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Monday, January 31, 2005

I know what you're thinking: "Why isn't there a Top 10 cutest comic creators list online full of fawning fangirl commentary?" Well, now there is:

"John Cassaday-Oh Mr. Cassaday-I knew not of your stunningly good looks until the 2004 Wizard World Chicago convention, where Marvel editor Nick Lowe introduced us. I was reduced to a giggling schoolgirl. Cassaday is the rock star of the comic book biz, a rebel with talent, with hair even girl's are jealous of. His likeness was written into Planetary, his co-creation along with Warren Ellis, so it seems even other creators seem to find him irresistible. Even his biography is modeled as if to speak of a legend during a montage before a prestigious award is given: it is compiled of testimonials from comic creators/friends and even the disgruntled and heart broken ex-girlfriend of which he has no doubt left many in every city he visits. Yes, 'man-pretty' can be applied to John Cassaday but I think 'Adonis' will suffice."

(Thanks, Pete.)

ICv2 reports that Crossgen will not die:

"Judge Alexander Paskay of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, has issued an order giving CrossGen another 60 days to file its liquidation plan. According to the motion for the extension, CrossGen needs more time to pursue a settlement of contested claims of secured creditors."

Warren Ellis continues talking about covers:

"If you got the first issue of GLOBAL FREQUENCY -- with its logo up in the top slice -- then you know what you're looking for next time, because the aesthetic flavour of the cover was so strong. There was nothing else in a comics store that looked like a GLOBAL FREQUENCY cover. Same with Tim Bradstreet's HELLBLAZER covers. Doesn't matter that Tim moves the logo around. Anyone who's seen one HELLBLAZER cover can spot another one a mile off, because of the particular style and design sense Tim uses. See, people aren't going into comics stores for cans of beans. Comics stores are destination shopping for the great majority of the client base. And they're going in there to buy art, not cans of beans. They're not in there to peer at a row of logos. They're in there -- usually in the context of a browsing bookstore experience -- to buy a visual narrative and own a pleasing object. And they're trained -- not just as people who appreciate the medium, but as people conversant in art and communication, by dint of living in the modern Western world and by being in the damn shop in the first place -- to recognise an aesthetic.

"A blanket vanilla design aesthetic helps nobody. Sure, taking the vanilla out of cover design is not always going to work, and I'm damn sure I've screwed it up as many times as I've gotten it right, in the times I've gotten involved in cover design. But just standing around doing the same old thing doesn't serve a live medium. And it doesn't serve the stores that live and die on the results of our invention."

Rich Johnston reports on new "controversial" Intimates cover:

"There has been discernible retailer disquiet that this features a naked teenage breast on the cover. This is not a Mature Readers series, and even they keep their covers tame enough for most US community standards. Amid speculation the colorist didn't hide the "nipplage" as much as may have been intended, is it time for DC Comics to have its own nipplegate?"

Mario Gully's Ant moves to Image, in a move that's sure to make Ed Cunard very very happy indeed:

"I have been bugging Image for years... My goal has always been to be at Image. I love the company. You can see it in my style of art. I bothered [Image Publisher] Erik [Larsen] until he gave me a chance to prove that I was ready for 'prime time' as he calls it. At first on the fence about my ability as a new and young creator in the doors at Image. I had to prove that I was up for the majors. I think I proved it with my new stuff. And that was that."

You know what's not so fun? Moving stuff from your fourth-floor apartment. 30-odd trips up and down those stairs a day for a few days gets kind of tiring, although there is the plus of my now having LEGS OF STEEL. But even less fun is the tale of Bill Messner-Loebs, as related by Newsarama:

"Like many other creators of the time, Loebs found the late ‘90s to be a period of tremendous change, which ultimately left him without regular work. After an auto accident, Loebs and his wife Nadine lost their house in 2001. Loebs’ plight at that point became public knowledge, and the then newly-formed ACTOR, which aids creators who’ve fallen upon hard times, stepped in, and was able to help the couple in their purchase of a mobile home. As The Detroit News article relates, unknown to the Loebs’, the home was full of mold, the seller refused to take it back, and it was stolen months later. Since that time, the Loebs have been living in a hotel in Howell, Michigan. Both volunteer at the Howell Senior Center. Due to medical difficulties, Loebs’ wife unable to hold steady work, and while he’s tried, and continues looking, Loebs has been unable to find steady work."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

As my last blog post before the three day horror that is moving weekend, why not direct you all to Dan Didio talking about Identity Crisis, DC Countdown, and all things DC?:

"[T]here’s been a story that’s been unfolding in the DC Universe since the death of Donna Troy. We’ve been dropping secrets and hints and bits and pieces across the DCU since she died. Everything is starting to come together and make sense. Everything is starting to have a cohesive feel and starting to appear like it’s happening in the same place art the same time, and this is something that I think people can invest in and enjoy reading, and enjoy experiencing part of our world. Believe it or not, things that started in that story – back with Donna Troy’s death will finally bear fruit down the line."

Presuming I don't get crushed by some large falling furniture this weekend, normal service resumes on Monday...

Well, This is interesting:

"Ever-Ending Battle is an independent research study focused on the unique relationship between the superhero comic book genre and issues of mortality. The field of Thanatology – the study of a society's perceptions of and reactions to death & dying – has lead in recent decades to the creation of hospice care, enhanced care for the elderly, and increased understanding for victims of loss and trauma. As a mirror to certain aspects of culture, superhero comic books are a fertile yet untapped source of thanatological exploration."

From the mission statement:

"In all, the goal is four-fold: 1) to discern whether any particular, qualitative conventions exist in superhero comic books' treatment of death that are unique to the genre; 2) to explore both how those conventions may have arisen and how they are perpetuated; 3) separately, to analyze how those conventions may continue to affect characterization and storytelling; and 4) to study what impact or influence these conventions have on their audience, and vice versa."

I'm torn between "Hmm, fascinating" and "Someone has too much time on their hands"...

Matt Craig directs those of you who can listen to things via the web here, to listen to the first Alan Moore episode of the BBC's Chain Reaction, where he gets interviewed. There're also outtakes from the show to listen to. Of course, I can't listen right now, but all of you who can, have fun.

Larry Young quotes the Beastie Boys and talks AiT-Planet Lar at The Pulse:

"Our goals only have a tangential relationship to 'the way the current comics industry is,'... Sure, we have to work within the present framework in the direct market, but we have a lot of folks who see the unique value we provide helping us out behind the scenes. So when we offer an innovative presentation, or a new format, or a new category of books, we have a lot of people hoping we succeed. As DC's Bob Wayne is fond of saying, 'A rising tide floats all boats.' ...If you'll allow that 'a rising tide floats all boats,' greater attention to the comics form through manga is nothing but good, since it exposes folks to the form... I've gotten quite a bit of feedback, from the e-mails and my trips to shops, from comics retailers and book store owners up-selling DEMO and ELECTRIC GIRL to new readers of manga. Comics are comics, and if you like words and pictures, juxtaposed, it doesn't matter much whether you read them left to right or right to left. Comics are comics, no matter their country of origin."

The Pulse has December's Sales for Marvel (courtesy of Paul O'Brien) and DC (with some indies, courtesy of Marc Oliver Frisch) up. Go and get depressed.

Frank Tieri shows why he's the only man to write Hercules:

"Ok, so let me ask you a dumb question: it’s Friday night, you’ve got your choice of one super hero you can hang out with … who’s it gonna be? And to all you perverts out there who are about to say She-Hulk or Storm… give it up. You’ve got no shot, fanboy. Spider-Man? What—and listen to him cry in his beer all night about how he can’t pay for Aunt May’s hemorrhoid operation? Batman? Yeah, I guess if hanging out with underage boys in their bloomers all night is your thing, then whatever. And you know if you’re partying with Captain America, you’ve got a lovely evening of Ovaltine poppers and Jello shots made only with Jello at the local Bingo Parlor ahead of you. Nope... the guy you want is my man, Hercules. A typical night hanging with him? He’s about five days into a month-long bender, bombed off his ass in the champagne room, feeding strippers fistfuls of Olympian Ecstasy, after putting about a half dozen bouncers’ heads through various walls. Now there’s the guy you want to party with."

Mark Millar offers help to Bill Loebs:

"I just received an email from Brad Meltzer and he said he'd read the Loeb story via this board. I'd missed this entirely and only just read it, but it's absolutely heart-breaking. Brad suggested we do something and we're racking our brains, but in the meantime he has Bill's details if anyone can spare a few bucks and help him out. I hope I'm not offending him in any way here, but Brad says he'll be cool with this so fingers crossed... Even if you can't help out financially, drop him a line if you've enjoyed his work and tell him how much you appreciate it. Sometimes that's enough to get someone over a bad day or at least bring a little light in."

There's an address and email address for Loebs included, as well as talk of a Paypal account being set up in his name.

Retailer Steven Bates tells the world what he wants from Previews:

"Every comic offered in Previews (or any comic distributor's catalog) should tell me its story upfront. Not the blurby, TV Guide-speak sales pitch, but a real, honest-to-Gosh description of what I and the reader can expect when the book hits the shelf. Not 'The streets of Poughkeepsie cringe in fear as crime runs rampant. Who can bring safety and comfort? Who can stop the babies and sirens from wailing? Who? WHO? Captain Poughkeepsie.' That tells me NOTHING! That's all hype and amateur self-promotion, probably written by the writer or his publisher-Mom. A good solicitation will reveal important details, the kind journalists use to write news: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Who are the characters? What do they do? Where does the story occur? When does the action take place? Why do the characters do what they do, what's their motivation? And How is it presented?

