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On Chris Hardwick, Comic Conventions, and the Presumption of Innocence

(Trigger Warning for discussions of rape, abuse, sexual assault,etc)

In this article I’m going to attempt to deconstruct what’s happening around allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in various areas of nerddom. Rather than try to prosecute the facts of each individual case, I want to talk about systems and how we got to this point, and what we can do about it.

“Innocent until proven guilty.”
“There are two sides and we can’t know.”
“Rush to judgment.”
Chris Hardwick. FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention#metoo

It is as predictable as the sun rising in the east that whenever there is an allegation of harassment, rape, abuse, or other predatory behavior that these are the responses we’ll hear first. So let’s talk about these ideas and where they fit in with our current cultural conversation.

First (and this may surprise you I’m starting here) these are good standards. They have served us well in western civilization because they are standards with specific intents.

For instance, it’s ENTIRELY VITAL that in the criminal justice system, a person have a complete presumption of innocence. It is the government’s job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of your peers that you committed a crime in order for you to be deprived of your freedom or property by being put in jail or having to pay a fine. In the case of the law, innocent until proven guilty is sacrosanct. Hence, the legal proceedings against Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, etc.

But then there’s the court of public opinion. Who says that in this case a person must be given the presumption of innocence? Does literally anything else get this same standard? Does science? (I wish, right?)

No. Because that’s not how it works. So why should what is appropriate for due process in a criminal case be applied in the case of a victim coming forward? Do we apply other similar legalisms in our daily lives?

And so then a lot of people will say, when all the evidence comes out, it comes down to a “he said / she said” situation (or another variation based on the genders of the people involved– as abuse and harassment occur among all people — but in this case I’ll keep with the colloquial “he said / she said” because we’re talking about specific instances of alleged abuse).

The end point of this, though, is that a person is supposed to throw up their hands and just say “Well, I guess we can’t know. There’s two sides to this story and the only people who know are the two of them.” It’s the societal equivalent of a hung jury– we just don’t know — OR an acquittal where we say the victim never proved their claim beyond some standard of reasonable doubt.

So, what happens? The net effect of “innocent until proven guilty” and “two sides” is that the accused is always advantaged. There is a seriously high bar to overcome to be able to prove an allegation– and the more prominent and powerful a person is, the higher that bar gets.

And so we wonder why victims are afraid to come forward? BECAUSE OF THIS. Because prima facie we are conditioned to not believe them. Because it’s important to understand that “innocent until proven guilty” and “two sides” are systems created by western patriarchal order specifically for the judicial system — which have served us well in terms of balancing government tyranny vs law and order — but which do NOT protect victims and were never created for society at large. Using legal standards in place of a broader sense of morality and justice is not only foolhardy– it’s why Jesus hated lawyers. (Apologies to my friends in the legal profession. Jesus loves you very much.)

We face an epidemic of rape and sexual assault– 1 in 4 women will be assaulted. That is sickening and MUST change. But rape cases are unlikely to be prosecuted because we have to convince a jury of 12 individuals a rapist is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Get ONE person on that jury who holds sexist attitudes about “She was leading him on.” “She was wearing the wrong clothing.” etc, etc, etc and the accused will not be punished. Get a judge who believes we shouldn’t ruin a person’s life over one mistake, and the person will not be punished. Innocent until proven guilty is a high bar. And is it intentionally so, because the basis of our law is “It is better for 1,000 guilty men to go free than one innocent man be punished.” Emphasis on “men.”

It is the systems of presumption of innocence and hearing both sides that have created the situation we are in. They were tools of a patriarchal western culture which, intentionally or not, have always advantaged men over women. They are the petri dish in which rape culture flourished and grew. And we will not, to paraphrase Audre Lorde, be able to tear down the master’s house using the master’s tools. And so “presumed innocent” and “both sides” will never get us the justice we need.

JFK wrote “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” We have made solving these cases nearly impossible through our criminal justice system. And so instead we have to turn to the callout, the public shaming– the vague article on Medium that doesn’t directly name your accuser but we all know who you’re talking about. These are also imperfect systems, but they’re basically all we have.

