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Tapastic poised to make a splash at WonderCon

TapasticTapastic is a new digital-comics platform that allows users to upload their comics to the Internet. That isn’t a new idea, and when Nina Kester, whom I first met when she was working with Archie, contacted me about it, my first question (asked and answered below) was “How is this different from SmackJeeves or Drunk Duck?” Well, I was a bit more polite than that.

One way to look at it is that Tapastic is webcomics sites 2.0. It’s sleeker, more polished, and it has venture capital funding, so someone is planning to make money from it. I asked Nina to explain what Tapastic is up to, talk about the plans for WonderCon, and recommend a couple of her favorite comics from the site.

ROBOT 6: What sets Tapastic apart from other webcomics sites?

Nina Kester: The first thing everyone notices about Tapastic in contrast with other comic websites is our design. Our CPO Daron Akira Hall’s minimalistic aesthetic for the site and Tapastic’s apps and his design of the user experience always tend to be the first “wow” because it makes the content look so attractive. In his own words, “the main focus for the overall design UI from my perspective has been to keep it simple and flat, not too colorful … in order to let the content shine through, keeping the focus on the art, etc.”

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‘Necessary Evil’ documentary to examine DC villains

supervillains-alex ross

The bad guys of the DC Universe will be thrust into the spotlight in a full-length documentary called Necessary Evil: Villains of DC Comics, narrated by legendary actor Christopher Lee.

Announced today by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC Entertainment, production will begin this weekend at WonderCon in Anaheim, California, where fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite DC villain for a chance to appear in the documentary (there will also be opportunities at Comic-Con International and New York Comic Con). Filming will take place Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the DC booth (#801).

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, WonderCon returns to Anaheim

WonderCon

WonderCon

Conventions | The Orange County Register previews WonderCon, which returns this weekend to Anaheim, California, and selects some of the highlights from the programming schedule, including panels dedicated to “Batman: The Zero Year,” The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. [Orange County Register]

Conventions | The Los Angeles Times wraps up last weekend’s Fabletown and Beyond. [Hero Complex]

Conventions | The Detroit News runs down the upcoming slate of Michigan conventions dedicated to comics, anime, fantasy/sci-fi, horror and collectibles, ranging from Shuto Con to Kids Read Comics! to Detroit FanFare. [The Detroit News]

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Cheat Sheet | From Fables Con to ‘East of West’ to WonderCon

cheat sheet-march25 copy

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Even as some attendees unpack from last week’s Fables Con: Fabletown & Below in Rochester, Minnesota, other folks are checking off their to-do lists before heading off to Anaheim, California, later this week for WonderCon.

Meanwhile, our contributors rattle off their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, from Bad Machinery, Vol. 1, to Superman Vs. Zod to East of West #1.

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Comics A.M.| New motion in Superman legal feud; a case for optimism

Superman

Legal | In a motion for summary judgment filed Monday in the long-running legal battle for the rights to Superman, attorneys for Warner Bros. are revisiting their 2009 argument that the estate of Joe Shuster has no grounds to reclaim the artist’s share of the copyright to the Man of Steel. They point to a 1992 agreement in which the estate relinquished all claims in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included DC Comics paying Shuster’s remaining debts follow his death earlier that year, and providing his sister Jean Seavy with a $25,000 annual pension. Daniel Best has the documents, while Jeff Trexler provides context, noting that the new filing “filing wasn’t a Perry Mason-esque unveiling of surprising new facts. Rather, it was a routine motion for summary judgment.” A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20. [20th Century Danny Boy, The Beat]

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Comics A.M. | WonderCon still hoping for return to San Francisco

WonderCon

Conventions | David Glanzer, Comic-Con International’s director of marketing and public relations, looks back on this year’s WonderCon, which was held in Anaheim, California, rather than in San Francisco, touches upon the uncertainty about the location for next year’s show — “we just don’t have dates at the Moscone Center yet” — and discusses changes to pro and press registration for Comic-Con. [ICv2]

Conventions | Grant Morrison talks about MorrisonCon, the Sept. 28-30 convention billed as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “It’s not going to be ‘Come here and buy some comics and listen to a few panels,’ ” he says. “After two days you will be a changed person.” Tickets for the Las Vegas show, which is limited to 1,000 attendees, cost $767, and include a two-night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, access to the guests and after-hours parties. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Todd McFarlane Productions emerges from bankruptcy

