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Comics A.M. | ‘The Dandy’ artist Charles Grigg passes away

Korky the Kat

Korky the Cat

Passings | Lew Stringer reports that British artist Charles Grigg died Wednesday at age 97. Grigg is probably best known for drawing Korky the Cat, whose adventures graced the cover of the weekly comic The Dandy for decades, and he drew a number of other strips for The Dandy and The Topper as well. After he retired he had a second career drawing naughty postcards. [Blimey!]

Retailing | The direct-market trade organization ComicsPRO has announced its annual membership meeting will be held Feb. 26-March 1 in Atlanta. [ICv2.com]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talked to students at Lakeland College recently and then sat down to answer some questions about his love of comics, how his depression affected his work, and whether he has any regrets about the way he portrayed his father in Maus. [The Lakeland Mirror]

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Chris Panda dons X-ray specs for an inside look at superheroes

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It seems every comics fan wants superpowers, but artist Chris Panda has pulled back the curtain to show the seedy side of X-ray vision in these comic book drawings from kids’ coloring books with the heroes’ skeletons drawn in. Panda drew three superheroes — Batman, Iron Man and Spider-Man, as well as prominent cartoon characters from Disney and Looney Tunes lore. Check out those other two superheroes below, and go to his website for more.

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Blog saves classic fanzine art from the ash heap of history

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We’re living in an age where increasing aspects of our comics heritage is being protected, with all manner of work coming back into print in fittingly deluxe packages. However, we can all think of great comics that will probably never be reprinted, for various obscure reasons. For example, all manner of great work published by Marvel and DC in the 1970s and ’80s will never see the light of day again due to lapsed licensing deals. Other titles, other creators, simply fall from fashion, to await rediscovery by another generation. Others still end up in complicated rights battles and litigation.

One field of comics-related work that seems to be just lost to the unrelenting march of time and progress is that of the pre-Internet fanzine. Many significant figures in comics history contributed text and art to this near-dead medium, and it’s hard to see any organization having the will to invest in researching, reprinting or digitizing this lost legacy.

Colin Smith is a blogger and the author of Sequart’s “Shameless? The Superhero Comics of Mark Millar,” and as a critic has written about comics for some of the United Kingdom’s top magazines. He has a secondary blog where he has been recently sharing some great art from old U.K. fanzines and convention booklets.

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ could lose $60 million

spider-man musical

Already the most expensive production in Broadway history, when Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark closes on Jan. 4, it also will have racked up historic losses that The New York Times pegs as high as $60 million. That’s compared to the $5 million to $15 million usually lost by “flops,” which, granted, typically cost far, far less than the $75 million musical.

Several investors tell the newspaper they’ve not been repaid any of the money they’ve put into the show, and producer Michael Cohl concedes some of them may lose all of their investments unless Spider-Man is profitable in Las Vegas, where it’s expected to re-open in 2015.

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ to close on Broadway

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After a tumultuous three years on Broadway marked by cast injuries, public feuds and, lately, dwindling ticket sales, the $75 million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will close in January, with plans to reopen in 2015 in Las Vegas.

Although the show has been popular, routinely grossing $1 million or a week in ticket sales (at least until recently), it’s the most expensive musical in Broadway history, costing $1.2 million a week to produce. Spider-Man pulled in just $742,595 last week, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that it’s been running below the break-even point for some time now. The production has grossed $703 million since performances began in November 2010, but because even sold-out performances barely cover running expenses, investors have seen little return.

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‘Marvel Universe Live!’ adds Spider-Man and his foes to lineup

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Marvel and Feld Entertainment revealed the addition of Spider-Man and five of his deadliest foes to the Marvel Universe Live! arena show.

The wall crawler and villains Doctor Octopus, Electro, Rhino, Lizard and Green Goblin will join the previously announced Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye, Falcon, Nick Fury and agents of S.H.I.E.D. when the tour launches in July.

Announced in March, Marvel Universe Live! will bring Marvel’s most iconic heroes and villains to 85 cities across North America in the show’s first two years. The live-action production will integrate a character-driven storyline with state-of-the-art special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts and martial arts for what producers say will “redefine the live show experience.”

The design for the Rhino debuted this morning on the Marvel Universe Live! Facebook page, while the other new additions were unveiled at BuzzFeed.

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Theater claims it licensed Spider-Man from Stan Lee Media

Disney and MarvelNo matter how hard they try, Disney and Marvel can’t seem to shake the specter of Stan Lee Media: Just two months after a federal judge dismissed a multibillion lawsuit against Disney for ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee, the failed dot-com has emerged in another, seemingly unrelated dispute.

In September, Disney, Marvel and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-bases American Music Theatre, saying it violated copyrights and trademarks by using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever (Disney and Mackintosh jointly hold the copyright to the Mary Poppins stage production).