Government is supposed to have a monopoly on the use of violence in society. And shunning, isolation, shaming– those are acts of violence. It’s why we should react so viscerally to The Scarlet Letter, The Handmaid’s Tale, to women being beheaded for adultery or acid thrown in their faces– BECAUSE extra-governmental forces (in these cases, religion masquerading as law or individuals acting under a faux religious mandate) are enacting violence. Also, government is not acting as it should with the necessary due process. And the violence is horrific. But even in the more subtle violence of these– the shame circles, the public labeling — we see what we don’t like about callout culture. Because it is a form of mob justice, and one which does not have norms or rules around it.

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And because they can be misused, people are skeptical, and begin trying to rationalize against it. And we retreat back to “innocent until proven guilty” and “he said / she said”– all of which serve to protect the accused and indict the victim. And, it should be noted, the closer you are to a person who is accused, the more you might depend on them for something, the less likely you are to believe they are capable of this. And so we say, “we don’t want to harm someone over unfounded allegations.”

Some have even called this “the internet lynch mob.” Let’s unpack that for one second. Thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of people, mostly African Americans, were lynched in the US. People were murdered. It was done to incite terror and uphold white supremacy. For me, it rings just as hollow to talk about women working to stop sexual violence — especially when it is women of color (and queer women of color) who are the largest victims of sexual violence and harassment in the US — as a “lynch mob” as it does for Richard Paul Evans to talk about being a white male being like a Jew during Nazi Germany. It rings hollow because it destroys the historical paradigm of oppressor and victim and flips it on its head– now the historical victims of oppression are suddenly the bad guys? And to talk about someone being called out for bad behavior as being morally equivalent to taking someone’s life? Spare me.

Because it harms literally no one to believe a victim when they come forward. What will the consequences be for Chris Hardwick? At most, it will be a loss of reputation which will almost certainly be temporary.

Chris Brown is still making albums. So is Dr. Luke. It’s unlikely that even if they lose their civil suits they will be living on the streets, having lost everything. Devin Faraci, who was accused of assault, got a job with Alamo Drafthouse/ Fantastic Fest less than a year after the allegations came out against him — and he would have continued in that role if it had not been exposed. Even Bill O’Reilly is mounting a comeback tour. So let’s not pretend that people are going to be ruined.

For those not following the controversy around sexual assault and harassment at Salt Lake FanX (previously Salt Lake Comic Con– the third largest con in the country by attendance after San Diego and New York) here is a primer. But it’s bad. If the con’s owners, Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenberg, were to sell Salt Lake FanX or convert it into a non-profit (as many of their critics are calling for, pointing to toxic behavior on their part as well), they stand to gain more than can be imagined– and more than they stand to lose if they continue to let this drip drip drip continue about the harassment and abuse they have covered up. If we choose too believe the victims who have stepped forward, they will still be millionaires no matter what. Same with Hardwick.

So, again, it DOES NOTHING to simply believe victims when they come forward. In fact, every argument of “innocent until proven guilty” and “hear both sides” insulates abusers and harassers. It prevents victims from coming forward because they know the people around the accused will rally around them and prosecute the victim– call her unreliable, question her motives, ask why she didn’t just leave the situation in the first place (obviously you have no idea how abusers operate and can’t see the pathological ways they all work).

In the case of gaslightng or calling into question the accuracy or motives of victims, above all others, there is actual harm perpetrated against people who have already been victimized when we choose to hide behind “we can’t know” or “innocent until proven guilty” or “the internet lynch mob.”

There is a massive change trying to happen in our culture right now. There are people who have been oppressed in order for us to make the progress we’ve made. There are people who are still disadvantaged by the status quo. Our choice is whether we decide to side with the status quo as “good enough” or whether we want to break down systems of oppression and side with the disadvantaged. And if you’ve decided to stay neutral in this fight, or ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening, you’ve already chosen a side.

