Comics A.M. | 'Stroker McGurk' creator Tom Medley passes away

Passings | Tom Medley, creator of the comic Stroker McGurk, which ran in Hot Rod magazine for many years, died on March 2 at the age of 93. Medley was a hot-rodder himself, which is how he got his big break: He used to post his cartoons at a local hot-rod builder, and the publisher of Hot Rod, which was just getting off the ground at the time, spotted them and hired Medley as his comics and humor editor. Medley's son Gary said his father's humor sometimes foreshadowed reality: "Stroker's -- or Medley's -- inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers. Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker's fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world." [AutoWeek]

Legal | An Algerian court has acquitted cartoonist Djamel Ghanem on charges of insulting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in a cartoon that was never actually published. Ghanem's employer, the newspaper La Voix de l’Oranie, filed the complaint against him; if convincted, he would have faced up to 18 months in prison and a 30,000 dinar ($380 U.S.). Despite the favorable verdict, it should be noted that the NGO Freedom House says Algeria's press is "not free" because of self-censorship "motivated largely by a fear of defamation accusations or other forms of government retaliation." [Al Arabiya]

Publishing | IDW Publisher Ted Adams talks about how the company came to be and how it has evolved over the years in an interview that covers a lot of ground: the business aspects of the company, Adams' experience with other publishers, starting a publisher during the "dark days" of comics (1999), licensing, the mass market, and IDW's latest innovation, "fun packs" of comics that are sold not in the book section but the "trading card and tchotchke" section of retailers like Target. [The Beat]

Retailing | Comics retailers ended 2013 on an optimistic note, according to ICv2's Internal Correspondence, with sales up across the board. However, there was some grumbling about variant covers. "There’s some hope among savvy retailers that publishers will avoid the over-production that has dampened earlier booms, although the concern remains," the report continues. In addition to this general-trend piece, ICv2 posted charts of the top ten graphic novels for the last quarter of 2013 in four categories: genre, fiction and reality, superheroes and kids and tweens, as well as the top five comic strip properties. [ICv2]

Creators | Neal Adams talks about the Batman covers he did for the original Ra's al Ghul saga. [13th Dimension]

Creators | It's old home week for Jimmy Gownley, who spoke to students at several Catholic schools near his hometown of Girardville, Pennsylvania, the setting of his graphic memoir The Dumbest Idea Ever. [Pottsville Republican Herald]

Creators | Archie Comics cartoonist Dan Parent talks about the plot that is just wrapping up in the flagship comic Archie, in which Archie and his pals travel around the world, and sparks are flying with Valerie once more. Parent also discusses a new character introduced in this issue, Veronica's cousin Harper, who uses a wheelchair. [Comicosity]

Creators | New Yorker cartoonist Tom Toro gives a concrete account of his life as a cartoonist, including how he got there, what his work day is like, and (in somewhat vaguer terms) what the pay situation is. [The Billfold]

Creators | Jordan Mechner talks about his graphic novel Templar, and his collaboration with the artists, the husband-and-wife team of LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland. Oddly, although this article is part of Amazon's Kindle newsletter, the book doesn't seem to be available on Kindle. Mechner, Pham and Puvilland put together an e-book of their conversations about Templar, which is available as a free download from their site. [The Kindle Post]

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