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BETTER THAN 2014

Princeless coverDiamond Book Distributors, the book trade unit of Diamond Comics Distributors and one of the largest distributors of graphic novels and pop culture merchandise to bookstores and the school and library market, reports that 2015 was the “second best year” in the history of DBD. Better than the somewhat lack-luster 2014. “And we expect 2016 to be our best year ever” DBD vice president Kuo-Yu Liang told Calvin Reid at publishersweekly.com. The graphic novel market overall is improving: U.S. graphic novel print unit sales rose 22% in 2015 over 2014, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which reports on sales in about 80% the bookstore market.

“Last year was very good. And our sales were not driven by any one title or publisher but by everything, a wide range of titles and genres,” Liang said. Reid reports that among the big sellers for DBD publishers in 2015 were the Saga series, Walking Dead compendiums, March Books One and Two, and kids series such as My Little Pony, Grumpy Cat, and Princeless.

“Consumer interest in graphic novels keeps rising. That’s been a trend over the last 10 years,” Liang said, noting the impact of demands for diversity. “And there were lots of new customers — including women and minorities — asking about graphic novels in bookstores. The more people talk about graphic novels, the more people want to try one out.”

The diversification of genres beyond the superhero category is also a big factor, Liang added. “There’s a graphic novel for everyone these days, crime, romance, adventure, kids books,” he said. “And graphic novels are now sold in museums, parks, the Smithsonian, and colleges. They’re sold in so many places beyond just bookstores.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

NOTHING WIMPY ABOUT IT

By November 1, 2016, Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books had achieved a global in-print total of more than 180 million copies of all books in the series, according to publishersweekly.com. Author Kinney will be touring North America to support the release of the eleventh entry in the series, Double Down, later this fall.

Double Down Book author and kids

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

MAD FOR OBAMA

In its “Politics 2016" issue (on newsstands Oct. 11), Mad offers its madcap look at “The Last 100 Days of the Obama Presidency.” In envisioning Obama teaming with Putin on a TV show (a buddy-cop series?) and sitting for a portrait by George W. Bush, Michael Cavna at ComicRiffs.com reports that “Mad writers Jeff Kruse and Kenny Keil (working with caricaturist Tom Richmond) map out Obama’s lame-duck high jinks before he boards Air Force One for the final time.”

Cavna asked the writers: “Who would be more fun to satirize come January — Trump or Clinton?” Keil said: “Oh, dear God, I hope we’re all writing Hillary jokes by then.” Said Kruse: “Tough call. They’ve each been satirized so much by Mad and every cartoonist, comic, and guy around the water cooler in every workplace in America, I’d think it’s a draw. That’s why I’m pulling for Gary Johnson.”

MadObama

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

POOH

In honor of the 90th anniversary of the publication of A.A. Milne’s first Winnie the Pooh book, saith Time, the current series author Brian Sibley is introducing a new character in the Hundred Acre Wood. Geez: I didn’t know there was a “current series” or a new stand-in author. Nobody ever tells me anything.

Pooh and Penguin

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

CEREBUS DIED AND WENT TO HELL

Cerebus in Hell coverFrom 1977 until 2004, cartoonist Dave Sim chronicled the life of an anthropomorphic aardvark in the pages of his comic book Cerebus. “One of the most important and groundbreaking independent comics of all time, Cerebus delved into politics, religion, gender and pop culture, all seen through Sim’s satiric eye, and in the 300th and final issue, exactly as Sim had long promised, Cerebus the ‘earth pig’ died and passed through a great light to something unknown,” as Michael Lorah puts it at cbr.com.

The unknown was Hell.

“At long last, Cerebus’ afterlife fate is revealed in Sim and partner Sandeep Atwal’s new [as of last summer] online comic strip, Cerebus in Hell? Sim and Atwal aim for the funny bone, crafting a four-panel, joke-a-day strip that tosses sharp barbs at the modern world, including many japes at the comics industry in particular. Done fumetti-style, the comics feature images of Cerebus photoshopped into classical Gustave Doré illustrations inspired by Dante’s Inferno.

