John Romita Jr. returns to Marvel later this year

The artist returns to the place where he started his career almost 50 years ago.

After almost seven years working for Marvel’s distinguished competition, John Romita Jr. will return to the House of Ideas later this year.

Marvel announced the return on their website today, noting that Romita will begin working in the Marvel Universe again in July.

“I have been very fortunate more than a few times in my life, and now I can add this latest event to that list. I have returned to Marvel, the company that I started my career in, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!” said Romita in a statement. “I am literally, at this very moment, working on my next big Marvel project, and it’s a blast!!! I am JUST as excited as I was when I first started, and I will do my best to let the work show that again. I hope fans will see that too!”

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AfterShock makes a Seismic shift to YA content

The company launches a new line of young adult comics, starting with ‘Rainbow Bridge’ by Steve Orlando, Steve Foxe and Valentina Brancati.

AfterShock Comics will begin publishing comics aimed at young adults under a new imprint, Seismic Comics, starting with Rainbow Bridge by Steve Orlando, Steve Foxe and Valentina Brancati.

“AfterShock’s mission has always been to push readers out of their comfort zones and defy expectations – providing top creators and up-and-coming storytellers with an opportunity to tell the stories they’ve always wanted to tell in the ways they’ve always wanted to tell them,” said Editor-in-Chief Mike Marts. “With Seismic Press, our mission is to apply the same high-quality approach to content, talent selection and presentation but extend it to a much wider audience and demographic.”

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Can’t Wait for Comics | ‘Beta Ray Bill,’ ‘Witchblood,’ ‘Shadecraft’ and more

New comics arrive this week from John Ridley, Keith Giffen, Jeff Lemire, Daniel Warren Johnson, Steve Orlando, Chris Grine and more.

Welcome to Can’t Wait for Comics, your guide each week to what comics are arriving in comic book stores, bookstores and on digital.

Check out a few highlights below, or visit ComicList for this week’s full list of new comics arriving in stores, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally.

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Smash Pages Q&A: G Romero-Johnson on ‘SFSX: Terms of Service’

The artist of the newest volume of the queer science fiction tale discusses her process and approach to creating the new story.

Sfsx (Safe Sex) was a stunning book when it was published in 2019. Writer Tina Horn was new to comics, but the journalist and podcaster took to the language of comics in a really exciting way. The queer science fiction tale was like nothing else in comics. The dystopic series is returning in a new graphic novel coming out from Image Comics. Writer Tina Horn and editor/designer Laurenn McCubbin and other members of the team are back with a new artist, G Romero-Johnson.

SFSX: Terms of Service is currently being kickstarted and G Romero-Johnson was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk. A cartoonist and illustrator, she’s made comics like Sweet Insecurity and The Red Side of The Moon and her work has appeared in anthologies including Stratos and the upcoming Nectar.

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CCI responds to criticism of their planned Thanksgiving weekend event

The new statement questions whether a November event would even be feasible.

Comic-Con International has issued a clarifying statement about the Comic-Con Special Edition convention they announced over the weekend. They also attempted to explain why they chose Thanksgiving weekend for the event.

This weekend’s announcement was for a smaller convention that would be held Nov. 26-28, though few details were shared. Part of the reason for the event would be to “shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022,” CCI said in their original statement.

The announcement received some backlash, however, from creators and fans; this CNBC story rounds up several pieces of feedback from Charles Soule, Dan Slott and others, who question why they would schedule the event for Thanksgiving.

“My family missed Thanksgiving last year because of the pandemic,” wrote Dan Slott. “This year, we’ll all be vaccinated. There’s no way I’d be attending any event instead of spending that time with them. Even if everything were magically back to normal. I can’t imagine others feeling differently.”

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What Are You Reading? | ‘Ultramega,’ ‘Batman/Superman’ and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Smash Pages crew has been checking off their “to read” list lately.

Let us know what you read this week in the comments or on social media.

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Comic-Con Special Edition to occur Nov. 26-28

The first live event held by Comic-Con International since 2019 will take place at the San Diego Convention Center over Thanksgiving weekend.

Comic-Con International has announced the dates for their first live event since the COVID-19 pandemic started — Comic-Con Special Edition will occur Nov. 26-28 at the San Diego Convention Center, kicking off on the Friday that follows Thanksgiving in the United States.

Details on badge costs, programming, attendance capacity and other details are still being finalized, but part of the goal is to help raise money not only for CCI but also the local San Diego business community — both of which have been hit hard by the pandemic due to a decrease in in-person events and the tourism they bring.

