Star Trek Beer?!? Klingon Warnog Launches

Klingon Warnog Star Trek beer

Indiana-based Tin Man Brewing Company, under license by CBS Consumer Products, has launched the first in a line of Star Trek-themed alcoholic beverages in the US. Klingon Warnog, “a high-quality Roggen Dunkelweiss (Danish Rye Beer) that captures the warrior essence of the Klingon culture with its bold and unique taste”, will be available starting tomorrow in select liquor stores and bars in Indiana and Washington.

The Federation of Beer, the organizers behind this, first made a Vulcan Ale in Canada last year. Their goal is “to unite both Star Trek and Craft Beer fans.” Watch for “First Contact” launch parties announced near you in August and following.

Now I really want a Serenity brew.

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Salt Lake Comic Con Seizes San Diego Weekend Opportunity to Publicize Their Show as Being Bullied

The Salt Lake Comic Con, to be held in Utah in early September, is taking advantage of everyone’s focus this weekend on the San Diego Comic-Con to get attention by complaining about the bigger show picking on them. They claim to have received a cease-and-desist letter stating that their use of “Comic Con” violates the San Diego show’s trademark.

I’m expressing this skeptically because the Salt Lake Comic Con got another round of press three months ago by claiming that their second show ever, FanXperience, drew over 100,000 people, suddenly vaulting them into third place in the list of all cons based on attendance, a claim that was later called into question and revealed to be only an estimate, similar to the way they overstate their social media reach based on multipliers.

Salt Lake Comic Con promo car

So back to the legal kerfluffle — one thing that the Salt Lake folks are downplaying is that the San Diego show lawyer states, in his letter, that Salt Lake had a car wrapped in promo material around during the San Diego show week, an activity that legitimately would be confusing to customers. Legally, trademarks exist to prevent customer confusion, so if San Diego can demonstrate that happening, they have a stronger case for infringement. When I asked the Salt Lake promoter about this, he responded, “The folks at SL Comic Con decided against bringing the logo-wrapped vehicle to San Diego for the convention.” Which indicates that it was their plan originally, to poke the bear.

Salt Lake is asserting that Comic Con is a generic trademark, based on this. (Although San Diego owns “Comic-Con”.) It appears that while other shows have filed for trademarks, “Salt Lake Comic Con” is not protected.

In the press release, show organizer Dan Farr states, “We’re puzzled why Salt Lake Comic Con was apparently singled out amongst the hundreds of Comic Cons around the country and the world.” I suggest he reread the actual cease-and-desist letter he posted, then, which has the stuff about the car in it. At least a show as big as Salt Lake claims to be will likely have their own lawyer who can deal with this properly, instead of hashing out legal debates in the public arena.

Don’t get me wrong, I think “Comic Con” is (or should be) generic by this point, but I don’t like people pretending they’re entirely innocent to play for sympathy on the emotions of readers who don’t check details. Salt Lake Comic Con bears some responsibility, in my opinion, for inviting this on themselves through their planned guerrilla marketing.

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Simon Pegg Returns in Hector and the Search for Happiness

Out in the US in September is Simon Pegg’s newest movie, Hector and the Search for Happiness. The trailer (below) makes this look like a typical “what does life really mean?” middle-aged search for identity (and validation that one’s made the right decisions), but then, we know that from the title. Great cast, though, particularly the girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) and the mentor Christopher Plummer, and there are some funny moments shown.

Here’s the official description:

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his humdrum life. As he tells his girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike), he feels like a fraud: he hasn’t really tasted life, and yet he’s offering advice to patients who are just not getting any happier. So Hector decides to break out of his deluded and routine-driven life. Armed with buckets of courage and child-like curiosity, he embarks on a global quest in hopes of uncovering the elusive secret formula for true happiness. And so begins a larger than life adventure with riotously funny results.

I’m reminded of Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, while others are calling it a gender-swapped Eat Pray Love. Is this what happens when young Hollywood guys enter their 40s? Or is it just a universal human reaction to reach a point in your life when you reflect on what happiness really means… and how wrong you were about it when you were younger?

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A Retailer Concerned About Archie’s Business Practices

Retailer Brandon Schatz, in a post at The Beat (no longer available), points out a lot of interesting observations about Archie Comics’ recent business practices. I hadn’t realized that they’d suddenly jumped their cover prices up to the now-standard $3.99, but the other concerns — eliminating digests and series, shipping late, missing solicitations — make me worry as well. He says

Afterlife With Archie #6 cover

It would be easy to say that the company is entering a period of creative and cultural renaissance. Unfortunately, this seems to be down to necessity more than anything else. A look at the various moves the company has made quietly in the background paints a picture of quiet desperation. …

The current Archie line consists of their flagship title (Archie, of course) and a bi-monthly shipping Betty & Veronica series — as the buzzy Kevin Keller ongoing has very recently joined the scrap pile. The rest is either licensed, or part of a new darker initiative that has been met with heavy delays. While the line still has some consistent performers, recent signs have pointed to the company having some cash flow problems….

