Comics A.M. | Comic sales fall 11% in May; CBLDF joins fight over Utah law

Publishing | May marked the worst month of the year for the direct market since January as sales of comic books and graphic novels fell 11.21 percent versus May 2010. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller chalks up the decline to a combination of retailers ordering more Free Comic Book Day titles than "for-profit" books and publishers' summer events heating up a little later this year. Marvel led Diamond Comic Distributors' list of top comics for the month with Fear Itself #2, followed by the first issue of DC's Flashpoint. Avatar topped the graphic novel chart with Crossed 3D, Vol. 1. [The Comichron]

Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined a coalition that includes booksellers, media companies and the ACLU of Utah in seeking to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah statute that would regulate Internet speech that some consider "harmful to minors," including works of art, graphic novels, information about sexual health and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The law has not gone into effect because Utah consented to a temporary injunction until the case can be decided. [press release]

Awards | A reminder: Online voting ends today for the 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. The winners will be announced July 22 during Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Eisner Awards]

Publishing | Tom Spurgeon talks at length with Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about the publishers' marketing strategy, digital initiatives, and how recently introduced gay character Kevin Keller fits into Riverdale: "You know, with all of the bullying going on in the world today, and all of the issues young people grow up with, it just proves the point that kids are kids, and that Archie, the gang, Riverdale, it's all-inclusive. That's how kids are in high school today. The point of his being gay, he's just another kid. That's the point of putting him in there. He's accepted, and everyone should be accepted wherever they go. That sounds a little bit utopian, but why not? Why can't we at least put that forth? Put forth the fact that everyone no matter what their orientation is, what the color of their skin is, what their religion is, whatever it may be, everyone's accepted: there is no divisiveness. When you turn on the TV and you hear all this vitriol back and forth between political parties and all this nonsense it's enough to get you nuts. The point of Kevin was 'Hey, stop with this craziness. Everyone's included. We're all part of the human race no matter who you are or what you are.'" [The Comics Reporter]

Conventions | Jerome Maida previews Wizard World Philadelphia, which returns on Friday to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Conventions | Lisa Allmendinger looks toward the third annual Kids Read Comics! convention, which kicks off Saturday in Chelsea, Michigan. [AnnArbor.com]

Conventions | On a related note, Snow Wildsmith offers tips on taking children to conventions. [Good Comics for Kids]

Creators | Greg Rucka talks about his upcoming run, with artist Marco Checchetto, on Marvel's Punisher: "You find yourself in the position of going to your editor and saying, 'So, who can I kill? Who is on the list of characters we can put a bullet in and is not going to horribly destroy what's going in the rest of the universe?' You never want to take a character out of play. It's easier to take stuff away from the universe than to put it back into the universe." [USA Today]

Broadway | The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society has filed an arbitration claim against the producers of the $70-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark for failure to pay royalties to original director Julie Taymor, who was fired in March. [The New York Times]

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