DC Comics caves, will not publish ‘Batgirl’ #41 variant cover

A variant cover for Batgirl #41 has some Twitter-people up in arms over the depiction of the Joker with Batgirl. The Joker has his arm around her with a rather large gun in his hand and he’s painting a joker smile on her face. Barbara Gordon, the woman behind the Batgirl mask, looks understandably scared.

It’s a powerful image. It’s an homage to Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by enemy of free speech, Brian Bolland.

This cover was commissioned from Brazilian artist Rafael Albuquerque.

To say this cover triggered some Twitter and Tumblr outrage is perhaps an understatement. People outraged by the art even created their own hashtag, #changethecover.

DC Comics has canceled the cover, supposedly at the artist’s request in response to the outrage.

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Non-variant cover artwork for “Batgirl” #41.

I can’t imagine demanding that something I don’t like be canceled or changed. If I don’t like the cover to a book or what’s inside the book, I simply don’t buy the book. It wouldn’t even occur to me to demand that it not be published so that other people can’t have it.

That seems like censorship.

Now that DC Comics has bowed to the whim of an angry hashtag, you can expect this type of crap to happen more often. People who want to censor art, thanks to DC Comics, now have the false-perception of power.

If I were in charge at DC Comics, I would have made the Joker artwork the regular, non-variant cover. I would have made the regular cover the variant cover.

That’s how you respond to people who want to censor art: you politely listen to their demands, then do the complete opposite.

Wizard World acquires Pittsburgh Comic Con

Wizard World has acquired Pittsburgh Comic Con, the annual comic book convention held in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. This means that if you attend the Pittsburgh Comic Con, you won’t be financially supporting a man who was (twice) convicted of murdering his wife.

Michael and Renée George, owners and operators of Comics World, a comic shop in Windber, Pennsylvania, started the Pittsburgh Comic Con in 1994. It wasn’t the first Comics World Michael George owned and operated with his wife, only before, it was a different wife. Michael and Barbara George owned and operated Comics World in Michigan.

In 1990, Barbara George was murdered, shot in the back of the head, by Michael George, in the comic book shop the two owned. For whatever reason, the police were not able to gather enough evidence against Michael to charge him with the murder.

In 1992, Michael married former Comics World employee Renee Kotula. The two had been having a personal relationship while Michael was married to Barbara. They then moved to Windber and opened a new comic book shop, again calling it Comics World.

Murderer Michael George
Michael George

Michael George later went on to open a third Comics World in nearby Scotland, Pennsylvania. I used to buy my comics there, back when I used to buy floppy comics. Although I live in Hagerstown, Maryland, I used to work in Scotland, Pennsylvania. The store is still there, although much larger, nicer, and now under new ownership.

The Barbera George murder case was reopened years later by a special cold case unit created by Prosecutor Eric Smith.

If this whole sad, twisted tale of murder sounds like a story from Dateline, that’s because it was.

So the Pittsburgh Comic Con finally doesn’t have any connection to Michael and Renée George. Good. As long as those two owned it, if you spent money on it, you were supporting a convicted murderer and his mistress. Considering that Michael George pocketed $120,000 in life insurance money from Barbera’s death, there’s a good chance that the Pittsburgh Comic Con, founded less than four years after her murder, was at least in part financed with actual blood money. I remember there was talk of people boycotting the Pittsburgh Comic Con until Michael George no longer owned it, but I don’t remember whatever happened with that.

Now it doesn’t matter. Michael George no longer owns the Pittsburgh Comic Con. Wizard World does. Say what you will about Wizard World, at least it never murdered a woman.

ComicsPRO board member accused of stealing

ComicsPRO, a non-profit trade association for comic book retailers, announced on Facebook that it was investigating one of its former board members for misuse or misappropriation of corporate funds. The Facebook post didn’t identify the former board member by name, but in a statement emailed to members of ComicsPRO, the person was identified as Gary Dills, former Director and Treasurer.

The statement sent to ComicsPRO members, via Bleeding Cool:

Yesterday Gary Dills resigned as a Director and Treasurer of the ComicsPRO retail trade organization. Gary did so after admitting to the President, Thomas Gaul, to certain financial improprieties. The board has accepted his resignation and is investigating the extent and degree of any misappropriation of organization funds, the effects it has had on the organization, and what the organization can do to recover the funds, if anything.