Believe victims. It doesn’t harm anyone, except the patriarchy.

Marvel Takes the Top Spot for Diamond in May Crossing 40% Dollar Share

Diamond Comic Distributors has released the stats of May and Marvel Comics was the month’s top publisher with a 42.64% dollar share and a 38.35% unit share. DC Entertainment was second for the month with a 25.71% dollar share and a 37.87% unit share. Image Comics was third with a 10.83% dollar share and a 9.67% unit share. In fourth was IDW Publishing with a 3.65% dollar share and a 3.07% unit share, followed by Dark Horse Comics with a 2.54% dollar share and a 1.63% unit share, BOOM! Studios with a 1.96% dollar share and a 1.58% unit share, and Dynamite Entertainment with a 1.64% dollar share and a 1.30% unit share.

Marvel dominated due to Amazing Spider-Man #800 which was the month’s most ordered comic and had a $9.99 price tag.

Compared to the previous month, comics, graphic novels, and toys were all up showing healthy growth. Compared to last year, comics are up 6.23% in dollars and graphic novels and comics are up 1.84% in dollars. We could be seeing a course correction in a sluggish year. In a year to year comparison, comics are up 0.22% in dollars but down 9.8% in units. Graphic Novels, toys, and comics/graphic novels are all down.

Marvel Comics had four titles in the top ten with Amazing Spider-Man #800 leading the pack as the top comic for the month. DC Entertainment had five titles in the top ten: Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock #5 ranked #3. Also in the top ten, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead #179 ranked #10. Among the premier publishers, BOOM! Studios’ Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #27 was their top book at #133, Frank Miller’s Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #2 was Dark Horse’s top book at #129, Dynamite Entertainment’s Red Sonja/Tarzan #1 ranked #142, and IDW Publishing’s TMNT: Urban Legends #1 ranked #159.

The misadventures of two rebels during the Galactic Civil War are recounted in Kevin Rubio and Lucas Marangon’s Star Wars: Tag & Bink Were Here from Marvel Comics, the best-selling graphic novel of May. Marvel had five titles in the top ten. Image Comics had three titles in the top ten. DC Entertainment had two titles in the top ten. Also in the top ten, Dark Horse Comics’ Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction ranked #8.

Zenescope Entertainment’s Grimm Fairy Tales Adult Coloring Book Volume 2 was May’s best-selling book. Also in the top ten, Dark Horse Comics’ Overwatch Anthology Volume 1, a collection of stories and background details on the popular video game from Blizzard Entertainment, returned to the top ten at #7.

PREVIEWS Exclusive variant of the first figure in Mezco’s trio of One:12 Collective figures that interpret different eras of Batman’s career, the One:12 Collective: DC Comics: Ascending Knight “Blue” Action Figure, was May’s best-selling toy product. DC Collectibles had three products in the top ten: the DC Designer Series: Metal Batman by Greg Capullo Statue at #2, the Batman vs. The Joker: Laff-Co Battle Statue at #8, and the DC Rebirth: Justice League Action Figure 7-Pack at #9. Funko had two PREVIEWS exclusive POP! vinyl figures in the top ten: the POP! Rick and Morty: Pickle Rick “No Limbs” Vinyl Figure ranked #3, and the POP! Heroes: DC Death Vinyl Figure, based on Neil Gaiman’s character from The Sandman, ranked #4. Diamond Select Toys’ Marvel Gallery: X-23 PVC Statue ranked #6. Also in the top ten, McFarlane Toys’ Stranger Things: Demogorgon Deluxe Action Figure ranked #10.

Taking the HeroClix game to the depths of space, WizKids/NECA’s Marvel HeroClix: Avengers Infinity Colossal Booster Brick was May’s best-selling game product. Paizo Publishing also had a strong month in May, with eight products from the Starfinder and Pathfinder role-playing game lines among the month’s top ten products.

