Legal | The Lithuanian publisher of The Simpsons comic has been fined for breaching laws banning the advertising of alcohol with its depiction of Duff Beer, the fictional brand consumed by Homer and other residents of Springfield.
Although Simpsons creator Matt Groening has never licensed the Duff trademark out of concern that it might encourage children to drink, companies in several countries have released beer using the Duff name (Fox and Groening sued an Australian brewery for doing so in 1995, forcing the product to be pulled from shelves and destroyed). The existence of unlicensed Duff beers apparently was enough for a government watchdog, who handed down the more than $4,000 fine. The publisher said it has stopped publication of The Simpsons while it tries to address the Duff matter — a major issue, considering that Bongo Comics reportedly doesn’t permit content changes to licensed titles. [The Australian]
Publishing | Dark Horse President Mike Richardson talks frankly about recent layoffs, subsequent comments made by a former employee, recent publishing decisions and the company’s digital strategy: “We have a very large staff for a comic book company, probably as large or larger than Marvel or DC. As we look going forward, in recent years we’ve had to resort to wage freezes as we try to bear the brunt of the health costs and rising business expenses. As we see those rising we have to figure out how to deal with them. We made some very hard choices and did the best we could over that. Rather than considering wage freezes and passing on more health care costs, I made a decision to do it a different way. One element of that cost-cutting was reducing our payroll and staff. On a personal level, it’s horrible. On a company level, it’s something you have to do from time to time. It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last time, but for now we’re hoping it is, obviously.” [Comics Alliance]
Retailing | Retailer Steve Bennett recounts the accomplishments and failures of Tokyopop: “Publishers, Tokyopop chief amongst them, kept putting out an increasing number of titles that were entirely too similar to what was already on the shelves (especially when it came to supernatural romance harem comedies). Our store didn’t have the resources to order half of them and increasingly we were stuck with unsold, and frequently unsellable, product from what we did order, while simultaneously trying to put in reorders on the most popular series.” [ICv2.com]
Comics | Mary Lynn Smith profiles Gary Dahlberg, a 62-year-old Minneapolis man who died last summer in a house fire that spared his meticulously maintained comic collection that’s estimated to be worth between $1 million and $2 million. “As he got older, my mother would ask, ‘What are you going to do with all those books?’ My mother used to say they couldn’t be worth anything,” Dahlberg’s sister Wendy Kulper says. “I think my mom is now looking down and saying, ‘Sorry, I didn’t know.'” [Star-Tribune]
Retailing | Bill Lai, owner of Anime Castle in Flushing, Queens, is profiled. [WNYC]
Digital comics | Todd Allen surveys the market for kid-friendly downloads. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Eva Volin interviews ElfQuest creators Wendy and Richard Pini. [Good Comics for Kids]
Comics | A vacant building in downtown Haverhill, Mass., cartoonist Bob Montana’s inspiration for Riverdale, is being considered as the location for a possible comic-book hall of fame. [Eagle-Tribune]
Comics | The origin of Hulk villain The Leader. [Big Shiny Robot]
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