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Monday, May 31, 2004

There aren't many reviewers online that I pay a lot of attention to. Two who I do are Paul O'Brien of The X-Axis and Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading, both of whom review Astonishing X-Men #1 and touch upon concerns I had when reading the book. Johanna writes briefly about the expectations she brought to the book through previous associations with the writer:

"I kept trying to compare what was going on to what I'd seen on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whether it was snarky insults or inspirational speeches from remote blondes. I think I would have enjoyed the setup more if I had been able to approach it on its own terms, but comments about, for example, specifically deciding on costume fabrics made that impossible. The team having one of those 'let's all walk purposefully down the hall' moments would work better on screen, I think, and saying they need to be astonishing was the last straw for believability. Sure, I'll be back, because this is the only hope I have of having a readable X-Men title, and the team is classic enough for me to feel welcomed instead of put off."

Paul, on the other hand, approaches the sense of anticipation brought to the book by the hype surrounding it:

"What's missing here, I think, is a sense of occasion. There's no momentous shift here, and Whedon isn't taking the book in any particularly new direction. It takes Morrison's run as its starting point and mid-eighties Claremont as its inspiration. Nothing wrong with that, but little about this truly seems original. It's more the sort of comic that you wish Chris Claremont still made... It's still good. And the art is absolutely stunning. But it doesn't feel different. Rather than taking the ball and running with it, Whedon takes the ball and goes for a genial amble in the park. It's a beautiful park. I like the park. I don't mind seeing it again. But nonetheless, it doesn't feel like an event. And it was meant to, wasn't it?"

One-time Cornerstone Of The Comics Blogosphere Alan David Doane returns with a brand new version of Comic Book Galaxy, bringing with him reviews of Planet Of The Capes, The Filth, Monkey and Spoon, Voice of The Fire, and Comics Poetry, as well as ADD's notes on the recent comics output:

"Astonishing X-Men #1...Whedon's writing was better than I expected on this. I liked the confrontation between Logan and Cyclops and the matter of fact manner in which Scott and Emma's relationship is treated. But, for a title that is treated as such a big deal, why is it printed on toilet paper? It's so thin and poor-quality that it crinkled up from the humidity in my bedroom, which isn't a lot. Whatever happened to decent paper stock like Wildstorm used for The Authority and Planetary? Those half-decade old issues of mine are in better condition than this fucking X-Men comic I bought yesterday. Good old Marvel, they always find a way to fuck it up. And hey, isn't this comic by JOSS WHEDON, CREATOR OF BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER? Y'might have mentioned that on the cover too. Ball: Dropped."

Tony Lee's mother writes a report of the Marvel panel at Bristol:

"The UK Bristol Comic Festival has had a long reputation as being the 'one where Marvel doesn't bother to turn up', and this year there was exception. Whereas DC brought the big guns, releasing up to the minute news and announcing Dave Gibbons' new exclusive contract, Marvel was left with several creators who had been given nothing to announce. We had been promised David Finch, who hadn't appeared. Instead, we had newly Marvelised Mike Carey, David 'District X' Hine, Staz Johnston and X-Book rookie Tony Lee who to be honest everyone believed had only been put up there to build the numbers. The audience knew that they had been stitched. The creators looked sheepish. Nothing happened. And then, something unexpected happened. After a pause, the rookie took the ball and ran with it. Recapping the best of last weeks WizardWorld announcements for the non-internet contingent, Tony Lee took control of the panel, quipping that this panel seemed to be like the scenes in the old epic movies where 'the christians are in the arena and the lions are looking hungry.' With no new news and nobody there of a senior level to confirm and deny various rumours, the panel were always the underdogs against the hungry crowd, but Tony fielded the questions like a veteran for the team, and after several questions where the creators quite happily put their hands in the air and claimed ignorance, even invited Lying In The Gutters' Rich Johnston to join the panel at one point, making one of Marvel's biggest headaches suddenly it's biggest allies in one fell swoop. Rich was able to give a journalistic view of Marvel for the panel and confirm things that the creators couldn't and things went smoothly from there on. People who had left even came back in... [T]he star of the show, hands down was Tony Lee. For a nobody, with only an Unlimited credit to his name and no announced projects to step up to the mike and take the show over, fielding questions and on several occasions having the floor in stitches, Marvel might have found a creator to fly their UK panel flag. Or at least a damned good PR man for next years panel. I for one will be watching this man with interest."

Dave Gibbons signs an exclusive deal with DC:

"We were speaking about various creative matters, and it just seemed to me that a useful way to go would be to do it under contract, because I do tend to get quite a few phone calls with offers that tend to be distracting, or tempting little things come up that I find it very hard to say no to, so I can sometimes overburden myself with work... For those reasons, and because the work I’m going to be doing for DC is interestingly enough creatively, and would assure me of the kind of income that I like, it just seemed to make perfect sense to do it all under contract. Obviously, from DC’s point of view, it’s very nice to slot people into the schedule, and know that they’re going to be available to do the work. So, we came to a mutual agreement about it – and there are certain benefits to being under contract as far as bonuses are concerned and page rates, and so on, so it seemed a good thing to do."

Not being unkind or anything, but is Gibbons really still a big draw these days?

Ray Tate reviews JLA #99, the conclusion of the Byrne-Claremont-Ordway run and decides to look over the run as a whole:

"This run of JLA was not meant to be read solely by adults. Think about the future. Kids are not reading comic books. Why is that? Well, are there any cool comic books for kids? DC's canceling two of them--the very best, but oh, look, here's one super-hero run kids can actually read. The super-heroes in JLA act like super-heroes. They do not watch while people die. They put together the puzzle. They team-up with the Doom Patrol, and they save lives! This is what it is all about! This is the magic of the super-hero. It's not about how six trade paperbacks chronicle Batman's tortured psyche as he copes with being framed for Vesper Fairchild's death. It's not about Superman--the Man of Steel--finding himself no match for ugly, empty suits of armor. It's not about Wonder Woman dating a black, bearded effeminate named Trevor. It's not about the Atom being reverted into a teenager. It's about super-heroes saving lives. It's about Batman deciding that no one would suffer the way he did. It's about Superman deciding that he would use his powers not to rule but to help. It's about Wonder Woman protecting humankind. It's all about denying Lord Acton's belief: 'Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.' Is the super-hero an illusion? Sure, but the concept's a beautiful illusion that has existed ever since Sherlock Holmes pitted his intellectual might against fiends and villains of all ilk."

First off, he really did say "a black, bearded effeminate".

Secondly, and as a counter-point, I'd like to point out that the run featured cliched dialogue, fake danger (Oh no! Wonder Woman is dead! Oh wait... She's WONDER WOMAN.), lazy plotting in general (end one issue with a cliffhanger, start the next with a flashback showing what led up to that cliffhanger, two issues in a row), two-dimensional new characters and generally a story that went beyond old-fashioned to just plain old and boring. The run may not have been meant to be read solely by adults, but the average kid would've been bored by the second issue; only masochists like me and old-school Byrne and Claremont fans will have stuck around for all six issues.

But your mileage may vary.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Delphi forum The V talk sense:

"Serious question, folks... Why is Austen's work loathed so much?"

"Because he's much, much worse than merely bad. He regularly produces stories that make you think, 'Jesus, what the fuck were they thinking?' I can think of plenty of Chuck Austen stories that leave you wondering how they could EVER have seemed like a good idea, even at the initial pitch stage."

"Austen when on 'form' can write legible english - unfortunately this doesn't happen all that often. His characterisation is contrived, shallow and usually ripped from somewhere else. He does little to no research for stories outside his comfort zone and shows little reguard for backstory or established conventions which help maintain the readers ability to loose themselves in the story. Take as an example the two main characters in the Kentucky Shakspeare story in UXM - how many 16 years olds talk like that? (On top murdering Romeo & Juliet he proceeded to bugger about with a relatively simple and quite effective back-story for Cannonball and his entire family)

"Also he often makes absolutely no sense. Plots, characterisation, speech patterns and frequently the laws of physics can take drastic turns all in the space of one issue. The classic would be Skins funeral, which is appalingly written and horribly drawn. As contrived and mawkish as 'a true life' TV movie and he also managed to get the characters name wrong three times in the space of 28 pages. There's no subtlety to Austen when he's trying to make a point either, he has a thing for women rights (which in it's self is no bad thing) but MUST we have it hammered over our heads again and again by a pointed dig at the Canadian social services inability to protect Sammy or the throughly un-necessary rape flashback of the new Captain Britain? Add all that to the fact he's writing on some of Marvels top books (the well loved, well followed stuff that attracts the casual readers as well as the hardcore fans) and that's why he's been singled out."

"The problem with Austin is not as much that he´s a bad writer, but the fact he includes his own beliefs into stories even if they aren´t adequate to the character or the story, he always finds a way to talk about sex, wife beating or misogny in his stories, sometimes this ideas come so out of nowhere that they not only hurt the pace of the stories they also make them incoherent."

John has gone mad. But in a good way.

(I never get good Google searches for people coming to my blog. *Sob*)

Glenn Fabry talks about Bricktop, his strip in the upcoming A1 anthology. The editors, however, feel they should clarify something:

"At this point, we the publishers of this publication wish to point out that while Glenn’s comment somewhat accurately describes the tone and flavor of the book, the description of the story elements deviate from his passage a little. In fact, they deviate from it completely, BUT it is very funny and the artwork is brilliant, so let’s just buy it by the truckload so we can make Glenn a very happy bunny. Thank you."

