Friday, October 31, 2003

Millarworld shows its hard-hitting, no-nonsense side by asking "Who should Batman be in love with?":

"I vote for Selina Kyle, the Catwoman. No one else's lifestyle fits better with Bruce Wayne's, and while Talia wasn't an option, I've also always liked the idea of Bats being involved, in a long-term on-and-off affair, and actually having children with her. Hell. Given the way the man lives, I could see him maintaining relationships with both women, thought it would likely be the end of him."

"Batman shouldn't really be in love with anyone, he should be the DC stud and go around having flings with all the women he has always wanted - Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Talia, heck I bet that a part of him is even attracted to Lady Shiva."

"I vote for Talia. But, I don't think bruce will ever find someone, his drive will always be trying to rid gotham of crime."

Everyone attacking James Sime! Go for these people instead!

Green Lantern to be cancelled and replaced by Green Lantern Corps? Maybe that's the secret series that John Byrne is hinting about on his message board?

If there ever was an exchange that summed up the depths of Newsarama, it's this one (scroll down)...

"Well, consider this. A question was asked. I answered. Nowhere did I say that my word is law and that Jenkins and Ramos need to be brought out back and shot in the forehead. Don't go crying about me being arrogant and pompous just because I answered a question. Christ you people whine a lot."

"screw you you little turd eating hamster lover. I was replying to the guy who was like Jenkins and Ramos should get their titles canceled. go suck grenade and hit the bricks you jerk off"

Ahhhh, the intellectual pursuit of debate...

Matt Brady (in the thread about James Sime, that I linked to yesterday), on blogs:

"I think I was tempted to do something of a blog once, but, when starting to compose my thoughts about the world, emotions, puppies, kittens, and who's blogs I rilly, rilly like, like a voice from heaven, the phrase, 'Who gives a shit what you think? came into my mind, and the urge passed. That should be a question in the EULA agreement on EVERY blog host: 'Do you really, honestly - and we mean honestly, not that 'honestly' you use when you ask yourself whether or not you look good in that pair of jeans - think anyone gives a shit about what you think?'

"If they did that, and people were 100% honest, there would be no 'blog culutre.' Of course, if there was some secret code in all comics that you had to enter as proof you bought it before you could post a comment on it, messageboards would be dead, so who am I to complain about one group of people spouting off when I am a dancing monkey for another?"

ADD's version of events:

"Quote of the Week -- 'I am a dancing monkey.' -- Matt Brady, Finally Reporting Accurately."

Oh, dear.

Crimson Dynamo, the first (and currently, only) Epic book actually made up of "new" talent goes on "hiatus" with issue 6. It sounds like "hiatus" being spelled "cancellation", but that might just be me...

Duncan Falconer wins today's Talking Sense When All Around Are Fanwanking award.

"Tribune filed suit against Marvel on Tuesday in the New York Supreme Court, requesting damages, including punitive damages of 'at least $100 million.' At the core of Tribune’s complaint is that it had to spend millions of dollars defending itself against Fox – money that, it feels shouldn’t have had to pay because, as Tribune alleges, Marvel committed fraud and misrepresented the rights it was granting to the production company."

How many lawsuits does Marvel have ongoing now?

I really think he's written this just to piss ADD and the other "hatas" off. Which makes me smile, for some reason.

"And you'd better believe that professional salesman with his customer's best interest at heart is James Sime and hundreds of other comic retailers just like me. We're not in the comic industry because we think we can make a quick or easy buck and we're not in the comic industry so we can play big shot at some neighborhood kids who come in every Wednesday.

"We do what we do because we love comics. And the people who read comics. And the people who make those comics."

Matt Maxwell should do special portfolio review attitude masterclasses:

"When you revel in the fact that you’re trying to get in people’s faces and shake them up and that you wore a lot of black and scribbled pentagrams in your notebooks and like to stir stuff up and generally don’t care what people think, that’s kind of a turnoff. You aren’t there to explain your work; people can only judge you on what they see. And when I see that you’re acting like a problem child in the interview, I’m going to lose interest fast. Even if you’re talented. Maybe even particularly if you’re talented."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Larry Young weighs in on the James Sime "debate":

"I find it quite entertaining that observers and pundits find James' THE COMICS PIMP column to be full of faux macho posturing and windbag bombast. What does the guy have to do to assure you his macho bombast is neither faux nor posturing? :)

"Having experienced my fair share of this sort of commentary (yours, Neilalien's, journalista!'s, etc.) from the Peanut Gallery myself, I think one will always find the people with large amounts of cash on the line, spending their dollars for comics for people to buy will always be considered brash by those on the sidelines waiting to buy comics."

(While ADD's response is just silly - "Sell his comics out of an airport, for starters, Larry. Until then, it looks like a bunch of hot air from where I'm sitting -- hot air with Nazi jokes." - he's not the only one hitting the silly button. Another poster responds by asking ADD "Just out of curiousity, what did you do for comics today? James Sime is writing dope articles on how to get comics out there, promote the shit out of a fantastic media and look like a rockstar media god in the process. So again I ask, while you critique and nitpick, what did you do for comics TODAY?" I'm so glad that this is turning into a pissing contest. Personally I think that James is doing more for comics each day with his actual selling comics to people than writing the column, as "rockstar media god"-like as that may seem, but that might just be me...)

One of the best press-releases ever:

"This January Oni Press is giving hardcore lovers another chance to get their groove on with MIDNIGHT MOVER, a new trade paperback collecting 2003’s edgy miniseries by Gary Phillips, Jeremy Love, and Jeff Wasson. Featuring an eye-catching cover by Mike Huddleston, this digest-sized book follows escort bodyguard Danny Shaw on a descent into a pit of porn, lost dreams, and secrets held dear as he tries to climb his way out alive.

"For Shaw, a Gulf War vet with a buried past, smoking blunts dulls the ache of unrealized wants while chaperonin’ washed-up porn stars turned call girls keeps the rent paid. But when his girl Ginger gets knifed on his watch, Danny kisses all that goodbye and goes on the lam -- a midnight mover one step ahead of the law and the lawless."

Why "chaperonin'" when whoever wrote this doesn't have any problem remembering (sorry, "rememberin'") the g in "smoking blunts"? But the best part of the release is this line:

"'Gary Phillips types with his fists,' said Oni Press editor in chief Jamie S. Rich."

Sadly, the next line isn't "Which makes the scripts really hard to read, as they all look like 'sdkix idj wzsd,kdex ,i9 uixsw9o, leik.'"

Thank God some people know what's going on.

"This will be a weekly comic strip we put out, introducing a new hero, named "The Patriot". He is an NYPD police officer named Jeremy Burnett (for 2 of the Flt 93 heroes Jeremy Glick and Tom Burnett).

"We felt the need to do this since DC and Marvel comics have allowed our superheroes to be hijacked by the left. America needs a new superhero, here he is."

Time to come clean: I love Heidi McDonald:

"I guess what sets aside comics from any other industry I've ever been remotely involved in is that in comics, no one gives a shit about being a successful business. Everyone in comics is really, deep down, focused on keeping whatever is their view of this happy, sparkly world viable and happy. It's a business run on nostalgia more than anything. People in comics have a very deep seated need to keep themselves in an environment where their nerdy needs aren't mocked and they can talk about Green Lantern and the Avengers in a safe, comfortable environment. Comics are an escapist medium, and the industry itself seems to be a kind of escapism for many people."

In the middle of a silly thread that turns into "DC sucks! Marvel rocks!" very quickly, this post amused me...

"It's one thing to use shield wall and phalanx techniques against disorganized ruffians (who tended to think in terms of single combat and raiding for cattle and slaves) while bombarding them with arrows shot at them by the Roman light cavalry.

"It's a totally different thing to say Connor Hawke (whose biggest asset is being good at martial arts) and the Atom (whose biggest assest are shrinking and a doctorate in science) taking down Darkseid, a vastly powerful and highly intelligent god-like being who can disintegrate people (except for Superman, apparently) with his Omega Effect eyebeams, makes sense... I hate talking to DC fans, especially people who buy into the DCU of the last seven years or so, which is largely dominated by goofy ideas Grant Morrison managed to popularize in JLA."

Viva Le Humorless Fanboy!

James Kochalka unveils a special Peanutbutter And Jeremy online exclusive...

Newsarama tries to entice people to try Catwoman. Best follow-up post?

"Batman got into a fistfight with Slam Bradley over catwoman? Uh I'M not the writer but that's just not the current Batman"

Le sigh...

