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Comics A.M. | Lethem to guest-edit ‘Best American Comics’

"The Best American Comics 2015," by Raymond Pettibon

“The Best American Comics 2015,” by Raymond Pettibon

Comics | Novelist Jonathan Lethem is the guest editor for this year’s Best American Comics collection, the first to come from outside the comics realm. Series editor Bill Kartalopoulos says he was “amazing”: “He clearly knows a lot about comics and cartooning. His novels draw on his lifelong love of comic books, he’s written Omega the Unknown for Marvel, and he’s more than familiar with the historical and contemporary landmarks in comics. But as someone who’s not ‘from’ the comics field he brings an entirely fresh perspective to the material from the past year that we considered for the book. He doesn’t bring any baggage to the table about who ‘should’ be included in this volume based on status or popularity or currency. Comics can be so insular sometimes, so we’re lucky to have this kind of attention from someone like Jonathan.” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | The rise, decline and rebirth of Valiant



Publishing | Abraham Riesman looks at the revival of Valiant, which was once the third-largest comics publisher in the United States and now, under new management, aspires to reclaim that position. The article covers the rise and fall of the original company, its rescue by now-CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, and the strategy the new Valiant has used to quickly build an audience for a different type of superhero comic. [Vulture]

Conventions | San Diego officials had to do some shuffling to accommodate the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be played in the city in 2016, but they didn’t move Comic-Con International, which is only a few days later. “Their attendees are such a unique group that they don’t take well to change,” said Joe Terzi, chief executive of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They plan their year around this event.” [U-T San Diego]

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Comics A.M. | The changing demographics of comics industry

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Comics | Almost half the attendees at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego were women, writes Yael Kohen in an article about the growing importance of women to the comics industry. He cites statistics showing that young women are the fastest-growing segment of the comics audience, talks to Image Comics President Eric Stephenson and a woman who works in a comic shop, and mentions the enduring popularity of manga and Marvel’s recent introduction of more interesting female characters. With all that material to work with, it’s too bad he started with a lead right out of the 1950s, something about a fashion show at Comic-Con, as if that’s what all those women were there for. [BloombergBusinessweek]

Creators | Writer Jen Van Meter discusses her newest project, Valiant’s first female-led series, The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage. [Hero Complex]

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Quote of the Day | Why people go to comic conventions

This year's Pix poster by Jeremy Baum

This year’s Pix poster by Jeremy Baum

“People are constantly in communication and sharing with each other. But they physically want to meet each other in the flesh. There’s obviously a tactile element, but also a craft element in the production of the object, that’s lacking when you see it on the Internet. It’s the difference between seeing a Coca-Cola commercial on TV, and going to buy one.”

Bill Boichel, owner of Pittsburgh’s Copacetic Comics, talking about this weekend’s PIX: The Pittsburgh Indie Comix Expo, which is sponsored by his store and the Toonseum. Boichel’s point is particularly apt for small-press comics shows, where many of the works are handmade or have an artisanal quality that doesn’t necessarily come across on the Internet.

While PIX is drawing in a number of out-of-town guests, including Trina Robbins, Boichel notes that Pittsburgh has quite a comics scene of its own, with seven out of the 10 bestselling graphic novels in his store being local products.

Comics A.M. | Michael George loses appeal for new trial

Michael George

Michael George

Legal | Former comics retailer Michael George has lost his appeal for a new trial. He was convicted twice for the 1990 murder of his wife, first in 2008 and then in a 2011 retrial. George is serving life in prison without parole. [The Macomb Daily]

Creators | John Sutter profiles Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, whose hands were broken by government troops in an (unsuccessful) attempt to keep him from ever drawing again. [CNN]

Creators | Michael Diana, the first artist in the United States to be convicted of obscenity (for his comic Boiled Angel), returns to Miami after more than 20 years for a show of his work at the Miami Art Museum — which paid his remaining fines so he could enter the state without risk of arrest. [Miami New Times]

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Hung poster won’t hang at one Pittsburgh retailer

One Pittsburgh retailer didn’t find the poster for Jim Rugg’s upcoming art show, This #*?! Isn’t Very Funny, very funny.

