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Halloween ComicFest to haunt comic shops this weekend

HCF logo

On Saturday, comic shops across North America and around the world will celebrate Halloween ComicFest, which has taken on the dimensions of a second Free Comic Book Day. This is a relatively new event — the first was held in 2012 — but according to the HCF website, more than 1,400 stores participated last year, attracting 100,000 customers. The event is run by a group of retailers, publishers and suppliers, with Diamond Comic Distributors handling publicity and a lot of the logistics.

This year’s comics lindup includes 12 full-size comics and seven minicomics, although all retailers may not offer all titles. It looks like most of the comics are repackaged first issues of series that have been around for a little while, like Afterlife With Archie, Rachel Rising and Scooby-Doo Team-Up — all fitting choices for Halloween reading. Zenoscope offers a reprint of its first Halloween Special, and Avatar Press has the first issue of Max Brooks’ Extinction Parade.

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Comics A.M. | Thrillbent launches new iPad app

Thrillbent

Thrillbent

Digital comics | The digital comics publisher Thrillbent has launched its own iPad app, which allows users to read Thrillbent comics and also load in their own comics in PDF, CBR and CBZ formats via Dropbox. [iTunes]

Publishing | Diamond Comic Distributors is dropping the price of its monthly Previews catalog from $4.50 to $3.99 with the January issue (in stores Dec. 24). That, as the company notes, is “the average price of a standard monthly comic book.” [PreviewsWorld]

Publishing | Dark Horse plans to publish the historical graphic novel Nanjing: The Burning City, by Ethan Young (Tails). [The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | Turkish cartoonist faces prison for caricature

Legal

Legal

Legal | Former Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart over a cartoon caricaturing Erdoğan’s attempts to cover up a graft investigation. The prosecutor initially decided that there were no grounds for legal action, but Erdoğan took his case to the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court, which ruled that the cartoon exceeded the bounds of normal criticism and allowed the indictment to proceed. Kart could face nearly 10 years in prison if convicted and given the maximum sentence.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have dropped charges against all 209 of the people suspected in participating in the actual corruption Erdoğan is accused of covering up; those charges would have included “the transfer of lands with a value of billions of dollars at very low prices, the seizure of mines from businessmen by force, tender-rigging, illegally giving state tenders worth billions of dollars to businessmen, changing the status of protected areas through bribery, opening these [areas] for construction and making large profits off of them.” [Today's Zaman]

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Comics A.M. | DiDio and Lee on DC’s move, changing audience

Gotham Academy #1

Gotham Academy #1

Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. [...] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Is NYCC really bigger than San Diego?

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

Conventions | Following reports that New York Comic Con attracted 155,000 attendees this year, surpassing Comic-Con International’s 133,000, Kerry Dixon scrutinizes producer ReedPOP’s counting system and finds it leaves “a lot of room for guesswork and error in attendance size”: “So did New York Comic Con beat out San Diego to take over the title of the largest pop culture and comics convention this side of the globe? Well, not really.” [Unofficial SDCC Blog]

Publishing | Filip Sablik, BOOM! Studios’ president of publishing and marketing, talks about the company’s new offering: a $20 bundle of 50 kids’ comics that can be handed out to trick-or-treaters. The selection includes Adventure Time, Peanuts, Garfield and other comics from the kaBOOM! line. [Comicosity]

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Cleveland store teams with local artists for anti-bullying campaign

By Clare Kolat (left) and Shawny Walthaw

By Clare Kolat (left) and Shawny Walthaw

Inspired by Marvel’s variant covers marking National Bullying Prevention Month, Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop in Cleveland enlisted the artists of the local Scribble Nerds collective to produce a series of stickers featuring Marvel heroes and the message “Be a Hero … Not a Bully.”

The seven stickers (one from each member of the collective) star Spider-Gwen, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Deadpool, She-Hulk, Wolverine and Storm, and Rocket Raccoon, Baby Groot and Drax. The entire set is free throughout October with the purchase of any graphic novel (even the discounted ones).

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Comics A.M. | Cosplay, and the fight against harassment

NYCC's "Cosplay Is Not Consent" poster, designed by Amy Reeder

NYCC’s “Cosplay Is Not Consent” poster

Cosplay | Visiting New York Comic Con, Andrea Romano takes a look at the world of cosplay, the issue of sexual harassment — one person notes it’s certainly not exclusive to cosplay, observing, “There’s harassment when a woman is just wearing a crop top on the street” — and efforts being made to stop it.  Convention organizers placed their new anti-harassment policy front and center this year, and it seems to have helped: There were just eight reported incidents of sexual harassment during the four-day event. [Mashable]

Conventions | Fensterman talks at greater length about NYCC’s anti-harassment measures in this article, which contrasts the comics scene with what’s going on in the gaming world. [Time]

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Comics A.M. | Duo jailed for trying to sell $9,000 in stolen comics

Crime

Crime

Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]

Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]

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Is Amazon opening a brick-and-mortar store in New York City?

AmazonAmazon’s long-rumored plans for a brick-and-mortar store appear to be materializing in Midtown Manhattan — possibly in time for the holiday-shopping season. Or maybe they’re not.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the online giant is set to open a location at 7 W. 34th St., across from the Empire State Building, that will serve as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery, product exchanges and online-order pickups, as well as a distribution center for couriers. The newspaper’s sources cautioned those plans could change.

However, The New York Times questions whether we’ll see an Amazon store “any time soon” at that location, noting the retailer is taking over the entire 12-story building for what construction and real estate executives contend will be offices and a distribution center.

