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Comics A.M. | U.K. distributor Impossible Books is closing

Impossible Books

Impossible Books

Publishing | U.K. comics distributor Impossible Books will close up shop on Feb. 28, after two years in the business. On their blog, owners Camila Barboza and Taylor Lilley explained they simply don’t have the time and energy for the enterprise any longer. They are putting their titles on sale in the meantime, and Zainab Akhtar has some recommendations for bargain-minded readers. [Comics & Cola]

Crime | Daryl Cagle’s website, which hosts a lot of editorial cartoons, went down last week after being hit by a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Cagle tells Alan Gardner that his site gets attacked by hackers fairly frequently, but the latest was different in that the only goal was to take down the site. Gardner speculates it may be related to cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Charlie Hebdo. [The Daily Cartoonist]

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Comics A.M. | South Korea court rules ‘One Piece’ show can go on

From "One Piece"

From “One Piece”

Legal | A South Korea court has ruled an exhibition devoted to One Piece can be held as planned after it was abruptly canceled earlier this month following allegations that Eiichiro Oda’s popular pirate manga contains images that resemble the Rising Sun flag, considered a symbol of Japanese imperialism in South Korea. The company staging the One Piece show, which includes life-sized statues, rare figures and Oda’s sketches, asked the court to step in after the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul pulled the plug on the event just days before its scheduled July 12 opening. The court found that One Piece can’t be considered to “[hail] Japanese imperialism” simply because it depicts a flag reminiscent of the Rising Sun; and even if those images are of the Rising Sun flag, it’s mainly shown in a negative light. [The Asahi Shimbun]

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Comics A.M. | Two Japanese men arrested for uploading manga

Gin Tama

Gin Tama

Legal | The Hiroshima, Japan, police arrested a 36-year-old man on Monday for illegally uploading the manga series Gin Tama to the Internet; he was charged with copyright infringement. This comes just a few days after the arrest of another unemployed man for uploading a volume of Berserk. In both cases, the publisher and the creator of the manga involved have sued the suspects. [Crunchyroll]

Creators | Batman writer Scott Snyder talks about the women of Gotham City. [Comicosity]

Creators | In the first part of a two-part interview conducted at WonderCon, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick discusses how she grew up reading comics in the 1970s, her work for Tokyopop and Marvel, and what Carol Danvers means to her fans. [Toucan]

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Mark Millar, others team up to take down online bully

For quite some time, a jerk on Twitter has been harassing females int he comics community, from Kelly Sue DeConnick to Jill Pantozzi. He uses various Twitter handles like @MisterE2009 and @JonVeee to post some very vulgar, nasty, threatening, over-the-top stuff.

I should warn you that his Twitter pages are not safe for work (NSFW), both in terms of what he’s posted and the images he has displayed; if you’re curious to see some of his tweets, Bleeding Cool has rounded up a bunch of them. Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass has said she’s been harassed by this guy for a couple of years now. “He’s been harassing women for two years using male and female names. I have them all and if anyone wants the list I have it.”

There was someone who wanted that list–Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar. After being tipped off by Ron Marz and several others, Millar targeted the bully and wrote on his message board:

So I’m asking you guys a favour. I’ve managed to secure this guy’s name and address, but he’s stateside and I’m unsure what the next step should be. In the UK, he would be charged by the police under the Malicious Communications act, but we have a lot of smart cookies on here and I know there’s several US attorneys who post here regularly. If we have his details and copies of his communication, how can he be prosecuted? If any of the pros who have been attacked here would like to make a case against him I’ll personally cover the legal costs. Twitter, I would imagine, can confirm his IP address if the artists make a formal complaint to the police.

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Quote of the Day #2 | Is the time finally right for a female-lead superhero movie?

What if Brave and The Hunger Games are the top grossing movies this year? Will girl-lead adventure movies become less like unicorns? Maybe we’ll actually get that one female-lead superhero movie? HAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I kill me.

