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Comics reach for the masses at WonderCon

dark horse-star wars

The Star Wars: OMG that’s Luke Skywalker but it’s not but it is!

Whether WonderCon stays in Anaheim is still up in the air, but no doubt it’s already becoming a favorite event for Southern California. Year Two already appears exponentially more successful than last year, when WonderCon first took up residence in Disney Town.

Three-day badges and badges for Friday and Saturday sold out early, when last year you could easily do a walk-up on any day. The fast acceptance of WonderCon is at least in part due to those burned out on Comic-Con International or frustrated at the five-second sellout looking for a local alternative. It’s not just a good substitute, it’s a great convention. It also had the first big comics announcements of the year to kick off convention season. Looking through coverage here at Comic Book Resources and beyond, there were plenty of things that ranged from boring to intriguing to exciting, but three stood head and shoulders above the rest because of their potential to appeal to larger audiences.

With comics sales on the rise, these publishing moves not only do their part in boosting momentum but in helping the gradual shift of social perception of the comics form. Comics like these always excite me because it’s a reminder of the unique reach comics can have in grabbing people’s attention when the right pieces are in place. More and more these days, there are comics for anyone and when innovative thinking is applied as it is here, they stand a better chance in reaching people that don’t make it a habit of seeking out comics. Of course, comics have long had a problem getting these kinds of things right, so as we’ll see there are challenges, but the potential is exciting.

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WC13 | Dark Horse to adapt Lucas’ original ‘Star Wars’ draft

dark-horse-star-wars-croppe

In what Lucasfilm and Dark Horse call “the biggest event in the history of Star Wars comics,” the publisher revealed over the weekend at WonderCon it will adapt George Lucas’ rough-draft original screenplay for the 1977 blockbuster.

Debuting in September, the eight-issue miniseries will be written by LucasBooks Executive Editor J.W. Rinzler and drawn by Mike Mayhew.

Lucas’ original version, called The Star Wars, featured elements that found their way, in substantially altered form, into ground-breaking movie franchise: “lazer swords,” Jedi Annikin Starkiller, General Luke Skywalker, an alien Han Solo, and evil Sith Knights.

“I’m not sure where I first read about The Star Wars—it was years and years ago — but the idea of Luke Skywalker being an older Jedi General, and Han Solo being a six-foot-tall lizard, turned my Star Wars fan brain on its side,” longtime Star Wars editor Randy Stradley said in a statement. “I always assumed this would be one of those stories that would be ‘lost to history,’ so getting to work on bringing it to life is kinda like a dream come true.”

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‘Astro City’ to be published under Vertigo banner

Alex Ross's variant cover for "Astro City" #1

Alex Ross’s variant cover for “Astro City” #1

Less than a month after DC Comics announced that Astro City will return in June as part of “DC proper,” the company has revealed the acclaimed superhero series by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross will actually be released under the Vertigo banner.

While that will make little difference to fans of the long-running comic, the move helps to bolster the mature-readers imprint, which only recently lost the Hugo Award-nominated Saucer Country and its longtime flagship Hellblazer (relaunched as Constantine in the DC Universe). Astro City will certainly stand out as a rare example of a superhero title on the Vertigo stable.

Debuting in 1995 at Image Comics before ultimately moving to Wildstorm, Astro City centers on the denizens of a mecca for super-powered beings. The title has been on hiatus since DC shuttered the Wildstorm imprint in 2010. The new series continues from the previous arc, a Silver Agent two-parter that served as an epilogue to Astro City: The Dark Age.

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Cheat Sheet | From WonderCon news to ‘Glory’ to MoCCA Fest

cheat-sheet-april1

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Even as we try to catch our breaths from the flurry of announcements from WonderCon in Anaheim — not to mention the Hugo Awards nominations — we turn our attention to the East Coast and the MoCCA Arts Festival.

Meanwhile, our contributors rattle off their picks for the best comics going on sale Wednesday, from the end of Glory to the debut of Thanos Rising.

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WonderCon ’13 | A round-up of news from Saturday

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction

It doesn’t look like there were as many comic-related announcements on Saturday at WonderCon as there were on Friday, but the second day of the con certainly brought some gems.

• IDW and DC announced that Mark Waid (Daredevil, Insufferable) and Paul Smith (Uncanny X-Men, Leave it to Chance) are teaming up for The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction. “Not many writers have been lucky enough to write The Rocketeer or The Spirit,” Waid said in a press release, “so I feel like I’ve won the lottery. This is one of the most exciting-and scariest-assignments I’ve ever undertaken. Luckily, I’ve got Paul Smith to make me look good!” The first issue of the miniseries arrives in July.

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WonderCon ’13 | A round-up of news from Friday

Earth-2 Batman

Earth-2 Batman

WonderCon Anaheim 2013 kicked off yesterday at the Anaheim Convention Center, with badges for Friday selling out at some point during the day. Saturday and three-day badges already sold out, so it looks like just Sunday is left if you were hoping to attend but didn’t purchase your badge in advance.

There weren’t a lot of announcements coming out of the show yesterday, and in fact I’m not completely sure what could be considered “WonderCon news” and what was just, um, news, but here’s a round-up of stuff you may have missed from Friday:

• 2014 will bring a crossover between DC’s two Earths, according to Earth 2 writer James Robinson. “If I’m talking about a big event that’s happening in 2014, it’s all these characters meeting each other,” said Robinson, citing Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Justice Society during his spotlight panel in Anaheim. Robinson also said his goal was to make sure the writers involved in the event were invested in the story, and described himself as “the point guy” when it comes to the event, saying that Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio are also very involved. Earth 2 is also getting its own Batman, and the book will also feature the introductions of Starman (Ted Knight), Red Arrow (Earth 2’s version of Green Arrow), Hourman, Wildcat, Mister Miracle and Big Barda in the future.

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Comics A.M. | WonderCon sells out of Saturday, 3-Day Badges

WonderCon

WonderCon

Conventions | With just a day to go until WonderCon kicks off in Anaheim, California, Saturday and three-day passes have sold out. Although Friday and Sunday badges are still available, organizers recommend they be purchased in advance online, rather than at the door. Additional passes will likely become available as cancellations and refunds are processed. [Toucan]

Conventions | Bill Baker talks to Asbury Park Comicon organizer Cliff Galbraith about what to expect at this weekend’s event. [The Morton Report]

Conventions | Renatt Kuenzi files a report on this month’s Fumetto International Comix Festival, which co-director Marta Nawrocka describes as “a festival for exhibitors and artists – not a fair with stands and people dressed in suits.” Part of the challenge for organizers of the festival, which featured work by Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco, Swiss artist Bastien Gachet, and Arab artists Mohamed Shennawy and Lena Merhej, among others, was to combat the German-Swiss prejudice that comics are “juvenile.” [SwissInfo]

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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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