Comics A.M. | Visiting Koch Comics, Brooklyn's 'Warehouse of Wonders'

Retailing | The New York Times pays a visit to a comics store that's unusually hard to find: Joseph Koch's Comic Book Warehouse, which is tucked away in an industrial area in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. There's no sign on the door to the second-floor shop, but at the moment Koch is doing the majority of business online, selling comics in bulk to overseas retailers: "If you go to a comic book store in Iceland," he said, "they’ll probably know who I am." In New York, not so much, but he has plans to make the store more amenable to walk-in customers. [The New York Times]

Creators | Brian K. Vaughan talks about race and diversity in comics, including some of the early choices he and artist Fiona Staples made in Saga: "I was talking with [illustrator] Fiona Staples, and I said, "There are these two characters, one has horns and one has wings." Her first question was, "Well, do they have to be white?" I realized that for fantasy and science fiction, especially from my youth, white was the default. Luke Skywalker was in the lead, or even if you were a hobbit, you're going to be white. That was an extremely old-fashioned, obviously really narrow-minded way to look at things. We don't have to tell another sci-fi epic with two boring white people at the lead—let's make them people of color. I think the book has been much better for it." [Mother Jones]

Comics | Alex Deuben talks with the editors of the Beirut-based anthology Samandal, who were recently found guilty of insulting the Christian religion and other charges. The case began with a letter from the Catholic Media Center to the minister of information, who brought the charges. The editors now have criminal records, and they have to pay a fine, which puts the future of the anthology in jeopardy (there's a crowdfunding campaign to help). "In the broad sense, it is definitely a warning to Lebanese artists and a redrawing of the margins of freedom of expression," said editor Fadi Baki. "There is no way that these comics offended a large portion of the population, but instead what happened was the Catholic Media Center made a complaint and then the machinations of bureaucracy took over. We did not challenge that bureaucracy with any political backing and were thus easy targets and the ruling came out in their favor. I assume that if we had curried the favor of some political connection then the outcome of this trial would be very different. This is the way things run in Lebanon nowadays. Or possibly always." [The Comics Journal]

Creators | Adrian Tomine, creator of the recently released Killing and Dying, talks about his long career in comics — he started making photocopied minicomics when he was 16: "I started my career so early and developed in print for better or for worse, so I think there's a sense some of my earliest readers are kind of copilots on this voyage with me." [NBC News]

Best of the year | This may be the best best-of-the-year list yet: Shea Hennum compiles a list of 10 small press and self-published comics that are well worth a read. [Paste]

Graphic novels | Sam Thielman has put together a recommended-reading list for folks who want to get started reading "highbrow comics," whatever that is. Regardless, it's a good list. [The Guardian]

E-books | Michael Dooley shares a preview of Is She Available? by 2000AD writer Igor Goldkind, a mixed-media e-book that includes Goldkind's poetry, music, and illustrations and comics sequences by David Lloyd and Bill Sienkiewicz, among others; the ebook is designed by Rian Hughes, a graphic designer who is well known for his comics work. [Print]

Conventions | Lewisville, Texas, teacher Walter Jimenez organized his own comic convention, geared specifically toward his special-needs students. Voice actor Rob Paulson donated money to help make the con a reality, and they had a real comics guest, one of the artists for My Little Pony. "I did what like every nerd does — I like fan-boyed and nerded out," said student Dalton Gomez. "Hearing about this, just skyrocketed into happiness." [WFAA]

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