Three years ago, the folks at Act-i-vate kicked off Panels for Primates, a webcomic anthology in which various writers and artists created comics about monkeys, apes and other primates. The comic was free, but readers were encouraged to donate to the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholsville, Kentucky. The roster of contributors to the comic is impressive, with such creators as David Petersen, Rick Geary and Fred Van Lente involved.
Now the comics have been collected into a digital anthology on comiXology, published, appropriately, by Monkeybrain. Actually, two anthologies: Panels for Primates Junior is suitable for all ages, while Panels for Primates is rated 15+. The kids’ version looks very cute and has some good creators on board, including Rich Clabaugh, Mike Maihack, and J. Bone, but the lineup for the 15+ version is irresistible: Stan Lee, Paul Kupperberg (writer of Life with Archie and a former writer for the tabloid Weekly World News), Faith Erin Hicks, Colleen Coover, Molly Crabapple and ROBOT 6 contributor Michael May — just imagine what these people can do with monkeys!
The kids’ book is $8.99 and the adult anthology is $9.99, and once again, proceeds from both will go to the Primate Rescue Center.
(via Pop Candy)
Publishing | Tom Spurgeon writes the definitive obituary of PictureBox, which announced Monday it will stop publishing at the end of the year. He also polls other small-press comics publishers for their reactions. [The Comics Reporter]
Digital comics | Yen Press is bringing its digital manga magazine Yen Plus to an end; the December issue will be the final one. The magazine was launched as a print anthology in August 2008 and switched to digital-only format in 2010. When it began serializing Soul Eater NOT, Yen Plus became the first magazine to publish manga chapters worldwide at the same time they came out in Japan (Shonen Jump does simultaneous release, but only to a restricted region). [Anime News Network]
Auctions | Comics industry legend Maggie Thompson plans to put up for auction 524 comics from her personal collection. Thompson, who with her late husband Don was a longtime editor of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, estimates that she has 10,000 comics, all stored in a special vault-like addition to her home, which she built using the money from a previous sale, of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) and the first 100 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. Bidding on the first batch of comics, which includes The Avengers #1, Journey into Mystery #83 (first appearance of Thor), The Incredible Hulk #1, and original cover art from Conan #4, begins today. [The Associated Press]
Comics | ICv2 releases the results of its White Paper (previously reported at Comic Book Resources), which tracks comics and graphic novel sales in all channels. Briefly, the report shows that sales of comics and graphic novels are up, manga is up dramatically, and digital comics sales continue to increase — although growth is slowing a bit, which is to be expected as the base increases. [ICv2]
“Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing. He had the superpowers and wore that costume with the bright colors and silly cape. It’s the costume that was different. Zorro didn’t have superpowers, Doc Savage didn’t have superpowers; they could just do things a little better than the rest of us. The Shadow could be a superhero because he could make himself unseen, and if he appeared in a comic book today, he might be a superhero, though he doesn’t really wear a costume. I’m not an expert on the Shadow, but I think he just had a dark business suit and a sort of raincoat and a slouch hat. Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume. [...]
Although a costume isn’t required of superheroes, the fans love costumes. The characters are more popular if they wear costumes. (Don’t ask me why.) In the first issue of the Fantastic Four, I didn’t have them wear costumes. I received a ton of mail from fans saying that they loved the book, but they wouldn’t buy another issue unless we gave the characters costumes. I didn’t need a house to fall on me to realize that — for whatever reason — fans love costumed heroes.”
– Stan Lee, from his essay for What is a Superhero?, from Oxford University Press
(For the story on Lee’s 1983 “centerfold” photo, visit Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story blog.)
In a particularly timely installment of “Stan’s Rants,” the legendary Stan Lee once again brings into question Superman’s flying ability — “The man has no visible means of propulsion!” — and points to Marvel’s Thor as a prime example of comic-book flight done right.
“When Thor wants to fly, we use a scientific principle. He has his hammer, he has a leather thong attached to his wrist,” Lee explains. “He swings the hammer around faster and faster ’til it’s going like a propeller, and then he lets go of it — well, the hammer goes flying off into space, but the thong is wrapped around Thor’s wrist, so he goes with it. So you have hammer propulsion.”
Take that, Angry Nerd.
No 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.
Conventions | Brian Howe looks at the rivalry between Comic Book City Con, which debuted two weekends ago in Greensboro, North Carolina, and NC Comicon, which returns Saturday in Durham. The latter, which is now co-owned by artist Tommy Lee Edwards, drew 4,000 attendees last year (its first at the Durham Convention Center), and this year doubled its exhibit space and ramped up its programming. The conflict, which manifested in a flier for Comic Book City Con that one party considers playful but the other calls “bullying,” seems to be rooted in the proximity of the dates and a perceived lack of communication. However, it’s not simply a rivalry between nearby conventions; it’s one between retailers: Durham’s Ultimate Comics organizes NC Comicon, while Greensboro’s Acme Comics operates Comic Book City Con. [Indy Week]
Disney Publishing Worldwide has acquired Zodiac, an illustrated novel by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore and Andie Tong.