Tony Isabella comments about Black Lightning, black superheroes, and DC:

"The major issue is that DC has had three (and only three) black super-heroes headlining their own titles: Black Lightning, Green Lantern, and Steel. Of which only BL was an original and not a spin-off."

I'm guessing he meant DCU, right?

(I also have issues with his description of the way that DC treated John Stewart:

"Green Lantern screwed up, caused an inhabited planet to be destroyed, was crippled, and Lord knows what else. At least John Stewart is handled with some respect in the Justice League cartoon."

Considering the "Lord knows what else" includes John's redemption for the destruction of the planet, an exploration of his racial identity - and racial identity in general in the DCU - and becoming a Guardian of The Universe, not to mention being a mentor to Kyle Rayner, and a capable member of the current Justice League, I feel that Tony's either not really paid that much attention to what's actually been done with John's character, or else purposefully leaving out the positive things that would detract from his argument...)

In the middle of a thread about Comics Greatest Flops (which includes Joe Casey saying that some of his most recent X-Men run "just plain sucked"), someone comes up with the great idea of Hulk Haiku:

"Why humans hate Hulk?
"Hulk just want to be alone
"Hulk smash puny men."

"Hulk still miss Betty
Hulk try to impress She-Hulk
She not want cousin"

Fans discuss Wildstorm's planned Coup D'Etat crossover (where, for those who don't know, The Authority take over the world):

"This is such a ridiculously BAD idea for NUMEROUS reasons. I mean, really bad. It could be a GREAT story, I may try it... but I think the Authority taking over the world is just a little TOO over-the-top... Millar introduced the idea of them taking down world leaders, and ended it. He basically had them decide that 'Whoops, ain't worth the trouble.' So it should end there. Move on. Involve politics when appropos, but ..Taking over the world? Now they are supervillains. Straight-up."

"I agree there are other ways for the series to slowly evolve, but I think it would get to a point where the Authority is leaning on politicians to pass bills towards goals they like. And eventually someone would say 'Fuck it, we're essentially running the government anyway, we should just make it official.' I think, ok, there are other ideas, but eventually this was the point The Authority would get to anyway."

"I think that the authority taking over the world (albeit temporarily) is a good idea, but it deserves to be handled in a better way than a four part crossover by four different artists and writers."

Occasionally, I wonder what my problem is with Dynamic Forces. And then I see things like this and remember:

"For the first time EVER! DF brings you Wolverine - the best there is at what he does - by one of the best artists in comics today - Jim Lee! This cool image features the feral Wolverine just as he has been unleashed upon his enemies! Depicted on a mound of skulls this images shows what happens when you cross paths with Wolverine! Claws unleashed this image is just plain AWESOME!"

Batman #620 sells out. I wonder if this will mean an upswing in sales for 100 Bullets trades? Or is that me being too optimistic?

Rich Starkings and other letterers discuss modern lettering issues:

"I think that Marvel's lower case lettering mandate is an admission that their readership is growing older, and that they are intentionally making their books less appealing to a younger readership. I think the number of characters declaring their civilian identities is another aspect of the same intention—'I'm Steve Rogers and I'm Captain America and I don't talk in no freakin' upper case any more... I'm comfortable with my life fighting crime and I favor lower case lettering -- it's sensitive and exotic.' However, whether they're called THE AVENGERS or THE ULTIMATES, they're still a bunch of grown men running around in their pyjamas, the kind of characters that are more likely to appeal to children/young teenagers than grown ups. Lower case lettering won't change that, but it will limit the range of styles and subtle distinctions available to a writer and the letterer with whom he is working. Ben Urich's captions in Miller's DAREDEVIL lose part of their uniqueness in a book that is lettered predominantly in lower case. Ditto Dream's lower case balloons in SANDMAN, ditto Baby Grumpling's balloons in THE PERISHERS, ditto Yap of Gatecrasher's Technet in EXCALIBUR. I'm not a big fan of a lot of characters speaking in different styles and distinctive balloons or captions styles, but I think it's a mistake to limit the options -- can you imagine one font throughout Eisner's SPIRIT? Or POGO? Or CEREBUS? Or, the Byrne/Claremont/Orzechowski X-MEN, or Chaykin/Bruzenak's AMERICAN FLAGG?"

(Via Journalista).

IDW collects the Penthouse comic serialisation of The Bible. No, really.

The best part of the article is this quote: "While everyone is familiar with the general story of Eden, Scott Hampton, Dave Elliott and Keith Giffen have given the tale a few twists of their own, though fully in keeping with the original intent... These creators have re-imagined the world’s first story, and in doing so have produced a book sure to be treasured.” It's Ultimate God!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Another Wednesday, another "WTF?" quote from Michael Deeley's column at Silver Bullet Comicbooks:

"Oh, yeah, can someone tell me why The Ultimate Wasp still hangs with her wife-beating husband? Is she supposed to have a victim mentality or something? Because I just feel like hitting her myself. I mean, why would a super-powered woman with sting-rays and wings let herself get beaten? I have no respect for a woman that doesn’t respect herself."

This is just great: Marvel Bullpen Bulletins, from 1965 to 1970.

(From http://www.neilalien.com/)

Alan David Doane calls James Sime's column at CBR "tripe". Now, beyond just wanting to go "Fight! Fight! Fight!", this is interesting to me because, well, I have my own issues with James's column (mostly the over the top faux-macho-ness of the whole thing - "The Comics Pimp" or "Comics kill Nazis", for example - which strikes me as too obvious a pose and a bit dated... But that might just be me). But all the same, I'm a big fan of James because he is so fucking enthusiastic about comics. And not just one particular genre, or one publisher, or one anything; he loves - and pushes - any comic, so long as it's good. There's no difference or snobbery for him, unlike many other comics advocates, and that's a great thing that allows him to be approachable without fear (unless you're me, but I'm shy), and to be able to build bridges that can take superhero fans to things like Rob Osborne's work, for example.

I'm curious as to why ADD isn't a fan.

For some reason, this strikes me as mad genius:

"In Early November the world will receive the Third issue of the critically acclaimed tour de force The Journal of MODOK Studies. This issue features artwork by Tim Doyle, K. Thor Jensen, and other fine artists who have pledged their souls to MODOK. As promised in the second issue, #3 will include a stunning column detailing the short but eventful life of Ms. MODOK (She fought the Hulk. It was pretty awesome.) Also included will be a special Cliff's Notes section for the Marvel Comics Novel 'Call My Killer. . . MODOK!'"

Innocent Message Board Poster of the Day award goes to "JOHN" on Millarworld, for this comment:

"anytime a creator says, '_____________ is a book I always wanted to write.' Well, you know you're in for something special."

Bless 'im.

Newsarama confirms the Millar/Dodson Spider-Man book rumors (and mentions that it's a Marvel Knights book - between this and the new Marvel Knights Fantastic Four book, I wonder if they're going to have lots of MK versions of MU books coming up as a third sub-universe?), and interviews Millar. I'm really getting the second Brubaker-vibe from Millar with this interview - comments like "It's very much a reaction to the decompressed comics we've been seeing since the turn of the millennium and something I've been planning for some time... I'm honestly just getting so bloody bored with people talking about their five year arcs and reading quite obviously padded material conceived as a two-parter, but redesigned to suit a trade... Why can't there be a story with a beginning, a middle, an end and a spectacular fight all inside twenty two pages?" and "Realism is a word that's overused and misunderstood in comics. I want to write this book in a realistic fashion, but that doesn't mean it's going to be Spider-Man walking to the shops and buying a newspaper every day... The take for 2004, as far as I'm concerned, is exploring what it would be like to live in his world" sound very much like Brubaker commenting on his approach to Catwoman a couple of years ago, to me...

(EDIT: Scroll down to Gregg Cummings quoting Mike Doran's deleted post, pre-deletion. It's only a miniseries? Not according to Millar himself. Does anyone in Marvel know what they're doing these days?)

Jimmy Corrigan may have been the Smartest Kid On Earth, but he grew up only to be killed and become The Spectre. Dig that crazy Jim Aparo artwork!

Rory Root and other retailers ask Diamond to change their reorder terms:

"It comes down to this: Diamond's reorder penalty, in the short term, hurts both retailers and publishers by adding friction to the distribution process, and in the long term, hurts Diamond by sending revenue away and by weakening those retailers who remain."