Sim explained the genesis of the project and its form: “I haven’t been able to draw since February 2015 because of a mysterious wrist ailment, but I thought people deserved an answer to ‘So where did Cerebus end up?’”

Interviewed in a recent issue of the Previews catalogue of forthcoming comic books, Sim elaborated: “I thought I owed the longtime readers an answer to the post-issue No.300 question: ‘So is Cerebus in Hell or what?’ There’s definitely still a question mark as to where specifically he is, but, you know, it’s Cerebus, so I think we can safely rule out ‘Heaven.’ It’s also funnier that he’s been there for twelve years at this point. ‘No hurry on checking in with him: he isn’t going anywhere,’” Sim added, laughing. “‘Meanwhile, twelve years later...’”

Cerebus in Hell? 2017“The online strips have been well received,” notes Lorah, “but they’re only the tip of the iceberg, as the duo’s best strips have apparently been set aside for a print incarnation, which, Cerebus in Hell? No.0, shipped to comic shops in September from Sim’s Aardvark-Vanaheim, and if sales warrant, Sim plans to release four more issues of Cerebus in Hell? in 2017 in commemoration of Cerebus Number One's 40th anniversary.”

Citing David Malki’s online strip Wondermark as his inspiration, Sim elaborated: “Basically, it’s using Victorian engravings and putting in funny dialogue. I was sick over Christmas and I thought, ‘I want something funny to read. Actually funny, capital-F funny.’ Wondermark is one of my go-to things for that. And looking at it this time, I thought, ‘I think I could do this. I could do this with Cerebus and have him stripped into old steel engravings in Photoshop.’”

And so that’s what he did — with Sandeep’s help in assembling little stick-on Cerebuses on reproductions of the Gustave Doré prints.

As for Cerebus’ adventures in Hell, Sim suggested what happens in his Previews interview: “The assumption is that Cerebus is being punished so, instead of 500-page stories [the original dimensions of Cerebus], he’s stuck in 4-panel stories and instead of having a huge spectrum of reactions, he’s limited to one deadpan reaction, one angry reaction and one disgusted reaction. ‘You weren’t really very good at being Cerebus, so let’s try you out as the poor man’s Garfield and see if you’re any better at that.’

“Sandeep and I have the same reaction: Cerebus is so hilariously pathetic that the strips really pretty much write themselves: Cerebus and the Minotaur. Cerebus and the Unconsecrated Dead. Cerebus and the Suicides. Cerebus and the Titans. Cerebus and Lucifer. If you can’t write four funny panels on that, you’re in the wrong line of work.”

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

BONE'S TWENTY-FIVE

Jeff Smith has been drawing the Bone characters since he invented them while attending kindergarten in Columbus, Ohio; in other words, for 51 years.

Bone2

Andy Downing in Columbus Alive, the weekly free newspaper, reports: “Just last year, Smith discovered that his mother had preserved his first-ever Bone drawing, which he completed at age 5.” But the first of 55 installments of what became the seminal work in self-publishing and a comic that has broken barriers and [through Scholastic] reached new audiences that never would have read comics a generation ago appeared in 1991.

Said Downing: “Earlier this year, to mark the quarter century milestone, Smith revisited the characters for the first time since he completed the series in 2004, producing a companion story called Bone: Coda, which picks up where the tale left off a dozen years ago.”

Smith confessed that he approached the revival with some hesitation.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to draw them the same, or I wouldn’t know the characters’ voices and they wouldn’t come back. But that wasn’t a problem. They immediately started arguing with each other. They were right back to the way they were.”

Before Bone: Coda, the final manifestation of Bone —a seminal self-publishing enterprise— had been a single 1,332-page volume that combined the entire story between the covers of one book. Now we have to make room for another volume on the shelf.

And before we go, here’s a special Bone strip Smith did for National Book Festival a couple years ago with all the Bone personalities on display.