Faith Erin Hicks, making a good observation about this year’s potential blockbusters and what it could lead to.

Do you think that the time is ripe for a superhero movie starring a woman? Are we over Elektra and Catwoman enough that Hollywood could consider Black Widow or – finally – Wonder Woman? If female-led films become extremely profitable, what other female superheroes are ready for the big screen?

Comics A.M. | De Guzman leaves SLG, Powell joins Diamond

Jennifer de Guzman

Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]

Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]

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The best of the best of the year lists

Wonder Woman #1

• Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass lists 2011’s 10 best issues of DC Comics for female characters, highlighting issues of Secret Six, the pre-relaunch Batgirl and post-relaunch Wonder Woman: “…Enter Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. From the first pages it was clear this run was going to be different. Stunning art and an unforgivingly aggressive storyline unafraid to shake up the status quo made Wonder Woman one of the two top selling female led books of the new 52 and a top 20 comic for the first time in years. Wonder Woman is back on top and all is right with the world.”

• ComicsAlliance compiles their complete best of 2011 list, which includes Atomic Robo, Criminal: Last of the Innocent and Batman: The Black Mirror.

• Josh and Elizabeth from Things From Another World count down their favorite comics of the year in video form.

• Ed Sizemore lists his top manga of the year, including Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and Wandering Son.

• Kelly Thompson at Comics Should Be Good! shares her bests, and a few worsts, of 2011. Her bests include Princeless, Detective Comics and Uncanny X-Force.

• Ben Morse posts a gift-getting guide, or a “helpful guide to some of the good stuff that came out in the 12 months prior either already or soon to be available in collected form that you can use to divest yourselves of those newly acquired gift cards or wads of cash.”

• read/RANT list their 10 best of the year, including Paying For It and Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man.

• And finally, the year in Squirrel Girl.

The best of the best of the year lists

Infinite Kung Fu

With only a couple days left in 2011, here are a few more “best of 2011″ lists from the past few days:

• iFanboy has chosen DC Comics as their publisher of the year. They’ve also listed their best collections of the year, including Infinite Kung Fu, Mr. Murder is Dead, Bone 20th Anniversary Full Color Edition and the Walt Simonson Thor Omnibus.

• ComicsAlliance finished up their countdown of their top comics of the year, with Daredevil and Love and Rockets New Stories Volume 4 taking the top two positions.

• The A.V. Club has posted two separate lists–one focused on superhero and mainstream comics, the second on “graphic novels and art comics.” The mainstream list includes a separate “Best of” section that includes categories like best new characters, best one-shot and “best fix.”

• Kelly Thompson lists 13 “fantastic female creators” for 2011 on Jezebel, which is a companion piece to previous lists she’s done (i.e. no repeats). This year’s list includes Marjorie Liu, Carla Speed McNeil, Renae De Liz and Kelly Sue DeConnick, among others.

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Comics A.M. | Charges dropped against Susie Cagle in Occupy arrest

Susie Cagle

Legal | Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested last month while covering Occupy Oakland, says she has been cleared of all charges by the Oakland Police Department. The Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to the Oakland police condemning the arrest, which ultimately assisted in getting the charges dropped. The letter called out the department’s crowd management policy, which says, “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.” [Fishbowl LA]

Conventions | San Diego City Council approved a plan to have San Diego hotels pay for a $520 million convention center expansion. The plan moves to a second hearing in January and requires a vote of two-thirds of the hotels that cast ballots for approval. [NBC San Diego]

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Womanthology reaches funding goal in less than 19 hours

Womanthology, the charity anthology of comics by female creators that’s using Kickstarter to raise money for publishing expenses, crossed the finish line just 18-and-a-half hours into their fundraising efforts. The crew behind the anthology raised $25,000 in less than a day, and as of this morning they’re raised more than double that — currently their total is at $51,844, but I’m sure it’ll go up even more before I post this.

