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Warner Brothers creates Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team

Harry Potter has his own book series, his own movies, his own theme parks, and now he’s getting his own team: Warner Brothers just announced they’re launching a Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team to foster relations with Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and to continue expanding the ever-growing Potter empire.

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The comics of Comic-Con, part 3: Much more than superheroes

With all of the TV and movie news coming out of Comic-Con, it’s easy to miss the flurry of comic book news that started it all. Be sure to read part one, which covered preview night and day one of the convention. Part two covers the various Marvel announcements made over the weekend. The third and final part is a recap of the convention’s (mostly) non-superhero news.

A disclaimer: Comic-Con is more than a hype parade. While a lot of new things are announced at comics conventions, panels aren’t just trailers for upcoming books. Creators answer questions, discussions are held, and fans are engaged. So note that if a publisher doesn’t seem to have much going on in a news roundup like this (for example, DC didn’t announce a single new book), it doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t have a big presence. Also, many publishers present (like Dynamite Entertainment) chose to announce their upcoming titles before the convention.

For a feel of what SDCC is all about from a comics point of view, read this excellent piece by David Brothers.

On to the news:

TITAN COMICS
Riding high after launching a number of new Doctor Who comics at the start of the year, UK-based Titan Comics announced a number of new creator-owned titles at this year’s convention. Scheduled to debut in 2015, the books vary in tone and genre, from sci-fi adventure Thunder Hunter by Mark A. Nelson, to environmental horror book Surface Tension by Jay Gunn.

DRAWN & QUARTERLY
Drawn & Quarterly had a number of titles to talk about this year. From a special 25th-anniversary retrospective to new books like Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler, the publisher’s track record of putting out interesting new alternative comics and collecting lesser-known but still vital work remains consistent.

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS
The sole new book announced by Fantagraphics Books is a print version of Liz Suburbia’s webcomic Sacred Heart (which you can still read for free in its original format). It’s a story about teens trying to keep their small town together after all the adults disappear. An interesting wrinkle: Comics Beat reports that Suburbia will be entirely redrawing the graphic novel for the print edition.

DARK HORSE
While Dark Horse announced most of their comics in the 12 days leading up to the convention (like Fight Club 2), the publisher released a master list of all their new titles the day SDCC began. Check it out here.

BOOM! STUDIOS
The folks at Boom! sure like to tease. Just before the convention, the publisher stoked curiosity with a teaser image that turned heads: Grant Morrison was starting a project with the publisher. Bleeding Cool’s coverage of SDCC’s Boom! panel reports more of the same going down—a number of acclaimed creators teasing new books at the publisher without saying much about what they’d be. Among the creators doing the teasing were Mark Waid, Paul Jenkins, JG Jones, and Roger Langridge.

IDW
From G.I. Joe to Samurai Jack, IDW has established itself as a place where licensed characters from movies and TV get a lot of love. As such, some of the new titles announced out of SDCC are downright crazy, with the weirdest team-ups you’ve ever heard of. Angry Birds/Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters, and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes crossovers are all real things that are happening. And they’re also putting out an Orphan Black comic. Check out the full list of announcements here.

Here are the new UK Harry Potter covers you won't be able to buy

harry-potter-book-1

Harry Potter‘s publisher, Bloomsbury, announced a new line of covers for the book series. They’ll drop on September 1st this year—but only in the UK. For everyone else, you can stare at them in their unattainable glory here.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

On the Books: PEN announces some of its 2014 award winners

The winners of some of the 2014 PEN literary awards have been announced. The award for poetry went to Frank Bidart for Metaphysical Dog and the award for essay writing went to James Wolcott for Critical Mass. Linda Leavell won the biography award for Holding on Upside Down, about the poet Marianne Moore. The big prize for debut fiction writing will be announced in September. [The Washington Post]

A Jury awarded former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in a defamation suit against deceased Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. In his 2012 book American Sniper, Kyle wrote that Ventura hated Navy SEALs and that he said they “deserved to lose a few.” Kyle didn’t identify Ventura by name in the book, but identified him later in a press conference. Ventura denied making the remarks. (He also served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.) Kyle died in 2013; Ventura sued his estate for damages and won.