Todd McFarlane

Legal | Todd McFarlane Productions has emerged from bankruptcy after more than seven years, having paid more than $2.2 million to creditors, according to court documents dug up by Daniel Best. Of that, $1.1 million was part of McFarlane’s settlement with Neil Gaiman, which brought to a close the decade-long legal battle over the rights to Medieval Spawn, the heavenly warrior Angela and other characters (it’s unknown how much of that disbursement was eaten up by legal fees and how much actually went to Gaiman; the writer has publicly stated he gives money won in the proceedings to charity). Todd McFarlane Productions filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2004 following the $15 million court award to former NHL player Tony Twist, who sued over the use of his name in Spawn for the mob enforcer Antonio “Tony Twist” Twistelli. McFarlane and Twist settled in 2007 for $5 million. [20th Century Danny Boy]

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Six by 6 | Six superhero series Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez could do

During an exclusive interview with CBR TV at WonderCon in Anaheim, bestselling author Joe Hill revealed that he’s working with his Locke & Key collaborator Gabriel Rodriguez on a “established superhero title” for DC Comics or Marvel. While he’s best known for comic creations that don’t wear a cape or cowl, Hill is no stranger to superheroes: He’s producing The Cape for IDW Publishing, and he made his comics debut in 2005 in Marvel’s Spider-Man Unlimited #8. Although news of what character (or characters), what universe, or even what format their superhero story will be, we have a few suggestions:

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Quote of the day | Joe Hill on the fall, and rise, of thought balloons

“My dad did his script for American Vampire, and he showed it to me, and I didn’t have a lot to tell him, but the one thing I did have to say was, ‘Dad, they don’t use thought balloons any more.’ And he was shocked, he was scandalized, he couldn’t understand why you don’t use thought balloons. And I’m like, ‘I don’t know, it just doesn’t look cool any more.’ [...] But I don’t know, maybe it’s time for thought balloons to come back. If surf rock can rise again, surely there’s room for thought balloons. [...] The problem is thought balloons have always been used expositionally. It’s always like, ‘My God, if I don’t turn off the tractor beam, the alien Zurg …’ or whatever it is, and it’s just like, ‘Uh, no one thinks this.’ If the thought balloons were like, Reed Richards, like, looking at Dark Phoenix and she’s in the Dark Phoenix thong or whatever and the thought balloon was like, ‘Man, I’d like to do her,’ that would be fresh.”

Locke & Key writer Joe Hill, bestselling author and son of Stephen King,
talking with CBR TV  at WonderCon about, well, thought balloons

Comics A.M. | Could WonderCon’s Anaheim move be permanent?

Anaheim Convention Center

Conventions | WonderCon was held in Anaheim, California, this year because the traditional venue, San Francisco’s Moscone Center, was closed for renovations. Heidi MacDonald wonders whether the shift will be permanent, and a lively debate ensues in comments. SFBay, meanwhile, informally surveyed exhibitors, and found many retailers saw a steep drop in sales from last year, while many artists saw an increase in revenue. [The Beat]

Retailing | ICv2 sees an uptick in manga sales in comics stores and speculates that the Borders bankruptcy has led readers to a variety of different channels, including the direct market, which could be an opportunity for comics stores to expand their customer base. [ICv2]

Digital comics | Digital distributor comiXology will offer HD versions of all its comics for readers who use the new third-generation iPad, and Jason Snell says the new retina display and the HD comics make for a much better reading experience. [Macworld UK]

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WonderCon | A round-up of announcements from Sunday

X-Men

There wasn’t as much news coming out of WonderCon today compared to Friday and Saturday, but there were a few announcements:

• Marvel announced that Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, The Massive and Conan the Barbarian writer Brian Wood will take over writing both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men. About the latter, he told CBR, “I can bring something to the table here, a certain POV that I think will work really well. At its core it’s still the same mutant/human conflict, but the stakes are incredibly high and with the Ultimate line having more leeway than 616, you can really push it to the edge, and over the edge. With my stories, I’m looking forward to having them push back against this repression in a major way — not just in one-on-one cases but as a collective whole, a unified mutant push for freedom, for safety, for basic human rights. For the right to be a mutant and live free. What’s happening to them now is essentially a genocide, an ethnic cleansing.”

