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Indie comics news: Stray Bullets at Image, LaBeouf's rip off and Eco Comics

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The latest bunch of independent comic book news from December 15th - 17th, 2013!

David Lapham's "Stray Bullets" returns...at Image Comics!

Writer David Lapham may be seeing some play at Marvel Comics lately (having written the canceled "Age of Apocalypse" earlier this year), he made his biggest mark on the comic book industry with "Stray Bullets", a 40 issue series which Lapham published himself from 1995-2005. The series was a period piece following a cast of characters throughout their lives, which often manifested into dark and complicated crime tales. A ten page story appeared in a Dark Horse Comics anthology in 2009, but ever since it has vanished into the back issue bins of comic book shops...until now!

Now, "Stray Bullets" has found a home at Image Comics, which will be releasing the entire 40 issue series as a "Uber Alles Edition" in both print and via digital comics app ComiXology starting today. In addition, Lapham will once again write and draw the series in a new arc, called "Killers", which will begin in March 2014. In addition, a 41st issue which was never released will also be published, wrapping up the series that began during the Bill Clinton administration. In its prime, this series once even earned mention in Wizard magazine in the late 90's, and its return continues Image's recent surge in sales and market share as they embrace creator owned properties whole hog. Just this November, the company represented over 8% of the comic book market - one of the best showings in years.

"Transformers" star rips off a comic book; apologies and lawsuits ensue!

Shia LaBeouf, best known for starring in Michael Bay's "Transformers" films as well as "Indiana Jones and the Legend of the Crystal Skull" is seeking to remove himself from that and reintroduce himself as a serious thespian. To this end, last year he produced a short film called "HowardShort.com" which starred Jim Gaffigan. Unfortunately, it was revealed that it was virtually a shot for shot rip off of a comic by Daniel Clowes ("Ghost World"), which was called "Justin M. Damiano" and released in 2007.

After some hemming and hawing online, LeBeouf has apologized online for the rip off, literally stating on Twitter at one point, "I ****ed up" in that regard. This has not pleased critics, with Clowes said to be mulling legal action. In response, LeBeouf is seeking to properly credit Clowes for the work and potentially offer a settlement to avoid a court room mess. While this is seen as a victory of an indie comic creator over a Hollywood star, it is worth a mention that Clowes likely has some pull himself; "Ghost World" was adapted to film in 2001 and while a commercial dud, proved to be a cult film with critics in the decade since (and was a boost to the career of Scarlet Johansson years before "Lost in Translation" put her on the map). At any rate, it is good to know that plagiarism is taken seriously outside of college campuses.

Fighting malaria and global warming with Neil Gaiman, Knockabout Comics and Eco Comics!

Here are two quick stories about how indie comics can produce solid entertainment while also making the world a better place. The first is an effort to eliminate malaria via Sequential, a digital graphic novel application, and Knockabout Comics. They have released "Neil Gaiman's Lost Tales" with their digital publisher, which offers previously unseen works by Gaiman which include "Sandman" notes and drafts as well as collaborations with Bryan Talbot and Dave McKean. The 100 page collection is a free download from Sequential, and for every copy accessed by fans, the publisher vowed to donate fifty cents to the charity "Malaria No More UK". Yesterday, Sequential announced a check for $2,000 was donated to the charity due to the success of this program in just a month; it will continue until December 31st.

Meanwhile, Eco Comics - the home of Mohawk Media properties such as "Tough Guy", "Green Man", "Mister T" and "Dracula vs. Robin Hood vs. Jekyll & Hyde" - has won its second Green Apple award in a row. The award is offered annually by "The Green Organization" in recognition of companies who practice the greenest and most environmentally friendly practices in the U.K. This is fitting as Eco Comics' mission statement has been offering cutting edge comics in paperless media and fully embracing the future of digital comics, which offers no carbon footprint. In celebration, the publisher has offered a free digital comic book featuring some of their most notable properties.

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