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Comics A.M. | $15,000 comic goes missing; donations for Bill Mantlo

Amazing Fantasy #15

Crime | A man in Lincoln, Nebraska, told police that a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, valued at $15,000, disappeared from his home sometime between Oct. 27 and Monday morning. The 1962 issue was kept with other comics, but the man claims several people had been in and out of his home since he last saw it. A near-mint copy of the comic, which features the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold at auction in March for $1.1 million. [Lincoln Journal Star]

Creators | Writer Greg Pak has set up a page to take donations for former comics writer Bill Mantlo, whose tragic situation was detailed in an article last week. “Bill Mantlo has had a huge influence on me as a writer and reader,” Pak said. “His Micronauts stories blew my mind as a kid and his Incredible Hulk run laid the groundwork for the themes I explored my five-and-a-half year run with the character.” Money donated through the site goes directly to Mike Mantlo, Bill’s brother, for Bill’s ongoing care. [Greg Pak]

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Comics A.M. | Ex-Marvel staffer says layoff protest misguided

Marvel

Publishing | Damien Lucchese, a production artist laid off last week by Marvel, explains why fans should not boycott the publisher over the layoffs: “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want everyone to just see the MARVEL logo and think of a huge, top-heavy company, full of money hungry suits that make poor decisions (in some peoples’ opinions). That’s not what MARVEL is and there are still people working very hard (even harder now), day after day to put out comics for people to enjoy.” [Blog@Newsarama]

Digital piracy | Jim Mroczkowski posts his third interview with a digital pirate; as in the first two episodes, what comes through is that social pressures and one-upmanship have a lot to do with it. Also, piracy is expensive for the pirates, who usually buy the comics they scan—and often don’t even read them. [iFanboy]

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What Are You Reading? with special guest Janice Headley

Big Questions

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly column where we successfully answer the question in the title. Our special guest this week is Janice Headley, events coordinator, publicist and “ambassador of awesome” for Fantagraphics.

To see what Janice and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below.

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Stumptown organizer responds to MoCCA conflict

As noted here on Monday, and amplified by Heidi MacDonald, two big indy comics shows, Stumptown Comics Fest (in Portland, Oregon) and the MoCCA Festival (in New York City) are now scheduled for the same weekend, April 28-29, 2012. MoCCA was originally scheduled for April 14-15, and in the letter to exhibitors that MacDonald reproduces at her site, no explanation is given for the change, although it is clear organizers realize that some exhibitors will be inconvenienced by the shift.

I went to MoCCA for the first time this year, and several creators told me they were doing both shows, which were a week apart. I was impressed that they made the effort, but it was clearly worth it to them, so it’s not surprising that there has been some grumbling, and it was nice to see Stumptown organizer Indigo Kelleigh’s gracious response to the conflict:

I just wanted to state for the record, that I know the difficulties in arranging for a venue for an event of this size, and more often than not our own final dates are dictated by the venue’s availability moreso than our desired schedule. I can’t assign any malice to this announcement on the part of the MoCCA organizers, and I hope nobody else does, either.

I do believe that there’s plenty of talent on both coasts, and further that this move will not harm either of the shows in the short term. For a show like Stumptown, which has only seen increased demand year after year, even last year in our move to a much larger exhibit space, I don’t believe this unfortunate scheduling will impact the quality of our Comics Fest in the slightest.

Some of the commenters at The Beat had said more or less the same thing, but it’s good to hear it from a show organizer. (Torsten Adair pointed out that Wizard World Anaheim is also scheduled for that weekend, but no one was complaining about that.) It sounds like the organizers of indy-comics shows already do try to avoid conflicts, but they don’t always succeed. I hope they do next year, because one inevitable result is that the East Coast artists stay on the East Coast and the West Coast artists stay on the West Coast, and everything gets a little bit more boring.

Comics A.M. | ‘Spider-Island’ tops sluggish July; BOOM!’s Disney titles end in October

Amazing Spider-Man #666

Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels in July fell 6.17 percent versus July 2010, with dollar sales of comic books sold through Diamond Comic Distributors falling 4.27 percent and graphic novels falling 10.10 percent year-over-year. Unit sales for comics were only down slightly, at .52 percent, which ICv2 points out “indicates that comic book cover prices have in fact declined. The problem is that circulation numbers have not risen enough to make up for the decline in revenue from lower cover prices.” Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #666, which kicked off the “Spider-Island” event, was the best-selling comic of the month, while League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2 from Top Shelf topped the graphic novel chart. John Jackson Miller has commentary.

Marvel saw a slight increase in its dollar market share for July when compared to June, while DC’s jumped from 28.03 percent in June to 30.55 percent in July. IDW, the No. 5 publisher in terms of dollar share in June, moved to the No. 3 position in July. The top seven publishers were rounded out by Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite and BOOM! [ICv2]

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What Are You Reading?

Gingerbread Girl

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Emily Stackhouse, creator of the award-winning minicomic Brazilianoir and her latest, Miner’s Mutiny.

To see what Emily and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Your video of the day | Meet SamDroid, mayor of Portland

As if Portland, Ore. needed any more help in becoming comic-friendly, apparently their mayor is also a superhero. Mayor Sam Adams appeared at the recent Stumptown Comics Fest in full cosplay, dressed as SamDroid, a character designed by Manny McIvor as part of a competition held by the Alter Egos Society. The above video, courtesy of Things From Another World, includes interviews with the mayor, McIvor and Alter Egos Society founder Benja Barker.

Comics A.M. | Mike Keefe wins Pulitzer; BOOM! loses Classic Disney titles?