Brian Michael Bendis deals with a complaining poster:

"Mr Bendis r u really going to wait till issue six... for Secret Wars to get really started. We get two issues of just setup but come on. You can tell me u dont write for trades."

(When challenged about why he still reads the book by other posters, the complaining poster explains:)

"I love the damn dialogue and the character interaction that he does. I just hate that the pacing is so slow and the action is so little. Im excited about the story but all it is is two issues of set up... When you have four issues of just setup and nothing else with the last 2 having action. Its writing for trade and it hurts the comic buying spending. Stories are taking so long to get interesting that people rather buy the complete arc. Im not trying to insult any writer but im just stating my opinion. Bendis is a damn good writer but sometimes his pacing sucks. Or like with the ultimate six mini we got all set up and no payoff... You can like some things about it which i do but not like other things. Right now i like the characters,art,and story but i hate the pacing."

Bendis responds:

"i appreciate what you are saying, but maybe, JUST MAYBE, you like the story and characters BECAUSE of the pacing... just want to put that out there."

Newsarama posters wonder what the dumbest moment in comic books is:

"My first nomination: The Punisher becoming a black man with the help of plastic surgery and then teaming up with Luke Cage."

"Dr. Doom losing a battle to ... Squirrel Girl?!?!?"

"Ok Ok, I got another one, and this one is specific. Supes/Bats #7... The giant Robo/mecha/gundam fight with superboy and robin in the armor suit thingies. Sorry....but no. Just, no, shouldn't happen."

While no-one was paying attention (apart from Matt Maxwell, who sent the link to me), Grant Morrison updated his Crack!Comicks site with information about his new wave of MorrisonWorld titles, where he revamps old rejected pitches as mini-series for various publishers that'll all ship late while he struggles with computer problems. No, wait, I mean his three all-new creator-owned mini-series for Vertigo. As no-one can do over the top hype quite like Morrison, let's let the man speak for himself:

"Remember thinking, 'Sure we all everybody love Japanese manga but sometimes manga just take ways too long time to read. All those pages, huh? Those big eyes. Forget it. What we need is a western manga more easy to read and faster to throw away…' well crack!comicks read your mind months before you even had that thought and just in time for you to have it again we now solve problem proudly present the first western manga – MTV manga - supercompressed fun for busy minds only here!"

There're also creator bios and art previews there, too. Go and see.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Shawn Hoke makes me want to buy the new McSweeney's even more than I already did, having seen it in Green Apple the other day:

"Inside McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Number 13, provided you can put down the ridiculously entertaining Ware cover with its eye popping Gary Panter mural on the backside, you will find endpapers that feature Ivan Brunetti’s classic comic character caricatures. At this point, you may have marveled and giggled, but you haven’t even arrived at the index page. When you do, you will notice that the book contains comics by guest editor Ware, Joe Sacco, Ivan Brunetti, Julie Doucet, Joe Matt, Seth, Adrian Tomine, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Robert Crumb, Gary Panter, Dan Clowes, Jim Woodring, Chester Brown, Richard Sala, Kaz, Charles Burns, Jeffrey Brown, David Heatley, Mark Beyer, Debbie Dreschler, Mark Newgarden, Lynda Berry, Archer Prewitt, Ben Katchor and Art Speigelman. There are also comic strip features on Budd Fisher, Richard McGuire, George Herriman (which show and discuss the six daily strips that were found in various stages of completeness on Herriman’s table when he passed away), Rodolphe Töpffer and preliminary sketches of Peanuts strips by Charles Schulz. Additionally, there are complimenting text pieces and short stories by John Updike, Chip Kidd, Michael Chabon, Ira Glass and Glen David Gold."

From this week's celebrity gossip Popbitch mailer:

"I met one of the guys who worked on the Batman costumes for the new film, Batman Begins. Apparently the batsuits for Christian Bale are pretty different from the last movies - four were made, for a total budget of £1 million. One of the suits is covered in fibre-optic lights, while another one is plain white. The designer also told me that, before delivering the finished products, he and his boyfriend enjoyed a weekend of superhero sex in the costumes."

Wash those outfits, Christian.

I have just been emailed the greatest thing ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank Chaz Ervin for this. It's what the world has been waiting for.

CBR launches Comic Book Idol. Since when has Paul Weller worked as Managing Editor for Image? Also, this was interesting:

"This year, our 'selection committee' consists of five of last year's contestants: Jonathan Hickman, Martin Redmond, Chris Ring, Frank Weber, and our reigning Comic Book Idol, who makes his Big Two debut in 'Marvel Age Spider-Man' this July, Patrick Scherberger."

Mike Carey talks about Hellblazer's 200th issue:

"Without giving too much away, what we're doing is following up three key relationships in John's life... And at first it might look like we're doing a kind of 'how it might have been' story- a Hellblazer 'What if...?', but gradually, as each scenario plays out, you realize that there's something a whole lot more sinister going on, and that this is all real. Everything is at stake, and if John doesn't figure out what's going on then he stands to lose everything that makes his life worth living. We've got John way out of his normal territory, even though there's some supernatural stuff going on - and we've got him making disastrous mistakes because really this isn't somewhere he's ever been or imagined himself being... And as with 'Staring at the Wall,' this isn't a story that's just going to reach an end point and then stop. There are going to be consequences, and the consequences will play themselves out over the year to come. This is a story that largely defines the future of John Constantine."

How does a failing publisher lose even more goodwill with its fans? By ending a book prematurely, it seems:

"I read issue 34 [of Crossgen's Sojourn] last night and am sad to say that I have never seen any form of entertainment end with such a thud. Not in comics. Not on tv. Not in movies. Wow. It was SO bad that I lost a lot of sympathy for CrossGen as a company. They have an incredible fan base that basically were handed a big 'F You!' of a climax. Wow. Horrid. Anyone else read it?"

"So what your saying is the fact I will never read the finale (since I read the trades and the chances of a fifth and final one are zilch) is not a bad thing?"

"No. Not a bad thing at all. In fact, I am so pissed that they hoodwinked a final $2.95 from me and my wife that I am actively telling you not to buy any more Sojourn products because there is no ending."

IDW announces two new series: Another CSI series and a new series by Steve Niles, Secret Skull:

"Secret Skull #1 will have story by Steve Niles and art by Chuck BB. Described as a 'horror pulp,' the story features a mysterious killer who only kills bad guys."

Horror pulp, huh? Good to see Niles branching out into new genres and not just running the schtick that found him fame into the ground.

John Byrne really thinks too much about how Superman's powers work:

"In WORLD OF METROPOLIS I address the idea of Superman writing at super speed, using his heat vision to keep the pencil sharp. But over the years we have often seen Superman use a convential ballpoint or fountain pen to write at super speed, without any consideration of how fast the ink would flow. Likewise we have seen him type at super speed. On a manual typewriter this would be out of the question. Even on an electric. And I am not sure the buffer of the best computer would be able to keep up. Also we have seen Superman do things like showering at super speed -- which of course does not take into account the speed with which the water flows from the shower head. He's also cooked at super speed, using his heat vision -- but without taking into account the fact that heat can travel only so fast, even thru the best of conductors, and most foods are lousy conductors! That's why they cook at all! Bathing a steak in heat vision is not going to cook it any faster than popping it in the microwave."

Now, scientifically, he may be right, but scientifically, there also isn't a Superman in the first place and he should really not be so anal about the whole thing.

In a weird way, there really may be nothing funnier recently that watching Mark Millar deal with his computer worries. For the sake of ease, we'll start with this thread, even though the problems go back further. Millar, you see, was having problems with his old computer:

"I've got the whole last issue of WANTED here and I tried to save and it said WORD CANNOT COMPLETE DUE TO A WORD PERMISSION FAILURE. I haven't hit OK yet because I think the whole fucking thing is about to disappear. What can I do? I tried going into OPEN and issue six just does not exist here. I have the issue in front of me, but what now? How can I save this? I have no back-up copy!"

This lead him to a major decision:

"Tomorrow morning, I'm buying a new machine and as much as I love PCs I'm definitely going for a Mac. One quick question: Does this mean that I will almost never get a virus again as these things are designed for PCs? I know I could upload a weekly virus checker, but I also know I won't and so I need something with a minimum fuss on my end. No matter how easy it is, I really, really won't do this and so need that Mac guarantee. Do they have some built-in thing?"

There were, however, problems:

"GOOD NEWS: I BOUGHT MY G4 powerbook... Bad news: I'm missing missing AC plug, power adapter and AC cord. Good old PC WORLD. Basssstardsssssssss...."

Oh, and some more problems:

"Alice and Craig were a good help, but I needed to call my server and even HE seemed baffled. He said I either had a crap ethernet connection lead or there's something wrong with the port in my Mac. Fuck! Gill has driven down to this shop four times in eighteen hours and it's TEN MILES AWAY! I'm going to have to try the new lead and if THAT doesn't work take it back. Trouble is, it was the last one they had and they didn't know when they'd get more in. AGGGGGHHHHHGHGHGHGHHGHGHGH!!!!!"

...And some more problems...

"Well, just back from a comp shop with a new ethernet lead and it's still not working. Thus, it must be the port which means I need a new machine. I can't get a ride there until the morning so that's another day where I get fuck all done!"

