Comics A.M. | Sergio Toppi dies; what makes Spider-Man special

Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]

Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man's 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]

Publishing | If you're interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen's latest article about Ingram's new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | As Scalped comes to the end of its 60-issue run, writer Jason Aaron talks about the book's genesis, his choice of a Native American reservation as the setting, and how the characters evolved as the story went along. [Underwire]

Creators | Naoki Urasawa, the creator of 20th Century Boys, talks about his earlier work and why we won't be seeing a digital edition of his work anytime soon in an interesting but rather disjointed interview with Rebecca Silverman. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Collaborators R.J. Ryan and David Marquez are interviewed on the "Hideous Energy" podcast about their 2010 graphic novel Syndrome, their upcoming book The Joyners in 3D, and Marquez's work on Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. [Hideous Energy]

Creators | Plastic Farm creator Rafer Roberts talks about his work on the occasion of a gallery show of his artwork: "'I do the darker, weirder underground stuff,' says Roberts, who says much of his work stems from his personal dreams and nightmares, including an irrational fear of losing his teeth." [Gazette.net]

Creators | Matt Brady reports in on Anders Nilson's exhibit and talk at the Elmhurst Art Museum. [Warren Peace Sings the Blues]

Creators | Alex Zalben talks to chef Amanda Cohen and artist Ryan Dunlavey about their graphic-novel cookbook, Dirt Candy. [MTV Geek]

Creators | Alex also talks to Ben Hatke about his critically acclaimed all-ages graphic novel Zita the Spacegirl. [MTV Geek]

Creators | Colorist Val Staples discusses the freelance life — deadlines, editors, and seldom taking a vacation. [The Beat]

Comics | T.J. Grabowy spotlights a handful of mainstream lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender superheroes. [Queerty]

Comics | Matt Wilson asks an assortment of comics scholars to name the current "age" of comics. Every single one of them questioned the validity of the question (but took several paragraphs to do so). [Comics Alliance]

Events | Jeff Blagdon goes to the world's largest comics event, Comiket, the Japanese doujinshi (fan comic) market, which ironically is focused on niche comics with small audiences: "When I ask one of the attendees why anyone would go through all this just for comics, he explains, 'everyone wants stuff that you can’t buy commercially. The things people want, original books — there’s a lot of niche stuff. Publishers won’t put it out, so if people don’t form circles and publish it themselves it won’t get made.'" [The Verge]

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