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Comics A.M. | Wizard World Philadelphia’s $5.9M economic impact

Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con

Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con

Conventions | While the South Jersey Times and Philadelphia Inquirer focus on the fans who turned out over the weekend for the 14th annual Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, Philadelphia Business Journal zeroes in on its economic impact: an estimated $5.9 million, which seems like a lot, until you compare it to the expected $16.2 million impact of the 6,000-person American Industrial Hygiene Association conference. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

Conventions | First-timer Michael Smith reports on the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. [Liberty Voice]

Creators | John Romita Jr. talks about moving from Marvel to DC Comics to draw Superman and about comics being his family business; and his father, John Romita Sr., chimes in as well. [The New York Times]

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‘Unsounded’: The ties that bind

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Note: This contains spoilers for Unsounded: Chapter 9, “Wherein Family Ties Chafe the Throat.”

In a way, the recurring theme of Ashley Cope’s Unsounded is breaking ties.

The most obvious example of this is the zombie Duane, who was ripped from his old human life when he and his daughter were murdered by an invading force. Now doomed to live his existence as one of the walking dead, he is bound to his young companion Sette because of his compassion for children. He is thrust from his noble position and his loving family, and becomes a shambling servant of a criminal family.

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‘Broodhollow’: Head like a hole

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It’s my experience that there are some comics you shouldn’t be reading past midnight on the flickering glow of your tablet. You’re never more vulnerable than in that moment when the veil between reality and dreams are the most thin. As you drift off, strange images fill your mind, only intensifying to heart-palpitating levels when, say, your desktop computer suddenly powers on and wakes up from sleep mode for no reason. It’s moments like this when you realize perhaps you really should have reviewed Wuffle: The Big Nice Wolf instead.

Funny thing is that despite its horror trappings, Kris Straub’s Broodhollow doesn’t look like the sort of webcomic that could scare a fly. It’s more quirky than anything: An encyclopedia salesman finds himself living in a town where the locals have silly traditions. Characters are rendered in that recognizable Straub style, where noseless people sorta look like hedgehogs. I was a little ambivalent toward the comic after its first chapter; things pick up considerably in Chapter 2, though, with the introduction of a murder mystery.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee greeted in Sydney with ‘Captain Australia’ shield

Stan Lee (via The Daily Telegraph)

Stan Lee (via The Daily Telegraph)

Creators | Stan Lee arrived at Sydney Airport for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo and was immediately presented with a “Captain Australia” shield, colored gold and green rather than red and blue. The Supanova Pop Culture Expo kicked off today, and continues through Sunday. [The Daily Telegraph]

Comics | Hussain Al-Shiblawi says he doesn’t usually mind the pamphlets he regularly receives from the local Bible Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia; even though he’s Muslim, he finds them inspirational. But he takes strong exception to the latest one, a Jack Chick tract titled Unforgiven, which claims that all Muslims are going to hell. The pastor, who declined to go on camera, says his church doesn’t create the pamphlets, it just distributes them, but he’s willing to meet with Al-Shiblawi to discuss the comic. [WDBJ News]

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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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‘Infinity’ artist Dustin Weaver branches out with ‘Amnia Cycle’

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Dustin Weaver is best known for his work on such Marvel titles as Infinity, Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., but he’s also been busy creating his own space epic that most likely didn’t know existed: Amnia Cycle is a longform story that follows a space pilot named Tara and a bizarre alien life form named Amina. Weaver has drawn, and published online, three full issues of Amnia Cycle with plans to begin serializing the fourth “chapter” later this month.

Although Weaver has been seen primarily as a cover artist since the end of Infinity, that will change later this year with Marvel’s newly announced Edge of Spider-Verse series, which he’ll both write and draw. Senior Editor Nick Lowe told Comic Book Resources last week that Weaver’s work on Amnia Cycle helped secure him the writing gig.

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‘Clique Refresh’: Second lives

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Escapism gets a bad rap in comics. Are they adolescent escapist fantasies? Well, yeah. Of course many of them are. There are exceptions, sure, but who doesn’t want to imagine themselves as the super-strong dude who flies around and saves the day, or the guy who dresses up as a bat with the slick car and the grappling hook? What I don’t get is why people who raise this criticism often see this as a bad thing.

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Jeff Smith debuts Season 2 of ‘Tüki: Save the Humans’

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Jeff Smith’s Reuben Award-winning webcomic Tüki: Save the Humans kicked off its second season today, ahead of the July release of the first print edition from Cartoon Books.

Set two million years ago, as a great ice ages grips Earth, the adventure is the story of the first human to leave Africa.