From Mike Keefe's portfolio

Awards | Denver Post editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning “for his widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.” Keefe, who joined the Post in 1975, had previously served in the Marines and taught math in college. “I am gobsmacked,” the 64-year-old cartoonist says. “In recent years, the Pulitzer has gone to much younger folks who are newer in the business. I’ve always done pretty classical editorial cartooning. I thought my day had passed.” Comic Riffs has Keefe’s award-winning portfolio. [Denver Post]

Publishing | On the heels of successive announcements that Marvel will publish comics based on Disney’s Pixar and Muppets properties, licenses previously held by BOOM! Studios, comes word that BOOM! has stopped soliciting Classic Disney series like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. However, Diamond’s Previews catalog for July contains listings for the publisher’s titles based on such Disney Afternoon properties as Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and DuckTales. [ICv2.com]

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Stumptown Comic Arts Awards 2011 winners

His Face All Red

Organizers of the Stumptown Comics Fest presented the 2011 Stumptown Comic Art Awards last night in Portland, Ore.

Nominees were selected by a panel of judges — Michael Allred, Brandon Graham, Laura Hudson, Michael Ring and Jason Leivian — from among the entries submitted earlier this year. Winners were determined by an online vote.

The winners are:

Best Artist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Writer: Aaron Renier, The Unsinkable Walker Bean
Best Cartoonist: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Best Letterer: Johnny Ryan, Prison Pit #2
Best Colorist: Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
Best Publication Design: Michael DeForge, Spotting Deer
Best Anthology: Studygroup 12 #4, edited by Zack Soto
Best Small Press: I Want You #2 by Lisa Hanawalt
Best New Talent: Michael DeForge
Reader’s Choice: Pang, the Wandering Shaolin Monk by Ben Costa
Director’s Choice: The Sixth Gun, by Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, published by Oni Press

The Middle Ground #48.5 | The Post I Didn’t Write

I was going to try and write some kind of “Seventeen reasons why Stumptown Comics Fest is the greatest comic con around” post this week, but all of those seventeen reasons all boiled down to one basic one: It’s not a convention. Continue Reading »

One more reason to go to Stumptown Comics Fest: Illustrated badges by Brandon Graham

You might say “Badges? I don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” but wait ’til you get a look at these.

Brandon Graham has created these new illustrations to be used as badges for next weekend’s Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Ore. They will also be selling a convention shirt with another new piece of Graham art — which I believe is the first professionally made Brandon Graham shirt.

In addition to Graham attending, also attending as guests will be Rick Remender, Eric Powell, Jeffrey Brown, Paul Tobin and the cartoonist of the second-most popular comic of the week — Nate Simpson (Nonplayer).

If anyone goes to Stumptown, mail me one of these badges! I’m serious!

Don’t let Death win

Artist Joëlle Jones (You Have Killed Me, Spell Checkers) shares a wonderful commission she recently did, featuring Madame Xanadu and Death playing cards outside Xanadu’s brownstone. If I learned anything from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, it’s to never let Death win …

Jones is taking orders for additional commissions for the upcoming Stumptown convention in Portland. Click on the link above for details.

Nominees announced for 2011 Stumptown Comic Arts Awards

Organizers of Stumptown Comics Fest have announced the final list of nominees for the 2011 Stumptown Comic Arts Awards. Nominees were selected by a panel of judges — Michael Allred, Brandon Graham, Laura Hudson, Michael Ring and Jason Leivian — from among the entries submitted earlier this year.

The online awards ballot can be found at the Stumptown website. Winners will be announced during the eighth annual Stumptown Comics Fest, held April 16-17 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.

The nominees are:

Best artist
• Emily Carroll, His Face All Red
• Roman Muradov, “Etc,” A Cave
• Stuart Immonen, Moving Pictures
• Brian Hurtt, The Sixth Gun
• Brecht Evens, Night Animals

Best writer
• Carla Speed McNeil, Finder: Voice
• Cullen Bunn, The Sixth Gun
• Greg Rucka, Stumptown
• Aaron Renier, The Unsinkable Walker Bean
• Ben Marra, Benjamin Marra’s The Incredibly Fantastic Adventures of Maureen Dowd (A Work of Satire and Fiction)

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Brandon Graham draws the 2011 Stumptown Comics Festival poster

Stumptown Comics Festival 2011 Poster

The folks from the Stumptown Comics Festival sent out their official poster this week, which features art by King City creator Brandon Graham. Prints and T-shirts with the art will be available for purchase at the show, which runs April 16-17 at the Oregon Convention Center. Any remaining items will be sold online after the show.

Press release after the jump.

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Comics A.M. | Spider-Man producer fires back; more from Gareb Shamus

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | Michael Coehl, lead producer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has responded to the thrashing the $65-million production received this week from some of the country’s top theater critics. The Julie Taymor-directed show, which finally opens on March 15,  was labeled by The New York Times and The Washington post as one of the worst musicals in Broadway history. “Any of the people who review the show and say it has no redeeming value are just not legitimate reviewers, period,” Coehl told Entertainment Weekly. [PopWatch]

Publishing | Wizard World CEO Gareb Shamus gives another interview about the abrupt closing of Wizard and ToyFare magazines, his expanding stable of regional conventions, plans for a weekly online magazine, and the state of the industry: “The market’s changed. When I started 20 years ago, I was pioneering in the publishing world in terms of creating a product that got people excited about being involved in the comic book and toy and other markets, and we could do a lot of really cool and innovative things. Unfortunately right now being involved in the print world is very stifling, in terms of being able to leverage your content and your media and your access to the world out there.” Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon and Martin Wisse comment on Shamus’ previous interview, which is pretty much the same as the new one. [ICv2.com]

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