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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Comics Lowdown: Tom King’s CIA service

Plus: ‘The Arrival’ selected for Hong Kong’s first ‘One City, One Book’ campaign, the obituary Marie Severin should have received, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phoebe Gloeckner, Diamond Gem awards and more best-of-2018 lists!

Happy New Year from the Smash Pages staff! Coming back from the holiday break, let’s ring out the old and ring in the new with today’s collection of comic book news links.

Let’s start with a weird one: Last week Abhay Khosla, comics critic and past Superman writer, posted about his attempts to confirm with the CIA that Batman and Heroes in Crisis writer Tom King used to work for them. The topic of King’s former employer frequently comes up in interviews related to his Batman work (not to mention King’s Vertigo series The Sheriff of Babylon), and Khosla questioned whether any reporters who interviewed King about it had ever confirmed it. So Khosla sent the CIA a letter back in 2016 asking for confirmation, and the response he received from the agency was inconclusive.

This exchange occurred in 2016, and why Khosla decided to go public with it now isn’t clear. The point of Khosla’s post doesn’t seem to be to call out King as a liar (he starts his post by saying, “I don’t think this is really a story about Tom King”) but is more of a statement about entertainment journalism and fact-checking. He points out similar situations where a past DC writer, Micah Wright, lied about being in the armed services, as well as current Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski pretending to be Japanese early in his career.

The problem isn’t in asking the question — it’s posting about it without an answer or actually asking King about it. Like verifying facts, that’s also journalism 101. After the post went live, King was quick to respond on Twitter, showing proof that he was, indeed, in the CIA. Bleeding Cool, The Comics Reporter and Nick Hanover have more commentary on this.

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Joelle Jones, Tom King, Lee Weeks and more win 2018 Ringo Awards

Marc Andreyko receives the Dick Giordano Humanitarian of the Year Award, while Denny O’Neil receives the Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2018 Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards were presented this weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con, celebrating the “creativity, skill and fun of comics.” The awards program is named for artist Mike Wieringo, who passed away in 2007.

This is the second year the awards were presented, and they include both “fan favorites,” which were selected by open voting, and “jury and fan winners,” selected by a combination of open nominations and jury voting. You can see the breakdown of how the winners were selected on the Ringo Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners:

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Walmart to offer exclusive ‘giant’ anthologies from DC — with new content

New material by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Dan Jurgens, Tim Seeley, Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis and Andy Kubert joins past stories in new monthly line.

DC Comics and Walmart have teamed up to offer an exclusive line of 100-page “giant” anthologies at the big-box retailer. The anthologies will feature a mix of previously published and new materiel, including new material by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Patrick “Patch” Zircher, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Tim Seeley, Rick Leonardi, Steve Buccellato, Andy Kubert, Scott Eaton and Tom King.

“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio in a statement. “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

Each of the four titles – Superman Giant, Justice League Of America Giant, Batman Giant and Teen Titans Giant – will arrive in stores by July 1. Beginning in August, the Superman and Justice League titles will arrive in week one of each month, with Batman and Teen Titans arriving approximately two weeks later. They’ll cost $4.99.

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King + Mann’s ‘Heroes in Crisis’ focuses on the human side of DC’s heroes

The new miniseries debuts in September.

Fresh off an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, where he talked about Mr. Miracle and Batman’s upcoming nuptials to Catwoman, Tom King will next turn his attention to the human side of superheroes with a new miniseries — Heroes in Crisis. Teaming up with Clay Mann, the duo will tell the story of “a crisis center for superheroes who spend their lives fighting villainy and protecting others.” It’s also a murder mystery.

“I feel like I’m part of a rolling generation of people who spent their 20s overseas fighting terrorism,” explained King. “Millions of people cycle through that machine and come home to America. And I think that sort of experience of violence is shaping who we are as a culture, and as a country. And I want to talk about that. I want to talk about that experience, the experience of what violence can do to a person, to a community, to a nation, to a world.”

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Superman puts his pants back on for ‘Action’ #1000

Milestone issue will include new stories by Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Lee, Curt Swan, Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, John Cassaday, Scott Snyder and more.

The world returns to sanity again in April with the landmark Action Comics #1000, which features a slew of creators telling tales about Superman and, more importantly, the return of his famous red trunks.

Debuting in Action Comics #1 way back in 1938, the red trunks helped Clark Kent’s alter-ego fight for truth, justice and the American way for almost a century — that is, until the launch of the New 52 in 2010. Dc co-publisher Jim Lee redesigned many DC characters at the time, including Superman — and the new, super-hip redesign had no room for outside undies or his classic red boots. The move was controversial, just like any change to the status quo in superhero comics, and eventually spawned petitions from fans to return to the classic look. Now it looks like those voices have finally been heard by DC.

Action Comics #1000 represents a watershed moment in the history of not just comic books, but entertainment, literature and pop culture,” said Lee. “There’s no better way to celebrate Superman’s enduring popularity than to give him a look that combines some new accents with the most iconic feature of his classic design.”

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Wein’s final Swamp Thing story will appear in ‘Swamp Thing Winter Special’

The special will also include a new story by Tom King and Jason Fabok.

Before he passed away in September, Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein was working with Kelley Jones on a follow-up to their 2016 miniseries featuring Alec Holland’s alter ego. Although the miniseries will never be finished, Entertainment Weekly reports that the first issue will appear in Swamp Thing Winter Special #1, with other stories.

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Skottie Young, Tom King, ‘March: Book Three’ and more take home Ringo Awards

Named for artist Mike Mike Wieringo, the awards were presented over the weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con.

The winners for the first-ever Ringo Awards were announced this weekend at the Baltimore Comic-Con. The awards are named for artist Mike Wieringo, who passed away in 2007.

The Ringos showed Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland some love, as the creator took home awards for Best Cartoonist and Best Humor Comic. March: Book Three by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell continued to rack up accolades as it took home the awards for Best Non-fiction Comic Work and Best Original Graphic Novel. And Tom King, writer of Best Series winner The Vision, won for Best Writer. Other winners included Fiona Staples, Sean Murphy, Todd Klein, Laura Martin, Bloom County and Dean Haspiel’s The Red Hook.

The nomination process was open to anyone, while comic professionals voted on the final winners. Check out the full list of nominees below, with the winners in bold.

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Comics Lowdown: Comic Con case heads to court showdown

Plus: classic Archie returns, Tom King, Black Panther and more.

Battle of the Cons: The court case between Comic-Con International (which runs the San Diego comic con) and Salt Lake Comic Con over CCI’s claim that it owns the term “comic con” moves into a crucial stage this week with two days of depositions today and tomorrow, followed by a settlement hearing before a judge on Thursday. That hearing will determine whether it all ends there or the case will go to trial in October. CCI owns the trademark to “comic-con” with a hyphen but the case is murkier for the unhyphenated version; Salt Lake Comic Con was allowed to trademark its name last year.

A panel from World of Wakanda

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