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Tickets are already on sale for D23 Expo 2015

d23 expo

If it seems far too soon, and far too exhausting, to start planning for Comic-Con International 2015 (it’s just330 days away) then think about this: Early-bird tickets went on sale Thursday for D23 Expo 2015, scheduled for about a month after the San Diego convention.

Billed as the Ultimate Disney Fan Event, it will be held Aug. 14-16, 2015, at the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from Disneyland. It brings together elements of Disney, Pixar, ABC, Lucasfilm and Marvel under one (figurative) tent.

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Disney teases expanded ‘Star Wars’ presence at theme parks

star wars-disney

Surprising no one, CEO Bob Iger revealed Tuesday that Disney has plans for “a far greater Star Wars presence” at its theme parks.

According to Entertainment Weekly, he promised that the sci-fi franchise would become one of Disney’s answer to Universal Studios’ Harry Potter attractions. Details are expected sometime next year.

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Comics A.M. | Viz Media executives talk state of manga market

Viz Media

Viz Media

Publishing | Leyla Aker, Viz Media’s vice present of publishing, and Kevin Hamric, its director of publishing sales and marketing, discuss the state of the manga market and how the company’s books are selling through the print and digital channels (including comiXology, where Viz just signed on last month). One interesting tidbit: Viz products are carried by 64 percent of Diamond Comic Distributors’ accounts (i.e., comic shops). “Some of the store owners just don’t understand manga yet,” Hamric said. “They’re like librarians were years ago. They’re afraid of it, but if it’s children’s and Pokemon, or has a tie-in, especially to anime or television, then they’re not afraid to take it.” [ICv2]

Publishing | Tom Spurgeon talks to Drawn and Quarterly’s Tracy Hurren about the company’s new website, which launched this week, as well as life in the D+Q offices. [The Comics Reporter]

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In a galaxy far, far away, Jeffrey Brown continues his ‘Star Wars’ saga

BobaJeffAmong the bigger announcements to come out of Comic-Con International was that Marvel will resume publishing Star Wars comics after a nearly 30 years, 23 years of which the license called Dark Horse home. We’ve known it was happening for a while, of course, but this was the official unveiling of titles and creative teams.

Completely unaffected by all of this is one particular pocket of Star Wars comics, those made by cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, who’s found a great deal of success in marrying his particular wit and style with the pop-culture icons of the franchise. That’s good news for comics and/or Star Wars fans who prefer  their take on that universe to be ironic and funny, and, of course, for little kids.

This month, the latest installments of Brown’s two ongoing Star Wars-related projects dropped, one from Chronicle Books, the other from Scholastic.

Brown’s professional, published relationship with Star Wars began with 2012’s Darth Vader and Son, a series of full-color cartoons based on the premise that Luke knew who his real father was at a very young age, and Vader was attempting to raise his innately heroic child as a single parent while balancing his home life with a rather demanding day job: that of a Sith Lord helping the Emperor rule the galaxy with an iron fist. That was quickly followed by Vader’s Little Princess, a collection of cartoons with the same premise, only substituting Leia for Luke.

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SDCC, Day 3 | The Force is with Marvel

star warsAlthough Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.

That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.

“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”

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Comics A.M. | Alcaraz’s ‘Hate City’ cartoons spark legal threat

One of Lalo Alcaraz's cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

One of Lalo Alcaraz’s cartoons about the protests in Murrieta, California

Editorial cartoons | The public-relations consultant hired by the city of Murrieta, California, after residents protested the arrival of refugee children to be processed there, told cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz that referring to Murietta as “Hate City USA” was “actionable.” “There IS a fine line between your constitutional right to draw cartoons and expressed (sic) your opinions,” Hermosillo wrote in a comment on Alcaraz’s Facebook page, “and falsely, deliberately, and maliciously labeling and attacking an entire community as racist or as ‘Hate City.’ You are working overtime to damage Murrieta and such a false premise is actionable. There’s a fine line between humor and stupidity. You may have crossed that line at your own peril.” Murrieta spokesperson Kim Davidson walked that back, however, saying the city has no plans to sue Alcaraz. [The Press Enterprise]

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Comics A.M. | Archie Comics responds to Singapore ban

Archie: The Married Life, Vol. 3

Archie: The Married Life, Vol. 3

Publishing | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater responds to Singapore’s ban of the third volume of Life With Archie, which features the wedding of Kevin Keller and Clay Walker: “Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.” [The Hollywood Reporter]

Business | Devin Leonard looks at the possible effects of a Fox/Time-Warner merger on superhero movies; Time-Warner owns DC Entertainment, and Fox has the movie rights to some Marvel characters. The New York Times offers a broader overview. [Business Week]

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SDCC | Dark Horse rolls out convention exclusives

dh-hellboy plush

With just three weeks until the official start of Comic-Con International, Dark Horse unleashed what it calls its “first wave” of convention-exclusive items, which includes a Usagi Yojimbo lithograph, Hellboy in Hell and Itty Bitty Hellboy hardcovers and — wait for it — an Itty Bitty Hellboy plush toy.

