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Comics A.M. | ‘Sonic’ artist files lawsuit claiming ownership of 15 characters

Mammoth Mogul, one of the disputed "Sonic" characters

Mammoth Mogul, one of the disputed “Sonic” characters

Legal | Former “Sonic the Hedgehog” editor and artist Scott Fulop has filed a suit in Manhattan federal court stating that he is the legal owner of 15 characters he created for the long-running comic. In the suit, Fulop claims that publisher Archie Comics owes him royalties for over 1,000 uses of the characters, all of whom are enemies of Sonic. He filed for copyrights on the characters in 2009 and 2010, over a decade after they were created, and he says that Archie Comics “wrongly claimed all authorship credit” of the characters in their 2011 copyright filing. Fulop is the second creator to try to assert ownership of Sonic characters; artist Ken Penders also claimed ownership of the characters he created, leading to a flurry of legal action. That claim was eventually settled. [New York Post]

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Comics A.M. | Digital comics sales dropped in 2015 for the first time

digital-comics-am

Digital Comics | Digital comics sales dropped 10% in 2015, according to calculations by the geek-industry retail site ICv2. This is the first decline since the category started to take off in 2010. “Industry participants” offered a number of possible explanations for this, including the leveling-off of new tablet and e-reader purchases and competition from Humble Bundle and other bundle services. Conspicuously not mentioned is comiXology’s decision, in spring of 2014, to eliminate in-app purchases on iOS devices, removing the most convenient way to buy comics from the most popular platform. The article does mention that sales through the Google Play store and direct digital sales from publishers of DRM-free comics had increased, although they are still a small segment of the industry. Also, e-book sales in general are down. Despite all this, ICv2 calculates that digital sales totaled $90 million last year, which is still pretty good considering that the market was just $1 million in 2009. [ICv2]

Conventions | New York Comic Con will extend the party with a series of events tagged “NYCC Presents,” running from October 3-9 (the con itself is October 6-9). The events include a “We the Heroes” Ball, Doctor Who costume and trivia contest, a live episode of “Game Grumps,” and “Shipwreck Presents: A Literary Erotic Fanfic Competition based on William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.” All events require separate tickets—your NYCC badge won’t get you in. [New York Comic Con]

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Comics A.M. | New death threats at “Charlie Hebdo”

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo

Crime | French police are investigating two new death threats to the staff of the French satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo.” The first threat was posted on the magazine’s Facebook page and then removed; the second was sent to the editor a few days later. “The messages raise the idea of killing several members of the editorial, again,” an anonymous source told the French newspaper Le Parisien. Security is tight at the “Charlie Hebdo” editorial office, which was moved to a secret location after 12 people were killed in an attack in January 2015. [The Local]

Conventions | Rob Salkowitz interviews Comic-Con International chief communication and strategy officer David Glanzer, who has been going to Comic-Con since 1978 and working for them since 1994. Glanzer discusses attendance, the possible saturation of the pop-culture convention market, and what might cause the con to leave San Diego, however reluctantly. And he emphasizes the importance of comics to Comic-Con: “We have a great and unique demographic and are pinged constantly by organizations who want to target that demographic for marketing purposes. But while it may be true that they are a key demo for marketing, we don’t want a participating company to exhibit or present a panel for that reason alone. They should have an organic relationship to comics and popular art. It’s a difficult area to maintain, but it’s one we pride ourselves on at least trying to remain true to our mission.” [Forbes]

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Comics A.M. | Tite Kubo’s ‘Bleach’ manga nears its end

Bleach, Vol. 66

Bleach, Vol. 66

Manga | Next week’s issue of the Japanese “Shonen Jump” will announce the impending conclusion of Tite Kubo’s fantasy-adventure manga “Bleach.” This comes as no surprise to readers, as the nearly 15-year-old series entered its final story arc in 2012. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Stu Levy on Tokyopop’s return to print

tokyopop-alice

Publishing | As Tokyopop returns to the graphic novel market, CEO Stu Levy talks about what he learned when the company stopped doing print in 2011, what happened with Tokyopop Germany, and how he sees the market now. Tokyopop is relaunching in print with three manga based on Disney properties, which Levy compares to the Korean tacos popularized by the food truck Kogi in Los Angeles: “To me that’s the epitome of fusion food done right, and I think what we’re doing with Disney manga is along those lines. It’s Japanese manga artists interpreting Disney characters and stories in a way that makes it uniquely manga, but it also retains the essence of Disney and the beloved characters that are a worldwide brand for a reason.” [ICv2]

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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. | The changing industry and its changing audience

The Mighty Thor #2

The Mighty Thor #2

Comics | The comics industry has undergone seismic changes in the past few years, and Heidi MacDonald rounds up some recent comments from retailers and pundits about what they’re seeing. It’s a good read that leads to many other good reads, but here’s the takeaway: “
The real issue — one that many people in the industry may have trouble dealing with — is that the comics audience has changed. They didn’t get into comics during the first run of the Ultimate universe. They didn’t come in with the original 52 mini series or Final Crisis. They probably didn’t even start with the New 52. The methods and product mixes that were formulated to deal with a readership that grew up when comics were a niche product for nerds have to be reevaluated when new readers are coming in from the top properties in every form of entertainment, from graphic novels that they were taught in school, from webcomics, from creators with strong social media, from every which way. There is no well marked four lane highway to comics any more, just a delightful variety of roads, interstates and worn down dirt paths.” [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Roller Girl’ named as Newbery Honor Book

