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Comics A.M. | Troubles at Space City Comic Con

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Conventions | This year’s Space City Comic Con in Houston seems to have had a number of organizational problems. Among other things, the Sons of Anarchy cast reunion did not occur, and actor Charlie Hunnam left early after encountering problems with payment; there are unconfirmed reports of a testy encounter in which security was called. Hunnam’s early departure caused a cascade of problems, with some unpaid volunteers walking out after being berated by angry fans, and attendees who paid up to $2,000 for VIP tickets looking for refunds (and in at least some cases, getting them). Sons of Anarchy cast member Kim Coates called it “a complete breakdown by upper management,” and there does seem to be some internal wrangling, with some members of organization that runs the con trying to remove organizer George Comits. [Houston Chronicle]

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Comics A.M. | “Legend of Zelda” creators hint at English-language manga license

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Manga | Akira Himekawa, the two-woman team behind the Legend of Zelda manga, hinted on their Facebook page last week that Viz would license the English-language version of their new series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Viz refused to confirm the license, but given that they published the earlier Legend of Zelda manga (which they are planning to reissue as two-in-one omnibus editions), and the Japanese publisher of the series, Shogakukan, is one of Viz’s parent companies, it would be odd if they didn’t get the license. [Anime News Network]

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Comics A.M. | Looking back on 30 years of Dark Horse

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Publishing | Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson looks back at 30 years in the business in a two-part interview that covers the rise of shoujo manga and the way it changed American comics, the evolution of comics distribution and the direct market, the status quo and future plans for Dark Horse, and how the comics world is changing and continues to change: “The internet, of course, has changed the industry dramatically. The comic book industry was pretty much focused on the East Coast. As the internet rose, it helped companies like Dark Horse build a comics industry here in Portland. Portland right now is probably the epicenter of the comic book industry in the United States — companies, creators, organizations, all related to comics. We have a huge comic book population here from all angles of the business. It’s pretty amazing.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Wait, comics depicting crime are illegal in Canada?

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Legal | Crime comics, including most superhero titles, are illegal in Canada, thanks to a seldom-enforced 1940s-era law that’s still on the books. The law, which was enacted during one of the early waves of anti-comics hysteria, bans the publishing, sale or possession with intent to sell of any comic that depicts a crime. Elton Hobson tells the whole tale, which starts with a murder and ends with a shrug from a retailer who’s confident she won’t be clapped in irons for selling Spider-Man comics. [Global News]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

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Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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Comics A.M. | Tokyopop returns with first books in five years

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Manga | Pioneering U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop is back with its first new books in five years, and all three are tie-ins with other media. Alice in Wonderland: Special Collector’s Manga is a hardcover collection of Jun Abe’s manga adaptation of Tim Burton’s film, which will be released just before the premiere of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Similarly, Finding Nemo: Special Collector’s Manga, Ryuichi Hoshino’s adaptation of the Pixar blockbuster, will be released a week before the sequel Finding Dory. The third property is the five-volume series Kilala Princess, a shoujo manga series featuring Disney princesses. Tokyopop published the first two volumes of Kilala Princess during its earlier incarnation. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Farm News fires cartoonist Rick Friday amidst comic strip controversy

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

The cartoon Rick Friday claims got him fired from Farm News

Political Cartoons | Farm News has ended Rick Friday’s gig as its editorial cartoonist, and Friday says he was fired because an advertiser complained about one of his cartoons. In the cartoon, a farmer comments that “In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2129 Iowa farmers.” The publisher and editor of Farm News declined to comment on why they let Friday go, and spokespeople from DuPont and Monsanto said they were not aware of the cartoon. But on his Facebook page, Friday wrote, “Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of It’s Friday cartoons after 21 years of service and over 1090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa.” [Des Moines Register]

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Comics A.M. | How an aneurysm led to the creation of Koyama Press

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Publishing | Zainab Akhtar looks at the success of Koyama Press and how it changed the comics small press world as a whole. She starts with the amazing origin story: Founder Annie Koyama nearly died from a brain aneurysm, and while she was recovering she played the stock market so successfully that she was able to quit her job and launch Koyama Press. For six years she provided funding for artists without taking anything for herself, and she also searched for and promoted emerging artists. “On an immediate level, Annie’s generous yet meritocratic approach validated the work of artists who were otherwise written off by the established alternative comics community, which often views this new generation of cartoonists working primarily online as somehow less legitimate,” Akhtar writes. “On a broader scale, her commitment to taking risks on emerging artists reflected an ongoing paradigm shift affecting the way alternative comics are produced and consumed.” [The Fader]