"Publishers don't want to reveal too much, remaining coy about major plot points. Recent super-sellers Identity Crisis and Avengers: Disassembled hinged on the mystery: who dies? Who betrays whom? Why? Readers were sucked-in by the mystery, but many retailers missed the boat, under- and over-ordering these series because of lack of information. I'm not suggesting publishers spill all the beans about upcoming titles, especially storylines driven by mystery, red herring, and last minute denouement. But we're supposed to be partners, here, with one hand washing the other. A little more of the right kind of information, and less hype, would make retailing much easier."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Hey kids! Want a 15-page preview of "alt-comix creators do DC superheroes" book Bizarro World? Go here and get excited.

Stephanie Fierman on her new position at DC:

"There’s an explosion of new kinds of products— graphic novels, manga, etc. We’re learning that, to some extent, there are very different kinds of customers for these products, and these customers have different expectations; they shop in different places. We have to ensure that we reach those customers, and we have to bring in more of them. We want to do a better job of putting our marketing efforts for all kinds of customers under one roof, thinking more strategically about our customers and our channels and finding more of both. This will be the first time in a while that all of the sales and marketing functions are managed as part of a single team."

Newsarama has the press release for the launch of First Second, a new graphic novel imprint from Roaring Books that seems to have at least an idea of the goods - Launch creators include Eddie Campbell, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden:

"'Interest in graphic novels has exploded,' says [imprint editor Mark] Siegel, 'and for good reason. A new generation of outstanding authors and artists is exploring the form in ways that reach far beyond traditional ideas of the comic book. And a new generation of readers raised on a visual world of movies, TV, and video games have adopted the form as their own. FIRST SECOND brings these authors and readers together.' 'Graphic novels are escaping the fringe market and flooding into the mainstream,' adds Simon Boughton, publisher of Roaring Brook Press. 'The best titles are reaching ever wider audiences, both in the United States and the rest of the world. With a list that embraces the most exciting voices in graphic novels, FIRST SECOND bridges countries, genres and ages.'"

Millarworld deal with that age-old question: Marvel Comics - Are they really the financial underdog that they pretend to be? It all starts when John McMahon quotes Peter Cuneo, Marvel CEO, as saying "From a profitability point of view, about 20%, 15-20% of our earnings come from the comic book business. The comic book business of course is very important to us. Not only is it highly profitable. We have about a 35% profit margin on our comic book business and growing very nicely if you look at our track record. But also this is our R&D function. This is where we try out new characters, where we ... rework, re-cosmetize, if you will, other older characters, and try to see what kind of story lines work and so on."

From there, the fans go to work:

"Shut up! Everyone knows Marvei is a poor company, and that AOL COMICS has so much money that the Levitz fella takes daily swims in it! Stop your slandering of those poor souls at Marvel, dammit!"

"Doesn't really prove much. DC still has more money behind them, so can afford to take more risks."

"The other 4/5 - 1/5 from selling crack [...] 1/5 from lotto wins, birthday cards, money found on the street, etc [...] 2/5 from their Toyota dealership"

"This is bullshite, everybody knows Marvel is a non profit organisation"

Mark Millar joins in:

"This is interesting because I always use Peter's argument when talking to big companies about the uniqueness of comics. It costs 100 million to test out a big new character in a movie and it costs TENS of millions to test one out on a computer game or a TV show. But you only have to invest THOUSANDS in a comic to see if a new character will work. It's an amazing petri-dish for companies to test out a product and, as a creator, I like the idea of a lot of companies investing in the industry. I'm surprised the video-game and movie guys don't use comics as R&D a little more than they do. Chances are the quality would be nothing special, but it could be another avenue for new writers and artists to get a break (which is still lacking a bit)."

Yes, Mark, it is amazing that companies don't invest thousands to test-run new movie concepts to a shrinking audience that mostly consists of one narrow demographic that has shown again and again that they don't like anything new. What are they thinking?

J. Hues just isn't feeling the Marvel love:

"Marvel recently revealed their new solicitations for shipping in April 2005 (or early May 2005, surely June by the latest… okay August) and proved once and for all that the well is dry... Can we bring back The Gong Show because somebody needs a gong and I mean they need it bad. Start with the loser who’s been writing Marvel’s solicitation copy of late because if they don’t watch it, Vince McMahon is gonna snatch this person up and have him or her writing dialogue for the WWE. And then beat upside the head with the gong whoever greenlit [the Hercules mini-series]."

Kandora's Chuck Sellner on why new publishers keep popping up:

"Of course, perhaps the most obvious [reason], is someone who believes if they start their own publisher, building a library of properties, developing licensing deals, getting larger cuts of the profit, in place of a standard paycheck, etc, they are essentially going to get rich as a result! Thank the history of those who’ve done just that to this. Those independent creators who started off being starving artists and then made it big with a movie deal, or other payoff inspire many to seek to repeat that success."

Okay, Todd McFarlane aside, which other independent creators have really made it big with a movie deal? Eddie Campbell and Alan Moore, maybe?

Newsarama talks to David Glanzer, director of marketing and PR at Comic-Con about Wondercon:

"Besides the above-mentioned 'Cover Story' [a panel featuring Alex Ross, Neal Adams, Adam Hughes and William Stout, to be moderated by Mark Evanier] we have Kevin Smith and Brian Michael Bendis together on the same panel for the first time, talking about comics, writing, movies, whatever they want to talk about. We have Mark Evanier doing our famous 'Quick Draw' event, which is cartoon improv, with Sergio, Jeff Smith, Steve Leialoha and Scott Shaw, and Evanier will also do his patented Golden/Silver Age panel with Arnold Drake, Creig Flessel and Russ Heath. DC Comics have a number of presentations scheduled. Bongo Comics has a special panel. There are seminars on costuming, fan filmmaking, self-publishing comics. The Charles M. Schulz Museum offers a panel on the art of Peanuts. Hollywood wise, we have Joss Whedon and cast members from Serenity, a panel on Star Wars Episode III with Lucasfilms’ Steve Sansweet, and two of the stars from 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four film, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon... and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Three full days of programs, over 60 separate daytime and nighttime events. And that doesn’t even include the surprises that are in store. Our complete programming schedule will be posted on our website around February 1st."

Should I go? Hmmm.

Garth Ennis does Ghost Rider, because, well, there's going to be a movie and someone has to:

"Ghost Rider’s alter ego for the project: Johnny Blaze. Ennis rationale: he’s only ever read the original comics, and has no connection or attachment to Danny Ketch. According to Ennis, the storyline for the miniseries starts in Hell, with Blaze paying for selling his soul (which originally gave him his supernatural powers). In order to escape, Blaze agrees to hunt a runaway demon down on earth, and then becomes embroiled in a plot involving minions and Heaven, Hell, and everywhere in between. According to the [Wizard, which broke the story] article, the miniseries is slated to launch in September, which, barring any delays, will have the final issue out in February, and a trade either later that month, or in March of 2006. It’s Marvel’s (and DC’s, as many Bat-projects are slated for release this summer) strategy at work again – provide a strong comic book tie-in for movie audiences, as the Ghost Rider movie is slated for a summer, 2006 release."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Alias Enterprises launches their books at 75 cents. Mike S. Miller boasts:

"Alias is approached almost daily with people and studios who want to publish with us... As difficult as it is to say 'no', we do have to maintain a level of quality that our fans will expect from our company. As to who we will partner with, Alias is in negotiations with several companies, studios and license holders for various properties and projects. I'd rather not disclose who and what until the ink is dry, but you will be the first to know!"

The V: Unsure about the ending of Mark Millar's Wanted (Spoilers, for those of you who care):

"Millers Pseuds on his site are saying that its a work of genius but I don't get it? The tacked on ending was kinda wtf? And I can't work out which actor/rapist/musician was reference for the Comedian. The odd thing about Wanted was it could have ended exactly how it did at the end of issue 5 and have been no worse for it."

"The moral of the story, and Eminem's face, seems to be that I am a sheep and I should become a genius supervillain, and I've decided to act on this by quitting my job, designing a costume of lizard scales and calling myself The Velociraper."

"The art is ace, of course, but there are frequent incidents of The Goofy-Arse Face. If Millar hadn't insisted on dreamcasting the series, and having Tommy Lee Jones, Hallé Berry and Marshall Mathers dancing around giving it weedledee, instead of just having Jones design some original (ish) characters, then maybe I wouldn't have been yanked out of the story. The writing isn't above average. The plot is above average *for Millar* - well, actullay, it isn't, is it? Not complared to Authority. Oh, I dunno. I like Millar's stuff, on balance, but it's occasionally like finding a sausage roll in your gateaux."

From that point, the thread devolves into just what face would best fit the final caption of the book, before a new thread starts just for that discussion...

(Thanks, Alex)

A retailer complains about Marvel's trade paperback program:

"If Marvel doesn't want to make reorders of monthly books available, fine. But Marvel has a responsibility to keep their entire tpb line in print all the time. Why? Because many, many retailers have invested significant amounts of dollars and shelf space to promote these manufactured storylines. If Marvel responds by saying that at any given time, a varying 80% of the line is available, that is not good enough, especially when some titles are unavailable for long periods of time. 100% availability 100% of the time -- nothing less is acceptable. It's a matter of corporate responsibility."

