Comics A.M. | North Carolina convention war brewing?

Conventions | Brian Howe looks at the rivalry between Comic Book City Con, which debuted two weekends ago in Greensboro, North Carolina, and NC Comicon, which returns Saturday in Durham. The latter, which is now co-owned by artist Tommy Lee Edwards, drew 4,000 attendees last year (its first at the Durham Convention Center), and this year doubled its exhibit space and ramped up its programming. The conflict, which manifested in a flier for Comic Book City Con that one party considers playful but the other calls "bullying," seems to be rooted in the proximity of the dates and a perceived lack of communication. However, it's not simply a rivalry between nearby conventions; it's one between retailers: Durham's Ultimate Comics organizes NC Comicon, while Greensboro's Acme Comics operates Comic Book City Con. [Indy Week]

Legal | Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki told the French radio station France Info he will free cartoonist Jabbeur Mejri — when the time is right. Mejri was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. He and his co-defendent Ghazi Beiji, who was given asylum in France, were charged with "publishing works likely to disturb public order" and "offence to public decency." Mejri petitioned the president for a pardon, expressing regret for his actions. In the radio interview, Marzouki said, "I will have him freed. I am just waiting for the political situation to calm down." [The Daily Star]

Commentary | Heidi MacDonald asks the question right in the headline: "So what does a gal have to do to get into The Comics Journal anyway?" Pivoting off Frank Santoro and Sean T. Collins' conversation about comics criticism from a couple of days ago, MacDonald calls them out for their dismissive attitude toward women critics in that piece and then looks at the representation of women in the last three issues of TCJ. The results are dispiriting: "So what are we left with? 1578 pages of comics scholarship where, literally, the sex life of Robert Crumb’s lawyer gets as much attention as the contributions made by female cartoonists in the last amazing decade of comics." And MacDonald also articulates very succinctly why this is important: "But heed me well, young women of tumblr, this is how women get forgotten and marginalized. They get left out of history." [The Beat]

Creators | Stan Lee talks about his newest superhero Chakra the Invincible, which he created for Graphic India. [Business Today]

Comics | Salma El Wardany and Caroline Alexander look at a new trend in comics in the Middle East: strong female characters, superheroes and others, who challenge entrenched attitudes about the place of women in society. [Business Week]

Creators | I.N.J. Culbard explains why, and how, he adapted the work of H.P. Lovecraft into a graphic novel. [The Huffington Post]

Creators | Joshua Hale Fialkov, writer of the digital comic The Bunker, talks about the creator's life. [13th Dimension]

Retailing | The Artful Dodger, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, is a tattoo parlor that specializes in comics characters and will begin selling comics this month. [Capitol Hill Seattle]

Conventions | DC Comics artist Aaron Kuder was among those who showed up at the fourth River Road Comic Book Expo in Nichols, Pennsylvania. [WBNG]

Sales | Stan Lee shows up again to talk about the universal appeal of comics as an exhibit and sale of signed comic covers goes up in Exeter, England. [Exeter Express and Echo]

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