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Comics A.M. | Mom fights to sell ‘Supermanny’ comic to benefit son

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Legal | An Illinois mother says a trademark dispute is hampering her attempt to raise money for her 3-year-old son with cerebral palsy. Holly Bueno says while sitting in the hospital with her son Manny, she began writing a book called The Adventures of Supermanny. “My driving force was I wanted to give myself a voice and my son a voice, and I want there to be a story out there where the main character is in a wheelchair, there aren’t too many of those,” she says. Bueno had hoped to sell the book to raise money for a wheelchair ramp, but when she filed a trademark application last year for “Supermanny,” she drew the attention of DC Comics, which said it was too close to Superman. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office filings show Bueno abandoned the mark in February.) Regardless of what happens with the trademark issue, there is also another fund-raiser for Manny — a superhero-themed 5k race. [ABC7 Chicago]

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Comics A.M. | Woman charged in theft of Terry Brooks’ vintage comics

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Legal | Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara fantasy novels, has been revealed as the owner of a valuable comics collection stolen between 2010 and 2012. The vintage comics, valued at between $100,000 and $500,000, were in the possession of the Sterling, Illinois, law firm Miller & Lancaster, where Brooks was an attorney before becoming a full-time author. Trisha J. Clemens, a former employee of the firm, has been charged with theft in the case. She also faces an earlier charge of theft of between $100,000 and $500,000 from the law firm. One of her bond conditions is that she can neither possess nor sell comics. A preliminary hearing has been set for May 2. [SaukValley.com]

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Comics A.M. | Hundreds turn out for fan’s cosplay funeral

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Fandom | When comics fan and cosplayer Erin Roberts learned she was dying from a brain tumor, at age 25, she asked that her life be celebrated with a cosplay funeral. Friends and family raised more than £3,500 to pay the expenses, including a horse and cart to bring her coffin to the church. More than 200 cosplayers attended the funeral. Her friends are also organizing a charity event to benefit the hospice where Roberts spent the last few weeks of her life. [Liverpool Echo]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World suffers $4.3 million loss in 2015

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Conventions | After bringing in a profit of almost $1 million in 2014, Wizard World took a hard swing in the other direction last year with a loss of $4.3 million, with about half the shortfall coming in the fourth quarter. At least part of the reason seems to be simple math: Per-show revenues were down, costs were up. In addition, Wizard’s share in ConTV was a money-loser, to the tune of $1.3 million; Wizard has reduced its stake in the joint venture with Cinedigm. On the upside, its subscription box service has done well, netting $48,000. It’s possible that the North American convention market is being saturated, and Wizard is responding by cutting back from 25 shows in 2015 to 19 this year. [ICv2]

Comics | Writer Kurtis Wiebe announced that, “after long consideration,” he’s placing his acclaimed Image Comics fantasy series Rat Queens on hiatus. [Twitter]

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Comics A.M. | Ta-Nehisi Coates wins PEN Literary Award

Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Awards | Ta-Nehisi Coates, the writer of Marvel’s Black Panther, has won a 2016 PEN Literary Award recognizing the art of the essay for his acclaimed memoir Between the World and Me. The author and journalist has already received a National Book Award and a MacArthur “genius grant,” as well as a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. The PEN award comes with a $10,000 prize. [PEN]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Arab of the Future’ wins LA Times Book Prize

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Awards | Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir Arab of the Future has won this year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the graphic novel category. The first volume of a planned trilogy, Arab of the Future also won top honors at the Angouleme International Comics Festival two years ago. [Los Angeles Times]

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Comics A.M. | Tracing Batman and Robin’s history of gay subtext

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Comics | In an excerpt adapted from his new book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, Glen Weldon delves into the long history of the gay subtext in the relationship between Batman and Robin, noting that it’s been there from the Boy Wonder’s 1940 debut: “Remember: Queer readers didn’t see any vestige of themselves represented in the mass media of this era, let alone its comic books. And when queer audiences don’t see ourselves in a given work, we look deeper, parsing every exchange for the faintest hint of something we recognize. This is why, as a visual medium filled with silent cues like body language and background detail, superhero comics have proven a particularly fertile vector for gay readings over the years. Images can assert layers of unspoken meanings that mere words can never conjure.” [Slate.com]

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