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Monday, February 28, 2005

Odd thing from Rich Johnston at the start of this week's LITG:

"All a bit of a blur this weekend. Nothing popped out yet, but it can't be long. Looks like there will be a very special and last Lying In The Gutters next week. Probably heavy on the photos, if everything goes the way it's looking. We'll see."

So, has Rich been offered a comics gig that's necessitating his shutting down the column? Curious minds, and all that.

Millarworld discuss Joe Quesada's comments about original graphic novels at Megacon:

"Asking Joe Quesada his opinion of graphic novels is like asking Hitler his opinion of jewish music."

"This is the predominant business model in comics. You can hate Marvel all you want, but Joe's right about this. An OGN doesn't sell as well as singles and then a GN collection. Seems like a pointless thing to pick out to bash Marvel for. Or are you equally upset at DC for how they're publishing 7 Soldiers?"

"What I find shameful is that Joe Quesada tells it's public how dumb and anal retentive they are that they're going to buy three times the same thing that they could've buyed just once and how he thinks that's the best because he's going to be richer that way. It's funny to see that people got mad at Mark Millar for the last to pages in 'Wanted', for what a character said, and that their only going to ironize about a Marvel CEO telling them... the same that Wesley said on the last 'Wanted' panel. I really hate how people always excuse capitalism."

"Sixty years ago, action movies came out in serials. If the movie industry felt that model was the best they could do, we'd never have the big budget blockbusters that have been released over the last thirty years. The 'story broken into singles' model works in a direct market. Unfortunately, the direct market is small and is not where the dollars are. Joe is correct that singles work, but only because he isn't broadening the scope by which he sells his books."

Truly, this thread is the Fanboy Rampage motherlode. It starts being about Green Lantern, bringing out the geek in Micah Wright:

"Frankly, I hate every version of the Green Lantern except for the old, mean Guy Gardner from the Giffen era. It's a magic ring, for chrissakes. It makes giant boxing gloves and hamster wheels and other stupid shit. Even as a kid, I knew that was totally weak. And this obsession with Hal Jordan... well, everyone got their wish, their fictional character is coming back to life. Now you'll get to see just how fucking boring he was and why they wanted to kill him in the first place. Oh, wait, I forgot... New Frontier made him good... by throwing away everything that existed and starting over from scratch. I sure hope the HEAT guys enjoy their new/old Hal Jordan. No one else did the first time around. Fuck, even his NAME is weak. Hal? Feh."

... and then Jesse Baker gets to tell everyone why Hal Jordan rawks and Kyle Rayner sux:

"Hal never got shot by a bitch villain like Prometheus (who I have a theory was a huge practical joke of Grant Morrison's in terms of Grant creating the lamest villain imaginable and then passing him off as the stereotypical 'HOT NEW KEWL VILLAIN OF THE DECADE who is ultra lame and is forgotten about a year late' with DC's unknowing help). That alone makes Kyle the resident bitch of the Green Lantern Corps."

Luckily, Omar appears, to offer his reading of the Green Lantern debate:

"As I've said before, the question of which Green Lantern you prefer says a lot about who you are as a person. For an awful lot of fat nerds, Hal Jordan represents the alpha male that used to shove their heads in the junior high toilet (which they deserved). They hate him, need to see him torn down for that reason. The rape-rock drug addicts who have no real sense of morality and don't want to admit that there is such a thing as right and wrong will choose Rayner every time. All other choices - even Guy, though I've really enjoyed reading Gardner stories in the past - are just a way to avoid the question."

How could it get better, you ask? Well, other posters could be disappointed in Omar:

"Oh for fuck sake, man...your Hal/Kyle analogy is piss weak! What happened to the crack-pot political semiotics you're known for on the Comicon boards? This is your big chance to shine on Delphi and you bring this milquetoast 'druggies hate the school bully' horseshit to a board known for it's over-the-top political rantings. Get with the goddamn program and bring your A-game! The eyes of the world are watching."

"You're kidding me? This is the infamous Omar you and the V gang have been going on about? This is hilarious. It's as if Ann Coulter became a comics nerd."

Stung by the criticism, Omar then puts forward his case:

"Ah, OK. I thought there was a lot of negativity hitting me all at once here so I did a search on the forum. I've apparently been the topic of several recent remarks that I'd like to take a moment to repond to. No wonder the pitchforks are being sharpened - for some reason there have been several lies told about me in the past few weeks, and even at least one threat of violence... [Several quoted posts and rebuttals later] I'm just an opinionated 31 year old guy with a lot of spare time. I want Micah Wright to know that while I probably gave it to him with both barrels at some point, I NEVER advocated violence or harassment against him. I never would, the whole idea is bizarre and paints the many message boards I do regularly post to (Millarworld, Quesada's board, The Pulse, Comicon and Newarama) as some kind of Wild West. None of those places would tolerate the kind of behavior I stand accused of."

There then follows a discussion of Omar's behaviour on various forums, including his revelation that he is not the only Omar, although he is the only true one:

"The usenet post you have linked to was actually written by me - there were some imitators back in the day, keep that in mind - and does mention Archie Goodwin... The quote about me celebrating Goodwin's death is not mine. I'll ask to be judged on my behavior here and elsewhere in the past few years, and will not be confirming or denying any more quotes from usenet as I was often imitated there. Quick example - there's someone posting from aol that uses the name 'Omarichu' on usenet even now - says all manner of racist, ugly things and the posters there refer to him as Omar though he's carefull to never do it himself. Not something I can do anything about, and I'm not about to drop my online handle just because someone else wants it. I post from NY state and use a Roadrunner account, never used AOL."

And the thread ends in the announcement of a new Delphi forum.

Strange comedy genius.

Gail Simone talks Villains United:

"My take on this book is, this is what happens when super-villains stop being dumb... When they stop working against their best interests. Past attempts to bring the villains of the DCU together have never been on this scale...we have everyone from Crazy Quilt to Gorilla Grodd. They come together for self-preservation - or through other forms of persuasion. But the fun part is, out of all the people asked to join the huge villain association, the Society, six refuse, and want nothing to do with it. These Six would rather take their chances than live under the Society’s rules. So, there’s friction. And with these guys, friction leads to bloodshed. And bloodshed leads to darn good entertainment."

Jesus, I look like an idiot in those photos.

Third time lucky... Will this manage to get posted?

James Kochalka - Censored by Diamond:

"The first issue of my new series SuperF*ckers is listed in the current Diamond catalog (March?). They censored the title for the catalog, changing it to SuperF******, but it's in there (from Top Shelf). It's understandable, I suppose... they've got to keep the catalog all-ages, but I figured one * was enough. I was wrong!"

The posters at The Comics Journal board are, obviously, incensed:

"See, I was afraid I'd miss ordering the book cuz Diamond might only list it in 'Adult Previews'!"

"I think a better compromise would be 'SuperF***ers.' Seriously."

"I keep telling you all to avoid such bluenose hassles so you can concentrate on your art... DON'T WORK BLUE. But do many of you listen? No! And so you deserve what you get! (Sorry, but I had to go tough love here.)"

Friday, February 25, 2005

Rick Burchett, an artist who never gets the love and attention he deserves, talks about working with Greg Rucka again on Queen and Country over at the Pulse:

"Finding the correct style for this series is interesting because of the freedom that's allowed the artist. Most people know my work on the DC animated titles, but I wanted to move away from that. This is a little more detailed, less iconic style that I'm letting develop as I progress. One thing I'm paying attention to is the fact that this is a black and white book. I'm spotting more blacks and indicating textures using line more than I normally would... [T]his is quieter, visually. Super hero work is pretty operatic, larger than life. In projects like Q&C you tend to work more with subtlety of expression and posture. That doesn't mean it's boring, just quieter."

Larry Young, comics' kindest man, offers up wise words in a special Loose Cannon inspired by the death of Hunter S. Thompson, but about something (and someone) else entirely.

Marv Wolfman rewrites rewriting DC history:

"I was having breakfast with John Nee of DC Comics at the San Diego Convention two years ago and John asked if I'd be interested in doing the Crisis [on Infinite Earths] as a novel. Without thinking I said yes. Later I realized the daunting nature of the job... I had to re-read Crisis for the first time ever. After I first wrote it I never re-read the entire series. I'd re-read the books when each issue came out but I never re-read the whole book because quite frankly it was such a nightmare to produce I wanted nothing to do with the series or its political problems for a long time to come. I realized I could not do in prose what George did with art in reference to the grand cosmic nature of the story with hundreds of heroes attacking hundreds of villains in all different time periods. What I wanted to do was what a novel does best, which is to make the ultimate cosmic story into a personal story. I wanted to have Flash as our POV character because, although he died in the middle of the series - something I never wanted to do - he really got short shrift in the original. I also thought it would be good to do a book where the Flash was basically letting us know how a hero sees the other heroes, how he saw the Crisis in general, and how his own emotions were turned up side down because he had no idea if his wife Iris was alive or dead. In many ways this book is a wonderful love story between Barry and Iris and I dare anyone who reads it not to cry at the end. I described the last chapter to my wife - who has not read the Crisis or most comics, for that matter, and she was in tears. Also, using Flash gave me the chance to do something very different, to make it special and to really get into the head of a major DC character in a way nobody ever had before."

To Larry and James: You weren't wrong about The Originals.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Top Cow take over the City of Heroes comic licence. The first comment on Newsarama:

"Is Marvel going to sue Top Cow over this?"

