Comics Lowdown: Businessman wins against Marvel, DC Comics to use  the word ‘superhero’

Plus: assistant principal fired for Pepe the Frog book, new Madefire/DC Comics digital deal, and the hunt for H. G. Peter photos

When Graham Jules (pictured above) wrote his book, Business Zero to Superhero, he had no idea he would end up in a battle against the two largest comic publishers in the world. When his book was about to be published in 2014, he received a letter from Marvel and DC Comics claiming the word infringed on their jointly owned trademark since 1979. Jules, who also studies law, decided to represent himself in the case. A two-and-a-half year legal case ensued and this week, the two comic giants decided to drop the case for “commercial reasons.” The entrepreneur estimates that he spent a total of £200 and 200 hours in writing letters.

“This is an amazing result. It shows that even the little guy can achieve something with determination.”

It will not be surprising if his next book is about being a superhero of trademark cases.

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Cartoon Art Museum presents Jeff Smith with the Sparky Award

The award celebrates ‘the significant contributions of cartoon artists who embody the talent, innovation and humanity of Charles M. Schulz.’

Last Saturday Bone creator Jeff Smith became the latest recipient of the Sparky Award during a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Library

Named in honor of Peanuts creator Charles “Sparky” Schulz, the Sparky Award is presented on behalf of the Cartoon Art Museum and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Library. The award celebrates the significant contributions of cartoon artists who embody the talent, innovation and humanity of Charles M. Schulz.

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It’s ‘Evolution,’ Baby: Four writers team up for Skybound’s new horror title

James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela and Joshua Williamson team with artists Joe Infurnari and Jordan Boyd on a story about evolution gone wrong.

Skybound is bringing together six creators — James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson with artists Joe Infurnari and Jordan Boyd — for their new title, Evolution. Taking place all over the world as humanity starts to rapidly evolve, the series follows three characters who notice the transformation and attempt to fight it.

“For a story as expansive and world-changing as Evolution, we knew we couldn’t tell the story in a normal way so this book includes a murderer’s row of not just one writer, but four writers working together to tell one cohesive story,” said editor Jon Moisan. “This writing team has to be one of the best creative teams ever assembled. Telling the story of a doctor in Philadelphia desperately trying to warn the world, Christopher Sebela has written a frantic race against time. In Rome, James Asmus and Joshua Williamson show us the internal struggle of a nun questioning her faith in the face of the new species. And finally, in Los Angeles, Joseph Keatinge has built a heartrending story of what happens when old relationships are torn to shreds by forces beyond all control. Separately, any one of these stories could anchor their own book but when told together this team has assembled something that has rarely been seen in comics and the results are nothing short of extraordinary.”

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Zatanna heads back to school in ‘Mystik U’

New miniseries by Alisa Kwitney and Mike Norton re-imagines several of DC’s mystical characters as college students.

Everybody’s favorite backwards-talking sorceress is gearing up a return to college in Mystik U, a prestige-format limited series by Alisa Kwitney and Mike Norton that “will reimagine the lives of four of DC’s magic users in spectacular new ways.” It sounds like it could the spiritual successor to Gotham Academy, which recently wrapped up.

Mystik U is about a sheltered show biz kid (Zatanna), a bitter rebel (Sebastian Faust, son of Felix), a split personality (Enchantress), a competitive premed student (new character Pia Morales), and an awkward prodigy (Sargon the Sorceror) all discovering that they have the capacity to perform real magic,” Norton said. “They’re enrolled at a university for the magically gifted, where the world’s most powerful practitioners of magic will mentor their fledgling talents…and try to discover which of them is fated to betray the others and become a powerful force of evil.”

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‘March,’ Emil Ferris among 2017 Ignatz Awards nominees

Cathy Malkasian, Anya Davidson, Box Brown, Dustin Harbin, Jillian Tamaki, Ed Piskor, Leslie Stein and many more up for this year’s awards

The Washington Post shares this year’s slate of Ignatz Awards nominees, which are presented annually at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland.

