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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]
A 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.
Mail-order comics services have been around for decades, but with the Internet they’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Still, when you put together the words “online” and “comics,” many people naturally think digital, but a new online mail-order business is putting print — and comics as a physical product — squarely into the limelight.
Launched earlier this summer, Comic Cartel has the standard offerings of other online mail-order services, with the ability to shop for individual issues and graphic novels, as well to create subscriptions. But what sets Comics Cartel apart is its attention to detail when it comes to comics as a physical object — one worthy of high care and exceptional packaging.
Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]
Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]
Publishing | Admitting that “I don’t think men are as sexualized as women” in Marvel comics, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says the publisher is moving toward including more types of female characters: “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this and we want to make sure they get it. This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.” Later he states, “I challenge you to find in Ms. Marvel anything that resembles the Playboy model standard. But I don’t want to be Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes. We’re creating stories. I don’t want to say there’s no room for stuff that’s not just fun. Then you’re censoring yourself. I want to make sure I have books like Ms. Marvel and Black Widow that I’m proud about and could give to my daughter. But at the same time I don’t want to be the PC police and say you can’t be naughty; you can’t be fun.” [The Telegraph]
Legal | A 54-year-old man was sentenced this week in a Quebec court to 60 days in jail for watching pornographic anime featuring characters that appeared to be minors, a violation of Canadian law. A former private security guard, Regis Tremblay admitted he watched the cartoons several times in January 2012 out of “curiosity” while working at Canadian Force Base Valcartier, north of Quebec City. Investigators say they discovered 210 “hentai” files from a hard drive, and 501 “incriminating” web addresses from Tremblay’s browser history. Following his jail sentence, Tremblay will have to register as a sex offender. [Canoe]
Conventions | Richard Bruton notes that the Dublin International Comic Expo (DICE) has taken the unusual step of posting a link to its harassment policy at the top of its home page. “Having a quick look around it’s the only comic event/festival/expo/con site to feature it so prominently,” he writes. “Some make mention of their policies in FAQ or About sections, but as far as I know DICE is the first to do so this way.” He does take issue with one vaguely worded item in the policy, though: “In particular, exhibitors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material.” [Forbidden Planet]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con may have achieved near-San-Diego proportions in just two years, with an estimated 120,000 attendees, but most of those seem to be locals, according to Scott Veck of Visit Salt Lake: Just 800 hotel rooms were booked through the local tourist organization, as opposed to 3,000 for the big Outdoor Retailers trade show. About 15 percent of Salt Lake Comic Con attendees were from out of state. [Fox News 13]
Creators | Mumbai, India, editorial cartoonist Kanika Mishra was infuriated when controversial religious leader Asaram Bapu said the victim of a highly publicized gang rape shared responsibility for the crime. When the news broke that Asaram was accused of raping the 16-year-old daughter of one of his followers, Mishra drew a series of cartoons about it — and then, when his supporters threatened and harassed her, she drew about that, too: “I decided not to send this message that I am afraid of these goons. I made more and more cartoons on Asaram as his followers abused and threatened me.” Mishra is one of two recipients of this year’s Cartoonists Rights Network International Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning. [India West]
Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]
Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]
Comics | Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles explains why he and his partner Stephen Fishler were willing to pay a record $3.2 million last month for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1: “We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go.” Zurzolo also talks about how he built up his business, starting out selling comics at conventions at the age of 15. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | More trouble for Square Enix over the gamer manga Hi Score Girl: Publication was suspended last month following allegations the series, which runs in the Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan, had used characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore without permission. Now it turns out Square Enix asked permission from Sega to use characters from its Virtua Fighter game, but then went ahead and published the story before permission was granted. Sega executives “strongly objected” but took no further action and did grant the permission, reasoning it would be good publicity for the game. [Anime News Network]
Business | DC Entertainment parent company Warner Bros. is expected to offer buyouts to an unspecified number of employees as part of an effort to increase profits following a disappointing summer at the box office. The cuts are thought to be spread across the film, television and home entertainment units; if not enough workers accept buyouts, unnamed sources contend the studio may resort to layoffs. Warner Bros. wouldn’t comment on the report. [Bloomberg]
Legal | Hirofumi Watanabe has filed an appeal in Tokyo District Court, seeking to overturn his conviction on charges of sending threatening letters to venues and retailers linked to the Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime series. Watanabe admitted to all the charges on his first day in court, and after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison, he said, “I’m glad to accept the ruling so I can live over four years in prison,” so this is a reversal for him. [Anime News Network]
Retailing | Books-A-Million had a good second quarter, and CEO Terry Finley gives at least part of the credit to graphic novels: “We also saw strong growth in the graphic novel category, with continued success with titles related to AMC’s The Walking Dead series and a renewed interest in several manga series [that] drove sales increases.” And to boost that, the retail chain, which operates more than 250 stores nationwide, is planning Marvel promotions throughout September. [ICv2]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr is trying to measure how much money attendees are spending. In terms of hotel beds, at least, the convention seems to be dwarfed by trade shows, but with people coming to Salt Lake City from 48 states for the recent spinoff event FanXperience, that may be changing. Still, even in San Diego, attendees spend only about $600 per person; if Salt Lake attendees are similarly thrifty, the convention may not be a significant player in the Salt Lake City convention scene. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | Although the planned $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center is, by all appearances, dead, Comic-Con International isn’t ready to say what it will do when its contract expires in 2016. “With regard to the convention center expansion, I can say that any decision to remain in San Diego has always been dependent upon a number of factors, and no one issue could really trump the others,” says David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of marketing and public relations. He notes that organizers previously worked with the city, convention center and hotels to expand programming venues, and they continue to discuss such issues as “space, hotel rates and other logistical factors that need to be addressed if we are to remain in San Diego.”
The proposed expansion would have added 740,000 square feet of exhibit space, a five-acre rooftop park, a waterfront promenade with retail shops and restaurants, and a second, 500-room tower to the adjacent Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. However, a California appeals court ruled Aug. 1 that a planned hotel tax intended to pay for the bulk of the costs was unconstitutional, as it was never put to a citywide vote. Anaheim and Los Angeles attempted to woo Comic-Con away from San Diego in 2010. [ICv2.com]
Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]
Awards | Mimi Pond’s Over Easy has been recognized with a PEN Center USA Literary Award for Graphic Novel Outstanding Body of Work. Previous category winners are Gilbert Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Joe Sacco and Matt Fraction. [PEN Center USA]
Publishing | Dark Horse is planning to beef up its lineup of children’s graphic novels, which already includes such successful titles as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Plants vs. Zombies and Itty Bitty Hellboy. Four new titles are slated for 2015: Rexodus, a story about dinosaurs from outer space, and three older properties, Rod Espinosa’s Courageous Princess, Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park’s Veda: Assembly Required, and an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Return of the Gremlins. [Publishers Weekly]
Conventions | Vocativ put together an interesting, if somewhat late, video report about the Middle East Film & Comic Con in Dubai, often viewed by Westerners as a conservative Muslim city. Yet the April convention, which drew about 35,000 attendees, featured both women in traditional hijabs and cosplayers in somewhat-revealing costumes. More interesting still, the number of women artists outnumbered the men. The piece also touches upon the reaction to the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim teenager from New Jersey. [Vocativ]
Creators | “Never having known how to work in this style, suddenly in my 80s, I discover I can”: Jules Feiffer talks about his latest graphic novel, Kill My Mother, a noir-ish tale that is a sharp departure from his earlier work. [Los Angeles Times]