Brian Michael Bendis on the Bendis board and entitlement, from the cut parts of his Comics Journal interview:

"What I enjoy immensely are the people on the message board. There is a large group of people who read my books and have a wide variety of the same interests as I do, and that's a lot of fun. We have a lot of fun talking about DVDs, movies and lots of shit like that. We have a lot similar interests, and it's fun to meet people with similar interests. But every comic book is someone's first, and someone's last. Every book is an excuse for someone to drop your book, so I write it thinking that very sincerely. Entitlement is what kills a lot of people in this business, or in any creative business. The minute something connects with an audience, they go, 'Oh, well, I deserve this, I've earned it,' and they go into shock when no one's there for the next one. Most people do know that me and David and Mike and all these guys that came up out of Caliber are much more comfortable at that level, and any kind of success is actually wildly uncomfortable, so I don't take it for granted; I take it very sincerely, particularly, with The Avengers doing better than anything everything I've ever done. I don't take it for granted at all; every issue I have to earn it."

Newsarama posters ask Whatever Happened to the Men of Tomorrow?:

"What ever happened to Chuck Austin And Rob Liefeld? These two guy's have fallen big time from where they use to be what happened?"

"Liefeld is still out there drawing. even though x-force recently ended (enter an Alleluyah!) and as for Austen. I think he started his own WorldWatch book which was/is a mess and was quickly cancelled. As for what he's doing now......well I dunno. Wal-mart will always need janitors."

"They are working together on a sequal to WatchMen, they have Alan Moore's blessing"

"Worldwatch was not cancelled, a new issue just came out about 3 weeks ago and it went full colour. Austen even announced he will be re-releasing issue 1 in full colour as well. I don't see how it got cacelled because Chuck is the fucking publisher. I am not a fan of Worldwatch but it is hardly a mess. I don't get into those near pornographic books but from whayt I saw in flipping through the first few issues the characterization is pretty tight and the stories evocative of his Action Comics run, meaning simple and fun."

"haha It's hard for me to take threads like this seriously. Austen and Liefeld are BOTH 'living the dream' They're getting paid buttloads of cash to do what most of us here can only dream about. X-force did very respectable numbers considering the books it launched against...and the fact that those characters hadn't really been used in quite some time. Rob Liefeld is so filthy fucking rich , that he doesn't even need to make a living doing comics anymore. He does comics for the fun of it at this point .Austen's stuff has been selling for years and WorldWatch is a huge success by indy/ 'niche -market' standards. Liefeld and Austen have both achieved a level of success that none of you guys talking smack will EVER come close too so next time you want to talk about Wal-mart hiring janitors....you might want to put your application in."

"Stop rubbing it in or I'll fucking burn your house down! (that was a joke not a death threat)"

Millarworld remembers the Warren Ellis Forum:

"I lurked there and occasionally posted from early 1999 until it was shut down. It was an interesting place - I discovered a lot of cool comics, music, movies and books because of it, and saw a lot of people go from being nobodies on the Internet to being comic professionals. It could also be a pretty lame place - it occasionally seemed really cliquish, and the heavy-handed moderating could go overboard. But it kept the fanboy stink away most of the time. Alot of interesting thing happened there over time. It was fun to read through the messages everyday. It was like a news site, debate room, entertainment info dump and soap opera all mixed into one big mess. It was a fun thing that was mercifully shut down after its purpose had been served."

"The WEF was a great and wonderful place. I miss it, but Millarworld is just as good a replacement."

"It was a great place for storytelling and Q&A, because there was always an astrophysicist hermephrodite who went to high school with Vanilla Ice, or the like, who could teach you something you didn't know."

There's also an amusing juxtaposition of John McMahon and Frank Davis's posts, and Sabrina Peyton's short tale of geek love.

This just in from the world of healing:

"yes i still buy wizard in fact i have all 162 issues...but not anymore .........besides the house of M preview which was a big letdown,.....several stupid articles and stories.....they redid thier price guide. they took out half theiir comic listings......and the pricing on their comics are just plain wrong. Normally i dont care about value ...but they list several issues of Valiant comics as beign hot in high demand and going up in price. i know when they went Out of business some of their book are rare......but the only i thing i use valiant comcis is for toilet paper. i will never ever buy wizard again!!!"

This is from a Bendis board thread called, of all things, "Wizard Magazine has lost all credibility".

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Over at Tom Spurgeon's Comics Reporter, Brian Hibbs responds to Spurgeon's assertion that "when I read Brian claiming that 'it's clear that there's still lots of life (and growth!) left in the DM,' I can't imagine he heard differently from anyone who matters":

"...I very much believe that a significant percentage of the upper management at most of the large publishers believes that they'd rather be in the 'bookstore' business than the 'DM' business, because one is 'legitimate' and the other is vaguely disreputable. I've been told such both directly and indirectly.

"Further, the 'real' book publishers certainly appear to not give the slightest rats ass about our market, except as some poor bastard stepchild that they can pat on the head (if that) and then ignore. Example? Scholastic did dumps, window clings, bookmarks, etc etc etc for the new Bone collections. None of that made it into the DM. Have you EVER seen a DM-based ad for Persepolis or In the Shadow of No Towers or any material like that? Yeah, me neither."

In similar, San Francisco retailers respond to internet pundits, news, James Sime responds to ADD's "15 Ways to Make Comics Better" with 5 more ways, directed at retailers:

"Retailers: Remember you are the face of comics to the public at large, so put your best foot forward every day. Always stay active in all aspects of your business, especially the everyday interaction with those customers whose hard earned money keeps the lights on and the front door open. Nurture the culture your store but never get complacent or be completely satisfied with the service your business provides or the customer base you already have."

In more related news, the Isotope is having a somewhat unplanned event today:

"I could tell you all about the brilliant all ages book that is ELECTRIC GIRL. I could talk about its charmingly bright characters, understatedly clever stories, and downright cheerful artwork. I could talk about the accolades this book has recieved from the American Library Association, the Eisner Awards, and the folks at Cartoon Network. I could tell you how much fun it is as a comic retailer to get to put ELECTRIC GIRL in a young girl's hands and watch her face light up... but to be honest, Brian Saner Lamken said it best in Comicology: 'It's rare that I feel as though I'm reading something new anymore. But I had a welcome sensation of discovery reading Mike Brennan's ELECTRIC GIRL.' Come on in for this surprise in-store event and get to meet the man behind this book and find out what all the fuss is about, won't you?"

Today at 4pm, for those in the area.

Arune Singh - or as he clearly prefers to be called, "Big Sexy Arune" - takes on perceptions of fandom, super-heroes and comic books in general at his new blog. It's in three parts, but start here:

"From talking to comic book 'skeptics,' it's also clear that many feel there's something inherently immature about super-heroes and based on the visuals, it's understandable. From women in thongs fighting crime to men who'd put Adonis to shame, there's a definite male power trip aspect to super-heroes that hasn't been addressed. There's a reason that Elektra shows more skin that Captain America. Can you imagine him dressed in the Wonder Woman costume?

"It's interesting that people can gather in bars with alcohol to celebrate the end of Sex In The City and while some catty comments will be made about those gathering, it isn't socially inacceptable- after all, it's being done in a large public area and no one's really walking by to ridicule them. Or what about the large parties people had on Thursdays to celebrate new episodes of Friends? Regardless of the merits of the show, one can't deny that the series hinged on coincidence, hyperbole and entirely unrealistic lifestyles, but it managed to become a cultural phenomenon and net the involved parties more money that any of us reading this will ever see. Was it the lack of costumes or powers that made it more acceptable? Or was it the pretty people? As with many comics, the focus of the series was the relationships between the main characters and how they worked to achieve their goals. Much like super-hero comics. Look at how people can watch re-runs of Seinfeld day after day after day without overt ridicule (generally), but if you're caught reading a comic book, you're meant to feel like the 10 year old whose mother just caught him spanking the monkey to a new issue of Playboy (which really does have good articles by the way)."

The John Byrne board on Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman cover. Warning, your head may spin:

"Ack! What's with Superman's chin?? I don't think I can ever like Quitely's art after his All-New, All Gay-Fetish X-Men..."

"I hope they paid the colorist the lion's share of the money on the Quitely cover. Without color, you just have a line drawing - and a rather simple one at that."

"I think the Superman cover is a bad idea conceptually, I just hear the jokes about Superman is doin' No. 2 in the clouds now. Maybe it's that look of contentment."

"Is it just me, or does Superman look 'stoned'..."

"I'm torn between 'stoned' and some kind of homoerotic 'come-hither' look. Given the choice, I'd prefer 'stoned,' personally . . . but I'd REALLY prefer something else for a cover, quite frankly. Not very appealing to me at all. I'm not familiar with Quitely's work, and I have no desire to become acquainted with it based on this. Superman does not sit around daydreaming in the clouds like some lovestruck schoolgirl."

The Brian K. Vaughan board wonders about that almost-forgotten comic prop, the thought balloon:

"Now I know that a lot of comics do not need thought bubbles, such as The Walking Dead, Ex Machina, Y, since we don't want to know what's going on in the characters heads, because of all the twists and turns. But in other super hero comics, such as ASM, Superman/Batman, and a whole lot more, the thought bubbles have been replaced by colored boxes, that are being 'thought' by the main character only. The thing is, it's not the same as the thought bubbles, it seems more like a 'Wonder Years' style inner monologue, rather than straight up thoughts. And we lose the thoughts of random bystanders going 'WTF?', etc. And thoughts of side characters, in say ASM, like JJJ, Aunt May, MJ."

