Legal | Wizard World Inc. is suing former chief marketing officer Steve Shamus for more than $1 million, alleging that he used his position to obtain free autographs from celebrities and then sell them. The suit, filed Oct. 28 in federal court in New York City, also claims some of the autograph deals Shamus set up benefited him but lost money for Wizard. On Oct. 18, Shamus demanded payment from Wizard World under the terms of an “employment letter” allegedly signed by his brother, Wizard founder Gareb Shamus, who left the company in 2011. “The Letter is a fraud and a fabrication,” Wizard’s lawyers claim in the court filing, speculating that Steve Shamus probably knew his activities were about to be uncovered. Wizard CEO John Maatta sent a letter to Shamus on Oct. 26 outlining his concerns, after which the lawsuit alleges that Shamus tried to delete all his company emails; Wizard World fired him the next day. The lawsuit seeks “all compensation, salary, commissions, and bonuses paid to defendant during the period,” as well as the fair market value of the autographs he obtained and the return of a laptop that contains confidential information. [ICv2]
Festivals | Big news in the world of indie and small-press comics festivals: The Vancouver Comic Arts Festival (VanCAF) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) are now partners. TCAF staff will oversee VanCAF’s operations, and VanCAF has a new director: Andrea Demonakos, who previously worked for Emerald City Comicon and ReedPOP (organizer of New York Comic Con and C2E2). VanCAF founder Shannon Campbell will continue to serve in an advisory role as a member of the VanCAF board of directors. [TCAF]
Political cartoons | Venezuelan political cartoonist Rayma Suprami had to leave the country after she was fired by the newspaper El Universal, and the government targeted her for harassment. The reason: a cartoon she drew that was critical of the policies of the late President Hugo Chavez. Although Suprami regularly critiqued Chavez when he was alive, the new administration of President Nicolas Maduro is highly protective of Chavez’s legacy, and it has little tolerance for dissent. In addition to losing her job, and not being able to find another, she has been subject to death threats and other harassment, including denunciations on the state-run television station. But she’s not giving up: From her new home, in Miami, she is working on a book about political prisoners in Venezuela. [PRI’s The World]
Passings | New Yorker cartoonist Robert Weber died Oct. 20 at age 92. Weber’s cartoons were the sort of thing most people envision when they think of New Yorker cartoons: affluent people in slightly absurd situations. Born in Los Angeles, Weber served in the Coast Guard and then studied art at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. He worked as a fashion illustrator before turning to cartooning as a career. “Over and over, Bob drew people in situations that were deeply relatable and turned them upside down with a hilarious, wonderfully incongruous line of dialogue,” fellow cartoonist David Sipress wrote in a tribute in the New Yorker. “He was one of those artists who created a world with every drawing.” And he was a very kind man, Sipress writes, remembering a time when Weber provided much-needed reassurance about Sipress’s drawing. [The New York Times]
Creators | Eric Legatta profiles Mike Peters, from his days as a kid in a cape fighting the scourge of litter to his present-day career as political cartoonist and creator of the comic strip “Mother Goose and Grimm.” A retrospective of Peters’s work just opened at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University, and he will speak there this weekend. [Columbus Dispatch]
Creators | Fred Dewilde, who was in the Bataclan music hall in Paris the night that it was attacked by terrorists, explains how telling his story in a graphic novel, “My Bataclan,” served as therapy: “I’m not someone who is uncomfortable with words, but I reflect before I speak. It’s the opposite when it comes to drawing, it’s a lot more instinctive. It’s clearly helped me comprehend what I’ve been through.” Dewilde spent two hours lying motionless on the floor, holding hands with a woman he had never met before; they talked to each other to create a “bubble of humanity” to get them through the experience. [France 24]
Publishing | ICv2 interviews Terry Nantier of NBM Publishing, who has been bringing French comics to the North American market for 40 years. [ICv2]
Publishing | Luc Bossé of Montreal-based Pow Pow Press, which initially published graphic novels in French for the Canadian market, talks about the challenges of moving to publishing in English as well. [The Beat]
Manga | Readers of the manga “Toriko” nodded sagely when Japanese researcher Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year for developing the concept of autophagy; it had already appeared in a storyline in the manga. Autophagy, a process by which cells consume and recycle their own components, popped up in the Shonen Jump series in 2009, and one of Ohsumi’s collaborators, Prof. Tamotsu Yoshimori of Osaka University, confirmed that the depiction was accurate, and another professor credited “Toriko” for bringing the term into the popular consciousness. [The Japan News]
Retailing | The Greenville, North Carolina, comic shop World’s Coolest Comics & Toys has opened a second location, World’s Coolest Uptown. The first store launched in April 2015. [Daily Reflector]
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