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Comic Riffs
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Posted at 10:47 AM ET, 05/07/2011

NEWS OF THE WEEK: Free Comic Book Day is here, and Batman’s big sale

A decade after it was dreamt up as a publishing promotion, Free Comic Book Day is again offering its wares. Or as some comics fans have said: ”It’s like Christmas in May!”

Tens of millions of books in dozens of countries have reportedly been given gratis since the event’s 2002 debut. In other words, the event has only grown between the year of Marvel’s Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” and the weekend of Marvel’s Kenneth Branagh “Thor.”

Comics rock star Neil Gaiman tweeted Saturday morning:

“Happy Free Comic Book Day. 1) Go to your local comic shop today. 2) Collect your free comics. 3) rejoice. 4) read them & pass them on.”

As lines started to form, the rejoicing had indeed begun to commence.

To find a store near you, just check out the Free Comic Book Day website.

PETERS REACTS TO THOMAS NAST WIN

Mike Peters has returned from picking up his second major cartooning honor of the awards season.

The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist for the Dayton Daily News won the Thomas Nast Award for editorial cartooning on international affairs, as presented by the Overseas Press Club of America at a New York ceremony — just weeks after winning the National Headliner Award.

“Quite an affair,” Peters told Comic Riffs this week. “I had to bring humor to an event where two of their top photographers had just died. So I brought the funniest cartoons I had.”

Photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were honored by the Overseas Press Club just one week after they were killed while covering the fighting in Libya.

“They were the cream of the photography crop,” Peters tells us. “They were only in their early 40s and already had done some of the very best work.

“Such a loss, and they were ready to do so much more.”

WHEN FRANK MILLER NEARS A HALF-MILL

Is this Heritage auction house’s most impressive sale yet?

Last year, of course, first-edition Superman and Batman comics fetched more than $1-million. But those were “8.0”-condition full books from the World War II era.

On Friday morning, Heritage said in a news release that 1986 original art from Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s “The Dark Knight Returns” sold at auction for $448,125.

“The image is the single most memorable image from the entire comic book series,” Heritage Auctions’ senior veep Ed Jaster said in its release, “and the greatest image from the decade of the 1980s ever to come to market.”

“I’ve always loved that drawing,” Miller said pre-sale, according to the release. “Danced around my studio like a fool when I drew it.” The art features Carrie Kelley — the first full-time female Robin.

The record for original American comic book art had been Frank Frazetta’s cover for EC comics’ Weird Fantasy #29, which sold at Heritage, it said, for $380,000. Frazetta died last May.

POST FINALIST VIES FOR SYNDICATION DEAL

Daniel Boris — who was one of the finalists in The Washington Post’s ”America’s Next Great Cartoonist Contest” last year — is in the running to win the Cartoonist Studio’s similar contest.

Boris’s “Hoxwinder Hall” is up against “VanGogh” by Rocky Sawyer and “Suburban Sarah Comics” by Jodie Sarah Masiwchuk.The winner is determined by fan vote; so far, more than 10,000 votes have been cast for the top leading comics.

According to the Cartoonist Studio, the winning cartoonist will receive a development contract with Creators Syndicate, as well as “exposure, feedback and an instant audience ... once the cartoonist gets officially syndicated.”

By  |  10:47 AM ET, 05/07/2011

 
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