Eventually, it becomes very obvious that Millar should just never be let near a computer at all, in a thread named "HOW DO I EJECT A DISK?, REALLY URGENT!!!":

"I'm taking this back and have a disk inside. How do I eject on the ibook? I'm trying F12 and nothing is happening"

(Millar's reaction to the advice is equally amusing: "Wait. I've got BROADBAND INSTALLER (the disk)running and can't close. It's got NEXT and a shrink function, but no X. How do I close this? How do I QUIT APPLICATION???" After someone tells him to press the Next button he's just mentioned, he replies "What NEXT button? Is it a symbol?")

CALL THE HELP DESK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MILLAR.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Upsetting news about one of my favourite Silver Age (ish) creators from Mark Evanier:

"Longtime comic book fans will be dismayed to hear that one of our great writers, Bob Haney, is currently in a nursing facility following a massive stroke that has left him unable to speak or even (apparently) recognize his friends. I was told about this a few days ago but I hesitated to post it because I didn't know if his family would want it publicized. Someone however has appended the information to this otherwise lovely piece about Bob and his retirement to San Felipe, Baja, Mexico. Bob, who is well known to readers for his work on Teen Titans, The Brave and the Bold, Blackhawk, The Unknown Soldier and so many others moved there a few years ago to enjoy his senior years. For the last few San Diego Cons, he has occasionally shown up unannounced (he claimed to not even have a phone for a time there) and I always enjoyed talking to him and squeezing him into panels as a last-minute add. A friend at DC Comics says they're keeping in contact. If Bob shows the slightest ability to appreciate fan mail, I'll get an address and post it here so we can deluge him. But at the moment, I'm told, it doesn't look good."

Bob Haney wrote some of my favourite goofy comics ever. This is really sad news.

Following Dark Horse's lead, Marvel creates a prose publishing line:

"Marvel Comics, the nation's leading comic book publisher and a division of Marvel Enterprises, Inc., will enhance its successful growing front list of graphic novels with the creation of its first prose imprint - Marvel Press. Based upon characters in the Marvel Universe, the new line of fiction broadens Marvel's reach in the fast-growing graphic novel market by penetrating both traditional and new markets. Marvel has hired seven-year veteran of children's and young adult publishing, Ruwan Jayatilleke, formerly of Scholastic, to head Marvel Press and oversee its aggressive launch list with three prose novels scheduled for 2004 and a minimum of 12 for 2005."

Paul O'Brien and Marc-Oliver Frisch look over April's sales. O'Brien offers an interesting thought on Marvel's numbers:

"Surprisingly, [Fantastic Four is] the only Marvel title to show a 6 month gain - and even then, it's only 0.2%. Of course, there are plenty of books which Marvel have axed in the last six months and replaced with higher selling books. Still, if you've only got one book that's had an overall gain in sales over the last six months... well, isn't that a little worrying? It won't be true for long, mind you. The X-books will all be showing six months gains thanks to Reload for some months to come. And soon the Avengers books will be doing likewise. Still, it's a statistic that ought to raise eyebrows."

Frisch looks at the launch of the Azzarello/Lee Superman:

"While it's hardly surprising that SUPERMAN is heading the charts this month, it's well worth noting that Jim Lee's first issue of BATMAN, in comparison, had initial orders of 113,061. Since that was before Diamond provided information on actual sales, we can't directly compare the two. It should be obvious, however, that the debut of Lee's SUPERMAN is dwarfing most of his BATMAN issues. (The notable exception is BATMAN #619, which remains the best-selling book in the direct market in recent memory with 233,775 copies sold in its initial month of release -- with the help of two alternative covers, mind you.) The next issue, by the way, is going to feature a variant cover by Michael Turner, which will no doubt boost sales. At Newsarama, meanwhile, the rumor is that orders for May's other juggernaut, ASTONISHING X-MEN #1, are only at about 225,000 so far. While I wouldn't place any bets on that information, SUPERMAN #205 could be a tough nut for Marvel to crack -- which they know, and which is why we're currently seeing a new version of the 'Variant Cover Wars,' I suppose."

Over at Comix-Fan, Jim Lemoine considers the idea of the "definitive run" on a title:

"The Definitive Run is respectful of a character's past in a way that other runs aren't. Claremont took Stan Lee's original 'protecting a world that hates and fears us' premise much farther than Stan Lee or subsequent X-Men writers ever did, focusing on the all-too-real evils of prejudice and bigotry - bringing out the root (and to that point, ignored) strength of the X-Men revitalized the franchise. Simonson tore Thor away from day-to-day superheroics as usual to go back to the root mythology of the character. Mark Waid made the 'America' matter for Cap with a present-day relevance that Steve Rogers had always lacked. In lieu of a Definitive Run, writers (the good ones, anyway) base their stories around the franchise's origin... the aforementioned 'Formative Character.' That's what the best runs build on, and attempting to contradict or ignore it almost always leads to disaster for creator and sales alike."

Art Spiegelman returns with In The Shadow Of No Towers:

"Furious at the direction the United States was taking Spiegelman returned to cartooning, and in spite of the fact that he 'never wanted to be a political cartoonist,' he began exploring and explicating the post 9/11 world in a series of oversized, full color two-page spreads, a format that echoes the early newspaper comics, which were born in the 1890s on Park Row, just a few blocks from ground zero. Spiegelman found solace in the adventures of the Yellow Kid, in the anarchic antics of the Katzenjammer Kids, and in the lyrical absurdism of George Herriman's Krazy Kat and these vintage comic strips inform In the Shadow of No Towers in numerous ways. The result is a 42-page collection, which mixes early twentieth century cartoon characters and twenty-first century political controversy."

Image plans The Art Of Greg Horn:

"Image plans to release The Art of Greg Horn in August, in $39.95 hardcover and $59.95 limited (1500) signed and numbered hardcover editions. The 144-page, 9" x 12" book will feature art from all three of Horn's main work areas -- comics, advertising, and videogames (he's done nearly 35 covers of videogame magazines). Most of the art pieces will be accompanied with editorial or creative comments from Horn. The book will also include a step-by-step tutorial on digital art; Horn says that half of the questions he gets from fans are of the 'how-to' variety."

The other half are from fans wondering if they can get wipe-clean versions of their comics so that... Nah. Too obvious.

Fabian Niceza is taking the relaunch of X-Force as seriously as it deserves:

"Story-wise, we're still gathering the Magnificent Seven as I write this, but there will be a variety of perspectives involved. At the end of the day, the overriding threat to mutants and humanity should and will supercede and individual qualms about hooking up again. And if we do our jobs right, Cable will come back into each of their lives while in the middle of a ridiculously convoluted life and death struggle that will require lots of open mouth yelling, but very little introspection about the fact that Cable is back in their lives... This is X-Force we're talking about, wherever there's panel space available, I will fill it with horrifically overblown dialogue."

The Bendis Board REBELS!:

"Congratulations Marvel... you have completely broken me of any thoughts of ever buying another variant cover. I just found out today that the store I help out is not getting 25 copies of the variant Cassaday cover to Astonishing X-Men like I thought, but only six. He's getting 75 copies of the Dell'Otto cover, but SIX of the cover I like. I wasn't impressed with the lame Wolverine claw cover and was hoping to get the comic with the artwork I thought looked nice, but there is NO WAY I'd ever drop $90 for a copy of Astonishing X-Men. I'd rather go buy The Goon trades I've had my eye on. Or Strangers in Paradise, or any other batch of books I could get for $90. So is anyone here willing to plunk down the 90+ dollars it will require to get this cover or will we tell Marvel to stick it where the sun don't shine so we don't see this kind of crap again?"

"Don't they remember that the speculator's market had nearly killed the industry once before? God, I love comic books, but they sure can be retarded sometimes."

"Wow...I'm only getting three copies in my store (and for that I'm sitting on a SHITLOAD of Chuck Austen's X-Men, the others in Reload sold fine, but not that one). I've already promised them to my subscribers that have already asked for them, but I wasn't going to charge any more than cover price. Maybe in good conscience I could buck it up to five bucks because of the Austen title, but 90 bucks? There's just no way I could justify that. I'd rather make my customers happy, not anonymous ebayers."

Ross Richie (who owes me an email) interviews the great Dave Johnson:

"Most people are trying to make superheroes grittier and darker, and I don’t know, I kind of see Cap as a big red, white, and blue ball of fun. When I’m doing those covers, I was kind of re-living my childhood with Joe Sinnot inking and the old style Marvel comics. 100 Bullets covers have got to be gritty, different. I was given carte blanche to do whatever I wanted. Another thing I learned from advertising art school, we had to design a bill board, and they told us the general rule of billboards is that if you can’t read it in 3-5 seconds, the billboard fails. If you have to look at it too long, you’re going to drive off the road. It became clear to me to do that with covers. There was a point where I was making the covers really busy, but they don’t jump off the stands as well as a simple, bold design and color. When you’re scanning the cover and something with three colors is going to make you see that much easier than something with a million colors, say a George Perez all-out battle with 40 different characters each with every color of the rainbow as opposed to one guy, blocky back color (red against black or something) – BAM! that hits you in the face like a speeding train."