Based on the Chinese zodiac, the book follows a Chinese-American teenager who’s drawn into a global conspiracy after he and other youth around the world are suddenly bestowed with magical powers.
Lee already has a relationship with Disney, dating back at least to a 2007 first-look deal with the legendary creator’s POW! Entertainment. In 2009, just as Disney completed its purchased of Marvel, the entertainment giant expanded that agreement and acquired a 10 percent equity stake in POW.
Deadline reports that more than two years after the failed dot-com sued Paradox Entertainment in a bid to reclaim the rights to Robert E. Howard’s most famous character, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has effectively delivered the deathblow to SLM’s case, upholding a lower court’s 2012 dismissal. Of course, we’ve learned by now that the company isn’t one to give up a legal fight.
Stan Lee Media, which hasn’t had a connection to its co-founder and namesake in more than a decade — in fact, it has sued Stan Lee on a few occasions — purchased the rights to the Conan characters in 2000, shortly before it entered federal bankruptcy protection. The company claimed its interests weren’t properly represented, nor were shareholders notified, when in 2002 Conan Sales Co. bought back the rights. The complaint also alleged that the late Arthur Lieberman, Stan Lee’s longtime attorney, committed fraud during the proceedings, and failed to report conflicts of interest. Therefore, SLM argued, the subsequent sale of the characters to Paradox Entertainment should be annulled.
Stan Lee has a pretty good track record when it comes to creating heroes, and now he’s added one more to that long list: Chakra.
The character that will make his animated debut Nov. 30 in an hour-long television movie called Chakra: The Invincible, which will air across South Asia on Cartoon Network. According to Deadline, the movie potentially could reach 34 million households. Readers received their first taste of the character in May in Liquid Comics’ Free Comic Book Day offering.
Awards | All the presenters for last weekend’s Ignatz Awards ceremony were women, and that was no accident: This year’s host, New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly, explains, “More and more of us are now in the business, unlike previous years, and I wanted to celebrate that fact by bringing attention to it.” [Comic Riffs]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon has an in-depth interview with experimental cartoonist Warren Craghead. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | Stan Lee, in town for Wizard World Ohio Comic Con, chats with reporter Michael Grossberg about superheroes as modern fairy tales. [The Columbus Dispatch]
Conventions | 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]
A federal judge on Thursday dismissed Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Disney, potentially ending its long and confusing legal battle to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee. The failed dot-com has had no connection to its co-founder and namesake in more than a decade; in fact, the two have sued each other on a few occasions.
As Deadline reports, in granting Disney’s motion to dismiss the 2012 copyright-infringement complaint, U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez didn’t attempt to hide his annoyance with the litigious Stan Lee Media, whose tangled web of lawsuits began it at least 2007, just months after the company emerged from federal bankruptcy protection.
“Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts,” Martinez wrote in his 11-page order. “Taking its cue from the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California, this Court holds that Plaintiff is precluded from re-litigating the issue of its ownership of copyrights based on the 1998 Agreement …” He said it would be “futile” to permit Stan Lee Media to amend the lawsuit.
On the eve of Salt Lake Comic Con, which kicks off today in Salt Lake City, Utah, organizers added one more person to the already-bulging guest list for the inaugural event: legendary writer and editor Stan Lee.
He’s certainly the biggest name in a creator lineup that includes Greg Horn, Ryan Ottley, Batton Lash and Mike Baron, who’ll appear this weekend amid television and film personalities like William Shatner, Adam West, Burt Ward, Dean Cain, Nicholas Brendon and Henry Winkler. Lee will make a nice addition on Saturday, but it’s not as if Salt Lake Comic Con need the boost at this point.
According to organizers, 30,000 tickets have already been sold, with founder Dan Farr predicting last week predicting last week (when just 20,000 had been sold) that attendance will far exceed 40,000. By comparison, New York Comic Con attracted 33,000 people in its first year (although organizers had anticipated just 10,000).
Still, Farr has had Lee in his sights for a while. “Literally for months we’ve wanted to have Stan come,” he tells The Salt Lake City Tribune. “He’s the father of comic books. He’s done so many shows for so many years — I knew at some time he’s going to start tapering back, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”
Move aside, Captain America. Calm down, Hulk. This is a job for Stan Lee!
The legendary creator, who’s made cameo appearances in other video games, finally debuts as a playable character — with super-powers! — in the upcoming LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, alongside the likes of the X-Men, Thor, Rocket Raccoon, J. Jonah Jameson and Howard the Duck. To promote Lee’s new, expanded role, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games have released a new trailer featuring the Man in LEGO and human forms.
“I think my super-power is luck,” Lee admits in the video. “I think I’m very lucky to be in this game.”