A Comicon thread about Out Of Print Masterworks includes Rick Vietch talking about the future of 1963...:

"We've been approached by a bunch of graphic novel publishers interested in collecting the whole thing but the question about what to do with the Annual, and a few other hairballs that need to be coughed up, have proved an impediment to an easy deal.

"I for one have always felt that we should provide a real ending to the story rather than just reprint the existing stuff. Most of the publishers are looking for a quick and easy project. In discussions over the last year, Alan has cooked up a new idea for an ending but he's going nuts trying to tie up ABC right now. To do it right will also require a serious investment from a publisher to get it written, drawn and printed."

(And Criminally Out Of Print work? Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's New Adventures of Hitler, which someone really should look into collecting...)

Micah Wright finally gets his Epic rejection letter:

"It's addressed to 'Dear Marvel Fan' and goes on to say that they're sad they can't invite me to join the Epic family or group or something like that."

Jason Franks replies with sense:

"I've been loathe to join in the Epic bashing until now, but, Jesus H. on a pogo stick... Can you imagine if you submitted a novel manuscript to, say, Harper Collins books, and their rejection letter said 'Dear Harper/Collins Fan'? When you submit work to a publisher you are approaching them as a professional and should not be treated like a customer--especially if you ARE a professional. Those three words say volumes about Marvel, Epic, and the American comics biz in general."

Ahhh, John Byrne again.

Poster: "Just saw the cover to CAPER #1. This is definitely a case of the cover telling you that it's an adult-oriented book, ala SIN CITY."

Byrne: "Bullshit."

Poster: "Yeah, because I always buy my eight year old nephew comics with a cover where a guy is laying down in a huge pool of blood with multiple gun-shots in his back. And, yes, I can point to a half dozen Comic Code Approved books with more lurid covers, but most of those featured characters wearing brightly colored costumes... and as you have said on many ocassions, people equate super-heroes with kiddie fare. But in this example, there's no super-heroes, and you know from the cover that you're going to be getting a bloody crime comic. This is your first clue that this is an adult-oriented title. You don't even need to see the little MATURE READER tag."

Byrne: "I repeat, bullshit. Pull your head out of your ass for a moment and look at this not as a long time comicbook reader, but as a civilian. This looks like a comicbook, feels like a comicbook, smells like a comicbook, tastes like a comicbook. No "uninitiated" person is going to look at this and think "Ah! This lurid cover illustration indicates this book must be intended for mature readers!" They are going to think "Look what they are selling to my children!!"* And those children are going to think "Co-o-o-o-o-o-ol!!!"

"*And in far too many comic shops around the country, they will be right."

Poster 2: "Check the top left corner [The Suggested for Mature Readers" tag]. Looks like they didn't want to rely on just the illustration."

Poster: "Of course, they didn't, but the cover image alone should be enough to clue the potential buyer that this is not meant for kids (which was my point). This is the argument that Frank Miller uses when he doesn't put a Mature Reader label on his Sin City. There's nothing particularly enticing on the cover for kids. No heroes in colorful costumes, no over-blown action sequences, no monkeys, not even a warrior woman wearing a leather bikini... just a bloody murder and a Star Of David."

Byrne: "And your point is still utter and complete BULLSHIT. Please -- go away somewhere and grow a BRAIN, or at least some organ that allows you to perceive the world outside your basement window. THEN, and ONLY then come back with an opinion that will be worth the bandwidth."

He's so classy.

Millarworldians discuss Mark Millar's rumored new Spider-Man title in their calm, reasoned, rational way:

"Yes!!!! I'm so there!!!!!! Mark Millar is a solid writer with a great sense of humor. While JMS and Jenkins are gifted writers, they sometimes seem to lack the wit for Spidey. A PAD, Kevin Smith, or Millar or other writers with a dominant (and often times fucked up) sense of humor are great choices for a Spider-Man title."

"Whoa... now this is something I was absolutely NOT expecting. (I don't think anyone was, from sound of it.) But I'd certainly be up to checking this out if it turns out to be true. Millar is friggin' Millar and Dodson's one of the slickest artists out there, and is of course absolutely suited to Spider-Man, as we've seen in the past."

Our researchers have looked into these claims, and it turns out that Millar is, indeed, friggin' Millar.

Comics World Dead. No News To Report.

It's gotten to the point where I have to point and laugh at Newsarama's thread of favorite Wolverine moments: "Plain and simple! List your favorite moment's of wolverine....him kicking ass..having his ass handed to him....or simply drinking!!!!ANYTHING!!!!"

Please, comics news. Come back to us.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

So, John Byrne writes a column where he moans about his fans again:

"Case in point, the Robin book I did with Stan Lee a while back. When the pencils came into the DC offices there was an almost universal reaction of 'Wow! Byrne is really turned on by this project! You can see it in the work!' When copies of the pencils circulated into the hands of some quarters of fandom, the reaction was much the same. 'I wish Byrne would bring this kind of enthusiasm to his other work!'... I can say this: it has been a long, long time since I cared LESS about a job than I did the Robin assignment. I was handed a plot not written with me in mind, and I simply sat down at the drawing board and set about working through the dynamics of the storyline to the best of my ability. No 'WoW!! This is gonna be great!' No 'I'm so glad I got picked to do this book!' Nope. Just a job. Interesting for the way it exercised certain artistic muscles, but nothing more."

Peter David responds on Comicon (Scroll down, but don't bother reading the rest of the thread, which is pedantic and pointless):

"I have to say, there's been times when people claim I'd "obviously" given less than my best to some project, and that would torque me because I give 100% every time out. It's just sometimes I succeed more than other times, like a pitcher going out game after game. Just because he didn't get every pitch in the strike zone didn't mean he wasn't trying his best.

"But it takes a John Byrne to get pissed off when people say the opposite: That it seemed as if he was really stoked. In the example he cited, a Robin story, he said it was "just a job" and didn't think much of it, contrary to observers who thought the artwork reflected excitement on his part. Dumb readers. How dare they get enthusiastic."

Those two should have a regular "Point/Counterpoint" column somewhere.

Alan Donald's "The Panel" must be the easiest column in the world to put together. Someone sends you a question, you forward it to some industry professionals (and some mates, by the looks of it. Vince Moore? Dawn Donald?), and then print their replies. This week, someone else asks "Are there any subjects that shouldn't be featured in comic books? Are there any taboos left?", most of the panelists answer "Not really" in a kind of bored manner (with the exception of Vince Moore), and then Alan writes a generic summary that suggests that he didn't even read the panelist's responses ("This question seems to have caused a strong reaction from our panellists with some strong answers. I am sure it is going to cause an interesting reaction on the boards as well").

This blog entry probably took more effort than that entire column.

Hey! Why didn't anyone tell me that DC have minisites and previews up for Catwoman #25 and Plastic Man #1?

Mark Waid talks sense about being fired (and rehired) from Fantastic Four at The Pulse:

"Honestly, truly--it's not a creator-owned series, so at the end of the day, Marvel can hire and fire at will. It's just business, and I never once expressed any bitterness or any taking-it-personally resentment. Likewise, taking Joe up on his offer to return wasn't about "payback" in any sense, either, or "justice" or any such nonsense--it's only about, it should ALWAYS only be about, the job and the characters and my love for them."

(He also gives an interesting viewpoint about life under Jemas: "No slight to Bill, who's certainly entitled to (and paid to exercise) his opinions, but I'd never before written a series for a publisher who actively didn't like my work, and it just made the whole act of writing very nerve-wracking.")

I have to ask, am I really the only person who doesn't get "Compgate"? DC's staff and freelancers used to sell/trade their comps - a bit cheeky, but fine. DC tell them not to. Again, fine - they're DC's pressies, after all (they're not part of the contracts, right?). So why are people still talking about it?

"Dammit! How dare DC charge $6.95 per issue for Darwyn Cooke's upcoming New Frontier series?" ask the posters at Comicon.

Thankfully, there are people on hand to point out that each issue being 64 pages of story with no ads make them a better deal than the usual $2.95 for 21 pages of story of the average Marvel or DC book...

A wonderfully over-the-top appreciation of The Authority, via Millarworld:

"Revolutionary from his first panel, Millar literally kills off the past history of super-heroes, paving over their corpses in order to build a new utopia. A few moments of cleverness stand out as truly revolutionary in a storyline full of cleverness: most of all, the ending -- in which, in the context of an ultra-violent story, the brilliant mad scientist villain is not killed but offered a job working for the Authority to make the world a better place -- which was, after all, his goal all along. But this was not only a brilliantly original move in terms of the narrative. This was nothing less than Kirby himself, corrupted by the corporate comic culture he spawned, being co-opted, his original utopian spirit (the man himself had died, having made -- like his alter ego here -- many bitter statements about the industry in the years prior, and would probably not have approved of Millar's work), being pulled into the ranks of The Authority, into this transformation of the genre, this new work that stripped away the bullshit."