"Thought bubbles are no longer cool...sorry. I for one, enjoyed whenever Stan Lee would have various women in comics think 'Oh my, _____ will never love/understand me, I'm just a simple female!' Or with any writer you might have Aunt May worry about Peter eating his wheatcakes or not. Sadly, this doesn't fly anymore."

"I read somewhere that Brian Bendis HATES thought balloons."

"Pretty much ever since [Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns], nobody's really used thought balloons in comics, probably because it feels too 'comic booky.' A lot of the time, they're used as pure exposition dumps, and although Silver Age comics from both of the big two have their charms, thought balloons that explain everything multiple times in nauseating detail isn't something I miss a whole lot. I think a higher level of reader sophistication is assumed nowadays, so the average superhero book prefers to show rather than tell. For what it's worth, I think the death of the thought balloon has also led to a lot of what's considered "decompressed" storytelling. Since you can't just put a big thought balloon over someone's head to explain everything anymore, you have to depict actions that do, boosting panel counts where 'nothing happens.'"

Millarworld discuss other comics message boards:

"The V is the best comic message board on the internet."

"It depends on what you're into, but I enjoy the Comics Journal's forums."

"You silly people. There aren't any other message boards! *collects check*"

"I don't have time for more than one message board. And the ones I've seen aren't as inspiring as MW."

"I'v checked a lot out but none seen to have the mix that here has so I don't really bother with any ohers. Outside of MW I think I have only made one post over on the Bendis Board and that was in response to Mark putting my Av up on the board. Compared to here all the others don't seem that good.IMO."

Marvel changes its rating system:

"Marvel’s new system will be similar to that used by TokyoPop and other manga publishers, starting with 'ALL AGES' and then 'T+' for teen and up, followed by 'PARENTAL ADVISORY' and 'MAX: EXPLICIT CONTENT.' ...Ratings for the T+ and PARENTAL ADVISORY titles will move, from under the Marvel logo in the trade dress (where they currently appear) to the UPC code box. MAX and ALL AGES will continue to appear at the top of the cover."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

More catching up: Ed Brubaker on The Fall movie:

"The announcement was more like a ‘we're ready to go’ kind of thing. We've got the comic and the screenplay, and you put out an announcement like that and suddenly everyone wants to know who you are and what this project is. David doesn't announce his projects usually until he's certain they're ready to show around. And my manager is already fielding calls from people all over Hollywood wanting to see the script and my other stuff, so this is kind of a big deal. Especially considering how long this has been happening on the ‘down low.’ ...This isn’t exactly the first screenplay I've written, but it's the first good one. The first one I'd show to anyone. I've heard a lot of writers say how strange it is adapting their own work to film, and I have to agree, it was a totally different process than I was expecting. You have to almost divorce yourself from the source material at times and mold it to what makes sense onscreen. For this one, the original story was fairly short, and not written with any hope of selling it elsewhere, so we really had to add a whole other story into it to make it work as a movie. Consequently, though, I got to do a lot more with the characters than I did in the comic, and this script has some of my favorite dialog I've ever written, as well as maybe the single best scene I've ever written."

Joe Casey at the Basement Tapes:

"One thing I think I can say with some certainty... the era of 'writer-driven' comics is pretty much over and done with. We had our day, I suppose, just like screenwriters had their day in Hollywood from around '88 until about '95. Looking back on the appreciation readers expressed toward pure writers like Morrison, Ennis, Ellis, Busiek, Waid, Kevin Smith, Bendis, et al has pretty much been supplanted by Fuck Fame characters and franchises, editorially-driven 'Event' comics and a select few Hot Artists swinging their dicks.

"And, lemme say right now, I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. Not at all. At the end of the day, it might be a healthy sign that we're doing just fine, that the industry cycles continue, the world turns and the pendulum simply swings another way. But I can't help but wonder in retrospect... did we blow it somehow? Did we not take enough advantage of our favored position when we had it?"

Picking up on stuff I missed yesterday, Ross Richie leaves Atomeka to start up his own company:

"In regards to why now, I think there's a real void in the business right now for this kind of company. I'm different from a Speakeasy or an Alias in that most comic book buyers recognize names like Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Dave Johnson, Howard Chaykin and Mark Waid. I see this company in the tradition of companies like First Comics or Comico, a 1980s independent kind of thing. Big, cool, mainstream comic books from creators you recognize. All full color. I think the market's very exciting right now. There's never been better written material in a more numerous quantity, and there's never been better artists. The talent line-up is impressive, and DC and Marvel are delivering big events that keep fans buzzing. Meanwhile, the independents are offering some truly exciting projects that get people to flip to the back of the catalog. Comic book publishing is a great place to be right now."

Cameron Stewart, my tip for the top, speaks at Newsarama:

"As far as pursuing other avenues, I am still quite eager to explore different genres and drawing styles and will continue to do so once Seven Soldiers is complete. My next project, for which I am already signed and will begin immediately after I finish my work on Seven Soldiers, is as far from superheroes as you can get and completely different to anything I've yet done in my career, and I'm excited about the creative challenge it will pose. I never want to get stuck doing merely one type of story, and plan to balance superheroics with creator-owned material of other genres for as long as it's possible to do so."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Couriers 3 gets a good write-up in Entertainment Weekly. Millarworld uses it as an opportunity to moan:

"I am very disappointed in EW's comics coverage recently. First it was going to be two pages an issue every couple of months; then it switched to one page in the subscribers-only magazine insert. and now it's occasional sidebars. kind of disheartening, if you ask me."

"I've notived the genral decline in coverage too. Things were so promising for a while."

Brian Hibbs looks at 2004's Bookscan numbers for graphic novels:

"Manga is clearly the category killer. So much so that, were I a publisher, I’d be screaming that BookScan devised a way to separate Manga out from the rest. Nearly 70% of the titles making the BookScan list are Manga! Manga sold (at least, remember all of the caveats) 1.3 million more books in 2004 than 2003. Last year I opined that my experience was that Manga sold more akin to a periodical than a perennial – that is to say that sales were front loaded in the first few weeks of release, then drastically dropped off from there. This does not appear to be case when comparing BookScan 2003 to 2004. In fact, if I counted right, there are 123 Manga titles (of 751 total) which appeared on both year’s lists. That means nearly 20% of the total manga titles appear to be perennials.

"In many cases sales are substantially lower (c.f. Chobits v1 going from 38,951 to 24,956 or Love Hina v1 going from 31,290 to 20,830) – but the drops are nothing like I would have assumed from my own sales patterns. One possible explanation is that the charts are still reflecting stores bringing Manga in for the very first time, leading with the known commodities. It will likely take until 2005 to see if this is, in fact, the case. Possibly ’06."

Comic Book Resources has lots of Wondercon stories: The Cover Story panel, the DC Universe panel (complete with Frank Quitely's lovely cover to All-Star Superman #1, and now I see what you were on about with the chin, Jeff), the DC Comics that aren't full of DC Universe characters panel, the "surprise" Batman Begins panel, Joss Whedon telling everyone that he and John Cassaday are doing another year of Astonishing X-Men, and Julian McMahon, talking about the Fantastic Four movie. Not that I saw any of the above, though. I just spent a few hours there on Sunday afternoon and hung out with some cool people (Hello, Matt, Jeff, Steve, Mindy, and Mick Gray. And Larry, James and Kirsten, who were busy looking to buy Iron Man comics and Steve Ditko pages...). I'm never where the action is. But I did have a traditional "meeting a pro whose work I really like and forgetting how to speak" moment with Gail Simone, so some things apparently never change.

Friday, February 18, 2005

What is the purpose of reviewing something? Newsarama reluctantly investigates, as a thread spinning off from Mike San Giacomo's piece on "Constantine" quickly turns into... well, I'm not sure. In response to San Giacomo's praise for the movie, the poster Darth Presley quotes some bad reviews. Matt Brady responds:

"What's the point here? That different people have different views of a movie? What did you think about the film when you saw it?"

Presley replies:

"Yes - that's exactly the point, Matt. The point here is to present other views from people with no vested interest in the comic character - isnt that what a discussion thread is for? If you don't want other opinions why allow a thread to be attached to the review? What's the point of that?

"I think the concept for, casting of, and the changes made for this movie are ridiculous - but rather than be dismissed as a close minded fanboy, I think it's useful to point out less involved reviews that point out how the character and actor came off to them. Which I think underscores that the filmmakers did not 'get the character right.' I haven't seen the movie, I don't plan on seeing it, I don't get free tix or have loads of free time to spend in a movie theater seeing a movie that sounds really disappointing to me."

Back to Brady:

"That's exactly the point - to discuss your opinions. The article is essentially one person's opinion of the movie after seeing it. Your post wasn't - they weren't your opinions. They were opinions that supported what you felt about the movie having not seen it, but only trailers, clips, interviews, and perhaps read articles. In essence, you were doing the 'I haven't seen/read it, but I agree with this guy's opinion.' I've just never cottoned to the idea of co-opting yout thinking for someone else's. I've always found that to be a slippery slope... [A]s someone else pointed out, there are postive (and 'less invovled') reviews of the film out there aside from Mike's, but you didn't look for them, you grabbed the ones that you agreed with, despite not having experienced the material first hand. Why didn't you include any positive reviews?

