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Disney Interactive cuts 700 jobs, scales back output

disney interactiveDisney Interactive slashed about 700 jobs on Thursday, more than one-quarter of its entire staff, as part of entertainment giant’s continuing battle to make its video game and Internet division profitable. Although the cuts had been anticipated for some time, few expected them to run that deep.

The Playdom group, which produces social-media games, is believed to be hit hardest. Disney purchased that company in 2010 for $563 million, an investment that clearly didn’t pay off.

Disney also plans to dramatically scale back in-house development of games, relying instead on outside licensing, which The New York Times characterizes as “a major shift in strategy.” The newspaper reports the company, which last year released about two dozen games, will reduce its output by 50 percent, and merge Playdom with the more successful mobile games unit.

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A growing collection of graphic novels and more from Canada

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Kyle from Ontario, Canada has only been collecting comics for a couple of years, but you can already tell he’s been bitten by the bug. Today he shares his growing collection of graphic novels, video games and more.

“I started buying comics and graphic novels about two years ago and my collection (especially this past year) has just kept growing,” Kyle said. “I mainly stick to DC but have started to branch out recently.”

If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, scroll down to the bottom of this post to find out how.

And now let’s hear from Kyle …

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Image, BOOM! top 2013 Gem Awards as publishers of the year

diamond gem awardsImage Comics and BOOM! Studios were voted Best Comic Book Publishers of the Year in their respective divisions in the 2013 Diamond Gem Awards.

DC Entertainment led with six awards, including Top Dollar Comic of the Year for Superman Unchained #1, with Dark Horse closed behind with five wins, including Original Graphic Novel of the Year for Hellboy: The Midnight Circus hardcover. Marvel earned honors for Top Dollar Comic Book Publisher of the Year and Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), for The Superior Spider-Man #1 NOW!

Other winners include Archie Comics’ Afterlife with Archie #1 for Comic Book of the Year (Under $3), Top Shelf Productions’ March: Book One for Indie GN of the Year, and Image Comics’ East of West for Best New Comic Book Series. The complete list can be found below.

Nominees were selected by a panel of Diamond Comic Distributors product specialist based on their impact on the industry (for the vendors), and sales performance and quality (for the products). The winners were then chosen by direct market retailers.

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First Second unveils books by Doctorow, Wang and Dalrymple

InRealLifeIt’s been a busy week for First Second: Following on its announcement of The Stratford Zoo, which features animals staging a production of Macbeth, the publisher has revealed two more graphic novels.

InRealLife, written by Corey Doctorow and illustrated by Jen Wang, is a story about the human side of gaming—specifically, the “gold farmers” who make real-world money from gaming. Based in part on the experiences of Doctorow’s wife, who was a high-level gamer in the 1990s, the book revolves around a teenager named Anda who’s recruited into a fictional multiplayer online game, Coarsegold, and ends up as a player in the game’s underground economy.

The graphic novel will explore attitudes about gaming and gamers, and, Doctorow says in an interview at Kotaku, there is a larger point:

When you contemplate the microscale phenomenon of a world-in-a-bottle like an MMO and the toy economy within it, it equips you with a graspable metaphor for understanding the macroscale world of monetary policy. In other words: thinking about gold farming is a gateway drug to thinking about money itself.

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Comics A.M. | Police auction off criminal’s comics on eBay

Some of the seized comics

Some of the seized comics

Auctions | The Leicestershire (England) Police are auctioning about 1,200 comics — most of them are post-2000 DC Comics titles, described as in mint condition — seized as criminal assets in Dorset (the police force doesn’t have its own eBay account). “Some are signed by the artists and they are mainly Superman and Spider Man, that sort of thing,” said Dave Hargrave, proceeds of crime asset realization manager. “[...] The person who had the comics was obviously a collector.” About 400 comics have been sold, bringing in £600 (about $985 U.S.). [Leicester Mercury]

Publishing | Avatar Press has returned to Diamond Book Distributors as its distributor to bookstores, the mass market, library services, and other markets. Avatar left DBD in 2011 to sign on with BOOM! Studios to distribute its books through Simon & Schuster in the United States and HarperCollins in Canada. [ICv2]

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Just how big of a hit was ‘Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia’?

legend of zeldaWe already knew Dark Horse’s video game art book The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia was a pretty big deal. After all, it debuted in late January at the top of the Nielsen BookScan, Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller lists, making it clearly the No. 1 book in America that week. In addition, the publisher announced an initial 400,000-copy print run for the $34.99 hardcover.