I always wonder if anyone else read Tom Peyer's Hourman series, you know...

One of the more extreme guesses as to who's going to be the next writer of NewXMen...

Monday, October 27, 2003

Especially for Chris Hunter:

Paul McCartney.

Thanos, Mad God of Titan.

Are you telling me you can't see a similarity?

Panels, an upcoming (online?) literary journal based around comics, is looking for submissions. If I could write anything other than snark, I'd be up for it...

An interesting comment from a Millarworld thread about Marvel's January solicitations:

"Marvel is releasing 48 titles

"Of those titles, 13 are doubleshipping--27% of their line... What this equates to for the comic fans are extra books on their pull list. For instance, if you collected Exiles, New X-Men and Uncanny--you will be getting 6 instead of 3 books that month. Throw in Spider-Woman and Avengers, you are up from 5 to 10 for the month.

"I have already quite Exiles for this reason (4 straight issues of crappiness in 4 weeks) and wonder if this won't backfire eventually since most people can't double their collecting month in, month out."

A very surreal Newsarama thread that quickly turns into Man Of The Atom going on his very own Fanboy Rampage. It all starts off with this comment (about John Byrne's run on Superman... which is never a good sign):

"Superman doesn't kill. Period. Under any circumstances.
MOTA, for a guy who's having daily aneurysms over Waid's "Birthright" fudging with continuity, you sure don't seem to have a problem with Byrne turning Superman into an executioner."

MOTA then responds...

"Byrne had Crisis, as simple as that... What's Waid's excuse? His ego? The fact that he's too dumb to understand any of the above? The fact that his understanding of the characters, specially Superman, is limited to the 1960's when the character was a God that came from Heaven (check BR #1, Jor-El makes it very clear that Krypton is Heaven)?

"Fact is that Waid has not one single excuse for anything he's doing other than he can, period.... well, that and the fact that Eddie is his puppet."

Marvel's January solicits are up at Comics Continuum, and with them lots of fun comments!

*Anyone looking for proof of the essential soap-opera nature of Chuck Austen's Uncanny X-Men need look no further than this: "'She Lies with Angels' parts 1 and 2 of 5. A special tale of the heart revolves around two young star-crossed lovers, caught between the forces of their families' opposing views on the human/mutant race situation. Will love prevail? Or will tragedy strike?" I mean, Jesus Christ.

*NYX is now being described as "Quesada and Middleton's hometown homage to hot dogs, alley cats and misguided youth"?

*Pointless question of the month: "Will the Chitauri alien invasion finally succeed or will the full firepower of the Ultimates be enough to stem the tide?" Gee, I dunno... Maybe the fact that "Coming Soon: Ultimates Vol.2" is at the end of the solicit might help me guess the answer?

*Nice way to keep a secret, Marvel. From the Hulk solicitation (SPOILERS, by the way): "Meanwhile, 'Mr. Blue' -- a.k.a. Bruce's wife Betty Ross -- finds solace in the arms of none other than Doc Samson." Remember when Marvel were going to have no text in their solicits to stop giving away plots?

(EDIT: According to Ed Cunard, Mr. Blue was revealed in the last issue of Hulk, and so this isn't really a spoiler. Unless you haven't see the last issue yet, or are getting the trades or hardcovers...)

I always wonder if anyone outside the UK gets the references in the names of the contributors for Ninth Art's Shipping Forecast.

Rich Johnston messes with fanboys minds:

"I apparently know who the new writer of "New X-Men" is, to follow Grant Morrison and then Chuck Austen. But if I report it, I may scupper the deal. Gah! And, since I'd rather read X-Men comics by this individual, than report the rumour and wreck the project, I guess I'm going to hold this one in.

"Yes, I know it's frustrating. It's even more frustrating to me."

On a similar note, I apparently know the winning numbers of the next lottery and who's going to win the World Series and where Sydney's been for two years in Alias, but if I report it, I may scupper them. You know how it is. And by the way, nyah nyah nyah, I know something you don't know. But it's very frustrating for me.

Mike San Giacomo: The man who can't help but put a happy face on everything Epic, continues along his smiling way in the new episode of My Epic Journey:

"Marvel is collecting all the green lighted projects [at Epic] so they will debut at the same time for one giant push. That works for me... The future of Epic is cloudy, but most likely work that would have gone into Epic will be worked into the regular Marvel universe. Normally, I would say the bar is higher, but the Epic bar was pretty darn high considering how few scripts were chosen from the hundreds that were submitted."

"Pretty darn high"? For some reason, I can't help but see him as the Ned Flanders of Newsarama now.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

This week's Grim Tidings is up, with a cynical (again!) reading of what's going on with the Tsunami trades (although, as Shawn Fumo posted in the forum, my timings are apparently out, and it's since been claimed - I wrote the article on Wednesday, so this again teaches me to beat deadline - by people that Marvel won't be doing digest trades of the three titles that Publisher's Weekly mentioned...).

Over at All The Rage, Markisan comments on Mark Millar's defence of Bill Jemas:

"Ultimates writer Mark Millar has written another message stroking former Marvel Publisher Bill Jemas... Blah, blah, stroke, blah. Read the rest of MM’s gushfest by clicking the link above."

Millar didn't react very well to the mention:

"Right, the next person who accuses me standing up for a pal who's being shat on as 'stroking' them is getting kicked in the bollocks.

"Bill is gone from publishing. He has no control over my job or any of my bosses in any way. In fact, standing up for the previous admin is a STUPID thing to do from a career point of view, but I don't give a fuck. I saw a million lies and half-assed comments from people who had neither worked with nor met the guy and I countered this with the experience and opinion of someone who spoke and worked with him every day (me).


You have to wonder, though, just how stupid it is, from a career point of view, for Millar to do what he's doing. I mean, it's not like he's actually defending Jemas as much as listing Marvel's successes under Jemas's reign, much like Marvel's own official statements have done. There's also the added bonus that Millar gets his own name mentioned over and over again on message boards and rumor columns and gets to play pretend at not toeing the company line again for the first time since the Authority story broke years ago, coincidentally at the same time that he's trying to build his own name brand with the "controversial" Millarworld comics.

I'm too cynical. But it looks to me that getting people talking about you, underscoring company statements while pretending to do just the opposite and playing the rebel card at a time when you're trying to sell your new books as pushing the boundaries of taste and what's been done before, is Millar doing anything but being stupid from a career point of view. We'll see if I get kicked in the bollocks for thinking that...

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Occasionally, I see something on a message board and think "What the fuck are they talking about?". To wit:

"I think [Alan] Moore likes Superman a hell of a lot. It's DC that stops Moore from working there again, with their past attitude towards him that seems to still be in effect."

There you go. Alan Moore is being stopped from writing Superman by DC, who have some kind of attitude against him, for some reason. It's got nothing to do with Alan Moore's attitude that he doesn't want to work directly for DC ever again, after all. Mind you, it's from Millarworld, where DC is very often portrayed as having a vendetta against creators for no conceivable reason...

I always mean to link to this, because I love it.

Larry Young and Brian Wood have something to tell all of those who, like Jens Altman of Micah Wright's Delphi forum, are Waiting For The Trade of the upcoming AiT series, Demo:

"If you think AiT has the power of Marvel and DC to launch a WATCHMEN-sized trade paperback collection, I'm flattered. But I'll also point everyone to this message when it doesn't happen because you didn't support the project with monthly money to fund that which everyone thought was a fait accompli, regardless of what we told everyone in advance."

Millarworld asks the important questions:

"I was trying to think which comic book characters I've ever seen that's made with the smokee smokee, and I could only come up with a few... Who else can you think of who'd make a nice role model for all the comics-reading stoners out there? :P"

Friday, October 24, 2003

"Bought all of our comics? Send us a photo proving it and we'll give you another comic! A snake eating its own tail! A snake eating its own tail!!!"

Written by Matt Craig. Drawn by me (even though I only actually like two pages - guess which ones they are! - and think there're a few really fucking rough panels, but I was way behind deadline as it was). Hope you have large monitors.