"I mean, if I dug, I could probably find positive reviews of Catwoman, even though critics have told me I shouldn't like it (got no opinion one way or the other though - never saw it). As I asked, I was curious as to what you thought about it, not what someone critics who have to write engaging copy (alright, which you could argue Mike is, but regardless, it was his own opinion) to keep their jobs thought about it."

Another poster, Boyfriend, jumps in:

"[W]ould you have been so quick to jump on him if he had listed several agreeable reviews, rather than the dissenting opinions?"

Brady:

"Yes... I could give two craps about what a professional reviewer/critic (which Mike is not by the by...) thinks about something."

Back to Boyfriend:

"Perhaps you don't, but some of us do. And after all, is this thread more for you, or for us? ...Why are you taking such issue to someone citing other reviews? (At least with Darth Presley. You've apparently given gwangung a free pass. Wonder why.) In his very first response, Darth Presley listed other reviews. He didn't say that they were correct/incorrect or more in/out of line with his opinion. Neither did he mention if he had or had not seen the movie.

"Okay, sure, your intended purpose for this thread may be to discuss our views of the movie, but to what extent? [edit]Some[/edit] people who've posted so far haven't seen the film yet. Are you going to chastise them, too? Darth Presley simply provided information that may run counter (yet holds equal credibility) to what is given in this article. Apparently you have an issue with that."

CBR has the Marvel solicits, and Newsarama has a good rundown of the highpoints. Nothing really to add, apart from the fact that Maximum Fantastic Four sounds like a good idea that's horrifically overpriced, and that Astonishing X-Men's solicit seems to confirm that Joss and John are staying around for awhile ("The penultimate chapter to Whedon & Cassaday's first year of ASTONISHING"... "first year"?).

Corey Henson talks to Gene Ha:

"[T]he stunts I have people do in exchange for con sketches [are pretty geeky]. Like performing live audio dramas using bad 70s comics as scripts. Drawing Liefeld lines on a fan's face and having him harass Mr. Liefeld (fortunately, Rob's a wonderful guy with a patient sense of humor). At the last con, I had a fan swinging from a balloon as his web, and we carried him around the con while singing the 60s Spider-Man theme. But yeah, I do act like a fanboy around certain people. Folks like Eddie Campbell and Kyle Baker. Which taught me that acting like a fan is a horrible way to make friends with someone."

To those wondering about how manga and non-manga books are doing in the real world:

"Yukiru Sugisaki's D.N.Angel Vol. #6, published by Tokyopop, topped the BookScan list of best-selling graphic novels in bookstores for the week ending February 13th. Viz had six of the top ten titles... There were only two non-manga titles in the top 50, the Book of Bunny Suicides and Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men Vol.1, which landed at number 41."

Millarworld is torn about the last issue of Promethea:

"You know, I read every issue up until this one. Although I have not seen the $50.00 edition (another WTF discussion altogether), I was prepared to buy the regular title just to see how it ends.... However, it really hurt my eyes. The art is, as always, beautiful but the white lettering on the rainbow backgrounds really made me not care. So I put it back on the shelf. Hopefully someone with more patience then me, will read this and let me know what happened. A series hasn't ended with this much of a whimper since Cerebus."

"It doesn't matter how you read it, it still won't make any sense."

"But is it worth shelling out money for? I've been reading the Promethea trades over the last couple of years (I think I'm up to 3 or 4), so I had no idea what's happening. Should I pick this up or wait for it to come out in TP?"

"More than 1/2 of you guys are nutty. This isn't a New Avengers variant here, this is two creators who went out of their way to massively experiment and deliver a truly unique work of art. No one says you HAVE to buy two copies, after you rip the first one up, you can reassemble it anyway you want. After all the visionary techniques employed in this series, it is a truly fitting way to go out."

"I wish they had released the issue as a series of trading cards tying in with the Warriors of Plasm."

Image Comics release their solicitations for May. Of note:

* Jim Mahfood gives us Felt: True Tales of Underground Hip-Hop: "Slug (from the group Atmosphere) and Murs (from Living Legends) are two of the hottest rappers in the underground hip hop scene today. FELT is a one-shot comic that acts as a visual interpretation of their new collaborative album under the same name. But you don't have to buy the new album to dig this book! Popular cartoonist JIM MAHFOOD (CLERKS, STUPID COMICS) turns tunes from the new record into funny and clever comic strips with topics ranging from bar fights, to break-ups, to making art, to dirty girls! This is a truly interesting and unique comics experience sure to please music and non-music fans alike."

* Greg Thompson and Robbi Rodriguez's wonderful Hero Camp relaunches under the Image banner: "Eric Quinlan is an average kid whose life is turned upside down when his super-powered parents send him to a summer camp for teenagers with powers. Eric finds himself lost in the woods of Camp Enokchuk, being stalked by three super-villains who believe he really does have super-powers!"

* Something called Slop: Anacleta sounds worth checking out: "This digest-sized volume is a collection of short stories from underground kingpin DAVE CROSLAND (BAD IDEAS, PUFFED, HEAVEN LLC) and his partner in crime, DEBBIE (Venus Magazine, Spin, tastes like chicken). The book culls the best stories from the five-year run of their out-of-print mini-comic, SLOP, including the Zine Yearbook Award-winning 'Patience Gets You Nowhere, Tolerance Gets You Hurt.' It also contains original pinups and rare sketchwork from DAVE and DEBBIE's art book, Acid Bomb, monthly "Slop" comic strips that appeared on tlchicken.com and all sorts of never-before-seen doodles and goodies."

Ed Brubaker goes showbiz:

"And the next graphic novel to film…The Fall by Ed Brubaker and Jason Lutes. According to Variety, rights to the graphic novel have been optioned by David (Batman Begins) Goyer with producers Bently Tittle and Pascale Faubert. Goyer and Brubaker have been at work on a film version of the graphic novel for some time, and now, the project has taken a solid step towards big screen reality. According to the trade, Brubaker will write the film, while Goyer will direct and produce."

Congratulations, Ed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Queen and Country gets a new writer? Surprisingly, yes:

"Oni today announced the third Queen and Country Declassified miniseries, a story focusing on Minder Nick Poole in his early days. Of note is the fact that the miniseries will also mark the first time any of the Queen and Country characters will be written by someone other than creator Greg Rucka. For the story of Poole, Rucka has yielded the reins to Antony (Three Days in Europe) Johnston, who will be teamed with artist Christopher (The Tomb) Mitten."

Rucka remains as editorial consultant.

Chris Butcher announces a flip James Jean cover (to the already announced Darwyn Cooke cover; both of which are gorgeous) for the Free Comic Book Day 2005 book, "COMICS FESTIVAL!". The line up of talent within the book isn't anything to be sneezed at, either...

Wolverine spoilers, as Mark Millar talks about the X-Man that Wolverine kills in the latest issue:

"[Marvel] were okay about [killing Northstar]. Obviously, the character isn't as popular as Cyclops or The Beast, but he's a big part of X-Men history and was probably the most high-profile X-Man during the nineties when he was outed in the mainstream media. This was a huge story in the mainstream press and I wasn't sure if Marvel would go for this for a number of reasons, but they tend to be very supportive and know it's all part of a grand plan I have. They're very happy with the story, readers are very happy with the story and our sales just keep going up and up. It takes years for a company to trust you and I appreciate that I'm very lucky to be in that position at the moment... [The idea that killing Marvel's first openly gay character is homophobic is] just ridiculous and, thankfully, very few have suggested this was even a motive. As someone who's won two gay and lesbian awards for the treatment of Apollo and The Midnighter, had glowing reviews in a clutch of gay magazines, was all over the British tabloid press three years ago defending my use of gay superheroes (even when the cardinal of my own church described it as a disgrace) and introduced a gay Colossus into Ultimate X-Men, it just seems preposterous to assume this is bigoted in any way. I'm comic-books most dripping-wet liberal. This was an equal opportunities kill, as you might say. His sexuality didn't enter my head. It's like saying World War Two was an exercise in homophobia because hundreds of thousands of the troops who died would have been gay. It's just completely inconsequential to the story, no more relevant than the death of Harry Osborn or Barry Allen being an attack on heterosexuality."

Steven Grant offers a rare look into why a book doesn't work:

"There are some things that sound really good in your head. I liked the idea. I still like the general idea. Larry Young liked the idea. He liked it so much he lined an artist right up, Toby Cypress. There was a little problem, though. Toby was ready to start right away, wanted to start right away (and Toby's quick!) - and I hadn't written a word of it at that point. As is often the freelancer's life, I was juggling a lot of different things, and sitting down to completely work out and write the book was out of the question. But neither of us wanted to lose Toby, so I did the worst thing possible:

"I started feeding him pages.

"A lot of comics companies work that way - not Larry, usually, that I'm aware of, but I've slapped books together that way for virtually every monthlies publisher I've ever worked with - and there's something to be said for writing on the fly (sometimes you can get a transcendent energy from it you can't achieve any other way), but it's one thing to do it on a 22 page monthly comic and another on an 80+ page graphic novel. (Not that I really think stories under 128 pages at an absolute minimum should be called graphic novels but that's another topic...) The downside is huge: what you do early on ends up locked in stone when you do the rest of it later. In most cases, writers don't have a huge amount of power in this business; it's usually their job to "write around" artist deviations from the plot or script, not to insist material be redrawn. Not that this was a problem with Toby, but the principle was the same. I'd been writing chunks of the story piecemeal over a few months and was thirty-odd pages in when I had the worst revelation a writer can have:

"It didn't work."