These are all things publishers do or have done when they are in trouble. Low selling books get their production schedule slashed, books ship late as the company waits on money to come in. Writers start looking more and more like people from the editorial masthead (Alex Segura, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) as the overlap generally saves money.

He makes a significant case out of Aguirre-Sacasa’s Afterlife With Archie being planned as a monthly but not being solicited as one, but he doesn’t point out the likeliest reason why — this is what happens when you start working with writers from Hollywood to chase media attention. It happened with Kevin Smith at DC and J. Michael Straczynski at Marvel, to name two of the most obvious examples (and I never expect to see Jeph Loeb’s Captain America: White). The fact is, the Hollywood day job is more important and pays better. Then again, artist Francesco Francavilla is doing a lot as well, working on Hawkeye and his own Black Beetle as well as a number of covers.

Schatz goes on to promote the importance of regular shipping in building audience and thus sales. There are a lot of important ideas in his essay, although I hope he’s wrong about the company. If nothing else, I found out that Afterlife With Archie has its own website that includes a release schedule.

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Scholastic Celebrates 10 Years of Graphix With Bone Tribute Edition

It will have been 10 years next year since Scholastic started the Graphix comic imprint to publish graphic novels for kids and teens. To celebrate, they have announced a new edition of Bone: Out From Boneville, the first volume in the immensely popular fantasy series by Jeff Smith. That book launched the imprint in February 2005 with its color edition.

Bone: Out From Boneville, The Tribute Edition will be published on February 24, 2015, with two new content items: “a brand-new illustrated poem from creator Jeff Smith plus original Bone tribute art from sixteen additional top artists in the form of mini-comics and full-page artwork. The contributors include major artists working in comics and illustration today, such as Kate Beaton, Jeffrey Brown, Kazu Kibuishi, Dav Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier, and Craig Thompson.” I think that lists indicates just how many creators of a certain generation were influenced by Smith.

Graphix has gone on to publish the acclaimed, award-winning, and best-selling Smile, Drama, The Lost Boy, Amulet, and many more.

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ComiXology Allows Publishers to Provide DRM-Free Digital Comics

We knew, when Amazon acquired ComiXology, that changes would be in order. However, I wouldn’t have guessed that this particular, much-requested one would come so quickly.

ComiXology announced yesterday that, for selected publishers, you could download DRM-free versions (either PDF or CBZ) of their comics. That means that your “purchases” (which previously could be more accurately described as “rentals”, since if anything happened to ComiXology’s servers, you’d be out of luck) can now be backed up locally or transferred to other readers.

According to ComiXology, “Participating publishers include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, our Submit creators and small publishers are now able to choose to make their books available DRM-free.” So this doesn’t cover DC or Marvel, which isn’t surprising — the biggest companies are usually the ones who most want to lock down and reduce customer choice. Image has sold its own DRM-free comics directly for a while now, by the way, as does Top Shelf.

ComiXology DRM-Free

If you want to know whether a book is available for you to download, look for the icon. You can check out which titles are available from your past purchases in the new My Backups tab once you’re logged into the site, or find out more on their FAQ page, where they encourage customers to let non-participating publishers “know you want them!”

Industry commenter Rob Salkowitz thinks this is no big deal since the company has no real legal competition and cloud-based content is more usual, while Sean Kleefeld supports the change.

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Batman: The Complete Television Series Image, Details Released

Batman: The Complete Television Series Blu-ray set

In conjunction with their panel at the San Diego Comic-Con this week, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released the above image of the Limited Edition Blu-ray set of Batman: The Complete Television Series, which will be available on November 11.

As you can see, they’re playing up the Day-Glo 60s camp aspects. The sets will be individually numbered and include a replica Batmobile from Hot Wheels, an Adam West scrapbook “featuring never-before-seen photos from Adam’s own archives”, 44 vintage trading cards, an episode guide with “synopsis of all episodes, photos from the series, and a personal letter from Adam West to the fans”, and UltraViolet digital copies of all 120 episodes. It’s priced at almost $270, but this sounds like a very nice package that will make a terrific gift. (And no Amazon discount currently, although given the holiday season release timing, that’s expected to change.) Oh, and there are special features, too.

“Hanging With Batman” — A true slice of life in the words of Adam West.

“Holy Memorabilia Batman!” — A journey into the most sought-after collectibles through the eyes of three extraordinary collectors.

“Batmania Born! Building the World of Batman” — Explore the art and design behind the fiction.

“Bats of the Round Table” — A candid conversation with Adam West and his celebrity friends, chatting all things Bat ’66.

“Inventing Batman in the Words of Adam West (episode 1 & 2)” — A rare treat for the fans as Adam discusses his script notes on bringing Batman to life in the first and second episodes.

“Na Na Na Batman!” — Hollywood favorite’s stars and producers recount their favorite Batman memories.