The fabulous Dirk Deppey adds more to the Tsunami trade fiasco (which I write about in this week's Grim Tidings, which should appear around Sunday afternoon/evening time...):

"I've received confirmation from several sources now that, unbelievably, Marvel does in fact intend to withhold its forthcoming manga-sized Tsunami volumes from the Direct Market, a state that one source with connections to the company hints actually may be due to petulance over the poor orders for the comics-sized trades. Apparently, with the Jemas reign ended, Marvel seems to be celebrating by displaying a level of vindicative cluelessness not seen since the Perelman years."

Fans on Joe Quesada's message board react to Mark Millar's defence of Bill Jemas:

"Seriously, take Millar’s statement, replace all the comic book references with foreign policy and the economy, Jemas with Bush, and you have a statement from Condeliza Rice about Bush’s performance as president. It’s biased as can be and pure spin."

And then Mark Millar turns up, and gets mad:

"If I read another bull$hit post on Newsarama that my standing up for Bill was a way of getting more money I swear I will hunt them down at the next convention and kick their ar$e in the toilets... I just enjoy comics too much for that kind of crap. 99% of people I meet on the net I enjoy too because we have this huge friggin' thing in common, but life's really too short for all that. Still, I have zero regrets for going to back-up a friend when they're doing-down his accomplishments and would do the same thing again if it was someone else."

It's comedy itself.

(It also features some strange "facts": "Regardless of the sales, Marvel is currently regarded as having the best TPB policy in the marketplace." According to who?)

Comics, meet cookery:

"Each contributor sends in one illustrated recipe. It could even be themed to a character of theirs. A great example would be a Renaissance-style dish from Rachel Hartman, illustrated with Amy Unbounded-type art. These are all gathered by one person who lays out the book in sections (appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc.). Each contributor gets a dummy and the pages, and then it's off to your local Kinko's to get spiral bound books made. Spiral bound, so that they lay flat when you open them and cook. Same size as a digest sized mini, (half of an 8 1/2 x 11" paper, or however it converts into the Brit page size). Again, we get a front cover printed on nice stock, everyone chips in for that. I suspect costs to reproduce this one would be a tad more expensive than SP because of the spiral binding involved, but I can't think of any other way to do a good cookbook."

As we wait to see if I've accidentally ripped the name of this blog off from Comix Experience (And if so, shit. Sorry. Anyone got any preferences for a new name?), I have to wonder. Are there people actually carrying out James Sime's suggestions in The Comics Pimp, or is he just looked upon as entertainment? I hope for the former, but fear for the latter...

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Arthur Pendragon, message board poster who doesn't seem to like Marvel Comics that much even though he still buys them and posts about them all the time, reviews Amazing Spider-Man #500:

"When he tells Uncle Ben how happy he is it just shows how he's no longer the character that captivated the comic book world. The struggling single superhero is a thing of the past. Since what happened with Gwen is such a big deal, why did he try to save Norman's life in an eleavator? He can sleep fine next to his supermodel wife knowing that the guy who killed Gwen, kidnapped his Aunt and made him think she was dead, and put Flash in a coma is enjoying the pizza he sent him. What a guy!"

Newsarama posters talk up cancelled Marvel Max series, The Eternal:

"Hey! Maybe that can be the tagline for the final issue or the trade or something... "The Eternal - Boobies make it better!" Maybe that can even draw in the Austen haters."

A potentially interesting thread over at Millarworld (again; lots of links to there today, for some reason):

"There's a shitload of comics being made into movies and television series and such, and we've all thought it was great for comics to be getting so much of a wider exposure. But have comics REALLY become popular(ish) again to the mainstream audience... or is it actually superheroes that everyone's after? ...If yes, maybe that's something that should get looked into. Comics can do things no other medium can, but you've got to admit that as far as superheroes go, movies one-up comics almost every time (with the exception of campy crap like Batman and Robin, of course)."

You know what's the new in-thing for Comic Pros over at Millarworld? Praising Rob Liefeld, of course!

First up, ex-X-Men artist Ethan Van Sciver:

"Rob Liefeld is beyond criticism now. He is an institution, and one that I belong in. I enjoy his work so profoundly that at times, when I read or re-read one of his books, I feel utterly elated. The generosity of his output, the sheer boyish delight of drawing armies of superheroes shooting each other to sh*t, the resonance of his concepts...the Liefeld chic. God, I love it. Who cares about your petty problems regarding his technical abilities? You're missing the forest for the trees.

"If you don't like Rob Liefeld you are WRONG."

Followed quickly by Mark Millar himself:

"I loved Kirby as a kid, but hated him as a ten year old because he gave people square fingers. I couldn't understand how he couldn't draw a hand like a human hand and sometimes it just takes a while to get the point. Show a kid a Liefeld comic and their eyes light up. Same goes for all the Image guys. There's magic in that stuff we won't see again until the end of the decade."

It's like BizarroWorld, isn't it?

I love Micah Wright for saying what I didn't, for fear of Chris Hunter's head exploding.

Rich Johnston interviews Robert Morales, writer of The Truth miniseries, and soon to take over Captain America...:

"RICHARD: A number of people felt you betrayed the concept of Captain America, indeed America itself, in Truth with what some saw as crude exaggeration. Is your work more caricature than satire?

"BOB: Those people are stupid, Rich. I'm not responsible for stupid people. I'm aware of them, though, and I plan my travels accordingly."

Fans at Millarworld discuss X-Statix #13, which was originally going to feature Princess Diana, but now stars a partially redrawn character called "The Princess":

"A lot of the intended humor is weakened now that the characters are no longer referring to Princess Diana, but some fictional pop singer... I'm pretty bummed that Marvel botched this thing up."

"I just read it, and it seems really thrown together. I'm surprised that Milligan and Allred haven't quit over it."

"The issue read like they prepared it in about a day. I'd rather have seen them end the series than do this."

Marvel revives the character they once called "Sandman done right". The difference about Sleepwalker this time?

"In the original series it was established that the first Sleepwalker came from an entire race of beings that all pretty much looked the same, although Kirkman was quick to point out one major difference between the old and new Sleepwalker. 'Ours doesn't wear leg warmers.'"

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Newsarama reports on the Tsunami moves by Marvel. The Newsarama posters are up to their usual standards:

"Well just in case this is what Marvel has in mind:


"You let the direct market retailers pimp these books for you,promote them, do all the work and then screw us up the ass by giving the trades to bookstores?

"YOU BETTER NOT FUCK US AGAIN WITH THIS or the backlash you saw when Jemas called us stupid will be nothing compared to this.

"What is Marvel doing sitting around the office and saying'what can we do today to fuck our retailers' ????"

What happened to those Tsunami trades? The answer is here:

"Marvel is entering that field with a Marvel Manga format that it will introduce in November: digest-size books, printed in color, with a price point of $7.99 or $8.99. Sentinel, Mystique and Runaways are self-contained stories with ties to the X-Men and Spider-Man lines, appropriate for school-age audiences."

So, no trades for the Direct Market, but mainstream bookstores get them in another format? Interesting move.

(Thanks to mystery informant, who may not want his name given out...)

Ed Brubaker and Steven Grant discuss the comic market:

"And maybe with this steady shift to trades becoming more and more popular with readers and retailers, the distribution system will start to be a little more like the book distribution system, so retailers can more comfortably stock the books. I was just saying to someone else that if I were a comics retailer, I'd be getting most of my trade stock through Ingram or some other book distributor, so I didn't have to do it all non-returnable. Then you've got product on the shelf that can earn its own money instead of having to fit it into your weekly comic budget."

Good stuff. Go read.

This caught my eye from the DC solicits for January 2004:

JLA: Zatanna's Search: A trade collection of what may be the first multi-title crossover ever, all written by Gardner Fox. Interesting.

Meanwhile, the solicitations for Detective Comics and Batgirl prove that there's nothing like good editorial co-ordination happening between books. In Detective: "Batgirl guest-stars in “Scarification” by new regular creative team Andersen Gabrych, Pete Woods and Cam Smith! As she and Batman descend on Gotham to break up a murderous drug ring, will the two most tight-lipped heroes in the DCU form a bond?" Form a bond? Okay, that sounds like they're just getting to know each other, right? But in the Batgirl solicitations, "Batgirl’s relationship with Batman continues to fray as she proceeds against orders in an investigation to find a missing girl." Guess that bond forming didn't work out then.