It had to happen. Matt Fraction and Joe Casey talk comic blogs:

"There's a bravery to being an early adopter that I don't see much of in the comics blogosphere as a whole. These days, fandom in general is such a game of Chasing The Shiny Object that it doesn't even seem to be part of anyone's hard wiring to discover and commit to something that -- at first -- no one else knows about. Again, it gets back to bloggers talking about what other bloggers are talking about, just to achieve that sense of psuedo-human connection. The comics blogosphere as a concept thrives when everyone is commenting on each other's views on Grant's run on X-MEN. Not so much when one blog decides to champion the merits of a run on OBSCURA-MAN written and drawn by creators who ain't on the WIZARD Top Ten list. Unfortunately, that's the blog that I want to read, because the commitment to said subject matter is genuine and often thought provoking. Something like The Comic Treadmill is a good example. A few anonymous posters writing fairly extensively about all kinds of comics-related stuff, from discussion of the latest releases to in-depth overviews of the 1980's series, BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS. I dig that shit, man."

Newsarama reports that Viz and ShoPro have joined forces to take over the world:

"The new company will now have access to properties from two of Japan’s largest publishers, Shuesiha and Shogakukan (the two joined forces in 2003, creating VIZ, LLC) and now the in-house ability to quickly move the properties into other media and products. Given Viz’s placement in the North American manga market, the new company formed by the merger will automatically be the largest manga producer in the US, given their regular offerings and backlist."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tony Bedard on his experience in comics:

"I was a complete @$$ back at Valiant. These days, I’m only half-@$$ed. But I’ll always be grateful for what a glorious fiasco Valiant turned out to be. Back then, I really thought Valiant was here to stay, and that I must be some kind of special person for rising so quickly in that organization. Having that place implode around me and being laid off turned out to be the best thing that could happen to me. I’ll never take an assignment or a reader for granted again. By the time I came to CrossGen, there was a lot of talk about people 'drinking the Kool-aid' and believing the hype. I drank the Kool-aid at Valiant, and it inoculated me from a lot of the smoke and mirrors I’ve encountered at every job I’ve held since. Unfortunately, even though I could see the end of CrossGen coming long before it arrived, I couldn’t do much to warn the folks in charge. Any red flags I sent up only got me branded a 'Chicken Little.' So I just made sure that I had another assignment to jump to when the good ship CrossGen went belly-up, and I tried to hook up as many friends as I could with the folks I knew at DC and Marvel. Not that they needed me to hook them up. If nothing else, CrossGen was a great incubator for talent, and now folks like Karl Moline, Paul Pelletier, Scot Eaton, Andrea DeVito, Steve McNiven, Morry Hollowell and Frank D’Armata are out there doing great work and getting noticed because they used their time at CrossGen to its fullest. As for me, the years jumping from one publisher to the next - Valiant to Malibu to Broadway to Crusade to DC to CrossGen to freelance fun at Marvel and Avatar - have been a great education. Two years working in Billy Tucci’s basement, and I’ll never fear another job again! (But I still love ya, Billy!)"

My new favorite Millarworld thread:

"I was thinking about his work and it generally doesn't stray too far from the fairly... vacuous style, relying quite heavily on Deux Ex Machina endings. I thought early Ultimates showed promise in terms of character depth, with particular reference to Cap's visit to the aging Bucky. However, like in all good action movies, the scene was merely an interlude before we got on with the head kicking. So, what has Mark done that has real depth and/or emotional impact? I couldn't think of anything, hence the post. I haven't read everything he's done, but I've read most. I'd be interested to know if I've missed something from his bibliography that's worth hooking out."

"To be honest I enjoy the popcorn movie effect that Mark goes for but I truly believe that he has the ability to pull off something genuinely emotional and moving, but for whatever reason holds back. Maybe he just doesnt want to let that sort of thing come out yet in his work."

"In my opinion Mark's best and most deep work has been: The Authority [...] Wanted [and] his run on Swamp Thing [...] I enjoy lots of his other stuff like Wolvie and Ultimates but id rate the 3 above as the most entertaining and deep."

"I'll go for The Ultimates. Hank and Jan felt very real to me, Cap's taking on Giant Man was a bit of spot-on characterization... and the head-kicking was top notch."

"Gotta say that Hank beating the shit out of Janet and the ensuing ass-kicking via Captain America made me stop and say Holy Shit! Don't forget when Midnighter beat the Iron Man ripoff (can't remember the name) by simply talking to him. That was incredible. Not at all what you expect from a character like that and he was being honest about it!"

"Ok, I know I'm new to Millar, but he has written some of the best moments I've ever read in a comic book. They mightn't have effected me in the way you were hoping for, but I just enjoyed reading them so much. 1) Cap taking down the hulk [...] 2) Cap beating the living christ out of Giant Man with his bare hands [...] 3) and who could forget, 'Surrender?? You think this letter on my head stands for France?!?!' [...] classic. might not be as a effecting as you you hoped for, but reading these made me sing inside"

Rich Johnston has an amusingly literal example of the covering-up of nudity in Frank Cho's new Shanna series in this week's LITG.

Marv Wolfman and Mario Ruiz team up to produce a comic history of Israel. Newsarama goes nuts:

"Sounds like propaganda to me."

"i wonder if it will detail the terrorist bombing campaign against the british army in the 1950's, led by men who are now part of the current Israeli government...now there's a terrorist success story!"

"Ah yes, let the bashing of the Jewish nation begin... [saracasm]Of course, the Palestinians are so much better. Abbas is a great man who does not condone terrorism.[/saracasm] What bullsh**! Israel is one of the few true allies the US has in the Middle East. As well as the only functioning democracy over there. Oh, and funny thing, in the nation itself Jewish, Palestinian and Christian people live side by side in peace. It is merely the terrorists and Israeli defense that makes the news, big surprise. Anyhow, I for one look forward to this. Like was mentioned above though, I am a bit apprehensive that 120 pages might be a little light. After all, it would take more than 120 pages to do a short synopsis of the wars that Israel has had to fight in the 20th century alone."

Blair Marnell wasn't the only one at the Future of Image Isotope party on Saturday, as I played hooky from painting the new house for a couple of hours to say hello and apologise to various people as well (Scroll down to the preview art for Strange Girl and Sea of Red at ATR, by the way. Much niceness). I also managed to grab some new Image books appearing soon, including The Amazing Joy Buzzards, which writer Mark Smith talks up here with amazing synchronicity:

"'The Amazing Joy Buzzards' is part Scooby Doo fun, part 'Speed Racer' action, and part 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' retro feel, with rock and roll thrown into the fun [...] Scooby Doo was an influence for the fun, and Speed Racer for the amount of adrenaline we wanted this book to have... It's a day in the life of an adventure band [...] And that could mean anything. Zombies, supernatural models, all could be around the next corner."

It's like the Monkees, if the Monkees was an Adult Swim cartoon with art by a scientifically-created mix of Jamie Hewlett, Mike Mignola and Jim Mahfood. In other words, it's fucking great.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Pete Tomasi, editor on Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers project, talks to Newsarama:

"It sounds like a company line, but I felt [that the original pitch] was truly epic and filled with great characters who were amazingly fleshed out, along with story beats that played out refreshingly unexpectedly and resonated through all the books. I can't wait for this to be collected at some future point, because it would be great to include Grant's pitch proposal in all its wild and unfettered glory. To read how he saw such a massive project like this in his mind's eye was truly a treat. When Grant sends you a proposal he's not screwing around. It's all there, concept, tone, big ideas, little details, all the dots are there, and my job is to just get out of the way and help them get connected in the best presentation as possible."

The John Byrne Board on characters Marvel has dropped the ball with:

"Hawkeye, Hank Pym, Thor, Spider-Mam, Green goblin, Gwen Stacy, Dr.Doom, darkhawk, Sla[stick, Willie Lumpkin, someguy that appeared in a issue of. You know its just easier to say M***** is pure garbage with little redeeming qualities."

"I don't buy that. Yeah, they've f**ked up on quite a few of their characters, but there are good books being published by them despite the EIC in charge. You've just got to look for them."

"How ironic that M****l is now the company that most needs a cosmic "makeover". I haven't read anything published by them for a couple years now, but I still love the characters."

Get Warren Ellis started on the subject of covers, and there's goodness to be had:

"There are two halves to learning to write comics. Learning the medium, and learning to write -- and you don't do the latter from reading comics. You do it from reading everything, from studying any and all narrative media you can get in front of. And, in the same way, you don't learn to build comics covers from looking at comics. You take from everywhere and then apply it back to comics. I absolutely shudder at most comic shop shelves because it all blends together. Just a mass of generic imagery. Often well-illustrated, but after a while one Elvis on black velvet looks much like another, you know?"

Tom Spurgeon talks to Stan Lee's lawyer at The Pulse:

"Pulse: Let me ask you the standard layman's question: what happens now?

Graff: My easiest response to that is that despite Marvel's public position that they're appealing and that they'll fight to the last breath, I guess, I'm hoping that after they've had a chance to reconsider their position, maybe after licking their wounds a bit, they'll recognize that they have an obligation to Stan and just honor that obligation."