The poster, which advertises a show that kicks off March 29 at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum, features a crotch-level shot of a superhero who is wearing his underwear on the outside of his costume. According to the ToonSeum Facebook page, Pittsburgh comic book store Eide’s Entertainment “refuses to put up poster for comic artist Jim Rugg’s upcoming show, unless it is censored.” In the comments thread that follows, ToonSeum added, “So we did ask that they place it downstairs, respectful that they may not want to put it in the window. The objection was that it features a male crotch in underwear.”

I’m not sure if the poster ToonSeum asked Eide’s to hang was the black-and-white version, pictured to the right, or the color version, which you can see in my original post about the art show. I’m guessing it is the black-and-white one, where it might be difficult to tell that the superhero is wearing a costume under the underwear and isn’t just walking around in his skivvies.

I reached out to Jim Rugg to see what he thought, and he provided me with this statement:

“I like the store that refused to hang up my poster so I don’t want this to sound negative. I think it is up to a retailer to decide whether they want to promote an event or hang up a poster. I contacted several stores, and made it clear that I would understand if they did not want to put up my poster in their store. I expected some resistance from some stores. I was surprised that this store objected. One of the things I like about their store is that they carry a wide range of material – art books, European comics (I’ve been buying a lot of old Catalan Communications graphic novels from them over the last year and last time I was there, they had a copy of the Compleat Sally Forth, which I had spent a long time looking for – picked up a copy at Heroes last year so anyone looking for a copy, these guys have one).

“They are an old school comic book shop, and I have a soft spot for old school comic book shops. When I started reading comics, comics felt a little dangerous based on the reactions I’d see among adults, and this store maintains that atmosphere. They are also a music and movie store and they display a ton of posters and other content that seems potentially more controversial than this poster (my favorite are Double Impact action figures). I’m personally disappointed they chose not to help promote the show. I’m surprised they would show the poster if it were censored because it doesn’t seem provocative to me. I chose this image because I thought it was an obvious nod to the history of comics, particularly the once dominant superhero genre, without being offensive. But I don’t want this to be an indictment against the store. I like their store. I’ve bought a ton of comics from them over the years, and I intend to continue to support them. The last thing I want to do is suggest a retailer is wrong. Any retailer than can maintain a store in today’s economy deserves a lot of credit. And they certainly know their customer base a lot better than I do.”

Comics A.M. | Jules Feiffer honored; ToonSeum begins cleanup

Jules Feiffer

Awards | Chicago’s Columbia College has announced it will bestow the 2012 John Fischetti Lifetime Achievement Award on Jules Feiffer. What is it? “The Fischetti Lifetime Achievement Award honors an outstanding career of editorial cartooning, work skewering cultural mores, misguided public policies and self-important people.” [The Daily Cartoonist]

Comics | As workers begin cleaning up the mess left by a flooded warehouse full of comics, officials at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum are appealing to the public for donations to help replace the lost works. [Post-Gazette]

Creators | Gerry Alanguilan posts his rejection letters from Marvel and DC Comics from the days when, as a young artist, he sent in samples of his work. He also tells the story of how he blew his first big chance, which should prove inspirational to others in the same boat. [Komikero]

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Comics A.M. | Heavy rains damage comics at Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum


Comics | Heavy rains and a leaky roof led to the loss of between $20,000 and $25,000 worth of comics and books that Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum was storing temporarily in a warehouse. “I guess the best way to put it, the warehouse was where we kept things that did not individually have high value, but put together [were] worth a large amount,” said Executive director Joe Wos, who believes that most of the material can be replaced eventually. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Publishing | The digital comics distributor comiXology has hired Marc Goldberg as its chief technology officer. Goldberg formerly served as CTO for the Viacom-owned “multiplatform premium entertainment channel” EPIX. [comiXology Blog]

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