Mark Millar discusses the history of superhero comics, according to him:

"Dark Age: 1975 to 1995. Grant Morrison and I used to talk about the Ken Wilbur theory here in the sense that everything man-made (whether it be a society or a trend) is roughly based on the ages of man itself. The crudeness of the Golden Age is infant comics, the whimsy and wonder of the Silver Age is late childhood and The Dark Age was morbid adolescance. The characters were full of angst and teen emotions, foreshadowed by guys like O'Neil and Adams, but not really reaching a full swing until the eighties when it peaked with Miller and Moore. Sales continued to climb after this creative peak with some clever marketing, but the crash was all the more painful because of it. Early 90s comics were some of the worst ever produced, especially around 1994. Waid and Busiek were pretty much the only decent writers of the period and ostensibly carried the industry into the next Age."

Meanwhile, in the ghost town that was the Florida compound of CrossGen, Bill Roseman, once "Your Man @ Marvel", has now become "Your Senior VP of Publishing @ Crossgen". He brings the spinsanity with him, though:

"By restructuring our publishing team, we've changed the way we make decisions and created a lean and nimble company. While the blueprint (of asking amazing creators to tell amazing stories) remains, we're using different muscles and tools to build the finished product.

"From the epic action of SOJOURN to crazy twists of NEGATION, we're creating great-looking titles filled with brave heroes, nasty villains, and fantastic landscapes. Pirates, barbarians, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, espionage, kung fu…it's all here! Our creative staff may be small, but it's loaded with talent, and with them at the helm, I know that phenomenal stuff is waiting for readers just beyond the horizon.

"How do I know? Because there's a couple proposals sitting on my desk…and a certain talking monkey is demanding that I read them today!"

Bill speaks. Fanboys bitch. As Bill Jemas releases a statement spinning his demotion to a non-executive position as a good thing for him ("At the same time, the friends that I work for and with are giving me reign to do what I do best; exploring new challenges. I have some ideas about how Marvel’s remarkable assets and expertise might be applied to new business areas. I am grateful for the support I am getting to pursue these opportunities, and do not intend to let the team down." It doesn't even sound like the Bill of old, does it?), Newsarama's posters do their traditional thing:

"'Voluntary' my ass. Nice spin job tho..."

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

More interesting Tsunami titbits from Comix-Fan. Andi Watson on Namor's future:

"It's Bill [Jemas]'s baby and I've got it eating and walking. I'm not gonna pre-empt any Marvel announcements but the facts are Namor was Bill's baby and Bill is no longer in editorial... The idea behind Namor was to create a book that teenage girls would read. Teenage girls don't go into comic shops, they go into book shops. The target audience for the book will now never see it. It's just another book that got mauled in the direct market and by the fanboys and will sink without trace."

Newsarama updates the Tsunami trade cancellations:

"Late Tuesday morning, a Marvel spokesperson told Newsarama:

"'The Marvel Tsunami trade paperbacks have been cancelled due to overall sales that didn't meet our high expectations. And over the next few months, we'll be making other adjustments in price and scheduling in order to ensure the longest life possible for as many of these titles as we can, some of which have been praised by fans and critics and have found a loyal cult following.'"

Doesn't sound too promising...

Matt Craig talks sense in a thread at Millarworld where a poster asks for advice on a speech he wants to give about comics not just being for kids anymore (Are we still going on about that? I want a speech where people talk about comics that can be read by kids these days.). The problem being that the poster's choices to illustrate this fact were all mainstream books, and all-but-one from DC...

"You HAVE to convince people that there are comics out there which have a DIRECT RELEVANCE to their lives. And while the coming of age METAPHOR of Spider-Man, or the Jesus/Immigrant undertone of Superman (which is rubbish: he's a bloke in tights who hits things. That's how S&S MADE him) is all very well and good, but at the end of the day, the costume is a GULF.


Stuart Moore writes in praise of the 22-ish page monthly comic book format:

"As a comics editor, I always preferred working on single issues to special-format projects. On the negative side, the pace of monthly comics can encourage sloppy work and fill-in art; but there’s something about the energy of it, the fact that the books just have to get out there, that I think more than compensates for that."

Monday, October 20, 2003

As it's finally officially announced that all Tsunami trades are cancelled by Marvel, and price increases are on the way for Venom and New Mutants, the posters at Joe Quesada's message board aren't happy:

"If this has anything to do with the new guy, then I never expected the day I'd say this to come but, HOLY $#!&! Someone get Jemas back, quick!!"

"Well, I can't try and catch up with any Tsunami now. Great job Marvel, that's some of my money lost to you."

"Right now I am going to assume that this is some mix-up or something since this being true is just down-right stupid."

"Why cancel the trades for a bunch of titles that were basically designed for trades. If Marvel is truly doing this, this is a lot more stupid than anything that went down during the Jemas administration."

(There's also another thread, called "How much money did you throw away on Tsunami". Looks like the JQ-boarders have already signed the death warrant on the little imprint that wasn't...)

Even more Mark Millar, because he's on a major publicity push at the moment. This time, he's discussing Ultimate Fantastic Four:

"We’re playing everything very quiet like Victor Van Damme [a.k.a. “Dr. Doom”] and even the Mole Man."

Victor Van Damme? Hopefully his action-movie obsessed brother, Jean-Claude, will make an appearance as well.

Newsarama's posters discuss the negativity of the board:

"I used to post on just about every thread every day for quite a long time, but I grew sick of the general attitude and decided that it was really interfering with my true intentions for interacting with other comic book fans online: to have fun expressing my love for comics."

"Love doesn’t make the world go around, it makes it stand still. Hate motivates and it often rallies people to action (once again for good or ill). What this all means for the future of humanity and life in this or any cosmos is a question beyond my wisdom, but I say its fine to hate the idea but don’t hate the thinker."

Thankfully, Renaud, known by many to be somewhat individual in his posting style, puts everything in perspective:

"The number one hater of long time comic book fans MR. Quezzzada by his own words and bad attitude does tend to harvest the fruits of his own seeds he planted, where the negativity towards him outside his own bubble board in the real none suck-up world... When asking for golden age Marvel Masterworks when DC does tones on there side, and being told to go to a dirty flie market to find their grand-Father comics, or refusing to have a series of an original golden age icon like the original Human Torch but pushing for the knock-off solo...or refusing a single Avengers hardcover 1997,1998,1999 and barely any Captain America 1996, 1998, 1999, Thor the Death of Odin, Iron Man 1998, best of the Rawhide Kid...but having like 7 lame Daredevil volumes alone or Alias... I don't think this is acceptable...People can do what ever they want even make a gay cowboy out of what was a great western character like the Rawhide Kid...but they shouln't expect respect or appreciation for it."

You know what I want to see? Celebrity comics. Not comics about a celebrity, nor comics that use celebrities as dates for their fictional characters for cheap publicity, but comics by celebrities. Who wouldn't want to see what kind of comic that Michael Stipe would write, for example?

Things like this are the reason why I would go bankrupt very quickly if I were a comics publisher.

As someone who loves (and occasionally creates) autobio comics, and who may secretly be a fan of reality TV (shhhh), this thread is good stuff: "Is there some kind of cultural impetus that has resulted in the coinciding rise of autobiographical comics and reality television?"

My love letter to Jeph Loeb is up at Broken Frontier, by the way.

Is it just me, or has Mike Carlin answered the questions in this interview in note form, while trying to ape Alex Toth?

"THE PULSE: You've commented to Newsarama that Action Comics # 775 was one of your favorite comic books of the last 15 years. Why? Out of the thousands from that time period, what makes that particular story so outstanding and memorable in your opinion?

CARLIN: As a former SUPERMAN fan, then editor… the highest compliment I can pay is that the whole story made me upset and angry! To see Superman stopping the modern day “quote-unquote” Heroic Methods USING The same kill-first-ask-questions-later methods was to me!

Until Joe Kelly (writer) pulled it out… preserving the integrity of Superman AND proving in one fell swoop that Superman was completely relevant in this day and age!

Genius issue!"

From Lying In The Gutters this week:

"I understand that the prime book in Jemas' promoted Tsunami line, 'Sentinel,' has been cancelled. And it's also possible that 'Inhumans' and Jemas-penned 'Namor' will follow right behind."

I thought that Inhumans was already announced as cancelled? Or am I just imagining that?

