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: Court strikes down gag order in ‘comic-con’ lawsuit

Plus: Top graphic novels, comics retail chat and two new manga from Jiro Taniguchi!

The 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a gag order imposed by a judge in the trademark lawsuit between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con is unconstitutional. The case stretches back to 2014, when Comic-Con International, which produces the San Diego comic con, sued the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con,” which CCI claims it owns. The Salt Lake organization countersued, claiming the term is widely used by other conventions and is a generic term. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 28, and because they were concerned that Salt Lake’s postings about the issue on social media would taint the jury pool, CCI asked that they be restrained from commenting publicly about the case. U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia placed a strict limit on what Salt Lake could post about the case, and limited that even further after CCI claimed that Salt Lake violated the ban. However, the appeals court overturned that order on Monday, saying,

San Diego Comic-Con has presented no evidence as to how many, if any, of the approximately 35,200 Twitter followers are registered voters in San Diego and Imperial counties and how many, if any, of the 120,000 attendees of the 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah are even possibly members of the current San Diego-area jury pool.

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First Second to publish Walden’s ‘On a Sunbeam’

Eisner Award-nominated comic comes to print in 2018.

Tillie Walden’s Spinning, released last month, has been racking up good reviews lately, so it’s no surprise that First Second would want to publish more of her work. And lucky for them Walden already has a completed story ready to go — her excellent “On a Sunbeam” webcomic.

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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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Huizenga, Harkham and more contribute to New York Times Magazine’s all-comics issue

Tillie Walden, Francesco Francavilla, David Mazzuchelli, Tom Gauld help turn New York news stories into compelling comics.

The New York Times Magazine has posted their very first all-comics issue, which features cartoonists turning stories that came through the NYT Metro desk into comic strips.

Tom Gauld, Sammy Harkham, Tillie Walden, Francesco Francavilla, David Mazzuchelli and several others contributed strips, while Kevin Huizenga provided the introductory strip that explains the concept. You can view all the strips by going here.

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