The estate hasn’t announced if they plan to appeal the case. Outside of politics, Ventura has also worked as an actor (PredatorDemolition Man) and WWE commentator. [NPR]

Emory University acquired Salman Rushdie’s archive, and in addition to his papers, they have all of his old hard drives. The digital nature of his archives—and that of so many other authors—poses problems when it comes to making everything compatible to newer computer formats. It’s also a fascinating experience: “Rushdie’s digital archive, in its old Mac setting, contains the usual ephemera of his life: bank statements, newspaper articles, drafts of stories, at least one screenplay, and even folders called ‘NAMES FOR NEW CHILD’ and ‘Puppet Motel Folder.’ These digital things come with their own form of marginalia, some of which have presumably been collected in the ‘STICKIES1999′ folder. There is even a ‘Games’ folder, so you can see what Rushdie was playing while working under a fatwa.” [The New Yorker]

In the past year, the amount of books given as gifts fell by 9 million in the UK. [BBC]

Two of The Fault in Our Stars author John Green’s other books have stirred up some controversy recently: Pasco County, Florida, removed Paper Towns from its eighth grade reading list, and in Waukesha, Wisconsin, there’s a movement to ban Green’s Looking for Alaska as well. [L.A. Times]

The comics of Comic-Con, Part 2: Marvel really likes events

With all of the TV and movie news coming out of Comic-Con, it’s easy to miss the flurry of comic book news that happens under the same roof. Be sure to read Part 1, which covered preview night and Day 1 of the convention. Part 2 is all about Marvel, simply because the publisher made a deluge of announcements spread across all four days of the convention.  

Marvel has several events on the horizon, and accompanying each of those big stories is a dizzying amount of new titles, both ongoing and limited. For the most part, there are three big ones this fall: Spider-Verse, The Death of Wolverine, and Avengers NOW. These events have been in the making for some time now, but there was one very big surprise.

Spider-Verse

This November’s Spider-Verse event promises to feature “every Spider-Man ever,” and as such we’ll be seeing a number of new titles where some of those Spider-Men (and Women) will be featured. New books include Spider-Verse Team-Up, a three-issue limited series by writer Christos Gage and various artists that will feature a number of Spideys working together, spinning out of the events of the main Spider-Verse series.

Also tying into Spider-Verse is Scarlet Spiders, by Mike Costa and Paco Diaz. The limited series will focus on Spider-Clones Kaine, Ben Reilly, and Ultimate Universe Jessica Drew as they embark on a special mission to save reality.

New ongoing series Spider-Woman, by Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land, will also tie into the big Spidey extravaganza, at least initially. It’ll feature Jessica Drew in the lead, with some support from other Spider-Women like Anya Corazon and the recently introduced Silk. For those fatigued by the prospect of so much Spider-Verse (there’s also the previously announced, actually-kind-of-interesting Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries), it’ll be interesting to see where Hopeless and Land will take Jessica Drew once the big Spider-Event is over.

Everything Avengers-related

With the recently announced shakeups on the way for Marvel’s flagship team, there are surprisingly few changes being made to the Avengers lineup of books.

In addition to succeeding Steve Rogers in All-New Captain America, newly appointed Captain America Sam Wilson will be taking the lead in Al Ewing and Luke Ross’ Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. The book will be a relaunch of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers run, and will continue the story of Marvel’s most diverse Avengers lineup. For a bit on what to expect, check out Ewing’s interview with Comics Alliance.

Also announced was Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, by the writing team of Marguerite Bennet and Kieron Gillen with art by Stephanie Hans and Phil Jimenez. It’s a great creative team for a character whose creation has a far more complex history than the actual stories she’s appeared in. (For the uninitiated: Angela was created by Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn over at Image. For 20 years the character’s ownership was disputed, until a settlement was reached in 2012. Gaiman then brought Angela over to Marvel Comics in March 2013.) The new series will focus on defining Angela’s place in the Marvel Universe, which co-writer Kieron Gillen describes as “Asgardian Black Widow.”

Also Avengers-related: the characters from the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  will be getting their own comic book. Simply titled S.H.I.E.L.D., the book will be written by Mark Waid with a rotating team of artists.

Death of Wolverine

A quick recap: Wolverine is dying this September in a weekly, four-issue limited series by Charles Soule. That series will be followed up by Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy, a seven-issue, three-month limited series by a wide range of creators examining the fallout of the character’s death.

At Comic-Con, Marvel announced a third limited series spinning out of Death of Wolverine. Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program, by Charles Soule and Salvador Larrocca, is a five-issue limited series that will focus on the program that turned the late (for now) hero into a living weapon. Writer Charles Soule views The Weapon X Program as part of a 12-part series with The Logan Legacy, together forming one big story about the aftermath of Wolverine’s death.

Wolverine is going to be dying for a very long time, folks.

Star Wars

But Marvel’s biggest surprise had nothing to do with superheroes. While it’s been known since January that the Star Wars license would be moving from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel in 2015, Marvel’s plans for the license remained unknown. No longer. Marvel announced three Star Wars titles at Comic-Con, each paired with some of the most acclaimed creators working with Marvel right now.

Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, will tell stories set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, from the heroes’ perspective. Set during the same period is Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca. Gillen’s series will focus on Vader’s growth from the man who got beaten at the end of A New Hope to the unstoppable force of Empire Strikes Back.

Finally, Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson will be a five-issue limited series that will more fully explore the character’s personal journey in the aftermath of her home world’s destruction in A New Hope.

Coming up: A roundup of several other notable publisher’s big announcements.

On the Books: UK poll names 'Mockingbird' most influential book by a woman

A U.K. survey selected Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird as the book written by a woman that “most impacted, shaped or changed readers’ lives.” Shami Chakrabarti, chair of the 2015 judging panel of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, which organized the survey, named the book as her top choice as well. “With human rights under attack the world over, the enduring appeal of Harper Lee’s great tale gives hope that justice and equality might yet triumph over prejudice,” Chakrabarti said.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë came in second and third, respectively, followed by Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (all seven books were counted as one entry) and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. [The Guardian]

Apple bought Booklamp, a company described as “Pandora for books.” Like Pandora does for music, Booklamp used to formulate a “genetic makeup” for a book and recommends books based on the genes of other books you’ve liked. For example, if you like the Harry Potter books, Booklamp would detect the percentage of the books that have to do with magic, the percentage that have to do with coming-of-age, etc., and suggest books with a similar makeup. It will also analyze books based on pacing and prose style. The “book genome project” part of the company was shut down in April, but maybe Apple will resurrect it. [PC Mag]

The Booker Prize longlist landed last week, but a few of the nominated titles aren’t available for sale yet. According to the Booker rules, “Each publisher of a title appearing on the longlist will be required to have no fewer than 1,000 copies of that title available in stock within 10 days of the announcement of the longlist.” This means booksellers don’t get to actually sell and make money from all the nominated books. [Melville House]

Abigail Deutsch investigates the the elusive author behind a couplet she’s found on signs in different parks: “Let no one say, and say it to your shame/That all was beauty here, until you came.” [The New Yorker]

NASA is developing an ebook publishing imprint, offering “titles that would be of interest to space enthusiasts, about aeronautics, technology, outer space research, and more.” [Melville House]

James Joyce’s Ulysses may become a virtual reality game. To quote the book, “I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.” [USA Today]

Richelle Mead talks about latest Bloodlines novel, 'Silver Shadows'

Silver-Shadows

Silver Shadows, the fifth installment in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series hits shelves today. Here, Mead answers some of burning (and spoiler-free) questions about the latest novel in her Vampire Academy spin-off series.

As for all those moments that can’t be discussed about until after you’ve read the book, know this: “There’s definitely a lot of unresolved issues from this book that are going to carry over into The Ruby Circle,” Mead says. “Sydney and Adrian deal with a lot in Silver Shadows, and it’s not the kind of stuff you can just shake off.” Below, watch an exclusive trailer for Silver Shadows. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: There are too many poets laureate in the U.S.

The New York Times examines the rampant wave of poets laureate in the United States. “‘I’ve been to places where there is a poet laureate for every ZIP code,’ Billy Collins, a former United States and New York State laureate, said. ‘The country is crawling with them. I think it’s out of control.'” [The New York Times]

An excerpt from Haruki Murakami’s upcoming book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and an interactive introduction to the novel. [Slate]

Diamond, a comic book distribution company, released its mid-2014 state-of-the-industry report. Comic book merchandise sales are up, but actual comic book sales are down. [Publishers Weekly]

Andrew Crofts, one of the most successful writers you’ve never heard of, speaks about his ghostwriting career. He’s written 80 books in 40 years, and his books have sold over 10 million copies. He earns more than most professional writers, and charges an average of six figures (in pounds) for his books. [The Guardian]

Reviewing three new books about banned literature (UlyssesDoctor Zhivago, and The Satanic Verses), Leo Robinson digs into the history of literary censorship. “An often heard literary argument against censorship is that—as well as misrepresenting novels—it dominates their reputations.” [The New Statesman]

In a wide-ranging interview, The Rumpus talks to novelist and Authors Guild co-vice president Ricard Russo about the Amazon-Hachette dispute, a career in writing fiction, and the future of publishing. [The Rumpus]

The New Yorker highlights five pieces from its archive about New York City. [The New Yorker]

The comics of Comic-Con, Day 1: Image Expo, Marvel's AXIS, and Vertigo

Sure, all the screenings, TV panels, and movie announcements are great, but isn’t Comic-Con about comics? What’s going on with them?