Mark Millar's Run! discussed at Newsarama. What's most interesting for me (certainly not the book itself which, despite the probably lovely Ash Wood art sounds like generic Millar: "Miracleman was essentially Superman or Captain Marvel for adults... Run! is basically the Flash for bastards. This is all those super-speed tricks you can't do when you're writing about a lovely man in red pajamas and, again, this could be perceived as something closer to a horror comic than a superhero one." Again?) is Jim Valentino distancing himself from all of Millar's hype:

"Like the statesman he is, Valentino wouldn’t go so far as to say that Millar’s Run was the 'next level' for superhero stories, as Millar has phrased it, he put the judgment back in the hands of them that will be doing the judging. 'That's something everyone is going to have to decide for themselves, isn't it? I might think it's the greatest thing since the invention of pizza, but you might think it sucks,' Valentino said... While it may seem like the wave of the future to some, Valentino sees it more as a creator taking advantage of what exists in the market…all at once. 'I'm not sure that it's a new way,” the publisher said. “Almost every creator these days moves between different publishers for different projects. I do agree that Mark is spreading his wings a bit, seeing the different deals out there that are available and seeing how he feels about working with different people and that's a very good thing for him to do at this point in his career. The stunt may be new, but the notion of working with as many people you can certainly isn't.'"

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Ectingville Club lives! (Comi)X-Fan writers list their top 10 picks to replace Grant Morrison on NewXMen. Many are irredeemably geeky ("Throughout the years regardless of what title he has taken on, Claremont's strength lies in his characterization and character progression. Go back and reread X-Men (vol.1) #94, and then compare those people with the team and other characters in Uncanny X-Men #138, Uncanny X-Men #190, Uncanny X-Men #208, Uncanny X-Men #244, Uncanny X-Men #273, etc. Hopefully you got the point that his characters never stay stagnant and that change is the norm. Want a more recent example? Well, just reread X-Treme X-Men #31 and compare those same people with what was left from Uncanny X-Men #380 or X-Men (vol.2) #99. He revived the sloths they had become. Mr. Claremont is also one of the best plot interweavers in the industry. Again, without listing another set of issues, go back and check out what has transpired. Heck, again, read X-Treme X-Men #31 to see some serious plot seeds being planted. He's given the reader two separate golden ages (Dark Phoenix/ Days of Future Past era & X-Tinction Agenda/ New Genesistime frame) and the highest quality all around the both of them, and if rightfully given back the helm of the New X-Men, I forsee another one on the horizon"), and the responses the writers give to each other's lists are even worse ("David, your list is wrong, wrong wrong! Alan Moore and Priest, and Gaimen. Other than that, you recycle drooling fanboy fan favorites. What is this, the Wizard Bullpen? Am I the only person who doesnt want to see Bendis on EVERY title?? He's a great writer, but come on!"), but to the person who suggested Aaron Sorkin - that would be fucking surreal. And wonderful.

Paul O'Brien's reviews over at The X-Axis have been consistently wonderful for the past few years - funny, intelligent and a nice balance between fanboyishness and common sense. But if that isn't enough to make you love him, then his reviews of Marvel's Venom should tip you over the edge into adoration. His review of issue 5 went like this:

"That's... it? Five sodding issues to establish that Venom is dangerous, he's escaped, and somebody's trying to get him back? For christ's sake. Decompressed storytelling is one thing, but at this speed Venom seems determined to produce the world's first decompressed trade paperback. Come back in six months for volume 2, when Venom will spend five issues walking to the shops to buy some teabags. In volume 3, he walks back. Seriously, I get that they're trying to go for horror and atmosphere here, but it just isn't working. It's too damn slow."

Today's review of issue 6 is, however, a classic:

"Oh sweet jesus, are we still in the sodding Arctic? This is just taking the piss."

Mark Millar talks about his future:

"I've really been lying low for the last six months and working away quite hard. I wrapped Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates volume one in the first half of the year, did the little romance book for Marvel because they asked me and have been working like a dog on the Millarworld books. Something really quite odd happened when I started doing these books. It was kind of like a little evolutionary jump and I've really changed my approach to writing again quite considerably. It really hit me when finishing Superman: Red Son in late Spring (I'd gone back and redialogued pretty much every line) and I really just felt so sick of the whole decompression thing. I think it was necessary because it was a great jumping on point for new readers and the stories were very, very linear and easy to understand and the very strong increase in sales these last two years is evidence that it worked. However, I'm bored with it. I want to write comics where something actually HAPPENS every issue-- where LOTS of things happen every issue-- and my new strategy is to combine the all-essential straightforwardness of that decompressed style with more dense content. Sure, sometimes it's interesting to see a conflict with an adversary over six issues, but sometimes it's also interesting seeing it over six pages before jumping onto something else."

A cynic would say that this translates into "I've realised that Ed Brubaker's a bit popular these days, so it's not just the set-up of Sleeper that I'm ripping off from him - I'm going for his recompressed pacing, too!" Nice to see that Trouble's now referred to as "the little romance book for Marvel" that he wrote because they asked him to, as well...

As ever, lots of things at this week's All The Rage. Of particular note was this line:

"According to sources DC really enjoys fucking around with Isabella's baby [the character Black Lightning]."

Is it wrong of me to think that that all makes it sound a lot more personal than it most likely is? I doubt that DC really cares about Black Lightning more than any other minor character it owns one way or another, and especially not that it "really enjoys" fucking the character around (Can a corporation actually enjoy anything, as such?). Creator complains about the mishandling of his creation shocker, part 23 of millions. Next week: "Marvel gets off fucking around with Len Wein's baby. 'I didn't create Wolverine to be a posh kid who accidentally killed his friend, disappeared into a non-descript American town only to be later kidnapped by a secret Government program that may or may not have been secretly sponsored by Magneto depending on whether the Grant Morrison revamp sticks and become a human killing machine-cum-sales franchise for Marvel Comics,' creator complains."

(Alan David Doane disagrees with my take on this, by the way).

Fans are getting picky (No, really picky) about the upcoming Peanuts collections from Fantagraphics, prompting Kim Thompson to ask them "You people really don't trust us not to botch this up, do you?"

Saturday, October 18, 2003

If John Byrne didn't exist, we'd have to invent him:

"It's all about respect . These nicknames diminish the characters. They strip them of dignity. They whittle away the (already fragile) reality of the tales.

"Seriously -- would you call Batman 'Bats' to his face? Even Superman, who is a much more 'approachable' kind of guy -- if he were real, would you actually feel comfortable addressing him as 'Supes'?"

[via Comicon]

The Millarworld Irregulars are discussing whether Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman killed comics, brought on by a similar discussion on a Neil Gaiman fansite. In between the insightful posts - "I think Moore and Gaiman certainly allowed adults to enjoy comics more, and maybe at the expense of children" - you can also find some possibly wrong "facts" ("Seeing that Sandman has sold more copies than any other comic...") and the sort of thing you expect from Millarworld: "guy's an idiot. Gaiman and Moore raised the bar on quality. if not for them comics might have died off" and "If David Mack doesn't tell fresh new stories in a fresh new way, then nobody ever has and nobody ever will." Le sigh...

Random thought.

If Cafe Press can offer a publishing program that prints books on demand from a digital library of PDFs, images, and what-nots, is it possible that a comic publisher could do the same thing for specialised trades? Obviously, they'd be more expensive (and lower quality) than mass-produced trades, but imagine if you could go to the Marvel website and order a collection of Jo Duffy and Kerry Gammill's run on Power Man and Iron Fist, despite the fact that Marvel couldn't probably care less about putting something like that out into the marketplace these days?

Two good things about writing a column for a comics website:

1. Free comics (Thanks, Jason!).

2. People emailing you rumours and gossip. Two separate people have now sent me what's essentially the same rumour: That Marvel are going to be cutting back their trade paperback line in some way. If true (and that's still "if" - Neither of the people were associated with Marvel), then it's about time, says I.

Also, spot the difference between the original line from this week's Who's Lying Anyway? and what went up:


"Mark Millar, who worked with Jemas on The Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, and Mark Millar’s Masturbatory Fantasies: Trouble, wrote on his message board..."

What saw "print":

"Mark Millar, who worked with Jemas on The Ultimates, Ultimate X-Men, and Trouble, wrote on his message board..."

Damn censorship! Damn it to hell!

For obvious reasons, this didn't make it into this week's Grim Tidings (which should be up tomorrow, but when does that ever happen?):

"Can I just say that I love Newsarama?

