Comics A.M. | Four indicted in comic collector's death

Legal | A Rochester, N.Y., businessman and the three men he allegedly hired to steal $40,000 worth of comics have been indicted on federal murder charges in connection with the death last summer of an elderly collector.

Authorities allege that Rico Vendetti hired Rochester residents Arlene Combs, Albert Parsons and Donald Griffin to break into the rural Medina home of Homer Marciniak, a 77-year-old retired janitor, on July 5 to steal his comic collection, described as "his pride and joy." Police say the burglars entered the house in the pre-dawn hours after cutting the telephone line. When Marciniak awoke and surprised them, he was allegedly beaten and knocked to the floor. Although his injuries weren't life-threatening, Marciniak died of a heart attack later that day. The four defendants face mandatory terms of life in prison if convicted. [The Buffalo News]

Awards | UCLA sophomore Diana Huh has been awarded the 2011 Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship by the National Cartoonists Society Foundation. Huh, an illustrator for the UCLA newspaper and creator of the webcomic The Wayside Manor, will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a trip to the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award weekend in Boston in May. [press release]

Retailing | Uel Carter, who worked on and off at now-defunct Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief, is partnering with Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen and others to launch Fantastic Comics at 2026 Shattuck Ave. Named for Larsen's first "Next Issue Project" comic, the store will open on May 1. [Berkeleyside]

Retailing | The Easton, Pa., bomb squad was called to Sacker's Finest in Post-Apocalyptic Goods, a comics and record store, on Wednesday after a customer traded in a World War II mortar shell. The retailer accepts military memorabilia, but an employee wanted to make sure the device wasn't live. Officers reportedly didn't think the mortar was live, but took it with them. [The Express-Times]

Retailing | Rachel Arnett spotlights Chapel Hill Comics in North Carolina. [The Daily Tar Heel]

Creators | Action Comics writer Paul Cornell chats briefly about getting inside the head of Lex Luthor: "Lex is a couple notches below being a really great hero, from being actually Tony Stark. Those two have so many similarities, but in these couple notches are all of these bad things. Lex would like to think that he protects the planet from a dangerous, insufferable superpowered alien with heat vision, who will one day become cold and terrifying." [io9.com]

Creators | Skottie Young is interviewed on video. [Schoolism]

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