Comics A.M. | NECA to acquire Hastings in $21.4 million deal

Retailing | Hastings Entertainment, which operates a chain of 149 stores that sells books, comics, video games and more, has announced a $21.4 million agreement to merge with two companies owned by Joel Weinshanker, president and sole shareholder of Wizkids parent National Entertainment Collectibles Association; Weinshanker already holds 12 percent of Hastings' outstanding shares.

"NECA is a significant supplier of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles to the Hastings superstores, and we've had a close and growing business relationship with Mr. Weinshanker over the last decade," John H. Marmaduke, Hastings' chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Mr. Weinshanker, through his affiliation with the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, and his company's management of Graceland, is one of the leading drivers of the lifestyle industry, and we believe Hastings' business will continue to benefit from our relationship with him and NECA." Marmaduke will retire with a $1.5 million cash payout once the merger is approved. The announcement was followed by press releases from two New York City law firms that say they're investigating the plan on behalf of Hastings shareholders. [press release]

Retailing | Dennis Barger Jr., owner of Taylor's WonderWorld Comics and the retailer who initially raised objections to Mimi Yoon's PowerPuff Girls cover, talks about that controversy, the size of the audience for comics vs. movies and television, and his recent appearance on AMC's Comic Book Men, which did not go particularly well. [Detroit Metro Times]

Manga | The long-running manga series Oh My Goddess is coming to an end in the June issue of Kodansha's Afternoon magazine. The 48th and final volume will be published in July in Japan with a special deluxe edition that will include a drama CD with an alternate ending. Dark Horse published the 45th volume of the series in December. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Kate Beaton discusses history and comics, and making history into comics. [The Appendix]

Creators | Chew writer John Layman talks about his creative process, working with artist Rob Guillory, and why he made Tony Chu Asian-American: "My wife is Asian, and, in theory, our kid would be half-Asian, though if you look at him he seems to have got all of my genes and none of hers. At the time I was developing Chew, though, before he was born, I thought there should be some characters out there that looked liked him in comics, that weren’t the clichéd kung fu fighter or mystic monk. So I put it out there, and of course it’s been well-received. Everybody in comics seems to be white – or a wildly disproportionate amount [of characters], anyway – but comics readership is vast and varied." [Women Write About Comics]

Creators | In a podcast interview, Zander Cannon talks about his comic Heck, what it was like to work with Alan Moore (as layout artist for Top Ten and Smax), and why artists need to close the sketchbook and think about getting published. [Deconstructing Comics Podcast]

Creators | Comics creator, illustrator and transit enthusiast Bruce Worden talks about his self-published comic Woodstalk, the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing, and the illustrated panels he did for a downtown parking garage. [Concentrate]

Comics | The Scottish Independent Comic Book Alliance (SICBA) hosted a roundtable discussion on the future of comics in Scotland this week; the panel included several academics, a retailer, some publishing insiders, and the creative team Metaphrog, and topics ranged from the use of comics in education to issues of gender disparity: Although 46 percent of attendees at the last Glasgow Comic Con were female, and 70 percent of the students in the Duncan Jordanstone College of Art and Design are women, audience members spoke of being treated poorly in comic shops — and one person pointed out on Twitter that the panel itself was made up of five men and two women. [STV]

Manga | Seven bronze statues of characters from the soccer manga Captain Tsubasa have been put up in Tokyo's Katsushika Ward, the home of the manga's creator Yoichi Takahashi. [Japan Times]

Exhibits | Jillian Steinhauer visits Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective at the Jewish Museum in New York City, and discusses Spiegelman's work and its larger impact as well as the exhibit itself — and the fact that it is only being shown in one venue in the United States. [Hyperallergic]

Digital comics | Malaysia's information and communications technology development agency, the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), will move from promoting animation and filmmaking to development of games and digital comics. "To us, the animation industry has achieved momentum and is now stable. So now we will go into other dangerous waters," said MDeC vice president Kamil Othman. [Malay Mail Online]

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