It's semantic day over at Millarworld:

"I just can't stand the use of the word creator to describe a comic book writer or artist or creative team. It's just too vague. I could see 'author,' but creator just doesn't really precisely describe what these people do. Every artist or writer or filmmaker creates. Even when you 'create' a character, that isn't exactly what the person involved is doing. He or she is a writer or artist or even editor and in the process of doing one of those (or a couple of those) activities, they originated a character or setting or idea. I could see the term, slightly, used when referring to, say, Mark Millar, as the Co-creator of the Ultimates. But, really, even then he is primarily the Writer of the Book. Hitch is the Penciller of the book. Just calling them 'creators' and leaving it at that drives me crazy."

"'Creator' is one level of categorization. I don't see the reason to hate it. Humans are males and females (for the most part). Creators, when speaking of comics, are writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers (letterists?). It's a short-hand to make it easier to convey certain ideas. And of course, it can be misused. If all you ever called Hitch and Millar, with respects to Ultimates, was 'creators', you would be leaving out a lot of data in your discussion. Also, I think it's fair to say that right now writers are 'hot'. I, for instance, follow writers, not artists. But when it comes to creating a book, from concept to shelve, it's important to properly credit all involved. Saying all are 'creators' can help with that. It can be used as an even level of acknowledgement."

"I wouldn't classify a "Fill in" artist or writer, like Liefeld or something, as a "creator", these guys just take the prexisting characters and environments and put them through their paces. On the other hand, if someone thinks up the core ideas behind a character, like Stan Lee did for most of the early Marvel characters, then he deserves the title of 'creator', certainly. 'Creators' are generally writers, as they create the "soul" of the character, and even generally have a lot of influence on how the character looks, while a penciller generally only works on the surface of the character. As they say, it's what's inside that counts. Credit is deserved where credit is due, I mean I wouldn't complement Chuck Dixon on how cool Nightwing's costume is, but nor would I complement Bryan Hitch on what a 'great character' Ultimate Cap is. Sure, he has an influence on Cap's character, but not nearly as much as Millar (not that Millar can truly be considered a creator in this case either, since all he did was re-invision pre-existing characters). A creator, someone who comes up with and develops the core of a character, however, is always deserving of respect, and that title."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What's that, you say? You'd like to see some upcoming Losers covers by Jock? Well, luckily, Andy Diggle has the next five issues' worth...

Mark Millar was in my dream last night, oddly enough. He was at a party thrown by my boss, and I remember thinking that maybe he wasn't so bad after all, and that all his posing is explainable away as a relatively harmless way to try to market himself as cool and edgy to a particular audience. And then, this morning I saw this (it's the comment to Jim McLaughlin I'm referring to, in case you couldn't tell), and came to my senses.

Oh Jesus Christ.

(Via Chip at Larry's.)

What started as a complaint about the cancellation of Human Target quickly turns into a larger discussion at Micah Wright's forum:

"[W]hy doesn't DC just surrender and give up on monthly periodicals for non-superhero work? They could put out the first issue and then put out the full book three months later if they're worried about people being unwilling to buy a book sight unseen. OR, just do what the Japanese do: Vertigo Monthly, a magazine-sized graphic monthly. 1 Sandman story, 1 chapter of Human Target, 1 chapter of Losers, 1 chapter of Hellblazer, and 1 random new try-out series. Build it and they will come. Sell the fucker on the newstands right next to the manga compilations. The magazine sales will offset the costs of printing the eventual books, and a monthly magazine sold in stores will sell a HELL of a lot better than the comics of these books will. Ooops, that's it, isn't it? DC's unwilling to embrace the bookstore/magazine stand market for fear of pissing off their traditional retailer market. Well guess what, angry retailers? NONE OF YOU ARE ORDERING THE FUCKING VERTIGO BOOKS IN THE FIRST PLACE. DC should dump Vertigo right into the bookstore market where their real audience is anyway, and let the fanboy enthusiasts turned retailers get back to ordering their superhero wank like they want to. Or, just keep licensing work from Japan and canceling your domestic creators' best work until there's nothing left of it and you're the new Viz/Tokyopop. Whatever. I don't care anymore."

"DC has the strongest trade paperback progrma of any major publisher with the psosible exception of Tokyo Pop and does exceptionally well in bookstores. While it doesn't sell the numbers Tpop does on initial release it has substantially higher cover prices and does much better in back-list. Supposedly Levitz has said that Shonen Jump is a massive money-pit with Viz keeps going to buy market presence and character recognition. DC has Smallville, Teen Titans and JLU cartoons and various movies and cartoons in re-runs and sudnciation ot give them that character recognition... Nobody outside of Warner really knows how profitable Dc is but its worth noting that their dollar market share via Diamond is are 30% versus Marvel's 33%. Dc does better than Marvel in bookstores and newstands (suppsoedly the Cartoon Network books are THE best-selling comics on newsstands). Marvel is currently highly profitable. There's no real reason to assume DC isn't."

"Yes, DC -does- have the strongest bookstore trade paperback program of any major publisher. With the exception of Tokyopop. So a 50-year old company with three of the biggest characters in creation is running behind an upstart company which sells reprints? The only reason I can see as to why is format: comic-book size 'trade paperbacks' do not fit on standard bookstore shelving. They're also overpriced compared to their smaller, black-and-white brethren [...which] can fit in a purse or in a bag or in a largish coat pocket... Look at the Manga section when you go to a bookstore... all neatly racked by title. The comic section is a freaking mess, invariably racked face out, Archie mixed in with Superman mixed in with Authority mixed in with From Hell. No rhyme, no reason, nothing appealing whatsoever. The format has changed, but DC/Marvel are standing still and insisting that it hasn't. This is just like the 1980s when the Japanese started selling compact cars and Detroit sniggered and said 'ahh, no one wants those tiny cars' -- and then almost went out of business."

"Manga is easy to display, and the art design is much better. Having the thicker books means that the spines are easier to read from a distance. I don't think that shrinking the entire Vertigo line down to manga digest size will do much other than make the books harder to read. The titles that you listed are done for the demographic US publishers most ignore - children and teens. Vertigo's target audience is completely different to Tokyopop's. In my mind, that's why manga has done so well in the past few years. They've identified a target audience and churned out material to suit it. DC Vertigo is trying to crack an adult reading audience, with modest success. Uzumaki would be a better book to use as a comparison."

Josh Richardson gives the world a day in the life of the Isotope comic lounge:

"Oh! And who just walked in the door? Why AiT/Planer Lar’s own Larry Young. And what did he bring with him? Why, it’s the Couriers 3 (NOV04 2305) color key! The book isn’t for another week or two and Larry brings in this piece of art along with the blue lines for Couriers itself. I wish I could convey how hot this book is. Isotope is the place to see stuff before it’s out. A lot of never-before -seen books will be viewable at the Future of Image party at the ‘tope this Saturday. Whoa, and look, another pro just came in with Mr. Young! It’s none other than Last of the Independents’ (APR03 1915) and Sea of Red’s (JAN05 1615) Kieron Dwyer with his faithful dog Max! He’ll be here at the Isotope on Saturday showing off 16 pages of Sea of Red that haven’t been seen before anywhere! Goddamn this is an exciting place to be. We’re way past lunch now, and even Ian is done and finally getting his grub on. It’s still a bit tame right now, but from what I hear there’s another rush coming."

"Kieron Dwyer and his faithful dog Max" has to become a Saturday morning cartoon somewhere. Meanwhile, later in the thread, Larry Young slips Josh an exclusive preview of Filler, the new graphic novel by the people who brought you Teenagers From Mars, to show everyone...

Tom Spurgeon continues his association with The Pulse with an article about Stan Lee's lawsuit against Marvel:

"Today's legal victory drips with irony on two fronts. First, by allowing into the contract the section in which Lee was granted the 10 percent rights, Marvel is in exactly the kind of legal battle, one that may cast a pall on its future business dealings, that it hoped to avoid in the first place. It's a lawsuit for a percentage of the character's profits rather than full ownership, but as seen today, it's a suit with a much brighter legal forecast.

"Second, Lee essentially left 1998's negotiating table with a few obligations, a healthy paycheck, and legal right to a few pet phrases. The free agent status granted Lee made the failed Internet company Stan Lee Media possible, and moved Stan closer to an ardent supporter during his negotiations with Marvel: his SLM co-partner, one-time international fugitive and current jailbird Peter Paul. That same contract may contain the seeds to restore Stan to the riches that the Internet never delivered."

Elektra: Threat or Menace? Millarworld investigates:

"[A]re comic movies helping the industry at all? Are all the bad ones hurting it more than a bad story arc or bad artist? Should Marvel give up before they waste any more money? Should DC bother with more than Batman and Superman?"

"Super Heroine movies have no market. It's that simple. Wonder Woman might have a shot with Whedon at the helm, but more than likely it will succeed as a Whedon movie as opposed to a Wonder Woman movie. Marvel should stick to Spider-Man and X-Men. DC should just do Batman and Superman. Oh and let's face it. Fantastic Four is going to suck. Just looking at the pictures of the cast makes me wonder wtf they were thinking. That's two bombs in a row for Marvel. Three bombs if you count Catwoman from WB..."