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER

DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS

42.64%

38.35%

DC ENTERTAINMENT

25.71%

37.87%

IMAGE COMICS

10.83%

9.67%

IDW PUBLISHING

3.65%

3.07%

DARK HORSE COMICS

2.54%

1.63%

BOOM! STUDIOS

1.96%

1.58%

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

1.64%

1.30%

VIZ MEDIA

1.12%

0.40%

ONI PRESS

1.03%

0.48%

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT

0.84%

0.90%

OTHER NON-TOP 10

8.03%

4.75%

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS

UNITS

MAY 2018 VS. APRIL 2018

COMICS

7.00%

2.99%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

6.94%

4.85%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

6.98%

3.13%

TOYS

4.95%

23.84%

MAY 2018 VS. MAY 2017

COMICS

6.23%

-8.63%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-8.04%

-13.85%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

1.84%

-9.06%

TOYS

-28.63%

-30.85%

YEAR-TO-DATE 2018 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2017

COMICS

0.22%

-9.80%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-9.31%

-10.56%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-2.67%

-9.85%

TOYS

-12.06%

-17.25%

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER

COMICS SHIPPED

GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED

MAGAZINES SHIPPED

TOTAL

SHIPPED

MARVEL COMICS

92

42

0

134

DC ENTERTAINMENT

74

30

0

104

IMAGE COMICS

65

22

0

87

IDW PUBLISHING

39

24

0

63

BOOM! STUDIOS

23

12

0

35

DARK HORSE COMICS

17

16

0

33

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

20

5

0

25

VIZ MEDIA

0

22

0

22

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT

8

3

0

11

ONI PRESS

3

2

0

5

OTHER NON-TOP 10

131

208

32

371

TOTAL

472

386

32

890

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800

$9.99

MAR180826-M MAR

2

VENOM #1

$4.99

MAR180796-M MAR

3

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #5

$4.99

MAR180233-M DC

4

AVENGERS #1

$4.99

MAR180776-M MAR

5

BLACK PANTHER #1

$4.99

MAR180786-M MAR

6

BATMAN #47

$2.99

MAR180256-M DC

7

BATMAN #46

$2.99

MAR180254-M DC

8

JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE #1

$3.99

MAR180228-M DC

9

THE MAN OF STEEL #1 [*]

$3.99

APR180145 DC

10

THE WALKING DEAD #179 (MR)

$3.99

MAR180767-M IMA

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800

$9.99

MAR180826-M MAR

2

VENOM #1

$4.99

MAR180796-M MAR

3

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #5

$4.99

MAR180233-M DC

4

AVENGERS #1

$4.99

MAR180776-M MAR

5

BLACK PANTHER #1

$4.99

MAR180786-M MAR

6

ACTION COMICS #1000

$7.99

FEB180142-M DC

7

DESPICABLE DEADPOOL #300

$5.99

MAR180832-M MAR

8

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #8

$4.99

MAR180260-M DC

9

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #600

$5.99

MAR180837-M MAR

10

JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE #1

$3.99

MAR180228-M DC

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

STAR WARS: TAG & BINK WERE HERE #1

$7.99

MAR180947 MAR

2

THE INFINITY GAUNTLET TP

$24.99

JUL110745 MAR

3

WHERE WE LIVE: LAS VEGAS SHOOTING BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY TP

$19.99

MAR180600 IMA

4

SNOTGIRL VOL. 2: CALIFORNIA SCREAMING TP

$15.99

MAR180757 IMA

5

DARK DAYS: THE ROAD TO METAL HC

$29.99

DEC170376 DC

6

WONDER WOMAN VOL. 5: HEART OF THE AMAZON TP

$16.99

FEB180292 DC

7

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN/VENOM: VENOM, INC TP

$19.99

FEB180936 MAR

8

HELLBOY OMNIBUS VOL. 1: SEED OF DESTRUCTION TP

$24.99

JAN180104 DAR

9

BLACK MAGICK VOL. 2: AWAKENING II TP (MR)