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Comics A.M. | A look back at the 1964 New York comic con

A Thor sketch by Jack Kirby, from the 1946 convention program

A Thor sketch by Jack Kirby, from the 1946 convention program

Conventions | Ahead of New York Comic Con, George Gene Gustines shares producer Michael Uslan’s program from a 1964 comics gathering in New York City; it actually was released after the show, and includes some thoughts on how things could be improved, mainly by shifting the focus from buying and selling comics to bringing in creators so the fans could meet them personally. Nonetheless, Steve Ditko was there, and the list of registered participants included George R.R. Martin. [The New York Times]

Creators | Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa talks about taking Sabrina the Teenage Witch to the dark side in her new series, a Riverdale horror story in the same vein as Afterlife With Archie. In this case, rather than zombies, Aguirre-Sacasa is drawing inspiration from the 1960s film Rosemary’s Baby. [Hero Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Bestselling ‘One Piece’ spawns a spinoff series

One Piece

One Piece

Manga | Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, the bestselling manga in Japan, is getting a spinoff: Starting with the January issue, which ships in December, the manga magazine Saikyo Jump will carry a series focusing on Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. There doesn’t seem to be any information yet on who the creators will be. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | In a business-oriented interview, Mark Waid talks about the strategy behind his digital comics site Thrillbent, especially its appeal to diverse groups of readers. The key is flexibility, Waid said, in terms of platforms and content. His goal is to make the comics readable on any digital device, which he says is not difficult once the site is set up. In terms of content, he says, “Pay attention to the audience, let them tell you who you’re clearly not serving, and go after them.” [The Wall Street Journal]

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Comics A.M. | San Diego & Salt Lake cons to meet about lawsuit

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Legal | A conference has been scheduled for Oct. 27 in San Diego to discuss a possible settlement in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the latter’s use of “Comic Con.” Comic-Con International filed lawsuit last month, claiming Salt Lake organizers are attempting to “confuse and deceive” fans and exhibitors with their use of the term. Salt Lake Comic Con formally responded on Monday, denying those accusations and asking a federal court to find Comic-Con International’s trademarks invalid. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

Banned Books Week | Reporter Sydney Gillette gets the local angle on Banned Books Week, talking with a local comics retailer and a librarian. While Missoula, Montana, has very few book challenges, the most recent one at the public library involved a graphic novel, The Furry Trap, by Josh Simmons. Neither the public libraries nor the schools in the area have ever removed a book in response to a challenge. [Montana Kaimin]

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Winners announced for 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards

rat queens1The winners of the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards were announced Saturday in Toronto. Named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator Superman, the awards recognize the best of the Canadian comics world.

In addition to the traditional awards, this year’s event included the introduction of the T.M. Maple Award, which honors “someone (living or deceased) selected from the Canadian comics community for achievements made outside of the creative and retail categories who have had a positive impact on the community.” The first recipients were the late Jim Burke, aka T.M. Maple, who wrote more than 3,000 letters to comic book letter columns between 1977 and 1994, and the late Debra Jane Shelly, longtime volunteer at Toronto conventions and comics events.

The winners are listed in bold below. The Beat has photos and audio from the ceremony, held at Back Space Toronto.

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Comics A.M. | Sherlock Holmes copyright case appealed to high court

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Sherlock Holmes and the Liverpool Demon #2

Legal | The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a June decision by the Seventh Circuit affirming that the 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before Jan. 1, 1923, have entered the public domain. The estate had long insisted licensing fees be paid for the characters and story elements to be used in movies, television series and books, but author, editor and Holmes expert Leslie Klinger refused to fork over $5,000 for an anthology of new stories. In a series of legal defeats, the Doyle estate not only lost any claim to the stories but had to endure stinging public reprimands by Judge Richard Posner, who labeled the licensing fees as “a form of extortion” and praised Klinger for performing a “public service” by filing his lawsuit.

In its petition to the high court, the Doyle estate continues to cling to its argument (gleefully dismantled by Posner) that Holmes is a “complex” character that he was effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States; therefore, the entire body of work remains protected by copyright. Hoping to draw the interest of the justices, the estate points to a circuit split on the matter of extending copyright. The lawyers also repeat the unsuccessful argument that Klinger’s case shouldn’t have been heard until after his book was published. In June, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kegan refused to issue a stay to prevent the Holmes stories from officially entering the public domain. [TechDirt]

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Jewish activists threaten boycott of London stores selling ‘Hipster Hitler’

hipster hitlerA group of Jewish activists is threatening to boycott and protest outside stores in the London borough of Camden that sell Hipster Hitler, a collection of the webcomic that satirizes hipster culture and the Third Reich.

If that doesn’t work, the Hampstead & Highgate Express reports, members of London Stands With Israel plan to buy and shred all copies of the comic, which some say is “sick” and “anti-Semitic.” They’re specifically targeting Mega City Comics, a Jewish-owned store in Camden Town.

Created in 2010 by James Carr and Archana Kumar, the webcomic stars an Adolf Hitler who wears trendy glasses, skinny jeans, thrift-store sweaters and shirts bearing slogans like “Eastside Westside Genocide,” “I (Heart) Juice” and “Death Camp For Cutie.”  It also features characters like Broseph Stalin, a sendup of the Soviet leader. Hipster Hitler quickly drew attention on Reddit, inspiring an Internet meme, T-shirts and homemade Halloween costumes.

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