ICv2 reports on an interesting change for Animerica:

"Animerica, the anime and manga monthly magazine that Viz has been publishing for over a dozen years, is ending its run as a newsstand, direct market and subscription publication with its June issue (Volume 13, No. 6). But the publication of the June issue will not mark the end of this venerable source of key information about Japanese culture -- Viz plans to distribute a revamped Animerica at numerous anime conventions starting at Anime Expo in July."

Matt Brady looks at the potential ramifications of the latest superhero movie announcement, the original (as in, not adapted from a comic) "Tonight He Comes", to star Will Smith:

"Given the returns seen by The Incredibles ($259 million, not counting DVDs), and the potential of Tonight, given Smith’s star power (his Hitch, even with lukewarm reviews, opened in the #1 spot this past weekend, and his films on average see roughly $111 million in grosses), could we be seeing the sun set on movies adapted directly from comic books? After all, in Pixar's case with The Incredibles,and to quote another Pixar film that $259 is 'Mine' (well, minus the money paid to Disney...but you get the picture).

"Major franchises, such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and the X-Men will more than likely continue, but as for the second and third tier characters... it’s a tough call by anyone’s accounting (outside of Marvel or Warner Brothers offices, that is). While at one time or another Marvel and Warner Brothers have suggested that their comic book lines act as research and development arm for films and other media, with both The Incredibles and Tonight show that studios are figuring out how to take the pieces of comic books and superheroes that work, and make their own stories and characters. It's a paradox of sorts - critics often claimed that lousy films would kill the comic book-Hollywood pipeline, but instead, what may be more of a threat to that flow are good stories and starpower."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

"So what's the latest on the manga bust? Is there one? Is it bringing everything crashing down in a fiery ruin? As The Beat has been tracking, over the past 12 months we've already had one complete meltdown (Gutsoon), followed more recently by Comics One getting a new name and its titles going on hiatus (although they seemingly will be back), Studio Ironcat going belly up, and now the CPM downsizing... So what's up? Is this the beginning of the end for manga in America?"

Heidi looks at the state of the Manga union.

That Tom Spurgeon double-bill that you've been dreaming about: At The Pulse, he writes about what's next for the Hibbs/Marvel lawsuit, and at his own site, he writes about Gerard Jones editorial weirdness. Me, I'm waiting for him to get stuck into Ed Cunard's essay on online comic writing and bias, but then, I'm waiting for Heidi to make good on her promise about that, as well.

Millarworld ponder the revelation of what Warren Ellis's Ultimate trilogy is about (Spoiler: He's big and has a planet-sized appetite. And if you really don't want to be spoiled, don't read any further):

"Pretty crappy debut for ultimate galactus. Thank god for Fantastic Four Masterworks 5."

"The UFF are integral to Ultimate Secret, and probably the third part too. What I'm more annoyed with is these god damn Hairsine delays again. This miniseries is gonna end up being a year late, and lose all its impact and steam because of it."

"Make Ultimate Galactus a pregnant woman who gives birth to Ego. Now that's a six-issue, bi-weekly event."

"Imagine the Hairsine delays weren't really Hairsine delays, but the issues are being stalled for when Ultimate Fantastic Four is written by Mark Millar (with Greg Land) so that they have a Crossover or something? In other words, maybe Millar's UFF will have an impact on the Ultimate Galactus trilogy and vice versa? That would be genius..."

Newsarama has more James Jean goodness, as the artist talks about his sketchbooks:

"I was really interested in creating finished pieces out of every spread, using writing, color, and drawing to fill the pages with complete compositions... Eventually, this mentality was defeating, because the sketchbooks didn’t embody the same spirit with which I began, and it became too intimidating to draw in the books lest a terrible mistake occur. So that’s why the later sketchbooks became more painted, the pages heavy with layers and layers of acrylic as I painted over and revised images. This approach was too cerebral and every page was a struggle, which is probably why I started drawing from observation more often to clear my head."

Ed Brubaker signs Marvel exclusive. Ed Brubaker's last DC mini-series cancelled. Coincidence? Newsarama posters think so, and look for other possibilities:

"WHA? I wasn't sure I was going to buy it, but I at least wanted to flip through it, as I used to enjoy Pearson's art. It's taken forever for him to get back on a normal gig, and now it's pulled?"

"Perhaps underwhelmingly low orders on the first three issues, even when compared to the relatively low orders most Wildstorm Universe books unfortunately get? I try my best to support this little gem of a shared universe, but this title didn't really catch my attention. How long will this universe be allowed to suffer in obscurity before D.C. cuts it's losses? I'm trying to be optimistic, but the long-term prospects for the next Authority-like hit to come out of this imprint seem slim."

"So... The owner of the shop I used to work at, and still frequent, and I made a bet. We'd both met Pearson at shows and whatnot and knew the stories of his lateness, but I was still convinced that DC wouldn't solict something so short (3-5 issues, depending on who you're hearing it from) without at least half the series in the bag. So that was the bet: 50 bucks says that the series would at least make it halfway through before becoming a late book. My friend the owner? The first issue that shipped late before the third would win HIM the money. Dear god... It didn't even make it out the f&#^*&(ing gate..."

Bendis cancels his Wondercon appearance this weekend:

"sorry guys. i just told the con i'm not coming. everyone in my house is sick with half of us giving the other half viral infections. i have never cancelled a con appearance before, ever, so i feel really bad about it. and my toronto friends will remember what i was like when i show up to a show sick and can't even finish a sentence without hacking something up. don't worry, we're all going to be ok. just the perils of having a toddler in school. already talking to them about next year, so... who knows."

Amongst the get well messages, some people have their priorities straight:

"Fucked Up [...] I almost flew out for this. Just to see you and Smith."

"Damn. This is making me reconsider going this year."

"sorry to be a dick, but - didnt you cancel MegaCon a year or so back? i remember crying myself to sleep."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Rick Remender - Taking over comics, six titles at a time. The man talks about his half-dozen upcoming projects - including Strange Girl, which looks amazing - at Newsarama:

"In all seriousness - not just ass kissery, between Image, IDW, Dark Horse and Mirage I’ve never worked with better people. The editors and managers - Erik Larsen, Scott Allie, Eric Stephenson, Chris Ryall, B. Clay Moore, Stephen Murphy, Matt Dryer, at all four companies have been professional and responsive. I’ve had some highs and lows in comics and fully appreciate the enthusiasm and support from all involved. Now where’s that kid with my ****ing latte!"

My new favourite comic, and not just for the pun in the title.

Matt, if you're not entering this in the Isotope mini-comic contest, I may have to kill you.

Comic Book Resources: Where Message Board posters write things like this:

"Am I one of those people who consider post-[Sins Past] Gwen to be an evil slut? No. And as a woman, I find such an attitude quite offensively misogynistic, particularly considering that male characters who cheat (like, say, Colossus) haven't been met with nearly so much fan vitriol. That said, would I, personally, forgive her? Also no. I think cheating is one of those things that really is unforgivable, a betrayal on almost every level; it destroys trust, and without trust, there can't possibly be any real love. And who wants to bring up children in an atmosphere where there isn't any love?"

"O god!! Spare me the if-it-was-a-boy-you-wouldn't-call-them-a-slut crap.. I don't care if it is a boy or a girl...She slept around on parker ..she is a slut bottom line....Scott summers slept around on Jean Grey....he is a male slut... I don't care about race, creed, religion...if you are getting around like 2pac you are some sort of slut... And NO way in hell am I forgiving Qwen...once a cheat always a cheat"

"You can't compare Colossus to Gwen. She slept with someone that she knew Peter despised, I don't remember Colossus sleeping with a Brood queen or anything. Did they both cheat --- yes, but IMO, big difference."

"Bottom line is she's been dead for years and I'm banging a supermodel. I think I'll get over it. Teenagers do stupid shit and make bad decisions. It's part of being a teenager. Some of you are reacting to Sins like Gwen gave you the clap."

(Thanks, Ed.)

Let's see how quickly it takes for this thread to get deleted at the Bendis board:

"HEY BENDIS!! if you come to my house, i'll introduce you to my sister. she turns 18 in april"

"is this where the line forms?"

"Introduce him to your mom... then he can be your daddy"

"I call backsies!"

"I'll just take the least used hole."

I give it six hours, tops.

Tom Spurgeon writes about why we should support Gordon Lee:

"A pair of convictions here would not simply be an unjust outcome for Lee, it could lead to easier future convictions involving a 17-year-old, or adults, or imagery those of us who find objectionable Nick Bertozzi's depiction of a dink might think perfectly okay. It will likely lead to other laws in other parts of the country, and encourage those who live where those laws are passed to apply them more and more aggressively."

Matt Fraction and Joe Casey think about "the definitive run":

"I think that every time you begin reading the first issue of a run by a new creative team -- that you know has some talent -- you hope you're on the ground floor of a definitive run. But how many promising starts have been pissed away over the years? This goes back to our discussions about Endings. Comics are so bad at them now... that's what can kill a run and prevent it from being considered a 'classic.' I remember Nocenti and JRJR on 'Daredevil' and I know I got a kick out of it at the time... but how did it end? I couldn't tell you that if my life depended on it, even though I probably bought every issue. Y'know, now that I think about it... before Miller and Moore, you could have a definitive run on something that didn't exactly wrap up in a blaze of glory. Certainly, Lee & Kirby's last issue of "Fantastic Four" wasn't some spectacular finale to their run. Englehart's Marvel work in the '70s tended to get cut off prematurely or fall victim to some editorial bullshit, but his collective work on 'Captain America,' 'Dr. Strange' and 'Avengers' are all considered classics.

