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Comics A.M. | Michael George denied retrial; DC to close forums

Michael George

Legal | A judge denied a motion for acquittal and a new trial in the case of Michael George, the former comic book store owner and convention organizer convicted of killing his wife in 1990, dismissing the defense’s argument that there was insufficient evidence for conviction. George is serving a life sentence. [Detroit Free Press]

Publishing | DC Comics announced last night it will shut down its message board in early March as part of an overhaul of the publisher’s website that will include Facebook-hosted commenting and integrated Twitter feeds. [The Source]

Creators | About 15 people threw eggs at Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks as he spoke on freedom of speech at the University of Karlstad. Vilks has raised the ire of some Muslims with his cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed. Vilks told the audience, “Insults are part of democratic society. If we begin censoring ourselves, it will mean undermining freedom of speech in the long run. I don’t think that the problem is that artists are too provocative but that we are not provocative enough.” None of the eggs hit the cartoonist, and the protestors were removed from the room. [UPI.com]

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Food or Comics? | Ditko Ditali

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Shade #4

Chris Arrant

If I had $15 I would be in comics heaven, starting with Shade #4 (DC, $2.99). I’ve loved what Cully Hamner and James Robinson have done so far, but seeing Darwyn Cooke drawing this issue knocks it up to a whole new level. It’s like seeing David Bowie sit in on an up-and-coming band’s gig one night. Next up would be the reunion of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen in Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel, $3.99). I was halfway hoping they would break from the serious tone of the title and revisit the inanity of Nextwave, but the preview dashes that hope; still, excellent work of two guys at the top of their game. Next up would be Invincible #87 (Image, $2.99), promising an all-new level of beatdown for Mark Grayson. Lastly, I’d get Jason Aaron’s fresh take on Marvel’s mutants with Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Part return to basics and part brand-new day, seeing Logan having to be the respectable one and not the plucky wildcard is fun, and the cast Aaron’s assembled is great.

If I had $30, I’d continue reading Aaron with Wolverine #300 (Marvel, $4.99). Jokes about the constant renumbering/reshuffling/rejiggering of Aaron’s run aside, it’s been a swell ride and looks to be heading up to a finale of sorts. Next up would be Batwoman #5 (DC, $2.99). Williams’ art continues to impress, and while the story doesn’t match up to his levels with Rucka on Detective Comics, he and Blackman are striving for something I haven’t been able to fully understand yet. Lastly, I’d pick up Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Artist Declan Shalvey is an inspired get for this series, really showing off what he can do outside Marvel’s Thunderbolts.

If I could splurge, I’d dive into Eric Powell’s adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (IDW, $19.99). Putting Powell together with Twain isn’t an obvious team-up, but given Powell’s depth of work I’m interested to see how it turns out.

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5’s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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Comics A.M. | ‘Pop artist’ accused of stealing art; CBG goes digital

Chad Love Lieberman

Copyright | After running a feature about “New York Multimedia Pop Artist” Chad Love-Lieberman, nephew of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the website Campus Socialite retracted its story upon finding out that Love-Lieberman “is a fraud, taking other people’s art from the web, touting it as his own, and worst of all – selling it for profit.”

Ursula Vernon, creator of the webcomic Digger, noted that one of the pieces in the article was actually hers. “Mad props to the staff at the Campus Socialite, who got back to me in under ten minutes and promised to pull everything and edit the article — they were just as outraged as you’d expect them to me. I’ve actually granted them permission to use the art with appropriate credit if it’ll help illustrate the issue (pun intended),” she posted on her LiveJournal. The domain for Love-Lieberman’s site, art4love.com, isn’t working, but the site is still up. Artist Deirdre Reynolds has a list going on DeviantArt of all the pieces on art4love that artists have identified as their own. Gary Tyrell, meanwhile, has reached out to both Love-Lieberman and his uncle for comment. [Campus Socialite]

Digital | Comics Buyer’s Guide has gone digital; issues of the long-running industry publication are now available on iVerse’s Comics+ application. Johanna Draper Carlson notes that only two CBG-related publications are currently available — the July 2011 issue and 1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella. [press release, Comics Worth Reading]

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Stuart Immonen comes to Chicago’s Challengers Comics tonight

He’s tearing up the Marvel U in Fear Itself, but now cartoonist Stuart Immonen is bringing his talents to Chicago’s Challengers Comics.From now until Aug. 8, Challenger’s art gallery will be exhibiting original art from Fear Itself as well as other work from Immonen’s ouvre. (say ‘Immonen’s ouvre’ three times fast).

Immonen has become an artist’s artist in recent years, providing aesthetically pleasing art that fits within the mainstream super-hero comics mold without sacrificing artistic flourishes and pure draftsman-like skill. From Legion of Super-Heroes to Superman to Nextwave, New Avengers and now Fear Itself he’s seen, and done it all… twice, probably.

Immonen will be on-hand tonight for an opening event from 7-9 p.m. Chicago time. They’ll also have an exclusive 11″ x 17 ” limited edition print that would look great at Robot 6 HQ (just sayin’).