But more than 10 months later, after all of the early buzz subsided, how did things shake out? Amazon.com gives us a bit of an idea with its rundown of its 100 bestselling adult print books of the year: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia comes in at No. 6, ahead of anything by the likes of Stephen King, John Grisham, Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and the Duck Dynasty cast.

Of course, there are no actual sales numbers, but it certainly provides a bit of context for Hyrule Historia‘s success; it charts behind such high profile books as Dan Brown’s Inferno, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus and Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed. (And who knew conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer had the kind of following to come in at No. 5?)

Featuring an introduction by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia collects historical information about the hit franchise, never-before-seen concept art, a chronology and more.

Comics A.M. | Injured ‘Spider-Man’ dancer makes public appearance

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Stage | Dancer Daniel Curry, who was seriously injured during an Aug. 15 performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, made his first appearance since the accident at a benefit concert held Monday that raised $10,000 for his medical bills. Curry was injured when his leg was pinned by an automated trap door — he blames malfunctioning equipment, producers say it was human error — resulting in fractured legs and a fractured foot; he has undergone surgeries and unspecified amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Actors’ Equity have launched investigations into the accident, and Curry’s lawyers are exploring a possible lawsuit against the $75 million show and the equipment suppliers.

During previews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — before the March 2011 firing of director Julie Taymor and the sweeping overhaul that followed — no fewer than five performers were injured, the most serious previously being aerialist Christopher Tierney, who fell about 30 feet in December 2010, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He returned to rehearsals four months later. There have been no major accidents since the show opened in June 2011. [The New York Times]

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Ready, aim, Shelf Porn: Statues, art and a big gun from California

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Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, where we take you inside one fan’s house to check out their stuff. Today’s collection comes from Christian in Victorville, Calif., who shows us his comics, art, statues, original art and one gigantic gun.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here on Shelf Porn, check out the submission instructions.

Take it away, Christian …

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NYCC ’13 | Dark Horse and CD Projekt RED tease collaboration

witcher

Video game developer CD Projekt RED and Dark Horse have released a teaser video for what, by all indications, is a comic based on The Witcher, to be announced Oct. 11 at New York Comic Con.

Based on the bestselling fantasy novels and short stories by Andrzej Sapkowski, the hack-and-slash role-playing game follows Geralt, one of the few remaining “witchers,” traveling monster hunters for hire. The popular franchise debuted in 2007, followed in 2011 by a sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The third installment, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, is set for release next year.

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‘Avengers Alliance’ heads to ‘Infinity’ — but who is that mystery man?

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Note: This post could contain SPOILERS for Marvel’s Infinity, so read at your own risk.

Marvel and Playdom’s popular Facebook game Marvel Avengers Alliance has been chugging along since early 2012, drafting new SHIELD recruits, teaming them with various Marvel characters and sending them on the hunt for SHIELD points and silver as they fight through the ranks of Marvel’s baddest villains.

In addition to the regular game, players are also treated to special operations every so often, which are sometimes based on storylines from the comics — like the recent one that drew from Dark Reign. Each special operation is typically limited to about three weeks, and if you complete all the mission objectives during that time, you unlock a new playable character — past missions have allowed you to unlock Emma Frost, Magik, Hank Pym, Vision and, most recently, Ares, among others. Occasionally they’ll also have you collect lockboxes that, through a process that’s probably long and boring to anyone who doesn’t play the game (and can be extremely frustrating for those of us who do), lets you gain a second character for your rather large team of Avengers. So far those characters have all been characters who have been both heroes and villains during their career — Magneto, Juggernaut and Elektra, for example.