"But Miller and Moore changed all that. Those guys, and others who were of their mindset, wanted the satisfaction of an ending to their stories. But these days... I don't see that kind of passion for providing endings. Maybe because, collectively as an industry, we're so bad at it that we've just given up on it as a skill worth possessing...? Maybe publishers don't want those kinds of endings for fear of killing interest in the franchise. If that's the case, God help us all, because I don't think anything ever did more good for the Batman franchise than 'Dark Knight' and 'Year One'..."

James Jean talks to Newsarama:

"In the face of all the crystal-cut anatomy and three-point perspective common in comic covers, I felt that my abilities as a draftsman were limited. As a painter, I wasn’t used to illustrating a particular character, let alone a whole cast of people, so it was intimidating. Composition and concept are foremost in my mind when illustrating, so hopefully that has compensated for any weakness in draftsmanship... The illustrator, Jim McMullan, ingrained the idea of hierarchy into the way I work [...] He taught a famous figure drawing class at the School of Visual Arts: we had to capture the big idea of a pose in a few broad and pithy strokes, rather than render anatomy and form. Any marks we made were all in support of that big idea, to explain what was happening with the body-eventually, the whole process of figure drawing would become intuitive, guided by our emotional response to the model. The covers are very much created in the same spirit."

Monday, February 14, 2005

DC Comics for May, everyone! Of note:

* Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin reteam for their own Batman mini-series, Dark Detective.

* From the solicit for Firestorm #13: "'The Return of Ronnie Raymond' concludes as questions are answered and Firestorm's battle with some of his worst enemies comes to an explosive conclusion! But this deadly end only may open the door to an entirely new status quo for the Nuclear Wonder!" An entirely new status quo? Well, of course! The series is a year old now!

* Two more Countdown/Identity Crisis/Crisis 2 minis debut: Villains United and The Rann/Thanagar War. Kyle Rayner fans, pay attention to the latter.

* Devin Grayson's Matador launches:

"Dismissed as a quota minority hire by her work peers, Cuban-born and Florida-bred Detective Isabel Cardona makes no friends on the Miami force by insisting that a series of seemingly unrelated murder cases lead to an urban-legend killer known only as 'The Matador.' Proving his existence soon becomes her only way to prove her sanity — but how close to the dangerous Matador will Cardona have to get to make that happen?"

* (TOP TEN) — reunites for an original hardcover graphic novel that delves into the past, revealing the origins of Neopolis and the first officers of Top Ten!"

*
Sleeper, sadly, finishes.

Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns and Judd Winnick tease Countdown at Newsarama:

Winnick: "I never like hearing when someone says, 'It’s the same old thing, we’ve seen all this before. Yawn.' Of course you’ve seen it all before! It’s Batman and Superman fighting the bad guys, and the bad guys lose. That’s how it’s going to happen. At some point, Batman will outwit them using his brains and his fists. Superman will outwit them through the strength of his character as well as his physical strength. These are the basic plot points that go on, and of course you’ve seen it before. People keep coming back because of the strength of the characters, and we know that. We’re about presenting yet another story for this generation, showing them at their most critical battle – their largest challenge. Too often, we as creators and as readers have been over precious at DC – I think we’ve been too worried about being held to some higher standard that doesn’t allow the characters to exist today, and there is a way of doing that."

Johns: "And there’s a way of finding a balance too – we don’t want to go in and just trash stuff for the sake of trashing it and then putting it back together how we want it to be. I keep repeating myself, but it’s really about challenging our heroes for today and seeing why they’re heroes. Why do they do it? Throw everything at them and see what happens."

Rucka: "We’ve been building this puzzle for almost two years now, and we’ve got all these pieces and all these segments out and around separately. It’s like when my son plays with Legos – he has big sections spread out around the living room, but the whole thing, that makes something you didn’t quite see coming...he hasn’t hooked those pieces together yet. Countdown is the keystone to the structure. It’s an 80 page critical piece that, a whole bunch of other pieces that have already been assembled but not seen are going to hook into."

Brian Wood reviews the OC.

Yes, that Brian Wood:

"I'm the same Brian Wood that did CHANNEL ZERO back in 1997, and yeah, I watch The O.C. Brian 'Rage Against The Media' Wood, that's me all right. Well, truth be told, I also wear jeans from The Gap, I like the occasional fast food, I did some illustration work for Nike, and I shopped at Wal Mart once. Let's move on. I remember back in art school, there was a period of time when a small group of friends and I watched 90210 and Melrose Place. Purely ironically, of course, haha. On Thursday mornings in the elevators going to class we would chit chat and bullshit about the shows (while the grad students who happened to be in earshot groaned quietly). For all our hipster irony, we all really loved those shows. So there is a precedent for my O.C. love."

Millarworld looks into the future:

"A little birdie just told me that Joss Whedon is signing on to continue his Ast. X-men run well beyond 12 issues. John Cassaday is will be doing rotating arcs on pencils."

"I'll believe it when I see the press release. 'Dude on messageboard' is hardly a reliable source for breaking news."

"Well if some guy on THE INTERNET says so, it simply must be true!"

Broken Frontier talks about Judo Girl and makes it sound kind of creepy:

"Darren Davis, the creator behind The 10th Muse, has handed off one of his little girls to a group of men who know how to treat a woman."

Um. Okay? So how do these men treat this particular fictional woman?:

"I've been struggling with that very question. Actually, there were a few pages I did before I knew I was definitely going to be on the book. I drew about five pages where Judo Girl’s underwear was in every shot. Then I heard I would be the artist on the book so I revised the pages and cut out most of the undies... I went through a few versions of Judo Girl. First I focused on her being a sexy chick, underwear all over the place. Then I realized she was a lot more than eye candy; she has lot of depth and wit. And when I read more about her, I realized she needed to be respectable as well as hot."

Broken Frontier talks about Judo Girl and makes it sound kind of creepy:

"Darren Davis, the creator behind The 10th Muse, has handed off one of his little girls to a group of men who know how to treat a woman."

Um. Okay? So how do these men treat this particular fictional woman?:

"I've been struggling with that very question. Actually, there were a few pages I did before I knew I was definitely going to be on the book. I drew about five pages where Judo Girl’s underwear was in every shot. Then I heard I would be the artist on the book so I revised the pages and cut out most of the undies... I went through a few versions of Judo Girl. First I focused on her being a sexy chick, underwear all over the place. Then I realized she was a lot more than eye candy; she has lot of depth and wit. And when I read more about her, I realized she needed to be respectable as well as hot."

Also on Newsarama, a sample chapter (by Mark Waid) from the upcoming anthology "Superheroes and Philosophy". Waid's chapter is "The Real Truth about Superman: And the Rest of Us, Too":

"Up until the spring of 2002, it had been a good, long while since anyone had stumped me with a Superman question. That changed the day I had to face one that, oddly, it had never even occurred to me to ask: 'Why does he do what he does?'

"The man who confronted me with those words and got to savor watching a lifetime of smugness evaporate from my face as I flailed for an answer was Dan Didio, Executive Editor of DC Comics, the publishers of Superman’s exploits. Again, being a Superman expert is not my day job, though it’s certainly a pertinent sideline. For most of my adult life, I’ve enjoyed a career as a reasonably successful comic book writer, and my boss had just approached me about creating a new Superman series called Superman: Birthright that would, as he put it, 're-imagine Superman for the 21st century.' Understandably, he wanted to get my take on Superman’s basic motivation. Why does Superman do what he does? What are his reasons? What moves him to take on the role of everyone’s protector and defender? Why does he invariably seek to do the right thing?

"'Why? Because,' I responded with a telling stammer, 'because doing the right thing is...is...is the right thing to do...' 'I’m hiring you to re-imagine harder than that,' my boss insisted, and he had a point. Because I grew up with Superman, because I took his fictional presence for granted, I was falling back on an easy, childlike — and knee-jerk — answer. The truth of the matter was, I hadn’t any real clue, and if I was going to do my part to revitalize the character’s impact on a post-9/11 world...well, Superman deserved more than that from me."

Newsarama updates the Brian Hibbs-Marvel lawsuit. You thought it was over? So did they. Attorney Nancy Ledy-Gurren:

"We notified all the [retailers] and we got a terrific response – there were only 19 people out of more than 5,000 served, that opted out of the class action. We’d established a website had a hotline, and saw just a great response from retailers. We submitted all of our data to the Court, and the judge denied approval of the settlement, saying that he wanted the settlement to be an opt-in provision... In short, he wants us to do it all again."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Joe Quesada offers up some final words for the week at Newsarama:

"If I’ve made anything clear here this week it’s that you are family as well. If you’re reading this, if you’re remotely curious as to what’s coming out of my big trap, then you in your own way are a part of this great thing we call the Marvel Family. Thanks to you, we get to do what we do, you’re as much a part of our team as anyone. We produce these books for you, we want to entertain, make you laugh, make you smile, make you cry and most important, make you believe that this world is real. I guess that’s why in the end, when one of you gets mad because we killed off your favorite character or we do something that seems out of the norm, we should be happy, because it means one thing. That we’re doing our jobs right."

