Comics A.M. | Kodansha International closing; Blizzard ending Tokyopop deal?

Publishing | Kodansha Ltd., Japan's largest publisher, will close its 48-year-old Kodansha International subsidiary by the end of April. The division is a separate company from the New York-based Kodansha USA, which Kodansha Ltd. established in 2008. Kodansha International specialized in English-language translations of Japanese books and original English-language books on Japanese topics, and published the occasional few manga-related title. At the February press conference at which incoming Kodansha Ltd. President Yoshinobu Noma announced the publisher's 46.7 percent stake in Vertical Inc., he revealed the company would increase its focus on digital publishing and overseas markets. [The Japan Times, Anime News Network]

Publishing | Video game developer Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind World of Warcraft and Starcraft, is rumored to be ending its licensing agreements with troubled U.S. manga publisher Tokyopop. Although the report comes on the heels of Tokyopop's latest round of layoffs -- Troy Lewter edited many of the current Blizzard titles -- the two events are apparently unrelated. [Lore Hound, via Joystiq]

Retailing | The 50th volume of Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto led BookScan's February list of graphic novels sold in bookstores, a Top 20 dominated by manga and Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim. DC's Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne hardcover collection was No. 2. [ICv2.com]

Creators | Christopher Irving posts his lengthy profile of the late Dwayne McDuffie, accompanied by Seth Kushner's portraits. “I look at the new Blue Beetle, which was really well done and really entertaining, even though it didn’t sell at all," McDuffie said. "The new things in the [DC] universe are pretty much impossible, and new things out of the universe are pretty unlikely, because people won’t try new things. I hope I’m wrong and there’s some wonderful new thing. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Static will break, but I don’t think people will try it, or that people at comics stores will even care. That book should have come out in 2002 when it was the #2 cartoon on television, and not 2010 when it was in reruns on Disney XD.” [Graphic NYC]

Creators | Nicholas Slayton spotlights the work of writers Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Scott Snyder. [Daily Trojan]

Creators | James Carbone briefly profiles Atomic Robo writer Brian Clevinger. [The Daily Anthenaeum]

Creators | Dean Haspiel analyzes a panel of Jack Kirby art from Devil Dinosaur #4. [Kirb Your Enthusiasm]

Comics | Berkeley Place wraps up a five-part retrospective of The Amazing Spider-Man. [Berkeley Place]

Crime | Police in Watsonville, Calif., have arrested a 16-year-old suspected of being one of five people who jumped out of a minivan Wednesday night and beat a man and stole his Superman sweater. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

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