Roller Girl

Roller Girl

Awards | Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, a graphic novel about a middle-schooler who joins a roller derby team that changes her life, was one of three children’s books named Newbery Honor Books over the weekend by the American Library Association during its midwinter meeting. The John Newbery Medal is given each year to the “most distinguished” children’s book published the previous year, and the Newbery Honor Books are basically the runners-up. Three other graphic novels were Honor Books in different categories: Liz Suburbia’s Sacred Heart won an Alex Award, given to adult novels with teen appeal; Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers, was a Mildred Batchelder Honor Book, which recognizes books originally published in languages other than English; and Don Brown’s Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans was a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a category that recognizes excellence in nonfiction young adult books. [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to mark anniversary of attack with special issue

 

Publishing | French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will release a special double-size issue on Jan. 6 commemorating the one-year anniversary of the  jihadist attack on its Paris office by that left 12 people dead. One million copies will be produced of the issue, which will feature drawings by the cartoonists killed in the massacre, as well as illustrations by current staff members. A special “survivors issue” released after the attack sold 7.5 million copies worldwide. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | Charting the growth of the graphic novel market

"Drama," by Raina Telgemeier

“Drama,” by Raina Telgemeier

Publishing | Calvin Reid and Heidi MacDonald assemble a roundtable of comics insiders to for a detailed discussion of how the graphic novel market has evolved over the past 10 years, how their own business models have evolved, and what challenges they expect the future to bring. “Graphic novels are now firmly established in the book market worldwide in every genre: superhero, creator-owned, kids, middle-grade, young adult, webcomic, media tie-ins … etc,” says Kuo-Yu Liang, vice president of sales & marketing for Diamond Book Distributors. “While the overall book business is flat, most retailers are reporting comics/graphic novels and related merchandise as one of the few segments growing.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Viz Media launches ‘Naruto’ app

Naruto

Naruto

Digital comics | With Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto appearing this week at New York Comic Con, Viz Media is launching a dedicated Naruto app that will offer a chapter of the series every day for free (each chapter will be free for seven days). The app will sync with the VizManga digital comics platform, and users who buy one or more volumes of Naruto on either digital service this month will also get a bundle that includes the original pilot chapter Kishimoto created for the series, plus editors’ notes, chapter reviews and fan art. Viz is also offering discounts individual volumes throughout the month of October, with the first five volumes selling for $1.99 each. [Crunchyroll]

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Comics A.M. | Four challenges facing the comics industry

Secret Wars #1

Secret Wars #1

Publishing | Todd Allen pulls the camera way back for a broad look at four challenges facing the comics market: the shift from serial comics to graphic novels, editorial changes at DC Comics and Marvel, and the virtual monopolies that comiXology has in the digital sector and Diamond Comic Distributors has in print. How could that play out? “In the best-case scenario, Marvel’s relaunch sticks with the audience, DC restaffs and regains its footing, the Direct Market retailers embrace risk diversification and increase their stock of independent comics, bookstores continue to expand their graphic novel selections. Comics enter a legitimate golden age. In the worst case, Disney and/or Warner Bros. both tinker with their formula of making monthly print comics and Direct Market retailers face a new and uncertain business model.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | Neighbors throw young fan his own comic con

cameron comic con

Fandom | Twelve-year-old Cameron Bippen was  looking forward to attending Tampa Bay Comic Con, but had to miss the event due to unexplained seizures. Following his release from the hospital, Cameron’s neighbors in Riverview, Florida, threw him his own comic convention, complete with costumed guests and a visit from members of the Tampa Bay 501st Star Wars Legion. [Fox 4 News]

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Comics A.M. | DC sues over Superman-inspired T-shirt design

Mad Engine's T-shirt design

Mad Engine’s T-shirt design

Legal | DC Comics has filed a trademark lawsuit against clothing manufacturer Mad Engine, claiming one of its T-shirt designs infringes on the iconic Superman shield (it replaces the signature “S” with “Dad”).  The shirt was sold through Target, which isn’t part of the suit. DC sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mad Engine on June 1, but, the publisher claims, the clothing company didn’t respond until June 19 “in an effort to allow the Infringing T-Shirt to remain available for sale through Father’s Day.” [The Hollywood Reporter]

Retailing | David Harper asked 25 comics retailers how they feel about their business (spoiler: mostly optimistic), what their customer base is like, how they determine which comics to order (some really interesting comments here), and their thoughts on the industry as a whole. With the caveat that it’s a small group, it’s fascinating stuff. [Sktchd]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Boruto: Naruto the Movie’ viewers to get manga one-shot

"Boruto: Naruto the Movie" art by Masashi Kishimoto

Boruto: Naruto the Movie

Manga | A special treat awaits moviegoers who see Boruto: Naruto the Movie in Japanese theaters in August: A special Naruto book that includes both the final chapter of the original Naruto manga and a new one-shot story by Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Sophie Campbell discusses working on Jem and the Holograms and the reactions she received earlier this year after coming out as trans: “I didn’t know how people would react, my family in particular of course, and I was worried about being fired from Jem because I was scared that IDW or Hasbro would feel like this wasn’t what they signed up for… It’s only been a couple months, but so far it’s been the opposite of what I was expecting. My family has been super great even though it’s tough for them, and as far as work goes, I’ve actually gotten more offers than I’ve ever had, and my publishers have been more than amazing.” [The Advocate]

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