Talking Comics with Tim | Stuart Immonen

Centifolia II

This weekend marks Toronto Comics Art Festival 2011 (TCAF), where among the many great storytellers appearing, Stuart Immonen celebrates his “return to his eclectic collection of work” with the premiere of Centifolia II (and the return of the out-of-print Centifolia I). To mark the debut/return of Centifolia, I contacted Immonen for this hellaciously enjoyable interview. This exchange was a blast for me, particularly given that Immonen indulged numerous follow-up questions in our email exchanges.  A great many storytellers are immensely funny people, but I genuinely think Immonen possesses a rare wit and wealth of knowledge that reveals itself not only in this interview, but more importantly, it informs his work. I wish I was attending TCAF, for numerous reasons, but the fact that “there will even be a limited (100) slipcase edition [available at TCAF] that includes a special S&N print and custom slipcase design” is the ultimate “damn I wish I was going” talking point for me. Need more convincing how great these books are? AdHouse’s Chris Pitzer (the publisher of Immonen’s Centifolia) offers consumers nine-page previews of Volume I and Volume II for everyone’s enjoyment.

Tim O’Shea: When one hears that the book is culled from your sketchbooks, it might seem a bit misleading. Not every sketchbook sports pages with fully designed logos (“9 Nuts and Why I Hate Them” for example).

Stuart Immonen: Well, I think that’s probably due to the term “sketchbook” being more often used to describe a collection of finished pinup drawings and not so much actual sketching– i.e. ideas in development, visual note-taking, idle doodling and so on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the former– I love being able to enjoy and study the completed work of my favourite artists, but I’m also interested in process; the journey of how an artist gets to the final piece, and that’s what Centifolia tries to be.

Some of my most well-thumbed artist’s books fall into this category: Tardi’s Chiures De Gomme, Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Datebooks, Ashley Wood’s Sencilla Fanta… even Dupuy and Berberian’s Maybe Later qualifies.So… I’m interested in pulling back the curtain and showing readers a little of how I work.

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Stuart Immonen branches out into stock image availability

He’s drawing Marvel’s big event series of 2011 Fear Itself. He’s coming out with the second edition of his artbook series Centifolia. And now he’s getting into the clip art business.

Well, maybe “clip art” isn’t the right word but rather stock images. As mentioned on his blog earlier this week, several illustrations of his are now available for licensing on the website of stock photo agency Getty Images. If you’re not familiar with stock imagery, it’s an archive of photography and artwork available to publishers and designers of any stripe to pay for and use on websites, magazines, newspapers, or virtually anything else you can put an image on.

The style he uses in these images is far different from what readers of his Marvel or DC work know of him, and is quite eye-opening. Immonen has long been fascinated with magazine illustrations (as seen in his first volume of Centifolia), and this new venture by the artist is an interesting expansion of his career. Although it’s not likely to pull him away from comics, anything he can do to make more money, have fun and get to do more comics is fine by me!

American cartoonists’ untold European adventures

Although they may be at the top of the charts in American comics, some of the biggest artists today have some books out that most American have never seen. For years, artists working in the Anglophile comics market have moonlighted in European comics, probably most memorably with Travis Charest leaving for years to do a volume of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Metabarons.

But Charest isn’t the only one — John Cassaday did the series I Am Legion for Humanoids while working on Planetary and Astonishing X-Men, Geoff Johns and Red Star artist Christian Gossett did a story in Metal Hurlant, Terry Dodson worked on a graphic novel called Songes: Coraline, Kurt Busiek wrote a book called Redhand, and Fear Itself artist Stuart Immonen did a little-known book called Sebastian X which follows a surfer turned freedom fighter in the near future.

Yeah, I’d buy that.

And this isn’t past tense — Criminal and Incognito artist Sean Phillips spoke last month about a graphic novel he’s doing for France’s Delcourt called Void 01, which he describes as “a cat and mouse sci-fi story set on a prison ship in the depths of space”.

Yeah, I’d buy that too.

There’s no word  yet on any English — American or otherwise — release of these stories.

Comics A.M. | Borders seeks bonus approval; Marvel’s ‘Point One’ sales

Borders

Retailing | A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear arguments today from the bankrupt Borders Group, which is seeking to pay $8.3 million in bonuses in a bid to retain key corporate personnel. The struggling bookseller says that 47 executives and director-level employees have quit since the company declared bankruptcy on Feb. 16 — two dozen just this month — leaving only 15 people in senior management positions. In a court filing last week, U.S. bankruptcy trustee Tracy Hope Davis objected to the bonus proposal, characterizing it as “a disguised retention plan for insiders, which also provides for discriminatory bonuses for non-insiders.” [The Detroit News]

Publishing | Todd Allen looks at sales estimates for the first issues in Marvel’s “Point One” initiative, which featured self-contained stories designed to serve as a jumping-on point for new or lapsed readers: “With the sole exception of Hulk, retailers ordered less copies of the ‘jump on’ issue, than the regular series.  If you figure people picking up the title would also pick up the ‘.1′ introductory issue, this is a flaming disaster and there aren’t going to be a lot of these comics finding their way into the hands of new readers.  It smack of very low buy-in from the retail community.” [Indignant Online]

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AdHouse to publish Stuart Immonen’s Centifolia V2

Centifolia 2

AdHouse Books has a habit of producing some pretty exquisite-looking books, so it’s no wonder Stuart Immonen has teamed with them to produce Centifolia V2, an 128-page collection of the artist’s sketches, concept designs, illustrations and comics.