"I dunno. I think the main problem I have with comic-book movies is the implication - which is rampant in many other aspects of the comic industry itself - that comics are basically poor-man's movies. A lot of comics really just read like storyboards for a screenplay that nobody would produce. The medium seems to naturally attract more talented artists than writers. I can name a dozen comics artists off the top of my head that I would stack up with any illustrator or painter you can name. But I have a hard time naming writers that do better work than most of the novelists I read. Somewhere along the line, I think comics writers neglect to study what makes the comic medium itself important or unique. The mentality remains 'I gotta make this as good as a movie if that movie didn't have any budget limitations!' And so you get a bunch of comics that are basically technically ambitious movie scripts. So finally they make the movies, as the technology improves to the point that those scripts aren't so unreachably ambitious as the writers thought at the time. The concept that the two mediums are drastically different is barely, if ever, addressed, and you end up with an unconciously awkward translation, because the creators on BOTH sides of the equation (film and comics) don't understand the difference. No, I don't think the movies are doing comics any good. Look at the evidence. How many millions of dollars have been made in comic-book-based movies in the last few years? It's gone up and up. Meanwhile, where have comics sales been going? Down and down. There's nothing for it, I think. It's a host of silly expectations, all around. The Incredibles still totally rocked."

This sneaked out on the Newsarama sidebar yesterday:

"Corbis (www.corbis.com), a leading provider of complete visual solutions, and Marvel Enterprises, Inc., (NYSE:MVL) a leading global entertainment and licensing company, today announced an agreement to make Marvel's world-renowned Super Heroes available for use through Corbis. The deal grants Corbis with the rights to license Marvel's digital content for editorial and commercial use on a global basis. Under the new multi-year license agreement, Corbis represents the rights to thousands of images featuring Marvel's expansive library of more than 5,000 characters -- including such ever-popular figures as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Elektra, and Captain America - and makes them available for use in print and broadcast media. The arrangement provides creatives with simple access to Marvel character art and the rights clearance services necessary to use them in editorial and commercial advertising projects."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Over on The Comics Journal messageboard, Les Toil looks at an overlooked aspect of a comic master's work:

"As long as I've been posting here (like two years now?) I don't recall anyone bringing up--let alone paying homage to--veteran Marvel artist Gene Colan's propensity to draw massive (and I mean massive) feet. So allow me to be the first. What can one say? This is a man who, for reasons only he and his psychiatrist truly understand, likes to draw men's (and occasionally women's!) feet bigger than bread boxes. Rarely does he draw a foot less than twice the size of your average head and at least the length of the average man's forearm. Did he believe the size of a man's feet were indicative of his power and strength?? Or maybe this was his way of saying the super beings that inhabited The Mighty Marvel Universe were all hung like horses (you've all heard the old wives tale that you can tell the size of a man's Johnson by the size of his feet). Or further, did Colan use his vocation as a comic artist to nurture a foot fetish??"

There's more, including pictorial representations on said feet, at the link.

The law sides with Lee. Newsarama reports:

"Following up on the lawsuit filed by Stan Lee in November of 2002, Marvel today announced that it had received a decision on the partial summary judgment motions made by Lee and Marvel in Lee’s litigation against Marvel. In his lawsuit, Lee claimed that Marvel owed him millions of dollars due to its 'shameful scheme' in which Marvel reneged on its deal with Lee to pay him 10% of profits earned from Hollywood films based on Marvel characters... According to Marvel’s statement, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has sided with Lee, and ruled that he is entitled to 10% of the profits Marvel has received since November 1998, 'for the right to produce and distribute motion pictures and television productions based on Marvel's characters, and from movie-based toys manufactured and sold by Marvel itself.' Marvel states that the court rejected Lee’s claim to monies received by Marvel from thirds party licensees of movie-based merchandise."

When reached for comment, Lee apparently told reporters "Excelsior, true believers!"

Comics: Should the medium always be small and self-consciously cool? Millarworld ponders:

"Just a thought. With all the corporate efforts to splash a million dollar, world beloved, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, is the industry losing sight of it's core audience? Comics have always been associated with sub-culture. Normal (and who the fuck wants to be normal) people don't bother to read them, or they'd sell in droves. Most of the ultimately succesful archetypes embrace the outsider/loner aspects of the mythology. A small, freakish, segment of the world's population actually bothers to read them. Are corporate comics turning off their target audience, the angsty, uneasy, pre-teen/teen, in their efforts to become as commonplace in the Popular Mindscape as Wonder Bread©? This may be a bullshit topic, the responses will tell, but, what if? Are they un-cooling themselves?"

"Comics need to become something that kids don't want there parents to know that they're reading, you know, like manga."

"Over about 7-8 years, I've sold around 400-500 copies of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac #1, and similar quantities of the other issues, as well as Squee and I Feel Sick #1-2. There's something about these books that appeal to a large group of people, but it's so far from 'mainstream' that a lot of people wouldn't look at it twice. There's a fair amount of books like this. They're the thing you hide from your parents because they think it's bad for you. They're the thing you show your friends on the bus on the way home from school, and the snicker like, well, kids looking at something they shouldn't be. Comics need to be that thing that makes you stand out, say 'I don't give a f*ck about what anyone else thinks, I read this and f*ck you if you don't like it,' and you know you're better than everyone else for reading. They shouldn't be things that people read in their bedrooms, hidden away from the world. People should walk down the street reading comics, screaming at the top of their lungs 'I LOVE COMICS! F*CK YOUR MAINSTREAM CORPORATE BOOKS!' People with brightly colored hair should read comics. Comics should cater to people with brightly colored hair."

The Comic Pimp is back, and all about 2000AD:

"Instinctually I knew these were the kind of comics that gave comics a bad reputation with my old man and these were the kind of comics that scared the wits out of people back in the 50's. Only they weren't comics from a by-gone era, these were the comics of today, born into a surreal modern age where Ronald Reagan was trying to designate ketchup as the vegetable portion in my school hot lunch and where the space shuttle was burning up with our teachers inside. To my adolescent mind science was smelling distinctly of fiction, and the shocking futures foretold in the pages of my '2000ADs' were only funny because they seemed so... true. And I can't deny the appeal of another aspect of '2000AD.' Like the music I was increasingly listening to, the comic didn't give a shit what you thought of it and could care less if you didn't approve of the strange and horrific noise it made. It was the height of gloriousness to my hormone-addled teenage mind how effortlessly '2000AD' flipped the bird to every other comic at my local shop; it didn't give a damn what Batman and the Avengers thought of it being a dirty and mis-shapen space anthology comic that refused to fit in some acid-free box. And frankly, '2000AD' was too busy kicking ass, being ironic, and generally blowing shit up to be bothered to get color on every page. My kind of comic!"

John Byrne waxes nostalgic for Jim Shooter's Marvel:

"If there can be said to be one event which pushed Shooter over onto the Dark Side, it was SECRET WARS. Shooter had always maintained that Marvel (read: Jim Shooter) would rather produce a great book that got poor sales (he would cite Roger Stern's brilliant run on DOCTOR STRANGE) and a POS that sold thru the roof. Then he went on to do what might well be the biggest POS ever -- and it sold so high we actually had to build new roofs for it to sell thru. Which meant, of course, that he had to convince himself that the reason SW sold so well was that it was a brilliant piece of work -- not that it was crap that happened to be wall-to-wall superheroes. It was after the success of SW that we started getting notes from Shooter that would say 'See SECRET WARS #____ for how to do this right!'"

Stuart Moore takes over Firestorm:

"One thing I want to do with Firestorm is ground the stories a little more in real physics [...] The original book had a lot of science-based villains, and we're going to get back to that. You'll see some new enemies right away, starting with a man who's literally made of Dark Matter -- the mysterious stuff that exists out in space, between the stars. Of course, any real physicists will probably laugh their asses off at the science. But that's part of the fun of comics... Basically he can channel energy through himself and transform matter into energy, or into other types of matter [...] Ultimately, Firestorm can do anything. But Jason Rusch is still learning what that means... Jason's a fascinating character; his relationship with his dad is particularly tense and interesting. I'm also very conscious of the fact that Firestorm is the only DC/Marvel superhero book on the market with an African-American protagonist. This month, at least."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Onion talks to Los Bros Hernandez. Gilbert on Palomar:

"I just didn't want to ruin it. I didn't want to continue on like a television show that people enjoy and then they complain about the last two seasons or whatever. Or a great comic strip that just should've ended at a certain time. You know, an artist doesn't know his own decline. So I basically destroyed the town with an earthquake. I wouldn't be able to return to it if I wanted to, except maybe in flashback stories. The only regret I have is that there are characters I left there. Carmen and Heraclio and Sheriff Chelo I miss dearly, but I can't figure out how to do them again without making it too easy, like bringing them to America... Most of the characters I'll just fade out, and the reader wouldn't even notice they're gone. I'm a little stronger that way. In the old days, I just could not leave characters alone. Now I just try to keep the ones that still have something in the way of stories to."

Jaime on working with the same characters for decades:

"I would always have to keep some little speck of what came before, just to keep a sense of life... a past, you know? What's been before really helps give what's happening now so much more worth... the continuity really comes from seeing someone's life pass: what they're like when they're five, and then what they're like when they're 20, and then what they're like when they're 35. It just makes it all the more real when you know a person has a past. It's like the way we live our lives, you know? Life isn't all that exciting if it doesn't have what came before."