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‘Shadow Man’ game returns with digital distribution

shadowmanThere were precious few comic-book video games in the late 1990s that were actually, objectively good. (Remember Superman 64? Terrible, just terrible.) However, one decent game that got both console and PC treatment was Shadow Man, based on the Valiant comic of the same name. Released to solid reviews, the game was published by Acclaim, back when the company held the rights to the Valiant characters.

For those wishing to relive the glory days of Shadow Man and late-’90s gaming, digital game distributor gog.com has made Shadow Man available for purchase for a mere $5.99. To sweeten the deal, Valiant Entertainment has partnered with gog.com to give those who purchase by Sept. 24 a free digital copy of Shadowman #1 through comiXology, and a $5.99 discount off an upcoming Shadowman T-shirt design through Cinder Block.

The Shadow Man game centered on literature student-turned-hitman Michael LeRoi, whom players controlled to stop the villainous Legion and “The Five,” five serial killers, from bringing the apocalypse to the living world. The game slightly tied in to the Acclaim Shadowman title of the time by incorporating the Deadside concept created by Garth Ennis. The game did well enough that a sequel was released in 2002: Shadow Man: 2econd Coming.

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‘Gold Digger’s’ Fred Perry turns to Kickstarter for ‘LVL UP!’

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Fan comics might have a stigma in the United States, but in Japan they reach an audience that exceeds the entire American comics market. And now longtime American manga artist Fred Perry is looking to create his own.

Based on the popular MMORPG Final Fantasy 11, Fred Perry’s LVL UP! is a webcomic that follows the adventures of the cartoonist’s character Calcula Mihgo as she explores the video game world of Vana’diel. Perry has been producing LVL UP! since 2005, and is turning to Kickstarter this month to finance a print collection of the long-running series. As of this posting, Perry has raised roughly $6,500 of his $13,000 goal, and has until Oct. 2 to generate the rest.

Although Perry might be new to Kickstarter, he;s comics veteran who works in a subset of the industry many people overlook. Perry got his start in 1989 with a pin-up for the series Ninja High School and later worked on several manga imports before making a name for himself in 1993 with the launch of Gold Digger. Although Perry has done some moonlighting into the “mainstream” American comics world, Perry’s remained entrenched with Gold Digger and various other side projects, mostly through Antarctic Press.

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Batman tops YouTube’s list of most popular superheroes

Adam West In 'Batman'

Despite competition from cinematic upstarts like Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain America, Batman reigns as the most popular superhero on YouTube, with more than 3 billion views of a staggering 71,000 hours of video. But the character at No. 2 may surprise fans, and undoubtedly please Marvel Studios. Verily.

That’s according to research released today by the video-sharing website as part of its “Geek Week” celebration. The breakdown is based on keyword searches since 2008 for everything from film trailers to fan originals to video-game play.

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Comics A.M. | Boston Comic Con a boon to local retailers

Boston Comic Con

Boston Comic Con

Conventions | Retailers in the Boston area talk about the importance of Boston Comic Con to their bottom line. This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday. [The Boston Globe]

Creators | Leslie Chew, who recently faced legal action because of his political cartoons on Facebook, and his attorney talk about Chew’s cartoons and the legal case against him. [PRI's The World]

Creators | Nate Powell, who got his start distributing photocopied minicomics at punk-rock shows, talks to his hometown newspaper about working with Rep. John Lewis on March, drawing a Percy Jackson graphic novel, and life as a full-time comic artist: “There’s a whole lot of constant hustling as a cartoon artist, and really I credit DIY punk as far as shaping the way that I navigate the world to allow me to still tap into the constant hustling necessary to keep my head above water.” [Arkansas Times]

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SDCC ’13 | Dark Horse to publish ongoing based on ‘Halo 4′

halo4

Dark Horse, which earlier this year acquired the comic-book license for Halo, will launch the first ongoing series based on the blockbuster video game franchise in December. According to Wired, the announcement will be made today at Comic-Con International in San Diego by franchise development director Frank O’Conner.

Based on the storyline of Halo 4, which arrives in November from Microsoft Studios, Halo: Escalation will be penned by the game’s lead writer Chris Schlerf, with art for the first three issues provided by Omar Francia (Mass Effect and Star Wars: Legacy comics). The covers will be illustrated by Dragon Age comics artist Anthony Palumbo.

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