Comics Lowdown: Mohammed Cartoons Conspirator Extradited

One more conspirator in the Lars Vilks case heads to court. Also: Comics about the news, Bruce Tinsley mollifies a fan, and the July BookScan numbers.

Ali Charaf Damache will be arraigned in Philadelphia on August 28 on conspiracy charges related to the attempt to kill a cartoonist who drew the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. Prosecutors allege that Damache conspired with two women (one of whom styled herself “Jihad Jane”) and a high school student to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. Although the group never carried out their plans, the co-conspirators have already been sentenced to prison terms. Damache, who is 52, was indicted in 2011 but only recently extradited from Algeria to the U.S.

Monstress #7 (Image Comics)

Hot Books: ICv2 has the BookScan graphic novels chart for July, and it’s definitely eclectic. The number one book is Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book, and no, those aren’t typos; check out the @jomnysun Twitter account for more. The next four books are like a modern graphic novels bingo card: Monstress, vol. 2; March, Book One; The Ancient Magus’s Bride, vol. 7; and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up. Viz has eight titles on the top 20; Marvel has one (a Star Wars title) and DC has the perennial best-sellers Watchmen and The Killing Joke.

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Comics Lowdown: Wakanda fashion show, marketplace celebrates artisans and Black Panther

Plus: Roxane Gay thoughts on diversity, Jeff Smith, Cully Hamner, public-domain comics and more!

Excited for the increasing spotlight on Black Panther with the feature film coming out in 2018, retailer Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C. hosted a unique event known as Move or You Will Be Moved: A Black Panther Fashion Show over the weekend. The haute couture show included cosplay and Wakandan street fashion, and a marketplace of local black creators selling their jewelry, clothing and other Afrofuturist fashion accessories. Plus of course, Black Panther comics and paraphernalia.

“Where’s all the Black Panther merchandise? We’re less than a year out, and we don’t have any Happy Meal toys or anything we can just get on hand,” Sellars asked, introducing the concept to the crowd. “So with that came this idea of what about an Afro-futuristic showcase of what it means to be great? Of what it means to be in Wakanda.”

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Comics Lowdown: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart freed from jail

Plus: Violent alt.right felon gets a comic, Zunar exhibit canceled, Box Brown and more.

Musa Kart Freed: Turkish political cartoonist Musa Kart was released from jail on a judge’s orders Friday, along with six other staffers from the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. Four others, including the editor in chief, remain behind bars, and the freed journalists are under judicial supervision pending the outcome of the trial. The journalists were arrested nine months ago on charges of aiding terrorist organizations; the arrests came shortly after a failed coup against the Turkish government and are widely regarded as an attempt to limit freedom of the press. Kart, who made an opening statement that drew laughter from the audience at times, faces up to 29 years in prison if convicted. The trial will resume on Sept. 11.

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Comics Lowdown: TSA vs United Airlines – are comic books banned from flights?

Plus: Big Hero 6, DC saves the day, Graphix winners, Best comic shops in the US, Todd Klein’s SDCC, and Spider-Man mows a lawn!

Fly the confusing skies: While at the San Diego airport on Sunday morning, Twitter user @AdiChappo sent out a warning to other Comic-Con attendees about a comic book ban on flights. Recently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggested passengers needed to remove books from luggage for inspection, so this idea wasn’t out of the ordinary. Despite the fact that the pilot project was trashed due to civil liberty concerns, this was the message that greeted travelers:

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Comics Lowdown: Walking Dead to end, Remembering Bernie Wrightson

Todd Klein walks us through Comic-Con. Plus: Robert Sikoryak parodies Trump, San Diego Police, beer for the thirsty con-goer.

And the winner is…: The Eisners are tonight! Our own Brigid Alverson will be live tweeting the awards show and the results on our Twitter feed @smash_pages. The Eisners are scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Pacific.

Robert Kirkman with some pals (photo: Skybound Entertainment)

The Walking Dead will die: Creator Robert Kirkman has confirmed that the Walking Dead will have an ending. At the Walking Dead panel in San Diego, Kirkman told fans, “I think about two or three years ago, I had a pretty good idea for a definitive ending. I have known that since then and been working towards that, so I know exactly where I’m going and what’s going to happen when I get there.” He expects the series will wrap up in the next 2-3 years.

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Comics Lowdown: Frank Miller sued for $1M by ex-business manager

Plus: Wonder Woman fights human trafficking, Jody Houser, Ben Hatke, and lots of SDCC news reporting

Frank Miller’s former business manager of 28 years has filed a lawsuit against the writer-director for over $1 million in damages for breach of contract.  Mark Lichtman claims he is entitled to 10 percent of Miller’s entertainment earnings of over $15 million from projects like Sin City300 and The Spirit, and was a key part of developing Miller’s career.

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Comics Lowdown: ‘Abadazad,’ ‘Ghost Rider’ artist Mike Ploog to retire

Plus: designing variant covers, Sonny Liew, Tillie Walden, Simon Hanselman, food in San Diego.

Veteran artist Mike Ploog, known to comic fans as the co-creator of Ghost Rider, announced he will be retiring after a 47-year career. His career began with Filmation, as a clean-up artist on Batman and Superman, and eventually was promoted to layouts. He moved onto Hanna-Barbera, continuing his layout work until he became the assistant to Will Eisner.

He made his comic book debut on Werewolf by Night in 1972. Since then, he was credited as a co-creator of Ghost Rider and notable artist on Man-ThingPlanet of the Apes and The Monster of Frankenstein. Later in his career, he did minimal comic work, but teamed with J.M. DeMatteis on Abadazad in 2004.

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Comics Lowdown: Graphic novel sales are up, floppies are flat

The comics market is growing, but monthly comics are not. Also: A week of great comics articles from NPR!

By the Numbers: The comics market increased by 5% to a total of $1.085 billion in 2016, according to an estimate by Milton Griepp of ICv2 and John Jackson Miller of Comichron. Graphic novels sold in bookstores accounted for almost all the growth, however; they were up 16%, while sales of monthly comics in comic shops, on newsstands, and in digital format remained flat. Griepp saw the graphic novel growth as evidence that the market is expanding, as more women and children find graphic novels, while Miller credited Marvel’s Star Wars comics and DC’s Rebirth event.

Whatever Happened to comiXology? Three years after the largest digital comics service was purchased by Amazon, they still have plenty going on, says comics-biz maven Rob Salkowitz, including using Amazon’s “affinity marketing” (if you liked this, you’ll like that) tools, expanding to foreign audiences, and bringing in new readers via the ComiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Prime Reading programs.

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Comics Lowdown: More Manga, Scary Stories and an Inside Look at North Korea

A North Korean cartoonist looks at the lighter side of defection, an American cartoonist turns down an Iranian award, and Humanoids announces an all-ages horror graphic novel.

Struggles and Smiles: Former North Korean animator Choi Seong-guk was surprised at how different the comics were when he defected to South Korea: “When I first saw South Korean cartoons, I just didn’t get them,” he says. “There were no stories about patriotism or catching spies or war. They just seemed useless to me.” There were a lot of other differences too, including some idioms that he misunderstood. Now he has turned his experiences into an online comic that depicts both the funny and the serious side of the lives of North Koreans at home and in South Korea.

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