Comics A.M. | The state of the newspaper comics page

Comic strips | The end of Edge City has generated a conversation about newspaper comics in general. As co-creator Ray LaBan says, creating a comic strip was his childhood fantasy, and he got to do it, "But I got to do it when everybody stopped paying attention." This article takes a broad view, looking at the fact that newspapers' budgets for comics, like everything else, are shrinking, online portals are providing alternatives, and readers' strong preferences for legacy strips like Beetle Bailey and Blondie, as well as safe topics, are limiting the opportunities for new strips. Universal UClick launches one new strip a year, according to president John Glynn. On the other hand, creator Brad Guigar is taking his comic Evil Inc. out of the Inquirer because he can do better with a more mature version, published online and supported through Patreon. With interviews with the syndicates, a newspaper features editor, and creators, this piece is a well rounded look at the current state of syndicated comics. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

Retailing | A survey of comics retailers by ICv2 shows optimism overall but some areas of concern. Just over half the retailers saw an increase in sales in 2015, but about a quarter reported sales were down. When asked what gave them the most hope for the future, the retailers overwhelmingly chose consumers/fans over publishers, distributors, creators or other retailers. On the flip side, almost half said publishers caused them the most concern about the future, with fans the next choice. The respondents were an admittedly small and self-selected group, recruited via the newsletter and other channels, whose shops had to have comics as their primary business.[ICv2]

Retailing | Philadelphia's Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is the first comic shop on the East Coast to be owned by a black woman. Owner Ariell R. Johnson said she used to buy comics at a comic shop and go across the street to read them in a coffeehouse, so she decided to combine the two. She plans to carry a mix of comics: "We will be a legit store, so expect to see the heavy hitters that we all know and love. But in addition to those usual suspects, we want to showcase diverse comics, creators, and characters. We think that comics are for everyone and anyone that loves comics-women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. We will actively look to stock titles that showcase people in these groups, right long with Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Thor." [Philadelphia Daily News]

Creators | Greg Rucka talks about his new series Dragon Age: Magekiller. [Paste]

Best of the year | Mike Re picks the best series of 2015. [Asbury Park Press]

Graphic novels | Josh Brogan takes a look at iTunes Terms and Conditions: The Graphic Novel and talks to artist R. Sikoryak about the project. [Slate]

Manga | Ran Tokiwa, 14-year-old middle school student, is the latest winner of the Shogakukan Newcomer Comic Grand Prize for her manga Idol Kyūkō ("Idol Bustle"), which runs in the magazine Ciao. Yes, that's right — this is a competition for pros, not amateurs, and Tokiwa is being published in a major magazine. There have been a few manga creators who got started in their teens, but Tokiwa, who says she was inspired by the classic children's manga Doraemon, is definitely one of the youngest. [Anime News Network]

Conventions | Chelsea Brasted recommends six things you can do at the upcoming Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con (or pretty much any comic con, for that matter). [The Times-Picayune]

Exhibits | A museum exhibit in the United Kingdom looks at the use of animal imagery in political cartoons over the decades; this writeup has plenty of history and colorful illustrations. [BBC]

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