Larry Young does it better:

"This one's for me, and probably won't work across the board, but my dad always told me, 'Do something, even if it's wrong.' Now, he meant it in more of a 'Shit or get off the pot' sort of way; that it's preferable to walk the walk rather than talk the talk, and if you goof up, at least you have something to fix than just sitting on your butt talking about how you'd take over the world if they would just let you. He was sort of a New England-raised, six-three Yoda, come to think of it.

"The last part of that one reminds me of the third option stuff, too. Talked a little about that one in True Facts, too: that the only people who ever get anywhere are the ones who, when faced with an either-or question answer a third thing. The glass isn't half-full, nor is it half-empty. It's time to call the waitress over for another round. Like that. Everyone's got the first thing covered already, and half of them have the second thing on the schedule. The trick to being successful here, at the twilight of the dinosaurs, is to do the thing that no one's thought of yet."

Much more, including bad news for Kate Beckinsale, here. Go and read.

All comics should be sold like this:

"Man, this is shaping up to be the best comic book ever made by human hands."

This little bit of information (from the last part of the Bendis/Quesada sessions at Newsarama) was new to me:

"We banished internal freelance from Marvel years ago, if you want to do something while on staff, if you’re talented enough, then you have to consider it part of your salary. Quite frankly I think it was a healthy rule and as one of the people responsible for putting it into place, the least I can do is adhere to it. If you notice the days of 75% of our books being written by editors and colored by staff members is long gone... It was sort of a club that you had to belong to in order to get work. You had an assistant writing a book for another assistant who was coloring a book for the assistant whose script he was editing. It was so incestuous it wasn’t funny. However, it was the system that was bred here for so very long, you couldn’t really blame anybody. Back when this sort of thing started at Marvel, many of the people who had become editors were actually writers who were making the shift over. That later changed of course as it became a fan driven medium. Heck, the best way to break into comics as a creator, especially writer, was to intern at Marvel, have someone take a liking to you, get a job as an assistant and then pitch ideas. That said, it was a beast that would eat its own tail eventually. It didn’t give people the incentive to be great editors or great creators."

On-staff creators don't get paid extra for their creative work? Interesting.

Newsarama reports on a leaked DC memo:

"According to the memo, Bob Wayne will now manage DC publishing sales both in direct and bookstore markets, with Rich Johnson, who handles the bookstore market will report directly to Wayne, while Wayne will report to Fierman. The memo also announced that DC will establish a separate Marketing unit, and a search for a VP, Marketing, is currently underway. Until the position is filled, all marketing a publicity will report directly to Fierman. Marketing groups, which previously supported the direct market, will now handle both the bookstore and direct market channels... According to sources speaking to Newsarama on terms of anonymity, the breadth of the change was relatively unexpected, and is causing some fairly major shifts in workloads and office alignments. The changes are seen by many as a harbinger of things to come throughout DC, company-wide."

Edit: Heidi had this story first, but I can't get to The Beat this morning for some reason. So I'll just link the entire site as opposed to the particular story for now. Still, the scoop was her's, yeah yeah, the doggone scoop was her's.

Someone at Millarworld asks something I'd been wondering about as well:

"Whatever happened to that Combat Zone mini-series?, From Marvel... Wasn't that book supposed to start in January? I wonder if Marvel decided it wasn't a good idea to publish a war book afterall."

"Don't know if they shelved it but I know I didn't order it."

"It's been pushed back and pushed back and pushed back...I ordered one copy for the one guy that signed up for it."

"Marvel are doing a 5th week event: Combat Zone, Spider-Man/Black Cat, DD Father, Wha Huh, Deathlok and Ant-Man"

"It must be scheduled for the fifth week in February, eh?"

Joe Quesada and Kevin Smith. On IM. At Newsarama:

"KEVIN: And we should talk about part of the reason I couldn't get back behind the keyboard for 'Spidey'.
KEVIN: My insecurity.
KEVIN: It took me two years to get over the fact that I'm not Bendis.
JoeyDaQ Well, talk about it, bro
KEVIN: Remember how many times you had to talk me off a ledge?
JoeyDaQ I never understood that
JoeyDaQ And neither did Bendis
KEVIN: I was like 'Why should I bother? He's better and quicker.'
JoeyDaQ But it is interesting in the sense that so many people see you as the man and yet you're just like the rest of us losers except your wife is hot and in Playboy
KEVIN: It's like the guy who &@#$ your wife and makes her @#% harder.
KEVIN: You're like 'Why bother trying anymore?'
KEVIN: I'm like everybody else in as much as I have huge bouts of insecurity about what I do.
KEVIN: Most writers deal with that.
JoeyDaQ So do we EIC's
KEVIN: It was the comics writing that I felt most insecure about.
KEVIN: Because I always felt like a poser to begin with.
JoeyDaQ Funny, isn't it,
JoeyDaQ Well, all I can say is that we need you back
KEVIN: That field doesn't need me anymore, sir.
KEVIN: I mean, what do I know about writing comics? All I ever was was a comics reader, and suddenly, I was being allowed to write 'em."

The Guardian newspaper picks up on the fruits of Grant Morrison and Philip Bond's wonderful Vimanarama:

"Forget Superman, Wonderwoman and even the Incredibles. The new kid on the block from one of America's 'big two' comic publishers is a teenage Muslim from Bradford, where his father runs a successful chain of corner shops. Bucking the trend for largely negative portrayals of young Asians, particularly in the United States, Ali is an eager livewire whose arranged bride, Sofia, the source of much angst in early frames, turns out to be equally quick-witted, as well as a babe. The 40-page first episode of the story, Vimanarama, went on sale in Britain yesterday, after a launch on Tuesday in the US, where critics gave it a warm reception... The contents include fossilised demons, a 15,000-year-old Asian superman, and too many frames of pouring rain on Bradford streets for the local tourist board's taste. While the comic has been welcomed as a positive promotion for the city, a spokeswoman said: 'They seem to have got our weather mixed up with Manchester's.'"

(Thanks, Bulent.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jamie Rich is back:

"Oni Press is proud to announce I WAS SOMEONE DEAD, a new novella from Jamie S. Rich, author of the widely praised CUT MY HAIR. Featuring a cover and spot illustrations by graphic art master Andi Watson, I WAS SOMEONE DEAD gives comic readers and small press fiction fans alike their first new book from Rich since CUT MY HAIR debuted in 2000... I WAS SOMEONE DEAD stars Hieronymus Zoo as a man no longer plagued by pain. He lives a life many dream about. His home is a serene island and his only companion is a loyal pooch. There’s only one catch for this perfect existence. Horrible nightmares plague his sleeping hours and the only place he can find solace is on the beach—small price to pay, or at least it is until a monster arises from the sea. But is the monster real or just another machination of his mind? And how will all this hold together when another person—a woman, no less—enters the picture? It could end in tears, or maybe in love."

Huzzah!

Quesada and Bendisarama continues for another day, with the twosome picking fights with those who say that Marvel isn't creative. Here's the fun quote, from Quesada:

"Since we’ve started this wild ride we’ve been ahead of the creative curve. While others are now trying to fix their core universes, something that’s cool and most likely necessary, that’s something we initiated within our own universe over four years ago. We’re now into this new creative phase, which I’m sure you’ll see mirrored by others as well, but will be a couple years down the road. It’s a luxury we have because the ground underneath our feet, the ground supported by our classic characters is firm again. That’s something we can thank our great creators as well as our incredible fans for! As you take a look around, you’re going to see more and more new characters popping up. Some may be welcomed, some may not, but for us, this is what I feel will be what defines this next year. Sure we’re in the House of M business and all the other big things that are coming up, but we’re slowly slipping in all of this Marvel Next stuff. I mean you have it also happening in Daredevil, with White Tiger, and in Secret War with, well, you know. In New Avengers and so on. Daredevil: Father, which will ship this year, introduces a whole new team of characters, Arana, X-23, Spellbinders, Young Avengers and there’s actually a very large list we haven’t solicited yet."

That's right: Marvel is staying in front of this wild creative curve by revamping old failed characters and spinning off cloned versions of existing characters. And Spellbinders.

Hey, look! Millarworld is wondering whether Rich Johnston is the anti-christ as well:

"These are just two inherently inimical points of view, and it's no more true in comics than anywhere else. There are gossip columnists in every field, catering to our beastly hunger for the real dirt; and, in every field, that sort of journalism makes it tough on the practitioners. From their point of view, Q and B are exactly right, and from Rich's point of view, he is. There's no real middle ground."

"He's been known to print announcements concerning certain career choices concerning artists that turned out to be false and this has damaged their chances of getting more work because people see the column and think it must be true so they dont approach the artist in question. I know this to be the case because I've heard artists complain about it. And he also takes the 'buzz' and hammers it to death, spoilering important scoops before they're ready to be announced or revealing plot twists when people should be reading them in the bloody comics themselves."

"I love Rich's column. And he has done a good job of keeping certain creators and executives honest. Most recently when some fan triedto take Bendis up on his money back offer for returned copies of AVENGERS: DISASSEMBLED, and he received no response from Bendis until Rich intervened. Basically, these Bendis/Quesada 'interviews' have been nothing more than very thinly veiled attempts to snipe at anybody who ever had a bad word to say about Marvel, Bendis, or Quesada. Take them for what they are. Anybody who puts too much stock in what two of Marvel's most prominent employees have to say about Mavel and its critics is clearly deluded. I would imagine there's a good reason there is no 'comments' section immediately following the articles, as is usually the case with Newsarama. By the way, I think there are several fine comics journalists on the net, and two in particular even better than Rich: Heidi MacDonald and Tom Spurgeon."

