Comics Lowdown: Stan Lee’s former caretaker charged with elder abuse

Plus: Jonathan Hickman details his plans for the X-Men, comic sales in April and more.

Stan Lee’s former caretaker and manager, Keya Morgan, has been charged with felony elder abuse. The charges include felony counts of false imprisonment of an elder adult, theft, embezzlement, and forgery or fraud against an elder adult, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court.

A warrant for Morgan’s arrest had been issued. The 43-year-old memorabilia collector was served with a restraining order by Lee’s family last summer, when they accused him of elder abuse. Lee passed away in November.

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Comics Lowdown: Oni Press, Lion Forge announce merger, restructuring, layoffs

Plus: Patrick Gleason, Emily Carroll, awards and more!

Oni Press and Lion Forge will merge in order to “strengthen their library of original comics and graphic novels and help them to leverage their characters on other media platforms, including animation and film,” according to a story in the New York Times. The new publishing company will fall under the Polarity umbrella, a media entertainment entity launched by Lion Forge co-founder Dave Steward II last year.

The new company’s combined publishing efforts will be overseen by Oni Press publisher James Lucas Jones, who will be president and publisher. “We’re going to take a look at efficiencies and identify a number of areas of growth as well,” said Steward. The Beat details several layoffs that have already occurred at both companies, including Andrea Colvin, Lion Forge’s editor in chief, and Oni’s Desiree Wilson. According to Publisher’s Weekly, Joe Nozemack, founder of Oni Press, will join the new entity’s board and serve in an advisory role.

As far as their publishing lines go, Lion Forge Senior Publicist Jeremy Atkins tweeted that Oni Press “will be the publisher of all creator-owned books going forward,” while company-owned IP, like the Catalyst Prime universe, will fall under the Lion Forge banner. This one is still developing, so no doubt more information on the new structure and publishing entity will be forthcoming.

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Comics Lowdown: 2018 sales, Michael Davis hacked

Plus: News on Mark Waid, Mary Fleener, Free Comic Book Day and more!

ICv2 and the Comichron held a special crossover event this week to share the news that “Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018.”

“After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year,” said Comichron‘s John Jackson Miller. “Popular releases helped right the ship in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains.”

Their report looks at three formats — comics, graphic novels and digital — across multiple channels, including crowdfunding, book fairs, mass merchants, newsstands and more.

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Comics Lowdown: RIP Monkey Punch, Kazuo Koike

Plus: Bill Mantlo in need, halfway through ‘Saga,’ awards and more.

The manga community has lost two legends in April, as both Lupin III creator Monkey Punch and Lone Wolf & Cub co-creator Kazuo Koike have passed away. Both men died from pneumonia six days apart, and were once considered rivals when their respective manga ran in Weekly Manga Action magazine. They also worked together on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series that ran in the magazine in 1970.

Monkey Punch, whose real name was Kazuhito Kato, was 81 when he passed away. His most famous creation, Lupin III, started as a manga and was later adapted into six animated television series, eight animated feature films, two live-action feature films, two musicals and several video games. He passed away April 11.

In addition to Lone Wolf & Cub, Koike is also known for such titles as Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, Samurai Executioner and many other popular series. His work influenced many American creators, including Frank Miller, who drew covers for First Comics’ publication of the series. Koike also worked on a few western series, including a Hulk manga and an issue of X-Men Unlimited. He passed away April 17 at the age of 82.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘Astro Hustle’ canceled after sexual misconduct allegations against Jai Nitz

Plus: Mark Alessi passes away; DiNKy award nominees and more.

Dark Horse Comics has canceled the final two issues of Astro Hustle after writer Jai Nitz was accused of sexual misconduct.

The allegations were first published on the Her Campus website by Hannah Strader, a University of Kansas student who met Nitz when he was a guest lecturer in one of her classes. Nitz, whose recent work also includes a Suicide Squad story for DC Comics, briefly deleted his Twitter account (which is now set to private) and bailed on his appearance at 2019 Planet Comicon last weekend.

