Comics A.M. | Kirby/Marvel copyright fight continues, John D'Agostino dies

Legal | New York federal judge Colleen McMahon made several decisions last week in the case of Jack Kirby's heirs attempting to terminate Marvel's copyright of his works. The judge agreed with Marvel that it would be premature to make an accounting of how much money is at stake, but rejected a bid by Marvel to throw out the Kirby estate's main counterclaim. She also ruled that the Kirby estate's attempt to reclaim original art is barred by the statute of limitations, counterclaims of breach-of-contract and violation of the Lanham Act were tossed, and Disney will be part of the case, even though Marvel said it shouldn't be.

"In sum, the judge has narrowed the case to its most crucial issue. Both sides disagree about Kirby's working environment in the 1950s and 1960s when he, along with Stan Lee, conceived many of Marvel's most popular characters. The judge will soon be tasked with looking at Kirby's work history and some of the loose contracts and oral agreements that guided his efforts in those years," wrote Eriq Gardner. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Creators | Artist, letterer and colorist John D'Agostino died Nov. 29. D'Agostino started his career as a colorist for Timely Comics and was head of their coloring department for several years. He also worked for Archie Comics, Charlton Comics and Marvel Comics, and lettered the first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the 1960s. Tom Spurgeon offers an obituary. [Mark Evanier]

Legal | A new judge will preside over the second trial of comics retailer Michael George, as the original judge, Macomb County Circuit Judge James Biernat, is set to retire Dec. 31. George, 50, was found guilty in March 2008 of first-degree murder in the death of Barbara George, who was shot in the head at the comic store they owned in Clinton Township, Mich. He was sentenced to life in prison in June 2008, but less than three months later Biernat set aside the verdict, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. A second trial is set for Feb. 8. [The Tribune Democrat]

Publishers | Don MacPherson looks into an eBay listing for a "HUGE collection of proofs, color separation & color key printing cells, art copy, original artwork, comic books, graphic novels, posters and advertising items" from "the founder of Comico Comic Book Company." He discovers the listing was made by the owner of the warehouse where the collection has been stored since the company went under, and he speaks with former Comico editor-in-chief Diana Schutz about the listing. “If any of the original art up for sale on eBay is part of the stuff that ‘disappeared’ when Comico folded in 1990, then that art was not Comico’s, legally, to sell. That art was in Comico’s hands for reproduction purposes only, and should have been returned to the rightful owners — the artists, that is — at the time of bankruptcy,” Schutz said. [Eye on Comics]

Conventions | Registration for the 25th annual WonderCon in San Francisco opens tomorrow, Dec. 1. The 2011 show will run April 1–3 at the Moscone Center South in San Francisco, with special guests Joe Quesada, Jason Aaron, Robert Kirkman, Paul Levitz, Frank Quitely, Seth and many more. [press release]

Digital | David Brothers explains why the recently announced "Marvel Comics App Vault," which would "retire" comics from their digital comics application for an unspecified amount of time, is a bad idea. [ComicsAlliance]

Publishing | Rich Johnston wonders why Dynamite's Bring the Thunder #1, by Alex Ross, Jai Nitz and Wilson Tortosa, is the second-lowest ordered Dynamite book of all time, and how this might affect its value in the speculator market. "So there is uncomfortable reality that this book does feature a lead African American character, and promoted as such. And that such reduced preorders may be as a result that some believe that such books automatically sell lower." [Bleeding Cool]

Creators | Matt McGloin talks to writer Christos Gage about the Marvel mini-series Invaders Now! [Cosmic Book News]

Creators | At a time when the Transportation Security Administration can't seem to catch a break, it doesn't hurt to find out that some of them are comics fans. [Van Jensen]

Comics | J. Caleb Mozzocco looks at Marvel and DC Comics titles that sell less issues than the recently canceled Thor: The Mighty Avenger. [Every Day is Like Wednesday]

Comics | Comics critic Matt Seneca defends the artwork of Rob Liefeld. "A Liefeld may not move you along through the story like a Toth or Miller does, but every panel hits so hard and nasty that the giddy guilt-free mayhem of superhero comics ends up better served by it than anything considered or elegant. Is it individual expression? Liefeld never bends to the world as it is, whether in reality or even in the comics that came before him. He pulls from inside himself and draws what comes. And for my money, that's what 'good comics art' is." [Death to the Universe]

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