$16.99

MAR180642 IMA

10

BLACK PANTHER: LONG LIVE THE KING TP

$14.99

FEB180931 MAR

10

INFINITY WAR TP

$29.99

JAN062102 MAR

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

THE INFINITY GAUNTLET TP

$24.99

JUL110745 MAR

2

PUNISHER MAX BY GARTH ENNIS OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC (MR)

$100.00

NOV171043 MAR

3

STAR WARS: TAG & BINK WERE HERE #1

$7.99

MAR180947 MAR

4

DARK DAYS: THE ROAD TO METAL HC

$29.99

DEC170376 DC

5

WHERE WE LIVE: LAS VEGAS SHOOTING BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY TP

$19.99

MAR180600 IMA

6

WOLVERINE GOES TO HELL OMNIBUS HC

$100.00

NOV171044 MAR

7

INFINITY WAR TP

$29.99

JAN062102 MAR

8

MARVEL MASTERWORKS: MARVEL TEAM-UP VOL. 3 HC

$75.00

NOV171039-M MAR

9

HELLBOY OMNIBUS VOL. 1: SEED OF DESTRUCTION TP

$24.99

JAN180104 DAR

10

WEAPON X: THE RETURN OMNIBUS HC

$125.00

NOV171045 MAR

TOP 10 BOOKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

GRIMM FAIRY TALES ADULT COLORING BOOK VOL. 2

$12.99

APR181912 ZEN

2

OVERLORD VOL. 7 LIGHT NOVEL HC

$20.00

MAR188458 YEN

3

THE ART OF JIM STARLIN: LIFE IN WORDS & PICTURES HC

$49.99

MAR181077 AFT

4

BLOODBORNE OFFICIAL ARTWORKS SC

$44.99

MAR172148 UDO

5

DOCTOR WHO TARGET COLLECTION: CITY OF DEATH MMPB

$9.99

APR181367 PEN

6

THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 129 SC

$14.95

FEB182112 SAN

7

OVERWATCH ANTHOLOGY VOLUME 1 HC

$19.99

JUN170080 DAR

8

WOLF & PARCHMENT VOL. 2 LIGHT NOVEL SC

$14.00

FEB181982 YEN

9

DEATH MARCH TO THE PARALLEL WORLD RHAPSODY VOL. 5 NOVEL SC

$14.00

MAR182083 YEN

10

NEIL GAIMAN: NORSE MYTHOLOGY SC

$15.95

DEC178273 WW

TOP 10 TOYS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

ONE-12 COLLECTIVE: DC: ASCENDING KNIGHT BATMAN “BLUE” FIGURE JUL178556 MEZ

2

DC DESIGNER SERIES: METAL BATMAN STATUE BY CAPULLO NOV170394 DC

3

POP! RICK & MORTY: PICKLE RICK “NO LIMBS” VINYL FIGURE DEC178162 FUN

4

POP! HEROES: DC: DEATH VINYL FIGURE DEC178161 FUN

5

OVERWATCH: GENJI 12-INCH STATUE DEC178061 BLI

6

MARVEL GALLERY: X-23 PVC STATUE NOV172443 DST

7

OVERWATCH: D.VA 20-INCH STATUE AUG178473 BLI

8

BATMAN VS. THE JOKER: LAFF-CO BATTLE STATUE OCT170396 DC

9

DC REBIRTH: JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION FIGURE 7-PACK AUG160372 DC

10

STRANGER THINGS: DEMOGORGON DELUXE ACTION FIGURE SEP178832 TMP

TOP 10 GAMES BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

MARVEL HEROCLIX: AVENGERS INFINITY COLOSSAL BOOSTER BRICK DEC172935 NEC

2

STARFINDER RPG: PACT WORLDS HC JAN182863 PAI

3

CRITICAL ROLE: TAL DOREI CAMPAIGN SETTING HC JUN173357 GRE

4

PATHFINDER RPG: ULTIMATE MAGIC POCKET EDITION FEB182807 PAI

5

PATHFINDER RPG: BESTIARY 4 POCKET EDITION FEB182806 PAI

6

STARFINDER ADVENTURE PATH: DEAD SUNS PART 5 SC FEB182808 PAI

7

PATHFINDER RPG: CORE RULEBOOK JUN091729 PAI

8

PATHFINDER RPG: CORE RULEBOOK POCKET EDITION APR168770 PAI

9

STARFINDER RPG ALIEN: ARCHIVE HC AUG173202 PAI

10

PATHFINDER RPG: BOOK OF THE DAMNED HC JUL173377 PAI

 

Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Hall Of Fame Hypnotist Tony Lee Performs To Send A Family To Disney World

Tony Lee; a veteran of over ten thousand sold out shows, an inductee into Canada’s Hall Of Fame. This man does not put on a show that you would willingly take your child to (unless they’re over 18), as he earns his reputation of an X-Rated hypnotist with a cunning glee. But the Superhero Hypnosis show isn’t an X-Rated experience – quite the opposite, in fact.

Tony Lee has developed a one of a kind experience that blends his famous hypnotic skills with an incredible stage show in order to bring to life the four colour world of comics, the magic of Harry Potter or any other fantastical universe you can imagine. I’m going to be honest with you here; I’m a little sketchy on how everything will come together, but the passion that Lee had for the show when I spoke to him off the record about it after one of his less family friendly evenings more than made up for the lack of details I have (this is as much on me as anything – I didn’t want to break or ruin any illusion before I had a chance to see it first hand). My understanding is that Tony Lee will be playing an evil mastermind, which he assures me isn’t far from the truth (he’s lying, even if he isn’t aware of the fact), who will be defeated by a young superhero at the show’s climax.

That Superhero Hypnosis has the potential to be an incredible show goes without saying, but what elevates this above and beyond an already ambitious hypnotist show is that Lee will be donating 100% of all profits to a local family facing an unimaginably heartbreaking situation. Battling an aggressive form of cancer, Miranda Pickrem Tipping and her husband hope to take her five year old son to Disney World in September, a dream that the family of three have had for some time; proceeds from the show will go toward making that dream a reality and help the loving young family create some special and lasting memories.

“My heart literally broke when I heard the story,” said Lee when asked about the reasons behind the Superhero Hypnosis show. “It literally brought tears to my eyes and I don’t even know this woman or family. It was the right thing to do. I just wish that I was able to do it for more families. But I’m certainly going to help as many people as I can before my time is done. I want this show to be spectacular. After 33 years of touring and 10,000 live shows this will be the only performance of its kind and I’m excited to blow people away.”

To help bring the performance to life, Lee has partnered with his friend and comic book illustrator Tony Gray, owner of GlassMonkey Studios, who will be autographing prints at the event that are included with the ticket price. “Teaming up with Tony Gray who has illustrated many great superheroes working with Marvel and DC such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Conduit, Red Sonia and many more has been an unbelievable natural fit for this performance.  Some audience members will have the opportunity to feel the perceived powers of mind control. They will be able to act out their favourite cosplay characters such as Harry Potter, Professor X or even becoming a Jedi Knight. The possibilities are endless. But this time they will be experiencing the power for real. A completely groundbreaking performance…”

The show will be held at the Cobequid Educational Centre AV room in Truro, Nova Scotia  on June 16 at 8 p.m. Advance tickets can be purchased at Eventbrite.ca. They cost $22 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Included in the ticket price is an autographed print from comic illustrator Tony Gray. Tickets at the door will be $40.

Award Winning Chef and Comic Writer Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61 From Suicide

We don’t usually write obituaries on our site instead covering the news in our morning roundups. Today we awoke to the news that award winning chef Anthony Bourdain has died at age 61. The gifted storyteller who helped open up the world to individuals committed suicide while in France for an an episode of his series Parts Unknown. Bourdain’s gift of storytelling extended beyond television and books to the comic world as he was part of the team behind Get Jiro! and Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi published by DC Comics‘ imprint Vertigo and Hungry Ghosts which is currently being published by Dark Horse.

