Publishing | We noted in late April that Archie Comics appeared to be embracing cultural and political commentary with its upcoming Kevin Keller miniseries, which features Riverdale’s first openly gay character and his father, a retired three-star general. But now the publisher, or at least the character, is going a step further, marching into the middle of the debate over gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces by revealing that Kevin aspires to be a journalist, but only after attending the U.S. Military Academy and becoming an Army officer. “Even though we don’t tackle the specific issue of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell, the goal was to show that patriotism knows no specific gender, race or sexual orientation,” cartoonist Dan Parent says. “While it sounds like heavy subject matter, I tried to show it simply that Kevin, like his dad, loves his country. Being gay doesn’t effect that in any way.” [The Associated Press]
Publishing | DC Comics’ line-wide reboot has received extensive coverage by mainstream media outlets, based largely on the original USA Today article or The Associated Press report. But my favorite piece is this one by George Gene Gustines that turns back the clock to 1985 and attempts to explain to The New York Times audience the effects, and problems, of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the publisher’s subsequent attempts to streamline continuity: “… If the goal was to make the DC universe easier to understand, the end result was the opposite: to this day, fans frequently mention ‘pre-Crisis‘ and ‘post-Crisis‘ as a way to distinguish stories. Twenty years later, in the Infinite Crisis limited series, DC tried to clean continuity up again: Superman’s career as Superboy was back; Batman knew who murdered the Waynes; and Wonder Woman was a founder of the Justice League again.” [The New York Times]
Retailing | Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief, opened in 1987 by the late Rory Root, “faces imminent closure” as it reportedly hemorrhages customers and grapples with cash-flow problems that led to the temporary loss of its account with Diamond Comic Distributors. According to an article in the East Bay Express, the store could be purchased by one of Root’s relatives, who would revive the name and retain the staff. Or it could be closed and reopen in another location in January.
However, Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson argues that rescue by Root’s family is unlikely, as they already own Comic Relief: “A seemingly never-ending series of colossal blunders by Rory’s family have put the store on life support, and now the store is a shell of what it once was. Comic Relief hasn’t received new product in weeks. For anyone even the least bit familiar with the business of selling comics, it should be vodka clear: No new books means no business. No business means no store. And far from being some sort of solution to the store’s troubles, the Roots are actually the cause. They took the store over against Rory’s wishes and have run it into the ground with such force, you’d think they were blasting for oil.” [East Bay Express]
Broadway | The planned Jan. 11 opening for the $65-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark likely will be pushed back again, Kim Masters reports. Yet despite technical problems, actor injuries and repeated delays, preview performances are selling at an impressive 98.2 percent capacity. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Roland Kelts provides commentary on the passage by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly of controversial legislation to further restrict sexual content in manga and anime: “Now we have Version 2 of the non-existent youth bill, with its opaque language promising to monitor depictions of fictional characters government officials decide are too young to be engaging in the fictional activities government officials decide are too harmful to real youth that government officials decide are too youthful to view or read about them. Meanwhile, it remains legal in Japan to possess child pornography, live-action or illustrated, rendering most attempts at enforcement toothless.” Meanwhile, Japan Real Time, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal report on the new ordinance and the surrounding controversy. [TCJ.com]
As expected, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Wednesday passed a controversial bill to further restrict the sale or rental to minors of manga and anime containing “extreme” depictions of sexual acts.
The amendment to the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance, which already prohibits the sale of “harmful publications” to anyone under the age of 18, also calls for the industry to self-regulate by toning down content designed for general release.
Requirements for self-regulation and restrictions on sales will take effect on April 1 and July 1, respectively. The amended ordinance includes a non-binding clause stating that the city government will carefully consider a work’s artistic and social merits in the evaluation process. According to BBC News, publishers, studios and retailers who break the law face fines of up to 300,000 yen (about $3,575).
The bill has generated strong opposition from publishers and creators. On Friday 10 Japanese publishers, including including Kadokawa Shoten, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kodansha, announced they will boycott next year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair, sponsored by the Tokyo government.
Legal | Michael Renaud, the only witness who can place retailer Michael George at his comic store around the time his first wife Barbara George was killed, testified Monday that a meeting with detectives shortly after the 1990 murder detailed in a recently published book did take place, despite its lack of mention in police files. Defense attorney Carl Marlinga questioned during the evidentiary hearing whether Renaud, who admitted to smoking marijuana, has a reliable memory of events. [Detroit Free Press]
Digital piracy | Four publishing groups in Japan, including the Digital Comic Association, is demanding that Apple stop selling pirated works of Japanese authors in its App Store. Apple says that it removes pirated material upon notification by the copyright holder. [The Wall Street Journal]
Publishing | Although a bill to further restrict the sale in metropolitan Tokyo of manga and anime depicting “extreme” sex won’t be voted on until Wednesday, some creators say the legislation has already had a chilling effect. For instance, one boys love artist contends her publisher is refusing to release works set in schools or featuring school uniforms. [Sankaku Complex]