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.

Fabulous Finds: Two unpublished works by the late manga-ka Jiro Taniguchi are being prepared for publication in Japan later this year. Kônen no Mori is an unfinished story in full color about a young boy who is sent to live in the country after his parents’ divorce and discovers the beauty of nature; this book was published in France in September under the title La Forêt Millénaire. The other book is a collection of black-and-white short stories.

The Biz

BookScan Top 20: ICv2 has the BookScan top 20 chart of the best-selling graphic novels in October, and four slots are given over to some form of The Walking Dead: Vol. 28 took the top slot, Book 14 was in there as well, and two different editions of Where’s Negan? were also on the chart. Roz Chast’s new book, Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York, was the number two seller, and Dark Horse’s new Overwatch anthology took third place.

Retailing: Comics retailers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, paint a picture of the comics business at the ground level in an article that contrasts their experiences with larger trends. Most movies don’t drive traffic to the stores, although a few do; the retailers welcome new readers and are seeing more women and children in their stores; and Marvel sales are suffering, but the retailers blame it on event fatigue and the absence of some key characters, not on “diversity.” Still, Amanda Salmons, owner of Muse Comics + Games and a former executive director of ComicsPRO, says monthly comics alone aren’t enough to build a business:

“Successful stores continue to branch out as pop culture stores rather than be strictly single-issue-comics stores,” she says. “As the single-issues market goes through its inevitable ups and downs, our sales are steadied by having several different product lines to complement new comics.”

Interviews and Profiles

Your Excellency! Margreet De Heer discusses her new post as Comic Artist Laureate of The Netherlands, and what she plans to do over the next three years as the official ambassador to Dutch comics.

Teenagers On Ice: Tillie Walden talks about Spinning, her memoir of competitive ice skating and coming of age.

Reviews, Roundups, and Analysis

Review: Etelka Lehoczky reviews Satania, the latest lushly sinister graphic novel from Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët.

Recommended: Vulture’s Abraham Riesman picks eight comics and a movie for November.

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