Bourdain is the second celebrity to take their life this week. Fashion designer Kate Spade ended her life three days ago. Both are reminders that no matter the level of celebrity the issues that can lead to suicide impacts us all.

Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year and it’s the third leading cause of death for 15 to 23-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds. On average, 1 person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes and each suicide impacts at least 5 other people. Worldwide one million people commit suicide each ear which is one death every 40 seconds.

But for each of those suicides there are 25 attempted.

If you are contemplating suicide or know someone who might be, there are people who are there to help. If you want to help someone who might be suicidal, BeThe1To has 5 steps that you can use to help a loved one that may be in crisis.

If you are suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 in the United States. Below is a list of other phone numbers from around the world.

  • Argentina: +5402234930430
  • Australia: 131114
  • Austria: 017133374
  • Belgium: 106
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina: 080 05 03 05
  • Botswana: 3911270
  • Brazil: 212339191
  • Canada: 5147234000 (Montreal); 18662773553 (outside Montreal)
  • Croatia: 014833888
  • Denmark: +4570201201
  • Egypt: 7621602
  • Finland: 010 195 202
  • France: 0145394000
  • Germany: 08001810771
  • Holland: 09000767
  • Hong Kong: +852 2382 0000
  • Hungary: 116123
  • India: 8888817666
  • Ireland: +4408457909090
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Every struggle is different. Anyone can be struggling with suicidal thoughts and it is important for them to remember they are not alone. There are people here to help.

Top Five Predictions for comiXology’s Announcement this Friday

Something is brewing over at comiXology, the 800lb gorilla in the digital comic market space. The company will have a “major announcement” at 2pm PDT/5pm EDT which you can watch on Twitch. Along with the live stream you can attend viewing parties at their nearest Amazon Pop-Up or Amazon Books retail locations. Exclusive giveaways will be available to those attending the live stream at Amazon’s retail locations while supplies last. The livestream will be hosted by noted esports personality Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham and will feature special guests including noted comic book writers and artists.

With some mystery still remaining, I threw together my top five predictions from most likely to least likely as to what will be announced.

  1. The announcement specifically mentioned comiXology Originals, the company’s line of comics produced in partnership with other publishers. After an Eisner nomination for Marley’s Ghost, it wouldn’t be a shock if the company is expanding this line. Expect a line of original comics produced directly through comiXology and most likely leveraging Amazon’s self-publishing portal in some way. While this is almost a sure bet, the real announcement will be the details of the how and the creators involved. Will it be open to anyone? Will it be curated? These are the unknowns. Likelihood: 100%
  2. Amazon’s self-publishing is now part of comiXology Originals. You can publish your own series or write familiar character through a program on Amazon and it’s possible this will blend together with comiXology Originals so your Amazon published stories will now sync with comiXology bringing down what looks like a walled operation. Likelihood: 75%
  3. Amazon and comiXology are buying a publisher – Not as likely, but there’s a lot of publishers who are floating “for sale” signs and have for a while. With Netflix purchasing Millarworld, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Amazon purchase an established comic publisher of their own. Not only do they get comics, they also get intellectual property to mine for their Amazon Prime original series. Likelihood: 50% (predicting this one down the road though)
  4. (Insert Big Name Creator) is getting a line of comiXology Originals – Giving creators their own pop-up imprint is popular again. comiXology has dumped a truck of cash at the feat of some big creator who is going exclusive and will manage a new line of original comics. Likelihood: 25%
  5. ALL ORIGINAL!!! – Forget the big two, comiXology is going all original and dropping everyone…. Yeah, not very likely. Likelihood: 0%

While it’s pretty clear from the original press release teaser that this will have something to do with comiXology Originals, there’s still a lot of possibilities when Amazon is involved. The industry is wide open for a jolt of energy when it comes to digital comics and maybe this Friday we’ll see the first steps of that. We’ll be live Tweeting whatever the announcement is and you can follow us to find out when things are revealed.