I believe the sold-out first volume was self-published, but AdHouse will also bring it back into print. They’re also offering a limited slipcase edition that includes both volumes and a print.

“I was very happy to be approached by Stuart to help make this happen. We’ve been con-buddies for a few years now, and I really love his work,” Pitzer said.

All three will be available starting at the 2011 Toronto Comics Art Festival on May 7 & 8. You can find the entire press release after the jump.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Fear Itself #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

There comes a time when curiosity overwhelms common sense, which is why if I had $15 this week, I’d pick up Fear Itself #1 (Marvel Comics, $3.99). I’m not sold on the series, as much as I love crossovers – Immonen on art is a big draw, but Fraction has been very uneven recently for me – and, despite some of the reviews I’ve read, I’m hearing word that it’s more of a case of “You’ll like this if this is the kind of thing you like” book than a home run. We’ll see. I’m much more excited about Nate Simpson’s Nonplayer #1 (Image Comics, $2.99); the previews look amazing, and everyone I know who’s read a preview copy has only had glowing praise for it. I’ll also be picking up the second (and final) issue of IDW’s crossover event Infestation ($3.99), as I want to know how the whole thing ends up, and the spoilers for Brightest Day #23 (DC Comics, $2.99) make that a must-have, too, even if it’s more for “They’re doing WHAT?” reasons than genuine excitement.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Joe the Barbarian #8

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Arrant

$15:

This week’s a big week for me, so with only $15 I’d have to leave a lot of things back and make some hard choices. My five under $15 would start with Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo, $3.99) by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy. I’m a big fan of both guys, but I have to admit the story went over my head the same way The Filth did in serialization. Be that as it may, I’ve kept buying the issues just to amaze myself with Murphy’s art. Now that the complete series is out, I’ll re-read it all in one sitting and hope for the best. Second would be the fourth issue of Incognito: Bad Influences (Marvel/Icon, $3.50) because, well, Brubaker and Phillips can do no wrong. After that I’d get Secret Warriors #25 (Marvel, $3.99) because Hickman’s writing here plays up to all the things I like — espionage, secrets, and overly-complicated story arcs. Over on the DC side I would pick up Brightest Day #21 (DC, $2.99). This series has ebbed and flowed for me, depending on which story arcs are brought to the fore in each issue… but I’m excited to see what happens and that’s what it should be about, right? My last pick is a cheat — I only have some change left, but thankfully the Fear Itself Sketchbook (Marvel) coming out is a free promotional item. I’ll take Stuart Immonen sketches any day!

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Marvel revives the line-wide mega-event era with ‘Fear Itself’

Cue the Welcome Back, Kotter theme music: At a live press conference from NYC’s Midtown Comics today, Marvel unveiled “Fear Itself,” a line-wide event beginning in March. Featuring a prologue one-shot by Ed Brubaker and Scot Eaton, tie-ins, spin-off stand-alone miniseries, and an April-launching seven-issue core limited series by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen, it’s very much in the vein of past mega-events like “Civil War,” a comparison company personnel made repeatedly at the presser. If anything, it sounds even bigger than “Civil War,” as the two core Marvel franchises who’ve traditionally been kept at arms’ length from the big events of late, the Hulk and the X-Men, look to be playing an integral role right along with the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and so on.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Batman Incorporated #1

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s full release list if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15, at least $9 of it – okay, $8.98 – would be already spoken for. The first issue of Batman Incorporated ($3.99) and one-shot lead-in Batman: The Return #1 ($4.99) offer up the first glimpses of what Grant Morrison has in mind for his new Batus-quo and, after the way he brought the RIP/Return of Bruce Wayne storyline to a close, I’m pretty much on board no matter what. The remaining money…? It’s a tough one, but I’m going to go for Spider-Girl #1 ($3.99), pretty much because I like Paul Tobin’s writing, I like the Twitter gimmick (Somewhere, Joe Casey’s going “I did it first in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance!” and I know, Joe), and, most importantly, the Spider-Girl short was my favorite part of last week’s Amazing Spider-Man relaunch issue. Who could’ve seen that coming?

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What Are You Reading?

Four-Color Fear

Welcome to another spook-tacular edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is writer Sam Costello, who operates and writes horror comics for the site Split Lip. If you’re looking for some spooky stories to read tonight, it’s a good place to start.

To see what Sam and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below, if you dare

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