Mark Waid and Barry Kitson confirmed on a relaunch/revamp of The Legion Of Super-Heroes:

"As Waid explained it, DC approached the creators for the revamp of the franchise. 'Legion editor Steve Wacker, who is a delight to work with, started the ball rolling, Dan DiDio added to its momentum, and ultimately Paul Levitz sat down with us, listened to our pitch, made some terrific suggestions, and gave our approach his full and invaluable blessing,' Waid said. 'Barry and I seem to be on DC's short list of creators who are very respectful of their characters but who are eager to find new ways to interpret them for tomorrow’s audience instead of just yesterday’s.' Or – in Kitson’s words: 'DC asked if I was interested in working with Mark on it ...and it took me less than a nano-second to say 'yes!'. As you no doubt know, I've always been a huge Legion fan - and to get the chance to work with Mark in actually shaping a chapter of their history is a dream assignment! To add a little more 'meat' to the answer though - I think Dan Didio and DC were pleased with what Mark and I had done with Empire - and saw some potential in letting us loose on the 30th century... Everyone has really been enthusiastic and encouraging about what we've come up with so far!'"

Reduced blogging today due to WORK HELL. Best be warned.

EDIT: Actually, never mind. WORK HELL turned out to be a false alarm, and I've blogged more than usual today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Interesting stuff from the Joe Quesada forum:

"Heard from a pretty reliable source that Crossgen is closing up shop this week. Whether for good or temporarilly I don't know. But, from what I heard, all books are ending, the company is going dark, & all of the remaining employees are either moving out of Florida and/or looking for work elsewhere. Negation War. Gone. Abadazad. Gone. Game over."

Why do THEY hate the X-Men? Newsarama poster YDLM cuts through the "BS" to give us the truth:

"BS:The continuity is too confusing.
SANITY: Please tell me of any mainsteam title that has been in existence for more than 40 years and has had countless creative team that doesnt have a conitinuity holes that Rosie ODonnell could waddle through.You dont need to be aware of every appearance that a character made to enjoy the book. I didnt need it when I started reading Spidey in 1984, when the character had already been around for twenty years.
BS:The title/concept has gone downhill since The Dark Phoenix Saga.
SANITY:I just got a conference call from Chris Claremont,John Byrne,Jim Lee,Paul Smith,Mark Silvestri,Whilce Portacio,Peter David,Louise & Walt Simonson,Bret Blevins,Art Adams,Mark Millar,Ann Nocenti,Terry Austin,Fabian Nicieza,John Francis Moore,Adam Pollina,Joe Maduiera,Joe Quesada,Grant Morrison,Scott Lobdell, Andy & Adam Kubert,Mark Waid,and about a hundred other guys and they said 'EFF YOU'!"

Other Newsarama posters are happy for YDLM's stand:

"YDLM, you are my new hero for creating this thread. Ever since I started visiting the comic book sites on the internet, I've seen countless amounts of blind bashing of the X-books, and most of the criticism that I saw can be applied to a ton of other books on the market by ANY publisher. What I especially hate is when all these bashers try to pigeonhole us fans by saying the only reason we read the books is because we're a bunch of completists/collectors/speculators. You know what? I buy and read X-books because I like them. I don't like all of them, I recently had to drop one of them from my collection, but it's more or less the same now as it was when I started reading them 15 years ago. I like the stories, I like the characters....why is that only acceptable for any other franchise?"

"I couldn't have said it any better YDLM.. No.. really.. I couldn't have."

The Fourth Rail reviewers aren't overly impressed with the first issue of Astonishing X-Men. Don MacPherson:

"In and of itself, this is a decent introduction to the X-Men and a new lineup for the core team. In the greater context of the line of X-Men titles, though, it's much weaker. Whedon offers another student orientation scene, something we saw twice last week, in New X-Men #1 and X-Men #157. The script doesn't acknowledge the new statuo quo in Uncanny, or in the adjective-less X-Men. Should the writing on this title be judged by what's going on in other books? No, I suppose not, but the editing can be. Marvel is marketing the entire X-line as one entity with the "X-Men Reload" brand, encouraging readers to follow mulitple titles. Consistency is called for, but it's not to be found."

Randy Lander:

"There's a disconnect in the tone of Astonishing X-Men. At the same time that Whedon's characters are talking about returning to costumes and team ethics and being superheroes, Cassaday gives us costumes that are bland and unremarkable, and which look less flashy than the black leather costumes that the characters are mocking. While the feel of the book is undeniably old school, several chances for an opening action scene are passed by in favor of the more talky style embraced by Marvel in general these days. And while Whedon embraces some of the continuity changes, like Emma as headmistress rather than villain or the changes in the Beast, his Kitty Pryde doesn't really ring true to the character that we've seen in recent years, seeming instead like a throwback to her previous incarnation."

Marvel are expected to release a statement that, really, they could give a shit about reviews.

Warren Ellis gives more information on his upcoming Ultimate Nightmare series for Marvel on his Bad Signal mailing list:

"Once again, I'm picking up the slack on something [Mark] Millar was originally slated for but didn't have time to do. It's based on a story idea from Joe Quesada and illustrated by Trevor Hairsine. First issue's in August, I think. The basic idea is that a Weird Unknown Event disrupts all world communications systems, and that the epicenter of the disruption appears to be in the remote Tunguska region of Siberia.

"Exactly one hundred years ago (in the Ultimate Universe timeline -- I'm monkeying with actual history just a little) an object exploded over the Tungus River Valley. The Tunguska Event, as it's known, may have been an exploding meteorite, a comet strike, an anti-matter event -- nobody knows. But this disruptive signal is emanating from Tunguska Event Ground Zero, exactly one hundred years later. The Ultimates, the US superhuman defense initiative, send in a team to investigate and solve with extreme prejudice. Since they're without their Psi-Division of tame telepathic mutants, they're unaware that the signal also extends into neuro-readable frequencies. The X-Men, believing that these are the telepathic wails of a traumatised mutant, send in a team, with no knowledge that the Ultimates are also en route. And none of them know what's really at Tunguska Ground Zero. People who like PLANETARY might get a kick out of this one."

Augie De Blieck Jr. wasn't impressed by the DC panel at WizardWorld:

"The disorganization wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that DiDio acted like a drunken lout through most of it, giggling at his own jokes and several others that went unheard. I could be charitable and think of it as a nervous reaction to the flop sweat appearing on his brow, I suppose. The best he could come up with was asking creators on the panel what they thought of books they had nothing to do with - or which had just come out three days ago. When one mentioned he hadn't read the book yet that DiDio was asking him about, DiDio mockingly (I hope!) scolded him for not reading through his comp box. The book just came out on Wednesday! Comp boxes are monthly, if I've heard correctly... DiDio bad-mouthing Humanoids was what really sealed the deal for me. He hyped TECHNOPRIESTS as 'now fitting on your bookshelf while maintaining the same aspect ratio.' He quickly followed that up with a laughing, 'I'm sure that means a lot to you guys.' Well, yeah, it does mean a lot to me, and to an awful lot of fans who are concerned about the change in formatting. I'm sure he was just making light of the technical detail in an otherwise boring and useless write-up for a well-respected series of stories, but he didn't sell it very well. If he doesn't believe in the books DC publishes, DC has a big problem. I'll even give you this: for the books he doesn't believe in, he should shut his yap about it, read the card like a good automaton, and move on."

Stuart Moore closes out his A Thousand Flowers column by commenting on the state of comics' future - "The comics industry has the capacity to do some incredibly stupid things. But on balance, I’m not worried about its future. If, for instance, the direct market isn't supporting creator-owned monthly comics well anymore, we just have to (a) wait till the cycle comes around or (b) find another way to publish them. And we will." - before closing with a strong political statement. Now, I'm not saying I disagree with his politics or his points (I don't, but that's neither here nor there), but I can't help but feel that this was the wrong place to make such a statement, considering it has nothing to do with comics. Coming at the end of his last column, it feels like he's suddenly declared "Now that I have your attention, I have to tell you THIS!" before being yanked offstage by Matt Brady with a long hooked stick. Your mileage may vary, however.

Marvel head for the direct to DVD market, aiming to produce such quality animated features as The Land Before Time 7:

"Under terms of the agreement, Lions Gate will provide Marvel with licensing fees for character rights and fund all of the development, production, distribution and marketing for each title. Marvel will spearhead creative development and production. After each animated project's home video window expires, the companies may exploit the movies in other entertainment media domestically and internationally including television and Video On Demand (VOD). Both companies will share in the profits from the venture. Marvel will choose from a roster of leading production partners, including Lions Gate's own animation production partner, CineGroupe. Each animated picture will have a minimum running time of 66 minutes and specific titles and characters chosen for animation will be announced at a later date."

Monday, May 24, 2004

Oh, it had to happen. From the Bendis board. It starts here, in a thread about Paris Hilton and Ron Jeremy flashing each other:

"[Ron Jeremy's penis] never seemed that large to me, of course i've only seen it a few times, but it struck me as barely above average"

"average? are you talking about average porn star? cause he's way bigger than the real average.... not that i have ever looked at his penis. not that there is anything wrong with that. uhmmm.. i 'll shut up now."

Before moving on to this (Scroll down):

"Waiting for the eventual 'Post your Penis size' thread. Which is bound to happen. Trust me. This is the Bendis Board. Said thread will run 5-6 pages, with mostly jokes. Then Denny will lock it. Someone will start a 'Post your bra size' thread in response to the locking. It will happen. This is the Bendis Board."

The penis size and bra size threads appeared, as if by magic.

