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SDCC | Highlights of the Thursday programming schedule

comic-conThe days of easing into Comic-Con International are but a distant memory, as the schedule for the first event’s official day, Thursday, July 27, oh so helpfully reminds us.

As we’ve come to expect, the Thursday programming is a mix of comic books, television, toys and video games, with a smattering of film, plus several Batman panels tied to the Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary (including a spotlight on co-creator Bill Finger, “DC Comics: Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” and “Batman in the ’70s”).

Comics programming includes panels from 2000 AD, Avatar Press, Bongo Comics, BOOM! Studios, DC Digital, Image Comics, IDW’s Artists Editions, Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, Monkeybrain Comics, Skybound’s The Walking Dead and Vertigo. But that only scratches the surface, as there are also creator spotlights on the likes of Dan Slott, and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, a conversation between Gene Luen Yang and Scott McCloud, a look at the creative processes of Lee Bermejo, John Romita Jr. and Nicola Scott, and an examination of the intersection of hip hop and comics.

Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.

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Alex Simmons on kickstarting the ambitious AEON platform

Simmons HandNWComics, animation and video games, all on the same platform, all offered for free: That’s the vision Alex Simmons has for his new digital service, the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network (AEON). He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to get the service off the ground, and he already has plans to go beyond that.

Simmons is a veteran comics writer whose credits include Archie Comics (he won a Glyph Award for his story “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”), Scooby-Doo and his own creator-owned series, Blackjack. He writes in a variety of other formats as well, including creating interactive mystery stories for the Tiger Toys video game, and he runs the annual Kids’ Comic Con in the Bronx. A few years ago he put together an art exhibit, “The Color of Comics,” that traveled as far away as Senegal.

The AEON is an ambitious project. Artist Derrick A. Richardson, who has done work for DC and Marvel, is the CEO, and Simmons and Richardson have put together a team of animation, creative and technical consultants to build the platform. All this costs money, and they set the goal of the Kickstarter at $100,000. I talked with  Simmons about the thinking behind the platform and what the next steps will be.

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‘Castle Vidcons’: Lords of video games

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E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, runs this week, and video game news sites and fans have been poring over every announcement with the delicacy of a sledgehammer. One thing that has become clear: The so-called “console wars” is still on. Devotees line up behind their game system of choice to cheer or lambast the latest news. That was most apparent last year during the unveiling of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles, when the wild rhetoric between console partisans was indistinguishable from political rallies.

Webcomics have a long history with video games, with one webcomic (Penny Arcade) launching a popular convention circuit centered on gamers. Anthropomorphizing game consoles is hardly new. Few, though, have taken the concept as far and as creatively as Tyler Rhodes’ Castle Vidcons.

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, Motor City Comic Con marks 25 years

Motor City Comic Con

Motor City Comic Con

Conventions | The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. Comics guests include Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide. [Motor City Comic Con]

Digital comics | Kate Reynolds looks at the recent Image Humble Bundle promotion and compares it to sales of hard copies of the individual titles in comics shops. Her key insight is that this is Image’s first attempt to sell comics directly to the video game audience rather than established readers: “Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.” [feminism/geekery]

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Will there ever be another great sprite comic?

8-Bit Theater

8-Bit Theater

If you’ve ever done a random browse of webcomics over the past decade, chances are you ran into a sprite comic.

The sprite comic uses aesthetics from the early generations of video games, an era spanning the rise of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to the video game crash of 1983 to the rebirth under Mario and Mega Man once Nintendo came to dominate the market. The aesthetic itself has evolved and flourished in a variety of media. A lot of it is deeply rooted in nostalgia, as when Community aired an episode in which the characters are sprites in an ’80s-style RPG.

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‘Magical Game Time’: Video games are good

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Gamers have waged an ages-long battle against public perception that video games are detrimental to the world’s youth: They’re time wasters that promote anti-social habits and glorify violence. Gamers respond to that pressure in a variety of ways, with some  lashing out against their critics. That was true of several webcomics in the mid-2000s, which unleashed their invective anger on popular political targets. “Don’t f*** with us,” said one popular webcomic. Others reacted by calmly suggesting aspects that could be improved in gaming. The crew behind the Extra Credits series, for example, often examines positive aspects of gaming that can help elevate the form from its sometimes adolescent levels.

And then there’s Zac Gorman’s Magical Game Time. If I were to divine a thesis from its comics, it would be “video games are good.”

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Japanese publisher Kadokawa buys ‘Dark Souls’ developer

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Kadokawa, the Japanese publisher of such manga as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sgt. Frog and Cowboy Bebop, has announced plans to acquire video game company From Software.

According to Siliconera, Kadokawa Group will purchase 80 percent of From Software’s stock — a deal expected to be finalized by May 21 — and position the developer alongside the existing Kadokawa Games to work on the company’s core properties.