“While we have been able to pivot from in-person gatherings to limited online events, the loss of revenue has had an acute impact on the organization as it has with many small businesses, necessitating reduced work schedules and reduction in pay for employees, among other issues,” said David Glanzer, spokesperson for CCI. “Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022.

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Scholastic discontinues Pilkey’s ‘The Adventures of Ook and Gluk’ due to ‘passive racism’

The publisher and author announced plans to stop distributing ‘The Adventures of Ook and Gluk’ because it includes ‘harmful stereotypes and passive racist imagery.’

Scholastic will stop distributing The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, a 2011 graphic novel by Dog Man creator Dav Pilkey, because it “perpetuates passive racism,” they said in a press statement.

The graphic novel includes a character named Master Wong and his daughter Lan, who train the cavemen mentioned in the title. Their character designs, names and personalities perpetuate racist stereotypes toward Asians.

Pilkey has also posted an apology on his YouTube channel. He also said that he and his wife will donate any proceeds from the book to “charities that provide free books, art supplies, and theater for children in underserved communities; organizations that promote diversity in children’s books and publishing; and organizations designed to stop violence and hatred against Asians. These non-profit charities include: We Need Diverse Books, The AAPI, and TheaterWorks USA, among others.”

Scholastic has removed the book from their websites, and said they have stopped fulfillment of any orders. They also have contacted their retail partners to explain why this book is no longer available and seek a return of all inventory. They also plan to contact libraries and schools.

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‘Barbaric’ tells the story of Owen and his talking axe

New series from Vault Comics, by Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, Addison Duke, Jim Campbell and Tim Daniel, debuts in June.

Vault Comics has announced Barbaric, the story of a barbarian named Owen and his “sentient, blood-drunk” axe.

It’s written by Michael Moreci, with art by Nathan Gooden and colors by Addison Duke. Jim Campbell will letter the comic, and Tim Daniel serves as designer.

Barbaric, to me, is a series that wraps both its arms around the comics medium–it’s big, from the get-go, in ways only comics can be,” Moreci said. “I want this to be a huge story that continues on the way Hellboy does, and I want it to feel like that kind of epic. It’s my ode to pulp adventures, and immersive world-building, and larger-than-life characters. I feel so energized writing it, and I hope, between my scripts and Nate’s insanely amazing art, that energy comes off of every page.”

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Mail Call | New release dates for the Milestone revival

Catch up on news and announcements from Dark Horse, Vault Comics, DC, Z2 and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

DC Comics has modified their plans for the upcoming Milestone Media relaunch. The three launch titles — Static, Icon and Rocket, and Hardware — will no longer arrive digitally before they come out in print. Instead, they’ll be released in both formats on the same day, as well as on DC Universe Infinite. Both Static and Icon and Rocket will come out later, but Hardware will be published earlier than originally announced. The new dates (and creative teams for each title) are:

  • Static: Season One, written by Vita Ayala, with layouts by CHRISCROSS, finishes by Nikolas Draper-Ivey with covers by Khary Randolph launches in print and digital on June 15.
  • Icon and Rocket: Season One, co-written by Reggie Hudlin and Leon Chills, with art by Doug Braithwaite and covers by Taurin Clarke launches in print and digital on July 27.
  • Hardware: Season One, written by Brandon Thomas, with art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz with covers by Mateus Mahanini, launches in print and digital on August 10.
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ComiXology Originals’ ‘The Final Girls’ will drop March 30

Cara Ellison and Sally Cantirino explore the world of ex-work-for-hire superheroes in the five-issue miniseries.

ComiXology Originals has announced a new digital miniseries, The Final Girls, by writer Cara Ellison, artist Sally Cantirino, colorist Gab Contreras and letterer Joamette Gil. The new series is described as a “darkly comedic superhero drama,” where a group of former work-for-hire superheroes navigate through the fallout and harm caused by their superhero colleagues.

ComiXology will release all five issues of the miniseries on March 30.

“Inside every superhuman, there’s still a human,” said Ellison. “And the human needs to eat, pay the bills, have relationships and send invoices. But what happens when superhumans realize that all the fragile systems of society and economy and politics are going to kill them, just like everyone else? What use is smashing someone through a window when the system that created them still exists?”

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Marvel teams with Penguin Random House Publisher Services as its direct market distributor

Marvel signs an exclusive distribution deal with the publishing house, that begins in October.

Marvel has announced a new agreement with Penguin Random House Publisher Services to distribute their comics and graphic novels to the direct market, beginning Oct. 1.

The deal is “an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections and graphic novels to comics shops.”

This effectively replaces Diamond Comics Distributors as Marvel’s route to comic book stores. Diamond, however, will still act as a wholesaler and will receive product through Penguin, so retailers can still choose to order Marvel’s products through them.

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