The products will be available throughout the convention at the Dark Horse booth (#2615), with the publisher allocating a set number of exclusives and limited editions for each day.

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Disney merchandise rang up a record $40.9 billion in 2013

disney-licensing expo

Characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars appeared together on stage Monday for the first time ever as the entertainment giant touted its powerhouse brands ahead of the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.

According to Variety, Disney is once again the world’s top licensor, with a record $40.9 billion in retail sales last year, up from $39.4 billion in 2012. With looming films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, based on Marvel comics, the live-action Cinderella and Star Wars: Episode VII, plus the Star Wars Rebels animated television series, that seems unlikely to change in the near future.

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The ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ action figure line, circa 1980

gotg-mockup-tease

Fans who remember checking the pegs at Target for the latest releases in Kenner’s Star Wars action figure line can appreciate this: Eddie Utrata shares a mock-up of what a Guardians of the Galaxy action figure might have looked like in the 1980s, specifically the back of the card that holds the figure (which, if I’m being honest, was always my favorite part of browsing for action figures — looking at the back of the card to see what I was missing).

The box caught the attention of James Gunn, director of the big Guardians movie due in August:

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Shelf Porn straight from the Danger Room

shelfporn-900

Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly trip into the houses and hallways of fans around the world. Today’s collection of goodies comes from Pennsylvania’s Mark Stong, who shows us his “Danger Room” filled with autographed statues, props and more.

If you’d like to see your stuff right here on Robot 6, you can find details on how to submit it at the end of this post.

Now let’s turns things over to Mark …

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Jeffrey Brown bids Darth Vader ‘Goodnight’

vaderandson

Following the massively successful Darth Vader and Son and Darth Vader’s Little Princess, cartoonist Jeffrey Brown will return to the Star Wars universe in July with a new book titled Goodnight Darth Vader. To promote its release, Brown shared this wonderful trailer, featuring — you guessed it — various Star Wars characters catching some shuteye everywhere from Dagobah to the Cloud City. The young Luke and Leia, though, have other things in mind while dad sleeps.

Check out the trailer below. The book arrives July 22.

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Chinese comic adaptation of ‘Star Wars’ is wonderfully surreal

star-wars3

As weird as Marvel’s 1977 adaptation of Star Wars was with its off-model Darth Vader and unrecognizable Jabba the Hutt, it has nothing — nothing! — on a bizarre, unlicensed version published some three years later in China.

Discovered by historian Maggie Greene, the adaptation doesn’t much resemble a comic book as we know them; instead, there’s one panel per page, with some text. Greene notes that Star Wars had been released in Hong Kong about two years earlier, which she presumes is “where the ‘libretto’ and stills, etc. came from.” However, she writes, “it seems pretty obvious from the drawings that the artists weren’t always working from an actual film, or really much at all.”

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Dark Horse rides again

Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift Part One

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Pt. 1

With April sales numbers released from Diamond Comic Distributors, a subtle pattern has revealed itself: Dark Horse has reclaimed its position as fourth-largest publisher from IDW Publishing for three months straight. It’s a streak of growth in market and dollar share that hasn’t happened for Dark Horse since fall 2011.

It’s great news for an industry mainstay that seemed to be getting eclipsed by the younger IDW at its own game of mixing licensed properties with creator-owned titles. Whether it’s temporary or not, digging into the sales charts, it’s clear there’s more stability in Dark Horse’s catalog than there might first seem.

Obviously Star Wars is the property many know the company for, and when it was announced the license would move at the end of this year to Marvel, some worried how Dark Horse would carry on. However, most publishers realize that no license is forever, so Dark Horse has built a diverse library that seems to be lifting it up now. Despite such diversifying, Star Wars is still the big seller at comic shops, but it’s only the beginning. The back-to-back launch of The Star Wars, a comics adaptation of an early draft of George Lucas’ screenplay, and a back-to-basics Star Wars by Brian Wood provided two accessible titles; if you’d ever seen the original Star Wars trilogy, you’re all set. The last issue of The Star Wars comes out later this month, with a collection in both hardcover and softcover to follow in July.

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What ‘Arrow’ has been missing: Lightsabers … and Ewoks

arrow-wars

Watching the April 16 episode of Arrow, Dave Jones thought the big fight scene between Slade Wilson and Oliver Queen would look “pretty nifty” as a lightsaber duel. So he transformed the sequence into something straight out of Star Wars, complete with musical score, opening crawl, blasters and cameos by R2-D2, mouse droids and, yes, an Ewok.

The result even received an endorsement from Arrow star Stephen Amell. Watch the video below.

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