This week, Barb Lien Cooper doesn't like heroes:

"Heroes bore me. Superheroes, therefore, superbore me. Uh, Barb, comics are all about heroism. How can heroes bore you? Because their heroism paints them into a corner. Or rather, in the hands of authors who don't make the effort to understand the complexities of a character (or to even understand that said complexities exist), heroism is a real yawn fest. You see, it deprives the characters of the right to be human. A hero can't have a bad day, any more than an anti-hero can have a nice one.

"A hero in comics, the unwritten fan and writer rule seems to say, has to ACT like a hero, you see, according to the rules of fair play, being morally superior to the villains, and not killing the criminals, no matter how justified. UNLESS it's a dark, boring, anti-hero like the Punisher. Those authors who break said rules may have a certain number of fans biting at their heels saying, 'Heroes or Anti-heroes don't do that', but I think that those type of writers usually just want the world to understand that, to be realistic, even heroes need the anima/animus/shadow sides to them."

Apparently Barb seems to have missed any moral complexity in superhero comics since, well, Marvel came on the scene (Not that superhero comics are really morally complex, but come on, they go somewhat beyond "a hero can't have a bad day" on a regular, melodramatic, basis). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barb ends by hoping that one day more comics will feature characters as morally complex as her own Gun Street Girl webcomic.

Millarworld respond to Joe Quesada's latest phone stunt at WW:Philly ("Quesada made several phone calls during the panel to Brian Michael Bendis and pretended to call DC's Dan Didio. Quesada quipped to the phone/fake Didio, 'Sorry we are taking all your talent, sorry we have a 45% market share.' The audience responded with lots of laughs to his joke. He also told attendees [that Marvel is] 'raiding DC's talent pool.'"):

"It's good to see Joe laughing while all his good work at Marvel over the last couple of years is being undone around him."

"Marvel definitely does nothing but take potshots at DC about sales just cause the Zombies keep buying their books out of sheer inertia. And that's why they laugh at all his jokes. Cause he pokes the Zombies with a cattle prod if they don't. Stan Lee was NEVER like this. Dido and Levitz don't come out and make fun of Quesda and Buckley. Then again they don't have to. Common sense tells us the two of them will eventually end up shooting themselves in the foot pubicly much like Jemas did. And Quesada has to do nothing but crow bout sales. Its certainly not like they're getting accolades for their good stories. DC is still the one who will always be getting thanked by GLAAD, the Eisners, Harveys, etc. Quality over quantity anyday of the week. All Marvel has is the Wizard Awards. And its run by Zombies to begin with."

"wow i didnt know there were so many dcfanboys over here ,., stop hating marvel just cause more people buy their books.,thats ridiculous .,and theres nothing like having a little fun with your competition, joe Q having a little fun is okay.,,.if you take something like that to offense you need to qrow up.,,.im sure dan didio isnt talking to his mom saying something like,.,
'oh mommy that publisher from that other company is making fun of me" boo-hooo-hoo' i read what i like ,.everything from novels for my many literature classes in high school and college.,.ive developed a taste for all readings,.,. over the many years reading comics both marvel and dc have held much of my attention.,.,but its always been marvel that provides the more entertaining reads,., hence most of my pull list is always over 50% marvel"

Mike Allred on his current projects (which no longer seems to include the Evan Dorkin Metal Men mini, sadly):

"My blood is pumping faster. My hands are feeling tingly... I have to be pulled off the drawing table. I just love so much what I'm doing right now. Part of it has to do with working with one of the comic book biz's best writers for so long and be let loose on my own path again--making all creative decisions again after learning so very much from working with Axel [Alonso] and Peter [Milligan]. Also, I'm now starting with Mark Chiarello on Solo, and Darwyn Cooke will tell you what a blessing that is; clicking with my brother, Lee, who sat with me on the lawn drawing our own comics when we were kiddies and now doing it with him for real."

Rich Johnston and Mark Millar talk to each other in a code which may mean that Warren Ellis is going to be writing Iron Man and Mark Millar is going to do an Ultimate Captain America mini-series. Or it may not.

Marvel's Wizard World news gets rounded up by Newsarama:

* Runaways not cancelled after all, Brian Vaughan forgets who publishes the book: "And no, I'm not sure if we'll be coming back as Runaways #1 or Runaways #19."

* A new Black Widow series illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz is upcoming.

* Mark Millar signed a new exclusive deal with Marvel... last year: "I signed the two year exclusive with Marvel in late summer of last year so I'm 100% exclusive this year and most of next." I have no idea why this was announced as news.

* Ed Brubaker hopefully will get shitloads of money for his upcoming Marvel book.

* The Spider-Books get desperate, apparently bringing back Gwen Stacy and turning Spider-Man back into a mutated man-spider-thing again.

So, nothing really exciting, then.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Newsarama reports on the X-Panel from Wizard World Philly:

"A new Gambit miniseries will kick off in September, written by John Layman with art and covers by Georges Jeanty. The series will return Gambit to his roots of swashbuckling adventure and roguishness... The long-rumored Nightcrawler series was announced, to be written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and illustrated by Darick Robertson, with covers by Greg Land. The series will debut in September, along with Gambit."

So there will now be, what, five solo X-Men books (Gambit, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Wolverine and Emma Frost)? Seven, if you include Mystique and Madrox, although neither of them are actually members of the team anymore. Eight, if you want to count District X as a solo Bishop book... Plus the five separate books featuring a team calling themselves X-Men (X-Men, Uncanny, Astonishing, X-Men: The End, and New X-Men), not to mention the satellite books featuring core characters of the franchise like Excalibur and popular secondary teams and characters, or the Ultimate X-Men book. Marvel are really out to milk that franchise dry, aren't they? It's almost making DC look restrained with the Batman books.

"Good Lord! The Black Panther has become so irritated that he is burning Hawkeye's arrows!"

That Tony Harris sure can draw purty. Don't believe me? Look at the preview art for politico-superhero series Ex Machina.

It's back! Once again, Comic Book Idol appears to make you wonder how certain people got into the last ten. This year, the top prize is to illustrate an IDW book, which may mean that they're about to have money problems, same as Crossgen last year. Maybe it's a curse...

Bill Willingham dodges and occasionally answers questions about his Robin run:

"True, there has been some positive responses [to Tim Drake retiring and a new Robin appearing], but in the entirely unscientific method of browsing the internet, most of the reaction seems to have been one variation or another of, 'How dare I?,' and 'just who the hell do I think I am?' One of the more entertaining anonymous posters has deduced that I obviously think I am God. That’s not true, by the way. It’s been years since I even applied for the job. Others are calling openly for Chuck Dixon to return and wrestle the series away from me. This is fine. My one real worry, when taking over Robin, is that no one would care. I can deal with fear and loathing, and even get a kick out of it, because it takes a lot of reader involvement to work up a good rage. But yawns scare me."

Rick Shea writes about variants at Newsarama:

"Here’s the burn - most people won't pay the ridiculous prices for the variants, but the completists will indeed give an arm and a leg to get a copy, and that's the part that I think could kill the industry. Someone spending up to $100 for a new comic when that could buy them 40 other great issues is a big waste of money. I won't hold back saying that. There are more good comics out now than there have been in a long time, and I'd hate for those 40 issues not to sell so that someone can have that uber-incentive cover with the same story as the $2.99 comic. I feel the same way about the CGC garbage with grading and slabbing new comics at 9.8 and selling them for ridiculous prices. Another thing the industry can do without."

Recieved in spam email this morning, a message with the heading "fanboyrampage The Direct Market is in bad condition!ghtxa". Thanks for the heads up, Ghsjcs Mxxxjl. Are you related to Mr. Mxylptlk, by any chance?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

More Crossgen troubles, as El Cazador is (temporarily, apparently) cancelled:

"The ship that is EL CAZADOR will be putting into port at the end of issue 6. We’re bringing it to rest while Cap’n Chuck goes off in search of a pencilin’ privateer that can fill the boots of our departing Steve Epting. Steve’s been kidnapped by the crew of the good ship Marvel under the terms of exclusivity or death! (Perhaps we’re exaggerating a bit about the death part...) It’ll be an arduous search, but El Cazador will leave port again, 'cause we’d as soon scuttle this scow as gnaw off our own pegleg, so you can be certain you haven’t seen the last of ARRRRRRRR favorite pirate epic!"

Newsarama has the Marvel solicits for August. Of note:

* Two new Ultimate minis: Ultimate Nightmare by Warren Ellis and Trevor Hairsine, and Ultimate Elektra by Mike Carey and Sal Larocca.

* Ultimate Spider-Man #54 gets rescripted and released as a "variant" comic.

* Avengers #500 gets the "Director's Cut" variant treatment.

* Best line of the Captain America solicit: "Featuring an appearance by everyone's favorite Frenchman, Batroc the Leaper."

* How to blow your own secrets. From the X-Men #160 solicit: "The return of... Xorn!"

* The unintentionally hilarious Spider-Man solicit award is a tie between Spider-Man ("Guest-artist Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows) comes on board to blow people’s minds, and to blow some things up for Spider-Man in a very unfriendly neighborhood! The brash, bold Mark Millar continues to beat the stuffing out of Peter Parker in new and inventive ways that you will not want to miss!") and Amazing Spider-Man ("Holy! Looks Like--! It Can’t Be... Is It!?! The biggest Spider-Man event in years continues to shake the wall-crawler’s world, leaving you, and us, breathless!"). Okay, ASM gets it.