BoneWash

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

JACKIE ORMES, A MONUMENT

Jackie Ormes, the nation’s first black female syndicated cartoonist, grew up in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, and attended high school there in the late 1920s. Her legacy will henceforth be celebrated with a new Pennsylvania historical marker in Monongahela’s Chess Park.

Ormes

Ormes drew cartoons that appeared in her high school yearbooks, reported Scott Beveridge at the Observer-Reporter, and was working at a prominent black weekly newspaper in Pittsburgh as a writer and proofreader before graduating and becoming a syndicated cartoonist.

“She finally gave black girls something positive to identify with,” said Susan Bowers, president of Monongahela Area Historical Society.

Ormes panelOrmes’ cartoons appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender, featuring well-dressed, sophisticated black characters who were in sharp contrast to those that were featured in mainstream white newspapers. She created Torchy Brown, a young, adventurous woman from Mississippi who made it to the stage of the Cotton Club, and Patti-Jo, who was “known for politically scathing commentary,” according to biography.com.

Her cartoons took on such issues as racism before the Civil Rights era, pollution in poor neighborhoods and educational injustices. Her art helped to break down racial and gender stereotypes “common in popular culture of the time,” the marker states.

Until that time, blacks were portrayed with racist, derogatory characters in newspaper advertisements and other illustrations, Bowers said. She said Ormes gave her audience characters who exhibited “positive self-images.”

Ormes also “hobnobbed with Duke Ellington” and other famous black Americans of her time after relocating to Chicago. “She was high society,” Bowers added.

The frame house at Ninth Street and Marne Avenue where she lived in Monongahela is still standing. For more about Ormes, visit the Usual Place (RCHarvey.com) for the R&R review of Nancy Goldstein’s Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist in Opus 219.

Jackie Ormes at drawing board

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

TRUDEAU PICKS SIX

The Week magazine has a regular feature in its book department: a famous writer describes his/her five or six favorite books. A recent famous writer tasked with this assignment was Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau, who recommended (verbatim):

Tribe by Sebastian Junger (Twelve, $44). The latest from perhaps our best observer of war. Curious as to why vets who had no combat exposure were suffering PTSD at rates comparable with those who did, Junger developed an intriguing argument: humans are wired for community, and the shattering of the powerful bonds of military kinship can prove devastating.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard (Harper Perennial, $16). I developed a serious grad-schoolboy crush on Dillard when this 1974 book came out. Technically, this "pilgrim" was just a housewife taking notes in her backyard, but the Pulitzer judges that year saw something else: an astonishing talent and the best noticer of the natural world since Thoreau, only with a sense of humor.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss (Random House, $10). It comes with a warning label ("Don't go fast!"), but it's no use; you won't be able to resist trying to impress your 3-year-old by speeding through this short book without stumbling. You'll fail, but you and your young listener will be laughing too hard at the pictures to notice the indignity.

GBT DesktopUnderstanding Comics by Scott McCloud (William Morrow, $24). Some artists — Paul Simon and Stephen Sondheim come to mind — can explain their creative process. The rest of us haven't a clue how we do what we do. McCloud explains the universal appeal of comics in terms so compelling that even a practitioner comes away with renewed respect for his profession.

Bad Love by Randy Newman (SKG, $6 on iTunes). Yes, it's an album, not a book, but Randy Newman's masterpiece is also as good a collection of short stories as you'll ever hear. Pay particular attention to "Shame," a litany of cocky but sad lamentations by an aging New Orleans skirt chaser whose case is undermined by his mocking background singers. From our country's best satirist, in any medium.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Dover, $5). Okay, so I've never actually read this Austen classic. But the person I sleep with [his wife, Jane Pauley] reads it repeatedly ("my default book"), so I've heard most of it. With Austen, every character — no matter how minor — is so fully and originally imagined, each could command his or her own novel.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

A MISGUIDED WONDER

Wonder Woman UN PosterWhat with all the folderol — including, not at all incidentally, a motion picture with the Amazon princess in the title role (due next summer) — Wonder Woman is having her best year yet. And it’s her 75th anniversary year, too. (So it took 75 years for her to get up on the Big Screen all by herself?) But the icing on the cake took place Friday, October 21 (her formally-designated birthday), when she was officially installed as the United Nation’s honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls and for gender equality, a.k.a. Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform Our World. She will appear in a social media campaign and other initiatives.