Those of you who were wondering what Mike Netzer's been up to recently? Wonder no more:

"Fellow TALK@Newsaramans,

"Our revered moderator, Matt Brady, recently posted the following question and comment at a Fanboy Rampage comments popup to a hot article which ran there: who do I talk to about getting the reputaion of having the wackiest board back? Not sure how I lost it... The question came on the heals of the frenzy generated from the Fanboy Rampage article which can be seen here. It was a followup to a previous article which can be seen here and is familiar to us as the post, For Truth, Justice and the American Way which also ran here at TALK@Newasarama last week.

As can be seen from the link in the article at Fanboy Rampage, this constructive wackiness originated at the Millarworld forums with this thread which was locked for discussion by the moderators and resulted in the highly entertaining fiasco that received great publicity at Fanboy Rampage and caused our moderator to ask for the return of such constructive wackiness back here to TALK@Nesarama. Please note the enthusiasm of the readers in the comments popup windows of both articles at Fanboy Rampage... Seeing how comics fandom and journalism, American pop culture and news reporting institutes are indicating their enthusiasm for this venture - and seeing that we have 6 months in order to raise the voice of the people from comics fandom - and seeing how our moderator, Matt Brady has raised the call for such constructive activity here at TALK@Newsarama, I'd like to offer the folowing proposal: I propose that we, the TALK@Newsarama membership, take the initiative now and establish a pre-campaign activity center for The Comic Book Creator's Party, here at TALK@Newsarama.

"This will entail the coordination of members interested and willing to pitch in to do so through the participation in several active threads which will run here couninuously and from which we spread out tentacles into the rest of comics fandom and the wide media at large."

There is more, oh so much more, here. But it gets better. Over at Millarworld, Netzer then starts this thread:

"Fellow Millarworlders, lend me your eyes! Behold! Behold, fellow Millarworlders what Matt Brady has embarked on doing at TALK@Newsarama!! The Newsaramans have come out like thieves in the night to pluck the fruits of the blood, sweet and tears we all gave here at Millarworld and are now reaping the harvest of the operational genius of ED Contradictory, Michael Tegler, Patrick Ayers and a host of Millarworld moderators who gave this groundbreaking story to the world through the prophetic reporting of the Fanboy Rampageans! The Newsaramans have taken our story and are claiming it as their own in their bid to steal the hearts of the comic book creators!!

"What's more, it was we, here at Millarworld who birthed the grounbreaking item and commentary in the Hit and Run op-ed published by one of the most respected mainstream sociopolitical journals in America today, Reason magazine! Matt Brady and his Newsaramans have embarked on grand theft larceny of our hard efforts! Can we stand by and allow this travesty to continue!! NO! NAY!! AND NEVER!! Fear not fellow Millarworlders! I have infiltrated the ranks of TALK@Newsarama and have procured a copy of their strategies for the domination of comic book fandom through the theft of the hearts of the comid book creators.

"Based on the information in my hands, I now propose the following method of retalliation: I propose that we, the Millarworld forum membership, take the initiative now and establish a retalliatory pre-campaign activity center for The Comic Book Creator's Party, here at the Wierd, the Stupid & the Ugly section of Millarworld. This, of course, unlesss MR. Miller and the enlightened staff of Millarworld moderators deem fit to give a separate new section at Millarworld for this venture! ...The nature of this activity center will be unlike anything else ever seen in the history of the internet.

"This will be a free and spontaneous effort generated by us all, with no encumbering tasks on anyone who doesn't desire it. Everyone can work at their pace, spurted by their own creative resolve, according to their own ability. This effort will quickly spread into a web communications network from here and into the cyberworld and eventually cover the entirety of comicdom and media and communications outlets with its spectacular call to raise the Brave spirit for America and the Bold hope for the World. This is the only method we will be able to overcome the onslaught of the army now being raised at TALK@Newsarama! This web we will weave, will even become the green envy of Peter Parker himself, the master webspinners of our comics world. With this, we will bring back the power and the glory to Millarworld which the hordes of TALK@Newsarama are attempting to take from us - and grant our courageous leader, Mark Miller himself, his long deserved opportunity to lead the comics into their glorious and noble destiny which awaits. It's time to come together, fellow Millarworlders, the call to war has been sounded and we have a home to protect here at Millarworld!!"

Coming up next: Netzer posts on the Bendis Board to say that he heard that Millarworld had said that their mothers were ugly, and the only way to get them back is so join his political party.

Courtesy of Millarworld, leaked Marvel solicits. Of note:

* It's Spider-Man month! Which means that we get some Spider-Mini-Series - Toxin (a Peter Milligan-written revamp of the Venom/Carnage concept) and Breakout!, the spin-off prison break story from New Avengers. Meanwhile, Amazing's solicit says "Springing out of the pages of NEW AVENGERS, you won’t believe what the fickle hand of fate has in store for Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Aunt May..." Shh. Let's all pretend that we don't know that they're all moving into Avengers Tower.

* Power Pack return - because one of you demanded it!: "Readers of all ages rejoice as Marvel's youngest team of super heroes returns for more awesome action, family fun and Snark-stomping adventures in this brand new series! It's the triumphant return of everyone's favorite super-powered siblings--Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie--in brand-new stories that are sure to delight new readers and longtime fans alike!
In this issue: Katie Power is ready to reveal her secret super-hero life to the world... and it's up to her siblings to stop her before the truth can come back to haunt them! Better act fast, kids... 'cause the Snarks are coming!"

Yes, that's right. The Snarks are coming.

* Hercules gets revived: "Reeling from the tragic death of Thor, the Prince of Power knows his star is fading fast. So what better way to pump up his Q-rating than to relive his defining moment? When his most bitter foe throws down the gauntlet, Hercules agrees to the challenge: Twelve labors, each more perilous than the one before it -- and each updated for reality-TV consumption. Zounds!"

* Dan Slott revives the Great Lakes Avengers: "They are the Great Lake Avengers, the guys who got the shortest end of the super-hero stick. But with the REAL Avengers disassembled, they’re going to try to step up to the plate and deal with one of their most powerful villains! Can they save the day? Well, we just hope these guys can save themselves!
THIS ISSUE: A GREAT LAKE AVENGER DIES! (Besides Mr. Immortal, duh.)"

* Goddammit if Layman hasn't made Gambit sound like it'd be worth a look: "It’s bad enough that the living dead are overrunning New Orleans, but one of the zombies just happens to be the reanimated corpse of an invulnerable super-villain! Even with the help of Brother Voodoo, Gambit’s going to have a hard time surviving."

DC's April solicits are up. Of note:

* Countdown fallout begins in the shape of two mini-series: Day of Vengence, written by Bill Willingham and apparently dealing with the supernatural DC Universe characters, and The OMAC Project, written by Greg Rucka:

"Every hero and villain in the DCU is under the gaze of an unbelievably powerful spy satellite. It's a technological marvel that answers to only one person — and he's got plans for it that are completely unknown to the superspy organization he controls: Checkmate! In a world where men can fly and melt metal with their eyes, there's now an army created specifically as an answer to them: a One Man Army Corps. Batman and an old ally are about to learn the chilling truth behind the OMAC Project — but will they work with or against each other?"

* Seven Soldiers continues to launch: Zatanna and Klarion The Witch Boy are this month's titles.

* Howard Chaykin takes over Solo:

"Chaykin revisits the old West in 'Tall in the Saddle;' heads to the future in the science-fiction epic 'Upgrades;' plays a World War II jazz tune in 'The Last Time I Saw Paris;' shows the terror of urban violence with 'Bad Blood;' and infiltrates the spy genre with 'Breaking and Entering.' Chaykin even guest-stars in his own story, the autobiographical yarn simply titled 'Horrors.'"

The cover's nice, too:



Chaykin also launches a new series from Wildstorm, City of Tomorrow.

* Some great superhero collections: The Brave And The Bold Team Up Archives, The New Frontier volume 2, a collection of Superman/Flash races...

* Surprise surprise: James Jean does more beautiful work:





And that's not mentioning the already discussed Vertigo First Taste and Batman: Year One reissue...

John Byrne hits quotation gold again, in a thread about whether he creates characters or not.

On Chris Claremont's prediliction for strong female characters:

"Chris is very protective of his reputation for writing 'strong female characters'. Back when we were doing POWER MAN & IRON FIST I challenged him to come up with a girlfriend for Luke who was a total ditz. Some slef-involved airhead who would, in fact, be not at all the kind of woman you would expect Cage to be attracted to. To this end, Chris came up with a supermodel character who appeared in one of our first issues (perhaps the first, I don't recall) -- but even before I departed he was talking about how she could turn out to have a 'head for math' and end up doing Luke's books for them. Archie Goodwin and I had a small chuckle together about that one!"

On his similarities to Wolverine:

"Oddly enough, it turns out I do have a 'superhuman healing factyor'. My periodontist has been amazed (to the point of wanting to document it for courses he teaches) by the speed with which my jaw bones, badly eaten away by the periodontal disease, have not only regenerated but, in some cases, actually grown too much! (When he opened my gums to expose the posts for my implants, he discovered the bone had actually gown over them!) This discovery served to explain a wee mystery that has been with me since I was a lad. When I was five years old I suffered a crippling bone disease that almost cost me my right leg. I recovered without amputation, but only just! However, my parents were told that everyone who had ever had this surgery had developed a pronounced limp*, as the bones would not grow properly in that leg. I have no limp -- and now I guess I know why!"