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‘Tagged!’: Unisex grapplers of the squared circle

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You’d imagine that professional wrestling would be a natural fit for comics. The characters and storylines are larger than life. Undead cowboys! Evil clowns! Heroes carrying two-by-fours against a red, white and blue backdrop! Masked, underdog heroes who can fly around the ring like they have the proportional agility of a spider! Both even went through similar phases in the ’90s, with superstars taking on grim-and-gritty personae while indies made a mark with strange, unconventional ideas. So how come wrestling comics aren’t quite so prominent?

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Patreon offers webcomic creators another way to make money

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I was chatting with Professor Mole, an online acquaintance who used to run a webcomic review site. He was all, “Yo, bro, what do you think about Patreon, bro?” And I was all, “Bro! I never even heard about it, bro!” And he was all, “BRO!” And I was all, “BRO!”

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Hope Larson launches new webcomic ‘Solo’

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Award-winning cartoonist Hope Larson (Mercury, A Wrinkle in Time) has debuted a new webcomic, Solo, which won’t be updated on a regular schedule. Rather, she explains, “I’ll be drawing the pages and slapping them up online the moment the ink’s dry, raw and fresh and full of mistakes. And full of swear words — the subject matter is fairly tame, but it’s not a kids’ comic.”

Larson adds on Twitter, “I don’t have an RSS feed and you can’t make me. Maybe I want people to forget about my comic for 6 months and stumble back to a whole bunch of pages. Or NEVER stumble back.”

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‘Paradox Space’: ‘Homestuck’ outsourced

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 10.08.40 PMResources are precious when you’re a webcomic creator, and nothing is more precious than time — get pulled off on anything, and there’s an almost 100 percent chance the comic’s going on hiatus. Big publishers have the luxury of bringing in fill-in writers and artists from a deep talent pool; webcomics, not so much.

Homestuck is a case study in a webcomic getting too popular. Creator Andrew Hussie ran an enormously successful Kickstarter for an adventure game version, raising a mind-boggling $2.4 million by October 2012. Work on the game began in earnest, but  unfortunately, Hussie is only one person, and he wasn’t going to neglect the project that many people put their hard-earned money into. From an update on January 2014: “Since pausing, basically all I have been doing is writing. No drawing or animation yet. Writing, writing, writing. Writing for Homestuck, and writing for the adventure game. More time has been allocated to the latter. The game is a big, big project. Let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s like this whole new major story and everything, fueled by millions of dollars. That’s a very different situation from Homestuck, which is usually fueled by approximately zero dollars.”

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‘Three Panel Soul’: Existential crises are magical

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Three Panel Soul was created by Matthew Boyd and Ian McConville, the same team behind the classic webcomic Mac Hall, which ended in 2006. It’s a natural transition, as Mac Hall was about a group of slackers getting through college, and Three Panel Soul is about the life after. The somewhat-autobiographical slice-of-life webcomic ruminates on careers in the software industry, families, and soul-crushing existential crises.

The structure follows the limits of its title: Every strip is three panels, no more, no less. Its artwork is dominated by shadows: Three Panel Soul is heavy on the inks (there are exceptions, and they’re typically spectacularly rendered and exclusive to video game gags). The use of negative space gives the webcomic a contemplative quality, reflective of the isolation of the soul. Characters sometimes seem tiny and insignificant when they’re drawn against the vast emptiness around them. It’s as if Boyd and McConville feel the suffocating grip of a life where you’re too old to change but too young to be completely obsolete.

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Comics A.M. | Phoenix Comicon disrupted by malfunctioning fire alarm

Phoenix Comicon

Phoenix Comicon

Conventions | The Phoenix Convention Center was evacuated Thursday, the first day of Phoenix Comicon, after a fire alarm was triggered by a damaged heat sensor (something similar occurred during last year’s event). Attendees were allowed back in to the venue after about 30 minutes. The convention, which in 2013 drew a record 55,000 people (leading organizers to cap attendance), continues through Sunday. [The Arizona Republic]

Retailing | Kirby Tardy, owner of Collectors Comics in Grand Rapids, Michigan, looks back at 35 years in the business. The store opened downtown in 1979 as Opalia’s Amorphium, and started out carrying a wide range of merchandise; since then it has gone in the opposite direction from many comics shops and focuses mainly on comics themselves, not peripheral items like figures or games. At one time there were several branch locations, and Tardy and his wife Debbie spent a lot of time going to comics conventions in the 1990s. The couple is planning to retire next year, but hopes the business will continue with new owners. [MLive.com]

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Joe Shuster Awards announce 2014 nominees

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The nominees have been announced for the 10th annual Joe Shuster Awards, which recognize the best of the Canadian comics world. They’re named in honor of Toronto-born artist Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman.

The winners will be presented later this year, at a time and location to be announced. The nominees are:

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