Alas, joy did not reign throughout the land. The UN staff, reported Somini Sengupta at the New York Times  — some 600 of them—signed “an online petition calling on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a professed feminist, to reconsider the appointment of the fictitious superhero as its ambassador for women’s empowerment.”

Some objected to picking a comics character, but that’s been done before: earlier this year, Red from Angry Birds become honorary ambassador for the International Day of Happiness. All honorary ambassadors are fictional characters, so the association with the comics wasn’t the problem.

On one level, wrote Vanessa Friedman at nytimes.com, the appointment “makes sense. Wonder Woman is the epitome of the woman who needs a man the way a fish needs a bicycle. (She appeared twice on the cover of Ms. magazine.) She is self-sufficient and strong and fights for equality and justice. She is not derivative of a male character the way Supergirl or Batgirl is, and she does not disguise herself as Catwoman does. In the new “Wonder Woman” movie, she says to her male co-star, ‘What I do is not up to you.’”

The source of the petitioners’ ire is the appearance of Wonder Woman. Or, as the petition puts it, “a large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots” is not an appropriate spokeswoman for gender equity at the United Nations.

Friedman continues: “In the era of Donald J. Trump, when the issue of objectifying women because of how they look is foremost in every conversation, the outfit issue — and the related body image issue — cannot be so easily dismissed.”

The selection of Wonder Woman was “particularly ill-timed,” said Sengupta, “because the United Nations this month rejected seven female candidates for secretary general.”

“On the one hand,” said Friedman, “allowing girls to revel in their physicality and femininity is a good thing. I am not saying they should dress like nuns or adopt a pantsuits ‘r’ us mentality. They should own their womanhood and all that is special and different about it. You can argue that refusing to apologize for or hide your body under a sackcloth is a feminist act.”

But most women, she said, would not choose a skimpy bathing suit to wear to work in an office or any place other than the beach.

Friedman reported that Lynn Carter, who played Wonder Woman on tv 1975-79, appeared as President in a recent “Supergirl” episode, wearing “a long baby-blue jacket, skinny black trousers and pumps. ‘Smart, strong, easy, comfortable,’ Carter said of the look, adding that she based it on Hillary Clinton and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Friedman acknowledges, however, that “like most superheroes, Wonder Woman is inseparable from her clothing: It is her immediate signifier, the representation of all about her that is special and unique (and kick-butt). And that clothing unavoidably indicates to everyone that part of the source of her power is her babeliciousness, as defined in a particularly retrograde way.”

Wonder Woman UN AmbassadorWhen asked if the United Nations had thought about a wardrobe overhaul, Maher Nasser, UN’s director of Outreach in Public Relations, said, “The key art that was developed with the campaign does reflect many of the observations and comments that we have provided,” but he declined to be more specific.

Admittedly, Wonder Woman in any role intended to speak of women as people rather than as sex objects is a problem. But the problem began long ago — with the division of the human species into two sexes. All superheroes in funnybooks were skin-tight costumes, men as well as women. And I’m sure women readers find male superbeings as sexually attractive as men find female superbeings in comic books. And Wonder Woman is scarcely the only superheroine to show a lot of skin as well as skill.

I don’t think we can escape the predicament altogether. Not as long as humanity is bisexual.

But there is a matter of time and place. And I agree that Wonder Woman in her scanty underwear doesn’t belong on a serious mission for the UN. Friedman, too, wonders about the message Wonder Woman sends “about female empowerment to our daughters in an era when there are a number of fully clothed, notably powerful female role models.”