Still at Newsarama, Bendis and Quesada try their hand at comedy and talk to Hawkeye via fictional ouija board:

Quesada: "Hawkeye, if this is really you, what’s the afterlife like?"

"Hawkeye": "IT AIN'T SO BAD UP HERE. KINDA EMPTY, THOUGH--MOST EVERYBODY ELSE HAS COME BACK FROM THE DEAD. BUT THE FEW OF US THAT'RE LEFT ARE ALL HANGIN’ OUT WITH GWEN STACY. THANK YOU MR. STRACZYNSKI!"

Bendis: "Oh lord, people are going to think I wrote this."

The Bendis board also reacts to the comments about Rich Johnston:

"I found the latest discussion between Joe Quesada and Brian Bendis to be absolutely appalling, with their juvenile mudslinging in the direction of Rich Johnston. That kind of pathetic display is commonplace when Quesada is concerned, but really, I expected Bendis to act a LITTLE more mature. Tsk bloody tsk."

"i thought it was one of the most honest sounding 'interviews' i've ever read. the whole thing over the past couple days. quesada is really getting these marvel guys to lay it out there."

"Rich Johnston is nothing more than a glorified tabloid writer. Frankly, he deserves anything that comes his way."

"An entire issue without dialogue and close ups of monkey vagina, post after post of grammar and spelling errors a 6 year old laughs at, friggin' Geldoff, and sundry other gaffes, and THIS is what embarasses you? You may need to find a new board. Even Rich himself can't be this appalled."

"How are they acting immature? This is represented as a conversation between the two that is being submitted to Newsarama as an informal interview so that the reality of things would come through. Does that mean that anyone who acts like they do in an out-of-work setting is immature? I understand that other things that Joe Q. has said or done can be taken that way, but this is completely justified given the setting. These are just two friends talking about a man who completely spoiled a huge story without any remorse. I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with what you're saying."

"in the context of someone should be allowed to gripe whatever. but that it was in a public forum that is, allegedly, dedicated to comic book news was somewhat disheartening. bendis and joey q are entitled to be miffed. what i think they should try to be, though, are adults about it. them bitching in that particular manner is akin to DC asking that quesada step down before they'll do any work with marvel ever again."

Later in the thread, Bendis himself appears:

"when i was younger and read dd 181, when elektra died, i was fucking floored. i threw it across the room in shock. i had no idea it was going to happen. all i want out of life is to be able to do that for you guys. but instead there is someone on the net who makes money off of ruining my stories and talking about my wife. and i'm a dick for pointing out that i don't like it? explain to me how? this i would like to hear."

Returning to the Bendis boarders:

"I must admit i do read Rich's stuff, he has the occasional piece of info i am actually interested to find out about. A new book or art team etc. However I think he (or anyone) steps over a line when they report rumours based on people's family. It's wrong, it's not news and it's creepy. If someone posted stuff about my life, my wife, daughter etc, right or wrong, i'd be pissed so i can see why Brian would too. Some things should be kept away from the public and i would have hoped that Rich wouldn't have used any material about a persons family."

"when the heck did this happen? really? RJ talks about your wife, why?
someone please do tell. i'm not aware of ever reading anything like that, but maybe i missed it. why would anyone do that?"

"Rich pisses me off at times but not because he spoils things (hey its the internet get used to spoilers) but more for his pandering. Its pretty obvious he wants to break into comics and improve his fledgeling carear but he goes about it the wrong way. Either your the gossip guy or Your working in comics. You cant have both, and the suck up he does sometimes to Quesada and other big companies that he wants to work for is just really phatetic. I though a journalist is suppose to report the truth not post 'oooh i got this juicy story but i cant write about it because its might ruin any chances to get work at Marvel or DC' Grow some fucking balls. And yes i used the word Journalist which its clear that Rich is far from being. I skim his stuff but i know that A)Most of it is boring [...] B)Most of it is cockey bullshit jokes [...] C)If im lucky there is a small nuget of truth which is actually interesting. Has Rich written good stuff yes but its few and far between because of his unethical behavior. You cant have the best of both worlds. You cant write about the dirty the laundry and be friends. No matter if you hide the truely filthy things yet show the rest. There is no grey area here. Either you go all the way or dont bother at all."

Finally, Rich Johnston appears, to explain the mention of Bendis's wife:

"I mentioned what convention organisers were spinning the non-appearance of Bendis at their convention, blaming his wife's demands, which even if true were not out of the ordinary. I also printed Bendis' version which blew their version apart. This piece was also sent to Bendis well in advance. And when Bendis has a problem about a piece I send him, he lets me know. And how...!"

The comic world still reels, in its way, from Bendis and Quesada's commentary yesterday about Rich Johnston. Mark Waid weighs in on what Rich means to him:

"Well, let's take this week's column as an example, though I will now say nothing I could not have said a half-dozen times before. Professional coward and succubus Rich Johnson spends, oh, let's say twenty seconds typing up a bullshit rumor he overheard about some project I'm connected with. Specifically this week, he decides to claim that my new series is losing its artist with issue two.

"Remember, in all likelihood, it takes Rich less time to type those words than it's taken you to read this far in this post. That's an important part of how Rich damages people. Less time because, God knows, he certainly doesn't bother to try to validate or corroborate this announcement in any way. No one even remotely connected with this project, for example, heard anything FROM Rich QUESTIONING this rumor. He just ran it. And that's okay, apparently, because after all, he just reports what he hears, right? Investigation is for actual journalists, or at the very least for genuinely responsible people rather than total lowlifes who seek out a smarmy career doing what we all do with some level of shame from time to time but what every single one of us learned as early as childhood was an act we should never take pride in: spreading gossip.

"So, Monday. Rich takes a few seconds to 'report' a bullshit rumor that isn't even remotely true--but is potentially damaging to my livelihood and to the livelihoods of everyone connected with the project. Can I take the financial hit? Yeah, but you don't know that. Marc? Probably, but that's not my judgment to make. The inker, colorist and letterer of the book, all of whom will be affected if orders drop because retailers are left to believe that Marc has left the book? If your answer is 'yes,' by all means, feel free to phone 'em up and tell them that you think so. I'm sure they'll get a laugh out of it.

"Irresponsible? Oh, God, yes. But it's out there regardless because Rich shoots first and asks questions later. (And by 'later,' I generally mean 'only after someone actually calls him on his lies.') Twenty seconds of typing, bam, done. Rumor spread.

"Then, for the REST OF MONDAY FUCKING MORNING, from the moment I AWAKEN, I have to spend literally HOURS fielding e-mails and phone calls squashing this rumor immediately or risk having it do damage to a project I both enjoy and which helps keep food on the plates of people who depend on me. Marc has to do the same. As does Jim McLauchlin, the publisher, who already had a million plates to juggle that morning and suddenly has a million and one. As does Annie Pham, the lovely Top Cow marketing woman who I'm confident is far more overworked than fucking Rich Johnson and really didn't deserve to get hit in the face with a frying pan first thing Monday morning.

"So guess what I don't get done yesterday? Script pages for my Legion artist. Why? Because I'M busy setting the record straight because Rich is at best...at BEST...being careless and thoughtless. Which means that Legion is running one day later. Which means the Legion artist may be unemployed for one day next week whether he can afford to be or not. Likewise the inker. Likewise the colorist. And by the way, Marc, how IS issue two coming? What's that? You're NOT drawing right now? Why not? Oh, because you're busy reassuring FANS AND RETAILERS. Bam, bam, bam. Watch how the dominoes fall. Who does Rich hurt when he pulls shit like this? Start counting.

"And worst of all, next week, Rich will do it to someone else. He'll report, without any fact to back it up, that so-and-so's book is getting reassigned, casting aspersions on his professionalism or his ability--or that Artist X is a troublemaker because he said something disparaging about his employer, which would be a bad thing to do had it actually happened--or that Freelancer Y is the reason something's late when, in fact, Rich hasn't the first clue. It will take him less than a minute to open any given barn door, but it will take everyone else's day to gather the horses and put them back inside. And don't lie to yourself; he won't dredge this shit up because he's somehow a noble and gallant crusader for justice. He'll do it because every time Rich's column gets another hit, the cash register goes "ding" again. Meanwhile, across the ocean from Rich, some very nervous father of three, already staring down a long assignment with a short deadline, isn't able to voucher for the time he's spending on the phone with his editor trying to find out why he's received all these troubling e-mails from fans and websites claiming grimly but with concern for his welfare that CBR has it on 'good authority' that the series he's been pencilling for the last four months is about to be cancelled because its star is actually the super-secret killer in IDENTITY WARS and, gee, they hope he lands on his feet.

"Rich hurts people, plain and simple. If he didn't, there wouldn't be a line around the block of otherwise kind and gentle comics creators who would eagerly beat him to death for a dollar and give you change back. When he prints rumors that have absolutely no foundation, as he does all too frequently, it is the wrong thing to do, and no rational person can argue against that. His inexcusable behavior serves no one but him, yet it often visits anxiety and suffering on other people solely in the name of profit and self-glorification. It is indefensible."

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