“WOW! I am amazed, grateful, shocked, awed, astounded, baffled, flabbergasted and a whole fistful of other emotions!” wrote Renae De Liz, who organized the project, in an update on Kickstarter. “I mean, I had high hopes that we would make our goal, I had confidence in our book & all of our contributors and their abilities to help make this happen, but this completely blew me away at how it seemed the whole world came together to help! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!”

De Liz says she will use the extra money to fund a larger print run for the current book and fund a second book that “that will include both men and women, and promote more opportunities for people to be published and work with their favorite creators.”

You can still donate to the project and qualify for some of the rewards; head over to Kickstarter to check it out.

Quote of the day #2 | ‘The quintessential mutants of America were black’

My son is 10 and a romantic, as all 10-year-olds surely have the right to be. How then do I speak to him of this world’s masterminds who render you a supporting actor in your own story? How do I speak of the Sentinels whose eyes melt history, until the world forgets that in 1962, the quintessential mutants of America were black?

—from a New York Times op-ed piece on Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class by Atlantic contributor Ta-Nehisi Coates. In the piece, Coates praises the film as “the most thrilling movie of the summer…narratively lean, beautifully acted and, at all the right moments, visually stunning” — and at the same time finds the makeup of the film’s mutant heroes and anti-heroes an unintentionally revealing glimpse into the American psyche. “Here is a period piece for our postracial times — in the era of Ella Baker and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most powerful adversaries of spectacular apartheid are a team of enlightened white dudes.”

Coates elaborates on both points, and more besides, on his blog. “It is easily one of my top five comic book movies ever, and significantly better than any of the other X-movies to date,” he writes, even after comparing it unfavorably to the racially homogeneous but racially aware Mad Men and calling it “a period piece blind to its own period.” He also offers a quick take on the pros and cons of the film’s treatment of women, a point examined in depth by The Mary Sue’s Susana Polo.

Elsewhere on the “sociopolitical examinations of the latest X-movie” beat, ThinkProgress’ Matthew Yglesias agrees with a point of Polo’s and argues (twice) that Magneto’s out-and-proud Brotherhood of Mutants has a far more appealing message than Xavier’s accommodationist group; Ezra Klein disagrees, pointing out that Magneto’s agenda is a supremacist one, and wondering if the real dividing line between rival mutant camps would be one between those who could profit monetarily from their abilities (eg. Storm selling her rainmaking services to agribusiness conglomerates and drought-stricken nations) and those who couldn’t; and Adam Serwer connects the film with Avatar‘s enlightened-colonizer-goes-native storyline as “another example of the way the quest for racial innocence so permeates American culture that it’s almost unrecognizable.”

Grumpy Old Fan | Learning to love Mary Marvel

The Power of Shazam! #4

Mary Marvel's '90s reintroduction, by Jerry Ordway

Let me start by saying that I am supremely unqualified to speak about what women or girls want from superhero comics. In this respect I am probably pretty similar to former DC publisher Paul Levitz, who (as you might have heard) told the Comics Journal:

I think the whole myth of superheroes is that they simply aren’t appealing to women as they are to men. I’d like to think I had a pretty good track record on that myself as a writer, as the Legion historically had a pretty good number of female readers, Chris Claremont on his years on the X-Men had a tremendous number of female readers, and there may be any number of other superhero titles that had a fair balance. But overall it would surprise me at any point if you started to have a title that was both a traditional superhero and a majority female audience.

What strikes me about Mr. Levitz’s comments (not just those but others in the article) is the apparent indifference they betray to the prospect of a big female readership. He seems to suggest that while he wouldn’t turn one down, it’s not something DC has particularly pursued. Many more men than women read superhero comics, so DC has focused more on the guys. Even when Sandman appeals to women, that ends up proving his point, because Sandman and Vertigo aren’t superheroes.