Lots. Throughout the convention, every major publisher in the comics biz will have at least one panel announcing exciting new books and bold new directions, and teasing what may be coming in the near future. Who knows—the basis of your next favorite TV series could be here. Want a quick recap? Here’s what happened on Day 1:

Image

Image Comics got off to an early start, holding their own Image Expo event Wednesday night, the day before the official start of San Diego Comic-Con. After a keynote speech by Publisher Eric Stephenson, the news came hard and fast. Twelve new series were announced as their respective creators were brought on stage to introduce them. The new titles announced:

• Valhalla Mad, by Joe Casey and Paul Maybury, about Norse Gods partying in Manhattan. Begins spring 2015.

• Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire. Described as “Conan meets Game of Thrones meets Kamandi,” the high-fantasy epic begins November 2014.

• Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth. In 2189, the world is a wasteland, and entertainment is the drug that everyone needs—and the mob has. Coming summer 2015.

• The Humans by Keenan Marshall Kellar, Tom Neely, and Kristina Collantes. An ape biker gang, ’70s exploitation-style. No typos there. Starts November 2014.

• Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger. On a space tanker to Titan, a woman is haunted by ominous threats. Coming winter 2014.

• Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren. Described as “like a scarecrow-Conan fighting in a Louis C.K. show directed by David Fincher,” the creators promise a genre bender with heaps of strange. Begins this December.

• Invisible Republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corrina Bechko. A sci-fi action-adventure about the rise of an empire, coming in 2015. Also announced: Hardman’s digital-only series KINSKI will be coming to print in November.

• Intersect by Ray Fawkes. A horror story about a city gone mad. Launching in November.

• Injection by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. A science fiction series about “the dark future we’ve built for ourselves.” Begins in 2015.

• From Under Mountains  by Marion Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong. A magical fantasy in which rival houses struggle for power in the isolated country of Akhara. Begins in 2015.

• Drifter by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klien. A space transport crashes on a lawless frontier world. Begins this November.

• Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. A robot boy struggles to stay alive as the universe hunts him down. Read EW’s first look here. Launches March 2015.

Marvel: AXIS and more

Marvel’s first comic-centric panel was all about October’s big AXIS story, which spins out of the story unfolding in Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. In Uncanny, the Red Skull has obtained the nigh-unlimited telepathic powers of the late Charles Xavier—and in AXIS, he’s finally mastered them to become The Red Onslaught.

Like any big event comic, the story will have a number of tie-in books, notably featuring Spider-Man villians Hobgoblin and Carnage. Hinted at but not discussed: what the events in AXIS have to do with Iron Man’s new look.

Also announced was All-New Captain America: Fear Him, a six-part digital comic beginning in October which features Sam Wilson, the new Captain America. Written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Szymon Kudranski, the miniseries will have Wilson deciding what sort of Captain America he wants to be while battling The Scarecrow (The Marvel Scarecrow. They have one, too).

Finally, coinciding with the premiere of the next Avengers film will be the new Original Graphic Novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron. Although the title is only one letter removed from the blockbuster film’s title, Rage of Ultron is a standalone story completely unrelated to the plot of the film. The story will focus on redefining the relationship between Ultron and creator Hank Pym for readers new and old (in the film, Ultron is created by Iron Man Tony Stark). The book goes on sale in April 2015.

For a detailed recap of the panel, check out Comics Beat.

Vertigo

No new announcements were made at Vertigo’s panel Thursday night, but creators were on hand to discuss the future of a few of the publisher’s popular titles. Readers can expect Scott Snyder’s American Vampire to feature space chimp vampires (really), along with Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham’s soon-to-be concluded Fables ending with “body bags.”

Also discussed were previously announced upcoming titles Suiciders, The Names, Bodies, and The Kitchen.

For more details, head on over to The Los Angeles Times.

What We're (Re-)Reading Now: 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley

MISTS-OF-AVALON

You know what I’m a sucker for? Feminism. Also, genre fiction, especially the fantastical sort. Which is why the only reason I hadn’t read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon before this week is that it was published six years before I was born. (A poor reason, given many of the works I love most share this characteristic, but I felt compelled to at least try to explain it.) It’s a re-telling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the female leads in the story.

Boom. Femisnist re-tellings, well-established fantasy—hook, line, and sinker, I am in. Please, someone get me a copy!

Unfortunately, I came across this book via a discussion of the child-molestation revelations, accusations, and court-cases against Zimmer Bradley in a recent EW meeting. This knowledge and context has certainly clouded my reading, making passages involving young women and their ‘sexual awakenings’ more than just moderately uncomfortable. In other works handling this time period and religion, I might pass it all off as abhorrent practices that would never be accepted by contemporary society—but that isn’t entirely possible given the circumstances. I didn’t realize how much comfort I take as a reader in assuming that  I share a similar moral compass with an author. That doesn’t exist here, and adds a perpetual unease to the experience. (Note: It’s not a short experience. The book is roughly 900 pages.) READ FULL STORY

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