators and comics, has opened submissions for this year’s Queer Press Grant.
The grant is awarded to writers/artists or teams working on comic books, comic strips, webcomics or graphic novels with significant LGBT characters and themes. Creators don’t need to be LGBT to apply; entries are judged by the Prism board and past recipients based first on artistic merit, and then financial need, proposal presentation and the work’s contributions to the LGBT community.
“The Queer Press Grant is a significant resource to help promote LGBT themes in independent comics, and to support up-and-coming cartoonists bringing their projects into the world,” Justin Hall, Prism’s talent relations chair, said in a statement. “Every year, the QPG gives both financial support and extra publicity to a worthy recipient.”
Past winners include Robert Kirby, Eric Orner, Megan Gedris and Ed Luce.
Guidelines can be found on the Prism website. The deadline is Oct. 1, with the winner announced at the Oct. 13-14 Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco.
Legal | Prosecutors in Macomb County, Michigan, rested their case Friday in the second trial of Michael George, a former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in the back room of their Clinton Township comic store. The judge this morning will hear a defense motion for a directed verdict, seeking dismissal due to lack of evidence, before testimony resumes.
George, now 51, was arrested in August 2007, after a detective reopened the cold case, and convicted seven months later of first-degree murder and insurance fraud, among other counts, and sentenced to life in prison. However, the judge later set aside the verdict, citing prosecutorial misconduct — George’s mug shot was shown to the jury — and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. His retrial began Sept. 14, and should conclude this week. Prosecutors contend that George staged the killing to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George insists he was asleep at the time of the shooting, and that his wife was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. [Daily Tribune]
Publishing | Chip Mosher, marketing and sales director for BOOM! Studios, left the publisher on Friday after four years. Marketing coordinator Emily McGuiness will take over his duties. [BOOM! Studios]
Publishing | Japanese magazine publisher Enterbrain has pulled both volumes of Kazuaki’s manga Kai Yorihito Kaiyori Shiki because of the unauthorized use of licensed photographs. The editors and the creator have apologized to readers and the copyright holders. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | Erik Henriksen surveys Portland, Oregon-area retailers about the potential effects of digital comics on the direct market. “Digital has blown up at a time when print sales are falling due to high prices combined with an over-saturated market,” says Adam Healy of Cosmic Monkey Comics. “Digital comics are one of the few ways to bring in new readers and perhaps lure back old readers. The vast majority of the public is barely aware comics are still being made, and fewer still are willing to make a special trip to a comic book store to figure out what’s going on in the comic world. Digital sales potential is in the millions, whereas print comics sales’ ceiling currently is around 100,000. Digital is not a threat to print sales, mostly because they are so low already.” [The Portland Mercury]
Creators | Takehiko Inoue announced he’s placing his award-winning samurai adventure Vagabond on hiatus because of ongoing health problems. The manga has been serialized since 1998 in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning magazine and collected in 32 volumes; 31 of those have been released in the United States. Inoue will continue to work on his basketball manga Real, which is released at the more leisurely pace of about one volume per year. [The Eastern Edge, via Journalista]
Publishing | Todd Allen looks at moves by comics publishers to partner with OverDrive to make single-issue comics available to libraries as e-books: “With some 11,000 libraries being supplied digital material from OverDrive, this market offers a significant chance to get comics in front of new readers. According to the July 2010 sales estimates at ICV2, the Marvel Adventures version of Spider-Man sells 6,347 copies; Marvel Adventures Super Heroes sells 4,564. For a small publisher like Moonstone, the chance for more exposure is even greater.” [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | When Japan’s largest publisher, Kodansha, set up shop in the United States last fall, many expected a major shake-up in the North American manga market. But so far, Kodansha USA Publishing and Kodansha Comics have been awfully quiet, re-releasing only the first volumes of Akira and Ghost in the Shell. So Gia Manry goes to the source, the general manager of Kodansha USA, and learns … not a whole lot, actually. Except that the manga giant plans to create a website. [Anime Vice]
Publishing | Comics publishers are generally tight-lipped when it comes to sales figures — unless, of course, those numbers are really, really impressive. That’s the case with the hardcover collection for Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass, which Marvel reports has shipped nearly 100,000 copies since its release on Feb. 17. Almost 40 percent of those has gone to the direct market. [press release]