And she goes on with a perfectly acceptable suggestion: “Certainly, fashion, which is not ignorant of the rise of the power woman, and the industry’s role in determining what she might look like, has come up with a lot of options, from the C-suite sheath to the swishy suit to the athleisure power duo of leggings and Lycra. ... That’s something I would love to see.”

Me, too.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

STAMPING WONDER WOMAN

As if to complete the lionizing of Wonder Woman lately, the U.S. Postal Service has issued a Wonder Woman stamp, good for first class postage forever. Wonder Woman appears in four of her incarnations — Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Modern Age. They left out that time from 1968 until1972 when she worked in a pantsuit, no costume. Just Diana Prince. No lasso of truth. No super powers. She was, however, schooled in martial arts (tae kwon do kicks). Otherwise, nothing. It wasn’t all that successful. The traditional costume — lots of leg — returned with the arrival on TV of Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman in 1975.

WonderWoman2

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

THE WONDER OF IT ALL

Benedict Cumberbatch made the cover of October 21/28's Entertainment Weekly as Doctor Strange, eponymous protagonist of Marvel Studio’s new film (out November 4), but the Sorcerer Supreme ranks only 26 in the cover story’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Superheroes.” No surprise perhaps, but Superman is merely 4th on the list. The surprise is Number One: topping the list by three tenths of a point is Wonder Woman. Then, in order, the rest of the top ten — Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Panther, and The Flash.

PowerFifty

To find the fifty most powerful of the skin-tights, the editors of EW devised a 100-point system that rated each character in nine categories: Cultural Impact, Bankability, Design, Modern Relevance, Mythology, Nemeses, Originality, Personality, and Powers. Each category was worth a maximum of 10 points except Cultural Impact: “The power of a superhero is defined most by this quality, so we measured it on a 20-point scale to tilt the final list in favor of characters who have the deepest cultural footprint.” The editors then assembled “a team of EW’s superhero experts and had them score 155 characters in each category.” Those scores were averaged and combined to create “an overall power total for each character.”

Wonder Woman scored 90.3 out of a possible 100. Spider-Man scored 90.0; Batman, 89.7; Superman, 87.2. Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman scored 20 in the Cultural Impact category; Spider-Man, only 18. Wonder Woman rated only 9.3 in Bankability; the other top four each got 10 points.

Superman ranked highest in Powers (9.7 out of a possible 10), Spider-Man in Personality (9.7), Wonder Woman in Originality (9.3 — ahhh, William Marston’s juicy menage a trois scores again), Batman in Nemeses (10) and Mythology (9.7), Wonder Woman and Batman in Modern Relevance (10 each), Batman in Design (9.3; Wonder Woman scored only 8.3; Superman, a mere 7.3).

Wonder Woman ranked first in only three categories; Batman scored highest in five (Spider-Man in two, and Superman in three). So how did Wonder Woman win? Probably because she scored so high in Originality—9.3 compared to the next highest, 8.0 for both Batman and Superman; that’s 1.3 points higher than her closest competitors in that category.

And she won by only 0.3 more than Spider-Man, who was second.

A cursory count gives Marvel 33 of the 50 characters; three of the remaining 17 are from publishers other than the Big Two (Hellboy, Buffy, and Raphael of the Ninja Turtles), leaving DC with only 14 of the top 50. Clearly, EW’s “superhero experts” are of the generation that was mesmerized by Marvel funnybook characters in the sixties and seventies or by the Marvel Studio movies of the last decade or so.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

FIRST MAJOR BIG-SCREEN GAY SUPERHERO?

Princess Diana of ThemysciraFor those hoping to see a little more diversity in superhero films, there is now a sliver of hope. The writer of Wonder Woman’s current comic book adventures has confirmed what we pretty much all knew, that Princess Diana of Themyscira is bisexual.

“Yes,” replied Greg Rucka when the Guardian’s Ben Child asked whether his revamped version of the Amazonian warrior was queer.