• Marvel also announced a new Dark Avengers series by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey that replaces Thunderbolts. The book will feature Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar, along with Luke Cage.

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WonderCon | Jamie McKelvie on Captain Marvel’s costume design

Captain Marvel, by Jamie McKelvie

Following Saturday’s announcement at WonderCon in Anaheim, California, that Carol Danvers will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy, Jamie McKelvie has offered a little insight into his design for the character’s new costume, writing, “Our idea was to give her a kind of swash-buckling costume that invoked a sense of her history as an Air Force officer. Her hair is slicked back at the sides when in costume — so her Kree-style helmet can form when she needs it.”

Check out McKelvie’s character design below, and be sure to read DeConnick’s interview with Comic Book Resources about the new title.

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WonderCon | A round-up of announcements from Saturday

The second day of WonderCon in Anaheim, California, featured announcements ranging from Marvel’s new Captain Marvel series to Dark Horse’s new motion-comics venture to IDW Publishing’s Womanthology miniseries:

• In his “Talk to the Hat” panel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed that Carol Danvers, long known as Ms. Marvel, will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. He also announced that, spinning out of his Astonishing X-Men run, Greg Pak will team with Stephen Segovia for X-Treme X-Men, which includes Dazzler in its lineup. “You have no idea how hard I’ve fallen for this woman,” Pak told Newsarama. “She’s so much fun to write — she’s funny and real and wry; she’s a survivor who’s seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.”

• Dark Horse will bring motion comics featuring such characters as Hellboy, Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and the Umbrella Academy to Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, beginning April 2.

• IDW Publishing will follow Womanthology: Heroic, the Kickstarter-funded graphic novel anthology showcase for female creators, with a five-issue miniseries titled Womanthology: Space.

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WonderCon | X-Treme X-Men: ‘If you liked Exiles, you’ll like this’

X-Treme X-Men

Just as they promised, Marvel announced the return of X-Treme X-Men at Wondercon today. But if you were looking forward to the return of Slipstream, Lifeguard or any of the other characters who starred in the series that ran from 2001 to 2004, you might be a tad disappointed. However, if you were an Exiles fan, like myself, you’ll probably be pretty happy.

Announced during Marvel Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort’s Talk to the Hat panel at WonderCon, X-Treme X-Men will spin out of Greg Pak’s recent run on Astonishing X-Men and will feature some of the alternate reality X-Men he introduced. The art for the series is by Steve Segovia.

“Dazzler is the Marvel Universe character in it,” said Marvel’s Arune Singh. “There is a threat in existence but they have to stop a threat to reality. It’s Greg and that crazy ‘Planet Hulk’ mind of his. If you liked Exiles, you’ll like this.”

Exiles ran for 100 issues and featured the work of Judd Winick, Mike McKone, Chuck Austen, Jim Calafiore, Tony Bedard and several others, but it’s those first issues written by Winick that were really great. The team included alternate reality versions of various X-characters over the course of its run, like the Age of Apocalypse Blink and Sabretooth; Nocturne, the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch; a female Sunfire and the shape-changing Morph. It remains to be seen how this series will be set up, but if Pak can capture the fun of those early Exiles issues, I’m on board.

WonderCon | A round-up of announcements from Friday

Amazing Spider-Man #688

WonderCon opened its doors Friday at the Anaheim Convention Center, a first for the convention as it moves south from its usual San Francisco home this year. Will it be a permanent move? The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, who is at the show, has some thoughts on why that may not be a bad idea.

Here’s a round-up of news from yesterday at the show:

Daredevil and Irredeemable writer Mark Waid announced several digital comics plans, beginning with a PDF comic available now on his website. The zombie comic, called Luther, is drawn by Jeremy Rock. It will be followed in May by a digital comics imprint. “In May, I’m rolling out a digital comics website where material will be going up in weekly or twice-weekly installments. But before that, on April 2, MarkWaid.com goes live again as a process blog for webcomics and what we’re doing. All throughout April, we’ll be giving sample material away for free, showing what the format can do, and I’ll be doing interviews with pioneers in this field. My own artists will also be there to talk about the projects we’re doing and how we’ll be building them.” Waid was also on hand for the Marvel House of Ideas panel, which went into detail on their recently announced digital and augmented reality plans.

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