Van Jensen Named Publisher of ArtsATL

Comic creator Van Jensen has been named by ArtsATL as its publisher to oversee the website’s day-to-day operations. He begins the role next month. He is the first publisher of ArtstATL.

Jensen was the director of publications for the Georgia Tech Alumni Association from 2008 until 2014 and edited the school’s alumni magazine. He’s also written numerous comics including The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, James Bond: Casino Royale and so much more. He’s worked for DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Chapterhouse Comics, and more and served as a United States Comic Book Ambassador under a US State Department program.

ArtsATL is a non-profit organization that promotes a healthy and vibrant arts community in metro Atlanta. We do this by providing a combination of thoughtful, critical analysis, news resources, commentary, programming and in-depth features of the city’s vibrant arts scene across all disciplines – visual art, design, music, dance, theater, books and film.

Not So Fast Fox and Disney. Comcast to Swoop In With an Offer.

While geekdom continues to act like the deal between Fox and Disney is done, it’s far from over. A vote from shareholders as well as regulatory approval still needs to happen. But, before even that, Comcast is stepping in for a bid of their own.

After weeks of rumors, Comcast said today they are in “advance stages” of an all-cash offer for the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox. The Comcast offer would be at a “premium” conpared to the Disney offer though specifics haven’t been announced.

Comcast had previously made an offer to Fox that topped Disney last year but that was rejected by the 21st Century Fox’s board. The board felt the Disney deal had better synergy and they worried abou regulatory risks.

This is just one of the many battles and dramas playing out including AT&T’s fight with U.S. regulators over their deal to acquire Time Warner. Comcast has launched an offer for Sky which would top 21st Century Fox’s takeover of the U.K. satellite TV operator, and CBS and Viacom are fighting over a plan to merge the two.

The Comcast and Disney plans would be to take over FX Networks, National Geographic, 300 international channels, 22 regional sports networks, the 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu, 50% share of Edemol Shine Group, the Star India satellite service, and Fox’s 39% interest in Euro satellite broadcaster Sky. Both Comcast and Disney already have a percent of Hulu. This acquisition would give whomever a majority of the control of that service.

The New Fox that emerged would include the Fox Broadcasting Company network and its TV station group, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Sports operations.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman Says You Should Go Support Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 5th. Shops all across the world will participate by giving away comics that you can enjoy (and while you’re there please buy something. These “free” comics do cost money).

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman got into the action early by delivering some Spider-Man and Avengers comics to his New York State Senate colleagues in honor of the day. Hoylman represents the district where Marvel Comics’ offices are located. Part of the job is representing your constituents!

You can find out more about the event and find a shop at the Free Comic Book Day website.

Health Care Voter Wants You to (Lightsaber) Rally for the Affordable Care Act

Health Care Voter is an organization who’s working to lift up the voices of millions of Americans who will lose their health care under the Republican health insurance repeal bill.

In honor of May the 4th the organization has been holding a “lightsaber rally” in Washington, DC to “protect our health care from the GOP Empire’s attack.” You can sign their petition on their site to show your support.

As the majority of individuals in the comic book industry are freelancers, access to health care is crucial as many will need to purchase their own and can’t afford expensive premiums. Comic creators are forced to rely on organizations and handouts like the Hero Initiative in later years and can easily fall into financial trouble due to the simplest medical need.

If you support comic creators, you need to support cheap and affordable health care.

Exclusive Preview: Star Wars: Darth Vader #16

Star Wars: Darth Vader #16

Writer: Charles Soule
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Daniele Orlandini
Colors: Java Tartaglia, Guru-eFX
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Elia Bonetti
Editors: Jordan D. White, Mark Paniccia
Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Tom Groneman, Emily Newcomen
Rated T
In Shops: May 09, 2018
SRP: $3.99

Vader and his Inquisitors lead an elite squad of clone troopers to flush out the Jedi traitor beneath the waters of Mon Cala…and the oceans will burn with their fury.

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