The Board of Directors is fully committed to investigating the circumstances surrounding these events and will make every effort to keep the membership informed as more information develops.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, this is not expected to affect the organization’s current staffing, programs, or the upcoming annual meeting.

A more general public statement will be issued via the organization’s web communication portals shortly. It is recommended that members utilize discretion with regards to this situation, especially this early into the process.

I think it’s kind of funny that the message to ComicsPRO members asked them to “utilize desecration”, yet at least one member forwarded the email to Bleeding Cool.

Who is Gary Dills?

Gary Dills was one of the founding members of ComicsPRO. He’s also co-owner of Laughing Ogre Comics, a chain of three comic book shops, two in nearby Northern Virginia and one in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s a photo from 2013 showing the board of directors of ComicsPRO. Gary Dills is the man in the red shirt, on the far right.

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What does this now mean for ComicsPRO?

Whether or not ComicsPRO can rebound from this depends on a lot of factors. How much money did Gary Dills steal? How long did the embezzling take place? Did the organization ever have a third-party conduct regular audits of the finances? Were there any safeguards in place that should have prevented this? ComicsPRO members are business people. You have to own a physical comic book shop to pay $299 a year for the privilege of belonging to the organization. Most of the members know a thing or two about the proper management of money, or they wouldn’t be operating a comic book shop in 2014. If the remaining board members don’t address these and other questions that undoubtedly come up, I wouldn’t be surprised if most members didn’t renew their yearly membership when the time comes up.

Business people don’t like to give their money to organizations that don’t handle it responsibly.

Suicide Squad movie announced

Suicide Squad, a comic book about a group of incarcerated supervillains working on behalf of the United States government, performing high-risk black ops missions, will be turned into a movie scheduled for August 5, 2016.

The movie already has some big names attached to it. David Ayer will be writing a directing it.
Jared Leto will be playing The Joker, Will Smith will be playing Deadshot, Tom Hardy will be playing Rick Flag, Margot Robbie will be playing Harley Quinn, and Jai Courtney will be playing Captain Boomerang.

Finally, the long national nightmare will be over. We will finally get a Captain Boomerang movie.

This will be the first time someone has played The Joker since the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. I don’t think it’s necessarily a hard part to play, simply because everyone that has ever played it has done a fantastic job. It will also be the big screen debut for Harley Quinn, a character from the Batman universe who first appeared not in a comic book, but the television show, Batman: The Animated Series.

This isn’t the first comic book character role for Tom Hardy, it’s not even his first DC Comics character. He played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Suicide Squad seems like a strange property to make into a big-budget movie. First, there’s the whole name thing. I’m sure some people are going to question and/or criticize the word “suicide” in its title. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if some misguided dolt tries to claim that Warner Bros. is promoting suicide with this movie. Secondly, it’s not like this property is well-known outside the world of comic book nerds. If you’ve never been to a comic book shop on a Wednesday afternoon, you’ve probably never heard of Suicide Squad. Then again, with the success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, that issue shouldn’t be a problem, right?

All David Ayer has to do is make Suicide Squad as good as Guardians of the Galaxy, and non-nerds will go see it.

British man convicted of possessing sexualized Japanese cartoon images of children

A 39-year-old man in the UK was sentenced to nine months in prison for possessing Japanese Manga images, cartoons, depicting young girls, some in school uniforms, exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity. Robul Hoque, of Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to ten counts of of possessing prohibited images of children. Judge Tony Briggs suspended the prison sentence as long as he doesn’t break the law for the next two years.

Good luck with that. This isn’t the first time Hoque has gotten in trouble for pervy images of children on his computer. Six years ago he was convicted by a jury on six counts of making “indecent pseudo-photographs” of children. He was given community service and ordered into sex offender treatment.

I’m going to take a wild guess and say that treatment didn’t work.

Though I’m a fan of comics, manga, and anime, I have nothing in common with people like Robul Hoque. The material I enjoy buying, reading, or watching doesn’t sexually objectify children. I don’t care if the material involves photographs, video, computer generation, or just lines on paper, if it involves sexually objectifying children, I want no part of it.

Children should not be the object of anyone’s sexual fantasies.

Manga-is-not-a-crime-300x300When groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund tell people like me that I need to help defend people like Hoque because we both enjoy art created with the same medium, it makes me cringe. If deviants like Hoque need defending, get other like-mind pedophiles to do it, not mainstream comic book nerds like me. Implying that I have anything in common with people like Hoque just because I enjoy Batman and X-Men comic books, seems more than a little silly to me.