* Runaways is cancelled.

The latest in the line of Millarworld (over)reacting to (unintentionally) comedic criticism:

"Millarworld: Voted 'The internet's Most Fucked-up Nazi Dictatorship' for 2004!"

"Ahh the exciting life he must lead if he has time to right a long rant against an internet message board. I'm suprised he could take time off from all the constant sexing he must be getting from a plethora of highly attractive women."

This could just be blowing off steam in a weird way, coming as it does after some bizarre shenanigans for MW. The entire Pub (general discussion/silliness) forum was deleted, which made some people feel rather uncertain about what they should do with their time and others rather upset:

"From what I can gather the Pub was taken offline because another shitstorm erupted. You want to be angry because someone said something mean about you fine. Go ahead be mad. Why knock the Pub offline for all but who have been chosen to still post? That's about as mature as a second grade sandbox slap fight. I PM'd two mods to get an answer and since niether of them responded I figured I'd post the question in here."

"As far as I can tell, there was a small fight between a smal group of posters, and this exploded into a pub lockdown. Im fine with that, maybe we could all use a cooling off period, a chance to get off the net and use the bathroom. But I agree that locking the pub down with no explanation to the majority of users and then allowing a small group of "divine" people to post there while mocking those who can't respond might NOT be the best way to handle the situation. We're almost all adults here, barring Nic and Zeichman, who will forever be a man child. Can't we deal with shit like this in an adult manner?"

"well said. At least do me the courtesy of posting a "you all suck, and this is why" thread. If you have a few bad apples, so be it. Better yet, ban me for a few weeks. I'm irritated, and I guess this means I DO spend too much time on this web site. So do me a favor, really. Explain it or ban me. I'd like to think that I'm reasonably level headed. Right now, I'm torqued, and the most disturbing thing is? I don't know why."

Eventually, an explanation was forthcoming, in a thread helpfully titled "Michael Tegler Nuked the Pub & Lorcan Nagle locked, you out":

"so again you can stop blaming the mods who had no idea what lorcan and i did. Millarworld doesn't owe you access to any of it forums. You see guys in blue? They can do anything on this forum to you they want. and they will. Hence the magic of Millarworld. Like Disney without the happy fucking music"

(Thanks, Jake).

Retailer John Miller is concerned about Marvel's attitude towards comic retailers:

"Don't get me wrong -- I know Marvel loves us, we buy their comics every month (with no return policy, unlike Wal-Mart stores or bookstores ). We buy them if they are late (Ultimates) or we never get them (anything by Kevin Smith ). And don't forget the months that they ship two books a month, doubling our invoices and giving us less shelf time to sell through. I especially loved it when they publish books every week such as New Mutants and X-treme X-Men, and my customers who come in once a month miss out on some books."

ICv2 reports on two graphic novels coming from mainstream publishers - Persepolis 2 and, more interestingly for me, Birth Of A Nation:

"Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, will be releasing Birth of a Nation July 24th in hardcover for $25. This original graphic novel will be co-written by Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder and director Reginald (Ladies Man, Bernie Mac Show), with color art by Kyle Baker, who's done seven graphic novels and various other comic gigs, as well as numerous cartoons for major magazines and animation work. Birth of a Nation is the story of the secession of East St. Louis from the U.S. in frustration over the disenfranchisement of its voters in a disputed election, the creation of the Republic of Blackland (with an anthem sung to the tune of the theme from Good Times), and the surrounding events... The book is being promoted by a major national publicity campaign, a radio campaign, print ads, and a major online promotion."

Screenwriter Ron Shusett talks about his upcoming Sharkman strip in A1:

"Since becoming involved in this project I've been impressed by such writers as Frank Miller and his Sin City series, as well as various comics written by Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman. Plus, I loved Max Allan Collin's Road to Perdition. There really is so much imagination coming from the people in this field. It's a lot of fun to be a part of it."

The CBLDF are (understandably) worried about something called the "Parents' Empowerment Act":

"'This bill is troubling on several levels,' explains CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein. 'It appears to allow for civil actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain, from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, of work that an individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit. Considering that comics still suffer the cultural and legal stigma of being perceived as a juvenile medium, this bill could become a dangerous weapon in the hands of an individual who walks into a comic book store and is shocked to find that comics offer much more than Archie and Superman.'"

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Newsarama looks at the sales for last month:

"The double team of Superman #204 (by Brian Azarello and Jim Lee) and Superman/Batman #9 (by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner) blocked Marvel from the top spots, pushing down Spider-Man #1 by Mark Millar and Terry Dodson to #3. Anecdotal reports place Superman’s numbers comfortably over 200,000 copies, although no one is denying that a healthy dose of speculation played a role on lifting the number of copies shipped that high. This is also the first time in recent memory that a Marvel debut with a creative team on the caliber of Millar and Dodson, teamed with a popular character didn’t debut at #1."

Artist Casey Jones talks about his upcoming Marvel series, Guardians, starting by setting the record straight:

"Nope, no ties to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy,'... These are all new characters to the Marvel Universe. While there are a few nods to some established characters, for the most part it's all new stuff. It's a story about a group of kids who run around playing super-heroes, and one day they have an actual 'alien encounter!' When they end up saving the little guy from danger, they tell him that if he ever needs their help again to just let them know. Well, 14 years later, the alien comes back to Earth and takes them up on their offer! It's up to them to rise to the occasion. It's a really fun story that has elements of 'The Goonies,' 'Last Starfighter,' and even 'Lilo and Stitch.' I'm a big geek over 'The Goonies' especially, so I'm definitely enjoying it. I'm also really enjoying the way the story unfolds. It's kind of like Stephen King's 'IT,' where there's a dual narrative with the characters as both kids and as adults. It was pretty ambitious on Marc Sumerak's part, and it worked out really well."

Steven Grant presents an idiot's guide for wannabe creators wanting to make a good impression at conventions:

"This is the absolute first thing you must do: bathe. (Showers are acceptable.) Wash your hair. Comb it. Use a deodorant. Every day you’re there. You’d be amazed how many people don’t seem to know this. San Diego is hot in July and August. The convention is crowded and stuffy. An editor remembering you for your body odor is the last thing you want, 'cause you're never going to see the inside of his office. Dress decently. You can be comfortable, you don’t have to wear a suit, but anyone approaching an editor while wearing nothing but bikini underwear held up by suspenders with Pokemon stickers all over them is going to be viewed as several buffalo short of a herd. Your work’s got to be pretty damn good to overcome that sort of first impression."

Grant Morrison, again, proves very quotable over at ComiX-Fan:

"I’d have to say that the sustained absorption of the X-Men’s frantic, paranoid mood affected ‘real’ life quite badly - the soap operatic qualities of the book raged through my day-to-day existence for three years since around the time of 9/11 – death, loss, shattered friendships, triumph, tragedy, breakdown, recovery – it’s been an evil rollercoaster and I blame the X-Men for foolishly trying to do good in a world that hates and fears them... Crime and Punishment would seem joyous and cathartic after the X-Men’s miserable lives of persecution, so yeah, I’d have to say that everything I’ve written since X-Men has felt like spring showers following a long, dark night."

"The real bummer of course is Flex Mentallo. As every child knows, the unavailability of Flex is a crime almost equal in magnitude to the Jack the Ripper slayings or the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Imagine a comics industry where important and influential works like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were kept out of print and languish in obscurity. The influence of Flex Mentallo can be seen all over the place but the series itself remains trapped in limbo like some Golden Age superhero waiting for Geoff Johns to notice him."

"I’ve seen a couple of [the Millarworld titles]. My favorite bits are the dozens of mentions Mark gives himself in every issue, like those comics you used to hand draw as a kid – Written by me. Drawn by me. Lettered by me. Colored by me. Published by me…Thought up by me etc..."

Tales of Wonder.com respond to Barnes and Noble's supersized Ultimate Spider-Man hardcover by offering the first three regular USM hardcovers for the same price:

"We don’t begrudge anybody having an exclusive product. Obviously, if we could do an exclusive product like that, we would do it, so it’s hard to be angry when someone else takes the opportunity and does the same thing... But – that said, we think we can offer a better product for the same price. The B&N edition is going to be a monstrous hardcover, and no one is sure how easy it will be to read, or how long it’s going to stay together, given that the binding for the book is going to be so big. Plus, already when you put a spine on some of these collections, it’s hard to see the art all the way in at the edge of the page near the spine – this way, the artwork will be seen in its glory, nor manipulated to meet some different design standards. Not to mention, Marvel is sequentially numbering the Ultimate Spider-Man hardcovers, so by the time volume 4 rolls around, it will follow 1-3 on bookshelves, rather than a huge edition that’s not numbered. And hey, we all know that reading the individual volumes won’t cut off the flow of blood to your legs while reading it in a chair."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Andi Watson's lovely Love Fights goes on hiatus:

"'Now, before anyone freaks out,' Oni Press soon-to-be departed editor in chief Jamie S. Rich said, 'you should know that this wasn't due to low sales or me kidnapping Andi Watson and taking him away to my mountain lair before James Lucas Jones could get his butterfingers on him-it's a simple case of creative choice (just like my run-on sentences). Andi originally planned two arcs of LOVE FIGHTS, but eventually it became one twelve-issue story that encompassed everything he wanted to say. He sat down to plan out the next story line and realized everything he came up with was too similar. Rather than give folks a retread of what had come before, he decided to give the book a vacation. I am guessing somewhere tropical.'"