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Comics A.M. | Man sentenced for role in plot to kill cartoonist

Mohammad Hassan Khalid

Mohammad Hassan Khalid

Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]

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‘Amazing Spider-Man 2′ mobile game swings in with launch trailer

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Marvel and Paris-based mobile game developer Gameloft have released the launch trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a tie-in to the Sony Pictures movie sequel that pits the wall-crawler against villains ranging from Electro and the Green Goblin to Kraven and Venom.

Available now on iOS and Google Play, the action-adventure follows Spider-Man as he swings through Manhattan in an effort to save New York City from the chaos of a costumed crime wave.

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Houston bar aims for different crowd with comics, video games

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With a name that gives a nod to a 19th-century physicist and a sign that features an olive within an atom, it’s a safe bet that Houston’s new Neil’s Bahr isn’t your run-of-the-mill drinking establishment.

Instead, Eater reports, it’s a bar where patrons can browse the comic book library, read sci-fi novels in the comfy lounge or play Super Nintendo and vintage arcade games.

“I’ve always wanted a geeky bar where people can watch The Simpsons or Star Wars on TV, a very hole-in-the-wall place,” owner Neil Fernandez told the website. He also has Industry Night Tuesday, which caters to bar and restaurant employees, and soon plans to launch trivia and cabaret/karaoke nights. Fernandez is even considering going “full-blown nerd” with Magic: The Gathering.

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Deathstroke leaves a bloody mess behind in fan film

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Following the teaser trailer we posted last week, Going Nowhere Studios has released the full version of Deathstroke: Arkham Assassin, a fan-film prequel to the video game Batman: Arkham Origins.

The film features Slade Wilson auditioning for Black Mask, who has put a bounty out on Batman on Christmas Eve. Deathstroke shows off his skills in the action-packed, very bloody and probably NSFW fan film. It’s timing couldn’t be better, as DC just announced a starring role for Deathstroke in Suicide Squad.

Check it out below.

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Deathstroke goes in for kill in trailer for ‘Arkham Origins’ fan film

deathstroke

Going Nowhere Studios has debuted a pretty impressive trailer for Deathstroke: Arkham Assassin, a fan-film prequel to the Warner Bros. video game Batman: Arkham Origins.

In the game, a bounty is placed on the Dark Knight by the Black Mask, bringing eight of the world’s greatest assassins to Gotham City on Christmas Eve — including the formidable Deathstroke. But as the trailer teases, the crime lord requires a demonstration of his skills.

The short film is set to premiere Monday online.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ game debuts launch trailer

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Marvel has released the launch trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game, a film tie-in that allows players to control Steve Rogers as he commands an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tasked with stopping a sinister global plot.

Developed by Gameloft for Adroid and iOS, the mobile game features an original story by comics writer Christos Gage. Players can call in Falcon and Black Widow for help as the go up against such adversaries as King Cobra, Taskmaster, Puff Adder and the Winter Soldier. A multiplayer mode offers the ability to join clans and to compete for a higher position in leagues.

The game is available for download now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens Friday.

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It’s Goku vs. Luffy in the streets of Tokyo

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In the battle no one ever expected — Dragon Ball‘s Goku vs. One Piece‘s Monkey D. Luffy — no clear winner emerges, but there is an obvious loser: the sidewalks of Tokyo.

The pretty impressive life-size sculpture is on display through Sunday outside the Shibuya Parco department store to promote the release of J-Stars Victory Vs., the Shonen Jump 45th-anniversary multiplayer fighting game featuring many of the magazine’s most popular characters.

More photos can be found at Game Watch Impress.

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Namco Bandai pulling plug on ShiftyLook

wonder momoShiftyLook, the Namco Bandai webcomic platform designed to revive dormant vide0-game characters, is closing, about two years after its debut.

“The idea was to take the unused, ‘sleeping’ video game characters of our past and bring them back first with webcomics, and then – once they had gotten enough traction – expand into other media like web animation, games, and merchandise,” Cory Casoni, ShiftyLook’s head of marketing, explained today on the website. “I’m happy to say that we’ve done this with Wonder Momo, Bravoman, and some other very cool characters [...] That said, now that we have successfully revived so many franchises, the heavy lifting is completed – and so is our work. We battled the video games abyss and won, which means it’s time for us to move on and let the hit-makers play with some new toys.”

Launched in March 2012, ShiftyLook featured such creators as Ryan North, Jim Zubkavich, Christopher Hastings, Ben McCool, Dean Haspiel and Hitoshi Ariga working on classic properties like Wonder Momo, Dig Dug, Galaga and Bravoman.

Wonder Momo, which Casoni characterized as ShiftyLook’s “star franchise,” is being developed as a game by WayForward Technologies.

Casoni details all of the dates for the closing at ShiftyLook.com; the website will no longer be updated as of March 20, and the servers will shut down on Sept. 30.


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