On Monday the theater responded with an eye-opening claim of its own: that Disney doesn’t own Spider-Man. Instead, the counterclaim states, the character belongs to Stan Lee Media, which licensed the rights to the American Music Theatre.

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Jimmy Kimmel quizzes 4-year-old Marvel trivia maven

Mia vs. Marvel

Mia vs. Marvel

Earlier this year the Internet was dazzled by Mia Grace Montross, the 4-year-old daughter of a comic fan whose mutant power is knowing a lot about Marvel Comics, even more than her dad.

But does she know more than the superheroes themselves, or at least their Hollywood Boulevard counterparts? Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel decided to put Mia to the test, pitting her against some of the Marvel Universe’s best and brightest, including Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man. See her answer questions about Cap’s shield, Wakanda and more, as the heroes pretty much eat her dust.

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Venezuelan president blames Spider-Man for nation’s violence

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Costumed superheroes have developed a bit of a bad reputation over the past several months, and not without cause: There was the Spider-Man robbery on Hollywood Boulevard, the She-Hulk assault in York, England, the brawl between Spider-Man and two Captain Americas on Hollywood Boulevard, the Iron Man bank robbery in Florida, and, just this morning, the Spider-Man store robbery in Pittsburgh.

OK, so it’s primarily Spider-Man causing the problems. But can we blame the wall-crawler for the horrible violence plaguing an entire country? Let’s ask Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose nation saw 16,000 murders in 2012, and another 3,400 in the first quarter of this year.

In a new interview with the Bolivian newspaper La Opinión, Maduro said there’s a correlation between youth violence and the idolization of superheroes — it contributes to a “factory of anti-values,” apparently — a connection he made while he and his wife were watching Spider-Man 3.

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Pittsburgh police arrest Spider-Man in store robbery

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Spider-Man has defeated foes ranging from the Green Goblin and Electro to Venom and the Rhino, but he’s no match for a convenience-store clerk with a Taser.

According to a Pittsburgh police report, a man wearing a Spider-Man costume entered the Atwood Xpress at 1:10 this morning and loudly asked the clerk, “How much money you got?” When the employee realized he was being robbed, he pulled out an “arcing Taser” and attempted to use on the wall-crawler, who then fled down the street quicker than Speed Demon.

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ announces a new web-slinger

justin matthew sargentThe Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has found a new Peter Parker.

Reeve Carney, who has starred in the title role since the production opened in 2010, gave his final performance Sunday night, after which he introduced his successor Justin Matthew Sargent. Carney, who announced his departure in July, soon will begin production on Showtime’s upcoming drama Penny Dreadful.

The production had held open casting calls for Reeve’s replacement, but settled on Sargent, who has been performing as the alternate lead in Spider-Man since August.

“We looked for our new lead in L.A. and New York,” producers Michael Cohl and Jere Harris said in a joint statement. “During Justin’s rehearsals as the alternate, we realized this is the guy to take over for Reeve. He is one of Broadway’s great rockers.”

Indeed, Sargent previously starred in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages.

A comics mystery in the Green Timbers forest

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Here’s a photo of a small stack of bagged and boarded comics that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found near an abandoned squatter’s camp in the Green Timbers forest near Surrey, British Columbia. The RCMP is circulating the photo in hopes of finding the owner of the comics.

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Comics A.M. | Salt Lake con’s success reignites mega-hotel talk

salt lake comic con logoConventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ ticket sales dip to record low

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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark grossed a record-low $966,952 in ticket sales last week, the first time since performances began in November 2010 that the musical — at $75 million, the most expensive in Broadway history — dipped below $1 million for a standard eight-performance week.

Although The New York Times notes that sales have been softening since last year, a spokesman for the production attributed the drop to “fallout” from the serious injury suffered Aug. 15 by dancer Daniel Curry, whose leg was pinned by an automated trap door during a performance. That night’s show was canceled and Curry was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he remains.

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Appeals court upholds Marvel victory in Kirby copyright feud

kirby marvel charactersThe Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed Marvel a significant victory this morning, upholding a 2011 ruling that Jack Kirby’s contributions to the publisher in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by the artist’s heirs.

However, as Tom Spurgeon first reported, the appellate court vacated the New York district judge’s summary ruling against two of Kirby’s children, California residents Lisa and Neal, on jurisdictional grounds; the judgment against Susan and Barbara stands.

Secondarily, the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s exclusion of expert testimony offered by John Morrow and Mark Evanier on behalf of the Kirby heirs, agreeing that “their reports are by and large undergirded by hearsay statements, made by freelance artists in both formal and informal settings, concerning Marvel’s general practices towards its artists during the relevant time period.”

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