Peter David has some preview art for the upcoming Madrox series at his blog. I loved David's X-Factor. Whatever happened to Larry Stroman, anyway?

Micah Wright is back and telling the world what happened to the Vigilante series:

"Why DC didn't release a two-sentence press release announcing the cancellation of the book rather than leaking half of the truth to a gossip columnist is beyond my understanding. I'd have been much happier if they'd just said 'Micah's a fucking liar, he padded his resume and we're killing his book, no further comment.' Instead, they leaked half of the story to Rich Johnston, spun in such a way as to make me look as bad as possible. Nice. Professional, too."

It had to happen:

"What five comic characters would you most like to f***? My list: Mary Jane (Spidey 616); Tulip (Preacher); Nancy (That Yellow Bastard); Desire (Sandman. Does that make me bi?); Black Cat/Felicia Hardy (Spidey again)

"Realized in reminiscing that Spider-man and Daredevil have both had a lot of fine women in their lives, what? I gotta say Pete's ladies outclass Matt's, though. Tim Sale's Catwoman/Selina Kyle is a runner-up for sure. Come on. You know you'll have fun posting on this one. You don't have to tell anybody about it."

Best response:

"I never thought MW would stoop this low."

(And later in the thread: "It's threads like this that are getting M-W on Fanboy Rampage as a home to unintelligent, pointless discourse. We need a purge. NNNNow.")

You know there's a bandwagon somewhere when Courtney Love jumps on it:

"One of rock’s more celebrated bad girls is looking to stake out a little territory in comics, and she’s aiming for the widest possible audience currently in the medium – Courtney Love is writing manga for Tokyopop... 'Certain elements of [lead character] Princess Ai's personality, experiences, and fashion sense are based on Courtney and her life,' [editor Rob] Tokar said. 'When it comes to Ai's fashions, in fact, Courtney had a very significant influence on Ai in the character design stage. Courtney even supplied some rough sketches of different outfits, shoes and looks along with character and personality notes. When I saw the faxed pages, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the drawings. I know lots of musicians are artistic in many ways, but I didn't know she could sketch.'"

Apparently we're nearing Manga Meltdown or something:

"ICv2 has learned that American manga publishers are planning to issue over 1,000 English language manga volumes in 2004. The pace of manga publishing has picked up as we enter the spring and summer season and should reach a crescendo by the fall."

Onetime Marvel editor and creator Danny Fingeroth talks about his new book, Superman On The Couch:

"I wrote the book for people interested in why superheroes mean so much to us. Why is it that someone who would find the idea of putting on a costume and mask to pursue vigilante justice repugnant still thinks that 'Spidey is cool'? Why do most people have at least a nostalgic smile come to their face when they see a picture of Superman? Why is it that people completely uninterested in pop culture or action-adventure in any medium, know the basics of the origin of Batman? I think these are interesting questions and that the answers I propose in the book would be of interest to comics fans, academics, pop culture aficionados, and, significantly, to people who may not have ever devoted much time to thinking about superheroes but for whom the characters maintain some kind of significance."

Those fine folks at Millarworld ask themselves "How to save Crossgen?":

"I say make the place a creator owned heaven. No editorial interference, money up front (since they have so much to thrwow around), pocket sized TPB would be great for graphic novels that can be produced on the cheap, great exposure in Barnes and Nobles. It makes sense for Crossgen to do this, their titles did not work, so give the creators that they have already worked with an opportunity to make them some real money."

"That's exactly what I wold have suggested they do... Three years ago. Now? Sell the office furniture."

"It's kinda hard to be a haven for creator-owned stuff when you have a widespread reputation for not paying creators what they're owed. CG is done. Even if Alessi was somehow booted (which isn't feasible), the brand name is totally poisoned."

The creators of new Image title Ultra clear up those pesky "Sex In The City meets Powers" comparisons:

"Josh Luna: Ultra is not so much a derivative of another specific work as it is a combination of various inspirations we’ve picked up along the way.

Jon Luna: But if we had to associate it with something out there, [yeah], I’d say it’s Sex and the City meets Powers.

Josh Luna: In the sense that it’s about people with powers who happen to have sex, uh... in a city."

The return of old independent comics continues:

"In a move certain to rock the diamond top ten, ibooks announced today the acquisition of rights to issue a 'Best of Megaton Man' collection featuring Don Simpson's comical superhero. In a deal negotiated with Denis Kitchen and the Hansen Agency, ibooks acquired volume rights to a new collection that will be issued in Oct. 04 to remind the audience for pixar's THE INCREDIBLES of the character who made the world safe for modern superhero parody , which itself followed in the tradition of Harvey Kurtzman's MAD pastiches."

Monday, May 17, 2004

Comics Continuum has DC's August solicits up. Of note:

* War Games, the uber-Batman crossover, starts with 9 issues in the first month. Collect them all, and then realise that you probably could have missed out half of them and still understood the story.

* Superman/Batman #13 has a variant cover. Joe Quesada was right!

* More fun and gorgeousness with the Julie Schwartz-tribute DC Comics Presents "event" concluding, including Stan Lee and Darwyn Cooke on Superman. Excelsior.

* The Doom Patrol solicit seems to know how desperate the book looks already: "It's a 'Cold Night's Death' when mysterious creatures from before the dawn of time draw the Doom Patrol to the Antarctic, where the team is tested for the first time! With uniforms and everything!"

* Philip Bond covers Fallen Angel #14.

* Plastic Man continues to sound wonderful: "Plastic Man waves through a confusing muddle of interlocking storylines and wildly varying art styles to track down a villain who¹s messing with Plas' life and the entire DCU."

* My love of weird DC stories has been rewarded: Weird Secret Origins 80-Page Giant!

* Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's We3 launches with a wonderful cover:


Brian Wood leaves his Delphi forum:

"as if you all couldnt read the writing on the wall, i think this forum has outlived its usefulness. Delphi is turning into kind of an unpleasant place anyway. i'll be around, but its not worth keeping a running forum anymore, not like it used to be."

Newsarama has the Tokyopop TV adverts for you to see, in case you didn't see them on TV.

Ed Cunard interviews Kyle Baker over at Comic World News:

"CWN: Do your kids read your comics, or comics from anyone else? Is there anything you won’t let them read? What are your feelings towards the "maturation" of superhero characters that were initially created for a younger fan base?

KB: Only my oldest daughter is currently interested in comic books. She's five. I think it's sad that I can't give a five year old girl a copy of Wonder Woman or Supergirl, because those books are all ass shots. Supergirl is fourteen. Why am I looking at a fourteen-year-old girl's ass in the shower? Isn't that illegal?"

Millarworld continues to ask the questions that no-one else dares to:

"Who are the non-'geeky' people making comics these days? The ones who don't instantly come across as nerdy fanboys or fangirls, and who don't remind you of that comic guy from the Simpsons? The ones who may even give comic books a good public image...? Grant Morrison, obviously. I'd also add Christina Z after finding her website (www.christinaz.com). Who else? (First person to say "Peter David" gets a kick in the place where their balls should be... <_< )"

"All comic creators are geeks. You can dress a geek up like a rock star and he might even act the part. But they're still geeks deep down. 'Normal' people wouldn't want to work in comics and I think that's great."

"After reading the Wizard article on Millar, I would have to say that he is the second coolest person in comics next to Kevin Smith."

Markisan Naso retires as SBC's resident rumourmonger:

"[R]educed booty action aside, there are really two things that made me decide to step down. The first is this sense that the weekly gossip column is becoming a tired institution. Nearly every comic site has cloned Rich Johnston, and editors are starting to realize they can cover gossip from newsgroups and message boards in their regular news sections. Second, despite this spike in activity, rumors are increasingly hard to come by. Publishers are Big Brothering down on employees to plug information leaks and people aren’t as willing to talk as they used to."

Despite the fact that the weekly gossip column "is becoming a tired institution", SBC's not canning the column - Blair Marnell takes over next week.

For those who recieve Warren Ellis' Bad Signal mailings, who else read this this morning - "So last week I came up with a newish take on superhero fiction and a newish way to tell it. Which is a huge pain in the arse. First, I'd want to own it. For another, it'd need to come out fairly quickly, which removes DC from the equation. For another another, I'd need to get paid for it, which takes out most of the indies. For another3, variant covers would remove some of its object-based intent, which sadly takes out friendly old Avatar, whose bottom line still depends quite heavily on variant cover sales. (The Apparat books are variant-free, but as a one- time favour.) So here I am with a superhero/sf book idea that could conceivably break new ground, and no way to do it." - and immediately imagined Joe Quesada almost leaping for the phone shouting "ICON!" over and over again?

Inker Keith Champagne on his first writing gig:

"It's been as far from easy getting a gig as a writer as it could possibly be... I've gotten much further along cold calling Hollywood - where I know nobody - than I have in comics, where I know almost everybody. I don't really know why that is. It can be really frustrating. It took me about three years of pitching before an editor--in this case Mike McAvennie--took a chance and assigned me something. Even after knowing I was going to get to write a book, it still took six months before I knew what that book was and a couple of months after that before I was able to start writing. In the meantime, I tried to be persistent without being a pain in the ass about it and it finally paid off."