Okay, maybe I should justify that somewhat. Newsarama, in its entirety, I don’t love so much. The articles by Stuart Moore are always worth a look, and Mike San Giacomo’s ongoing Epic process has a certain car crash quality from week to week. The news and interviews are always worth reading as well… but the comments from the posters have been getting more and more inane and pointless recently, it seems, and more often than not, I don’t read any further in a thread than the third post for fear of my head exploding in frustration at all the pointless blind hate and love going around these days. All of that said, this week Matt Brady wrote something that will mean that I shall always like him. Writing about the Direct Market Sales Chart for last month, he got through all the major numbers, movers and shakers, just as you’d expect, before getting to this bit (edited for length, but go and check out the article):

“So yes – it is a very good time for comics. Some comics. Not all. While the argument has been made that hot books and attention has a trickle-down effect to other comics, it’s hard to see it as sales on non-cape series continue to slide. The trickle-down effect is even harder to see when the larger publishers start trickling on themselves (no self-urination pun intended), that is, when they produce more and more product to suck up the extra dollars that the enthused new, returned, or just long-time, but suddenly jazzed reader brings to the table.

“It would be difficult, if not impossible to correlate the stellar highs seen at the top of the Top 300 with the sinking titles below #150. Some of it could come from retailers that are sinking more money into books that are “hot” and will likewise bring them money in the aftermarket (for example Marvel books that are printed to order, and DC’s rather relaxed trade policy will give retailers at least three months to sell the individual issues of “Hush” to those looking for the rest of the story after the first collection) – after all, ordering 100 copies of Batman #619, thinking that 50 will sell quickly, and 50 will sell over the course of the next five months ties up money – money that cannot be spent on ordering other books… As Marvel and DC continue to try and top each other, retailers have fewer and fewer dollars left to expand beyond the first 180 pages of Previews. It could be argued that the effects are already being seen, both at the top of the chart, and the bottom, where reorders are consistently higher than many comics’ regular orders.

“This month, for example, the reorders on Batman #618 ranked at #215 (an estimated 5,882 copies). That placed it above virtually every independent comic shipped by Diamond in September. For the more wise and Alan Moore-ly like among us, it could be argued that the snake has begun to eat its tail.”

Mr. Brady, you are a prince amongst men."

Friday, October 17, 2003

Marvel decide that it's time to milk that Neil Gaiman connection for all it's worth. Best part of the press release: "This isn’t a What If…? story, it’s a comprehensive re-imagining of the Marvel Universe." Which implies that the problem with What If...?s is that they just weren't comprehensive enough...

Watch Ultimate Mr. Fantastic (Mr. Ultimate Fantastic? Mr. Fantastically Ultimate?) clench those buttocks!

Kingpin falls. First a six-issue mini, then an ongoing series, and now cancelled with issue seven, which completes the first storyline. Good old Marvel.

Just for John, please note the comments feature that should now be working. Although you can all still pile on at John's forum, as well...

"When he's not fighting crime, Spider-Man can be found web-climbing and web-swinging, and he's always ready to brighten your day with a joke or a hug."

What. The. Fuck?

Bendis is up to his old tricks again:

"word came down from the man...


Bear in mind: This man said that Wizard World Chicago this year was going to change the face of comics. Can anyone even remember anything that happened there?

More previews of Mark Millar's upcoming "Wanted" are available at The Pulse. It's only reading this that I realise how indebted Millar is to Quentin Tarantino, especially when it comes to self-conscious dialogue.

Michael Tierney, comics retailer, on Batman #620:

"This is Parental Guidance stuff! Teenage audiences at the youngest! Did the Code really approve this for All-Ages? Have their standards changed? What's happened to the DC Universe being for All-Ages? This is strictly Vertigo material. Has DC decided to take a page from Marvel's book of shock campaigns?"

If this column isn't a joke, then this man should really look at his life and do something about it:

"In case you haven’t gathered from my past columns, I don’t have a life. I do not have friends, I do not “hang out” with other people, I don’t even go to chat rooms. I used to have conversations at the phone bank earlier this year, but after leaving, I haven’t been in touch with any of my former co-workers. (I send e-mails to one who moved away, but she rarely responds.) I spend most of my days at home with my brother who won’t talk to me. We don’t get along so great. Since I work nights, I only see my father on weekends, and even then we don’t have conversations. He tells me things I need to know and I just agree until he stops.

"My life, such as it is, consists of comic books, and occasionally videogames and movies. My sheltered childhood increased my fear of people until I found myself feeling disconnected from the human race. I have no interest in what other people think or do. I do not feel like a member of a larger nation, nor group, nor even a community. I only want as much feedback from this column to 1) Confirm I’m being read, thus feeding my ego, and 2) Obtain specific information for my work. In short, my life is empty because it does not involve other people. And it does not involve other people because I do not involve myself with other people.

"For this reason, I do not find dramas entertaining. I have tried to watch popular TV dramas in the past, like 'ER'. They all seemed to be about the problems and lives of fictional characters who were not dissimilar to real people. They were like real life, with all the boring stuff cut out so you’d just see the exciting, emotional moments.

"Bored me to tears. If I wanted to see people with problems, I’d get a life. But I don’t get a life because that involves other people and getting involved with other people leaves you vulnerable. I’ve yet to experience any of the benefits of friendship or love, because I’ve never really given of myself to anyone. Life is, from what I’ve gathered, a long process of adapting to society, acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to work with other people. It is impossible to succeed without the help of others.

"And I resent that. I resent needing other people. I consider that a weakness. But it’s a weakness everyone has, making me more like everyone else. So I distance myself from others to be different."

The Fourth Rail loves Gotham Central (No, really, they do). You should, too.

From a Comicon thread gone wild:

"Yeah, I do think comics are better now. I think they're better than they were fifty years ago and I think they're better than they were ten years ago. The coolest time in comics history is right now."

In all seriousness, what is that different between comics ten years ago and comics now?

Crossgen cancel about half their line. Because that's definitely a way to get all the fans you've pissed off by not paying your freelancers and laying off the majority of your staff.

Meanwhile, at Newsarama, they're discussing the latest covers for all the Tsunami books:

"Anybody else think this idea is kind of weak? What exactly is the motivation behind this, particularly since there are currently so few distinguishing features between Tsunami books and regular books. Seriously...why are they doing this? I went into my comic store on Wednesday and said to my retailer...
'Uh, you gave me two copies of Mystique. I only want one.'
'One is Mystique, one is Venom.'
/me looks dumb....oh hey, they are different!
That is all. Dumb gimmick, no point, 'nuff said."

"I think the tsunami gimmick was annoying because you really couldnt distinguish one book from another unless you put your reading glasses on and looked at them closely... why are you getting Venom? That book is horrible, at least with Mystique you get some spy chick action."

"First of all...
The 'supposed' metallic ink covers suck ass. There isn't anything metallic about them. It's a dull shined duo-tone. In other words, they're bullshit."

Cameron Stewart rocks the hizzouse.

Ed Brubaker interviewed by Rich Johnston in the new Waiting For Tommy:

"RICH: Ah yes. That may well be the job description for his new position. Talking of whom, did you pitch to Epic at all?

ED: Yeah, in the 80s. I did Dreadstar and Coyote for them. Don't you know who I am?"

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Beau Smith (VP of Sales and Marketing at IDW Publishing) on the suggested sex scene in Avengers #71:

"What I don't really understand is why Marvel would want put this scene into a "known and marketed mainstream" book? Now being a writer and knowing writers as well as editors, I can figure on their end it was something they thought would be funny, hip or edgy. In reality it was pure Jr. High - stuff me and my buddies used to giggle and make up when we were at the age where thinking about Mr. Fantastic and Sue Storm in the sack was funny, Beavis and Butt-Head stuff.

"Who knows? On the marketing end, Marvel may have thought that getting the news out there on something so "racy" would get folks interested in a side show kinda' manner. Enough to where even a casual reader would buy it just to see it. I call it tabloid marketing. Hell, they could have even gone as far as wanting it forever written in Comic Book Price Guides as "Avengers Sex Issue." There's a grassy knoll for ya."

Bryan Hitch has posted about upcoming issues of The Ultimates over at Millarworld:

"Issue 13: 40 pages, issue 12: 28 pages; a total of 70 pages of non-stop action since issue 11 ended and more than sixty additional story pages since issue one. Just in case anybody hadn't noticed!"

Of course, it'll have taken about two years for those thirteen issues to have come out, so slapping yourself on the back about 60 "extra" pages is a bit much, Bryan. I mean, if you and Mark Millar had gotten the comic out on schedule, there would be about 200 extra pages compared to what exists now...

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