No commentaries, and no substantial documentary on the history or results of the show, unfortunately, but they are promising “interviews with both Adam West and Burt Ward”, and perhaps more will be announced later. The extras — but not the premium items — will be available on the Complete Series DVD set as well. New to me in this was the announcement that they will also release Batman: The Complete First Season, which will have 34 episodes on five DVD discs with no extras at a list price of $39.98, in case you just want the episodes. Here’s the full listing for the compete series:

Season 1
1. Hi Diddle Riddle
2. Smack in the Middle
3. Fine Feathered Finks
4. The Penguin’s A Jinx
5. The Joker is Wild
6. Batman is Riled
7. Instant Freeze
8. Rats Like Cheese
9. Zelda The Great
10. A Death Worse Than Fate
11. A Riddle A Day Keeps the Riddler Away
12. When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play
13. The Thirteenth Hat
14. Batman Stands Pat
15. The Joker Goes To School
16. He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul
17. True or False Face
18. Holy Rat Race
19. The Purr-Fect Crime
20. Better Luck Next Time
21. The Penguin Goes Straight
22. Not Yet, He Ain’t
23. The Ring Of Wax
24. Give ‘Em The Axe
25. The Joker Trumps An Ace
26. Batman Sets The Pace
27. The Curse of Tut
28. The Pharaoh’s In a Rut
29. The Bookworm Turns
30. While Gotham City Burns
31. Death in Slow Motion
32. The Riddler’s Flase Notion
33. Fine Finny Fiends
34. Batman Makes The Scenes

Season 2
1. Shoot A Crooked Arrow
2. Walk The Straight and Narrow
3. Hot Off The Griddle
4. The Cat and the Fiddle
5. The Minstrel’s Shakedown
6. Barbecued Batman?
7. The Spell of Tut
8. Tut’s Case is Shut
9. The Greatest Mother of Them All
10. MA Parker
11. The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes
12. The Clock King Gets Crowned
13. An Egg Grows in Gotham
14. The Yegg Foes in Gotham
15. The Devil’s Fingers
16. The Dead Ringers
17. Hizzonner The Penguin
18. Dizzoner the Penguin
19. Green Ice
20. Deep Freeze
21. The Impractical Joker
22. The Joker’s Provokers
23. Marsha, Queen of Diamonds
24. Marsha’s Scheme of Diamonds
25. Come Back, Shame
26. It’s How You Play The Game
27. The Penguin’s Nest
28. The Bird’s Last Jest
29. The Cat’s Meow
30. The Bat’s Kow Tow
31. The Puzzles Are Coming
32. The Duo Is Slumming
33. The Sandman Cometh
34. The Catwoman Goeth
35. The Contaminated Cowl
36. The Mad Hatter Runs Afoul
37. The Zodiac Crimes
38. The Joker’s Hard Times
39. The Penguin Declines
40. That Darn Catwoman
41. Scat! Darn Catwoman
42. Penguin is a Girl’s Best Friend
43. Penguin Sets a Trend
44. Penguin’s Disastrous End
45. Batman’s Anniversary
46. A Riddling Controversy
47. The Joker’s Last Laugh
48. The Joker’s Epitaph
49. Catwoman Goes to College
50. Batman Displays His Knowledge
51. A Piece of The Action
52. Batman’s Satisfaction
53. Kin Tut’s Coup
54. Batman’s Waterloo
55. Black Widow Strikes Again
56. Caught in the Spider’s Den
57. Pop Goes The Joker
58. Flop Goes the Joker
59. Ice Spy
60. The Duo Defy

Season 3
1. Enter Batgirl, Exit Penguin
2. Ring Around The Riddler
3. The Wail of The Siren
4. The Sport of Penguins
5. A Horse of Another Color
6. The Unkindest Tut of All
7. Louie, The Lilac
8. The Ogg and I
9. How To Hatch a Dinosaur
10. Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!
11. The Londinium Larcenies
12. The Foggiest Notion
13. The Bloody Tower
14. Catwoman’s Dressed to Kill
15. The Ogg Couple
16. The Funny Feline Felonies
17. The Joke’s On Catwoman
18. Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time
19. Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club
20. Penguin’s Clean Sweep
21. The Great Escape
22. The Great Train Robbery
23. I’ll Be A Mummy’s Uncle
24. The Joker’s Flying Saucer
25. The Entrancing Dr. Cassandra
26. Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires

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Lucy Opens Today — The Black Widow Movie That Should Have Been?

Lucy movie poster starring Scarlett Johansson

Fans have been asking for a Black Widow movie after loving Scarlett Johansson’s performance as the superspy in The Avengers movie. Marvel’s been resistant, perhaps because they have so many other films in production, perhaps because they aren’t sure whether a woman can headline a superhero flick.

I suspect this weekend’s Lucy, a sci-fi action thriller starring Johansson as a woman who goes from hostage mule to superpowered bad-ass (judging by this trailer), may show otherwise.

It’s written and directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec), who knows his visuals if nothing else. Here’s a featurette where he and Johansson talk about the importance of the locations they used in the film, including Paris, the Sorbonne, and Taipei.

Although I already have my suspicions about where this story goes, given my knowledge of Besson’s usual themes, I’m more eager to see this than Marvel’s next piece, Guardians of the Galaxy.

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