Named after the brick-throwing mouse from Krazy Kat, the awards are selected by a jury of five creators and voted on by attendees of the show. The jurors for this year’s nominations were Neil Brideau, Glynnis Fawkes, Sara Lautman, Trungles and David Willis.

Check out the complete list below.

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Craig & Cypress file with ‘The Gravediggers Union’

New Image Comics series will feature “steroid zombies, monster gods, swamp vampires, ghost storms and space monkeys.”

Deadly Class artist Wes Craig and Rodd Racer creator Tobey Cypress are teaming up for a 10-issue horror series, The Gravediggers Union, a new comic “chock-full of steroid zombies, monster gods, swamp vampires, ghost storms and space monkeys.” They’ll be joined by colorist Niko Guardia (The Last Contract, Hit 1957) and letterer/designer Jared Fletcher (Paper Girls).

“With The Gravediggers Union, I tried to create an environmental horror story that mixes EC Comics, H.P. Lovecraft’s horror and a lot of dark humor,” Craig said in a press release. “I’m so proud of what we’re creating, and what Toby, Niko and Jared are doing together is some of the most original looking comics I’ve ever seen.”

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Smash Pages Q&A: Seth on ‘Palookaville’ #23

The creator discusses the end of ‘Clyde Fans,’ the film ‘Seth’s Dominion’ and more.

In 2010 the cartoonist Seth revived his old comics series Palookaville as a series of hardcover volumes that come out once every year and a half or two years, in the smaller size and shape that Seth used in books like Wimbledon Green and The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. Palookaville #23 has just been released by Drawn and Quarterly and like the earliest volumes, it contains a few different elements. There is a large selection of paintings that Seth created for two different exhibitions in 2014 and 2015. There’s the third chapter of Nothing Lasts, a memoir that Seth began in earlier volumes, and perhaps most notably, the fifth and final chapter of Clyde Fans.

Clyde Fans began many years ago in 1997 in the original Palookaville series, a followup to Seth’s now-classic graphic novel It’s A Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken. The story went on hiatus along with the series, and finishing the series has been one of Seth’s primary projects in the revived Palookaville series. In the interim he has been keeping busy, with a series of graphic novels, New Yorker covers, design projects like The Complete Peanuts, illustrating the Lemony Snicket series All the Wrong Questions, and making paintings and models for various exhibitions. We talked about what finishing the story means to him, what he’s working on next and some thoughts on the film Seth’s Dominion.

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Comics Lowdown: The impact of ComiXology Unlimited

David Steinberger talks digital comics, Akira Himekawa discuss Legend of Zelda and a Pakistani creator makes the world’s longest comic strip

The Digital Picture: ICv2 posts an interview with comiXology CEO David Steinberger, who talks about the platform’s gradual shift from something resembling a comic shop selling single issues to a more comprehensive service; how the company’s acquisition by Amazon three years ago has changed things; and the impact of ComiXology Unlimited, their all-you-can-read service, in terms of bringing in new readers:

One of the figures we’ve been sharing is that publishers that have been with [ComiXology Unlimited] for the year have seen overall double-digit growth this year. That’s totally opposite to what’s going on in the Direct Market.

One of the keys to their success is “personalization,” letting users tailor the experience and focus on what they are interested in—and, a la Amazon, recommend more items based on what they are reading already.

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Cosmo returns from Archie Comics

1950s humor title returns from writer Ian Flynn.

Along with the news last week that Mighty Crusaders will return and Betty & Veronica are joining a biker gang came another announcement from Archie Comics that slipped by me — the return of Cosmo, The Merry Martian.

If you don’t know who Cosmo is, well, that’s not surprising. It was a very short-lived humor/science fiction comic published in the late 1950s created by Bob White, who also worked on The Fly and a few other Archie properties. The new comic will be written by Ian Flynn, who is also spearheading the Crusaders revival.

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