After American Flagg, fellow First comic Grimjack returns:

"After the demise and, ultimately, the highly contentious bankruptcy of First Comics’ public parent/owner, all rights to the GrimJack property became tied up in a knot of legal complexities. Ken F. Levin, one of the country’s leading developers and producers of comic art properties for movies, television, publishing and video games, immediately undertook a crusade to free the rights. Levin, a co-founder of First Comics, and his fellow First Comics co-founder Mike Gold, GrimJack’s longtime original editor, then began an odyssey of blind alleys and intense negotiations. Their efforts have finally resulted in the resolution of all rights issues and the formation of a new company, The NightSky GrimJack Rights and Production Vehicle (Four Wheel Drive Model), LLC. GrimJack creators John Ostrander and Timothy Truman have substantial equity positions in the new venture."

Now I'm waiting for someone to revive Badger. Surely someone could do that...?

"And here at The Corporate Institutional Bank of Time, we find ourselves reflecting...Finding out, that In fact, we came back...We were always coming back ..."

Friday, May 14, 2004

Brian Hibbs on comics advertising:

"Comics have some other problems when it comes to advertising – reading is, perforce, a solitary experience, and comics largely look dead and static on television. We’re really much better suited for print advertising because the nature of our product. Advertising comics can work, I think, but it needs to be regional, and focused on driving customers to specific locations. That’s really key because as much as I appreciate the Comic Shop Locator that Diamond runs or Mark Adam’s The Master List, you’re running only mediocre odds that you’ll find a comic shop in your community, and that it will be any good whatsoever. Sending a 'civilian' to a bad shop is frankly much worse than sending them to no shop at all. Further, by sending them to specific locations, you can 'ensure' that the material advertised is actually in stock – otherwise the demand you’re generating can’t be filled.

My suspicion is that any increase in sales for Tokyopop in general, or the specific books they’re advertising during their television campaign will not be directly traceable to the advertisements themselves. Hopefully we’ll have a clear picture of this when I look again at the Bookscan numbers in January. I very much hope that I’m wrong, and these efforts will work amazingly, spurring new and real demand for comics – but I don’t think they will because they’re too diffuse and they’re ignoring the same supply-side problems that comics have had for the last two decades."

Randy Lander really loves the Gotham Central trade:

"Some books just read better in collected format, and Gotham Central is clearly one of them. Oh, I've been championing this book from almost the very start, and continue to do so, but it's clear in reading In The Line Of Duty how much more I'd enjoy the book (and how much easier it'd probably be to sell) if it were published in trade paperback format in the first place. In these stories, which take our detectives through a manhunt for a cop-killing Bat-foe (and into a larger scheme) and on a search for the death of a teenage girl which leads somewhere unexpected as well, the character arcs seem clearer, the plots tighter and the overall storytelling just stronger. It's not - it's the same stories I've been reading - it's just that the pacing is so much better when the whole story is read together. So if you've been waiting on the trade for Gotham Central, or even if you picked up the single issues and couldn't get into the book, now is the time to check this book out. It's ten bucks for two damn fine stories and artwork, and the format that the book was really meant for in the first place."

Kevin J Anderson talks about his upcoming Starjammers series at Marvel, and his love for his collaborator:

"The biggest advantage, though, was my man Ale Garza -- his artwork captured everything about this, the full-on look and feel of a sweeping space opera adventure with cool characters, great outfits and ship designs. His stuff rocks."

Sad, then, that the interview finishes with this note:

"This interview was conducted before Ale Garza announced he would only be drawing issue one of the series. Marvel has not informed THE PULSE who Garza's replacement would be for the series."

Del Rey plans Batman novels:

"Del Rey Books has announced that it has formed a "creative partnership" with DC Comics for the development of fiction based on DC's Batman characters. Three Batman novels have been announced, for Spring 2005, Fall 2005, and Spring 2006. All will be written by former Batman Animated writer Michael Reaves and Steven-Eliot Altman. DC editors will be involved in the development of the storylines."

Insert your own cheap Paul Levitz/Bob Schreck joke here.

Newsarama posters respond to Barnes and Nobles' Ultimate Spider-Man hardcover collection:

"That sucks for independent comics retailers. It truly, truly does. That said, I can see this bringing hundreds of new comics readers into the fold, which ultimately (hah!) will benefit comics specialty shops in the long run. Heck, even I'm tempted by this book, and as a confirmed Dc-head I have virtually no interest in USM. Leaving aside the exclusivity deal for a moment, I wish that more American comics were packaged this way. How sweet would it be to have the entire run of Sandman in three huge volumes? Or the enire run of Promehtea or other closed-ended projects in one volume? I know that i would personally rather have one honkin' volume of an entire series instead of eighteen difficult-to-locate-on-eBay trade paperbacks. From Marvel's perspective, I'm sure this is a good move. The shouldn't cry later, though, when the perception of Marvel as a compnay antagonistic to retailers continues unabated."

"Truly DISPICABLE!!! of marvel to do this. My store stocks every marvel TP and HC in print. They have had several key TPs (like the Daredevil #4 the first Bendis TP) out of print for a long time now, among others (Williamson's Thor #1 and Wolverine Legends #1 come to mind) but yet they can take their now "FREE" products and sell them again to places like B&N where the person won't even get help or education about comics. What a pile of crap! How does it help a responsible store owner like me who stocks Ult. Spiderman TPs 4 deep at all times to make sure anyone can always get them? Now I am screwed. This is my first post here, as you can tell, nothing has ever made me angry enough to rant but this is SICK!!!"

"I know this sucks if you are a retailer, but do the math. If this book sells (off the top of my head) 20,000 copies and just 5% of those people get hooked and look for the comics, then there are 1000 new customers. Since the current estimate of comic book stores in this country if just a little shy of 3000, that means that 1 out of every 3 LCS will receive some sort of business. And then it's YOUR responsibility, retailers, to keep them coming back."

Sojourn officially cancelled by Crossgen, as confirmed by Barbara Kesel on the CG messageboards:

"...as you may have guessed from last issue’s enigmatic ending, SOJOURN #34 was the last issue of the series that will be published for the time being. As is the case with many comics these days, while the audience for Sojourn was loyal and vocal, there were simply not enough readers to allow us to continue publication of this title in its current comics format. This decision was made after weighing our available resources, both creative and administrative, and determining that the quality of this series would likely suffer if we chose to continue it at this time. We thank you for following Arwyn’s journey this far, and we hope to return to her story sometime in the future."

Kesel continued that "weighing available resources" roughly translated into "we'd lost track of who was still at the company these days and only realised that the writer had quit when the plot for issue #35 didn't appear on time", before breaking down into tears and resigning from the company herself.

Dustin Nguyen is finally confirmed as the new Authority artist, to work on Ed Brubaker's upcoming run:

"I had already planned to head back to WildStorm after Batman... I promised a lot of people I would, plus I’ve always felt at home there. They were the first to give me a shot at things, so I was hoping if Batman had gotten me any good press or recognition, I could drag that back with me to WildStorm and see what damage I could do there. Plus it’s all one world to me... I still get to hang out at the DC booth every year, so that's plenty... Knowing that Ed was involved really made it for me though. I like saying his name. Brubaker...heh."

(Also, scroll down and read Apollo Oscar's post for sheer surreal entertainment value...)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

And today's What The Fuck moment: Mike Allred's new project:

"Yes, I'm drawing the entire Book Of Mormon. And, of course, Laura has my back on the coloring. I'm sure most of you have heard of it and many may even know what it is. But to me it is the most adventurous, spiritual, romantic, action packed, visionary, and enlightening book in the history of mankind. And it's all true! And I intend to prove it! Call me crazy, (Mike, you're CRAZY!) my hands are shaking as I type this out, but I've never been so excited. Think 'It's A Wonderful Life meets Conan the Barbarian'! The first volume should be out september/october depending on when we get the solicitations in previews. The challenge has always been authenticity, clarity and simply doing it justice---and all sytems are go for nailing it!"

Johanna notices another Marvel-Barnes-and-Noble exclusive, and asks a sensible question:

"Why does any comic store bother supporting Marvel after this and the Masterworks paperbacks? Why would anyone want to support a supposed retail 'partner' who so clearly isn't interested in helping them at all?"

According to those who may be in the know, it's not just one previously assumed to be gone character that the X-Men Reload revamp is bringing back, it's two.

Heidi MacDonald hopefully puts to bed the non-issue of the fact that she thinks some comic blogs are dopey. In other news, I think that some comics are dopey (even ones that I like, like Superman/Batman, or love dearly, like Jack Kirby's Forever People), and there are definitely ones that can be ignored. Does that mean that I hate all comics?

(Via John Jakala, who I never link but should do more often).

If only I paid attention to the shitty newspapers:

"USA Today got on the manga story in a big way on Wednesday, with an above-the-fold illustrated story on page 1 of the Life section and another illustrated story on the back page of the section. Headlined 'Girls get their 'shojo' working in comic book shops,' the lead article in the section featured cover illustrations of Del Rey's Tsubasa and Viz' Boys over Flowers and quotes such industry experts as Tokyopop's Steve Kleckner, Golden Apple's Bill Liebowitz, and ICv2's Milton Griepp. The article calls manga 'the fastest-growing segment of the publishing industry,' and cites the backpack-friendly size, the back-to-front format, low price, wide distribution, and content different from American comics as sales drivers."

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