“I think it’s more complicated though,” he said. “This is inherently the problem with Diana: we’ve had a long history of people – for a variety of reasons, including sometimes pure titillation, which I think is the worst reason – say, ‘Ooo. Look. It’s the Amazons. They’re gay!’

“And when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise.

“It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able – in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner – to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist.”

Rucka’s right, Child said. “No one should be too surprised that Wonder Woman likes women when she lives in a single-sex feminist utopia. But there are also strong historical reasons why the superhero should be considered proudly queer.

“Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, a famously leftfield, not to mention rather creepy, thinker on matters of sexuality and feminism who, as documented in Jill Lepore’s 2014 book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, lived in a menage a trois (and sometimes more) with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston (often considered the superhero’s co-creator) and their lover and cohabitant Olive Byrne. Both women have been cited as inspirations for the character, with Elizabeth believed to have contributed her famous phrase ‘Suffering Sappho!’ and Olive her looks.”

Though born of male bondage fantasies, Wonder Woman still emerges as a frontrunner of emancipation in this impressive account, writes Catherine Bennett.

And Child asks: Will monster director Patty Jenkins, who’s overseeing the new Wonder Woman movie, be brave enough to incorporate her subject’s queer identity, thereby making her the first major big-screen gay superhero?

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

WONDER WOMAN ON THE BIG SCREEN

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has acquired worldwide rights to Topple Productions and Boxspring Entertainment’s “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women,” the unconventional true story of the creation of the most famous female comic book superhero of all time. Written and directed by Angela Robinson, Deadline Hollywood reports, the indie feature has already begun production, starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote.

“Professor Marston” details the life of Dr. William Moulton Marston (Evans), Harvard psychologist and inventor who created Wonder Woman in 1941; his wife, fellow psychologist and inventor Elizabeth (Hall); and their polyamorous relationship with Olive Byrne (Heathcote), a former student of Marston’s and an academic in her own right.

In creating Wonder Woman, Marston was profoundly influenced by the feminist ideals espoused by Elizabeth and Olive. The women’s relationship proved enduring. After Marston’s death from skin cancer in 1947, Elizabeth and Olive raised their children by Marston together and remained a couple until Olive’s death in 1988.

MarstonWW

The film will explore how Marston dealt with the controversy surrounding his creation — which homophobic moral guardians believed would turn young girls into lesbians — while he and his partners navigated and concealed a romantic and family life that, if exposed, could have destroyed them all.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

STAN LEE'S CON (AND STAN LEE'S DAY)

Stan_Lee's_Comikaze_Expo_logo.svgStan Lee’s Comikaze Expo got a new name just in time for this year’s con. Henceforth, reported Aaron Couch at hollywoodreporter.com, the Lee extravaganza will be known as Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con; this year, it met October 28-30.

"I felt that a lot of people didn't know what Comikaze really meant or what it was. And I didn't think we should hide under a bushel," Lee said. "Los Angeles is, to me, the center of the world's entertainment. It has to have a Comic Con."

Lee's only regret about the new name? "I'd like to get the word 'Super' in there if I could," he jokes.

Held on the eve of Hallowe’en, Lee’s Con continued the tradition of bringing in two tons of candy for trick or treaters — who go from booth to booth to get their bounty (as their parents or guardians check out the goods that venders are selling). “Children 12 and under are admitted free,” said Couch, “ — and visitors don't skip any booths when candy is involved.”

For Lee, Couch said, “he's determined to continue making L.A. Comic Con bigger every year — to be synonymous not only with TV, movies and comics, but also sports and music eventually.”

"I want [people] to feel they've had an experience,” said Lee, “ — because these conventions are a chance for the fans to be up close to the people they are fans of and to see the workings of the television shows — and even music and sports. It's going to encompass everything that people are entertained by. People love comics, movies and television more and more every year, so we intend to provide more and more every year."

And on opening day of this year’s Con, Lee was honored by the city council, which officially designated October 28 as “Stan Lee Day” in the city of Los Angeles.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com