“Dark Horse takes all allegations seriously. We have cancelled future issues of Astro Hustle,” the publisher said in a statement to CBR.com. “While we were unable to prevent our distributor’s shipping of Astro Hustle #2, we are also suspending our professional ties with Jai Nitz.”

Astro Hustle artist Tom Reilly addressed the cancellation on Twitter, saying it was “for the best” and showing support for the victim. And Nitz released a statement to Bleeding Cool, saying “I am stepping away from comics and public life. I am seeking counseling and trying to live a better life for my loved ones.”

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Comics Lowdown: C2E2 thief thwarted; Dawson on Somalia airstrikes

Plus: People moves, promotions, podcasts and more!

Crime Does NOT Pay! Stephen Bowles of Remington, Indiana, learned that the hard way: He was nabbed for allegedly stealing $9,000 worth of comics at C2E2 this past weekend, after a vendor caught him on video. The vendor had set up a camera at his booth to keep an eye on sales, and when he noticed Bowles acting sketchy he reviewed the footage and observed the 51-year-old man apparently taking comics from several booths. The vendor called the cops and they arrested Bowles, who had some of the comics on him. Three vendors reported that comics had been stolen from them.

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Comics Lowdown: Awards round-up

See recently announced nominees and winners for several different awards.

Today seems like a good day for an awards rundown …

The nominees for the L.A. Times Book prize have been announced, including the five books chosen in the “Graphic Novel/Comics” category. They include:

  • Michelle Perez and Remy Boydell, The Pervert
  • Eleanor Davis, Why Art?
  • Aisha Franz, … Is Real
  • Jérôme Ruillier, The Strange
  • Tillie Walden, On a Sunbeam

Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium on April 12, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The L.A. Times has given an award in the graphic novel category since 2009, when Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli won the award. Other previous winners include The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez, Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines and Beverly by Nick Drnaso.

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Comics Lowdown: Comic books sales up in 2018, Marvel top publisher; stalker sets cosplayer’s car on fire

Plus: ‘Drama’ drama with the Ottawa Catholic School Board! Faith Erin Hicks! Jed MacKay! And more!

The 2018 direct market numbers from Diamond are in and comic sales are ever so slightly up from 2017. Comics saw an increase to sales by 3.3%, but graphic novels were down by 6.6%. The combined sales of the two formats mean a wee increase of 0.6% for the direct market.

Marvel Comics increased their market share slightly to gain an extra 2% over DC Comics, who seemed to have flat lined and lost 0.3% of their market share. This indicates that Marvel’s market share gains mostly come from the expense of small publishers or independent comic sales, with the exception of Image Comics, who also saw a slight increase.

The best-selling graphic novel of the year was Infinity Gauntlet. The 1991 story is enjoying a revival because of the Avengers: Infinity War movie. The best-selling comics was Action #1000, a landmark issue featuring unpublished artwork by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan and the introduction of writer Brain Michael Bendis to the DC universe.

Complete lists and more insight are available on comichron.com.

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Comics Lowdown: Batton Lash, Ron Smith pass away

Plus: News on Grant Morrison, Tintin, Stan Lee and more.

Batton Lash, the creator of the long-running comic-strip-turned-comic-book Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (later re-titled Supernatural Law) passed away Jan. 12 at the age of 65 from brain cancer.

Lash’s comics career began in the late 1970s when Wolff and Byrd began running as a weekly comic strip in The Brooklyn Paper and then later in The National Law Journal. In the 1990s, he and his wife, Jackie Estrada, formed Exhibit A Press, which began publishing Wolff and Byrd comics under the title Supernatural Law. It later migrated to the web. His other works included writing the Archie Meets The Punisher crossover as well as Bongo Comics’ Radioactive Man book, which received an Eisner Award in 2002. He also collaborated with James Hudnall on Obama Nation, a conservative political comic strip that appeared on one of Andrew Breitbart’s websites.

Many of the creators and industry professionals who knew Lash have started to share their remembrances, including Heidi MacDonald and Rob Salkowitz. The Comics Reporter has a round-up of more of them.

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