New Invaders writer Allan Jacobson talks about his book, an upcoming Wolverine crossover, Marvel and more:

"When Chuck Austen and I were co-writing I said I preferred the title NEW INVADERS. Chuck said INVADERS was better. I thought 'New' was more honest... I wouldn’t have asked for it if I realized Marvel was also adding 'New' to every other team book on the stands. It’s like a bad joke. The year of the 'New' team books. Aren’t they labeling thing a bit too much these days? 'Young Guns' 'Marvel Knights' 'Max' 'Ultimate' 'Marvel Age'. Boy, Howdy. There are more sub-categories at Marvel than there are job descriptions at MacDonald’s."

Kandora's C. Edward Sellner (or Chuck E. Sellner, as he's calling himself now) on, well, Kandora:

"The last few months have seen a wave of new publishers debuting on the comics scene, however, and I might be biased, none seems to have created the same stir as Kandora Publishing. Now, I’m not talking company-issued press releases that most news sites from courtesy run when received. I’m talking here in terms of generating discussion, reflection and outright debate in the media! How come Kandora is stirring the waters? Two things. First, they are delivering genre comics and thus have garnered many comparisons to CrossGen and filling their void. Second, they are offering something NO OTHER US publisher is doing... 32 pages of actual story per issue, at the price of $3.50 per issue."

Of course, with Detective Comics and Legion of Super-Heroes, DC are offering 32 pages of actual story oer issue, at $2.95 per issue, but still.

Paul O'Brien at Ninth Art on cancellations, and why the acclaimed titles are normally amongst the first to go:

"Why is there such disconnect between the critical favourites and what actually sells? It's hardly surprising that the critics regularly seize on books that nobody else is buying. After all, they tend to be the sort of hardcore fans who are more inclined to blind, random purchases of new books they know little about. Consequently, they're more likely to stumble upon poorly-promoted good comics that sailed under other people's radar. But, having found them, why are we so consistently useless at actually getting anyone else to buy them?"

John Ney Reiber writes about Dreamwave's closure in this week's LITG:

"dream-whatever's press releases continue to dazzle with their camelotian radiance. in glorious Spinworld, you can almost hear the proud banners sighing in the wind as the noble knights who strove so valiantly to rescue a stagnant, relentlessly shrinking comic book market bid their faithful retainers a fond and respectful farewell, and ride off into the sunset. meanwhile, in an alternate universe where faithful retainers actually live, pay heating bills, and buy groceries, there's not so much chivalrous trumpeting going on. while at least 17 unpaid freelancers--claiming amounts ranging from $350 to $40,000, or so i'm told--have been informed that a receivership company is now responsible for settling dreamwave's debts, dreamwave seems to be unwilling to disclose the name of the company, or provide the contact information which would enable dreamwave's creditors or their legal representatives to, umm... to find out what's really going on."

Matt Fraction and Joe Casey talk about creative burn out:

"I guess I wouldn't trust a creator who didn't have peaks and valleys in their output. It's a tough thing to consider, since the need to earn a living is a real one, not to be taken lightly. But if we're talking in purely artistic terms, then yeah... it's much more interesting to see creators give it their all and spend themselves to the point of exhaustion, go away and recharge, and then hit us with another round of creativity. Even setting aside the quality of the work in question, it's still a more challenging creative paradigm. So, yeah... it's necessary to hit the occasional wall. To test your own limits. That's what being an artist is all about, right? It's living the Morrison ideal (Jim, that is... not Grant). Then comes the balancing act... can you have a bona fide career as an artist (and I mean 'artist' in the wider sense) if you live by that ideal?"

Marvel goes book crazy, making deals all over the place:

"Marvel Enterprises, Inc., the dominant force in the comic book market through its Marvel Comics division - has entered into major licensing agreements with four of the world's leading publishing houses: DK Publishing, Harper Collins, Meredith Books and Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books as part of a strategy to increase the presence of its leading character franchises in various mass market book publishing formats. The agreements were announced today by Tim Rothwell, President of Worldwide Consumer Products and Bruno Maglione, President of Marvel International. Collectively, the new publishing licenses will bring the Marvel Universe to broad consumer audiences and demographics by establishing a significant presence in the largest mass-market book categories including adult novelizations, children's fiction, all-age non-fiction compendiums, as well as pre-school novelty formats and picture and sound storybooks. The new agreements reflect Marvel's licensing-driven approach to develop new product markets for its leading character franchises and category management strategy."

Books are the new movies, apparently.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Matt Brady looks at Diamonds numbers for last year:

"In terms of the Top 100 comics [...] for 2004, DC held the #1 spots in both quantity and dollars, with Superman #204 (Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s first issue on the series) being the highest selling comic through Diamond in 2004, and Identity Crisis #1 being the #1 comic for the year, based on dollars... Again, the 2004 Top 10 list [in terms of quantity] represents a virtual reversal of any monthly Top 10 list from the year, that is, usually; Marvel would hold eight or so slots, with DC holding two. Unarguably, the numbers were higher for DC on their top 10 books due to overprinting and heavy reorder/reprint activity on many of the Top 10 titles... Of course, the Top 100 also represents, as it does most years, of the continued strength of the established brand - aside from Conan and, perhaps 1602 (just because for a while, no one knew what in the hell was going on), the entirety of the Top 100 are the marquee characters - the known brands. Or, in other words, there is not one comic in the Top 100 for 2004 (this time counting Conan) that was created less (or based on one created) than 40 years ago."

Larry Young spreads the word - Robert Kirkman, Brian Wood rule the world of online sales:

"'Although this announcement may initially read as an advertisement for Kirkman and Wood to some of your more cynical readers, savvy retailers know this is more of a thrown-gauntlet,' said Young. 'Is the runaway success of their books online because their buying public is online as well? Is it because the majority of brick-and-mortar stores stock mostly just Marvel and DC, and money's being left on the table? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? But no matter how you slice it, as a publisher, I'm happy to have our books have a foot in both revenue streams: the 'real' store, and the cyberstore, I can tell you. It's win-win for everyone.'"

Because everything DC do, Marvel has to match, obviously...:

"DC's got their benchmarks of 'The Dark Knight Returns' and 'Watchmen,' so what's Marvel got in comparison? I asked a couple friends and they both said the exact same thing - Miller's Daredevil run and Byrne/Claremont's Uncanny X-Men, especially form the Hellfire Club to the Death of Phoenix and of course, the Days of Future Past stories. Thoughts?"

"In my opinion, Marvel hasn't got anything on the level of WATCHMEN or DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (or even SANDMAN, INVISIBLES, PREACHER, SWAMP THING and STARMAN). The closer it gets is DAREDEVIL by Miller and MARVELS. ALIAS was very, very good, but it lacked something. Maybe Bendis' DAREDEVIL will result in a masterpiece..."

"Days of Future Past. Marvels. I'll think of more later."

"Death of Captain Marvel is a brilliant & touching story. Certainly one of Marvel's stronger offerings. But it probably doesn't contribute anything other than entertainment. Watchmen and Dark Knight are much more than that. At the same time, you could almost say that everything Marvel did in the 60's is their Watchmen and Dark Knight. They changed the industry, re-popularized comics and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they humanized heroes. So, there ya go!"

Also at Newsarama, Brian Augustyn talks about new publisher Kandora:

"Well I hope that comic fans have room in their hearts for more than just one kind of comics, though I recognize that super-heroes will always be the most popular. I’m just old enough that when I was growing up and becoming a comics maniac I had superhero comics, western comics, war comics, horror comics, science-fiction comics, detective comics, humor comics; a whole gamut of fun and exciting books. Since super-heroes have become so popular, I think that the assumption has been that all those other genres are passe, or dead, but I think they’ve just been left in the dust. CrossGen proved they could make other genres work, as have many of the popular independent publishers. Now Kandora steps up, offering more variety. A steady diet of even the best can grow tedious; we all need variety! [The increased page count] gives us more room to develop stories and characters. It also gives us more space to create really big and cool action sequences! Not to mention which, it gives the reader more chances to enjoy the stunning artwork! Rumor is that we may eventually increase the page count, without raising the pricetag - and it’s already the best deal around: fifty-percent more comic than the competition for only fifty-five cents more than the $2.95 standard comic price."

Brian Hibbs explains why retailing is for the patient and strong of heart at Newsarama:

"Today is Tuesday, January 11th, so we’ve technically just closed the first week of January shipping (1/5). Any 'December-shipping' comic that hasn’t arrived by now is, by my lights, late. However, thanks to Diamond and the brokered publisher’s policies, 'December-shipping' books aren’t generally 'officially' late as long as they arrive in Diamond’s hands by 1/31. This means that this material might not actually arrive in stores until 2/9. Still, as a person who has to deal with the nuts and bolts of ordering and processing, it is my opinion that December material is late if it wasn’t in my hands by 12/31/04."

John Byrne: naive or bigot? It's a question that many have considered, especially in light of comments like these, about a Honeymooners remake starring Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps:

"....Isn't it about time Black people got insulted by Hollywood constantly pillaging White culture for material? Doesn't this say 'Black culture is barren -- nothing we can use there!'"

"There is no 'White experience', any more than there is a 'Black experience'. To suggest otherwise is to paint an entire race with one stroke of a single brush. However, 'The Honeymooners' was about the
specific experiences of a quartet of White people at a particular time, in a particular place. Doing it in blackface will either lose the points of the original show, or lose any point in changing the races."