Again, at this point I am neither well-equipped nor especially interested in evaluating Mr. Levitz’s arguments. Nevertheless, the attitude that “we don’t need to go this way because it’s never panned out before” sounds rather short-sighted. In the current publishing climate, DC simply can’t afford to ignore women and girls. It needs all the readers it can get.

With all that in mind, I’d now like to talk about Mary Marvel.

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My fantasy comics store: A girl can dream, can’t she?

Love & Rockets: Not good enough for the guys in some basement comics store in Brooklyn

Love & Rockets: Not good enough for the guys in some basement comics store in Brooklyn

At Publishers Weekly, Jennifer de Guzman tells one of those creeps-in-a-comics-store stories that are familiar to so many of us female types, and she wonders why, in this day and age, so many women still feel uncomfortable in comics stores.

I have had a few of those experiences myself—in fact, I quit buying comics in 1986 because I was fed up with the way I was treated in my local comics store, and I didn’t go back for almost 20 years. But I also know it doesn’t have to be that way—I am fortunate to live close to two excellent, and very female-friendly, comics stores, Comicopia and Hub Comics, both of which come close to the ideal I sketch out below. So I’m not here to complain.

No, I’m here to dream. It’s one thing to have a comics store where women feel welcome; it’s another to design one with them in mind. Well, OK, maybe just with me in mind, but I’m guessing I’m fairly typical. Here’s what my ideal woman-friendly comics store would be like:

A clean, well-lighted place: You can tell most comics stores (and liquor stores, for that matter) are guy hangouts by the utter lack of comfort. Fluorescent lights, wire shelves, grey indoor-outdoor carpet, cinderblock walls. We women like things nice: Real wallboard on the walls, natural light, eye-pleasing colors, somewhere to sit. Maybe even a plant or two. And…

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What girls like

Girl comics

Girl comics

Comics publishers often think they know what girls like, but once we get out of Disney Princess territory, it’s harder than it looks. DC had a good try with their Minx line, but they made a lot of missteps; they totally ignored the popularity of manga and produced a first round of books that were like the graphic novel equivalents of Afterschool Specials. They got better, but by then it was too late. It’s very, very hard to connect with teenagers.

Rather than sit in a air-conditioned office and think about it, creator Hope Larson (Chiggers, Mercury) did something original: She asked the girls what they like—actually, she polled 198 women who reported having read comics in their teens and tweens.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the way online discussions usually go on this topic, superheroes emerged as the favorite genre, although manga was a close second (yes, I know manga is a medium not a genre, but I didn’t write the survey). X-Men was the most popular series, followed by Sandman, Batman, Rumiko Takahashi’s manga (Ranma ½, Inu Yasha), Spiderman, Sailor Moon, and comics by Alan Moore and CLAMP. And this:

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If Predator’s a Star Sapphire, where’s all his skin?

Green Lantern #57

Green Lantern #57

On Friday, DC released the “Brightest Day” solicitations for August, revealing the return of an old Green Lantern character. “BRIGHTEST DAY continues as what readers have been asking for finally arrives: a male Star Sapphire in the form of the Predator,” reads the solicitation text for Green Lantern #57. “But how is this entity unlike the others? And what does it want with Carol Ferris? Meanwhile, the White Lantern is defended by an unlikely hero …”

Debuting in 1984, I believe, the Predator was a manifestation of Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire’s subconscious. I’m not sure if those stories are still part of DC’s continuity, but that character looked like the one in the image above, at any rate (read more about him here).

Current Green Lantern readers, however, probably know the name “The Predator” as the sentient embodiment of love, the Star Sapphire’s equivalent of Parallax, the bug-looking creature that’s the embodiment of fear, or Ion, the giant fish/whale thing that’s the manifestation of willpower. Both have been known to take a host from time to time, as we saw when Kyle Rayner became Ion and, more notoriously, when Jordan was possessed by Parallax. Based on the solicitation text, I’m guessing the “unlike any others” part refers to the fact that the Predator is also the host of the love entity … kind of a mash-up, I’m guessing, of the two concepts.

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