Dwayne McDuffie, someone who may have slightly more experience in any possible 'Black experience', decides to respond:

"There's so much crap here I don't know where to start, so I'll take the easy one, part and parcel of the White Experience is the freedom to be so ignorant of your surroundings as to actually believe that there isn't a shared set of experiences implicit in being black in America. He's right about one thing, it is indeed 'time black people got insulted.' I'm starting right here."

Others agree:

"see, if i didn't know that byrne sees 'latino women with dark hair' as hookers, i'd think this was an innocent statement. but off top, he's setting up a gigantic flip flop. because later on, he says there's no WHITE EXPERIENCE. how can there be WHITE CULTURE, but no WHITE EXPERIENCE? doesn't experience come from the culture? equating redoing a story with black people with blackface is insulting, if what i remember about blackface is true. blackface was a demeaning process, that sometimes required BLACK PEOPLE to make themselves blacker and more stereotypical to appease people. to equate THAT with what's happening here is to belittle whatever creative upside cedric and omar bring to the table."

Kurt Busiek, who always wins simply by talking sense, again talks sense:

"It's like re-doing ROMEO AND JULIET, but about New York street gangs. Or THE SEVEN SAMURAI about cowboys! Or THE HONEYMOONERS about cavemen! Taking a dramatic or comedic situation and translating it to another culture or setting or ethnicity simply never works -- why, imagine doing THE ODD COUPLE about black men. There are no divorced black men, and none of them are slobs or neat freaks, or live in New York City. All that is white culture, like on FRIENDS or in Woody Allen movies. This is what happens when we allow something as inherently British as MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE to be translated into THREE'S COMPANY, replacing British culture with California culture. That just erodes standards -- what's next, THE TEMPEST in outer space? Blue collar couples in the city, dealing with marriage and work and friendship? Could never happen with black people."

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Brad Meltzer looks back at Identity Crisis at Newsarama:

"Now that the story’s done, what’s most fascinating to me are the comments about loose plot threads. Personally, except for Boomerang, as we discussed, I think every thread is addressed. It may be quieter than you’d like, or different than you thought it’d be, but the answers are in the book, especially with Batman. 'Bruce knows what he wants to know, and more than any of us, he also knows that you should never underestimate what someone will do for the people they love.' It’s one of the most vital lines in there, not just as it drives at Batman, but as it takes on the themes of the entire series. Look at it in the context of every relationship in the series: from Ralph and Sue, to GA, to the League, to Boomerang, to the Drakes, to Clark, to Ray and Jean...etc, etc. Of course, others have already widened the debate to include whether Batman knows consciously or subconsciously, but I know my answer. From start to finish, Identity Crisis wasn't written to 'lead into' anything. It was designed to be a stand alone -- and I'm proud of the answer in that context. Think about it: Batman's story wasn't meant to be a cliffhanger. I realize it can certainly be read as one, but in my interpretation, there doesn't need to be a follow-up. For me, Batman's worst wounds are always self-inflicted. However, if other writers want to build on that moment or see it differently, well, that's the beauty of comics: the tapestry of different interpretations on the same characters/moments/interactions. As I said before, Batman is being true to himself. 'Bruce knows what he wants to know, and more than any of us, he also knows that you should never underestimate what someone will do for the people they love.'"

Newsarama reports that Bloodhound is cancelled as of #10.

EDIT: Heidi announces that Human Target is also a goner.

So, remember Mike Netzer's announcement at Millarworld that, if comic creators could join hands and form a political party, then everything would be great? Turns out, he's not too happy that that thread was locked, especially after Kurt Busiek made the point that it was tasteless to use Will Eisner's death as something to publicize your own insane political views:

"Kurt Busiek directed some statements at me in a legitimate discussion on a thread I opened which was locked. In my attempt to only answer those statements, with no desire to continue the thread, it was immediately removed. Yet the original thread with the statements directed at me remains for all to see, yet also remains locked. I believe your treatment of this thread was not in the fashion of good hosts to a guest comics professional who has been welcomed here by Mark in the past. you have the right to moderate posts as you see fit, but it would behoove you to show the minimal courtesy to explain your abrupt and seemingly unfair behaviour in this matter. It would have behooved you to have at least explained yourselves, and to also have removed the statement directed at me if you choose no to allow for my answers to also be viewed."

This new thread is then immediately closed, with the following post from Ed Contradictory, MW mod:

"Thank you for your participation in the MillarWorld Internet Comic Book Message Boards. Generally, when a thread is closed by moderator action, that topic is also considered closed to additional conversation. Again, thank you for your continued participation and we look forward to seeing you around the forum!"

What's a slightly crazy comic book creator to do? Well, there's always starting another thread:

"I truly do appretiate your answer which is a good sign that we may eventually get to the bottom of a cordial relationship over previous mishaps which will now remain unnamed. Although your answer read like an automated one, I'll hold to the belief that a you are a real human being and did actually write it yourself. So, now that you still have not answered my query, I understand that you'd like me not to speak about certain previous matters between us. I'll respect your wishes and refrain from doing so in hopes that you will not lock this thread also.

"What puzzles me in your answer is the cool warmth with which you persist on inviting me to continue participating in the forums while making it clear that you will have the upper hand in what you choose of my posts to allow to be viewed - at times to my own severe detriment and at your own bidding. I'm not referencing any previous examples of this here, mind you, rather simply noting the thrust of your answer. Now, I can be a very patient individual and am willing to play the lamb led to the slaughter role for your benefit and entertainment if you see a true necessity for this at this time and on this forum.

"On the other hand, Ed, I remain truly bewildered at your persitence in not explaining why this needs to be so now. I almost feel like Chaplain in Modern Times caught inside of your cogs and my gut instinct tells that it's a little early for that now. So, I would like to ask you for any advice you might offer for such a situation. Please remember that Im not referencing anything which we both agree will not be discussed here anymore."

Other MW posters are confused - "You're actually EdC's alter ego, right? This can't be for real." - so Mike attempts to clear things up:

"I'm afraid this is as real as naything else in the comics. We have a dire situation here and it cries for remedy. The problem is the declarative trigger fingers of those who place the icons next to the post lists. It appears that one of these icons which looks like an x has a very magical power which not even Ali Baba can overcome with his legendary Open Sesame keychain. I assure you that I am not Ed's alter ego though I can't guarantee you that the's not mine. If you're able to procure some answers to remedy this situation then I'm sure that MillarWorld readers will be very grateful to you."

Unsurprisingly, this thread, too, gets closed. Mike Tegler, King of all things Millarworld, gets the last word:

"I'm closing this thread until I can understand what any of this about. Please Mr. Netzer do not start another thread. I will re-open this one once I have the relevant information and response to you queries."

Did I say the last word? I meant almost last word, as Mike Netzer then opens a third thread:

"I must admit that I was quite taken by his courtesy in attempting to help us all with our small problem which that nasty little x icon is giving us on that unmentionable thread which we all know not to mention anymore. Polite as he is though, it appears that Michael (you have to love that name) has a rather strange sense of direction. Either that or the hall circuitry at Millarword Biz Forums has grown to proportions of astounding complexity. What other reason could there be for him to take so long to find his way to the moderator's lounge in order to understand what this is all about and provide us all with some long awaited answers to our queries?

"Now, I understand that he asked very politely that we not begin any new threads until he returns - but there is ample reason here to believe that perhaps Michael (again note the wonderful name) is having diffculty in navigating his way to the moderator's lounge or back from it. So, I've opened this thread in order to alert Millarworld forum members that one of our moderators is missing and only so that everyone should perhaps be on the lookout for any signs of where it is that he might have lost his keyboard footing placement since his disappearance from this section.

"In the meantime and in an effort to help Michael (I can't get over how nicely his name rings in one's ear) understand what this is all about, and in the event that he has not been successful at doing so himself - or even that he perhaps has lost interest in the matter, I'll offer the following possible explanations.
http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/foru...52811#post52811
http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb....t=011224#000020
http://www.joequesada.com/cgi-bin/ikonboar...18;t=24733;st=0

"I believe this could truly help us solve this mystery. I will again remind everyone that it may be prudent not to mention the unmentionable things we've all agreed not to mention here anymore, lest the little x monster rear his ugly little head over this thread as well."

He just has time to add the following before this thread, too, gets closed:

"One more thing. Although we will refrain from mentioning Kurt Busiek's name in reference to things apparantly forbidden here which cause threads to become inexplicably closed for further discussion, I'd like to clarify that I've corresponded with Kurt Busiek for several years now at various forums and have also had the pleasure of meeting him at a Baltimore convenion last fall. Kurt is one of the more astute and engaging creators I've known in the comics and has an uncanny ability to procure any information he needs about any subject which comes into the realm of his conversational circle and with which to turn any discussion into a pleasureful excursion into insightful enlightenment. I've admired his work for years now and it's in this spirit that I would like to answer the unmentionable things which we've been temporarily disabled from doing so here at the Millarworld forums and which have repeatedly awakend this strange sorcerer who disguises himself as an x icon and plasters himself to any post which embarks on mentioning the unmentionable issues unmentioned above. I do hope we can overcome this little problem soon and settle this slight misunderstaning once and for all."

It's just getting silly now, isn't it?

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